Aurasma AR Browser Makes Waves, Virtual Objects Appear On Print
European software company Autonomy has announced their upcoming augmented reality iPhone application, dubbed Aurasma. The application uses a form of Autonomy's already existing IDOL pattern recognition software to scan what appears to be print images of all types with the end goal of automatically inserting a related video of some sort. Aurasma seems to have been conceived as a competitor to Google's already available Google Googles visual search application that allows the user to search their environment by snapping pictures of it. Autonomy's founder, Michael Lynch, told the New York Times:
We have been convinced for a long time that the idea of typing keywords into a search box is a byproduct and not an end. If you're truly going to interact between the physical world and the virtual world you're not going to do that sitting in your bedroom at the keyboard.
Aurasma will evidently be available sometime next month, debuting as part of an AR advertisement tie-in with an as-yet unnamed upcoming film. Lynch also reportedly mentioned the availability of a development platform which, like Aurasma, will be available for free download.
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Optus launches femtocell trial, boosts 3G network with your home internet connection
Optus has today launched the commercial pilot of femtocell technology which is designed to boost its 3G network coverage and speed with the customer's own fixed-line broadband service at home. Dubbed "Optus 3G Home Zone", the product uses technology built by Alcatel-Lucent, plugs into a fixed internet connection and allows 3G devices like mobiles, tablets and mobile broadband devices to utilise the network to make calls or access the internet within a 30-metre radius.
Optus is trialling the technology in multiple cities; Sydney, Brisbane, Wollongong and the Gold Coast. Optus consumer marketing director Gavin Williams has said:
We believe femtocells are an important way of enhancing the customer experience of the Optus Open Network by acting as a wireless gateway into the home or office. The Optus 3G Home Zone will not only personalise the quality of mobile coverage in the home but has the potential to deliver relevant service benefits such as applications for social networking, entertainment and business.
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MIT Labs Develops Kinect-Based Teleconference Interface
Lining Yao, Anthony DeVincenzi, Ramesh Raskar, and Hiroshi Ishii from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab have developed a prototypal teleconference interface demonstration using Microsoft's Kinect sensor array.
Featured in their demo video, Lining (Lizzie) and Anthony (Tony) show off some of the features they managed to successfully implement. In their interactive interface, speakers will be given time-bubbles that pop up over their respective heads, tracking the length of time that each is speaking. Amazingly, the clock stops as soon as the person stops speaking, meaning the program is recognizing voices individually. A cool feature (that may need a bit of tweaking, but cool nonetheless) they also included is the automation of focus- when a person is speaking, the focus of the camera changes, ensuring that everything but the speaker is blurry. This wasn't as successfully implemented as the time-tracker, but a very interesting idea, especially for someone like me with rampant ADD.
Speaking of ADD, I have many problems when it comes to not answering or responding to portable phone vibrations, so this next feature made me sigh in relief that someone was actually working on it. The MIT team developed a way that a person in a teleconference can actually freeze an image of themselves, for instance sitting at a table with a rapt expression, while the person (unbeknownst to the people on the other side of the video chat) can check their phones, scratch their armpit or play Angry Birds (picture above).
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Opera Mini Hits 100 Million Users: Sweet!
The browser war continues, and it just got mobile.
In a press release yesterday, the Norwegian-based browser Opera announced that their mobile browser had reached 100 million monthly users, with 2 billion daily page views. Two months ago, Opera Software had announced 100 million users combined as a combined total for Opera Mini and their other mobile browser, the aptly named Opera Mobile- meaning that Opera Mini's user base has impressively doubled since February this year.
Opera Software boasts "the worlds most used mobile browser" with Opera Mini, a browser that generates faster page views and site loading by compressing as much as 90% of the content prior to loading the page.
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US Department of Justice Approves Google's ITA Bid
In an interesting game of cat and mouse, the United States Department of Justice has approved Silicon Valley's most successful tech company's intent to acquire ITA, a travel information search service based in Cambridge, MA.
The DoJ filed a consent decree with the conditions that Google continue to license ITA"s tech to existing clients such as Kayak and maintain the fairness of its current availability. Also in the decree consent were stipulations that Google erect firewalls to ensure that ITA data is blocked from other areas of Google.
Interestingly enough, the DoJ has evidently filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to block the impending acquisition of ITA if Google did not consent to the conditions. Google really didn't have a choice, especially with the rampant antitrust allegations running around, as recently reported by Bloomberg.
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Firefox 5 expected on June 21, Firefox 6 to make its debut on August 18
Mozilla has a detailed new development model for Firefox, with the current draft saying Firefox 5 will make its way to fans on June 21, 2011 and Firefox 6 not that long after on August 18, 2011. These dates may well change but right now this is what Mozilla is hoping for. All changes to the Firefox source code are initially integrated in the mozilla-central Mercurial repository.
At scheduled intervals (usually 6 weeks) the changes are then imported from mozilla-central to one of three other channels. In addition to mozilla-central there will also be firefox-experimental, firefox-beta and Firefox (release) with each one backed by its own Mercurial repository. The names below are placeholders and Mozilla may still change them:
The firefox-experimental channel will receive new features at regular intervals, but some of them have the option of being disabled if they look like they require more work. The beta channel will receive new features that are set to be included in the Firefox release. New features are never directly added to the firefox-experimental or firefox-beta channels. Each stage of the process lasts for 6 weeks but because of the development overlap, we should see new versions every 6 to 12 weeks.
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iPhone 4 May Be Stalking Users
If you're part of a small group of affected users, your iPhone might be using the rear-facing camera to snap pictures of you without your knowledge. Wired reports. According to some recent posts on Apple's Support Forum, users have been complaining about an unusually observant iPhone 4 Facetime feature. User MrGQ posted the following:
This is very weird. I am experiencing the exact same issue recently. Most notably just minutes ago when i called my GF and i saw a "picture" of myself from today when i was at the office. I know it was from today because i had the exact same shirt. The weirdest thing is that picture is not stored on my iphone. Anyone else experiencing this?
I tried using my iPhone, much to my chagrin/relief there was no such error. I have to say, ever since the debut of pre-installed webcams, I've wondered if one day I won't notice that green light flashing on my MacBook, even though I'm not running Skype or PhotoBooth. I wonder sometimes how difficult that would be to hack into- my friends and I used to play around with Trojan Horse programs on each other's computers back in the 90's that would let us turn the monitor on and off and eject the CD-ROM drive (amongst other things); I can't imagine that similar viruses or coding couldn't handle turning the webcam on and off.
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GameStop Launches Digital Facebook Store
This morning, GameStop launched a massive digital retail store on their Facebook Fan Page. The store was developed by Adgregate Markets, a Sausalito, CA based startup that has already designed and built around 50 other digital Facebook stores. This seems like a natural move for Gamestop as they already have around 1.8 million likes on their fan page. Facebook stores utilize an already-present consumer market, as those same fans will receive promotions and marketing incentives on their respective Facebook Newsfeeds. Selling merchandise on Facebook also allows users to do things like "like" and Share products on other people's Facebook walls, as well as gift products for Facebook friends.
According to Venturebeat, Gamestop hopes that the arrival of the Facebook store will generate revenue somewhere around $1.5 billion, more than 10% of their total sales. With almost 7,000 stores, it's clear that the video game retailer has no intention of going completely digital, but with online stores and video game digital renting services becoming more and more prevalent, GameStop now has a hand in digital revenues.
Adgregate, founded in 2009, offers "the only secure" social retailing system, utilizing services like McAfee to protect email and credit card information. With GameStop, Adgregate's system also connects with GameStop's to ensure accurate inventory descriptions to coordinate localized physical purchases. As of the writing of this article, GameStop is now #115 on the top 500 Internet Retail list.
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AMD to discuss next-gen GPUs in June, expects to receive love letters from various fans
AMD has said that it will reveal some details of their next-generation GPUs at the AMD Fusion Development Summit (AFDS) that is set to start in mid-June. AMD are also looking to reveal trends about future directions of accelerated processing units (APUs) and software development.
Eric Demers, AMD corporate vice president and chief technology officer is set to give a keynote at AFDS where he will recap the evolution of GPUs in the recent years, including the latest VLIW5 and VLIW4 core architectures and instruction sets. More specifically, he will present an overview of the next-generation AMD cores that are currently under development, which are going to throw forward new capabilities and continue the never-ending GPU evolution.
AMD is expected to release their 28nm-based GPUs codenamed Southern Islands, later this year. The Southern Island-based GPUs will support DirectX 11 functionality and should include architectural improvements and new features.
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Evil Dead iPhone Game Coming Soon: Groovy.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, fanboys all over the world will rejoice to learn of the upcoming Evil Dead Game for iPhone. Though it has been 30 years since the film's release in 1981, Evil Dead still has a both loyal and sizable fanbase. And unlike most adaptations of popular cultishly-followed media, this one's getting a nod from its creators, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert.
Sam, Bruce [Campbell] and I have always been interested in finding ways to bring our 1980's Evil Dead into the digital age. And taking this first step with Trigger has been a great experience.
Trigger is the company charged with developing the game, and one that has made successful mobile apps for many Hollywood movies in the past. This is a bit of a departure from their previous work, as Evil Dead is 30 years old and most of their subject matter deals with adaptations of (at the time of development) recently or to-be-shortly released films like The Green Hornet and the latest installment of The Karate Kid.
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