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Android

Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own 167

Posted by timothy
from the funny-how-things-catch-on dept.
SmartAboutThings writes The smartwatch market is still in its nascent form, but with Apple releasing its AppleWatch in early 2015, things are going to change. And Microsoft wants to make sure it's not late to the party, as it has been so many times in the past. That's why it plans on releasing its own smartwatch, which would be the first new category under CEO Nadella. The device could get launched with two specific features that could make it stand apart from other similar devices — much better battery life and cross-platform support for iOS and Android users. A release before this year's holiday season is in the cards, with no details on the pricing nor availability. (Also at Reuters and The Inquirer.)
Input Devices

Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone 249

Posted by timothy
from the they-have-the-technology dept.
theodp writes "Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will. I've been expecting a touch-screen Apple laptop for a few years now, and keep being wrong.
Input Devices

Microsoft Develops Analog Keyboard For Wearables, Solves Small Display Dilemma 100

Posted by timothy
from the finger-spelling dept.
MojoKid writes Have you ever tried hunting and pecking on a miniature keyboard that's been crammed onto a smartwatch's tiny display? Unless the tips of your fingers somehow resemble that of a stylus, you're in for a challenge. Interestingly enough, it's Microsoft that might have the most logical solution for typing on small size displays running Google's Android Wear platform. Microsoft's research division has built an analog keyboard prototype for Android Wear that eliminates the need to tap at tiny letters, and instead has you write them out. On the surface, such a solution seems like you'd be trading one tedious task for another, though a demo of the technology in action shows that this could be a promising solution — watch how fast the guy in the video is able to hammer out a response.
Displays

Oculus Hiring Programmers, Hardware Engineers, and More For VR Research Division 16

Posted by timothy
from the guiding-your-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Buried toward the end of the must-watch keynote by Oculus VR's Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash, was the announcement of a new research division within Oculus which Abrash says is the "first complete, well funded VR research team in close to 20 years." He says that their mission is to advance VR and that the research division will publish its findings and also work with university researchers. The company is now hiring "first-rate programmers, hardware engineers, and researchers of many sorts, including optics, displays, computer vision and tracking, user experience, audio, haptics, and perceptual psychology," to be part of Oculus Research.
Input Devices

Axiom Open Source Camera Handily Tops 100,000 Euro Fundraising Goal 31

Posted by timothy
from the magic-lantern-on-board-now-too dept.
The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for an open-hardware cinema camera has closed far in the black, though the project continues to accept contributions. The Axiom's designers raised enough (€174,520, topping their €100,000 goal) to fund development of their stretch goals (remote control, active lens mount, active battery mount), and then some. If it actually gets built and catches on, it will be interesting to see what custom modules users come up with.
Input Devices

Reverse Engineering the Oculus Rift DK2's Positional Tracking Tech 26

Posted by timothy
from the blink-and-you-won't-miss-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset hides under its IR-transparent shell an array of IR LEDs which are picked up by the positional tracker. The data is used to understand where the user's head is in 3D space so that the game engine can update the view accordingly, a critical function for reducing sim sickness and increasing immersion. Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system. Along the way, they discovered some curious info including a firmware bug which, when fixed, revealed the true view of the positional tracker.
Input Devices

The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-irritate-coworkers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Adi Robertson argues that IBM's Model M keyboard, soon to turn 30 is still the only keyboard worth using for many people. Introduced in 1985 as part of the IBM 3161 terminal, the Model M was initially called the "IBM Enhanced Keyboard." A PC-compatible version appeared the following spring, and it officially became standard with the IBM Personal System / 2 in 1987. The layout of the Model M has been around so long that today it's simply taken for granted, but the keyboard's descendants have jettisoned one of the Model M's most iconic features — "buckling springs," designed to provide auditory and tactile feedback to the keyboard operator. "Model M owners sometimes ruefully post stories of spouses and coworkers who can't stand the incessant chatter. But fans say the springs' resistance and their audible "click" make it clear when a keypress is registered, reducing errors," writes Robertson. "Maybe more importantly, typing on the Model M is a special, tangible experience. Much like on a typewriter, the sharp click gives every letter a physical presence."

According to Robertson, the Model M is an artifact from a time when high-end computing was still the province of industry, not pleasure. But while today's manufacturers have long since abandoned the concept of durability and longevity, refurbished Model Ms are still available from aficionados like Brandon Ermita, a Princeton University IT manager who recovers them from supply depots and recycling centers and sells them through his site, ClickyKeyboards. "For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history," says Ermita. As one Reddit user recently commented, "Those bastards are the ORIGINAL gaming keyboards. No matter how much you abuse it, you'll die before it does.""
Classic Games (Games)

From the Maker of Arduboy: Tetris On a Bracelet 15

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-up-pong-on-your-wedding-ring dept.
timothy writes: Kevin Bates showed off his tiny ("credit card sized") homebrewed game-playing rig at OSCON this summer. Not content with merely wallet sized, he's now squeezed enough display — three of them, lacking a curved display to wrap around the wrist — input sensors, and processing power (Atmega 328p) to play Tetris on a tiny, multi-segmented bracelet (video). Sure, there's been Tetris on watches before, but from large-budget companies, not — at least not that I've ever seen — from hackers. Bates' post gives some more technical details, too.
Displays

John Carmack's Oculus Connect Keynote Probably Had Samsung Cringing 88

Posted by timothy
from the now-in-our-day-we-had-leeches-on-both-ears-for-balance dept.
An anonymous reader writes John Carmack, famed keystone developer of 3D networked gaming, has now been working with virtual reality company Oculus for over a year. Much of that time has been spent collaborating with Samsung on the forthcoming Gear VR headset. At his keynote presentation during Oculus Connect, Carmack took to the stage with 90 unscripted minutes of no holds barred discussion of the last 12 months in VR. 'I believe pretty strongly in being very frank and open about flaws and limitations so this is kind of where I go off message a little bit from the standard PR plan and talk very frankly about things,' he said to applause from the audience.
Displays

Vrvana's Totem HMD Puts a Camera Over Each Eye 25

Posted by timothy
from the translucency-=-50-for-walking dept.
The Verge reports that Montreal startup Vrvana has produced a prototype of its promised (and crowd-funded) VR Totem headset. One interesting aspect of the Totem is the inclusion of front-facing cameras, one over each eye, the output of which can be fed to the displays. Reviewer Mike Futter has worn a prototype, and seems to be generally impressed, writing at Game Informer: Vrvana’s device offers 1080p resolution and features 90-degree field of view (the same as the Project Morpheus, but less than the Oculus Rift's 100-degree FOV), an OLED display, and adjustable lenses that can compensate for lens prescription. The HMD is usable by glasses wearers, but the tuning provides an option for those that don't want to wear corrective lenses while in VR. The system connects via HDMI to any source, and can model 3D (side-by-side) from game consoles as virtual reality right now. The Totem is currently compatible with all Oculus developer kit 1 applications, and Vrvana is working on getting DK2 experiences working. The prototype I wore was a good proof of concept, but didn't yet feature the OLED screen. This led to increased persistence due to the LCD. The head tracking also wasn't perfect, requiring some software tuning to prevent drift (something easily surmountable down the road). The clarity was impressive, rivaling some of the best experiences I've had with a Rift or Morpheus.
Input Devices

Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera 52

Posted by timothy
from the for-just-a-few-euros-more dept.
New submitter atagunov writes "Video clips have been released as crowdfunding starts for the world first open source cinematic videocam. "I am a filmmaker myself ... I would like to have powerful tools that I know to have full control over and that I can tune and tweak," says Sebastian Pichelhofer of Apertus. He is working on the Axiom Beta, the 2nd generation Apertus videocam, fully open sourced under GPL and OHL. It's not cheap compared to consumer-grade cameras, but being not-cheap hasn't stopped people from snapping up Joel Rubenstein's Digital Bolex.
Displays

Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-learn dept.
jyosim writes "Oculus Rift isn't just for gaming. Brendan Iribe, CEO of the VR company, says the immersive tech will be "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time." In an interview with Chronicle of Higher Education, he imagined laser-scanning every object in the Smithsonian for students to explore, and collaborating in shared virtual spaces rather than campuses. "The next step past that is when you have shared space, and not only do you believe that this object is right there in front of me, but I look around and I see other people just like we see each other now, and I really, truly believe that you’re right in front of me. We can look at each others’ eyes. If you look down at something, I can look down at the same time. And it’s every bit as good as this. And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom," he says.
AI

The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the surgical-masks-become-high-fashion-in-2018 dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Speech recognition has gotten pretty good over the past several years. it's reliable enough to be ubiquitous in our mobile devices. But now we have an interesting, related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? It's a more challenging problem, to be sure. Sounds can be translated directly into words, but deriving meaning out of the movement of a person's face is much more complex. "During speech, the mouth forms between 10 and 14 different shapes, known as visemes. By contrast, speech contains around 50 individual sounds known as phonemes. So a single viseme can represent several different phonemes. And therein lies the problem. A sequence of visemes cannot usually be associated with a unique word or sequence of words. Instead, a sequence of visemes can have several different solutions." Beyond the computational aspect, we also need to decide, as a society, if this is a technology that should exist. The privacy implications extend beyond that of simple voice recognition.
Input Devices

Japanese Firm Showcases "Touchable" 3-D Technology 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the feel-it-and-play-it dept.
skade88 notes an interesting new piece of tactile feedback technology unveiled in Japan. Officials of Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo, said the technology, which can be used to improve the gaming experience or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available for purchase. "Touching is an important part of human communication, but until now virtual reality has lacked it," Chief Executive Natsuo Koda said. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3-D world," said Koda, a former virtual reality researcher for Sony Corp. It works by fooling the brain, blending what the eye sees with different patterns of vibration created by a small fingertip device, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of so-called 3D-Haptics Technology and chief technical officer at the firm. In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the wearer can feel resistance by pushing virtual buttons.
Biotech

A Better Way To Make Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Limbs 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: To make a brain-machine interface, you need a way to capture neurons' electric signals. The most precise and most invasive way uses implants that are stuck in the gray matter. The least precise and least invasive way uses EEG sensors stuck to the scalp. But researchers at Johns Hopkins University say there's a third way that gets the best of both worlds, which is not too invasive and fairly precise. They use ECoG systems, in which a mesh of electrodes is placed under the skull, draped over the surface of the cortex.

They're testing their systems on epilepsy patients, who have these ECoG systems inserted anyway while they're waiting for surgery (the electrodes record the source of their seizures). The researchers are capturing these patients' movement commands from their brains, and using them to control robotic limbs. Someday such a system could be used by amputees to control their prosthetic limbs.
Android

Android Motorcycle Helmet/HUD Gains Funding 126

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the 80s-future-realized dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes Skully Systems has achieved Indiegogo funding for a high-tech Android 4.4 based motorcycle helmet with a head-up display (HUD), GPS navigation, and a 180-degree rearview camera. The Skully AR-1 helmet launched on Indiegogo on Aug. 10 and quickly blasted past its $250,000 flexible funding goal and has already surpassed $900,000 in funding. The helmet runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.4, with both screen size and safety in mind, according to Skully's Tow. 'You should not think of it as being Android as seen in a phone; it doesn't run the same skin,' wrote Tow on the Skully forum page. 'You instead should think of it as a variant of Linux, not Android per se. What counts is the device drivers, graphics rendering for our turn by turn directions and vehicle telemetry, etc. More nerdy things like communication over the I2C bus to the image processing module.' Helmets are available starting at $1,399, with shipments due in May 2015.
Hardware Hacking

Microsoft Research Brings Kinect-Style Depth Perception to Ordinary Cameras 31

Posted by timothy
from the how-far-away-you-are dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Microsoft has been working on ways to make any regular 2D camera capture depth, meaning it could do some of the same things a Kinect does. As you can see in the video below the team managed to pull this off and we might see this tech all around in the near future. What's really impressive is that this works with many types of cameras. The research team used a smartphone as well as a regular webcam and both managed to achieve some impressive results, the cameras have to be slightly modified but that's only to permit more IR light to hit the sensor." The video is impressive, but note that so are several of the other projects that Microsoft has created for this year's SIGGRAPH, in particular one that makes first-person sports-cam footage more watchable.
Input Devices

Enthusiast Opts For $2200 Laser Eye Surgery To Enhance Oculus Rift Experience 109

Posted by timothy
from the funny-I-might-want-it-for-regular-goggles dept.
An anonymous reader writes After 30 years of wearing glasses, one man says that the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has prompted him to get laser eye surgery. With farsightedness and astigmatism, he says, "Never thought much about the laser surgery until the Rift, that's for sure." He has an appointment to get the $2200 surgery on the 13th of this month. "For me it is clear, my eyeglasses are like an obstacle for optimal VR experience," he said. He hopes the surgery will remove his need for glasses, which can be uncomfortable inside of the Rift, if they fit at all, and cause several issues such as scratched lenses and lower field of view. Oculus plans to make the consumer version of the Oculus Rift (aka CV1) more friendly to glasses wearers, "...we have a lot of great ideas for supporting glasses in the consumer version [of the Rift] (especially since a huge portion of the Oculus team wears glasses everyday!)" they noted in their Kickstarter.
Television

Add a TV Tuner To Your Xbox (In Europe) 81

Posted by timothy
from the americans-don't-watch-tv dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The Xbox one isn't just a game console: it's also a nifty media set-top box, and it interacts very well with your TV service — as long as you have cable. Cord-cutters will soon be able to attach their Xbox to an antenna — but only in Europe." The peripheral that Microsoft will soon release allows you to integrate over-the-air content into the Xbox One system. From the images Microsoft released it looks like the tuner is a small box with a port for an antenna cable on one end, and the USB cable on the other. Unfortunately for my readers in North America, as of now, the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is only scheduled to release in Europe. Microsoft says it supports DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C television channels, which I hope means something to my European readers; Wikipedia tells me these are European over-the-air cable standards. The TV Tuner will be available in late October for 24.99 in the UK, and for €29.99 in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
GUI

Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home? 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the set-it-up-once dept.
Milo_Mindbender writes I'm trying to find a bulletproof near zero maintenance video conferencing client for shared use in an Alzheimers living facility. It's used so the patients can regularly see their relatives who are often out of town. Most everything I've tried on PC or Mac requires tweeks/updates from time to time to keep it working, not good in a place where there are no computer savvy people. It looks like most of the low cost dedicated boxes have died out too. The ideal setup will be turnkey with little-to-no maintenance and if possible support auto-answering calls from approved users. It needs to be compatible with video conferencing apps the relatives can easily get on phone/tablet/pc such as Skype, Facetime, Hangouts...etc. Any suggestions?

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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