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The HTC's Wow Factor May Trump Shortcomings for VR Fans
April 19, 2016
The HTC Vive drew accolades from a hyped-up base of gamers and virtual reality enthusiasts when it launched earlier this month. However, the Vive is proving to be an experience that is not for the faint of heart, the light of wallet, or the short of patience. HTC earlier this year unveiled the Vive to an enthusiastic audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Facebook Entices VR Content Creators With Open Source Surround Cam
April 13, 2016
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a high-quality 360-degree 3D camera suitable for creating virtual reality content. The Facebook Surround 360 system, which made its debut at the F8 developers conference, includes a production-ready camera -- which costs about $30,000 to build and looks like a flying saucer from a science fiction movie -- and software for controlling the camera and for stitching and rendering what the camera captures.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
Oculus Rift Offers the Best VR Experience Yet, Reviewers Say
March 28, 2016
The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns. The headset display is well-crafted, but drawbacks include the cost and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews. "It has the potential to change the world," Devindra Hardawar wrote.
Low-Cost Bundle Beckons Gamers to PlayStation VR
March 21, 2016
Sony last week announced it would begin taking preorders for a cost-shaving virtual reality bundle. Priced at $499, the PlayStation VR bundle includes everything needed except the PlayStation 4 console. It contains a VR headset, cables, stereo headphones, a PlayStation camera, two PlayStation Move motion controllers and a pair of discs etched with VR demos.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
Google's AlphaGo Thrashes Go Master
March 15, 2016
Google's AlphaGo on Tuesday rocked the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence when it beat 18-time international Go champion Lee Se-dol the final round of the Google DeepMind Challenge. Lee lost the first three rounds last week but came back and won the fourth game. Go "depends as much on logic, like chess, as it does on intuition," said Mike Jude of Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
Artificial Intelligence Learns the Ways of Minecraft
March 15, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled AIX, a platform that its researchers have been using to turn Minecraft into an artificial intelligence learning environment. Although Microsoft's 2014 decision to buy Minecraft raised some eyebrows -- the main criticism being that the game had run its course by then -- the company has been putting it to some innovative uses.
Oculus Opens Social Doors for Gear VR
March 12, 2016
Oculus VR on Wednesday launched Oculus Social for Samsung's Gear VR viewer. Gear VR users can create profiles on Oculus Social and search out friends via real names or handles. The company, which has yet to ship its own virtual reality headset, also released two social games to encourage more friending on Oculus Social: Herobound: Gladiators and Social Trivia.
Epic Games Founder Rails Against Microsoft's Walled Garden
March 8, 2016
Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney last week called on Microsoft to remove the walls it's building around the Windows Store with its Universal Windows Platform initiative. The problem is that it is impossible to install and update UWP apps from third-party publishers outside of the Windows Store, he wrote in an op-ed. Microsoft could remove the option to support apps that haven't been approved.
No Man's Sky Cleared for June 21 Launch
March 4, 2016
Hello Games on Thursday began taking preorders for No Man's Sky, its procedurally generated journey to the center of the universe. No Man's Sky will become available for PlayStation 4 and PC on June 21 in North America, and on June 22 in Europe, priced at $60 per unit. In addition to digital versions, physical releases will be available for consoles.
Microsoft Invites Devs to Tinker With HoloLens
February 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday announced that its HoloLens Development Edition was available for preorder, with units set to ship to developers beginning March 30. The company early last year introduced the holographic computer technology as a feature for Windows 10. It later announced a partnership with Volvo that would allow the application to be applied to the automobile sales floor.
Superhot Warps Time
February 26, 2016
Three years of thought went into the think-between-steps shooter game Superhot, which was released Thursday. Born of a week-long first-person-shooter game jam, Superhot's concept caught the attention of the Kickstarter crowd, raising $250,000. The indie title is available on Windows, Linux and OS X. It will arrive on Xbox One next month. It's a novel approach to the FPS genre.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming Revivals, Clever Cameras, and Smartphones for All
February 22, 2016
Sir Clive Sinclair helped popularize video games as a viable home entertainment option with the ZX Spectrum. After reviving the brand a little over a year ago with the introduction of the Vega microcontroller, which plugs into televisions, Sinclair and Retro Computers now have launched a handheld version, the Vega+. The Vega+ design is aligned with other current handheld consoles.
Leap Motion Unleashes Orion
February 18, 2016
Leap Motion on Tuesday introduced Orion -- a faster, more precise, more capable and more reliable hand tracking system than its predecessor. Orion is purpose built for virtual reality, and it represents a stark shift in how Leap Motion tech tracks hands and fingers, according to the company. "Orion starts tracking faster and with lower latency," the company said.
Google's Virtual Reality Tinkering May Get More Real
February 17, 2016
Google reportedly is developing a standalone virtual reality headset that will be several steps removed from its Cardboard VR. Instead of relying on a user's smartphone and a lens-fitted cardboard headset, it will have all the necessary components built in. It also won't have to rely on a PC or a console for processing power as do Sony's PlayStation VR, HTC's Vive and Oculus VR's Rift headsets.
Unity and SteamVR Unite for Native Vive Support
February 16, 2016
Unity Technologies last week announced that the Unity Platform has been retooled to offer native support for SteamVR, the software foundation for HTC Vive. The move will save effort and resources, whether developers build made-for-VR titles or merely build virtual reality support into traditional games. In addition, Valve introduced an advanced rendering plug-in developed for Unity.
Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs
February 11, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine. Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.
Virtual Reality May Be Coming Around Again for Nintendo
February 3, 2016
Nintendo is looking into virtual reality, 20 years after its failed Virtual Boy console, suggest reports that surfaced Tuesday. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly described VR as "interesting technology" during an earnings call to discuss the company's Q3 financial report. With VR finally poised to break into the mainstream, it could find a way forward by returning down an old path.
Google's AlphaGo Defeats Human Master of Ancient Game
January 29, 2016
Research at Google on Wednesday announced that AlphaGo has become the first computer software system to beat a human at the ancient game of Go. There are more possible positions in Go than there are the number of atoms in the universe, and it has a googol more positions than chess, Google pointed out. That complexity makes it difficult for computers to play Go.
Sony's Gaming Biz Coming to America
January 27, 2016
Sony on Tuesday announced plans to merge its PlayStation operations in a new company to be headquartered in the U.S. Sony Interactive Entertainment will open for business on April 1, starting with $2 million in operating capital. The new California-based firm will merge the operations of Japan-based Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment.
Android Is Download King, but iOS Reigns Over Revenues
January 23, 2016
Worldwide downloads of Android apps in 2015 were double those for iOS, but revenues from iOS apps were nearly twice those of Android, according to an App Annie report released this week. First-time device owners in emerging markets drove the huge increase in Android downloads, researchers found. "This growth opens up avenues for publishers to create new markets," the report says.
Reading, Writing and Minecraft?
January 19, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced its acquisition of MinecraftEDU, one of the building blocks for its upcoming Minecraft: Education Edition. MinecraftEDU, developed by Teacher Gaming, launched in 2011 as a version of Minecraft enhanced for the classroom. Microsoft has used the lessons learned from MinecraftEDU to expand Minecraft: Education Edition's feature set, the company said.
Pokken Tournament to Kick Off in March
January 18, 2016
Nintendo last week announced that "Pokkén Tournament" will be available worldwide for Wii U on March 18. The Pokémon-themed fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, will retail for $60. For the first production run, Nintendo is tossing in a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card. When used with a Wii U gamepad, the amiibo card will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
Hack Lets PS4 Run Linux
January 7, 2016
Hacking team fail0verflow last week demonstrated a hack of Sony's PlayStation 4 game console that allows anyone running the modification to run the Linux OS on the appliance. The demo was part of a lightning talk session at the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress. The hackers used exploits in FreeBSD, PS4's operating system and WebKit, which powers the game console's browser.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
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