iFixit gives the new Retina iMac a score of 5 (out of 10) for repairability, and says that the new all-in-one is very little changed internally from the system (non-Retina) it succeeds. A few discoveries along the way: The new model "retains the familiar, easily accessible RAM upgrade slot from iMacs of yore"; the display panel (the one iin the machine disassmbled by iFixit at least) was manufactured by LG Display; except for that new display, "the hardware inside the iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display looks much the same as last year's 27" iMac." In typical iFixit style, the teardown is documented with high-resolution pictures and more technical details.
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MojoKid writes Have you ever tried hunting and pecking on a miniature keyboard that's been crammed onto a smartwatch's tiny display? Unless the tips of your fingers somehow resemble that of a stylus, you're in for a challenge. Interestingly enough, it's Microsoft that might have the most logical solution for typing on small size displays running Google's Android Wear platform. Microsoft's research division has built an analog keyboard prototype for Android Wear that eliminates the need to tap at tiny letters, and instead has you write them out. On the surface, such a solution seems like you'd be trading one tedious task for another, though a demo of the technology in action shows that this could be a promising solution — watch how fast the guy in the video is able to hammer out a response.
An anonymous reader writes Buried toward the end of the must-watch keynote by Oculus VR's Chief Scientist, Michael Abrash, was the announcement of a new research division within Oculus which Abrash says is the "first complete, well funded VR research team in close to 20 years." He says that their mission is to advance VR and that the research division will publish its findings and also work with university researchers. The company is now hiring "first-rate programmers, hardware engineers, and researchers of many sorts, including optics, displays, computer vision and tracking, user experience, audio, haptics, and perceptual psychology," to be part of Oculus Research.
An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset hides under its IR-transparent shell an array of IR LEDs which are picked up by the positional tracker. The data is used to understand where the user's head is in 3D space so that the game engine can update the view accordingly, a critical function for reducing sim sickness and increasing immersion. Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system. Along the way, they discovered some curious info including a firmware bug which, when fixed, revealed the true view of the positional tracker.
alphadogg (971356) writes A startup called Antumbra run by 5 college students is looking to throw a little soothing light on this situation: People who hunker down in front of their computers until the wee hours, until it feels like their eyes might fall out. Antumbra's open-source-based Glow, which launches in a limited beta of 100 $35 units on Thursday, is a small (1.5" x 1.5"x 0.5") doohickey that attaches to the back of your computer monitor via USB port and is designed to enhance your work or gaming experience — and lessen eye strain — by spreading the colors from your screen onto the wall behind it in real time. The idea is to reduce the contrast in colors between the computer screen and the background area. The the idea might not be new, and people have been home-brewing their own content-driven lighting like this for a while, but this is the first I've seen that looks like a simple add-on.
jfruh writes: Traditional LCD panels are rectangular because the tiny chips that drive each pixel of the display are fitted along the edge of the glass panel on which the screen is made. But in a new breed of screens from Sharp, the chips are embedded between the pixels so that means a lot more freedom in screen shape: only one edge of the screen needs to be a straight line, which could give rise to a host of new applications.
mrspoonsi writes GT Advanced Technologies is filing for bankruptcy. In an announcement on Monday, GT Advanced, which makes sapphire displays that many investors hoped would be in Apple's newest iPhone, said that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In early September, shares of GT Advanced got crushed after the company's sapphire displays were not in the latest version of Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. GT Advanced, however, signed a multi-year agreement with Apple last November to supply the company with sapphire material. That agreement included a $578 million prepayment, which GT Advanced is set to repay Apple over a five-year period starting in 2015.
The Wall Street Journal reports in a paywalled article that a team under Pixel Qi founder and OLPC co-founder Mary Lou Jepsen at Google's skunkwork labs Google X is working on modular video displays that could be expanded by snapping them together "like Lego." Ars Technica, TechSpot, The Verge, and several others summarize the claims made by "three people familiar with the project"; here's a snippet from TechSpot's version: Even in the home and office, the use of multiple displays isn’t uncommon but just like with larger implementations often used for advertising purposes, screen bezels are always a problem. Bezels are less visible from a distance but up close, they pretty much ruin the experience. The scope and target audience for the project is unclear at this hour as we are told the project is currently in an early stage. One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to stitch images together across screens, both electronically and through software.
An anonymous reader writes William Steptoe, a senior researcher in the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group at University College London, published a paper (PDF) detailing experiments dealing with the seamless integration of virtual objects into a real scene. Participants were tested to see if they could correctly identify which objects in the scene were real or virtual. With standard rendering, participants were able to correctly guess 73% of the time. Once a stylized rendering outline was applied, accuracy dropped to 56% (around change) and even further to 38% as the stylized rendering was increased. Less accuracy means users were less able to tell the difference between real and virtual objects. Steptoe says that this blurring of real and virtual can increase 'presence', the feeling of being truly present in another space, in immersive augmented reality applications.
Rambo Tribble writes The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered Boeing to replace Honeywell-built cockpit screens that could be affected by wi-fi transmissions. Additionally, the FAA has expressed concerns that other frequencies, such as used by air surveillance and weather radar, could disrupt the displays. The systems involved report airspeed, altitude, heading and pitch and roll to the crew, and the agency stated that a failure could cause a crash. Meanwhile, the order is said to affect over 1,300 aircraft, and some airlines are balking, since the problem has never been seen in operation, that the order presents "a high, and unnecessary, financial burden on operators".
The Bad Astronomer writes Astronomers have found a new asteroid, 2014 OL339, that is a quasi-moon of the Earth. Discovered accidentally earlier this year, the 150-meter asteroid has an orbit that is more elliptical than Earth's, but has a period of almost exactly one year. It isn't bound to Earth like a real moon, but displays apparent motion as if it did, making it one of several known quasi-moons.
MojoKid writes: Save for a smattering of relatively small, 3K and 4K laptop displays, we haven't quite gotten to the same type of pixel density on the PC platform, that is available on today's high-end ultra-mobile devices. That said, the desktop display space has really heated up as of late and 4K panels have generated a large part of the buzz. Acer just launched the first 4K display with NVIDIA G-Sync technology on board. To put it simply, G-SYNC keeps a display and the output from an NVIDIA GPU in sync, regardless of frame rates or whether or not V-Sync is enabled. Instead of the monitor controlling the timing and refreshing at say 60Hz, the timing control is transferred to the GPU. The GPU scans a frame out to the monitor and the monitor doesn't update until a frame is done drawing, in lock-step with the GPU. This method completely eliminates tearing or frame stuttering associated with synchronization anomalies of standard panels. There are still some quirks with Windows and many applications that don't always scale properly on high-DPI displays, but the situation is getting better every day. If you're a gamer in the market for a 4K display, that's primed for gaming, the Acer XB280HK is a decent new option with this technology on board, though it does come at a bit of a premium at $799 versus standard 28-inch panels.
An anonymous reader writes John Carmack, famed keystone developer of 3D networked gaming, has now been working with virtual reality company Oculus for over a year. Much of that time has been spent collaborating with Samsung on the forthcoming Gear VR headset. At his keynote presentation during Oculus Connect, Carmack took to the stage with 90 unscripted minutes of no holds barred discussion of the last 12 months in VR. 'I believe pretty strongly in being very frank and open about flaws and limitations so this is kind of where I go off message a little bit from the standard PR plan and talk very frankly about things,' he said to applause from the audience.
The Verge reports that Montreal startup Vrvana has produced a prototype of its promised (and crowd-funded) VR Totem headset. One interesting aspect of the Totem is the inclusion of front-facing cameras, one over each eye, the output of which can be fed to the displays. Reviewer Mike Futter has worn a prototype, and seems to be generally impressed, writing at Game Informer: Vrvana’s device offers 1080p resolution and features 90-degree field of view (the same as the Project Morpheus, but less than the Oculus Rift's 100-degree FOV), an OLED display, and adjustable lenses that can compensate for lens prescription. The HMD is usable by glasses wearers, but the tuning provides an option for those that don't want to wear corrective lenses while in VR. The system connects via HDMI to any source, and can model 3D (side-by-side) from game consoles as virtual reality right now. The Totem is currently compatible with all Oculus developer kit 1 applications, and Vrvana is working on getting DK2 experiences working. The prototype I wore was a good proof of concept, but didn't yet feature the OLED screen. This led to increased persistence due to the LCD. The head tracking also wasn't perfect, requiring some software tuning to prevent drift (something easily surmountable down the road). The clarity was impressive, rivaling some of the best experiences I've had with a Rift or Morpheus.
Oculus Rift revealed today its new 'Crescent Bay' prototype wearable display, at its inaugural Oculus Connect conference. (You can find more in the company's blog too.) From Gamasutra's coverage: The new headset has 360 degree tracking and integrated audio, as well as improved performance that allows better presence, says Iribe. It has higher resolution and a better refresh rate than even its recent DK2 headset. It's also much lighter than earlier prototypes. The company has also licensed technology from RealSpace 3-D for improved 3D audio on Oculus moving forward. Audio is becoming a priority for the company, [CEO Brendan] ]Iribe said. Road to VR has a gushing hands-on review: One of the stand-out demos put me in front of an alien on some sort of Moon-like world. The alien was looking at me and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue. When I moved my head, its gaze followed me. Its big and detailed eyes, combined with reaction to me as I moved, imbued it with a sense of living that was really cool. Spaceships flew over head and drew my gaze behind me, leading me to look at some incredibly detailed scenery.
jyosim writes "Oculus Rift isn't just for gaming. Brendan Iribe, CEO of the VR company, says the immersive tech will be "one of the most transformative platforms for education of all time." In an interview with Chronicle of Higher Education, he imagined laser-scanning every object in the Smithsonian for students to explore, and collaborating in shared virtual spaces rather than campuses. "The next step past that is when you have shared space, and not only do you believe that this object is right there in front of me, but I look around and I see other people just like we see each other now, and I really, truly believe that you’re right in front of me. We can look at each others’ eyes. If you look down at something, I can look down at the same time. And it’s every bit as good as this. And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom," he says.
An anonymous reader writes: Even though 4k displays are just making their way into consumer affordability, manufacturers are already pushing beyond. Dell has previewed a computer monitor it calls a "5k" display. The resolution is 5120x2880, stuffing 14,745,600 pixels on a 27" screen. For comparison, that's more than seven times the amount of pixels in a 1920x1080 display. Pixel density is 218 PPI, roughly the same as a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. ExtremeTech suggests, "As far as we're aware, no one is actually making 5120×2880 panels, especially not at 27 inches diagonal – so what we're probably looking at is two 2560x2880 panels squished together as a 'tiled display.'" Unfortunately, it's pricy, expected to cost around $2,500. But hopefully it will help drive 4k display prices even further toward mainstream availability.
An anonymous reader writes Samsung has launched a virtual reality headset called Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition. It uses the new Galaxy Note 4 for a screen and technology from Oculus VR. The headset comes with four visual settings that simulate experiences such as sitting in a theater or being on stage. Despite partnering with Oculus, the Gear VR won't run Oculus apps, but Samsung says porting titles over shouldn't be too hard. From the article: "This is Oculus' first consumer product and, bizarrely, it's on a Samsung device. Oculus VR CTO John Carmack personally led the mobile software development team at Oculus, and the software interface is all built in collaboration with Samsung. It's basic: Point a reticle in the middle of the screen at what you want to select and tap the touchpad to select it. The options are sparse and base level, and the only content management that exists right now is a store of sorts. It looks like the Google Play store to an extent, except it's floating in space.
An anonymous reader writes The much lauded Oculus Rift DK2 is in high demand. Shipping began at the end of July and Oculus says they've already shipped more than 20,000 of their 60,000 orders. The company recently updated their order page to indicate that new units are expected to ship starting in October. The Oculus Rift DK2 is the company's second development kit which offers a number of major improvements over the original kit, called the DK1, which was the result of a successful Kickstarter back in August, 2012. Although the DK2 is intended for developers, the company openly offers the VR headset up for sale to anyone interested for $350. The Oculus Rift DK2s most notable enhancements are a higher resolution display and positional tracking capability as well as a number of other under-the-hood enhancements make the DK2 a huge improvement over its predecessor.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes Skully Systems has achieved Indiegogo funding for a high-tech Android 4.4 based motorcycle helmet with a head-up display (HUD), GPS navigation, and a 180-degree rearview camera. The Skully AR-1 helmet launched on Indiegogo on Aug. 10 and quickly blasted past its $250,000 flexible funding goal and has already surpassed $900,000 in funding. The helmet runs a heavily modified version of Android 4.4, with both screen size and safety in mind, according to Skully's Tow. 'You should not think of it as being Android as seen in a phone; it doesn't run the same skin,' wrote Tow on the Skully forum page. 'You instead should think of it as a variant of Linux, not Android per se. What counts is the device drivers, graphics rendering for our turn by turn directions and vehicle telemetry, etc. More nerdy things like communication over the I2C bus to the image processing module.' Helmets are available starting at $1,399, with shipments due in May 2015.