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Nvidia's Convincing Unreality
August 20, 2018
When I read the book Ready Player One, I really got excited about the future of virtual reality, but the movie really didn't do the book justice. Some blockbusters have succeeded in interspersing computer graphics with real people and making it hard to tell the difference. Still, a totally rendered movie still looks like animation and you just don't get the film quality you get from, well, film.
Nvidia's Turing Chip Opens Door to New Virtual Reality Realm
August 15, 2018
Nvidia has announced a powerful new graphics architecture with the potential to blur the line between virtual and actual reality. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled the new chips at the company's SIGGRAPH 2018 event in Vancouver, Canada. The Turing architecture enables a new generation of hybrid rendering that can be used to create cinematic-quality interactive experiences.
Sony Trains Spotlight on a Few Good Games
June 13, 2018
Sony gave PlayStation fans a hefty sampling of what's coming to its gaming consoles this year at E3. It gave them a long look at a relatively few offerings -- a marked contrast from Microsoft's deluge of titles. "Sony's E3 event was a break with tradition, an experiment to test the way it could present its first-party output to the media," said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Technology.
HP: Reimagining the Future
May 28, 2018
I got a view of the future at HP's Innovation Center in Barcelona. The company has made some aggressive moves to blend its printing and imaging technologies to create products that will redefine our near-term future. HP also showcased capabilities that are something just short of magic. When you can transform what you can imagine into physical products, what else would you call it?
Echo for Kids, Retro Voice Assistants, and a Second Snap
May 8, 2018
Amazon is trying to rope in younger members of the family to use its Alexa voice assistant with the release of a smart speaker for kids. The Echo Dot Kids Edition has a rubber case protecting a standard Echo Dot and a two-year, no-questions-asked replacement policy. It includes a one-year membership for Amazon's subscription service for kids' books, videos, games, education apps and Alexa skills.
Mozilla Trumpets Altered Reality Browser
April 4, 2018
The Mozilla Foundation has unveiled its plans for Firefox Reality, a browser designed specifically for mixed reality headsets. The browser combines the beneftis of Mozilla's existing Firefox browser with its experimental Web engine. Using Servo, Mozilla plans to experiment with entirely new designs and technologies for seeing and interacting with the immersive Web.
Mobility Steers Apple's New Education Strategy
March 28, 2018
Apple on Tuesday announced a refresh of its iPad as part of a new approach to the education market. CEO Tim Cook and other Apple officials also outlined a number of new education initiatives at an event held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. The new 32-gigabyte, 9.7-inch iPad, which will sell to consumers for $329 and to students for $299, has a more powerful processor -- Apple's Fusion A10 chip.
Google Opens Maps APIs and World Becomes Dev Playground
March 17, 2018
Google plans to open its Maps APIs to video game developers, which could result in far more realistic settings in augmented reality games. With access to real-time map updates and rich location data, developers will have many choices of settings for their games. The APIs will provide devs with what Google has described as a "living model of the world" to use as a foundation for game worlds.
The VR Experience: Challenges for a Growing Market
March 10, 2018
Virtual reality devices, including headsets and peripherals, offer consumers and businesses new ways to experience and share immersive content for entertainment, educational, social and other purposes. VR's unique capability to promote user interaction through highly immersive content provides untapped potential in terms of storytelling, advertising, healthcare, business, travel and much more.
Tech Takes Front Seat at Detroit Auto Show
January 17, 2018
In recent years, CES largely has usurped the Detroit Auto Show as the "first auto show of the year." Automakers have used the annual Las Vegas shindig to highlight the latest technology in vehicles. So perhaps it was fitting that this year the NAIAS looked a bit more like a technology trade show than a car show, featuring sessions on AI, autonomous vehicle systems, vehicle security and mobility.
CES 2018: Spare Human Bodies, a $54K HTC Simulator and Intel's People-Chopping Cuisinart
January 15, 2018
OK, I hate CES. It really is a horrible event, largely because of the timing -- and particularly this year, Las Vegas making it a nightmare to get around -- but man did they have cool stuff at the show. Among presentation highlights were Nvidia showcasing a whopping 65-inch gaming monitor TV. Lowlights included Intel showcasing a human-carrying drone as something out of a horror movie.
New Lens Tech Can Shrink Cameras, VR and AR Gear
January 3, 2018
Harvard scientists on Monday unveiled a metalens that has the potential to shrink the size of any device that uses a camera while at the same time improving performance. While traditional lenses are made from glass, metalenses use a flat surface peppered with nanostructures to focus light. One problem with metalenses has been their inability to focus the full spectrum of light.
2017 in Tech: The Year of Foreshadowing Big Things to Come
December 29, 2017
2017 may be the year that developments in the tech world truly were overshadowed by other world events: deepening divisions in the United States and the looming threat of war with North Korea; numerous sexual misconduct scandals; terrorist attacks in Europe; and another royal wedding. With all of that going on, it would be easy to overlook Apple's latest iPhone or Nintendo's comeback.
Ready Player One and the Troubled Future of VR
December 25, 2017
One of the issues with virtual reality is that expectations have been overset massively with TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, which promised an artificial reality indistinguishable from reality. VR failed. It didn't have to -- there is a pattern to bringing out successful technology that is repeatable. You create a complete experience regardless of cost, then cost-reduce it.
New AWS Platform Promises Fast AR, VR, 3D Development
November 29, 2017
AWS has announced Amazon Sumerian, a new Web-based platform to help developers quickly design and deploy VR, AR and 3D applications. The platform lets developers build realistic VR, AR or 3D environments, populate them with animated characters and 3D objects, and create scripts to determine how they interact with users of a particular application and with each other.
The Fake News Fueling the Uproar Over Self-Driving Vehicles
November 27, 2017
It may seem obvious that a major consequence of self-driving trucks would be a lot of unemployed truck drivers, but the reality -- at least for those who drive tractor trailers -- could be better jobs. Autonomous vehicles have massive potential benefits. Models suggest that in the U.S. alone, between 30 thousand and 40 thousand lives would be saved annually.
Fighting Off the Harvey Weinsteins of the World Through Technology
October 23, 2017
Harvey Weinstein just went from most powerful man in Hollywood to punching bag -- and while he deserved this, perhaps greater attention should go toward taking aggressive measures to prevent future Weinsteins -- and there will be future Weinsteins. We need to stop acting surprised when this stuff comes out and instead take stronger steps to prevent this kind of thing in the future.
Zuckerberg Pays Virtual Visit to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico
October 10, 2017
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday used virtual reality tech to "teleport" to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and soon was dubbed a "heartless billionaire" by critics who felt he had exploited the dire situation in the U.S. territory. That likely isn't what Zuckerberg intended when he provided the Facebook Spaces video demonstration.
Anticipating the Smart World of 2027: A Billion Cameras and AI, Oh My...
October 2, 2017
Nvidia went to China last week and made a series of interesting announcements having to do with smart cities and autonomous cars. IBM made an announcement on advancements in tying the Weather Channel to its Watson artificial intelligence engine, and improvements in targeted marketing. We also found out about Oculus' Fall in Love VR project which is kind of like the The Bachelor.
Ford Motor Puts Design Strategy Under the HoloLens
September 21, 2017
Ford Motor Company on Thursday unveiled details about its use of Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality technology in the automotive design process. Ford's design teams have swapped out their clay-sculpting tools -- a staple of the automotive world since the 1930s, when Harley Earl introduced them at General Motors -- for mixed reality headsets and visualization software.
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.
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