Nate the greatest writes "It looks like those 4 month old rumors are true. Amazon has confirmed today that they have bought Liquavista, a Netherlands based screen tech company. There's no info yet on how much Amazon paid to Samsung, but previous rumors suggested that the asking price was under $100 million. Amazon also isn't talking about how they plan to use the electrowetting screen tech, but many are assuming that a Color Kindle is in the works."
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ananyo writes "Volcanologists detonated explosive charges buried in a meadow in Ashford, New York, blowing 12 small craters in the ground and throwing debris 80 meters in the air. The aim was to recreate, in true-to-life detail, what happens when a volcanic eruption punches through Earth's crust. The work could guide the way that active volcanoes are monitored, and could help safety officials to decide where to restrict public access at volcanoes such as Italy's Stromboli, where dozens of tourists arrive every night to watch spectacular fire fountain displays."
An anonymous reader writes "The author of this article goes over a format string vulnerability he found in The Elder Scrolls series starting with Morrowind and going all the way up to Skyrim. It's not something that will likely be exploited, but it's interesting that the vulnerability has lasted through a decade of games. 'Functions like printf() and its variants allow us to view and manipulate the program’s running stack frame by specifying certain format string characters. By passing %08x.%08x.%08x.%08x.%08x, we get 5 parameters from the stack and display them in an 8-digit padded hex format. The format string specifier ‘%s’ displays memory from an address that is supplied on the stack. Then there’s the %n format string specifier – the one that crashes applications because it writes addresses to the stack. Powerful stuff.'"
Vigile writes "One of the drawbacks to high end graphics has been the lack of low cost and massively-available displays with a resolution higher than 1920x1080. Yes, 25x16/25x14 panels are coming down in price, but it might be the influx of 4K monitors that makes a splash. PC Perspective purchased a 4K TV for under $1500 recently and set to benchmarking high end graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA at 3840x2160. For under $500, the Radeon HD 7970 provided the best experience, though the GTX Titan was the most powerful single GPU option. At the $1000 price point the GeForce GTX 690 appears to be the card to beat with AMD's continuing problems on CrossFire scaling. PC Perspective has also included YouTube and downloadable 4K video files (~100 mbps) as well as screenshots, in addition to a full suite of benchmarks."
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from ExtremeTech: "Researchers at the University of Washington's aptly named Ubiquitous Computing Lab can turn any LCD monitor in your house into a touchscreen, with nothing more than a $5 sensor that plugs into the wall and some clever software." The system works by measuring changes that your hand creates in the electromagnetic signature of the monitor. Surprisingly, it offers some pretty fine-grained detection, too: "full-hand touch, five-finger touch, hovering above the screen, pushing, and pulling." The "$5 sensor" part is mostly theoretical for now to those of us who don't live in a lab, though; on the other hand, "co-author Sidhant Gupta tells Technology Review that the $5 sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so it would be fairly easy for you — or a commercial entity — to recreate the uTouch system."
Nate the greatest writes "Rumor has it that the new high resolution E-ink screen on the Kobo Aura HD was originally intended for another ereader maker. Inside sources have told me that B&N had first claim on the initial production run of 300,000 6.8' screens, only B&N decided to pass. If this rumor is true then this was the screen that B&N would have used on their new ereader this year. Can you imagine what a Nook Glow HD would have been like? I think it would be the next best thing to a 7" Android tablet with an E-ink screen. It's a shame we might never see it." While flying cars are still on my wishlist, daylight readable screens for more portable devices are even higher up the list.
adeelarshad82 writes "Marvel's Iron Man 3 will debut in select Japanese theaters later this month employing the 4DX system for the first time. Developed by South Korea's largest movie chain operator, the CJ Group, 4DX-equipped theaters deliver smells, seat motions, and additional effects such as strobe lights and fog, all in sync with events as they appear on the screen. Beyond South Korea, this full immersion approach to cinema is already in operation in countries such as Israel, Mexico, Brazil, and China."
An anonymous reader writes "Contrary to widespread thought, Google Glass will not be an advertising platform: 'Google Inc has lately told app developers that they are not allowed to present ads to Google Glass users and they are also not permitted to sell users' personal and private information for the fulfillment of advertising needs. The internet company has explicitly and openly said that the Glass platform should and must be clean and clear of any ads whatsoever, because the technology is designed to facilitate internet browsing and other related activities, therefore, the featured podium cannot be used to advertise products as it will cause the user experience to diminish.' Seems like Google is going for hardware-only revenue on this one." You're not supposed to resell the Glass hardware, either.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google has issued the specifications for its spectacles. The search-engine giant's Google Glass, an augmented-reality headset that allows wearers to view information on a tiny screen embedded in one of the lenses, features a camera capable of snapping 5-megapixel photos and 720p video. That aforementioned screen, in the words of Google's just-released specs sheet, "is the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away." Google Glass is compatible with any Bluetooth-capable phone. Its MyGlass app, which enables SMS messaging and GPS, requires a companion device running Android 4.0.3 (the "Ice Cream Sandwich" build) or higher. Google claims the battery will provide a "full day of typical use," although the company warned in the specs sheet that certain functions—most notably video recording and Hangouts—could drain the battery faster. Despite those neat features, Google Glass also raises some thorny questions about surveillance culture, and whether people really want whole crowds recording every moment of our collective lives. But those are the sort of conundrums that will only become more clear when Google Glass is actually released sometime later this year."
An anonymous reader writes with news that Microsoft may be working on a smartwatch. "The modern smartwatch market hardly even exists, and yet it's already starting to feel very crowded. Hot on the heels of plans (official and otherwise) from Apple and Samsung, the Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has also been shopping around for parts to build a 'watch-style device.' While details are scarce as to what that would entail, unnamed supplier executives tell the newspaper that Microsoft has been asking for 1.5-inch touchscreens. We wouldn't count on seeing an ultra-small Surface anytime soon, however -- these executives say they've visited Microsoft's campus, but they don't know whether the Windows developer is fully committed to its wrist-worn endeavor or just experimenting. If the project exists at all, of course. Still, there's finally a glimmer of hope for anyone who's still mourning the loss of their beloved SPOT watches."
Last week Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Home, a bit of software that aims to transform a smartphone's homescreen into a Facebook feed. Now, its release date has arrived, as has the earliest device to house Home: the HTC First. Reviews for phone and software have begun to appear, too. The Verge calls the device itself "a mid-range phone, through-and-through." Its hardware is capable but not impressive, and it's slow enough to be noticed, but not to annoy. What interested them the most was that by turning off Facebook Home, you get an operating system that's very close to an unpolluted, stock Android 4.1.2. Ars generally agrees, pointing out its solid feel, the trade-off of a less-readable but more-holdable 4.3" screen compared to the trend toward 4.8" displays, and an awkwardly placed micro-USB port. As for the Facebook Home Software: "Home takes status updates out of the Facebook app and slaps them right on your homescreen. Instead of little boxes scrolling vertically, however, each update from your News Feed becomes a full-screen photo with small bits of text at the top," says the Verge, adding that having Facebook updates located between you and whatever you picked up your phone to do can be awfully distracting. Ars says, "What we've seen is an application focused solely on making the Facebook experience the hub for all of your social correspondence, but that can be extremely limiting for those who use a number of other social networks." Both publications praise 'Chat Heads,' Facebook's way of surfacing messages without having to dig through a messaging app.
hooligun writes "The next-gen Thunderbolt tech (code-named Falcon Ridge) enables 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously in addition to running at 20 Gbps. It will be backward-compatible with previous-gen Thunderbolt cables and connectors, and production is set to ramp up in 2014. An on-stage demo with fresh-off-the-press silicon showed the new Thunderbolt running 1,200 Mbps, which is certainly a step up from what's currently on the market."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft might want a piece of the mini-tablet market. The company has lowered the minimum screen resolution for Windows 8 tablets, from 1,366 x 768 pixels to 1024 x 768 pixels. "This doesn't imply that we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution," it wrote in an accompanying newsletter. "We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful." As pointed out by ZDNet's Ed Bott—cited by other publications as the journalist who first noticed the altered guidelines—that lowered resolution "would allow manufacturers to introduce devices that are in line with the resolutions of the iPad Mini (1024 x 768) and the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800)." Whatever the contours of the smaller-tablet market, it's certainly popular enough to tantalize any potential competitor. But if Microsoft plunges in, it will face the same challenges that confronted it in the larger-tablet arena: lots of solid competitors, and not a whole lot of time to make a winning impression. There are also not-inconsiderable hardware challenges to overcome, including processor selection and engineering for optimal battery life."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
Nate the greatest writes "Bloomberg is reporting early this morning that Liquavista, Samsung's cutting edge electrowetting screen tech research firm, is up for sale. Details are still thin but Bloomberg's unnamed source indicates Amazon is looking to buy Liquavista for somewhere under $100 million. This rumor confirms earlier reports that Amazon had launched a new holding company in the Netherlands and was going to use it to buy Liquavista. There have also been rumors circulating screen tech conferences for the past 5 or 6 months that Samsung was interested in selling the company. No one in the industry really understands why Samsung would want to do that, but I think the latest demo video from Liquavista explains it. This screen tech simply isn't as good as current LCD or OLED screens, and Samsung might be looking to cut their losses."
judgecorp writes "With Samsung and (reportedly) Apple already making smartwatches, Google has now joined the party, according to a (paywalled) report in the Financial Times. The Google Watch is apparently being made by the Android group, and could have some synergy with Google's other wearable tech — the Glass spectacles. The distinctive thing in Google's patent seems to be having two displays — one for public data and a flip-up one for more private stuff."
sciencehabit writes "If you've pondered whether to sink a cool couple of grand into a fancy new three-dimensional TV but didn't want to mess around with those dorky glasses, you may want to sit tight for a few more years. Researchers at Hewlett Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, report that they've come up with a new 3D technology that not only doesn't require viewers to wear special glasses, but it also can be viewed from a wide variety of angles. The advance could propel the development of mobile 3D devices as well as TVs."
Hesh writes "The University of Southern California has launched a website that contains the blueprints for many of their custom VR headsets as well as new mods to the much anticipated yet unreleased Oculus Rift. Some are helping push DIY VR forward through custom sensor mounts to support, for example, stereo cameras and others add more functionality like new eye cups to help increase the already large FOV of the headset. This is truly an exciting time for VR; by GDC, developers will already have Rifts in hand and tinkerers can 3D-print their own designs now as well!"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at TechCrunch bemoans the naysayers of ubiquitous video camera headsets, which seems like a near-term certainty whether it comes in the form of Google Glass or a similar product. The author points out, rightly, that surveillance cameras are already everywhere, and increasingly sophisticated government drones and satellites mean you're probably on camera more than you think already. 'But there's something about being caught on video, not by some impersonal machine but by another human being, that sticks in people's craws and makes them go irrationally berserk.' However, he also seems happy to trade privacy for security, which may not be palatable to others. He references a time he was mugged in Mexico as well as a desire to keep an eye on abuses of authority from police and others. 'If pervasive, ubiquitous networked cameras ultimately make public privacy impossible, which seems likely, then at least we can balance the scales by ensuring that we have two-way transparency between the powerful and the powerless.'"