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Google has just pushed out a new firmware update to Glass, which improves the Hangouts abilities on Google's wearable device. Glass users now have the option of starting a new Hangouts session with a contact, send them an email, or message them through SMS.
Android-powered users should be receiving the update any minute now, if not already, while iOS users will have to wait until next week to update through the MyGlass app. In order to get the new functionality, users will need to update their MyGlass app, with the Android version sitting at 3.2, and the iOS version at 0.7.0.
After that, Glass users will need to update their Glass firmware, bringing it to XE20.1. Google explains its new update: "Now when you tap on one of your contacts, you can swipe between Hangouts, email or SMS - whichever strikes your fancy at that moment".
Netflix engineers have created a custom interface, where users with the Oculus Rift can browse the service through VR. The engineers created the custom interface during a recent hack day, which also supports the Leap Motion controller for gesture control - allowing you to wave your hand to scroll through movies.
Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that Netflix will ever release Oculus Rift support for Netflix, with the company saying: "[These] are some examples of some of the hacks to give you a taste of what we saw this time around. We should note that, while we think these hacks are very cool and fun, they may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or otherwise be used beyond Hack Day. We are surfacing them here publicly to share the spirit of the Netflix Hack Day."
Facebook is now offering people money to find bugs within the Oculus Rift, as part of the social networks bug bounty program. As the program stands, individual security researchers are paid a minimum reward of $500 for finding a bug. Last year alone, Facebook paid out $1.5 million in bug bounties.
Most of the bugs that are being found are in the messaging system for Oculus developers, and parts of the website. Facebook seems to be trying harder to squish the bugs before the launch of CV1 (Consumer Version 1) of the Oculus Rift, as it is their first hardware product. The fact that someone could hack into the software, or the Rift itself while you're on it, could spell trouble - a big reason why the social network is pumping funds into having bugs destroyed before the Rift goes retail.
Facebook security engineer Neal Poole explains: "A lot of the issues that come up with Oculus are not necessarily in the hardware yet. Potentially in the future, if people were to go explore and find issues in the SDK or the hardware, that is definitely of interest to us".
Startups and established companies are developing new technologies to better monitor health and create gadgets that can improve the lives of seniors. As the wearables market expands further, helping those with the most significant medical needs has become important for software developers and hardware manufacturers.
One such technology is a pendant being used at the Edgemere retirement community in Dallas, Texas, which sends an alert if a resident falls. The custom pendant can track the fall and will immediately notify staff members, so they can be quickly dispatched to address the situation.
"The pendant will pick up the arc of that fall," said John Falldine, Edgemere managing director, in a statement to the media. "It sends the same signal to us as though the resident had hit the button."
Now that the Oculus Rift DK2 is here, Valve has announced that the SteamVR beta now supports Oculus' latest VR headset. Thanks to the increased resolution and added features in the DK2 headset, the latest SteamVR beta has been updated to better support the Oculus Rift DK2 unit.
Valve's official change log for the updated SteamVR beta sees that it is still a beta of course, but it has full support for the Oculus Rift DK2, with positional tracking also being supported on both Windows and OS X. The latest SteamVR beta also includes a fix for an issue that saw the middleware application itself, vrserver.exe, to run even if there is no HMD detected, slowly increasing its load on the CPU time until the entire system was under pressure.
Linux and SteamOS don't have positional tracking support just yet, something that should arrive in a future update. The current SteamVR beta also requires Oculus Rift DK2 owners to have their DK2s in 'Extend Desktop to the HMD' option enabled, and not the 'Direct HMD Access from Apps' option.
Palmer Luckey, the 21-year-old founder of one of the most exciting companies in the world, Oculus VR, has high hopes for the future of technology. With Oculus VR shipping its Development Kit 2, or DK2, Rift headset to consumers and developers over the last month, Palmer has had some interesting things to say in a recent interview with Kotaku UK.
Palmer said: "We see one in every home. [But], just at launch we need to be realistic. The people who are going to be buying this initially are going to be gamers, probably hardcore gamers, and they're going to be the ones with PCs most capable of running it". Palmer wants to see VR become something that expands past just pure gaming, with the Rift and VR in general becoming something for everyone. He continued: "As time goes on it'll become more and more mainstream, but at launch we're going to be targeting that core. Basically let's target it to the people whom we know are going to be buying and then let's go for the people who are going to take some convincing".
After testing out the Rift DK2 myself, I'd have to agree - I think VR will take off like smartphones did, selling tens of millions within the next five years. One in every home is a big statement, but there's a TV in most homes, isn't there? The Oculus Rift is cheaper than a cheap TV, so that statement, while it might sound prosperous to most, could happen - especially with the financial backing of Facebook.
Oculus VR had a strong presence at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany this year - but they walked away with a massive win from the gaming event. With over 140 submissions for the awards at Gamescom 2014, 54 of them made it to the group of nominees, Oculus VR was one of these.
Oculus took out the Best Hardware of Gamescom with its Oculus Rift DK2 unit, with four other devices against it: the Cyberith Virtualizer, Sony's VR headset Project Morpheus, Nintendo's Amiibo, and NVIDIA's latest Shield Tablet and Shield Wireless Controller. We've only just received our Oculus Rift DK2 and we are in love with it, so it comes as no surprise for Oculus to be awarded Best Hardware of a gaming show like Gamescom.
Sixense's STEM System is something we've been excited about since it was announced, but the company has just shown off its own Shooting Gallery, where it provides an excellent example of what STEM can do in the VR world with full-simulation weapon mechanics.
With a STEM in each hand, the right hand acts as if you're holding the gun, while the second can reload your gun with a new magazine. The video above shows off how incredibly well this works, with smooth animations and detailed parts where you can load bullets into the magazine, and then the full magazine into the gun in your right hand.
For Star Wars fans, there's also a Lightsaber Demo that Sixense posted, that shows off another use for the STEM. In this demo, the STEM System becomes a Lightsaber, and thanks to the one-to-one motion tracking system in VR and its low latency, the experience in the VR world blends into the real-world thanks to you holding something in your hand that feels like the handle of the Lightsaber.
As we get closer to IFA 2014, we're hearing more and more about Samsung devices, one of which is the upcoming Gear VR. The Verge has a nice exclusive, with some details on how Gear VR will connect to a Samsung smartphone.
Gear VR has a detachable lid that will hold your Samsung smartphone in place, living up with users' eyes with focus dial on top. There seems to be a micro-USB connection that will tether the VR headset to your smartphone, with the photo above showing off the Galaxy S5 alongside Gear VR. Samsung is poised to launch its Galaxy Note 4 soon, so we should expect it to be compatible with Gear VR - we hope.
Considering the Oculus Rift DK2 unit uses the display panel from Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, we should expect some good things from Gear VR. Remember that Samsung is working closely with Oculus VR, and obviously now Facebook, supplying them with early access to their display technology, while Oculus provides help with the VR side of things.
For a very long time the only baby monitoring system available for parents were the sort that are like walkie talkies to allow mom and dad to hear baby. Some of those have video, but they are all very similar. A new type of baby monitor has been unveiled called Sproutling. It's a smart wearable device that attaches to the baby's leg.
The monitor is connected to a soft and hypoallergenic strap that can be machine-washed. The system is intended to be worn by kids from 0-2 years of age. When worn, the Sproutling system can monitor the temperature of the child, heart rate, and motion. It charges via a charging dish that can monitor temperature in the room and ambient noise.
An app runs on the parent's smartphone and offers an easy to use system for showing how the child is doing at any time. A line that fills in around a circle on the app shows how long your baby should sleep. One cool aspect of the device is that parents can monitor baby while they aren't home. That will make it easier to leave junior with a babysitter for the first time.