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It looks like Nike is done with its FuelBand wearable, with reports surfacing that the company has let go of most of its hardware division, and that the company will be stopping production of the hardware completely.
There was a 'slim' version of the FuelBand expected toward the end of the year, but most of the 70 or so hardware employees have been let go. The anonymous network Secret.ly saw someone post a rumor last week, which read: "The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed The FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn't know what they were doing".
But, Nike has just launched the Fuel Lab, which is think tank for connected devices based in San Francisco. We could see the company release an API for its software services, partnering up with a company to build the hardware while Nike provides the software.
You might recall that we had mentioned Google Glass was going on sale to the general public on April 15. You didn't need an invite to buy the Glass headset on that day, but you needed your $1500 to get hands-on the expensive wearable.
The caveat to the public sale of Glass on the 15th was that it was only good while a certain number of Explorer spots were filled. Google never said how many spots it had available. In fact, we still don't know how many were available. What we do know is that Google sold all the spots it had in one day.
Google is now rolling out its XE16 software update for Google Glass, with the KitKat-powered update requiring Glass users to update to XE 12.1 first, after which the bigger, more important update bakes itself into Glass.
In order to update your Glass unit, you'll need to be plugged into charge, over 50% of charge on Glass itself, an have Wi-Fi enabled. I'm currently updating my Glass unit, but it will reportedly take around 20 minutes or so for the update process to complete.
Atlantis Productions will be making its upcoming documentary, Conquest of the Skies, compatible with Oculus VR's Rift headset. The legendary David Attenborough is attached to the project, too.
Atlantis Productions' Commercial Director, John Morris, during an interview with Real Screen said: "We're now filming for the Oculus Rift, so when we filmed our recent flight in Borneo, we filmed with an eight-camera rig, so you got the full [360 degree] experience". Conquest of the Skies is filming in Borneo right now, and will be made available to the public later in the year.
Oculus VR's founder, Palmer Luckey, sat down with Maximum PC recently, where he had some interesting things to say about the future of traditional viewing displays, and big-screen TVs.
Luckey talked about the resources required to build, ship and sell TVs, adding that the model "just won't be feasible". He continued: "Why in the world would you buy a 60-inch TV that, even if it were dirt cheap for that, it's still going to cost a lot to ship it and make it from raw materials. A VR headset is going to be much better and much cheaper and you can take it anywhere".
Some of the benefits of a large TV is that you can get a bunch of friends, or family members, to sit around and watch the same content. Luckey says that VR will soon be capable of doing that, where he adds: "It's all a matter of how good VR has to be. Eventually, VR is going to be good enough - someday, as good or as close to real life. If you want to simulate sitting in a room watching a TV, you'll be able to do that".
Google is pushing out an update to Glass, which will see some improvements, and the removal of the function to video call people. Google removed the video call function from Glass as the feature didn't meet Google's "high standards".
The search giant says that around 10% of Glass users were using the video call function, so in light of this, the Glass team made "the hard decision to remove video calls from Glass until the experience is better". Onto the updates, where Glass will not bundle photos together - this is really important, as your timeline can be completely cluttered with photos.
The latest update to Glass will bundle all of your photos, videos and vignettes into a single bundle for each day. For someone like me who takes lots of photos and videos per day, my timeline is constantly cluttered - news to my wearable ears!
James Cameron is pretty much a household name thanks to directing movies like The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, oh and Avatar. Cameron was asked some interesting questions during his Reddit AMA session.
Cameron was asked on whether he would be making any movies using VR devices, such as the Oculus Rift, where he said: "I personally would be very interested to find a way to incorporate VR and a narrative-filmmaking experience. So a narrative directed experience that has individuated pathways where you have choices that you make in real-time, I think that would be a lot of fun. I think it would be very technically daunting and expensive, to do it as the same quality level as a typical feature, but it would be fun to experiment with".
He continued, saying: "It sounds like a lot of fun. I don't think it would take over the feature film market though. I'm very familiar with VR, but I haven't seen the specific Oculus Rift device". Cameron will be getting his hands-on Oculus VR's headset soon enough, where the director of Avatar said: "I'm interested in it. I'm meant to see it some time in the next month or so, but I've been familiar with VR since its inception. In fact, virtual reality is a way of describing the way we work on Avatar, we work in a virtual workspace all day long. We use a 'virtual camera' which is how I create all the shots that are CG in the film, a window into a virtual reality that completely surrounds me".
The wearable computing market is expected to boom over the next four years, with an estimated 19.2 million units shipped in 2014 up to 112 million in 2018, according to research firm IDC. Manufacturers are using a mix of complex accessories, smart accessories, and smart wearables to help garner interest from consumers, including the use of products such as Nike+, Fitbit, and Google Glass to gain attention.
Looking ahead, casual consumers will find a variety of affordable, functional wearables that can be used for everything from fitness bands to communication devices for mobile phones and smartphones. The new generation of wearables often are designed to operate independently of other devices, though can be easily paired to smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other electronics - a trend that will continue in the future.
"Complex accessories have succeeded in drawing much-needed interest and attention to a wearables market that has had some difficulty gaining traction," said Ramon Llamas, IDC Mobile Phones Research Manager, in a statement. "The increased buzz has prompted more vendors to announce their intentions to enter this market. Most importantly, end-users have warmed to their simplicity in terms of design and functionality, making their value easy to understand and use."
The wearable game just got very hot, with Google announcing it will sell its Glass headset starting April 15, but what about Apple's place in the wearable market? New rumors of its iWatch suggest that we could see two versions of Apple's smartwatch released, including a high-end version that would cost thousands of dollars.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is usually on the ball with most Apple rumors, said in a research note to clients on Thursday morning that Apple was preparing two iWatch models for this year. The first of which would be a smaller 1.3-inch device for people with smaller wrists, and another model that would feature a 1.5-inch screen.
Both models would feature a flexible AMOLED display with sapphire crystal display covers. Kuo said that Apple's iWatch would have a host of sensors that would monitor multiple things like motion, heart rate and more. The analyst noted the iWatch would have deep integration with iPhone and iPad, and would include an NFC chip, wireless charging capabilities, and a "fashionable appearance".
Kuo wrote to his clients: "Fashion is the name of the game; most expensive model likely priced at several thousand US dollars. Referring to the rules of the fashion market, we predict the iWatch casing and band will come in various materials. The most expensive model of the iWatch line will carry a price tag of several thousand US dollars". Kuo forecasts that Apple will sell some 5.5 million units of its iWatch this year, ramping up to somewhere between 30 million to 50 million in 2015.
It looks like Google is pushing up the release of its Glass headset, where it will begin selling the wearable device to consumers on April 15. The search giant will make Glass available to the US public for a limited time, starting Tuesday.
Google hasn't said just how many Glass units it will make available, but the quantity would be very limited. The company said in a blog post: "Every day we get requests from those of you who haven't found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. That's why next Tuesday, April 15th, we'll be trying our latest and biggest Explorer Program expansion experiment to date. We'll be allowing anyone in the U.S. to become an Explorer by purchasing Glass".
Most people, myself included, expected Google to push Glass out later in the year - so this feels like an extension of the Explorer program, and not the real consumer version. I'm expecting the real release to be much more powerful in terms of hardware, something the current Glass device lacks.