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Facebook has just announced that it will move forward with plans to acquire the virtual reality headset maker, Oculus VR, for a cool $2 billion in cash and stock. This figure includes $400 million in cash and more than $1.6 billion in 23.1 million shares of Facebook's common stock. The agreement also features an additional $300 million in earn-out cash and stock if Oculus VR meets certain milestones Facebook as set for the company.
This news comes hot on the heals of Oculus VR's unveiling of its Oculus Rift DevKit 2 at last weeks Game Developers Conference, but what baffles me is the fact that Facebook just paid $2 billion for a company that does not even have a product on the retail market yet. Oculus has sold more than 75,000 development kits though, and that speaks volumes about the demand its retail VR headset will command. Oculus says that its headquarters will remain in Irvine, California, and development will continue on its Rift headset. Facebook says that it plans on extending the Oculus Rift past gaming, and into other areas including communication, education, and social media.
When Fitbit's recall of its Force fitness tracking bands was taken over by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, things got serious. Over 1 million of the company's "Force" wearable fitness tracking bands were recalled in the US and Canada because they caused a rash after prolonged use to about 1.7-percent of customers. Despite this low number, Fitbit agreed to a voluntary recall, and began collecting the defective units.
It appears that a recall is not enough for one customer though who has now filled a class-action lawsuit against the company over allegations that it did not do enough to inform consumers about the recall. The class-action lawsuit is hoping to force Fitbit to contact every Force owner in California and offer a $130+ refund that would include shipping and tax fees. Fitbit already offers a full refund and a free shipping kit to all those who wish to go that route, so I doubt the lawsuit will have much ground to stand on once court proceedings commence.
LG's new G Watch features an angular design, which looks very similar to Sony's SmartWatch 2. LG's G Watch is powered by Google's new Android Wear, which is nice to see. Google uses LG to manufacturer its popular Nexus 5 smartphone, so the relationship is still tight between the giants. The South Korean giant took to its Facebook page to tease the G Watch, something you can check out right here.
Google has posted to the Google+ page of Google Glass an article dubbed "The Top 10 Google Glass Myths," where the search giant explains some of the most talked about worries of the wearable device, most of which revolves around the on-board camera on Glass.
Myth 2 covers "Glass is always-on and recording everything," but it doesn't - and people need to know this. As Google explains, Glass records videos for a default period of 10 seconds, and has a maximum of around 45 minutes of recording before Glass runs out of battery. Some people wonder if you're constantly recording, but it would be the same as them holding their phone up constantly recording you... it's just not going to happen.
Another myth covered is "Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)," and again, it does not. Google "manually approves all the apps that appear there [in its MyGlass store] and have several measures in place to help protect people's security on the device." There's plenty to read about on the original piece from Google.
I've been using a Pebble smartwatch for months now and I really like it. It's a great way to see who is calling me when I am driving or check texts without having to dig my smartphone out of my pocket. It's also a great way to silence the annoying calls I don't want to take while behind the wheel.
It doesn't have many fancy features like some other devices on the market, but it was inexpensive and works very well for what it is. Pebble reportedly sold 400,000 units last year making it one of the most popular smartwatches out there. The company is also on track to double revenue in 2014.
Pebble is estimated to have made about $60 million during that time frame. Pebble also counts over 1000 apps for the smartwatch available and 12000 registered developers with more on the way. The Pebble smartwatch first turned up on Kickstarter and raised a huge chunk of money there, much more than it was looking for. The company raised $10.3 million on Kickstarter, about 100 times more than it needed. The company got another $26 million form angel investors.
Today Oculus unveiled the second generation of its Rift development kit, and it appears to be a major improvement over its predecessor. The Oculus Rift Devkit 2 is an upgraded, and refreshed version of the company's original virtual reality headset, and boast many new features and improvements over the original Oculus Rift.
The new Oculus Rift DevKit 2 features better latency, better frame rates, and a higher resolution (960x1080 per eye) that is said to greatly reduce the infamous screen-door effect experienced on the original Oculus Rift. Positional head tracking has been greatly improved and is now accurate down to less than a millimeter, and the new screen is a low persistence OLED display that virtually eliminates motion blur and judder.
Sony is rumored to unveil its own virtual reality (VR) device at GDC over the next couple of days, but now its next-gen console competitor, Microsoft, is also rumored to be working on its own VR headset.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting from its sources that "people familiar with the project" confirmed that Microsoft is developing a VR headset, and that the company has already filed a patent for the device. The technology has reportedly been developed side-by-side with another project called "Fortaleza," something that translates to "fortress" in Portuguese.
The two projects are expected to provide users with a "suite of experiences unique to Microsoft's Xbox products."
GDC 2014 - After months upon months of teasing the world, Sony has just taken the wraps off of its VR headset for the PlayStation 4, known as Project Morpheus.
Project Morpheus is a VR headset designed for the PlayStation 4, which comes in two pieces: a closed display, and something that resembles the PlayStation Move sensor. The unit unveiled at GDC 2014 is the development kit for Sony VR games, with Shuhei Yoshida, President of Worldwide Studios for Sony saying: "We believe Morpheus will further enhance, with integration with PlayStation Camera and PS Move." Yoshida has said that the prototype of Project Morpheus is "by no means final," so we should expect a change in the final product.
PlayStation R&D Engineer Richard Marks talked about Morpheus, saying that it needed a high-resolution, high-quality screen, great sound, and control - all of which Sony seems to have under control. SCE is working on "binaural tech" for the audio side of things, with Marks making a point of the PS4 camera being "almost custom-built for VR."
Marks said that VR needs to be easy to use, something that should be as easy as picking it up off your coffee table, and jumping into a virtual world. For this to happen, I really want to see Project Morpheus be wireless, but I think for the first-gen device we're going to have a cable attached.
Just hours after Google announced its new operating system for smartwatches called Android Wear, Motorola had an announcement of its own to make. The Lenovo-owned smartphone giant has just announced that it is the first manufacturer to release a smartwatch design based around Android Wear.
Motorola's new Moto 360 is the first smartwatch to utilize the new Android Wear OS from Google, but that is no surprise as Motorola was owned by Google up until about 2 months ago. The Moto 360 utilizes the new round form factor design which is one of two supported shapes (the other is square) in Android Wear. The smartwatch features OK Google voice control, alerts and notifications, and can display information such as weather, and fitness metrics.
Reports of an LG-designed Google Nexus smartwatch were not that far off. Today Google announced that it has been working on a new Android-based operating system that has been designed exclusively for smartwatches. The new Android Wear operating system is a forked version of Android that is specifically for smartwatches of all shapes and sizes, and features built-in amenities for fitness, navigation, Google Now, OK Google voice commands, and full integration with Android smartphones.
Google says that it is working with major Android partners like Motorola, LG, ASUS, HTC, and Samsung on different wearable designs. One of the most exciting features is that it appears that round smartwatches are a reality and are coming soon. A few days ago I reported on a smartwatch concept that utilized a round face design that I said was the key to a successful smartwatch industry, and with today's announcement, I actually feel like the smartwatch craze may survive its trend period. Google says that boutique watch brands such as fossil will also offer smartwatches with the new Android Wear OS later this year as well.