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SIGGRAPH 2017: Virtual Reality Is Alive and Flourishing
September 1, 2017
The SIGGRAPH conference is a year event that focuses on the latest in computer graphics and other interactive arts. It is a multidiscipline show, mixing computer imaging with other physical creations. It is also a crossroads for the film, video game, commercial, research and education industries. It has a forward-looking vision while celebrating the recent and not-so-recent past.
Merged VR: Augmented Reality Cubed
August 18, 2017
There is considerable development activity at the high end of hardware and content creation for virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as such AR aliases as mixed reality, extended reality and others. Most industry investment is aimed at leading-edge gaming and industrial application development. However, the low-end of the market is also worth looking at.
Google Makes It Easier to Create Virtual Reality Videos
June 28, 2017
Google has introduced a new video format, VR180, developed with input from its Daydream team. The VR180 format, which displays what's in front of the user only, delivers good video quality both on desktop PCs and mobile devices. While VR180 videos appear in 2D on desktops and mobile devices, they appear in 3D VR when viewed with Cardboard, Google's Daydream headset or a PlayStation VR headset.
Art, History and 3D Printing
June 15, 2017
The Tech Museum of Innovation last month debuted an exhibit that includes numerous installations with an interactive component. Visitors can don Occulus VR headsets to appreciate classical works of art in virtual reality -- a completely new museum experience. There long has been a debate on what constitutes "art" -- and opinions have differed as to how music, film, radio and TV fit in.
E3 2017: Enhancements, Expectations and Perhaps Excitement
June 8, 2017
All of the major video game developers, publishers and console hardware makers, as well as many retail buyers and the gaming press, will descend on Los Angeles for E3 2017 next week. The annual event -- a showcase for computer, video and mobile games and related products -- will kick off officially on Tuesday and run through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
PCs Shine Again, but for How Long?
June 1, 2017
Just when PCs looked to be dying a slow, painful death, they became interesting again. As expected, this week's news coming from Computex is flush with new PCs and PC technologies, but is it enough to reinvigorate a market that has faced declining sales since 2011? The market peaked at just over 365 million units annually, and fell to 269 million units last year. So, why all the excitement?
Microsoft Partners Heed Mixed-Reality Call
June 1, 2017
Microsoft on Wednesday showcased a new series of mixed reality headsets from partner firms Acer, HP, Asus, Dell and Lenovo at Computex 2017. The preview marked the company's commitment to establish Windows 10 as a leading driver of mixed reality capabilities, as well as to open up the market to a wider variety of price points and consumer demographics.
Our Sci-Fi Future: Silly vs. Terrifying
April 25, 2017
The future is now, or at least it is coming soon. Today's technological developments are looking very much like what once was the domain of science fiction. Maybe we don't have domed cities and flying cars, but we do have buildings that reach to the heavens, and drones that soon could deliver our packages. Who needs a flying car when the self-driving car is just down the road?
Facebook Builds a VR Space, but Will Anyone Come?
April 19, 2017
Facebook has announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces, a new app that allows users to connect with friends and colleagues in an interactive virtual reality environment. It provides a way for social media users to hang out as they might otherwise in person -- even bridging great distances -- noted Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook. An avatar represents each user in the VR world.
Google Spins VR Experiences on the Web
April 14, 2017
Google on Thursday announced compatibility of its WebVR on Chrome with its low-cost Google Cardboard virtual reality system. It also launched WebVR Experiments, an online showcase for virtuality reality content in development. WebVR became available on Daydream-ready phones earlier this year. The newly launched WebVR Experiments are essentially proof-of-concept offerings.
Why VR Is Failing
April 10, 2017
As a market, we seem to have trouble learning that three key elements are necessary for a new technology to take hold: It has to appear complete, it has to be compelling, and it has to seem like a value -- that is, be affordable. Compared to what we have today, the car that opened up the automotive market in the U.S. was none of those things -- yet it was incredibly successful.
Apple May Alter the AR Competition
March 21, 2017
Apple is stockpiling resources to make a splash in the augmented reality market. The company reportedly is not only marshaling internal resources behind its AR efforts, but also hiring talented outsiders and acquiring companies with expertise in AR hardware, 3D gaming and virtual reality software. The new outsiders include engineers who worked VR headsets for Google and Microsoft.
USB-C Port, Curved Display Top Latest iPhone Rumor List
March 1, 2017
Apple poked a hornet's nest when it removed the standard headphone jack from the iPhone 7. It may do it again by replacing the Lightning port with USB-C in the next iPhone. The Lightning port, introduced in 2012, is used to charge and connect accessories to the iPhone, but Apple reportedly plans to swap it for USB-C, which the company has been introducing into its computer lines.
Microsoft Makes VR Drone Fight Simulator Available on GitHub
February 21, 2017
Microsoft has introduced an open source virtual reality toolkit for the training of autonomous drones. The beta software became available on GitHub last week. The toolkit is designed to allow developers to "teach" drones how to navigate the real world by recreating conditions such as shadows, reflections and even objects that might confuse a device's on-board sensors.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming's New Virtual Reality Frontier and Personal Cargo Robots
February 10, 2017
Regular readers will know that I've played games my entire life. I hold deep reverence for the care and attention that go into creating these experiences, and I've rarely met a game I didn't want to conquer. Yet I am nervous about virtual reality. I've tried it and found those disorientating worlds difficult to handle, though I suspect that over time I could grow more accustomed to it.
Facebook Taps Barra to Push VR to the Next Level
January 27, 2017
Facebook has announced that Hugo Barra will be onboarding the company to head up its virtual reality business, including the critically important Oculus team. Barra just days ago announced his departure from Xiaomi. Barra will fill the void left last month, when Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO of Oculus to head up a new Facebook unit that will develop the PC side of its VR business.
Luckey Dons Virtual Flak Jacket for Zenimax Testimony
January 19, 2017
Palmer Luckey on Wednesday denied that he stole proprietary code from ZeniMax Media, in the little-known company's blockbuster $2 billion lawsuit against Oculus VR and Facebook. ZeniMax has alleged that in 2012, when Luckey was just a video game enthusiast, he corresponded with John Carmack, who allegedly used proprietary hardware and software information to develop the Oculus Rift VR headset.
Snapdragon-Powered AR Smartglasses Are the Real Deal
January 4, 2017
Qualcomm on Tuesday debuted its groundbreaking Snapdragon 835 system on a chip at CES. Following the 835 launch, the company joined Osterhout Design Group in unveiling two new ODG augmented reality headsets, the R-8 and R-9, which are the first Snapdragon 835-powered devices to be announced. The Snapdragon SoC is the first chip built using the ultra-advanced 10nm FinFET process node.
Looking Ahead to CES: This Will Be a Big One
January 2, 2017
CES week is here, and it's the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show -- not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it'll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes. This show is weird, in that it really comes too early.
Magic Leap Catches Flak Over Tricky Video
December 13, 2016
It turns out the awe-inspiring video Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip. Magic Leap's post -- titled "Just another day in the office at Magic Leap" -- claims the video shows a game being played around the office.
Microsoft and Intel's Project Evo Ups the PC Game
December 9, 2016
Microsoft and Intel have announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in AI, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo's ambitious plans at the WinHEC event in China.
Microsoft, Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10 Into ARM Devices
December 8, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the compatibility of Windows 10 and native Windows apps with ARM-based processors, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon, which currently powers a large percentage of Android devices. The new partnership will make it possible for Windows applications, peripherals and enterprise solutions to run on new mobile, power efficient and always-connected cellular PCs.
Daydream Believers May Boost VR, Suggest Early Reviews
November 10, 2016
Reviews for Google's Daydream View VR headset began to appear on Thursday, and the consensus among those who were able to test the new US$79 device appears to be two thumbs up. Although it has limitations, Daydream could be a gateway to affordable virtual reality technology, they suggested. The headset needs to be paired with Google's new line of Pixel and Pixel XL phones.
Microsoft's New Tech Targets Human Creativity
October 27, 2016
Microsoft made a slew of announcements at its New York City event Wednesday, focusing on the idea of user as creator. Among its new offerings: the Surface Studio, an all-in-one desktop computer with a touchscreen that's 12.5mm thick; the Surface Dial, a new input device that provides haptic feedback; the Surface Book i7; VR headsets for Windows 10; and a revamped Paint app with 3D capability.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
Google: Dare to Daydream
June 18, 2016
Google's Cardboard has proved to the masses that virtual reality is more than a pipe dream. Inexpensive cardboard headsets leverage smartphones to create makeshift head-mounted displays for low-level VR experiences. For those whose fancies of owning a US$600 Rift or a $900 Vive were out of reach, Cardboard was a way to keep their imaginations captive while Google was dreaming of Daydream.
Microsoft's Holographic Platform Opening Mixes It Up
June 6, 2016
Microsoft last week announced it would open its Windows Holographic platform to partner firms looking to develop products for the Hololens ecosystem. Microsoft already is already working with a range of partners -- including Intel, AMD, Qualcomm and others -- to build a hardware ecosystem that can support mixed-reality environments, company officials said at Computex.
Windows Holographic: Changing Our Perception of the World
June 6, 2016
There were a lot of interesting announcements last week, ranging from cool new devices to what was basically an Amazon Echo on wheels from Asus. Such is the nature of Computex -- arguably one of the most powerful technology shows in the world. However, one of the most fascinating was Windows Holographic, which goes far beyond Hololens to redefine the world as we perceive it.
No Man's Sky: Life After Launch
June 2, 2016
Persistence. It's what permeates the fabric of upcoming sci-fi odyssey No Man's Sky, and it's what will see the game well past its launch this summer. While eager to set out into a digital space that's populated with 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique planets, most gamers have expressed patience as developers march toward the release.
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