I've said it before and I'll say it again, Oculus' VR headset, Rift, is probably my most anticipated product of the year and I really think it could change everything when it's released.
Surgeon Simulator has a new build, which is compatible with Oculus Rift. It gives players control over the hand and arm only, with the field of view directly in the Rift headset, so you have a perfect point of view. This gives you the look (with VR) and feel (hand and arm) of a real surgeon. Bossa Studios announced both Oculus Rift and Razer Hydra support for Surgeon Simulator earlier this month.
The next couple of years are going to be filled with many different wearable technology devices being released, but most thought that Apple would be the first to the market with the most popular smartwatch - it seems we were wrong, as Foxconn have beaten Apple to the finish line, kinda.
Foxconn showed off their new smartwatch during a recent shareholders meeting, with the smartwatch capable of connecting to an iPhone wirelessly and displaying incoming call information as well as Facebook posts. The Foxconn-built smartwatch also had the ability of monitoring the wearer's heartbeat, respiration and other vital statistics.
If the device reports that your heartbeat is beating too fast, it can offer you steps on how to get it down. This news is important as Foxconn are one of Apple's closest partners, and if they've got a smartwatch out now, which seems pretty capable, what are Apple going to be saying behind closed doors right now?
Google Glass is slowly making its way into the mainstream, but this week during Wimbledon, pro tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands will don the wearable computing from Google. Mattek-Sands ranks as position 58 in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).
She will be wearing Google Glass at Wimbledon this week in London, something Google announced a few days ago now. Mattek-Sands is in the Glass Explorer program, which saw a handful of people around the world receiving the wearable product. Google have said that Glass is both comfortable and unobtrusive, weighing no more than a pair of standard sunglasses. Considering pro tennis players are moving from left to right so fast, even a couple of hundred grams would make a big difference - even more so with the money at stake here - so this is a big, and most of all, positive move for Glass.
Google has said that Mattek-Sands is already benefitting from Glass, elaborating:
Glass's potential in the sports realm is huge, and it can connect athletes, coaches, and fans in new ways. For Bethanie, it's allowed her to capture her strokes from her point of view during practice and share those with her coaches. It also helps her search recipes and perfect her cooking, something that's important to a professional athlete with dietary allergies and restrictions. Bethanie's fans can also see the world through her eyes as she embarks upon the road to Wimbledon, where she'll play her first match next week.
We have all heard about the rumors of a smartwatch from Apple and Samsung, but it appears that Sony is going to beat everyone to the punch with the first modern smartwatch. Today the company hinted at a possible smartwatch release next week during the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai.
Sony posted two teasers on its Twitter feed, both of which were accompanied by the clever and original hashtag #itstime and #MAE13. The first image shows a trio of human analogs with the middle one being highlighted and wearing a watch on its wrist. The second tweet shows off what looks to be a rendering of the actual smartwatch itself.
This watch looks quite similar to another watch released by Sony last year and it could just be a stock image Sony is using to keep actual device images from leaking. Either way, we are sure to see some kind of watch device released from Sony next week or you can rely on TweakTown as always for full coverage of the event.
In what seems like the most ironic post I've ever written, ten government policy and data protection officials have questioned Google over their wearable computing device, Project Glass. Officials in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all expressed concerns over privacy.
The government officials didn't attack Google, but instead asked to learn more about Glass, requesting exclusive demos of the wearable tech. The New York Times has said that the letter to Google asked: "Would Google be willing to demonstrate the device to our offices and allow any interested data protection authorities to test it?"
I don't understand what all the fuss is over, considering the amount of cameras in all of the cities around the world - even the ones of the governments asking about Glass. What about the NSA PRISM system? Did the governments ask the NSA what is going on there? I'm sure Google will release Glass just fine, and the world will get used to it - just like they have with super high-resolution cameras on our smartphones.
Google aren't the only ones working on wearable computing, with Acer's smartphone boss, ST Liew, saying that the company will release their first wearable device sometime in 2014 during an interview with Pocket-Lint.
Liew also noted that wearable technology has huge potential for companies, which right now should be obvious to most. The Acer exec says that the industry hasn't exploded yet, but when it does it would be a multi-billion dollar market. I agree, and I think wearable technology is going to be the new smart device market. Smartphones will slowly fade away as they can't really get thinner or faster, or introduce anything that will make you go "wow, I want that", yet wearable computing (watches, eyewear like Glass from Google) are going to be the next big thing.
Who would spend $1500 on Google Glass only to tear it apart to see what makes it tick? SparkFun Electronics, that's who! During last weekend's Autonomous Vehicle Competition hosted by SparkFun, company founder Nate Seidel learned that two of his friends would be picking up their pair of Google's Glass after the competition. Being the good friend he is, Nate offered to pay for the glasses if he could reduce them to the individual components it is made from.
Luckily for us, friends Scott Torborg and Star Simpson agreed to the tear down, something I am sure any hacker worth their soldering iron would do! Good guy SparkFun posted the initial images from the teardown but opted to leave the meat and bones of the post to Scott to feature on his personal website. (source #2)
I won't cover the entire teardown here, but the hackers did note that while the tear down did require some specialized tools, and a high level of skill, if one is very careful and patient, they could easily teardown and rebuild Glass with no noticeable side effects. It appears that Glass is comprised of just 12 hardware sets, with the motherboard and camera / display mechanical assembly being the largest.
Technology just doesn't slow down, with researchers at multiple institutions working on a new technology that will see future smart contact lenses. The team has developed "transparent, highly conductive, and stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires" that gets attached to an off-the-shelf soft contact lens, giving it Google Glass-like features.
The technology was tested on rabbits first, as they have similar eyes to humans and were found to be fully functional. The researchers did note that the rabbits didn't try to rub their eyes, or did they grow bloodshot during the five hours of testing. Research leader, Jang-Ung Park, a chemical engineer at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology said:
Our goal is to make a wearable contact-lens display that can do all the things Google Glass can do.
Google's Larry Page says privacy concerns over Glass are being blown out of proportion and it's not really that big of a deal
Google's CEO Larry Page is once again attempting to reassure consumers that the concerns over privacy when it comes to Google Glass are unwarranted and being blown out of proportion by the media. Page said that privacy fears will fade as people become accustomed to the new technology noting that "it's not that big of a concern."
He went on to compare using Glass to take an image or video in much the same way one would use their smartphone to capture a photo or video. Page said "you don't collapse in terror that someone might be using glass in the bathroom just the same as your class in terror when someone comes in with a smartphone that might take a picture."
This reassurance beach comes on the heels of a month of numerous privacy concerns surrounding Glass. Google has said that it will not approve apps with facial recognition features, and even had to defend itself to the U.S. Congress who wrote a letter to Google asking if Glass "could infringe on the privacy of the average American"
Apple has reportedly filed to trademark the term iWatch in Russia. The report comes courtesy of Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, and states that Apple has filed an application for two International Classification of Goods and Services trademarks. The first is a 9th grade of Nice Classification, which covers computers and peripherals. The second is under the 14th classification, which relates to "hours."
The newspaper report says that the first trademark application for iWatch was filed in Jamaica on December 3, 2012. Around that time, the Apple rumor mill started pumping out rumors of an impending iWatch device. Of course, a trademark doesn't mean they are currently making an iWatch; the actual product could still be years off in the future.
This morning, we have learned of a new patent that was awarded to Google that could allow Google Glass users to unlock their device by simply moving their eyes. This could open up all sorts of possibilities not only for use within Google Glass, but for further augmented reality situations.
US patent application number 20130135204 is described by Google as "Methods and systems for unlocking a screen using eye tracking information." It appears that Glass would display some sort of moving objects such as a bird flying across the screen. It would then track your eye movement and if everything is correct, it would unlock your screen.
"The computing system may determine that a path associated with the eye movement of the user substantially matches a path associated with the moving object on the display and switch to be in an unlocked mode of operation including unlocking the screen," the company said in the filing. To me, it seems that eye tracking technology is a given for Google Glass and I kind of expected it to be there from the beginning.
Google have taken to their Project Glass Google+ page to address privacy concerns over facial recognition apps being built for Glass. Google have addressed the public about this subject because there are plenty of people with Google Glass Explorer Edition units.
There's still ongoing worries about privacy over the use of the wearable technology, especially if people start writing Glassware (apps for Glass) that are capable of facial recognition. Google have said they're listening to feedback from early users of Glass and will continue working on their policies on facial recognition software in the near future. What I like to see is that Google are actually listening, and addressing the public over this, instead of not tackling the concerns of people and their privacy.
In an interview with ZDnet journalist Violet Blue, adult app maker MiKandi confirmed rumors that it is working on an adult app for Google's Project Glass. MiKandi has recently grown to become the largest adult app developer for Android and features its creations on its own app store, the MiKandi Store.
"Google Glass Porn has been making its rounds, and while studios are intrigued, no one seems to be doing anything about it, we picked up our Glass and, yup, we're making content for it," said Jennifer McEwen, co-founder of MiKandi "As far as I know, we're one of the few, if not the only, adult companies with the device right now. So far, it's really fun!"
She went on to say:
"We're experimenting with the features of Glass. From our initial use of the device, photo and video recording is more powerful than we expected. Obviously, Glass is perfect for shooting POV video, so we're experimenting with that first. But what's really interesting about Glass is that it's not just a hands free camera. It can receive and send data, so there are a lot of interesting interactions that we want to explore. with Glass you can share and interact with fans and followers, allowing them intimate access to your experiences."
Recently Google's Larry Page took a trip to Samsung's OLED production facility and was so impressed that he agreed to a deal that secured Samsung as the official display provider for Google Glass. This news comes via The Korea Times, where an official of a parts supplier for Samsung Display said, "Samsung will supply its high-end OLED screens for Google Glass."
This statement seems to be backed up by hints dropped at a recent keynote speech given by Samsung Display CEO Kim Ki-nam who explicitly referenced Google Glass several times during his talk on the potential uses of Samsung OLED product. With recent advances in flexible OLED technology, we can only hope that we will see a bendable, hard to break screen in the production version of Google Glass.
In other Glass news, Google announced this week that the winners of its #ifihadglass contest will start receiving their headgear soon. For the rest of us, there's still about a year to go until we will be able to don the title of official Glasshole.
If you were expecting Apple to unveil a watch-like device, something along the lines of an iWatch, then you might have to wait until late 2014 according to a KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo says that Apple "may not have adequate resources" to develop a version of iOS for the wearable device, which might be the reason behind iOS 7.
Kuo thinks that Apple will cram a 1.5- to 2-inch screen, as well as biometric security thanks to their acquisition of AuthenTec for $356 million. This delay until late 2014 could really hurt Apple's chances of their wearable device being successful, especially if other companies beat them to the punch.
Google is continuing to expand the Glass Explorer Program and has announced that #ifihadglass winners will start receiving invitations "over the next few weeks" to try Glass out. If you missed out on the competition, you're currently out of luck. Google has announced that they aren't taking any more applications right now.
According to Google, the company is "thrilled to be moving into the next phase of our Explorer Program and we hope to expand in the future." We're also excited that Google is moving forward with Glass. We can't wait to get our hands on Glass as it really seems like the next logical step for technology.
We'll keep you in the loop with the latest in Google Glass news.
How would you like to be the first person to lose a $1,500 set of Google Glass? Well fear no longer as someone has already managed to do just that. Say hello to Luke Wroblewski. Wroblewski admits to the fact he lost his set of Glass last night while heading through an airport. According to Google, this is a major first for Glass.
[It's] pretty nerve-racking. It's an expensive and still-rare item - plus I've been using them to develop Glassware. So [it's] not good on a number of fronts.
Just like losing a smartphone, Glass contains personal and sensitive information. In Wroblewski's case, his Glass was synced to various accounts, such as e-mail and Facebook, making the loss that much more painful. Google already has a remedy in place: Users can remotely wipe their Glass.
Google is going to have a fight on its hands to make Glass a popular product. According to a survey conducted by BiTE interactive of 1,000 US adults, 45 percent of respondents said they wouldn't wear the glasses due to their aesthetics or because they thought the device would be irritating.
44 percent of those who responded saying they would wear Glass said they are most interested in the camera capabilities. 44 percent said they would wear it to take pictures, 37 percent said they'd wear Glass to take video, and a total of 39 percent said they'd want to be able to make calls with the device.
Joseph Farrell, EVP of operations at BiTE interactive:
Google Glass represents a profound social barrier for the average consumer.At best, they see a Glass user as someone who prioritizes information access over a personal connection with others. At worst, they fear social sleights of hand: researching topics, recording video or Googling a person in mid-conversation. Overall, what Glass offers is combination of high social rejection with features the average person simply doesn't value over their current smartphone.
So now my question to you: Would you wear Google Glass? If not, what would it take you to wear it. If so, why?
Google Glass Explorer Edition getting updated XE5 software, brings with it new features and enhancements
We're a bit in love with Google Glass. We're closely following along the progress made by Glass and are happy to report that it is receiving a software update that brings with it a bunch of new features. According to Google, the update brings with it a host of changes, including crash reporting.
- Change to sync policy: require power + wifi for background uploads
- Crash reporting
- Incoming G+ notifications (direct shares, comments, +mentions), including ability to comment and +1
- Incoming Hangout notifications
- Transcription of queries & messages is now wicked-fast
- Long-press to search from anywhere in the UI (no longer just from off)
- International number dialing + SMS
- Hop animation on disallowed swipes in the UI
- New On-Head Detection calibration flow
- Show device Serial Number on Device Info card
- More reliable estimation of battery charge remaining
- New recipient-list mosaic
One interesting change worth noting is that background syncing now requires the device to be on a local Wi-Fi network and plugged into power. We imagine this is to increase the rather short battery life, but can't confirm this as the reason. Other notable changes include the addition of Google+ notifications.
If you have an Explorer Edition in your possession, simply plug it into a power source and Google should take care of the rest.
iPhone users rejoice! Google Glass will soon add more support for iPhones, allowing the iOS-powered smartphone to be paired with Glass in more ways. The important support coming to Glass will allow the headset to access your iPhone's text messages and navigation, two useful features of Glass.
While Glass will happily work with any iPhone over Bluetooth or use any Wi-Fi connection to get online, iPhone users are currently unable to get turn-by-turn directions through Glass - one of its killer features. Those direction are pretty useful while you are navigating a new city and they do show off the power of location-based apps on Glass, but the software will currently balk if you ask it to give you directions while it's connected to an iPhone.
Current Glass compatibility with iPhone is rather limited; Glass can pair up with an iPhone through Bluetooth for data tethering, but that's about it. Bringing support for text messages and navigation is a huge boost and will open up the potential Glass market when they launch sometime next year.
The Explorer Edition of Google Glass was not an easy thing to get your hands on. One Australian hacker couldn't wait for the consumer version to be released, so he did what any self-respecting maker would do: he produced his own cloned version of Google Glass and called it Flass. Flass is a combination of 'fake' and 'glass.'
Flass certainly isn't as refined as Google Glass, but it does get the job done. Ash_Williams, the creator of Flass, has gone through four iterations of the clone, each one becoming more refined. Flass, however, isn't quite as wireless as Google Glass. Currently, the system is controlled by a small keyboard.
He is currently working on another prototype, hopefully with an integrated camera. Ash_Williams also has a 3D-printed version of the Google Glass frame on its way, meaning this clone could soon look a lot more like Google Glass.