An anonymous reader writes "In a Q&A session on Reddit last night with Valve's Gabe Newell, the founder confirmed that the company is in the process of getting the highly anticipated Source 2 game engine 'working well with VR.' Valve's Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer, is apparently leading the charge. Still no word on when the engine may ship. Valve, who is openly collaborating with Oculus VR, demonstrated a VR headset prototype in January at Steam Dev Days. The company also launched a beta version of SteamVR which offers Steam's 'Big Picture' mode in a format compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A developer who got to experiment with Valve's VR prototype says it's very impressive, even more so than the original Oculus VR dev kit."
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Zothecula writes "Many smartphone or tablet users will already be familiar with receiving vibration feedback when typing on a virtual keyboard, but, though better than nothing, it's not particularly convincing. There have been attempts to make sensory feedback from touchscreens more realistic using electrostatic force, for example, or even creating the sensation of physical buttons by pushing liquid into prearranged tactile pixels, but Fujitsu is claiming to break new ground with its prototype haptic sensory tablet."
Lucas123 writes "As the sophistication of automotive electronics advances, from autonomous driving capabilities to three-dimensional cameras, the industry is in need of greater bandwidth to connect devices to a car's head unit. Enter Ethernet. Industry standards groups are working to make 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet de facto standards within the industry. Currently, there are as many as nine proprietary auto networking specifications, including LIN, CAN/CAN-FD, MOST and FlexRay. FlexRay, for example, has a 10Mbps transmission rate. Making Ethernet the standard in the automotive industry could also open avenues for new apps. For example, imagine a driver getting turn-by-turn navigation while a front-seat passenger streams music from the Internet, and each back-seat passenger watches streaming videos on separate displays." This might get us into trouble when the Cylons show up.
KentuckyFC writes "Aerial flocking has been a long-standing goal for roboticists, but the technical demands for autonomous outdoor flocking have always been too great. Now a European team has successfully demonstrated autonomous outdoor flocking for the first time, with up to 10 flyers in the air simultaneously for up to 20 minutes. The flyer of choice is the MK Basicset L4-ME made by the German company MikroKopter. They modified this by attaching an extension board carrying a variety of navigational devices such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS receiver, as well as a wireless communications unit and a minicomputer to calculate trajectories. To simplify these calculations, all the quadcopters fly at the same altitude to make the flocking problem two-dimensional. The team say the quadcopters can fly autonomously in lines and circles, and even demonstrate self-organizing behavior when confined to specific volumes of space. Crucially, the flock does not rely on any centralized control for its behavior. The researchers imagine using them for large-scale, redundant observations over wide areas, perhaps for farming, traffic monitoring and, of course, military purposes. They might even put on aerial displays for entertainment purposes."
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports Google has initiated lobbying efforts to stymie attempts by some states to enact distracted driver laws aimed at wearable technologies, such as Google Glass. 'Google's main point to legislators is that regulation would be premature because Google Glass is not yet widely available, the state elected officials say. Illinois state Senator Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat who introduced a Google Glass restriction bill in December, responded that it was clear the merchandise was heading for the broader public.' Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers, is this responsible corporate behavior to protect their product, or an unethical endangering of lives?"
lunatick writes "I put in my application for Google Glass as a joke. I never figured I would be selected. Well in less than one week I got my invite to buy Google Glass. My main hold back is the $1500 price tag for a device that just seems to be a camera and navigation aid. Does anyone in the /. community have Google Glass and can they give some advice to the rest of us considering it?"
jonyami writes "Virtual reality headsets are the next big thing thanks to the rise of the Oculus Rift, but this new headset from tiny startup GameFace Labs promises to one-up its rivals by going completely wireless. A new article goes heads-on with the new device and features an interview with the company's founder, Ed Mason."
MTorrice writes "By shaving off an ultrathin layer from the top of a silicon wafer, researchers have transformed rigid electronic devices into flexible ones. The shaving process could be used to fabricate parts for wearable electronics or displays that can roll up. Compared to similar techniques to make bendable silicon electronics, the new method is more cost-effective and produces more flexible devices, its developers say."
An anonymous reader writes "Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual reality gaming — and how far we have to go. The Oculus Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Atwood says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Demos are great, but there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today, and the ones that do support VR can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Surgeon Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a headset, and have an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good VR headset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great VR experience: headphones and awesome positional audio, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal Cove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Atwood also links to Michael Abrash's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR."
muterobert writes "Owlchemy Labs, the developers behind the excellent Oculus Rift ready game, Aaaaaaaculus!, share their impressions of their time at Steam Dev Days and detail their experiences using Valve's secretive virtual reality HMD prototype. An excerpt: 'I was told to walk off of the cube and it was physically difficult to step forward into the space where there was no solid footing, even though I knew that there would be a solid floor with a rug right there for me. It's amazing how the mind can trick you.'"
First time accepted submitter SugarManner writes "Google Glass is in for a fight even before they hit the market. The Taiwanese company Chipsip has just released plans for a competing product that beats Google Glass on all specifications. (Seen on the Swedish Elektronik Tidningen — warning: written in Swedish) Nine sensors on the Taiwanese product 'Smart Glass' can detect speed, altitude, temperature, light and position. It has built-in GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and a microphone. The processor is based on Rock Chips Cortex A9 system RK3168 running at 1.5 GHz. While Google Glass supports 802.11g communication, Chipsip Smart Glass supports 802.11n. The camera and screen resolution also top Google Glass by a notch, and with stereo sound on the Smart Glass compared to Google's mono sound, it seems that the Taiwanese company has hit all the right spots to make Google goggle. Or not. Google Glass is still in Beta, so specs on the final product may change."
rtoz writes "Researchers at MIT have come up with an innovative approach to creating transparent displays inexpensively, while providing wide viewing angles and scalability to large sizes. To create the transparent display, silver nanoparticles are embedded in plastic, tuned to scatter only certain wavelengths of light and to allow all other wavelengths through. In this example (video), it is tuned to scatter only blue color using 60nm silver particles. The researchers believe that it can be easily enhanced to a multicolor display by creating nanoparticles that can scatter other primary colors. The ability to display graphics and texts on an inexpensive transparent screen could enable many useful applications. For example, they could bring navigation data to windshields of cars and aircraft, and advertisements to the sides of skyscrapers. Cheap 'stick-on screens' could be developed using this technology. The messages broadcast on nanoparticle screens are accessible from virtually every angle. Transparent screens themselves are not new; for example, Google is working on Google glass. But they are expensive. This MIT invention will help to produce transparent displays easily and inexpensively."
MTorrice writes "To make future displays that roll, bend, and stretch, electronics makers need the circuits that control the pixels to be elastic. In particular, they need flexible transistors. Now researchers have combined a carbon nanotube mesh with a spongy ionic polymer to build super-stretchy transistors. The scientists can pull the devices to lengths 57% greater than their resting length without disrupting performance."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Videographer and journalist Boonsri Dickinson took the second generation of Google Glass out for a spin, and came back with some thoughts (and a video) on the hardware (basically unchanged from the first generation) and the new XE12 software upgrade (which includes many new features, such as the 'eye wink' option for snapping photos). New apps in the tiny-but-growing Glass app store include Compass, which allows you to find interesting landmarks; Field Trip, which allows you to walk around and look up local history; Video Voyager, a tool for sharing videos based on your location; and Strava Run, which visualizes your fitness habits. 'Glass has potential to take off as a new platform because it's not a phone,' she writes. 'The hands-free approach could expand its use to venues as diverse as the operating room and kitchen, unlocking new ways of using the data overlays to augment the real world.' Interesting features aside, though, her experience with the device raises the usual privacy questions: 'For the most part, Glass is a good prototype for this new kind of computer: but do we really need it, and are we ready for it?'"
An anonymous reader writes "The 4K television revolution is upon us, and nobody is impressed. Most users seem content to wait until there's actually something to watch on these ultra-high-res displays, and also for the price to come down. However, Brian Hauer has written an article promoting a non-standard use for these displays. His office just got a 39", 3840x2160 display for each of their programmers' workstations. He now confidently declares, 'For the time being, there is no single higher-productivity display for a programmer.' Hauer explains: 'Four editors side-by-side each with over a hundred lines of code, and enough room to spare for a project navigator, console, and debugger. Enough room to visualize the back-end service code, the HTML template, the style-sheet, the client-side script, and the finished result in a web browser — all at once without one press of Alt-tab.'"
crabel writes "The Oculus rift prototype Crystal Cove shown at CES uses a camera to track over two dozen infrared dots placed all over the headset. With the new tracking system, you can lean and crouch because the system knows where your head is in 3D space, which can also help reduce motion sickness by accurately reflecting motions that previously weren't detected. On top of that, the new 'low persistence' display practically removes motion blur." The new low-persistence AMOLEDs also achieve 1920x1080 across the field of vision. Reports are that immersion was greatly enhanced with head tracking.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is the largest electronics show in the U.S. these days. It's so big that small companies easily get lost among the industry giants and their huge, noisy show floor displays. But there is a press-only 'pre-show' called CES Unveiled that gives visibility to companies that don't have 20' tall displays full of celebrity shills and other razzmatazz. So, in hopes of finding some products more interesting than the inevitable CES "Oh, look! Our latest TVs are 2" wider than last year's models!" blather over incremental improvements to existing products, Tim Lord went to CES Unveiled -- and found a few products that were not repeats from previous years. Good products? Useful? Maybe, maybe not. You decide.
schwit1 writes with news that one of the big presentations at next week's Consumer Electronics Show will be a set of contact lenses that are designed to augment a user's vision. A company called iOptik will be demonstrating a functioning prototype. The lenses themselves are actually only part of the display — they're paired with eyeglasses that are fitted with micro-projectors which generate the imagery shown on the lenses. "[B]y utilizing the specialized lenses to help users focus on both close and faraway objects — an issue when putting panoramic images inches from the eyes — in conjunction with the glasses to project the media and overlays, Innovega is able to do two things when most wearables do just one. First, it can project 'glance-able' displays, like Google Glass does exclusively where data is pushed to the periphery. But by utilizing the contact lenses with the glasses, it can also project a full-screen HUD, in other words operate in a heads-up display mode similar to what goggle wearables like the gaming-focused Oculus Rift offer. ... 'All the usual optics in the eyewear are taken away and there is a sub-millimeter lens right in the center,' [iOptik CEO Stephen Willey] explained. 'It's shaped, so the outside of the lens is shaped to your prescription if you need one and the very center of the lens is a bump that allows you to see incredibly well half an inch from your eye.' The second component involved is the optical filter that directs light. 'Light coming from outside the world is shunted to your normal prescription. Light from that very near display goes through the center of the lens, the optical filter,' Willey said."
sfcrazy writes "YouTube will demonstrate 4K videos at the upcoming CES. That's not the best news, the best part of this story is that Google will do it using it's own open sourced VP9 technology. Google acquired the technology from O2 and open sourced it. Google started offering the codec on royalty free basis to vendors to boost adoption. Google has also learned the hardware partnership game and has already roped in hardware partners to use and showcase VP9 at CES. According to reports LG (the latest Nexus maker), Panasonic and Sony will be demonstrating 4K YouTube using VP9 at the event. Google today announced that all leading hardware vendors will start supporting the royalty-free VP9 codecs. These hardware vendors include major names like ARM, Broadcom, Intel, LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, Panasonic, Philips, Qualcomm, RealTek, Samsung, Sigma, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba."
wjcofkc writes "Interactive displays projected into the air in the spirit of Iron Man have been heralded as the next step in visual technology. Yet many obstacles remain. According to Russian designer Max Kamanin, creator of Displair, many the problems have now been largely cracked. With this attempt at refining the technology, the image is created inside a layer of dry fog which is composed of ultra-fine water droplets so small they lack moisture. Three-dimensional projections are then created using infrared sensors. The projected screen currently responds intuitively to 1,500 hand movements, many of which are similar to those used on mobile devices, such as pinch and zoom. The most immediate applications include advertising and medicine, with the latter offering a more hygienic alternative to touchscreens. The most immediate objection from home and office computer users is that they don't want to be waving their hands around all day, and while such questions as 'What happens when I turn on a fan?' are not answered here, just imagine a future with a projected keyboard and trackpad that use puff-air haptic feedback with the option of reaching right into the screen whenever it applies to the application at hand — and applications that take advantage of such a technology would no doubt come along. Better yet, imagine for yourself in the comments. As always, pictures speak a thousand words, so don't neglect the articles gallery."