Jumping into the Twitterverse this morning after I woke up, one of the major trending stories in technology was Apple’s alleged acquisition of Metaio – a German company focused on making tools for the development of AR apps. At first, it was speculated that perhaps Metaio was purchased by Google, especially given the timing of Metaio’s annoucement on its own website that its products and subscriptions would no longer be available for purchase coinciding with Google’s annual I/O conference. However, some digging revealed that a tweet showing a May 22 document registered with the German states’ Common Register Portal confirmed that Metaio’s shares had been transferred to Apple. It makes perfect sense for Apple to jump into the AR/VR scene. As anyone interested in virtual reality or augmented reality already knows, many of the biggest tech companies have already made significant investments in VR/AR. Samsung has a VR headset out called Gear VR, which pairs with their smartphones like the Note and the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Facebook recently acquired VR headset maker, Oculus, for $2 billion and plans to release a consumer version of the product next year. Microsoft, at their Build2015 conference, upped the hype on their upcoming AR HMD, Hololens. Last year, Google came out with a cheap, portable, albeit very simplistic VR device called Google Cardboard, which allows you to view VR images. The goal of Google Cardboard was to make VR gain mass appeal. Apple’s acquisition of Metaio may be its first foray into the AR/VR field. As Google pushes in on Apple’s territory with the introduction of Android Pay to rival Apple Pay, Apple may be looking to do the same by moving in on AR or VR to counter Google. Other Tech News: Android Community: Impression PI is the fashionable VR headset SlashGear: Impression Pi VR headset update shows off fully 3D augmented reality Tom’s Hardware: Too Good To Be True? Impression Pi Joins The VR Game With Wireless HMD From Our Blog: Google’s I/O Conference 2015 The Failure of Google Glass Vox Media Acquires Re/code Why Consumer Virtual Reality Will Succeed This Time TV Tech Advances At Blistering Rate Live from SVVR Check Out uSens, Inc.’s Impression Pi offering: a wireless VR + AR headset that offers 3D hand/gesture tracking, head tracking, and position tracking for an immersive and interactive experience in gaming and beyond. And their social media platforms: On the Twitter: @usensinc On the Facebook: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi And their company page on LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. Company Profile
Once a year, Google holds a conference, called I/O, where it unveils all the cool, awesome, amazing new stuff that the company is launching and/or working on. It was three years ago at this very conference where Google unveiled Google Glass. Today was the first day of Google’s 2015 version of its I/O conference. The announcements from Google are very exciting, to say the least. Here’s some of the highlights of what consumers can expect to see, feel, and experience real soon: Improved Google Cardboard: Last year, Google came out with this cheap (ridiculously cheap), convenient way to view virtual reality. Cardboard was nothing more than a cardboard (literally made from cardboard) frame with some lenses and buttons. Pair it with your smartphone and you’re able to view virtual reality. The appeal was its simplicity and extreme low-cost, yet it still was able to provide the user with a basic VR experience. This year, Google has improved the design of the Cardboard to be able to fit more smartphones and is developing an app to use on iPhones. Android Pay to Rival Apple Pay: Google is taking square aim at Apple and looking to move in on its pay service with the reveal of Android Pay. Yes, just like it sounds, Android Pay is essentially Apple Pay, except that it’s made and run by Google (so of course, you know we’re going to expect it to be bigger and better in terms of design and functionality). Most of the stores that work with Apple Pay will also work with Android Pay. Which makes sense considering that retailers and other sellers want to make payment options as convenient and easy as possible. Plus, with Android dominating 81% of world smartphone market it makes sense that vendors will want to adopt Android as readily, if not more so, than they did with Apple Pay. Google Wallet is still around to send money to others (although there wasn’t any mention of it at all at I/O this year), but Android Pay is the brand Google is pushing now. Android M’s Now on Tap: Google also announced its next version of Android, codenamed “Android M.” In the latest installment of its operating system, Google is hinting at something called, “Now on Tap.” Essentially, the system will be “smart” enough to detect and understand what you are viewing and looking at, like an email or a song that’s playing. For instance, if a song is playing and you ask the system, what’s his real name, the system is smart enough to recognize that “his” is in reference to the singer of that song. It’s remarkable and futuristic for sure. Related Reading: CNet: Google’s New Goal Is To Make Everything Work Together CNet: What We Didn’t Get from Google I/O 2015 CNet: Google’s Android Pay to Duke It Out with Apple Pay Engadget: Google’s Now on Tap makes Android M smartphones so much smarter Other Tech News: Android Community: Impression PI is the fashionable VR headset SlashGear: Impression Pi VR headset update shows off fully 3D augmented reality Tom’s Hardware: Too Good To Be True? Impression Pi Joins The VR Game With Wireless HMD From Our Blog: The Failure of Google Glass Vox Media Acquires Re/code Why Consumer Virtual Reality Will Succeed This Time TV Tech Advances At Blistering Rate Live from SVVR Check Out uSens, Inc.’s Impression Pi offering: a wireless VR + AR headset that offers 3D hand/gesture tracking, head tracking, and position tracking for an immersive and interactive experience in gaming and beyond. And their social media platforms: On the Twitter: @usensinc On the Facebook: uSens, Inc. – Impression Pi And their company page on LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. Company Profile
I can still remember when Google first unveiled its cool, bizarre, and often misunderstood offering: the Google Glass. In 2013, when it first made a big splash at the annual South By South West (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas, Google Glass was on the lips of everyone in tech. Even my friends who had absolutely no interest in technology were talking about it. I can vividly recall, sometime in 2014, while I was still in law school, one of my classmates showed up to class wearing the thing. It was so radically new and unusual that everyone, even the professor, was asking about it and what it does. According to Wikipedia: Google Glass is a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). It was developed by Google with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format.Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands. Google started selling a prototype of Google Glass to qualified “Glass Explorers” in the US on April 15, 2013, for a limited period for $1,500, before it became available to the public on May 15, 2014, for the same price. To this day, Google Glass is still not available for sale on the consumer market. Instead, Google first made it available for developers for a limited period before opening up sales for the prototype to the public later on in 2014. Google recently made an announcement that it would stop selling the prototype, but that it remains committed to Glass. Hopefully, it will be ready to hit the consumer market soon. That said, Google Glass fizzled out very quickly in terms of interest and popularity not long after it was first announced and released in 2013/2014. One of the biggest detractions of Google Glass were concerns over its invasions of privacy. In my opinion, Google Glass sought to do a lot but completely under-delivered on the “wow” factor. Although industry-insiders label it as an AR (augmented reality) device, it doesn’t come close to being able to actually augment reality in a way which is truly hands-free interactive. Instead, it merely sought to create a ubiquitous hands-free mass-market computer. Problem is, I do not think consumers are ready or capable of understanding how to use something like Google Glass. Most people are still quite content to use their smartphones as a very portable mini-computer-ish device. Plus, with a price tag of $1500, I think it will scare away all but the wealthiest of consumers. On the Topic of Google Glass: Business Insider: Cool Glass One is the Chinese version of Google Glass and it’s only a fraction of the price For Further Reading: (from our Blog) Vox Media Acquires Re/code Consumer Virtual Reality Goes Viral TV Tech Is Advancing At Super Rate Live from SVVR (From Around The Web) Android Community: Impression PI is the fashionable VR headset SlashGear: Impression Pi VR headset update shows off fully 3D augmented reality Tom’s Hardware: Too Good To Be True? Impression Pi Joins The VR Game With Wireless HMD Notable Social Media Profiles: Impression Pi on Facebook Impression Pi on Twitter uSens, Inc’s LinkedIn Company Page: Impression Pi’s Parent Company uSens Inc./Impression Pi on the Google+
The biggest news story in tech media yesterday was the acquisition of Re/code by Vox Media. How big was this story? It even made headlines on a number of traditional media outlets; the ones not focused on tech. Re/code is a technology industry news publication led by well known tech journalists, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. Its acquisition by Vox Media is worth noting because Vox Media is also the parent company of The Verge. These two major tech publications under one roof is something all of us interested in reading about the latest news and developments in the technology industry should be really excited about. Despite their different reporting styles and focuses, many tech enthusiasts read both Re/code and The Verge, along with, of course, Mashable, TechCrunch and others. In recent months, The Verge has begun to branch out beyond reporting on tech to cover areas like pop culture, science, and current events. Does Vox Media’s acquisition of Re/code signal the media giant’s desire for a publication that solely covers tech? Will this be an opportunity for The Verge to continue its moves in branching out beyond tech reporting? I’ll be keeping a close eye on where Re/code and The Verge go from here. Will tech reporting shift gears, change directions, or become more vibrant, more fluid? One thing is certainly clear, if you enjoying reading about tech news, there should be no shortage of it for the foreseeable future. If Re/code is looking for more sensational stories in the area of tech and business, they would do well to take a look at Silicon Valley start-up, uSens, Inc. Based in San Jose, this small recent start-up is working on a VR and AR headset that looks to rival some of the biggest names in technology. Releasing in November of this year, Impression Pi combines some of the coolest features we’ve ever seen in a VR/AR headset: 3D hand/gesture recognition and tracking, position tracking and a seamless transition between augmented reality and virtual reality. For Further Reading: (from our Blog) Consumer Virtual Reality Going Viral The Advancement of TV Tech A Recap of SVVR (from other media outlets) Impression Pi is the Fashionable VR Headset – Android Community Impression Pi VR headset update shows off fully 3D augmented reality – SlashGear Too Good To Be True? Impression Pi Joins The VR Game With Wireless HMD – Tom’s Hardware
The concept of virtual reality is nothing new. The ideas and concepts governing virtual reality go back decades. In the 90s, both Sega and Nintendo sought to build virtual reality devices for gaming. However, these ventures fell flat; the cost of production ended up being too high and the technology hadn’t yet matured to a stage where consumers could use these devices for gaming for long periods of time. Common complaints were eye fatigue and feelings of nausea and disorientation after only about 10-20 minutes of use. Soon after, many of the big gaming companies simply abandoned virtual reality altogether. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a new push for making a viable and successful consumer-level virtual reality device was undertaken. After Palmer Luckey’s success with Oculus, many of the heavy-hitters in the tech industry took notice and began making plans to enter the field. Virtual Reality at that time was still a very novel concept to many. However, after Oculus took off, others began making inroads into virtual reality, including Google with Google Cardboard, and Samsung with Gear VR. In addition, side by side with virtual reality, came the rise of augmented reality. The difference between the two is that while virtual reality seeks to completely alter the user’s sense of reality inside a space that is totally different from the actual world, augmented reality merely adds or alters pieces of the real world – it “overlays” objects while still allowing the user to see and interact with the real world. Google’s first foray into augmented reality was with their Google Glass. Its release generated some buzz but ultimately was not nearly as successful or profitable as Google had hoped. At present, Microsoft is developing their own augmented reality HMD (head-mounted display), called Hololens. Although Microsoft has yet to promise a release date, it has already generated considerable attention from tech enthusiasts and tech media alike. The above video is a demonstration of Impression Pi, a VR + AR headset from uSens, Inc., a Silicon-Valley start-up, who hope to build one of the first consumer-level VR + AR headsets. The most remarkable aspect of Impression Pi is its position tracking and 3D hand/gesture tracking abilities which allow the user to have a deeply immersive and interactive experience in both AR and VR applications. Impression Pi is set to launch in November of this year. I believe that virtual reality has a real shot of becoming a highly successful industry within the technology sector this time around. Unlike previous attempts, this time, a considerable number of major tech companies have thrown their hat into the VR and AR ring, bringing with them considerable resources and experience to bear. With the advent of smartphones, virtual reality and augmented reality headsets seem like the naturally progression of tech devices. However, we’ll have to wait and see whether virtual reality and augmented reality will flourish as an industry this time around.
In recent years, we’ve definitely seen a dramatic change in the shape, size, capability, and resolution of your home television set. Most of us can probably still remember the days of the old bulky – not to mention extremely unwieldy and heavy – CRT (that’s “cathode-ray tube”) TVs. What we thought of back in the day as being as good as it gets turns out was nothing of the sort. I still remember when the television industry first came out with High Definition and thought it a huge waste of time and money. I was certain it would just be a short-lived fad, like the cabbage patch kids or beanie babies. Then I had a chance to watch a football game in High Definition and never looked back. These days, to our eyes, standard definition anything is so inferior, so ridiculously pre-2000, that to even bother owning a device that ran such outdated tech was an insult. Now, Netflix is pushing the boundaries even further. Realizing that consumers today want their TVs to be as smart and as reactive as their smartphones, the Los Gatos-based company that began by offering DVD rentals by mail via a subscription service and now has expanded into digital streaming and other entertainment ventures, has created a new program that certifies new smart TVs based on how fast the shows load and how fast the TVs turn on; too slow and you’re out. It’s a win-win for consumers. Televisions today must be able to compete with tablets and smartphones and so far, they’ve had a rough go trying to live up to the speed and memory of either one. With this new program and certification, Netflix is hoping to push TV hardware manufacturers to create new sets that are faster, more intuitive, and offer ease-of-use similar to that of a smartphone. “A lot of this was inspired by innovation that was naturally happening in the phone and tablet space,” says Brady Gunderson, who is Netflix’s director of product development. “When I turn my phone on, I never really turned it on because it was never off — it just comes right back where I left off, in the app I’m on. If I’m reading a news article, I’ll be right back to that article. TVs, meanwhile, when you turn them off and turn them on again, there’s some time to reboot, they lose all context, and the network has to come up.” I’m certain television tech will catch up to smartphones and tablets very soon. I speculate that the smart TVs of the future will basically be gigantic versions of smartphones. After all, that seems to be the prevailing trend in technology: even laptop and desktop user interfaces look very akin to blown-up versions of the interface you see on a smartphone. For your further reading enjoyment: Everything Coming to Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in June What’s Leaving Netflix streaming in June NSA PLANNED TO HIJACK GOOGLE APP STORE TO HACK SMARTPHONES Samsung’s Smart TVs Really Are Spying On You Engadget’s Amazon Fire Phone Review CNet: Apple Watch to Reach 36 Million Sales in First Year
Silicon Valley Virtual Reality, a community of developers, content creators, fans, and industry professionals dedicated to building the emerging VR field, held its second annual conference/expo a few days ago at the San Jose Convention Center. All the heavy-hitters in the VR industry were in attendance, including the founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey; Google’s VP of Product Management, Clay Bavor; Samsung’s VP of Strategy and Creative Content, Matt Apfel; and co-founder of NextVR, David Cole, among others. Samsung’s Matt Apfel gave the keynote address and it was clear that Samsung played a major role in the production of this event. Throughout the expo floor, which SVVR boasts as the largest expo floor in the VR industry, numerous placards announcing Samsung’s sponsorship of the event were boldly on display. Noitom was represented at the event, and their CTO, Dr. Tristan Ruoli Dai, was one of the speakers during the conference/expo. Accompanying Noitom on the second day of the expo was a team from uSens, Inc., including uSens CTO, Dr. Yue Fei, and their Public Relations Specialist, Lynn Sun. Although uSens did not have a booth at the expo this year, they assure us that their upcoming product, Impression Pi, will be on display and entered in the competition at SIGGRAPH this August. Overall, SVVR was an rousing success. We witnessed plenty of new advances within the field of virtual reality. With all the teams and companies vying to make the next best consumer product in virtual reality, be it in content or hardware, we are very excited about what is to come. The sky’s the limit. You can Pre-Order Impression Pi HMD here: Impression Pi Learn more about the company behind Impression Pi: uSens, Inc. uSens and Impression Pi can be found on social media too: On the Facebook: uSens Facebook Page On the Twitter: uSens Twitter On the LinkedIn: uSens, Inc. LinkedIn Company Page On the Google+: uSens, Inc. on Google+