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The VR market is beginning to heat up, where we have the biggest player in the room with Oculus VR and the Rift, which has had multiple development kits, prototypes and an up-and-coming consumer version of its VR headset. But now Carl Zeiss, the infamous lens maker, has stepped up with a new VR headset: VR One.
VR One is priced at $99, and is a smartphone VR headset that is aimed at the mass market. VR One is based around the same principals of Samsung's Gear VR, which was co-developed with Oculus VR, but with a much less specific hardware requirement. The VR One will work with any smartphone that that is 4.7 to 5.2 inches, but VR One still has one big requirement: users will have to order different "drawers" to install their smartphones, to accommodate for the different sizes between the slew of handsets on the market that would be between 4.7 and 5.2 inches.
Carl Zeiss' new VR One won't be released until 2015, but it'll be priced at $99 which should have the mass market interested. The required drawers, depending on your smartphone, will set you pack $9.90 each.
Today hasn't been a nice start for wearables, with HTC announcing it has delayed its wearable until 2015, and now according to a new report, ASUS won't have much stock of its upcoming ZenWatch when it first launches.
VR-Zone is reporting that ASUS will have just 300, yes - just 300 of its ZenWatch units for its first run. The site is claiming that ASUS will launch these handful of units as an exclusive launch in Taiwan for the first batch, its home turf. Why the delay? It looks like ASUS could possibly be facing manufacturing issues, with its watchface being imbedded into a curved stainless steel chassis, with Gorilla Glass 3 stomped on top.
This curved style could be forcing ASUS to push production back to ensure it gets it first, testing out the initial 300 first before pushing them out to the world.
HTC was meant to launch its first wearable very soon, but the company has delayed the launch until sometime in 2015.
The head of HTC America, Jason Mackenzie, spoke with Re/code today, where he said: "We had originally planned to have a wearable launch in this time frame. It ended up just not being ready". The article also had Leader of the HTC Creative Labs team, Drew Bamford, chime in, where he said: "When we come to market with our product we want to make sure the product has a strong point of view and there is a really compelling reason to strap it on your wrist." He added, "We honestly don't think anyone has gotten it right".
We should hopefully hear more at the press event dubbed "Double Exposure" later on today, where we should be greeted with some new handsets, the NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Nexus 9 tablet, and the company's new action camera to compete with the new GoPro Hero4.
The Edinburgh Airport has become the first airport in the UK to test Google Glass, in an attempt to improve service to air travelers. Employees would be able to pull up flight details and other relevant information to help assist customers as they prepare to fly out of the airport.
"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the airport experience for our passengers and Google Glass trial is a great example of how we're thinking out the box," said Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport chief executive. Over the next few months we'll be able to establish whether this product is suitable for an airport environment."
If airport officials determine Google Glass isn't the right wearable for its employees, companies such as Kopin manufacture industrial wearables.
It doesn't matter what type of technology is developed, when it comes to driving behind the wheel, your attention should be focused on the road. Recent research found that drivers in a simulator using both Google Glass and a smartphone to text were equally slow to respond to their environment, posing significant safety hazards.
"While Glass-delivered messaging has benefits, it does not in any way make driving-while-messaging safe," said Ben Sawyer, lead researcher, in a University of Central Florida peer-reviewed study done alongside the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Google Glass wearers reportedly recovered slightly faster than those using a traditional smartphone, but there was less distance between their vehicle and other vehicles ahead - dropping risk perception of a changing environment. There were hopes that the head-mounted display would allow drivers to keep their attention on the road in front of them, but interacting with Glass still proves to be too distracting for drivers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has passed the LG-VC100 smartwatch that is expected to be the Korean company's CDMA smartwatch. The smartwatch reportedly supports a SIM card and will be available in late 2014 or early 2015.
It remains to be seen if the smartwatch with CDMA will be added to LG's G Watch family or if it will become the feature of a new smartwatch product line. It's unknown which U.S. carriers would support the device, but it seems Verizon Wireless, at the very least, could be onboard.
The smartwatch market is currently booming, with multiple models launched by LG, Samsung, and other rivals - and the Apple Watch also will help draw major attention to the market.
During an interview with Japanese site AV Watch, Xbox boss Phil Spencer had some interesting things to say about Xbox, and more. There was a question thrown in about VR, which is the most interesting part of this interview.
When asked about the potential and rumored spin off of the Xbox brand from Microsoft, Spencer replied with: "Creating the appropriate tools, finding the right developers, we have gathered such a great community. With Xbox 360, our efforts were crowned by considerable success. And I'm committed to the success of Xbox One. In the past six months Xbox One has changed. We introduced to gamers the version without Kinect and broadened the choice. We will continue to update the system, and starting with Japan we're launching in new markets. The launch in Shanghai in China will happen next week, and I believe that by such changes we'll gather an even bigger audience".
Spencer also talked about VR, where he said good things about the competition in Oculus and Sony, but teased that Microsoft is working on its own VR tech for Xbox, but isn't ready to talk about it just yet. Spencer said: "The industry as a whole continues to invest in research and in new elements. New technologies invite us to explore new gaming world's. I believe that Kinect, voice and virtual reality are those key new elements. That's why I'm glad that Sony and Oculus are investing in VR. We're also working on an investment of our own, but it's not at a stage in which we can talk about it yet".
Samsung is soon to launch its Gear VR device, alongside the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, but what about the software and games that will float onto Samsung's first VR device? That will be controlled by Oculus.
First, you'll need the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, followed by (of course) the Gear VR headset itself, and finally, in order to get it all working, the software will be coming from Oculus. Oculus' vice president for Mobile told Polygon: "On Gear VR, there will be an Oculus store and that's how you'll get Gear VR applications". This means that there is no way for developers to release games through the Google Play, or other Android stores for Gear VR. Cohen added: "No. You'll need to go through Oculus storefront for mobile VR".
While this might sound strange, it gives Oculus the control to keep the quality of the content at a much higher grade. Second, it provides Oculus, and Facebook, with profits from the sales, in the same way Valve takes a cut of profits from each game sold on Steam. Cohen added: "We'll have a lot more details about this later, but it's going to be something that's very developer friendly. Our goal is to be the platform, to provide the tools that developers need, and to bring the users in," he stated. "And that it will be as painless as we can make it".
While Oculus VR is on its fourth headset before it even goes retail: DK1, Crystal Cove, DK2, Crescent Bay, Sony is still tinkering away with its Project Morpheus headset. Sony Worldwide Studios' President, Shuhei Yoshida, spoke with The Wall Street Journal recently, about the company's adventures in VR.
Yoshida said that Sony "finished 85 percent of the work needed to make the product available" but didn't elaborate on when Project Morpheus would launch, or what type of price to expect. Yoshida did say that most of Project Morpheus' components are found in smartphones, which would help keep the price from floating up.
From what we can expect, Sony's Project Morpheus headset offers a 1920x1080 display with a 90-degree field of view (FOV) and full 360 degrees of head tracking. Considering Oculus just announced, and showed off, Crescent Bay, with an improved display, less latency and full 360-degree head tracking, Sony has its work cut out for it, big time.
The rush of companies into the smartwatch market will provide consumers with a wide selection of product choices, with affordable entry-level devices to pricier products with enhanced features. By 2016 smartwatches will make up around 40 percent of wristworn consumer products, according to the Gartner research group.
The push by Chinese OEMs using Google Android on smartwatches could drop prices as low as $30 in 2015, however, many U.S. and western Europe consumers will want to snap up products from Samsung, Apple, and other vendors. Despite much criticism during recent Apple's recent press conference, the three introduced Apple Watch models will help set a higher bar in the smartwatch market.
"We are currently seeing two opposing trends in the market with regards to form factor evolution," said Annette Zimmerman, Gartner research director, in a press statement. "On the one hand there are vendors offering smart wrist-wearables in a familiar watch-like form factor. On the other hand in the past six to nine months, we have seen vendors launching products that resemble the early fitness wristbands, but come with displays that add significant functionality, including message and call alerts."