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Oculus’ next big move is to make VR a social experience

VR turned me into a movie character — a tiny, bright yellow firefly. But here’s the best part: I got to experience it with someone next to me, both literally and virtually, in a dark room with headsets strapped to our heads. For Oculus Story Studio, arguably the Pixar of virtual reality, this is the first step in making the medium more social. And it’s using its short film Lost, introduced earlier this year at Sundance, as a test bed. Still, whether we’re talking about a cute movie or a fun game, most VR activities so far have one thing in common: They’re solitary experiences. Oculus wants to change that.

Recently, I was invited to watch Lost Director’s Cut, a slightly modified version of the film that debuted in January. What’s different here is a new social component, which the Story Studio team calls a “shared experience.” Essentially, this allows two viewers (or more), each wearing an Oculus headset, to be a part of the same world and explore it simultaneously. In the case of Lost Director’s Cut, the person giving the demo and I were both fireflies in the movie; we could look at each other or fly closer toward one another, all while a scene was taking place next to us. It’s breathtaking and weird at the same time, and that’s a good thing.

An opening credit for Lost,’ Oculus Story Studio’s first short film.

“VR is very isolationist: You put it on and you forget your surroundings; you forget the people around you,” says Max Planck, Story Studio’s supervising technical director. “We wanna tell stories that people can come out of it together and have water-cooler moments.” He adds, “Like you’re around the campfire and someone’s telling you a story, or you go to a movie or a theater performance and you see it with other people, and you come out of it and you want to talk with people.” Planck and his team say the goal is to show filmmakers how far they can go with VR, so that they’re not just thinking about creating single-person experiences. As it stands, there’s only a handful of projects that have a social angle — things like The Machine to be Another, an art experiment that transports people into bodies of the opposite sex.

Edward Saatchi, a Story Studio producer, believes that virtual reality doesn’t have to be isolated, but instead can feel like something you can do with your friends, where you talk to each other and discover VR worlds together. We’ve heard so much: ‘Well, how is this gonna interact with cinema? Cinema is so social. There’s people in a cinema; you are together.’ So we wanted to give a hint of where we think the future of VR in cinema is,” he says. “We think the future of VR in cinema is social, that you’re with your friends. You’re not in the same room, maybe; maybe you’re all going in together at the same time, and that’s where the lines between cinema and an MMO [massive multiplayer online] start to blur.

“So we wanted to give a hint of where we think the future of VR in cinema is.”

Lost Director’s Cut is also enhanced by Oculus’ newly developed sound engine, dubbed Spatial Audio, which lets you hear elements of the film based on the direction they’re coming from. At one point, for instance, a bird flies over your head and you’re able to hear the sound of it coming toward you, just as it goes into the background. “All those elements — the firefly, the beeping, the hand — as they move around are being attenuated so that if you close your eyes, listen for a sound and be like, ‘It should be right in front of me,’ there it is,” says Planck about the film’s adapted directional audio. “VR needs that; VR is a big feedback system. Where I look, visuals and audio need to respond too.”

‘The Hand’

Even so, Story Studio is only scratching the surface of this type of storytelling.

Saschka Unseld, who directed Lost, doesn’t see anything wrong with VR being an unsocial platform, though. “I think it actually has a strength. Like, there is an intimacy from just you being there,” he explains. “But [I] was still curious how could you have multiple people watch this thing at the same time.”

So, will we see social features in any of the upcoming Story Studio shorts? That remains unclear, but it could happen. “It depends,” Planck says. “The shared experience was something fun, something we wanted to try on Lost because we had a great idea. The idea has to be great; it has to be telling something we’re excited about.” He goes on to say: “Now that we’ve done a shared experience, it will color when we’re thinking of new ideas: ‘Oh, remember that cool moment from Lost, maybe we can replicate that and maybe it’ll help this story.’”

“Story Studio isn’t gonna be making a $200 million blockbuster.”

Ultimately, though, Saatchi emphasizes that Oculus Story Studio’s intention is to help virtual reality grow as a platform, not to be the main player in its filmmaking space. “Most importantly, Story Studio is going to be sharing everything it learns [with filmmakers],” he says. “Story Studio isn’t gonna be making a $200 million blockbuster. Story Studio is a catalyst to excite the filmmakers who will be the future.”

Filed under: Misc, Gaming, Wearables, HD, Facebook



Add a little comedy to your day with 12 free episodes from Comedy Central

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Looking for a good laugh on this holiday weekend? If you are a fan of the content that Comedy Central routinely brings to viewers then today is a good day for you. Right now the Play Store is showcasing a sale on Comedy Central TV series, which includes 12 free episodes from a variety of programs. The list is as follows;

You can hit each link above to head off to the particular show, if you want to check out the list bounce on over to the Comedy Central Promotion page in the Play Store.

Source: Google Play Twitter

The post Add a little comedy to your day with 12 free episodes from Comedy Central appeared first on AndroidSPIN.


Google patents creepy connected toys that can interact with children


Uncovered just recently, a three-year-old patent filed by Google describes connected toys that would be able to interact with, listen and respond to users to not only entertain children, but also to control connected devices around the home. The patent creator goes by the name of Richard Wayne DeVaul, and is the “director of rapid evaluation and mad science” at Google’s experimental X labs. The patent reveals how these products would include microphones, cameras, speakers and motors, as well as a wireless connection to the internet.

Much like the “Okay, Google” hotword we have to wake up our mobile devices, these toys would also require a trigger word or phrase to wake up. According to the document, these toys would be as lifelike as possible, providing human-like interactions to the person using the device. The patent creator explains:

To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head and/or focus its gaze on the user. To express curiosity, [it] may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm.


The end goal isn’t just for children to use these toys, though. The document suggests that the devices could be used to control other electronics in the home, such as DVD players, thermostats, motorized windows and curtains, and much more. This idea is certainly similar to what we already have with Amazon’s Echo connected speaker or even our smartphones.

Quite frankly, a lot has changed since this patent was filed back in 2012. Many folks are much more concerned about privacy nowadays, especially when it comes to our children’s privacy. Big Brother Watch told the BBC, “The privacy concerns are clear when devices have the capacity to record conversations and log activity. When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line.”

Connected devices aren’t anything new, though not many companies have developed a fully kid-centric connected device that could be listening and collecting data at all times. Of course, this may be just another random patent, as well. Many of Google’s patents don’t actually make their way into consumer products, so we’ll just have to wait and see if any of these connected toys actually come into fruition.


Iron Man edition of Galaxy S6 Edge due this week

Late last week, Samsung Mobile Korea confirmed on its Facebook page that the Iron man edition of the Galaxy S6 Edge is coming this week.

Currently, it is not known if this is coming to the United States, if this will be available for the regular Galaxy S6, or if other Avenger models are coming. We may find out more later this week.

The post Iron Man edition of Galaxy S6 Edge due this week appeared first on AndroidGuys.


‘Buy Buy’ BlackBerry? Microsoft could make offer for sleeping phone giant, rumors say


Rumors have been circulating recently that companies are lining up to acquire Blackberry. The shortlist includes Microsoft, Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo for now —  last month, Samsung was reportedly also on the list but backed out after getting a $7.5 billion asking price.

As of now, Microsoft seems to be preparing a $7 billion offer for the company — that’s a 26 percent premium for the stock.

While BlackBerry continues to struggle on the sales end of its operation, it still does have a great reputation in mobile security as a part of its enterprise/business-class devices — the U.S. government still lists BlackBerry as its preferred smartphone OEM. (This, of course, is the valuable asset these suitors wish to gain in any purchase of the company.)

Via: PhoneArena
Source: MobileBurn

Come comment on this article: ‘Buy Buy’ BlackBerry? Microsoft could make offer for sleeping phone giant, rumors say


U.S. Cellular opening pre-orders for LG G4 online and in stores May 29


U.S. Cellular customers won’t have to wait long before they can start pre-ordering the LG G4. According to a tweet from the carrier this weekend, it will begin taking pre-orders for the device online and in stores on May 29.

If you want to check out our coverage on the device, hit the break below for our hands-on video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Source: @USCellular

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Asus shows off 4:3 aspect ratio in leaked ZenPad press renders


Asus is expected to unveil its new ZenPad series tablets at Computex next week, which will feature 4:3 aspect ratio screens and Intel chips.

While the bezels are a bit big, the tablet above does have front-facing speakers, which should do some good as far as sound quality goes.

Also expect a power button below the right-side volume rocker, a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the top, and perhaps a microSD slot on the right side as well.

7-inch and 8-inch models are expected to be released, both with Intel processors and two different storage sizes. The 8-incher will have a 2048 x 1536 screen, and the 7-incher will have a 1024 x 600 screen. Expect more information on the devices next week at Computex.

Source: Ausdroid


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What’s on your HDTV: ‘Ultra Street Fighter IV’, ‘Halt and Catch Fire’

Winter may be coming in Westeros, but it is long gone from our TV viewing schedules. The NBA and NHL conference finals are wrapping up this week, while summer TV shows start to pop up on the schedule. That means reality dreck like The Island, The Briefcase and I Can Do That, but NBC is also bringing a new scripted series called Aquarius starring David Duchovny. This season of Louie wraps up on FX, and if you haven’t already bought his recent comedy special online it will air immediately after, and the Halt and Catch Fire starts on AMC. Gamers can check out expansions for Game of Thrones, The Evil Within and Dragon Age,while PS4 has a next-gen exclusive on Ultra Street Fighter IV. Look after the break to check out each day’s highlights, including trailers and let us know what you think (or what we missed).

Blu-ray & Games & Streaming

  • Seventh Son
  • The Loft
  • Da Sweet Blood of Jesus
  • Ray Donavan (S2)
  • The Confession
  • State of Siege
  • The Merchant of Four Seasons
  • Ultra Street Fighter IV (PS4)
  • Game of Thrones Ep 4: Sons of Winter (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
  • Badland: Game of the Year Edition (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
  • Magicka 2 (PS4, PC)
  • Rogue Legacy (Xbox One)
  • The Evil Within: The Executioner (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition – Jaws of Hakkon (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360)
  • Don’t Starve: Giant Edition (Wii U)
  • Beach Buggy Racing (Xbox One)
  • Splatoon (Wii U)


  • NBA WCF Game 4: Rockets vs. Warriors, ESPN, 9PM
  • NHL WCF Game 5: Ducks vs. Blackhawks, NBC Sports Network, 9PM
  • American Ninja Warrior (season premiere), NBC, 8PM
  • 500 Questions, ABC, 8PM
  • WWE Raw, USA, 8PM
  • The Bachelorette, ABC, 9PM
  • American Dad, TBS, 9PM
  • Grace of Monaco, Lifetime, 9PM
  • The Island (series premiere), NBC, 10PM
  • Turn, AMC, 10PM
  • StarTalk, National Geographic Channel, 11PM
  • True Life, MTV, 11PM


  • NBA ECF Game 4: Cavaliers vs. Hawks, TNT, 8:30PM
  • NHL ECF Game 6: Lightning vs. Rangers, NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • Community, Yahoo Screen, 3AM
  • 500 Questions, ABC, 8PM
  • America’s Got Talent (season premiere), NBC, 8PM
  • Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? (season premiere), Fox, 8PM
  • Uncompromising: Kyrie Irving, Fox Sports 1, 8:30PM
  • Deadliest Catch, Discovery, 9PM
  • iZombie, CW, 9PM
  • I Can Do That (series premiere), NBC, 10PM
  • Finding Carter, MTV, 10PM
  • Your Family or Mine, TBS, 10PM
  • Tosh.0, Comedy Central, 10PM
  • Inside Amy Schumer, Comedy Central, 10:30PM
  • Inside Comedy, Showtime, 11PM


  • NBA WCF Game 5: Warriors vs. Rockets (if necessary), ESPN, 9PM
  • NHL WCF Game 6: Blackhawks vs. Ducks, NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • The Briefcase (series premiere), CBS, 8PM
  • 500 Questions, ABC, 8PM
  • Young & Hungry (spring finale), ABC Family, 8PM
  • iHeartRadio Country Festival, NBC, 9PM
  • Catfish, MTV, 10PM
  • Ripper Street, BBC America, 10PM
  • Air Pressure, Discovery, 10PM
  • Freak Out (season finale), ABC Family, 10:30PM
  • Big Time in Hollywood, FL (season finale), Comedy Central, 10:30PM


  • NBA ECF Game 5: Hawks vs. Cavaliers (if necessary), TNT, 8:30PM
  • 500 Questions (season finale), ABC, 8PM
  • Bones, Fox, 8PM
  • Red Nose Day, NBC, 8PM
  • WWE Smackdown, Syfy, 8PM
  • Aquarius (series premiere), NBC, 9PM
  • Lip Sync Battle (season finale), Spike TV, 10PM
  • Wayward Pines, Fox, 9PM
  • Maron, IFC, 10PM
  • The Comedians, FX, 10PM
  • Olympus, Syfy, 10PM
  • Louie (season finale), FX, 10:30PM
  • Louis CK: Live at the Comedy Store, FX, 11PM
  • Between, Netflix, 11:30PM
  • 3AM (series premiere), Showtime, 12AM
  • Major Lazer, FXX, 12AM
  • Axe Cop, FXX, 12:15AM


  • NBA WCF Game 6: Rockets vs. Warriors (if necessary), ESPN, 9PM
  • NHL ECF Game 7: Rangers vs. Lightning (if necessary), NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • Hot Girls Wanted, Netflix, 3AM
  • Mako Mermaids (S3), Netflix, 3AM
  • Nightingale, HBO, 8PM
  • Cold Justice, TNT, 8PM
  • Whose Line is it Anyway?, CW, 8PM
  • Bitten, Syfy, 9PM
  • The Messengers, CW, 9PM
  • Jim Breuer: Comic Frenzy, Epix, 10PM
  • Unearthed (season finale), Discovery, 10PM
  • Lost Girl, Syfy, 10PM
  • Vice, HBO, 11PM
  • Comedy Bang! Bang!, IFC, 11PM


  • NBA ECF Game 6: Hawks vs. Cavaliers (if necessary), TNT, 8:30PM
  • NHL WCF Game 7: Ducks vs. Blackhawks (if necessary), NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • IndyCar Series @ Detroit, ABC, 3:30PM
  • 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, HBO, 8PM
  • The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (Part 1 of 2), Lifetime, 8PM
  • Outlander (season finale), Starz, 9PM
  • Orphan Black, BBC America, 9PM
  • Nick Swardson: Taste It, Comedy Central, 10PM


  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series @ Dover, Fox Sports 1, 1PM
  • IndyCar Series @ Detroit, ABC, 3:30PM
  • NBA WCF Game 7: Warriors vs. Rockets (if necessary), ESPN, 9PM
  • Tigers/Angels, ESPN, 8PM
  • The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (Part 2 of 2), Lifetime, 8PM
  • Game of Thrones, HBO, 9PM
  • Nurse Jackie, Showtime, 9PM
  • A.D. The Bible Continues, NBC, 9PM
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, CNN, 9PM
  • Happyish, Showtime, 9:30PM
  • Golan the Insatiable (season premiere), Fox, 9:30PM
  • Halt and Catch Fire (season premiere), AMC, 10PM
  • Penny Dreadful, Showtime, 10PM
  • Silicon Valley, HBO, 10PM
  • Naked & Afraid, Discovery, 10PM
  • American Odyssey, NBC, 10PM
  • Salem, WGN, 10PM
  • Veep, HBO, 10:30PM
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO, 11PM

Filed under: Gaming, Home Entertainment, HD



LG G4 pre-orders on U.S. Cellular start May 29th

lg g4 first look aa (28 of 32)

U.S. Cellular has just announced through Twitter that the LG G4 will be available for pre-order in-store and online on Friday, May 29th. While no pricing or carrier-specific color options have been revealed quite yet, we should know more about the U.S. Cellular variant within the next few days.

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Launched only a few weeks ago, the LG G4 aims to be a no-compromise smartphone. It offers microSD card expansion and a removable battery, two features that the competition has left behind in recent models. On top of that, the G4 has a 5.5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1440 x 2560, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM and a big 3000mAh battery. It also has one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a smartphone to date, and comes in a variety of different premium materials. If you’d like a more detailed look at the handset, be sure to check out our full review.

Anybody planning to pick up a G4 on U.S. Cellular?


Instagram starts sending out new ‘Highlights’ emails


Following in Twitter’s footsteps, Instagram has now started sending out “Highlights” emails to its subscribers. This move comes a part of a new scheme run by the social network to keep its 300-million user base up to date with the hottest content.

These emails contain the most popular posts from all the accounts a user follows in order to help them stay on top of the good stuff they may have otherwise missed over the course of the week. An example of the new Highlights email can be seen below:


Unfortunately, at this stage, there is no way to control Highlights emails but we expect Instagram to introduce an unsubscribe feature in the not-too-distant feature or they might start seeing an increase in the amount of people deactivating their accounts.

Source: Twitter

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