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The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University has the unique research task of seeing how virtual reality can be used so humans are able to improve our relationships in the real-world. The lab has studied VR for more than 10 years, but the past few years have provided great opportunities with the emergence of Oculus, Project Morpheus, and other hardware platforms.
The gaming potential for VR is huge, but there are other tasks that could be used to help educate and inform the public. One task is using VR so we can experience what it's like to be a refugee living in an active conflict zone, which would help improve human empathy. Another topic of focus is geared towards training and simulations that can be utilized prior to real-world work experience.
"Virtual reality is an experience. Your brain is saying to you 'This isn't real,' but the back of your brain says 'Wow, this feels real to me,'" explained Jeremy Bailenson, director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, in a statement to CBS News. "We like to say the brain is not yet evolve to know that a virtual experience is not real."
There are plenty of smartwatches, fitness bands and other wearables that we can choose from, though it looks like manufacturers are still fighting to get casual consumers to spend.
There are a few different barriers that must be addressed, such as the following: lack of persuasive uses, no killer apps, limited functionality, and style, according to a recent Business Insider Intelligence consumer survey.
When asked why they don't have interest in a smartwatch, 51 percent of those surveyed said they simply don't see the point of owning one. Perhaps providing a killer app could help woo new users, and that would essentially kill two birds with one stone.
Crytek has just announced the released of CryEngine 3.8.1, something that includes support for OpenGL rendering, Linux support, and it's now compatible with the Oculus Rift.
When it comes to the Oculus Rift support in CryEngine 3.8.1, Crytek said: "You asked about it, and we listened: Just in time for the announcement of Crytek'S new VR title "Robinson: The Journey" at this week's E3, we are putting support for the Oculus Rift HMD (Head-mounted display) into EaaS users' hands. We've included a small demonstration level, aptly titled the "VR_Demo" level. This showcases some information on how you can approach setting up your levels for VR, some of the implications and the immersive benefits of using VR".
The latest version of CryEngine also includes a voxel-based volumetric fog system, 8-weight GPU vertex skinning, POM self-shadowing, GameZero, support for 3ds Max 2016, Maya 2016, and MotionBuilder 2016, and "much, much more".
Gamers unsure if they are ready for virtual reality or augmented reality had a great chance to learn more about the booming technology during E3 2015. Both the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus received a lot of attention, while Microsoft also was on-hand to show off HoloLens.
During E3, gamers were able to test out the Oculus Touch controllers, along with the Oculus Rift system. They could try several games on the Sony PlayStation 4 using the Project Morpheus VR headset, offering an actual gaming experience.
Microsoft announced HoloLens in January, and used E3 to help users familiarize themselves with the AR platform. The company showed "Project X-Ray," which let virtual bug-like monsters emerge from the world - or look at a Minecraft world displayed right in front of them.
Huawei has been forced to delay the launch its debut smartwatch, caused by an unknown problem in China. The smartwatch, powered by Google Android Wear, will be released in the United States and Europe sometime during Q3 - and suspected issues stem from Google services used in China.
"We're experiencing some problems with Google's Android Wear [the watch's operating system] in China," Yang said, in a statement published by the Wall Street Journal. "It's a new product."
It looks like Huawei will leave the hardware specifications alone for the watch: 1.4-inch AMOLED (400x400) display, 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB of storage capacity. The watch is just 11.3mm thick and is powered by a 300 mAh battery.
It looks like Apple is planning some big upgrades to the Apple Watch 2, with 9to5Mac reporting that the next iteration of Apple's wearable to feature some big improvements.
Apple Watch 2 should feature a FaceTime camera, which will allow you to make video calls directly from Watch 2. One thing that keeps the Watch from really excelling is its constant reliance on the iPhone, something that Watch 2 will hopefully solve. Apple is working on something it's supposedly calling internally "tether-less" that would see Watch 2 having more functionality when not connected to your iPhone.
Battery life is also reportedly set to be improved on Watch 2, where Apple should be able to make the wearable faster, better, and either have similar, if not improved battery life when compared to the current Apple Watch. The last rumor is that there will be a few different models between $1000 and $10,000 - with Apple set to possibly introduce Watch 2 variants based on titanium, tungsten, palladium, or platinum. Prepare your credit cards, people.
Sony hopes its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset will help usher gamers into the VR world, by providing a fast, responsive gaming environment. Richard Marks, director of the Sony PlayStation Magic Labs research division, recently discussed some of the breakthroughs that Project Morpheus offers to gamers interested in VR.
VR is able to create unique gameplay experiences in so many ways, but after testing Project Morpheus, GamesBeat noted that loading a new magazine into a machine gun is a "kind of fun" experience:
"One thing that's surprising to a lot of people is how much fun it is to do things with two hands separately," Marks recently told GamesBeat. "Picking something up and doing something with the other hand to it - humans are really good with that. If you have to paint with just one hand and then move your body around it, it's really hard, but if you can hold the object in the other hand and paint, it's much more effective. You can move the paintbrush or move the object quickly."
When it comes to the current state of virtual reality, the leading handful of companies know and understand what is being developed. All participating companies would like to see VR mature and spread, but can make for awkward situations if each company isn't doing the best that they can.
"We know each other very well," Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony's worldwide studios for SCE, in a statement published by Polygon. "Brendan [Iribe, the CEO of Oculus] used to work at Gaikai. Palmer [Luckey, the founder of Oculus], before he started the Kickstarter, we knew him. So we share the same understanding that when a company like ours makes efforts, commercial efforts, as a well-funded company with commercial backing, and they are now as well with Facebook backing."
Previously, Oculus showed concern that a big company would release a mid-quality system - and seemingly was speaking about Sony. Those fears have been publicly alleviated, but there is still so much work left to be done among VR hardware manufacturers.
Don't count Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime as a fan of current virtual reality products, as he recently said "it's just tech." Even with much attention at E3 focused on what we can expect from VR and augmented reality, Nintendo has been relatively quiet regarding the booming technologies.
Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in 1995 and previously found success with AR, but that doesn't mean a Virtual Boy 2 is planned anytime soon. Instead, the company is watching how the Oculus Rift, PlayStation Project Morpheus, and Microsoft HoloLens platforms develop.
"We have knowledge of the technical space, and we've been experimenting with this for a long, long time," Fils-Aime told Polygon during E3. "What we believe is that, in order for this technology to move forward, you need to make it fun and you need to make it social. I haven't walked the floor, so I can't say in terms of what's on the floor today, but at least based on what I've seen to date, it's not fun, and it's not social. It's just tech."
The Apple Watch has created a new revenue stream for Apple, and there is something else the company is able to sell along with the wearable: extra watch bands. Almost 20 percent of Apple Watch customers are purchasing at least one extra watch band, according to data Reuters has received from Slice Intelligence.
Apple hasn't issued a statement regarding the number of smartwatch units sold, but Slice believes around 2.79 million units have been sold. However, the entry-level sports band costs just $2.05 to make and sells for $49 - so there is plenty of extra room for Apple to cash in.
The Black Sport Band, Milanese Loop and White Sport Band appear to be the top three favorite extra bands that consumers are picking up. The Milanese Loop is $149, so consumers are seeking an added bit of luxury with their Apple Watch.