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VR is a hot topic right now, with Impression Pi hitting Kickstarter with a funding goal of $78,000 and bursting through it in just four days. At the time of writing, they have $145,000 raised with 37 more days to go.
Impression Pi sees a slew of technologies built into the VR headset, with the mobile VR HMD featuring 3D gesture input, position tracking and AR overlays. It features custom-designed sensing hardware, computing unit and advanced algorithms. The 3D gesture control side of things collects the image of your hands and their movement, and generates 3D gesture modelling. From there, you have full gesture control for mobile VR devices.
The position tracking will see the Impression Pi using "unique techniques" designed to track your head position, inside-out. The AR overlay will use its dual camera module to capture everything around you, overlaying this with VR images and virtual objects. This includes collision detection capabilities, and a warning-based obstacle system when it detects objects in the real environment.
When dropping $10,000 for Apple's first wearable, you'd want to feel special, wouldn't you? Well, Apple is explaining its Apple Watch Edition to its employees with high praise.
The company explains that the Apple Watch Edition is "the ultimate expression of extraordinary craftsmanship, incredible innovation, and design driven by functionality and end use... technology becoming seductive, with desirability not necessarily defined simply by a price tag or elitism, but rather meticulous focus on usefulness and utility rooted in beauty".
Anyone who purchases the Apple Watch Edition will secure themselves longer, private appointments - where you can have your own try-on table separate from those peasant Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport wearables, where the purchasing process can last up to one hour. This try-on station will include a pair of stools for you too, with a nice try-on mat "like ones found in jewelry stores". The list goes on, and we're not even joking. Spending $10,000 will get you:
Longer, Private Appointments: Apple plans to complete in-store Apple Watch Edition purchases during special appointments within a dedicated, private Apple Watch Edition try-on area. The Apple Watch Edition will have its own try-on table separate from the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport, and the purchasing process will last up to one hour, including 30 minutes for simply trying on the highest end Apple Watch. (There will be 5 to 15-minute appointments for the other models.)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has largely been hands-off in regards to regulation of the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch wearable.
Silicon Valley companies are interested in providing wearables and other technology that encroaches on health care - and the FDA is offering feedback when appropriate. However, Apple Watch and other solutions are still in their infancy, so the FDA won't need to intervene in the immediate future.
"We are taking a very light touch, an almost hands-off approach," said Bakul Patel, associate director for digital health at the FDA, while speaking with Bloomberg Business. "If you have technology that's going to motivate a person to stay healthy, that's not something we want to be engaged in."
The wearables market is evolving as new vendors, devices and consumer knowledge help push the industry forward.
Manufacturers will ship 45.7 million units this year, a 133.4 percent growth from 19.6 million units year-over-year, according to the IDC research group. In addition, shipment volumes will reach 126.1 million units by 2019 - as more consumers show faith in adopting wearables.
"The explosion of wearable devices was clearly led by fitness bands, which until recently commanded prices that provided comfortable margins, but those days are changing," said Ryan Reith, program director of the IDC worldwide quarterly device trackers program. "The price of these fitness bands have come down so significantly in some markets that smartphone OEMs are now bundling them with smartphones at little cost."
Wearable maker Fitbit understands the entire wearables industry will be strongly shaken up with the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch - but is taking a glass half-full approach, welcoming the Silicon Valley giant.
"I think the more important thing for any emerging category is consumer awareness. That's the biggest barrier to success," said James Park, CEO of Fitbit, in an interview with Washington Post. "Anyone - especially a large company - comes in and is able to raise the level of consumer awareness. It's great for everybody."
Fitbit has worked to improve the comfort of its products, while also improving battery life and other hardware functionality.
Researchers from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, are developing fabric chips that use wearable sensors to help collect medical data. Scientific data will be collected from sweat, blood, phlegm, environmental pollutants and other metrics, so researchers can look for chemical workers.
Fabric chips have proven to be effective as a way to analyze select chemicals already, and there are a growing number of potential uses. The fabric chip is made by encasing silk in brass, and then treating it with silver nanoparticles - and can track biomarker vibrations - opening the door to practical uses.
"We would like to be able to detect biomarkers of tuberculosis," said Christa Brosseau, associate professor chemistry at Saint Mary's University, in a statement to the CBC. "The idea is you could have a fabric chip built into a handkerchief and they could cough into this handkerchief and then it could be easily analyzed."
The Pebble Kickstarter campaign has ended, and it looks like people are firmly behind the smartwatch wearable company. Most of the generated $20.3 million in funding came from pre-orders of the Pebble Time smartwatch, which customers can expect to begin receiving in May.
It took only 49 minutes to raise $1 million, smashing the first Kickstarter record, and became the best funded campaign one week later - receiving $13.3 million total.
"We cannot thank the Pebble community enough for their monumental support," said Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble. "We continue to listen to and be inspired by the backers who believed in us and supported our vision from day one."
Ever since Valve and HTC announced their partnership on the Vive headset, I've been itching to try it, but it has eluded me for now. Now we have news that developers will be able to secure themselves the SteamVR headset for free, at least for now.
Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi talked with Ars Technica, where he said that the developer kits will be given to developers for free in its early stages, with developers of any size able to sign up. The developer kits will begin shipping in the spring, with a retail availability of later in the year.
UNICEF wants kids to be more active and healthier, and has launched its Kid Power program to promote healthy lifestyles for children in the United States. The program is currently underway in Boston, New York City and Dallas, and will be expanded to additional cities in 2016.
As part of the program, each child tracks his or her steps using a wearable, and when 12,000 steps in one day has been hit, UNICEF donates a nutrition pack. UNICEF also wants to educate American children about malnutrition and how it impacts children in other parts of the world.
"One in four American kids is underactive - they're little couch potatoes," said Caryl Stern, US Fund for UNICEF. "And one in four children around the world has some level of malnourishment, and so we are trying to get the kids who are underactive healthy and active."
We really don't know when to expect the Consumer Version 1 (CV1) of the Oculus Rift, but according to Facebook, we should expect the Facebook-owned company to release the first retail Oculus Rift headset later this year.
The news is coming from Facebook's annual F8 developers conference, where Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said that the social network is working on VR, and showed off a space shooter game. He said: "You're going to be able to play incredible games in VR later this year". Schroepfer also added that Facebook wants to bring people together with VR, where he said that in around ten years you'll be able to join your friends and family in birthday celebration by "being there" in VR.