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VR is really picking up steam, and with this, NVIDIA is putting some effort into the R&D of high-resolution screens for VR devices. The company is researching cascaded displays, using low-res displays, but many of them, to provide a high-res image.
NVIDIA has used two normal 7-inch 1280x800 panels (which is identical to the one used in the Rift DK1 unit), layering one of these panels on another, which allows one pixel on the top layer to lie above the quarters of four different pixels on the layer beneath it. A single backlight is used to illuminate both layers of the "Cascaded Display".
The company has also created some software which allows for the pixels on the front LCD to turn on and off, which allows just a particular quarter of the lower pixels to be shown. On its second pass, the front panel will change the displayed pixels, while the rear panel changes its colors. This allows for the quarter pixels to be displayed, which provides us with a higher resolution image.
For those of you with an Oculus Rift, you might want to grab the just-released Oculus SDK version 0.4.0 beta. The new Rift SDK includes some great new features, starting with DK2 support obviously.
The new SDK includes an Oculus Runtime that is installed separately from the SDK itself. The runtime package includes the Oculus Config Utility, service and drivers. We also have the star of the show, an Oculus Display Driver under Windows, something that routes the rendering output directly to the Rift headset, offering up an option to mirror this display output in a window.
There's also a new Health and Safety Warning screen that will display in front of you once an application starts up. You can grab the new Oculus SDK 0.4.0 beta package from the Oculus VR developer website, which requires a login.
Oculus VR has started shipping its Development Kit 2 unit of its VR headset, the Oculus Rift. Oculus VR had tens of thousands of orders of the Rift DK2 unit, with many placing their orders at around 8 AM PDT, with a first come, first serve basis being placed on shipping.
The Oculus VR developer forums are filled with many happy gamers and developers who have had their DK2 units shipped, but some aren't so happy as they ordered a little later than some others, so their DK2 units haven't been shipped yet. I personally ordered my DK2 unit at 4:06 PM PDT, and my order is still unfortunately pending, so I'm guessing I'm in the second batch of shipments, hopefully.
Oculus VR will be shipping out a huge 10,000 units this month, with over 45,000 orders on its DK2 unit being placed.
Samsung's venture into virtual reality has becoming slightly more real today, with a tease of its new Gear VR software platform. Sam Mobile is behind the latest leaked screenshots, showing off Gear VR Manager, Samsung's software that is required with its Gear VR hardware.
The Gear VR Manager includes some core apps like VR Panorama, VR Cinema and an early version of the HMT Manager. Once you've got it all paired and setup, there's a tutorial that will show you how you can slide your Galaxy smartphone into the VR headset, connecting it with Gear VR using a USB 3.0 connection. Sam Mobile has confirmed that there is a touchpad and back button being built into the Gear VR headset itself.
How will you be able to control Gear VR? Thanks to Samsung's S Voice, you'll be able to speak voice commands into Gear VR. The rumors are that Samsung will launch Gear VR sometime this year, most likely alongside the launch of its upcoming Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.
Even though Facebook has spent $2 billion so far on its acquisition of Oculus VR, the money won't stop flowing. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said during the week: "We've mostly been a company that has played on top of the different mobile foundations other people have built".
He continued talking about his social network, explaining: "One of the things I care really deeply about on a 10-year arc for the company is having a different relation to what the next set of computing platforms are. We can help define what the next generation of computing is going to be". When pressed about Oculus VR, Zuckerberg said: "We're really excited to welcome that team. They're extremely talented and have pulled off something that people have been talking about for a really long time and now is possible thanks to the technology that team has developed".
When it comes to the future of computing, Zuckerberg said to investors: "Expect us to continue investing heavily, and our costs will increase. There are huge opportunities to build the next generation of computing platforms". Oculus VR and virtual reality itself isn't Facebook's only interest, with Zuckerberg telling investors that augmented reality, vision technology and AI are things that the social network is looking into. Zuckerberg added that whether they pay off in a "five or 10-year time frame" or even "further out than that".
After what has felt like years of teasing, Cyberith has finally placed its immersive VR gaming device on Kickstarter, known as the Virtualizer. The Virtualizer is a locomotion device for virtual reality gaming that allows gamers to move freely within the VR world.
The Virtualizer has been in development for two years now over at Cyberith, but now it is on Kickstarter. The cheapest way to get your hands, or body into the Virtualizer is to pledge $599. For $599, you get the Virtualizer without the sensors, which is a kit that is "specifically targeted at developers and researchers who want to track movement with/via different sensor solutions like optical tracking or the PrioVR Suit from YEI Technology".
For $699, you're getting the real deal: the Virtualizer. This is the early bird special, with the first 150 backers receiving their Virtualizer for a special price. On top of this, these 150 backers will have their name registered in Cyberith's hall of fame as VR pioneers. The Virtualizer has a current ETA of March 2015, but this could charge for various reasons.
Rumors continue to swirl that Apple is getting ready to launch a smartwatch in the US. A patent has now been granted by the USPTO that covers an electronic wristwatch that was originally filed in July 2011. The patent certainly shows what Apple was thinking about a wearable device as far back as three years ago.
The patent is US Patent 8,787,006 and went public yesterday. If you are hoping that the patent will shed light on what the iWatch, or iTime device might be like, all the patent really shows is what Apple was thinking in 2011. The watch in the line art with the patent looks nothing like the bangle we have seen in concept renderings.
The watch in the patent is a wristband that has a mobile device component that can be clipped onto the band worn on the wrist and can function when off the band too. The patent does call the device iTime, but no note of a trademark being filed for that name has been found. This patent almost looks like a spinoff of the iPod nano watchbands that were common a few years ago.
During the Commonwealth Games that take place between 24th July and the 3rd of August, BBC Research and Development will be conducting a few trials and public demonstrations. These experiments will see a number of industry partners working together to help create the future of BBC R&D's vision of the future of TV. These broadcasting milestones include:
- The first ever Ultra-HD broadcast of a Commonwealth Games
- The first major live event to be produced and delivered entirely over the Internet
- The first UK trial broadcasting live coverage over 4G mobile networks
- The first live virtual reality broadcast combining 360 degree video with 3D audio
- The first public outing for several cutting-edge BBC R&D projects demonstrating the editorial and creative potential of a new Internet-based broadcasting system
The biggest part here is that we're going to be seeing the first live VR broadcast done, which will use a combination of 360-degree video with 3D audio. The BBC R&D team will be getting a hand from UCL, where they will create "the most immersive live virtual reality broadcast to date". The demonstration will involve "a panoramic, 360 degree video camera, and a 3D audio microphone will be placed into the SSE Hydro Stadium in Glasgow, streaming the live feeds to an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in the Glasgow Science Centre". They continue, by teasing that "This provides the viewer with the sensation of being transported inside the stadium and being part of the crowd. This work forms part of ongoing projects to explore the creative and editorial potential of new consumer audio-visual technology".
Smartwatches piqued the interest of technology enthusiasts, but has largely fallen flat to appeal to casual consumers. To create new marketing hype, LG Electronics, Filip Technologies and VTech Holdings are catering devices to children, which could be an easier sale than to adults.
Basic smartwatches from children, like the VTech Kidizoom smartwatch, is simple and affordable: $60 with no Wi-Fi or 3G/4G support. Keeping kids mobile with technology could be used for both education and entertainment, supporters say. Meanwhile, smartwatches from Samsung, Apple and other companies rely heavily on technology, including mobile connectivity, to constantly monitor blood sugar levels and other medical data.
"Children as well as the elderly are ideal customers for wearable technologies," Jong-seok Park, head of LG Mobile Communications, in a recent statement. "Wearables allow us to stay connected without the worry of losing a device or the inconvenience of having to carry a large item in a pocket."
Google's CEO Larry Page has slammed Samsung for picking its own Tizen in its smart watches over Android Wear, according to a report.
The Information claims Samsung's chairman Jay Y Lee and the Google CEO held a "tense private meeting" at the Sun Valley Allen & Co conference. Page allegedly spoke to Lee about his frustrations Samsung was heavily pushing Tizen devices like the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo over the Android Wear enabled Gear Live, and told Lee how he'd prefer it if the company focused on Android Wear, particularly as the latter is compatible with a wider range of Android smartphones and tablets.
The report, if true, could be indicative of a larger debate about the future of smart watches. As we reported earlier this year, there was some controversy when Samsung appeared to favor its own software rather than Android. Consumer wearable tech, specifically smartwatches, is very much in its infancy - with some of Samsung's own efforts largely being considered a swing and a miss to date. Although Samsung is the top Android manufacturer at the moment, tensions over which direction to take the emerging market could well cause conflict. That is, of course, reliant on if smart watches take off at all.