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Microsoft is gearing up to release a smartwatch that will be compatible with its Windows Phone OS, along with support for Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Using technology refined by Kinect engineers, the watch will have two days of battery life and support continuous heart rate monitoring. A product announcement and launch date have not been released, though it could be available to consumers later this summer.
Throughout much of its dominant era, Microsoft didn't put a lot of effort into cross-platform compatibility, though including support for Android and iOS makes smart business sense. Both the iPhone and Android-powered smartphones currently control the market, and excluding users would greatly hurt potential sales.
It is an exciting time for the smartwatch market, with Samsung, Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and other companies already deeply involved - with Microsoft, Apple, and other companies expected to release their own devices. However, continuous heart rate monitoring would be a valuable asset for Microsoft, providing a better overall health analysis of watch owners.
During its event in San Francisco this morning, Samsung launched the Digital Health Initiative, pushing open software and hardware platforms to the next level, investing $50 million to help startups and companies work together. The company previously announced the Samsung Catalyst Fund, a $100 million offering, in what could innovate digital health in the future.
The recently announced Simband wearable is one piece of the puzzle, offering a hardware platform for others to build off of. Innovation of medical sensors, which unlike hospitals don't require additional government scrutiny, is moving along with the idea of "intelligent digital health" being promoted by Samsung.
Focused on software, the Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (SAMI) relies on cloud-based sensor data that is open and secure. The software relays heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, hydration, glucose concentrations, and other readings, which can be stored online and shared with medical professionals.
Samsung has a new patent application out there that shows some tech that may eventually make its way into the firm's next generation smartwatch. The patent app outlines several new bits including a circular face, gesture controls, and image recognition. The gesture tech supports different hand gestures and movements to launch certain apps.
The app also shows a feature that lets users tap on the screen to control items around the house remotely. Other features that the patent highlights for smartwatches include sensors for monitoring pulse and the ability to show inactivity.
It was only yesterday that we were reporting on Samsung's rumored VR headset, but now it is becoming much more real. VRFocus has unearthed a patent that the South Korean giant filed from last year, in August to be specific.
The patent describes Samsung's VR headset as 'a device that is worn by a user and displays an image in front of the user's eyes in a virtual reality system or an augmented reality system'. Samsung's VR headset will form a virtual image at a "predetermined distance" from the user, with images being created and blasted to each of the users' eyes. These two modules are also set at a "predetermined angle" in order to direct the users vision to a "target position".
Samsung specifically mentions the use of LCD and OLED panels, which could allow users to slot their smartphones into the VR headset, which would really change things up. The VR headset will still require a connection to a device, as this could just be a frame holder for the device. We did report that the VR headset would be Android-powered, but if you can slot in your Samsung phone - most of which are based on Android - then this would make sense.
The wearables market is booming right now with all sorts of new devices hitting the market. Of all the smartwatches and fitness bands on the market, the best selling devices on the market come from Fitbit according to the latest market statistics.
About 2.7 million devices shipped globally in Q1 2014 according to statistics from Canalys released this week. Of those 2.7 million devices, about 50% of them were Fitbit devices. The major recall on the Fitbit Force apparently had little effect on sales.
We've already got a bunch of VR headsets to look forward to, with the favorite right now being the Oculus Rift, but we also have Sony's Project Morpheus to look forward to. But, according to "sources close to Samsung," Engadget is reporting that Samsung is also working on its own VR headset.
The South Korean giant has reportedly given its VR headset to developers to work with, with its VR headset being compatible with its tablets and smartphones, which are mostly Android-powered. This will split the market into multiple parts, with Sony's Project Morpheus only being compatible with the PlayStation 4, Oculus VR's Rift being compatible with PCs, Macs, Linux and mobile devices and then Samsung's device, which would most likely be locked to its Galaxy-branded mobile devices.
Samsung's VR headset reportedly features an OLED panel that is "as good [as] or better than" the Oculus Rift DK2. Engadget has said that Samsung is hoping to price its VR headset lower than both Oculus VR and Sony's offerings, so we should expect somewhere in the realm of $250-$350. What do you think Samsung should name it? I think we should expect it as the Galaxy VR, personally.
Google seem to be pushing out Glass updates rather quickly these days, with XE17.2 being pushed out to Glass users across the world right now. The latest update does a better job with low-power states, and more.
Google has said: "Among various bug fixes, this release better handles instances when Glass is extremely low on power. One thing you might notice is a new screen with a red flashing low battery indicator when Glass doesn't have enough power to turn on and needs to be plugged in".
The smartwatch industry is really only beginning, but thanks to Samsung getting in at the ground level, it is controlling it already. Samsung's original Galaxy Gear smartwatch shipped more units than Pebble, Motorola or anyone else in Q1 2014.
For the three-month period, there were an estimated 700,000 smartwatches shipped, with 500,000 of those being built by Samsung. This has given the South Korean giant a huge 71% control of the smartwatch market share, a Galaxy-sized 250% year-over-year increase. But remember, shipped units do not equate sold units. Samsung has already taken up more of the market by introducing the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit.
Facebook-owned Oculus Rift will take its virtual reality headsets into Chuck E. Cheese, with the restaurant testing the Rift during a six-week trial run in three select markets. The trial begins today in Dallas, Texas, with testing opening up in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida later this month.
"Kids today have unprecedented access to game consoles and tablets," said Roger Cardinale, president, CEC Entertainment, Inc. "Our challenge is to deliver an experience not available at home, and there is no doubt virtual reality does just that. Oculus Rift technology is the next frontier in the gaming industry, and we're thrilled to be able to say it's part of the Chuck E. Cheese's lineup."
The consumer version of the Rift headset is scheduled for release in 2015, as technology enthusiasts continue to experiment with the popular headset. Meanwhile, there are 571 Chuck E. Chees locations in 48 states and eight countries, though the company will study how visitors react to using the virtual reality headset.
Palmer Luckey is set to become a household name over the years, but to us, he already is. Well, reaching the cover of WIRED magazine will surely speed that process up, with the founder of Oculus VR gracing the June 2014 cover.
Peter Rubin interviews Luckey in the issue, with a quote on the front sure to get most people's attention: "This kid is about to change gaming, movies, TV, music, design, medicine, sex, sports, art, travel, social networking, education - and reality. The Oculus Rift is here, and it will blow your mind". There's not a word I disagree with there, I agree that VR - and more specifically, the Oculus Rift - will change, everything.