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One of the major problems of the virtual reality industry is the high cost of entry for consumers. In the case of PC-powered virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, customers not only have to shell out for the headset but also for a high-end PC that is powerful enough to support them. Previously, PCs that are able to support the Oculus Rift will cost nearly $1,000, bringing the total package of a PC and the virtual reality headset to about $1,500. However, with the help of a new feature that was recently launched by Oculus, the cost of entry has now dipped significantly to as low as $1,100. Oculus, AMD, and CyberPowerPC have unveiled the Gamer Ultra VR desktop PC, which makes the entry into the virtual reality industry more affordable for gamers. If bought by itself, the Gamer Ultra VR tower carries a price tag of $649.99. However, the PC is currently being offered in a bundle on Best Buy that packages it with the Oculus Rift for a price tag of $1,099.98. With the Oculus Rift being sold at $600, the bundle effectively sets the price of the Gamer Ultra VR desktop PC at only about $500. The specifications for the Gamer Ultra VR desktop PC include a quad-core AMD FX 4350 CPU and Radeon RX 470 4 GB GPUs. The computer also packs 8 GB DDR3 of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive at 7,200 RPM, three USB 3.0 ports, and seven USB 2.0 ports. The reduction in the price of PCs that can support virtual reality can be partly attributed to the decreasing price tag of CPUs and GPUs as they spend more time in the market. However, a bigger reason for the lower barrier of entry into virtual reality is the Asynchronous Spacewarp technology that Oculus announced back in October 2016. Asynchronous Spacewarp helps reduce dropped frames to keep content at 90 frames per second, even on PCs that are less in cost compared to the computers previously used in virtual reality. PCs that are only capable of running content at 45 frames per second will be boosted to run the required 90 frames per second for virtual reality through the feature. The $500 PC by CyberPowerPC was already hinted at the Oculus announcement, and the PC is now available for customers who can finally afford to jump into the virtual reality scene. There are several other alternatives for customers to get into virtual reality aside from PC-powered virtual reality headsets. The PlayStation VR, along with the PlayStation 4, will only cost about $750 in total, while smartphone-based virtual reality devices such as the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream View also carry price tags that are much more affordable than the Oculus Rift. However, the Oculus Rift and the Gamer Ultra VR will be able to offer a more immersive virtual reality experience to users due to the better visuals offered by a PC-powered headset. In addition, with Oculus finally releasing the Oculus Touch motion controllers, the experience is made even more interactive and engaging. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

HTC will soon launch a new virtual reality toy you can use on the go. The device will be compatible with HTC's new flagship phone, the U Ultra. But HTC says it won't be just a simple headset like Samsung's Gear VR. VR, which puts headset wearers into a computer-generated digital world, has swept across the tech industry over the last few years. HTC bet on the high end with its Vive system, which requires a pricey, powerful PC to run. But there are more affordable options like the Gear VR and the Google Daydream View that work by plugging in your phone to a cheap headpiece. HTC's follow-up to the Vive could could bridge the gap between these two types of systems. "We have a good plan in terms of combining mobility with VR," said HTC Chief Financial Officer Chia-lin Chang in an interview at the HTC U series launch event in Singapore. "Vive is very top end, and in the coming months you'll see our plans in terms of mobility and VR, and it's not a phone slapped onto a headset," he said. "It'd be a different thing." Chang added that the mystery VR product would launch before the end of the year. "We're a VR company, we're going to have something," he said. HTC's shift in focus to VR comes as the company continues to stumble with its core phone business. The Taiwanese company put its marker down on virtual reality in 2016 with the launch of the Vive, which went up against the Oculus Rift system from Facebook and against Sony's Playstation VR. Chairwoman and CEO Cher Wang highlighted the VR efforts in a statement when HTC disclosed poor financial results in its fourth quarter on Tuesday. The company reported an operating loss of NT$3.6 billion (about $116 million) with revenue falling 14 percent to NT$22.2 billion (about $722 million) despite "robust sales performance." While HTC remains high on virtual reality, critics question whether the technology has lived up to the hype set last year with the debut of most of the big-name VR systems. The amount of fresh VR content that appeared at CES was underwhelming, although filmmakers are trying to find ways to draw you in. HTC is working to foster that content as well. "We have learned much from our entrance into the world of virtual reality," Wang said, "and we believe our focused approach to building the ecosystem is the right strategy to enable the whole industry to expand through the creation of compelling content and rich experiences." Life, disrupted: In Europe, millions of refugees are still searching for a safe place to settle. Tech should be part of the solution. But is it? Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about VR.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.technologyreview.com

The question is ridiculous, but usefully so. VR will never be like the movies, culturally or aesthetically, and the best way to understand why may be to imagine you’re experiencing the 1942 Warner Brothers classic not as a linear story viewed from a theater seat, but as an immersive world accessed by a digital headset. Most of us would never leave Rick’s Café Américain. We’d go behind the bar with Sascha, hover by Emil the croupier at the roulette table, hang out with Sam as he played “As Time Goes By” again. Me, I’d be following Peter Lorre’s sniveling Ugarte. But the central drama of Rick’s rekindled love and sacrifice for Ilsa Lund? We’d probably never get that far. Director Michael Curtiz and the Warner Brothers elves did such a brilliant job imagining the world of Casablanca that we’d be content to explore it until we bumped up against the walls, like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Similarly, a virtual-reality Citizen Kane might be a survey of the title character’s infinite basement, each talisman sparking its own flashback in no particular order. The Godfather VR Edition might allow us to prowl the haunted house of Don Corleone’s extended family, with the drama of Michael’s slow rise and rot only one small thread amid the warp and weft. VR will never become the new cinema. Instead, it will be a different thing. But what is that thing? And will audiences trained in passive linear narrative—where scene follows scene like beads on a string, and the string always pulls us forward—appreciate what the thing might be? Or will we only recognize it when the new medium has reached a certain maturity, the way audiences in 1903 sat up at The Great Train Robbery and recognized that, finally, here was a movie? As a movie critic and a writer who has been covering film over 35 years, I recognize that I’m part of a vast viewership beholden to a media format that has passed its apogee: the roughly two-hour visual experience, usually narrative, projected on a screen for multiple viewers. We live in a time of cultural and technological upheaval, and traditional cinema was the art form of the 20th century. Distribution points are multiplying (TV, computer, phone) while viewing lengths run from binge-watched multi-hour TV episodes to 10-second Snapchats. Once a technological Holy Grail or the province of science fiction films like Brainstorm (1983), The Lawnmower Man (1992), The Matrix (1999), and Avatar (2009), virtual-reality technology was for years bedeviled by image-rendering glitches and the vertigo that can afflict users trying to navigate a poorly created virtual space. It’s hard to enjoy a fantasy world when you feel you’re about to throw up. But now the future may finally be here. Consumer-ready VR helmets like the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear V12, Sony PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive plunge viewers into immersive 3-D environments where they can move within a storyline or game space without feeling sick. They’re the newest iterations of headsets that have been around for decades (I tested the CyberMaxx helmet for Entertainment Weekly way back in 1994), and they all descend from the first head-mounted display unit developed by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland in 1968, a behemoth so heavy that it was bolted to the ceiling and nicknamed the “Sword of Damocles.” Meanwhile, content creators—visual artists and game developers, filmmakers and other storytellers—are trying to figure out how it might work. (See an interview with Google’s principal filmmaker for VR, Jessica Brillhart.) Gaming software and networks represent the most fertile and obvious center of development, since exploring and interacting with a fictional reality is the plot of most video games. Other, more narrative virtual-­reality experiences, available for purchase or free in the online VR stores that serve as visual entry points once you put on the Rift, the Gear, or the Vive, feel remarkably fresh. They point the way forward toward … something. Sometimes that something can be startlingly beautiful. The 20-minute Notes on Blindness: Into the Darkness was much praised at the now-annual virtual-reality sidebar at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and it went on to win festival prizes throughout 2016. Based on the diaries of the late John Hull, a British writer and editor who lost his sight at age 45, Notes uses Hull’s recorded voice as guide to an otherworld: a 360° panoramic London park, ink-black except for silhouetted outlines, that is illuminated by each sound we hear. A passing jogger’s feet seem to bioluminesce with every clip-clop; the wind through the trees brings imagined color to branches and leaves. An entire landscape of synesthesia comes into being before our eyes and ears. Yes, it would and does work on a rectangular film or TV screen, but not nearly as convincingly as this immersive inner-yet-outer experience. Even more striking is Dear Angelica, a highlight of this January’s Sundance VR showcase. Directed by Saschka Unseld and developed in the skunk works of Oculus Story Studio, it’s a memory play told from the point of view of a young woman, voiced by Mae Whitman, as she reminisces about her late mother, a larger-than-life film actress, voiced by Geena Davis. As with Notes on Blindness, there’s no attempt to capture a photographic reality; rather, the artist Wesley Allsbrook has used the Quill VR illustration software, developed at Story Studio, to create a vivid impressionistic flow of color that evolves around, behind, and even beneath a viewer. Dear Angelica does move forward in linear fashion, but it doesn’t tell a story so much as unfold like a poignant train of thought, and you can sense the filmmakers taking baby steps toward a new visual and psychological grammar. These are beguiling visions, evidence of new ways of expressing human experiences, owing little to other media. Yet there are still stumbling blocks. For one thing, VR hardware is still very clumsy. You have to put on the headset, set up the movement tracking devices, log on to the computer, and avoid tripping over all those cords as you grope blindly about the rec room. It is as if Thomas Edison had told everyone that they needed to rewire their homes and assemble the projectors themselves if they ever wanted to watch a motion picture—and that they then had to put the projector on over their heads. Most virtual-reality experiences that attempt to combine the narrative forward momentum of film with the immersive exploration of VR end up highlighting the worst of both mediums. Compared with the promise of Notes on Blindness and Dear Angelica, these “entertainments” represent the current reality of virtual reality, and it’s worth talking about what they are and how you experience them. The experiences are different on different headsets. Google Cardboard, an appealingly low-entry headset, lets you play VR content on an iPhone or Android phone slotted into a cardboard box; it’s the VR equivalent of a Victorian stereoscope or a later generation’s GAF ­View-Master, and while it’s funky and the visuals can get mighty pixelated, it works. The Oculus Rift, available at electronics outlets for about $600 (hand controls are an additional $200), offers vastly improved visual resolution but requires a PC system with state-of-the-art graphic capability (at least $880) and a decent amount of technical savvy to use. The more recently arrived HTC Vive has all that plus a pair of laser sensors that have to be precisely positioned on your walls so that the user’s movements can be accurately tracked. (The Rift has a similar sensor that stands on a tabletop and looks like a microphone but isn’t.) I didn’t test-drive the Samsung Gear or other headsets for this article. What are we able to dream while wearing these brave new goggles? In the virtual stores encountered once you put on the headsets—visual malls that seem to hover in space—you can pay for, collect, and access games, apps, social-media platforms, and a lot of what could be termed short VR programming, little of which is terribly interesting. You can watch brief comic skits—YouTube product busted out into 3-D—and travelogues that reinforce the View-Master comparison. Doug Liman, the director of such Hollywood hits as Swingers (1996) and The Bourne Identity (2002), has produced and co-directed a VR series called Invisible for Jaunt, a VR production company and online store. In five episodes of about six minutes each, a clunky thriller storyline about invisible cousins comes to grief on soap-opera-level acting, dreadful writing, and an aesthetic that still owes much to traditional film. Each time the image cuts to a new angle, viewers have to joltingly reorient themselves in space. Still, a chase scene in Episode 5 shows some initiative in visualizing a 360° dramatic landscape. Similarly, a short clip, Mr. Robot VR, available on a number of headsets, does little other than put the characters on a Coney Island Ferris wheel and allow the show’s creator, Sam Esmail, to mess around with the new technology. Liman’s Swingers star Jon Favreau—now a major Hollywood director himself (Elf, The Jungle Book)—has a more promising interactive project called Gnomes & Goblins in the works; a preview is currently available exclusively on the Vive. Remembering Pearl Harbor, produced by Time Life and available on the Vive, lets you access archival historical recordings and material by wandering around and picking things up; it’s well done, but it plays like a CD-ROM the company never got around to releasing in the 1990s. Jaunt also has some sort of deal with Paul McCartney that has resulted in VR concert documentaries (good) and Paul ­McCartney: Early Days, which simply puts Macca in a room and projects slide photos over his face while he talks about the young Beatles (not so good). Some VR content houses have thought harder about the medium’s possibilities. Penrose Studios has created two animated shorts for most VR platforms: The Rose and I and the excellent Allumette combine crude stop-motion-style graphics with engaging stories and a genuinely novel vantage point in which the viewer seems to hover in space; the Vive’s motion tracking especially allows you to lean in, peer around, and get up close to the characters. For the more adventurous, there’s a wealth of what might be called cottage-industry VR on the Internet, made by unaffiliated creators curious to push the boundaries of a new medium. Most of it involves 360° filmmaking, but only some of it is in 3-D, and very little involves motion tracking. The high point of cottage-industry VR so far may be last year’s Career Opportunities in Organized Crime, which billed itself as the first 360° feature-length VR movie. Directed by virtual-reality enthusiast (and radiologist) Alex ­Oshmyansky, Career Opportunities is about as crude as they come—it looks like something made in borrowed offices and someone’s garage, and in fact it was. But there’s a story of sorts there, about a Russian mobster with a human resources department and a slacker kid who locates his inner badass. Unfortunately, that’s where the innovation stops. Almost all the dialogue-heavy scenes play out within a typical film screen, with little exploration of the medium’s panoramic possibilities. One appeal of VR drama is its potential for surprise—for things to happen where you least expect them to. Oshmyansky’s film demonstrates a few things: first, that VR narrative entertainment may live closer to the aesthetics of theater than film (reverse theater-in-the-round, to be exact, with the viewer standing at the center of a 360° radius of action); and second, that a workable language of shots or other means of conveying information and directing audience attention has yet to be discovered. For now, what’s still being sold in most cases is novelty—the fact that you’re watching something supposedly more realistic than anything before—and not the experience itself. But realism shouldn’t be the goal; a compelling immersive environment, whether it’s reality- or fantasy-based, should be. What’s clear is that we’re just at the beginning of VR’s long gestational period, but the medium is established. The financial backing is there, as is the creative and technological drive to improve the experience. Eventually there will be a project (or two, or three) that will transform virtual reality from a curiosity to a genuine mass-appeal canvas for expression and entertainment. Works like Allumette, Notes on Blindness, and especially Dear Angelica point the way toward what VR might yet become, but it’s almost impossible to describe what that may be. A movie that we seem to live? An adventure that doubles as a world? An immersive head trip, a tour of this and other planets, just another way to numb ourselves with fantasy? We lack words to describe the future because we haven’t invented it yet. Ty Burr is a film critic for the Boston Globe.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

Strap on a headset and you'll fuel a growing piece of the economy. Worldwide spending on virtual reality and its cousin augmented reality could reach $13.9 billion in 2017, nearly half of that driven by consumers, according to a new forecast by market researcher IDC. That outlay, on AR and VR hardware, software and services, is expected to hit $143.3 billion in 2020, according to the report, released Monday. A lot of that depends on you taking more and more of a shine to the emerging technologies, which let you immerse yourself in computer-generated worlds (VR) or project digital extras onto your surroundings (AR). You'll be able to choose from a growing array of gear, games and more from across the tech and entertainment industries. Among the recent developments, HTC says it's creating a mobile VR device after the success of its Vive headsets. This week at the big Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung is showing off a new Gear VR headset. VR also had some moments in the spotlight at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Augmented reality boomed into the mainstream in 2016 as Pokemon Go dominated app stores across Android and iOS. Last year, spending on VR and AR amounted to $6.1 billion. Games and entertainment will help VR hold a lead in 2017 and 2018, but AR spending will take over after 2018 as technology develops in areas such as health care delivery and product design, according to IDC. "On the virtual reality side, producers are quickly moving beyond games to create new content mainstream audiences will embrace," Tom Mainelli, IDC's vice president of devices and AR/VR, said in a statement. "On the augmented reality side of the fence we're seeing commercial entities begin to more seriously evaluate the technology." Correction, Feb. 27 at 8:49 a.m. PT: This story originally misstated the scope of AR and VR spending two and more years down the road. IDC expects combined spending on those technologies to reach $143.3 billion in 2020, with AR's share becoming dominant after 2018. Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility. Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about what VR is and how it'll affect your life.


Each year, technology advances faster and programs require greater specifications to run properly. Luckily for consumers with different needs, tech companies have made producing more powerful gadgets packed with amazing hardware a top priority — and 2016 is no exception. Tech Times has listed down some of the best laptops released in 2016 for (almost) every need. Just to clarify, Tech Times is looking mostly at high school or college students who are not required to do heavy editing or programming tasks. Basically, the laptop in this category offers basic functionality and can be considered quite affordable for basic day-to-day tasks. Students can choose between the HP Chromebook 14 or HP Pavilion x2, which both have a retail price of under $250. The differences between the two models are the size of the unit and Operating System (OS) the student would be using to accomplish their tasks. The 14-inch HP Chromebook 14 runs on 6th generation Intel Celeron with Intel HD Graphics, has a 2 GB to 4 GB RAM, and 16 GB to 32 GB eMMC internal storage. Since it is a Chromebook, it runs on the Chome OS, which means one should not expect to run the usual software because it uses Google Chrome Applications instead. The downside is that internet connection is a definite must in order to run those apps, so if the student is not always connected, it is better for the student to just choose the Pavilion x2. The 10.1-inch HP Pavilion x2 runs on Intel Atom Z8300 with Intel HD Graphics, has a 2 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC internal storage, and operates on Windows 10. Again, it is quite a basic device but it gets the job done, especially if all the user needs is a device that will enable them to research, take notes, write papers, create presentations, and watch some videos. Professionals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses require a little more from their computers to keep up with their tasks, but they do not need expensive powerhouses that could bankrupt the business before it even opens or hits the ground running. This is where the Leonovo Thinkpad 13 comes in. The Thinkpad 13 comes equipped with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i3-6100U CPU with 4 GB RAM that is upgradeable to 16 GB, Windows 10 Pro OS, and 128 GB hard drive capacity. It is very durable and sells for less than $600 so a startup won't have to shell out too much. Alienware is definitely popular for its gaming laptops so it is no surprise that it released the best one in 2016. For gaming, Tech Times chose the Alienware 13 R3 despite its less than ideal battery life. Now here is the best bit: the technical specifications. Alienware 13 R3 is equipped with the 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with a 16 GB RAM that is upgradable to 32 GB, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060/Intel HD Graphics 530 GPU and a video memory of 6GB, a 512GB PCIe SSD Hard Drive, and a Windows 10 Home OS. Don't forget about its 13.3-inch OLED Display producing clear, crisp, gorgeous graphics. As a bonus, the Alienware 13 is VR-ready and already supports the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. Alienware 13 has a retail price of over $1,100 but if the gamer in you wants a small, VR-ready device, this is a great choice. This is just a quick sweep of the laptops out in 2016 for specific needs. Take a look at Part 2, which lists down winners in their respective categories. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.techradar.com

It appears LG is entering the virtual reality gaming ring alongside the likes of HTC and Oculus, thanks to a little help from Valve. The electronics giant behind the upcoming LG G6 handset is demonstrating its first prototype for a head-mounted VR display at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC), reports UploadVR. The prototype will be available for developers to try on at Valve's booth during GDC, with feedback influencing the final design of the commercial version. Because LG's supposed headset is still in the prototype phase, details such as a release date, price, or region availability have been left unannounced. Promising a "high fidelity, next generation VR experience" and given the gaming-heavy focus of GDC, (as opposed to the Mobile World Congress, which is also going down this week) it's likely LG is working on a full-scale VR headset for PCs akin to the HTC Vive. The tech maker is familiar with VR on a small scale with its more portable-minded LG VR 360 headset, but Valve's involvement points to its SteamVR PC gaming platform being part of the picture. At the time of writing, the Vive is the only headset currently taking advantage of Valve's Steam-powered virtual reality platform, though the gaming giant has stressed that the Vive wouldn't be alone for long. LG's headset could allow for more ways to try out Valve's platform other than dropping $799/£689/€899 on HTC's headset (or having to switch to another platform entirely, like the Oculus Rift.) GDC 2017 runs from February 27 through March 3, giving us ample chance to learn more what LG has in mind for virtual reality, as well as what else may be in store at the show (we're looking at you, Windows Holographic.)


Systems and methods are described for utilizing acceleration event signatures. One method for utilizing acceleration event signatures in an electronic device comprises receiving, by the electronic device, one or more acceleration events. The method further comprises determining whether the received one or more acceleration events correspond to one or more predefined signature definitions and invoking one or more functions based on the one or more acceleration events.


A system is described for tuning an antenna in a mobile device. The system comprises a detection module configured to interface with an accessory and identify the accessory. The system further comprises a tuner configured to retrieve one or more parameters according to the identified accessory, where the tuner is further configured to tune the antenna according to the one or more parameters. The one or more parameters are based on previously-derived information regarding tuning impairment characteristics of the accessory.


Vive Tracker ofrece a los desarrolladores la importante oportunidad de seguir impulsando los límites de la RV y expandir el ecosistema Vive Lanza una financiación sin intereses en Norteamérica y China BARCELONA, España y SAN FRANCISCO, 1 de marzo de 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- HTC...


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, new smartphones are about to start launching in droves. LG, Motorola, HTC and even Nokia are all expected to bring unreleased handsets to the show in Spain this weekend, but if you don’t care about having the latest tech or just want to save a few hundred dollars, you might want to check out AT&T’s brand new buy one, get one free deal instead. Don't Miss: Why the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 will be the only phones that matter this year Starting on Friday, February 24th, AT&T is offering customers the chance to buy one of four popular smartphones on an AT&T Next or AT&T Next Every Year plan and receive a second phone for free. Eligible devices include the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S7 and LG G5. Also worth noting: the second phone has to be from the same manufacturer, so you can’t buy a Galaxy S7 and get a free iPhone 7. As always, the offer isn’t as simple as “buy one phone, get a second phone with service for free.” When you buy the first phone, you will have the option to add a second line to your plan. You will then receive a monthly bill credit over the course of 24-30 months totaling up to $695 to pay for the second phone. Additionally, AT&T is still offering new customers $650 in credits for switching from another wireless provider. These credits can be applied to the first phone in the BOGO offer, but you should read the fine print: If you need two new phones on the cheap, this offer is definitely worth your consideration. See the original version of this article on BGR.com

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