GoPro Hero 6 Black to feature 4K video recording at 60fps

A look at the GoPro Hero 5. A newer iteration, the GoProGoPro.com

Those eagerly awaiting the release of GoPro Hero 6 Black need not wait much longer, as the device is slated for a Sept. 28 launch. It is expected to come with a 12-megapixels that can capture 4K videos at 60 frames per second (fps).

Its best-seller predecessor the Hero 5 Black only had a frame rate of 30 fps, marking the features of the Hero 6 Black the first of its line. The new GoPro camera is also targeting the adrenaline junkies demanding a high-performing action camera that doesn’t blur images while in a faster motion.

A leaked photo shared to Photo Rumors confirms that the compact design will still be there despite the power upgrade of the snapper. This means the accessories used for the Hero 5 can be used for the Hero 6 without any problems. The camera will also be water-resistant up to 33 feet.

In a press release back at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman stated the company is planning to invest in hardware, mobile and cloud tech — gearing more to efficient improvements while taking into consideration their costumer’s opinion on their more recent products as well as the older ones.

Woodman also shared at the CES Electronics Trade Show in Las Vegas back in January that the company is envisioning a spherical GoPro action camera that can capture and edit 360-degrees of footage with personalized editing features. This lead to camera enthusiasts imagining the GoPro Omni in a 360-degree rig equipped with a mobile phone editing and sharing capabilities. This was eventually revealed to be the GoPro Fusion.

The pricing of the new GoPro has yet to be released in the coming the days. GoPro Hero 5 Black has a price tag of $400 on Amazon with its competitor bidding at $340 capturing UHD resolutions at 60fps.

GoPro Hero 6 Black releasing to the market in the Christmas shopping season will also mean that the sale of the GoPro Hero 4 will soon be discontinued.

Huawei and Intel partner on 5G NR interoperability trials

Chinese networking giant Huawei has announced a new collaboration with Intel on 5G New Radio (5G NR) for interoperability development testing based on 3GPP standards.

For the interoperability trials, the companies will use Huawei’s 5G base station prototype and Intel’s third-generation 5G Mobile Trial Platform to test 5G NR across the sub-6GHz spectrum band — including the C-band between 4GHz and 8GHz — and the higher-range millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum bands.

“The companies will conduct testing in real mobile, over-the-air environments directly connecting Huawei’s infrastructure and Intel’s terminal platform,” Huawei said on Friday.

“As one of the first globally converged 5G spectrum, C-Band will provide basic coverage and bandwidth for 5G. Further, C-Band will serve as one of the world’s first commercialised 5G frequency bands.

“The verification of these features that Huawei and Intel have launched will point out the future direction for the industry.”

President of Huawei’s 5G Product Line Yang Chaobin said the networking company has already tested C-Band, mmWave, and downlink-and-uplink decoupling 5G technologies in Beijing.

He added that the new 5G NR trials with Intel will now “drive the development of 5G terminals” towards commercialisation within the next couple of years.

According to Huawei, the new collaboration demonstrates the closeness with which 5G is coming to commercial deployment, and is a step in unifying carriers and manufacturers across chips, terminals, network infrastructure, and test equipment for a global 5G environment.

“Intel has been actively collaborating with leading players in the Chinese 5G industry to accelerate 5G R&D tests and commercialisation with Intel’s end-to-end 5G technology advantages,” Intel Communication and Devices Group VP Asha Keddy said.

“Based on the latest 5G NR technologies, this joint interoperability test with Huawei will further drive unified 5G standards and the industrial ecosystem in China and across the globe.”

Huawei has also previously worked with Intel [PDF] on delivering cloud and network function virtualisation (NFV) solutions to enable telcos to upgrade while laying the foundations for 5G.

Intel had earlier this month announced its new 5G mobile trial platform, which it said will be developed alongside 3GPP standards and allow for collaboration from other infrastructure and carrier partners beyond the Huawei trial.

Rob Topol, general manager of 5G Business and Technology for Intel globally, told ZDNet on Friday that the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform will be ready by the end of the year, once the next milestone 3GPP vote takes place.

Once ready, the platform will allow for device innovation by supporting initial 5G NR specifications in live tests with partners. It is powered by Intel’s field-programmable gate array (FGPA) circuits and Core i7 processors.

At launch, the 5G platform will support 3GPP NR early interoperability; the 600-900MHz, 3.3-4.2GHz, 4.4-4.9GHz, 5.1-5.9GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz spectrum bands; and a mobile interoperability solution for end-to-end 5G field testing.

“The main advantage of this is the flexibility of this platform; it not only uses high speeds up to 10Gbps, but we also can use this platform to develop algorithms to figure out what works, what doesn’t work for use cases like fixed-wireless or automotive [and] industrial,” Keddy told media earlier in September.

Intel announced its first 5G trial platform in February last year, supporting sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum, with a second-generation platform integrating 4×4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4×4 MIMO) then launched a year ago.

Keddy said that Intel has been “pleasantly surprised” with mmWave performance during its 5G trials, saying it works better than expected in both mobility and fixed-wireless areas.

Intel also announced its 5G modem at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, with a single chip that supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, incorporating Massive MIMO, beam-forming technology, and advanced channel coding.

Intel is also working with US carriers AT&T and Verizon on 5G trials: AT&T is using Intel’s 5G mobile trial platform in its Indiana, Texas, and Michigan trials, while Verizon relies on Intel for its 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the nation.

Intel and Verizon additionally trialled 5G during the Indianapolis 500 motor race in May, using technologies such as beam forming and beam tracking to attain speeds in excess of 6Gbps.

The networking giant is also planning to use the Olympic Games to showcase its 5G platforms.

Huawei is likewise working with carriers worldwide on 5G networking tests, in January attaining speeds of around 35Gbps with Singaporean telcos StarHub and M1.

The StarHub trial was conducted using 2GHz at the e-band — which sits between the 60GHz and 90GHz frequencies — using three layers of e-band, as well as 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

The M1 lab trial was conducted at M1’s main operating centre in Jurong, and made use of mmWave spectrum in the 73GHz e-band as well as 4×4 MIMO; two-component carrier (2CC) uplink carrier aggregation; 3CC tri-band downlink carrier aggregation; and Higher Order Modulation 256 QAM.

Huawei, which plans to help implement 5G networks by 2020, similarly achieved speeds of 35Gbps during a 5G trial with Australian telecommunications provider Optus in November, which was likewise conducted over the 73GHz mmWave spectrum band using the Polar Code coding mechanism.

Striving to improve the energy market

I CATCH up with Colin Calder between his calls to government officials and energy bigwigs.

He is a busy man; a busy man with a mission. A mission to change the energy market for the better.

And he is leading that charge from his Newbury company, PassivSystems.

“I am pretty passionate about trying to change the energy market for the better,” he explains.

“Two years ago I started working with the Government, providing input to the Cabinet Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“I am currently leading an industry consortium that is pushing Government to create an energy framework so we have a better understanding for the future.

“It means we are fundamentally going to have to change what the gas and electricity grid does and that has a huge impact on what we invest in as a country.

“We need a long-term investment strategy.”

Colin’s interest in climate change began back in 2007, when he met a professor from the University of Milan.

“At that time Italy was the only county to roll out smart meters to all homes,” says Colin, who was born and grew up in Newbury.

“I ended up meeting the head of faculty at the University of Milan and got talking to him about how that had been managed and what the benefits were.

“I was surprised to hear that the Government were nervous to move to using time-sensitive tariffs for fear of civil unrest.

“It got me thinking that this isn’t just an Italian problem, but a global problem.

“There were huge political issues tied up with it, but at that point I decided to set up PassivSystems and do more work on it.”

In the early days, PassivSystems focused entirely on the home consumer market – looking at how to engage consumers with the energy industry and how to get consumers value for money while de-carbonising everything.

“Around 80 per cent of energy into the home goes on heating and hot water, so we set about developing ‘learning algorithms’ – an algorithm that learns the thermal dynamic model of your home,” Colin says.

“It learns about the rate at which your home loses or gains heat.”

PassivSystems was the first company in the world to launch a smart thermostat when it showcased it at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2010.

It was named in the top six hottest products of the entire show, which was a phenomenal achievement for a relatively small start-up from West Berkshire.

Since then the company has put more and more capability in to its thermostat, which now includes 24-hour weather forecasts too.

The thermostat can predict how much energy your home will be using, and when, to offer you the perfect environment.

That data can then be used to see how much it could be altered, in terms of timing and temperature and therefore demand on the nation’s supply, while still maintaining your ‘comfort level’.

Consumer studies have so far shown that PassivSystem’s products, which can be controlled from a mobile phone, are all very well received.

“Over time we will be moving more and more towards using electricity rather than gas and electricity networks will become volatile,” explains Colin.

“The rate at which renewable generation changes will affect the stability of the electricity network and if the National Grid doesn’t keep the network stable on a second-by-second basis then it could trip out a lot of systems.

“Consumers can help keep the grid stable by moderating demand.

“We must reverse the model from turning power stations on and off to moderating demand to fit when the grid has the power.”

Colin is now involved in a number of trials with government departments and the energy industry to try to establish a sustainable future.

“It is about buying it [energy] when it is cheap,” he says. “And giving people comfort, ease of use and better value for money.”

Adding another string to its bow, the company has developed an asset management capability and currently maintains around 40,000 rooftop solar PV systems across the country.

More than 800,000 homes in the UK have solar PV panels and a large part of that market is social housing, where a ‘rent a roof’ scheme is employed.

“We can help minimise operational costs and maximise output yield,” adds Colin. “We have made huge investments in advanced software techniques.”

The company is now also branching out into some of the more hard-to-reach places of the country, including an EU-funded project to help the Isles of Scilly become more carbon efficient, and trials are currently ongoing there.

“The consumers are becoming energy traders,” says Colin.

“We are currently doing some really interesting work around getting consumers best value for money and that involves looking at when to buy and store energy.

“We are looking at how to reshape the energy market and working with all of the big energy companies and the Government to do that.”

PassivSystems is a profitable company that currently employs 50 people at its offices in Newbury. It is now looking to expand into Denmark and the Middle East.

Sales of wireless headphones have surged 300% since Apple launched the iPhone 7

Sales of wireless headphones have increased by more than 300% in the year since Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone, according to new figures from Argos.

The technology giant opted to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from the iPhone 7 in 2016 while launching its first wireless earphones, called AirPods, a decision that was initially criticised as inconvenient for consumers.

But new data from retail giant Argos shows a sales increase of 343% for Bluetooth wireless headphones over the last 12 months, suggesting mobile phone users have decided to embrace the technology.

The figures have been announced as the newest iPhone handsets, the 8 and 8 Plus, go on sale in the UK on Friday. Both devices do not have a headphone port.

The Lightning connection on the Apple iPhone 7
The iPhone 7 was the first Apple device to ship without a headphone socket
(Image: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach)

Other smartphone manufacturers, including HTC and Motorola have followed suit by removing the port from some of their new devices, a trend industry analysts have said is likely to continue.

Ben Wood, chief of research at analyst firm CCS Insight, said: “This correlates with the feedback we have been getting from the market. Apple’s decision to remove the 3.5mm jack on all products since the iPhone 7 has undoubted been a major factor.

“All the leading headphone makers have responded with a growing range of Bluetooth products and Apple itself has grabbed a huge slice of the wireless earbud market with its AirPods.”

Mr Wood said the traditional higher price point for wireless headphones was also attractive to manufacturers, but advances in wireless technology had also made the products more appealing to consumers.

Apple launched its own wireless headphones in 2016, known as AirPods

“At the recent IFA event in Berlin, Europe’s largest consumer electronics show, the shift towards Bluetooth adoption by headphone makers was palpable,” he said.

“There is also a huge incentive for headphone makers to move in this direction because the products can command a premium over their wired rivals and with that typically comes a higher margin too.”

“Bluetooth technology has improved dramatically over the last few years. It is more reliable and often uses less power than it used to – this has made Bluetooth headsets a more viable option.”

Argos technology accessories buyer Dean Clarke added: “Changes in the mobile market have driven a huge – and incredibly rapid – shift in the way that people listen to music.

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Advances in wireless technology have made the products more appealing to consumers

“This has been one of the fastest adoptions of a technology that we’ve ever seen – the rate at which consumers are adopting wireless headphones is a remarkable transformation in purchasing habits.

“Apple, one of the biggest players in the mobile market, has caused the switch.

The iPhone 7 was one of the first top-selling UK flagship smartphones to ditch the headphone socket and the iPhone 8 , iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X following suit this year has confirmed that wireless is likely to be the standard going forwards.”

Vuzix Enters Into Strategic Partnership with MPC Energy to Deliver M300 Smart Glasses and

Vuzix’ AR smart glasses will enable the delivery of real-time insights from MPC Energy to operators on the consumption of their energy for systems, machines and devices.  The delivery of real-time insights to the machines via Vuzix smart glasses and Aura, MPC’s smart manufacturing energy management system, will ultimately allow operators to adjust machines and processes in a way that optimizes production and resource consumption in concert with the organization’s goals. 

MPC Energy has been optimizing energy consumption for aluminum, gasoline, food, chemical, glass, electronics and textile manufacturers.  From potato chips to microchips, refineries to foundries; MPC Energy has been shrinking the energy footprints of its global customers and reducing the amount of energy required to produce the products they consume. 

Vuzix will be attending the World Engineering Energy Conference (WEEC) with MPC Energy on September 27-29 in Atlanta, Georgia at Booth #222 to showcase the Vuzix M300 and Aura, MPC’s smart manufacturing energy management system.  

“The team at MPC Energy has established a legacy over the last 37 years in operational excellence and driving productivity and cost savings in over 100 manufacturing plants for its industrial customers,” said Matt Ratteree, President of MPC Energy.  “We’re excited to partner with Vuzix to bring the value proposition of predictive maintenance to our end customers through the use of Vuzix AR Smart Glasses and MPC Aura.” 

“MPC Energy’s next generation management tools paired up with Vuzix M300 smart glasses will drive new business opportunities for Vuzix with some world class customers in the industrial space,” said Paul Travers, President and CEO of Vuzix.

About Modular Process Control LLC “MPC Energy”

Modular Process Control LLC “MPC Energy” http://www.mpcenergyllc.com/ provides energy management solutions. The Company offers cloud-based energy management information system, and energy monitoring services. Modular Process Control operates in the United States.

About Vuzix Corporation

Vuzix is a leading supplier of Smart-Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and products for the consumer and enterprise markets. The Company’s products include personal display and wearable computing devices that offer users a portable high quality viewing experience, provide solutions for mobility, wearable displays and virtual and augmented reality. Vuzix holds 58 patents and 37 additional patents pending and numerous IP licenses in the Video Eyewear field. The Company has won Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) awards for innovation for the years 2005 to 2017 and several wireless technology innovation awards among others. Founded in 1997, Vuzix is a public company (NASDAQ: VUZI) with offices in Rochester, NY, Oxford, UK and Tokyo, Japan.

Forward-Looking Statements Disclaimer

Certain statements contained in this news release are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws. Forward looking statements contained in this release relate to success of our relationship with MPC and among other things the Company’s leadership in the Video Eyewear, VR and AR display industry. They are generally identified by words such as “believes,” “may,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “should” and similar expressions. Readers should not place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, which are based upon the Company’s beliefs and assumptions as of the date of this release. The Company’s actual results could differ materially due to risk factors and other items described in more detail in the “Risk Factors” section of the Company’s Annual Reports and MD&A filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and applicable Canadian securities regulators (copies of which may be obtained at www.sedar.com or www.sec.gov). Subsequent events and developments may cause these forward-looking statements to change. The Company specifically disclaims any obligation or intention to update or revise these forward-looking statements as a result of changed events or circumstances that occur after the date of this release, except as required by applicable law.

Media and Investor Relations Contact:

Matt Margolis, Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations, Vuzix Corporation matt_margolis@vuzix.com Tel: (585) 359-5952

Andrew Haag, Managing Partner, IRTH Communications
vuzi@irthcommunications.com Tel: (866) 976-4784

Vuzix Corporation, 25 Hendrix Road, Suite A, West Henrietta, NY 14586 USA,
Investor Information – IR@vuzix.com www.vuzix.com

For further sales, and product information, please visit:

North America:
http://www.vuzix.com/contact/

Europe/UK:
https://www.vuzix.eu/contact/

Asia:
http://www.vuzix.jp/contact.html

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Local company creates high-tech wristband for alcohol drinkers


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Local company creates hightech…






SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The creative forces behind Milo Sensors call their biometric sensor bracelet “the Fitbit for drinking.”

“It’s a fun device,” said Evan Strenk. “It’s not invasive, it doesn’t prick you. Just put it on and forget  about it and all the information is through your smartphone.”

Strenk, CEO and co-founder of Milo Sensors and Bob Lansdorp, CTO and co-founder, met with  NewsChannel 3 at their offices on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. 

The high-tech wristband reads ethanol, the intoxicating ingredient found in alcohol. 

“Your skin is a super-highway of small molecules,” Strenk explained.

As you sip and schmooze at the bar, Proof wearable is watching your back. And the sweat on your wrist. The device monitors your blood alcohol level through perspiration.

“Say you want to drive home later–you set .08 and all of the sudden your phone buzzes two hours later when you hit .08,” Strenk said. “You’ll know, in the moment, not to have another drink.”

“If you ask the average person, ‘How long do you think it takes before you hit peak blood alcohol concentration after you have a drink?'” Lansdorp suggested. “Most people would say, ’20 to 30 minutes.’ Actually, it’s 80 minutes.”

The device works off of a disposable, 12-hour cartridge and caters to people who drink responsibly. 

If the sleek device looks like the creators took a bite out of the Fitbit, they didn’t. They’ve had their own research team hard at work in offices and a lab in the Bren Hall building on campus, starting back in 2015 when Strenk and Lansdorp went through the New Venture Competition at UCSB with their concept for a wearable blood alcohol sensor.

Two years later, Milo Sensors revealed its product at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January of this year. Four months later in May, the group launched on Indiegogo, Inc. Strenk said they sold out of 700 Proof wearable devices in one week and reached their $25,000 goal within 24 hours.

Strenk said the Milo Sensors team decided to make another run and sold out of another 700 Proof wearable bracelets, earning $53,000 in one week.

The estimated shipping date is December, at the earliest. Strenk said the company is currently in pre-production mode and working to expand operations into the mainstream market sometime in 2018. 

Strenk said a starter kit will retail for $150 and include a Proof wristband, charger kit and a one-month supply of 12-hour disposable cartridges.

The hope is, Proof wearable will be a great way to monitor a night out on your own, rather than at the opposite end of a police stop.

“Our analogy we use is: A breathalyzer gives you one image of your evening, where we give you a movie,” Strenk said. 

For more information, log onto milosensor.com and proofwearable.com.

T-Mobile boosts data throttling threshold to 50GB per month

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere is at it again. 


Josh Miller/CNET

T-Mobile customers on the carrier’s unlimited data plans will soon get to use at least 50 gigabytes of data each month before they face a possible speed reduction.

T-Mobile, the third-largest wireless player — well behind Verizon and AT&T — previously warned that it may reduce customers’ download speeds once they had consumed 32GB of data each month. The wireless carrier said Tuesday that threshold will increase to 50GB starting Wednesday.

The big four wireless carriers all offer plans with unlimited talk, texting and data. But when you hit a certain data limit, your data speeds are slowed down or your data needs are sent to the back of the line. AT&T and Verizon Wireless currently have 22GB data limits, while Sprint sets its limit at 23GB.

T-Mobile said the new limit means only the top 1 percent of data users will face a possible reduction in speeds, compared with the previous 3 percent.

“When T-Mobile customers who use the most data hit these prioritization points during the month, they get in line behind other customers who have used less data and may experience reduced speeds,” the company said in a blog post. “But this impacts them only very rarely, like when there is a big line, and it resets every month.”

The boost comes after T-Mobile and Netflix announced a partnership earlier this month that will give many subscribers to T-Mobile’s “One” unlimited data plans free access to Netflix. But the freebie only works if you have at least two T-Mobile One unlimited data voice lines (single line customers are out of luck).

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Mobile World Congress 2017: All the coolest new phones and wearables from the trade show in Barcelona.

Moto X4 expected to launch in India on October 3rd

“The Moto X4 sports IP68 water resistance and dual rear cameras”

Just yesterday, Motorola teased the launch of a new X series smartphone in India. The brand’s teasers hinted at the launch of the Moto X4 in the country. Today, the company has scheduled a press event in India on October 3rd. While the brand’s invite doesn’t mention the exact name of the smartphone to be launched in the country, the large “X” with the #XperiencePerfection hashtag in the invite clearly suggests it’s the Moto X4.

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Moto X4 Invite India

For the uninitiated, the Moto X4 was unveiled in September at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. It comes as a mid-range offering with a dual camera setup at the rear. The phone has a 12-megapixel primary shooter at the back, mated to an 8-megapixel secondary snapper. The twin camera setup also gets phase detection autofocus and a dual-LED flash unit. For selfies, the device has been provided with a 16-megapixel snapper with f/2.0 aperture and a front LED flash unit.

Moto X4 FI 10

As for the other features, the Moto X4 (first impressions) comes with a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass at both the front and rear. The device has IP68 certification for water- and dust-resistance. It comes with a fingerprint sensor, which is placed beneath the physical home button. The handset offers a 5.2-inch full HD AMOLED display. Under the hood, it packs in a 2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, mated to Adreno 508 graphics.

The Moto X4 comes in two RAM and storage configurations – 3GB + 32GB and 4GB + 64GB. In terms of connectivity, it offers dual-SIM slots, 4G LTE, VoLTE (voice over LTE), NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS. Software-wise, it runs a near-stock version of Android 7.1 Nougat with a few Moto enhancements. Powering the phone is a 3,000mAh battery that supports TurboCharging technology.

There’s no word regarding the pricing and availability of the Moto X4 in India at the moment. However, we do know that it is retailing in Europe at a starting price of around Rs 30,000, and it comes in black and blue colour options.

Samsung Release Folding Smart Phone 2018

Smartphones can do a lot of things, but you can’t yet buy one that folds. Samsung plans to change that soon.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker is aiming to release a device with a foldable display in 2018, its head of mobile Koh Dong-jin said in Seoul.

Koh added that the company still has “hurdles to overcome” before making the phones a reality.

“We are digging thoroughly into several issues,” he said, without elaborating.

Rumors of a foldable phone have been swirling around Samsung ever since the company showcased a flexible display at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013.

It has already incorporated elements of the technology in its curved Galaxy Edge smartphones, and one industry analyst described Samsung’s goal of releasing a foldable device next year as “quite realistic.”

“It’s been known that Samsung has been working on the foldable display for many years,” said IHS Market analyst Jusy Hong.

A little-known Chinese startup called Moxi said in May 2016 it would launch wraparound black-and-white phones made of graphene by the end the year. There have been no signs since of those phones actually hitting the market.

Samsung says it is on track to produce a full-fledged folding smartphone.

“Foldable phones are on our roadmap,” Koh said Tuesday.

Will Apps Catch Up?

One challenge Samsung might face is getting developers to tailor their applications to the new folding screens.

“What makes smartphones smarter is applications, especially third-party applications,” Hong said. “If you have a foldable phone but most of your applications are not supporting foldable features… it would be meaningless.”

Successfully launching a folding smartphone would bolster a remarkable turnaround for Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, which took a huge hit last year when Note 7 phones began bursting into flames. Samsung had to recall millions of devices and lost billions of dollars in the process.

But the latest model in the series, the Note 8, appears to have shaken off the concerns that dogged its predecessor. Samsung has already received around 650,000 pre-orders for the new device ahead of its launch on Friday, Koh was reported as saying.

Written by Rishi Iyengar for CNN. Jo Shelley and Taehoon Lee in Seoul contributed to this report.

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New iPhones may spur a surge in augmented reality

The runaway success of “Pokemon Go” last year taught the world at least two things. One: Lots of people love Pokemon. And two: Creating good augmented reality – the kind that superimposes 3-D objects into the real world and convinces people they’re actually chasing a Pikachu – is really, really hard.


“It’s not so hard that it’s impossible,” said Jeff Kelley, an iOS developer at app design and development firm Detroit Labs. “But it’s hard enough that you’re probably not going to get a return on your investment.”

Previously, if developers wanted to add augmented reality to an app, first they’d have to spend months building their own tools and performing a bunch of math to calculate how a 3-D object should look when light hits it from different angles, and how it interacts with real-world objects, Kelley said.

That high barrier to entry will all but disappear when iOS 11 launches Sept. 19 with AR Kit, a set of developer tools that takes out the hardest part of developing augmented reality experiences for the iPhone.

“As a developer, you don’t have to do all the hard math stuff to get it to work,” Kelley said. “The minimum time investment now goes way down.”

That means there soon could be a surge in the number of apps that feature augmented reality experiences, exposing more people to a technology that was once considered the purview of hardcore geeks.

Despite the enormous popularity of “Pokemon Go” last year, only 31 percent of Americans know what augmented reality is, according to a survey conducted in July by Skrite, a startup that makes a social augmented reality app.

As with its more immersive cousin, virtual reality, tech companies have for years tried to bring augmented reality to the mainstream, with little success. Google’s infamous Google Glass – a head-mounted display – was a flop that drew criticism over its conspicuous design and potential for privacy violations (the device could be used to record people).

Startups at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas year after year have hawked augmented reality screens that act as virtual dressing rooms, none of which have gained mass market adoption. And furniture stores and interior design firms have long offered tools to let people see what a sofa or coffee table might look like in their home, but these apps have been clunky or difficult to use.

Until “Pokemon Go,” most augmented reality experiences just weren’t very good, Kelley said. Even the most basic of experiences left much to be desired. Kelley recalls working on an app five years ago for wall decoration company Fathead, in which users could point a smartphone at a wall in their house and see how a Fathead wall sticker might look in their home. In order for it to work, though, users first had to print a PDF and stick it to their wall as a physical marker so that the app knew where to superimpose the virtual sticker.

With Apple’s AR Kit leveling the playing field, developers can spend less time worrying about the tech that powers augmented reality, and spend more time focusing on the experiences they want to create, Kelley said, which could ultimately lead to more experimentation and better products.

“The main push is that it’s priming the consumer field and the developer field,” said Gregory Curtin, whose Los Angeles firm CivicConnect works with city and transit agencies to integrate city data with augmented reality.

Curtin’s firm spent three years developing its own augmented reality platform, which can integrate transit schedules and commuter data so when a person opens a transit app and points a phone at a bus stop, the bus schedule appears on the screen.

Although a lower barrier to entry could mean CivicConnect will soon see more competition, Curtin welcomes it, because greater awareness of what augmented reality can do will mean more opportunities for developers in new markets.

Some challenges still will lie ahead, though.

AR Kit can solve the tech component, but many augmented reality experiences require 3-D art. Even Snapchat’s dancing hot dog, silly as it may be, had to be drawn and rendered by someone.

“For a lot of developers, that’s another difficult piece, because developers aren’t always good 3-D artists,” Kelley said.

The other challenge is that while the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X are optimized for augmented reality viewing, many phones – particularly cheaper options with lower-end cameras – aren’t. At a starting price of $699 for the iPhone 8 and $999 for the iPhone X, experiences made for those phones may exclude many potential users.

But it’ll be just a matter of time before the technology is readily available to everyone, developers said. Facebook already offers its own platform, AR Studio, for developers wanting to create augmented reality experiences for the social network, and dozens of third-party platforms such as Vuforia and EasyAR allow developers to create AR experiences across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android.

That Apple is throwing its weight behind AR Kit, with augmented reality-ready phones, is a big deal, developers said.

“I do think this will be a milestone in terms of changing the game,” Curtin said.


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With iPhone X, Apple is hoping to augment reality for the everyman