Apple Looking Into Virtual Reality

This could be exciting news for fans of the now fallen-from-grace Oculus Rift, and those interested in virtual reality machines in general. Apple appears to be getting more and more serious about researching and developing cutting edge virtual reality technologies! Early this year, they signed on Doug Bowman, a top virtual reality researcher and professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, as part of their staff. He also acted as the director of the university’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction. This shrewd head hunting move could bring Apple the expertise and experience necessary to catch up with rivals like Microsoft, Facebook, and Samsung Electronics that have been, as of yet, edging them out of virtual reality advancements. It looks as though Apple is now showing its teeth and getting down to business to make up for lost time.

About Dr. Bowman

Bowman’s work in academia has given him a strong background in topics related to virtual reality, such as human-computer interaction, computer science, three-dimensional user interface design, and the benefits of immersion in and interaction with virtual environments. Just a few months ago, Bowman, along with one of his colleagues, were bestowed with a $100,000 research grant from Microsoft to assist them in researching the collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed-reality data using a Hololens virtual reality device.

The Competition

Several companies have already made advancements on Virtual Reality devices that far outpace Apple’s achievements in the field. Time will tell if this new hire can make a significant difference in Apple’s involvement in the Virtual Reality arena.

Facebook made waves in 2014 when it bought out the then-grassroots company Oculus that was famously developing a crowdfunded virtual reality headset dubbed the Oculus Rift. It acquired this startup company at the price of 2 billion USD, but has yet to realise any profit, as the coveted virtual reality headset is only now available for preorder, with the actual production date still a long way off.

Samsung is manufacturing the Gear VR headset, which is being marketed as an all new way to experience movies and games in conjunction with its own brand smartphones. The Gear headset uses some of Oculus’s technology, but takes it in a very different direction.

Google Glass has been a highly publicised and at times even controversial piece of technology, but it is not technically a virtual reality device. Google Glass displays only a small “heads up display” with information that is overlaid over the users actual naked-eye view of “real” reality. It acts as a supplement to our actual reality, and not a “replacement” for it, as other more immersive headsets seek to become. Google does have a clever, though low budget contender in the VR market, though. It consists of a viewfinder made of cardboard into which you can slip a smartphone to experience stereoscopic VR imagery. It’s good for a few laughs and to get an idea of what virtual reality is like, but it’s certainly no competition for the higher end VR machines.

However, even Google’s cardboard cutouts are a step above what Apple currently has on offer in terms of virtual reality machines. In February of last year, Apple was granted a patent originally filed in 2008 on what seems to be a virtual reality headset, but there has been nothing but static since then. Truthfully, Apple has really been falling behind in the virtual reality game and it may be too late now for them to catch up with the other companies that already have years of experience under their belts. Hopefully this new hire represents Apple’s rekindled interest in the field and will lead to big things in the future!


read more

Chromebook Sales Soar At the Expense of Other PCs

Despite their timid start on the market, Chromebooks are now gaining in popularity at an almost alarming rate. Where sales of Chrome PCs accounted for only 1.9% of all computer sales in 2014, in 2015, that number rose to 2.8%, and it’s set to rise again in 2016. Shipments of Google’s Chromebooks are now syphoning sales from more traditional options like Windows or Mac laptops and even desktops. This growth in sales may be attributable to the Chromebook’s low price, simplicity, and lightweightness, which makes it a perfect choice for students, casual users, and anyone on a bare bones budget.

 

Let’s Talk Numbers

According to statistics from the International Data Corporation, over the entire year of 2014, 5.86 million chromebooks were sold. In just the first 3 quarters of 2015, 5.7 million were sold. If Chromebook sales keep growing at this rate, they will soon have a corner on the market. The total amount of PC sales worldwide from all brands was just over 276 million in 2015, which represents a 10.4% decrease in computer sales, which is the largest slump since 2008.

 

From Humble Beginnings

As mentioned before, the Chromebook had a less than astonishing first showing when the products launched in 2011. Things really kicked off in 2013 with the unveiling of the second generation of Chromebooks. As more and more PC manufacturers came out with their own version of the Chromebook, their popularity continued to increase. Now, all major PC manufacturers offer at least one laptop or desktop with the Chrome OS, except for Apple.

 

How to Use

Chrome OS provides a pretty basic, web-based computing environment for the casual user. There are no programs to be downloaded or software to be installed. It is this simplicity that allows it to be so well priced, and why many people have come to love their Chromebooks. At first it can seem like a bit of a shock, but if most of what you do with your computer is web browsing, word processing, or other light tasks, you will soon get used to Chrome’s sleek and simple operating system. In fact, it can be the perfect solution for people who find themselves calling on their favourite IT support provider in London a little too often. It drops all the bells and whistles in favour of a more straightforward user experience.

 

What Does the Future Hold?

The future is, of course, uncertain, but Chromebooks seem poised to ride out this slump in PC manufacturing better than its counterparts at Microsoft or Apple. Their sale numbers continue to rise even as the overall market is trending downward. I think that as more people come to realise all that the Chrome OS has to offer, at such a low price tag, it will continue to pick up steam and gain more and more popularity.


read more

A joystick – tool for driving your car  

Every year brings something new and something special in industry. Sometimes we can see bionic arm that helps people with disabilities, super-computer that executes millions and millions of tasks or new smartphones with special features, which marked the beginning of year.

Car driven by joystick

dds18

IT world never stops surprising us even when it comes to the things we think we cannot make an upgrade for. The beginning of year brings something special when it comes to cars and driving and it represents a perfect blending of auto industry and IT industry – a car that can be driven via joystick.

driverless-carA company in Illinois, with the help of automakers, is trying to develop a new concept where the whole driving will be performed using only joystick. As you know, Lincoln is already prestige car and this feature will make this car even more luxurious and sophisticated. The company implemented two LIDAR sensors on the front side of the car and one video camera.

These sensors scan the area in front of the car and render 3D map of the area, which is really cool feature, while the camera will provide an optical view, recognizing pedestrians and traffic lines. These two features are the brain of this newly implemented driving system. The sensors alongside with the camera are put in the trunk and then connected to the main vehicle control system.

Test driving have not been performed yet, but the concept could be realized in short period of time – the main catch is to create a good software that will function well, which will probably be created by the team of the best engineers. In order to create a better insight to the whole concept, the company used simple gamepad for demonstration.

p01qdj2tTwo joysticks will be used for steering and controlling the vehicle, directional pad for turning indicators while buttons (1,2,3,4 are usually marks for the buttons) will be used for functions like gear shifting and accelerating and braking.  Although the concept has not been completely finished, the presentation was quite interesting and inspiring, promising more fun and joy in the near future at the same time.

The company pointed out that driving will never be easier, especially for gamers who have several hundreds of hours in NFS series of similar game series. The main leader of the project said they are having  small problems with “bridging” technology and cars, but they decided to form a team that will have only one task : to find the right way to connect these two worlds.

No more steering wheels - drive by joystick!

Driving a car, while you are sitting in the back and holding gamepad is really interesting and relaxing, especially for people who travel a lot. This technology will probably bring more safety into everyday traffic since people will drive more carefully using a gamepad. Aside from safety, this is something really innovating and cool – not even to mention that Lincoln implemented this feature at the first place. This means that luxury will be even more fun.


read more