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Modern virtual reality is still in its infancy, and social networking company Facebook hopes its $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR will help usher VR technology into the future. The buyout initially raised alarm, but news also excited virtual reality supporters, anxious for large companies and mainstream users to pay attention to the budding technology.
The Facebook team has been left intact and the social media company doesn't plan to rebrand Oculus VR - or the company's Oculus Rift - which could be made available to consumers before the end of the year.
Facebook's acquisition of Oculus immediately raised concern, though company founder Palmer Luckey previously addressed the issue. Keeping the company at its Irvine office in southern California allows Facebook-owned Oculus to remain close both to video game studios and Hollywood.
The United States Patent and Trademark office has raised two objections over Google's request to allow the trademark of the word 'Glass'. Google's application to trademark 'Google Glass' was already accepted and registered. But in the case of registering a common word 'glass', the one year old application raised objections by the application examiner.
The first objection was that the word 'glass' is too similar to other trademarks containing the same word, which would create confusion with the consumers. One of the companies with such trademark name 'Write on Glass' has filed a notice of opposition against Google in December.
But the main objection was that the US federal law does not allow the trademark of generic terms.
If you are excited at the thought of getting a new smartwatch onto your wrist and use a Samsung smartphone, you may have an eye on one of the new offerings unveiled this year. The Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit are smartwatches that we have talked about before. One of the most notable things about those devices is that they have stepped away from Android.
All of those devices run the Tizen operating system. All of the watches are compatible only with select Samsung smartphones. This is one of the biggest drawbacks to the Gear line, limited compatibility. If they would work with any device, sales would be better.
All three of the devices are up for pre-order on Amazon right now. The Gear 2 sells for $299.99, the Gear 2 Neo sells for $199.99, and the Gear Fit sells for $199.99. All of them are set to launch on April 11. If you order form Amazon you may get the watch by launch date.
TomTom has launched its latest GPS watch aimed at the athlete and fitness buff. The new watch is called the Runner Cardio GPS watch and it has a built-in heart rate monitor. There are plenty of watches out there that can show you your heart rate, but those have to be paired with a chest strap.
TomTom's watch needs no chest strap for the monitor to work. Runners can look at the watch to be sure that their heart rate is in the ideal zone. Five different intensity zones can be chosen to match training goals with alerts to speed up or slow down given to keep the runner in the zone.
The Runner Cardio watch uses a Mio optical sensor to monitor the pulse rate by shining a light through the skin. The watch is available to order right now for $269. A multi-sport version of the watch is offered for $299.
Virtual Reality gaming is one of the hottest topics in the tech world right now, and with both Sony and Oculus VR making massive announcements recently, it seems that the buzz is only getting louder. Today I ran across what could be the next VR company to to hit the big times and could give Oculus VR and Sony a run for their money.
True Player Gear is a six-year old company that is based out of Montreal, Canada, and has made some very stout claims about its VR Headset. The five-employee company has posted an image of its device on Reddit, and I have to admit that it looks very similar to an Oculus Rift DK1, but its hardware and features are said to be much greater. The True Player Gear Totem is said to feature a full 1080p OLED screen, two high-resolution cameras for position tracking and Augmented Reality, and a 3 axis 1kHz gyro, 3 axis 4kHz accel, 3 axis magnetometer to also aid in position tracking.
There is not much information on the company's website, but the device is said to be compatible with PlayStation, Xbox and PC, and can handle all 3D video formats. The list of supported engines is also quite nice, but Oculus also supports most of them. The company did mention on Reddit, that it will feature expansion ports for Makers to hack into, surround sound, and individual eye focusing. The company also said that it would be launching a Kickstarter later this year, so hopefully we will get clued in a little more on the project and product before then.
With all of the backlash that has cropped up against the Facebook / Oculus VR acquisition deal, the social networking giant has came out today and publicly stated that it has no intentions of re-branding Oculus VR, the Oculuc Rift or integrating its social networking platform to the Oculus Rift.
What this means is that Facebook will not rename neither the company nor its virtual reality headset, and that despite rumors, Facebook will not integrate its login or authentication features into the device as a method of logging in to play games or use the device in general. While this is definitely a good thing, I feel that it will do little to change the minds of those who are convinced that Facebook will ruin the technology. Personally, I do not think that Facebook will screw things up, but I have chosen to withhold judgement on weather the deal was the right one to make until I see the Oculus Rift retail version launched.
You might remember the name 'CliffyB' as one of the brains (now ex-brain) of Epic Games. Cliff Bleszinski took to his Tumblr to talk about the recent acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook: "The brain droppings of a formerly employed videogame ninja". CliffyB seemed to think it was going to happen, where he said: "this is exactly what was going to happen". He explained in much more detail:
When a company raises money from venture capitalists the end game IS acquisition. While it might have been interesting for a dedicated gaming company to purchase Oculus it might have ultimately limited their potential in regards to the myriad of things that the Rift is capable of. I want games, but I also want virtual tourism. PTSD treatment. End of life quality comfort care improvements. Treatment for a variety of fears. Architectural visualisation. Pilot training. Scuba training. The list simply goes on, and on, and on. Start to imagine a VR experience that's more social where you can sit, say, in a virtual IMAX with your best friends who all live in different cities and things start getting incredibly intriguing.
It gets better, as the founder of Epic Games took a swipe at Oculus VR's Kickstarter backers - who are after Oculus VR's blood - saying that investing in a Kickstarter project guarantees you a reward, and now equity and that "crowdfunding can only take you so far, especially when you're doing something this ambitious". He also took a big swipe at Minecraft creator Notch, where he said: "Notch, your cancelling Minecraft makes you look like a pouty kid who is taking his ball and going home. It's a bratty and petty move and it saddens me greatly".
When Motorola and Google first announced the Moto 360 smartwatch, I was quick to point out that it was the new standard to beat in wearable technology. It appears that most of the tech world agrees with me on this as well, but the one thing I failed to hit on was the availability of high-end watch bands for the device.
Every watch aficionado knows that no matter how beautiful a watch may be, its beauty can be diminished by an unflattering watch band. It appears that Motorola knows this as well, and the company has just released a new video that shows off some of the stylish, and elegant bands that will be available for the new Moto 360. Gone is the bulky rubber watch band that is reminiscent of cheap department store watches, and in come leather and metal bands that are designed to go well with any outfit, setting, or event the wearer may attend.
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.