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Displays

A Look At the World's First Virtual Reality Theme Park 14

redletterdave writes: The Void is the first company to create a virtual reality theme park, where virtual experiences are layered on top of physical, real world environments. Tech Insider was the first media outlet to visit The Void's headquarters in Utah, filming the company's first creations. These experiences are still far from final, but the footage is impressive and entertaining. This is not Lazer Tag.
Displays

A New Take on Wearable Devices 29

minstrelmike writes: A company called Polyera is working on a wrist-worn device with a flexible, fabric-like screen that uses e-Ink technology and can go days without recharging. "Right now we design electronic devices that are built on rigid little bricks, so our devices end up looking like rigid little bricks. We wanted to make a fundamental technology that would completely open up the design capabilities. Now we're playing with materials that are more warm, and integrating electronics with materials that are more like leather than they are metal or glass." Their device is touch-sensitive and has much more usable screen space than most wrist-borne devices, which comes at the cost of being lower-resolution and grayscale.
Nintendo

Twenty Years Later, Nintendo's Virtual Boy Is Still an Oddity 43

An anonymous reader writes: Nintendo launched its Virtual Boy gaming console twenty years ago today. Expectations were high after the company sold tends of millions of its previous devices, but the Virtual Boy only sold about 770,000 units. It was conceived at the height of the '90s VR craze, but the technology of the time just couldn't produce the kind of experience that Nintendo (or gamers) envisioned. An article from Benj Edwards provides insight into the Virtual Boy's development and its inevitable failure.

"A major problem with the idea of making VR32 wearable, according to Makino, was that Nintendo engineers were concerned about placing a chip with high radio emissions near a user's head, since the safety of EMF radiation on the brain had yet to be thoroughly studied. Its proximity also produced visual noise in the displays. 'This meant that the internal CPU had to be covered by a metal plate,' says Makino, 'which made the whole system too heavy, forcing the goggle concept to be abandoned.' Not long after, Yokoi's console evolved from a strap-on headset into a heavier device that one could prop up onto one's face using a clumsy shoulder stand. Again, Nintendo's legal department feared liability issues; the device might cause children to fall down a stairwell while playing. ... Hobbled by liability concerns, VR32 soon evolved into a bulky red viewport mounted to a bi-pod that rested on a table."
Displays

Motorola Quickly Shows Next Moto 360 Smartwatch, 'Flat Tire' Display Lives On 44

MojoKid writes: Will they or won't they continue on with the 'flat tire' display? That's been the big question surrounding Motorola's next generation Moto 360 smartwatch. Today, we finally learn the answer to the question, and unfortunately, it looks as though Motorola still hasn't seen clear to incorporate a completely circular display like LG, Huawei and now Samsung into a smartwatch. In an incredibly short video posted to Motorola's official Twitter account (the tweet has since been taken down), we see a fleeting glimpse of the next generation Moto 360. There is still a cutout at the bottom of the display, which houses an ambient light sensor in the current generation Moto 360. Keen eyes will also spot that the side button has been moved from the 3 o'clock position to the 2 o'clock position and that the integrated lug system for the watch bands has been abandoned in favor of an external lug system typical of most modern wristwatches.
Displays

Researchers Fight VR Focus-Switching Headaches 46

An anonymous reader writes: One of the biggest problems virtual reality headsets have yet to overcome is the headaches they cause in a subset of users. For a lot of users, this is caused by needing to rapidly switch your focus between objects that are (virtually) near and far away. "Trying to focus on 'far away' objects on that stereoscopic screen means keeping a fixed focal distance but changing the 'vergence' angle of your eyes—in essence, going a little cross-eyed for a moment." Fortunately, researchers at Stanford have figured out a partial solution.

They "created a prototype headset (PDF) that includes a translucent LCD panel sitting about 1cm in front of a standard, opaque LCD. With some GPU pre-processing, this 'light field stereoscope' headset can display nearby objects on the front LCD and farther-away objects on the rear, creating what the researchers call a '4D' image that layers a basic virtual light field on top of the usual stereoscopic left/right eye 3D separation." This provides an easy, low-tech way to let the eyes focus more easily, and alleviate the strain that causes headaches.
Cellphones

Samsung Wants To Bring Back the Flip Phone With Bendable Screens 59

redletterdave writes: A new patent filed last April but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month suggests Samsung might be working on a smartphone that can bend in half like a flip phone. The biggest problem, according to the patent, is all the strain that accumulates by continually folding the display, or keeping the display folded for a long period of time, which can result in deformations and imperfections, Samsung notes. But Samsung's patent also describes how the phone could keep track of how long it's been in the folded and unfolded states, so as to alert the user of any strain that needs to be relieved. This could help extend the lifetime of the phone and its display.
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless PC-to-TV Solution? 158

jez9999 writes: I have a slightly unusual requirement. I don't want to use some console like an Xbox, Steam Machine, etc. I just have a desktop PC which I use for most of the stuff I do (gaming, video, work, etc.), and it's upstairs. From time to time, I'd like to use it downstairs. Is there a wireless solution that will let me take control of the PC from downstairs, using the TV (HDMI) as the screen, and the TV's speakers to replace my desktop speakers? Ideally there would be a wireless transmitter in the PC, and a downstairs wireless receiver box into which I could plug the keyboard, mouse, and of course, the TV via an HDMI cable. Obviously Bluetooth wireless peripherals won't do for this as there's no line of sight between downstairs and the upstairs PC, and besides, I prefer wired peripherals anyway which I can actually plug in to something (no battery recharging needed).
Shark

Researchers Demonstrate the World's First White Lasers 118

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists and engineers at Arizona State University, in Tempe, have created the first lasers that can shine light over the full spectrum of visible colors. The device's inventors suggest the laser could find use in video displays, solid-state lighting, and a laser-based version of Wi-Fi. Although previous research has created red, blue, green and other lasers, each of these lasers usually only emitted one color of light. Creating a monolithic structure capable of emitting red, green, and blue all at once has proven difficult because it requires combining very different semiconductors. Growing such mismatched crystals right next to each other often results in fatal defects throughout each of these materials. But now scientists say they've overcome that problem. The heart of the new device is a sheet only nanometers thick made of a semiconducting alloy of zinc, cadmium, sulfur, and selenium. The sheet is divided into different segments. When excited with a pulse of light, the segments rich in cadmium and selenium gave off red light; those rich in cadmium and sulfur emitted green light; and those rich in zinc and sulfur glowed blue.
Input Devices

Nokia Announces OZO 360-Degree Camera For Filming Virtual Reality 23

New submitter Sepa Blackforesta writes: Nokia has unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing audio and video in 360 degrees. It is built for professional content creators and the company hopes the camera will become the leading device for shooting virtual-reality experiences for Hollywood. A formal launch and price announcement is planned for the fall. A Nokia press release reads in part: "OZO captures stereoscopic 3D video through eight (8) synchronized global shutter sensors and spatial audio through eight (8) integrated microphones. Software built for OZO enables real-time 3D viewing, with an innovative playback solution that removes the need to pre-assemble a panoramic image - a time-consuming process with solutions currently in the marketplace. OZO's filmed content can be published for commercially available VR viewing hardware such as head mounted displays (HMDs), with immersive, full 360-degree imaging and spatially accurate original sound. OZO also integrates into existing professional workflows and works with third-party tools, dramatically simplifying content production at all stages."
Displays

Samsung Unveils the First Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Your Phone 89

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung wants to reduce the number of cords in your house and has unveiled a new monitor that can wirelessly charge your smartphones. Called the SE370, Samsung says the monitor is the first of its kind to have this capability. The monitor comes in 23.6-inch and 27-inch sizes. According to Samsung : The SE370 "declutters work areas by doing away with unnecessary cables and ports needed to charge mobile devices. Along with superior picture quality, enhanced visual performance and thoughtful design, the monitor seamlessly integrates advanced technologies that offer both professionals and consumers an optimal viewing and usability experience."
Youtube

YouTube Is Adding VR Video Support To Streaming Videos 23

An anonymous reader writes: While YouTube's streaming platform currently supports 3D videos OR 360 degree videos, the combination of the two is essential for properly immersive virtual reality video. Fortunately, the company has announced that they'll soon enable support for 3D + 360 degree videos, bringing more immersive VR video capability to the platform. Currently, 360 degree YouTube videos can be viewed through desktop web browsers and on the YouTube Android and iOS apps, with the Android app being the only one of the bunch currently providing a side-by-side view for VR viewers like Google's Cardboard.
Technology

Pocket SCiO Spectrometer Sends Chemical Composition of Anything To Smartphones 82

MojoKid writes: Is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? All joking aside, the handheld SCiO could truly make you feel like a member Bones McCoy's medical team. The SCiO turns science fiction into science fact by shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. While pricey handheld spectrometers have been available for researchers, the SCiO is the first such device marketed directly at consumers. To get the SCiO down to a reasonable price point, Consumer Physics uses near-IR spectroscopy and optics typically found in smartphones to measure the light reflected from any given object. Held at a distance of 5 to 15 mm from the intended target, SCiO captures reflected spectrum data and uploads it to its own cloud platform. The company's proprietary algorithms then analyze the data and send the information back down to your smartphone (SCiO require a Bluetooth connection). Reportedly, this whole process occurs within 1.5 seconds. The hope is to empower consumers to learn more about the world around them and even about the things that we put in our mouth. You'll be able to ascertain nutritional information about the foods you eat without having to rely on labels, or even determine the ripeness of fruits and vegetables with the push of a button. The Whole Foods crowd will be all over this, one would think.
Power

Lenovo ThinkPad W550s: Heavy, But a Battery That Lasts Nearly All Day 79

MojoKid writes: Mobile workstation notebooks typically offer a fair degree of performance but usually at the expense of battery life. It comes with the territory for machines that are configured with higher-end processors with discrete graphics chips, as well as high-end displays that take more power to light up. Lenovo, however, seems to have found a way to strike a better balance with their new ThinkPad W550s, which comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-5600U CPU, an NVIDIA Quadro K620M GPU, and a 15.5 inch IPS display that sports 2880X1620 native resolution. With that kind of horsepower and that many pixels to push, you would think untethered up-time wouldn't be its strong suit but Lenovo configured a snap-in extended battery for the W550s. The 6-cell extended battery, in combination with its 3-cell internal battery, was able to power the machine for over 18 hours of light-duty web browsing in real-world testing (Lenovo claims up to 20 hrs of battery life). The machine also lasted over five hours under heavy-load Battery Eater testing, and the extended battery is unobtrusive, tilting the keyboard up slightly toward the user but keeping well inside the machine's footprint.
Science

The Science of 4th of July Fireworks 40

StartsWithABang writes: There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a millennium ago halfway across the world. But these displays don't happen by themselves; there's an intricate art and science required to deliver the shows we all expect. So what's the science behind fireworks? Here's the physics (and a little chemistry) behind their height, size, shape, color and sound, just in time for July 4th!
Displays

SlideN'Joy Extender Adds Up To Two More Screens For a Multi-Monitor Laptop 80

MojoKid writes: Nothing beats the portability of a notebook when it comes to getting work done while on-the-go, but with that portability comes a number of caveats like a smaller keyboard and being forced to use a touchpad if you don't want to lug around a portable mouse. Then there's also the limitation of a single display, for those who need more screen real estate for certain tasks. Enter Sliden'Joy, a Kickstarter project that's set to launch on July 6. There's not a lot of technical detail given about it so far, but the basics are easy to understand. Sliden'Joy effectively hooks onto your notebook to allow you to extend one or two screens out of either side, giving you an effective dual or triple monitor setup. Two models of Sliden'Joy are going to be produced, offering either 1 or 2 displays, and sizes of 13, 15, and 17-inch are all going to be supported. There's no word on pledge levels quite yet, but the ultimate goal is to reach 300,000€ ($~332,000 USD) in 30 days.
Cellphones

iPhone 6S New Feature: Force Touch 191

New submitter WarJolt writes: Apple is adding Force Touch to their iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. I'm not sure if Force Touch enough to convince an Android user like myself to switch, but there are definitely some interesting possibilities for app developers. A challenge for App developers will be to make apps compatible with both Force Touch iPhones and non-force touch iPhones. (Here's the Bloomberg report Forbes draws from.)
NASA

Touring NASA's Space Shuttle Cockpit Trainer 18

An anonymous reader writes: Now that the space shuttles have been retired, NASA has been shutting down and cleaning out all of the equipment dedicated to keeping them in service. One such tool was the Crew Compartment Trainer II, a full-size replica of a space shuttle cockpit. Astronauts trained on it to become familiar with the operation of many onboard systems. Just before it was removed, Ars got a chance to tour it, and took a ton of pictures in the process. Quoting: "The forward windows are surprisingly small, and visibility dead ahead is limited to a very narrow section of the window. Both the pilot and commander have fighter-style HUDs (heads-up displays), which are used mainly during landing to keep them lined up and on target with the runway. ... Bloomfield walked me through a few procedures, and it was fascinating how complex the shuttles were in some areas and how primitive they were in others. The on-board computers of course received numerous updates throughout the vehicles' lives, but even in their final iteration they wouldn't have won any speed awards."
Censorship

IMAX Tries To Censor Ars Technica Over SteamVR Comparison 190

Cutting_Crew writes: An article published last week at Ars Technica looked at the SteamVR virtual reality headset created by Valve. Contained in the article is a quote from game designer Alex Schwartz, who said in reference to the device, "The jump between a regular game and playing a room scale VR experience is X times 100. It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." Now, for that single quoted reference, IMAX has sent a trademark complaint to Ars and demanded that they take the story down. "The company said our story required a retraction because it included a brief reference to IMAX—included without IMAX's permission. 'Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden.'"

If you look at the letter from IMAX (PDF), you'll see they think the reference to IMAX is "misleading to readers." They further request that "all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark." Apparently, IMAX has never heard of the Streisand Effect.
Update: 06/19 19:26 GMT by S : IMAX has apologized.
Displays

210 Degree VR Headset With 5K Display Revealed By 'Payday' Developer Starbreeze 79

An anonymous reader writes: Starbreeze Studios has taken wraps off of StarVR, a new VR headset with dual displays comprising a 210 degree horizontal field of view with a total resolution of 5120x1440. The headset's origins come from InfinitEye, a company working on a super-wide dual-display headset back in 2013, which went into stealth mode for quite some time before being reborn as StarVR in partnership with Starbreeze Studios. The studio is the developer behind the Payday franchise, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and now Overkill's The Walking Dead, which will have a VR component utilizing the new headset.
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558

An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.