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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.
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.