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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.
The LG G Watch Urbane is one of the slickest wearables unveiled in the last couple of months, but the new LTE-powered version of the watch will soon be made available, with a huge $590 cost.
It might not be as much as what Apple is asking for its Watch, and the $10,000 Watch, but it's quite expensive compared to Pebble Time at $179, Motorola's Moto 360 for $249, and Apple's Watch starting at $349. The G Watch Urbane is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 400 clocked at 1.2GHz, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. There'll also be LTE connectivity in the LTE-powered version, which will allow wearers to make and receive phone calls without having to tether to their smartphone.
Leap Motion has teamed up with Razer for its OSVR headsets, where it will supply its motion-tracking technology directly into the Open Source Virtual Reality headset.
Razer's upcoming Hacker Development Kit (HDK) headset for OSVR will be made available later this year, where developers will have the option of buying one with the faceplate that feature's Leap Motion's gesture-tracking hardware and software baked inside. Developers who opt for this will receive a bundle that includes the ability to create apps and experiences that will use Leap Motion's hand-tracking technology.
Leap Motion's CEO, Michael Buckwald, has said that this partnership is just the first it will have with VR headset makers. Buckwald was coy on which other partners it is working with, but teased that Leap Motion's long-term goal is to have their technology in as many of the leading VR headsets as possible. Buckwald said: "The peripheral [the Leap Motion controller as a standalone device] is still our biggest business but VR is our priority now. We can be in at the ground floor and help shape what it means to have input and help shape what the [VR] operating systems look like".
Samsung, Oculus VR and Best Buy have partnered together to get the Galaxy Note 4-powered Gear VR headset on Best Buy shelves on March 27 - or this Friday - for $199.
The Gear VR headsets will be at 100 of Best Buy's stores, with more stores receiving the VR headset later this year. The Gear VR Innovator Edition is powered by Samsung's own Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which features a 5.7-inch 2560x1440 display that provides an immersive VR experience on-the-go.
The fitness and healthcare sectors will help drive the wearables market into an estimated $2 billion market by 2019, according to Juniper Research, but questions remain.
There is great potential for doctors and medical patients embracing wearable devices able to consistently monitor physical data - but privacy concerns and unstable regulation must be addressed. Medical devices have mandated standards they must follow while collecting and storing data, though wearables don't currently follow the same standards.
In its "Smart Wireless Devices: CE, Enterprise, Fitness, Healthcare, Patients, 2015-2019", Juniper Research also found a use for smart glasses and other wearables in the workplace.
Wearable manufacturers can pitch their products to a wide possible customer base, but attracting athletes could be of major focus in the future.
Many endurance athletes already rely on heart rate monitors and GPS units, but companies hope devices that are able to track additional metrics, such as skin temperature and respiration, are appealing. The hardware is important, but companies must create appealing partnerships so that all collected data can be easily observed by active consumers.
Instead of trying to create a product to compete with trusted GPS units, wearable manufacturers may try to make clothing, shoes, sunglasses, and other athletic gear smarter.
Fitbit CEO James Park doesn't buy into long-term health care concerns over smartwatches and other wearables, despite a recent New York Times story.
The story noted that similar to smartphones, wearables could be linked to cancer, due to radiation being emitted - but Park and others believe this type of research needs to be more carefully examined.
"In general, cell phones are definitely a very different beast than the low powered wearables," Park said in a statement to TIME. "The transmit energies are orders of magnitude higher. So if people are comfortable wearing Bluetooth headsets, I think wearables are even less of a concern because Bluetooth headsets are also close to your head. Wearables are not, unless you happen to sleep right on top of your wrists."
Intel is currently undergoing its largest push into the mobile market, learning from previous mistakes after missing the first major smartphone wave a few years ago. The company has endured dropping sales of PCs and laptops, as more consumers and business workers embrace mobile - so this is an important effort for the Silicon Valley giant.
"They're determined not to miss the next big thing," said Mark Hung, analyst at Gartner. As such, Intel's Q1 revenue estimate lost almost $1 billion because of slowing PC sales, but merged its mobile and PC businesses into one computing business.
"It helps when your other businesses are performing well," said Andy Bryant, Intel board Chairman, in a statement to investors late last year. "When things are going well it gives you the time and the resolve to make the changes you need to make in other parks of your business."