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21
Feb

iClever BoostRun Bluetooth Headphones IC-BTH07 (review)


iclever headphones green

iClever’s BoostRun Sweat-proof Bluetooth headphones are designed to be light, comfortable and inexpensive. Thankfully iClever accomplished these three goals while sacrificing very little. At 0.67 oz these headphones were some of the lightest I’ve ever used and the most ergonomic set I’ve ever placed on my listening organs.

Headset Overview

Upon removing the headset from the box I noticed the unique angled design and flashy green accenting cord. The iClever IC-BTH07 headphones have an adjustable connecting cord that can be tightened or loosened to fit around any neck. This cord is designed to be tangle-free and unobtrusive. On the right earpiece there is a green power/pair button and along the bottom of the same earpiece you will find the volume adjustment buttons. All three buttons were extremely easy to find during use and provided nice, clicking feedback when pressed.

icleverinearheadphones_Fotor.jpgDesigned to be sweat-proof and ergonomic for the most intense workouts

Surprisingly the charging port is located on the left earpiece. This port is covered by a typical rubber insert that protects the port, which I had a difficult time opening when I was ready to charge. With a firm, pinching grip I was eventually able to pry the port open and reveal the micro-USB port.

Speaking of charging–the iClever IC-BTH07 headphones charge quickly and last up to 7 hours from a single charge. This is fairly standard for this type of headphone and should provide enough time for most users to work up a good sweat and then cool down with a lengthy, relaxing playlist. I appreciated the fact that the charging port was a standard micro-USB port and not some uncommon, propriety connection.

When I first saw the overall weight of the device advertised, I was worried that the headset might feel cheap or flimsy. This was alleviated when I picked up the device for the first time and felt a sturdy, yet lightweight build on each side of the headphones. Plugging them into my ears I immediately noticed that the headphones fit snugly into my ear sockets with no discomfort. I applaud iClever for their ability to pull off such an intelligent design.

Sound Quality

Sound matters to everyone–more to some and less to others, but in the end it’s not worth listening to something if it doesn’t sound quite right. This is the biggest disappointment when it comes to the iClever BoostRun headphones. While listening to music, I immediately noticed the lack of range in the drivers. Rock music and rap music were lacking severely in bass and I quickly noticed some distortion while listening to audio on YouTube. Podcasts fared better, but still lacked depth in any audio that had a low-end or semblance of bass.

Thinking that the source may be to blame initially, I paired the headphones with a couple other devices to be 100% certain. However, I found no matter the device or audio source, the quality of the sound left a lot to be desired. I listened to uncompressed audio, streaming audio and downloaded MP3 files, but all lacked in range of overall sound. It may not be a deal-breaker for everyone, but anyone that’s listened to standard headphones (wired or not), will most likely notice a “tinny and flat” sound from the get-go.

Accessories and Connectivity

iclever connectivity optionsiClever’s BTH-07’s allow you to connect to almost anything with bluetooth

So, what’s in the box? Along with the headset, you’ll also receive multiple earpiece covers of varying size, a user manual, a warranty card and a standard micro-USB charging cable. All included accessories are packaged nicely within a plain brown box that fits within the budget motif. Not included in the box: a wall charging pack or a carrying case–but at this price I wasn’t expecting either.

Included accessories are minimal–which is to be expected for a budget headset

iClever has successfully created a budget friendly package that many will have a hard time passing up. But the saying “you get what you pay for” has never rung truer when evaluating the IC-BTH07 headphones.

Wrap-up

iClever has definitely hit a great price-point with the IC-BTH07 headphones while sacrificing a bit in the audio department. Whether or not a consumer will be willing to give up on overall audio quality in order to save a few dollars remains to be seen, but for those that do pinch pennies and savor comfort over sound, the iClever BoostRun bluetooth headphones are a worthwhile option. I can recommend this headset to someone that wants sweat-proof bluetooth headphones on a budget, but for anyone else, you’d be better off spending a bit more on a higher quality headset.

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21
Feb

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links: Can it live up to the hugely successful TCG?


We all know how successful Yu-Gi-Oh! has been over the years. Even though it has seen better days, especially when the anime was everywhere, the trading card game still gathers a sizeable amount of fans every year, and Konami, the company behind it, still updates the game with new card types and variants. In an attempt to show the TCG to a new audience, while giving fans a chance to relive the glorious days they left behind, Konami released Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.

Developer: Konami
Price: Free

Setup

As is the case with more and more games these days, the initial Play Store download doesn’t yield the whole game. Upon launching it, after selecting your language (currently limited to English or Japanese), you are required to download additional files (252, to be exact, at least if you choose English as your language).

After this lengthy process, you are asked for your level of experience in Yu-Gi-Oh! related matters. This won’t change the game’s difficulty or anything, it is just there for the developer to have more information about its players.

Duel Link’s Setup and Tutorial

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Next, you will be able to choose between either Kaiba or Yugi! The other character will become available later, so just go with whoever you like. Blue Eyes White Dragon or Dark Magician? 3000 ATK or 2500 ATK? A successful entrepreneur owner of one of the biggest corporation in the world or a guy who does illegal moves in the TV series to win? Just saying.

You will also have your first duel! The game will teach you the basics of how to play. If you are familiar with the card game, then you don’t even need the tutorial, since it is exactly the same thing (with very few exceptions). If you are not familiar with the game, then this first duel is probably going to be very confusing and overwhelming, but don’t worry, Duel Links has you covered.

Overview

Talk about a good duel.

After going through all the setup process, you are presented with Duel World, the stage that will witness your rise to the top. It is divided into several parts. The first one is dedicated to a portal in which renowned characters are transported. These include well-known faces as Joey Wheeler and Tea Gardner.  There’s also a part that is focused on PvP battles, another one on the shop, and the final one on the Card Studio.

If you don’t know the basics of Yu-Gi-Oh!, then let me tell you that the concept itself is really easy, but the bevy of alternatives that the card present can make it very complex. The majority of times you will have to deal with monster, spell or trap cards. Monster cards have an attack and defense value associated with them, and monsters set in attack position can target other monsters during your turn.

Spell and trap cards do very specific effects, which are described on the card, and can range from increasing your monster attack/defense points, destroying other cards, drawing cards from your deck, etc. Each player gets 4000 life points at the beginning, and the goal is to decrease your opponent’s life points until they reach 0.

To progress through the game, Duel Links incorporates something called Stages. You increase them by doing specific tasks, like win X amount of duels, play against Tea Gardner, do a specific amount of tribute summons, etc. With each stage, you will unlock new stuff, such as a card dealer that will exchange coins for cards, or new characters that you will be able to use.

The main aspect of Duel Links, however, is the duels. You are given a deck at the beginning, which contains 20 cards. You can play against CPU opponents scattered through Duel World or against humans through online battles. Whichever your opponent is, the game will toss a coin and decide who starts. Each player draws four cards from their previously shuffled deck, and the duel gets underway.

Booster packs are there to improve your deck.

You will soon find out that your starting deck sucks, and figure that you will need to improve it. The easiest way, unsurprisingly, is by buying cards with gems. As you might have guessed, the game uses coins and gems as a currency, and you can buy gems with real money. Very original, I know. Yet, unlike similar games, gems are very easy to stumble upon. They almost give them away.

Booster packs are 50 gems a pop, but they only contain three cards. They all include at least one rare card, though. There’s a chance of getting super rare and ultra rare cards, and the amount of Kuribohs that show up after opening the booster pack can give you an idea of how uncommon the cards are.

After Stage 8, you will unlock the Card Trader, which will sell specific cards for a limited amount of time. Sometimes, these cards can’t be found anywhere else, so it is a great way of getting something tailored to your needs.

There’s also the Card Studio, in which you manage all of your cards and decks. You can add up to 60 cards to your deck. This area will show you all of the cards you have acquired. For this same reason, this section can get unwieldy and tapping targets can be a cumbersome process. For beginners, there’s a very handy automatic building of decks, which will create a deck for you by gathering your best cards.

On top of that, Konami periodically adds special events. For example, just some days ago, the Toon World ended. In this event, organized by no other than Maximillion Pegasus, you could unlock special prizes and fight the creator of the game himself in order to unlock him as an additional character. With Konami backing this game, this type of events are guaranteed for the foreseeable future, adding a lot of replay value to the game.

General Impressions

yugioh_duel_links-3-169x300.pngCard Studio gets the job done, but in a messy way.

People who have played the Yu-Gi-Oh! card duels know that they can be extremely interesting, and that is also true with Duel Links. Some modifications have been made to the core gameplay to make it faster and more suited for mobile devices.

For example, you only get 4000 life points, instead of the 8000 you get in the TCG. Also, there’s no main phase 2 (the one after the battle phase), something that could put down experienced players.

However, battles are most of the time very interesting. Thanks to the robust mechanics that Yu-Gi-Oh! has built over the years, there’s a myriad of strategies that you can use, and, combined with the random aspect of the cards, every duel you have is completely different.

I was afraid that this excitement wasn’t going to be captured in the game, but fortunately, I was wrong. Battles are thrilling and when you’re on the verge of losing, you can really feel the tension. Even the music changes.

In the beginning phases of the game, the AI is laughably naive. Seriously, I summoned a 3000 ATK Blue Eyes White Dragon with a Mountain field spell and you summon a 800 ATK, 2-star monster in attack position? This makes the initial stages boringly easy, and some players could mistakenly think that this is the case for the whole game. However, this gets corrected as your stage increases.

PvP mode provides hours of fun against other players.

You should be happy that the duels are short, because the game eats up your battery without mercy. This, coupled with several network issues makes me think that the priority of the developer team was getting the game out rather than optimize it. I don’t blame them, but this makes up for a poor experience in the long run.

My friends and I have had such a hard time trying to set up a battle that we sometimes just give up. On individual PvP battles against random people, I’ve experienced many instances of connection interruption or malfunctioning in general. I hope this gets addressed in the future, and it has gotten better and better, but it is still a serious inconvenience that should not be there.

Graphics

yugioh_duel_links-8-169x300.pngGame over.

Graphics on this game are two-sided. On one hand, Duel Links have really nice graphics for NPCs, monsters and card illustrations.

For example, when you summon a monster, the game will show a hologram of the card’s art on top. If, for example, you are using Kaiba, and you summon a Blue Eyes White Dragon, then a neat (skippable) animation will be shown.

However, elements shown in the app sometimes make the screen too cluttered with information or tappable elements. The Card Studio is a particular offender.

Sometimes you click on a card and it is not selected, or a swipe to add to the deck doesn’t register. In an effort to show as many cards as possible, the game shows an overwhelming interface. This could put down newcomers, who can think that managing a deck is harder than it should be.

Sound

Konami has hired several voice actors to record generic one-liners to incorporate on duels. This means that when you’re fighting someone, you will normally listen to characters saying stuff like “I draw!” or “I summon this monster in Attack position.”

This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your liking. I found it very nice at the beginning but listening to Kaiba saying “My turn” for the millionth time is not amusing anymore.

Other sound effects incorporated are pretty good, especially on duels. They all follow the same line of conveying a virtualized world, so, thanks to them, the experience gets more immersive.

If you are in the middle of a duel, the music changes to a fast-paced and entertaining tune, and it even gets faster and more dramatic when you are close to winning. In almost all of the areas, though, the same song is used.

Conclusion

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is undoubtedly an entertaining game. The TCG has been well adapted to our mobile world, with shorter duels but the same satisfaction. Also, the myriad of events and different game modes will keep you entertained for weeks.

This is not to say that the game is free of issues, though. The connectivity aspect of the game is particularly bad, although it has been getting better over the last few days, so surely the developers are working on it. However, if you want to have some fun playing one of the most famous TCGs around for free, even if you are a novice, there’s lots of fun to be had with Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.

Download and install Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links! from the Google Play Store.

21
Feb

WiseWear Kingston review: The fashion first smart bracelet


The WiseWear Kingston is a beautiful bracelet that combines a sleek and elegant look with innovative technology designed to track your activities using the WiseWear app. There are many wearable devices with activity tracking and mobile notifications as their features but few that can pass off as an actual piece of fine jewelry. The WiseWear Socialite Smart Bracelet is able to achieve that. It’s a fashion piece that just happens to track activities and notifications.

The Kingston, a Palladium colored bracelet in the WiseWear Socialite Collection, arrived in a true jewelry box. From the outset I found everything to be beautifully crafted, much like the bracelet itself.

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Initial setup involved placing the bracelet on the USB charger (included) for about 4 hours. After the bracelet was charged I downloaded the WiseWear app and began to sync the bracelet, via Bluetooth, to my iPhone. The app is available on iPhone 5 or newer, running on iOS 9 or newer and for Android users running on Android 5.0 or newer.

Features:

  • Made with precious metals like 18k Gold and Palladium
  • Activity Tracking (steps, calories burned, distance, active time)
  • Notifications
  • Water-Resistant
  • 72 hours per charge
  • Distress Messaging (three taps)

To help customize your activity tracking and mobile notification setup the app guides you through a series of questions, taking less than five minutes to complete. You’re asked to input an emergency contact name and phone number. As a key feature the bracelet has the ability to connect you to that person by tapping 3 times during a time of distress. As someone who enjoys evening and nighttime work outs, this feature was very important to me. After setup, I was excited to wear the bracelet and use all the features.

Socialite is a smart bracelet designed to keep you safe, healthy, and connected to what matters most. Each bracelet serves as a safety device with a unique distress messaging feature, provides real-time mobile notifications, and tracks your activity. By concealing advanced technology inside beautiful jewelry, Socialite empowers you feel your most confident on the inside and out!

I had a workout planned right after setup where I was able to test the activity tracking capabilities. In preparation for all my workouts I usually take off all jewelry and found myself almost doing the same with the Socialite, due to the weight of the bracelet on my arm. The weight took a little adjusting to, coming in around 77 grams. The bracelet was very comfortable to wear outside getting adjusted to the weight of the bracelet during exercise.

Immediately after my workout I checked my phone to see the tracking of the activity and was impressed by the simple charts and how quickly the information was synced. During the workout I also received notifications of emails by a few slight vibrations.

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I proceeded to wear the Socialite for a few days for work and errands. The battery typically last 72 hours on a full charge, but my experience was that just after less than six hours of wear I would receive a red light notifying me of a low battery. To be safe, at the end of the day, I would place the bracelet on charge. I’d like to point out that it stayed connected throughout my entire time with the wearable.

The Kingston is one of three designs in the Socialite Collection with prices ranging from $295-$345. The bracelet can be purchased on the WiseWear website, http://www.shop.wisewear.com, or from select retailers listed on the website.

The minimalist design of each bracelet makes any of the three wearable for both men and women to enjoy. Overall I really enjoyed the ability to go from work to work out to being able to enjoy a night out with the Socialite line complementing it all.

Because I wear silver jewelry daily and I generally go for a minimalist look when it comes to outfits, the Palladium version of the Kingston complemented my work outfits well. Moreover I liked being able to transition to a night out with friends without the hassle of trying to find matching jewelry for that particular outfit.

The Socialite bracelet may seem very expensive but the quality and overall look is well worth the price tag.

21
Feb

This solar-powered smart wallet features RFID-blocking technology, too


Why it matters to you

Your wallet might be the most important thing you carry around with you, so of course you want it to be protected, trackable, and lightweight. Ekster’s new product delivers on all counts.

You take it everywhere you go, so it better not weigh you down. We’re talking, of course, about your wallet. Here to ensure that you have one that is not only slim but also secure is Ekster, the smart wallet brand that partnered with Tile to launch a new solar-charged RFID-blocking smart wallet. It’s a lot of functionality for a little pouch, and boy is it worth it.

Perhaps the most important part of the Ekster Wallet, however, is in its RFID-blocking technology. Because many credit and debit cards have RFID and NFC technology embedded in them, Ekster notes that they can be “activated and duplicated from a distance,” which can cause serious security issues. “People aren’t aware of how prevalent RFID skimming and data theft are — and with the Ekster Wallet, we are providing a trackable, secure and fashionable solution to these problems,” said Olivier Momma, co-founder of Ekster. Now, you don’t have to worry about someone skimming your credit card data when you’re walking about.

More: Put down that wallet before buying a PC — Intel just teased its eighth-gen CPU

With the new Ekster Wallet, you won’t have to dig around to access your credit card or ID. Simply click a button to pop out your needed piece of plastic, and when you’re done, you won’t have to worry about having to jam things back into a bulky getup. Better still, thanks to the Tile Smart Location Platform, you won’t have to worry about (permanently) losing your wallet. If you ever find that you’ve misplaced your valuables, simply ring your wallet or tap into the expansive Tile community (8 million of these guys have been sold) for help.

In order to keep your wallet energized enough to be tracked, the Ekster relies upon solar energy. “This smart wallet is the first ever solar-charged wallet. This means no wires, no clutter and no low battery,” said Richard Canneman, another one of Ekster’s co-founder. The Ekster Wallet requires just 3.5 hours of sunlight per month to offer full tracking functionality. From there, you can connect it to a phone via Bluetooth and keep tabs on your money at all times.

“With Ekster’s second-generation wallet, we’ve created an alternative to the traditional bi-fold wallet, so our customers can enjoy the fastest card access to date in an even slimmer design,” noted Rick Scharnigg, an Ekster cofounder. So if you’d like an Ekster Wallet of your own, head over to Kickstarter and grab one at the early bird price of $25.

21
Feb

This solar-powered smart wallet features RFID-blocking technology, too


Why it matters to you

Your wallet might be the most important thing you carry around with you, so of course you want it to be protected, trackable, and lightweight. Ekster’s new product delivers on all counts.

You take it everywhere you go, so it better not weigh you down. We’re talking, of course, about your wallet. Here to ensure that you have one that is not only slim but also secure is Ekster, the smart wallet brand that partnered with Tile to launch a new solar-charged RFID-blocking smart wallet. It’s a lot of functionality for a little pouch, and boy is it worth it.

Perhaps the most important part of the Ekster Wallet, however, is in its RFID-blocking technology. Because many credit and debit cards have RFID and NFC technology embedded in them, Ekster notes that they can be “activated and duplicated from a distance,” which can cause serious security issues. “People aren’t aware of how prevalent RFID skimming and data theft are — and with the Ekster Wallet, we are providing a trackable, secure and fashionable solution to these problems,” said Olivier Momma, co-founder of Ekster. Now, you don’t have to worry about someone skimming your credit card data when you’re walking about.

More: Put down that wallet before buying a PC — Intel just teased its eighth-gen CPU

With the new Ekster Wallet, you won’t have to dig around to access your credit card or ID. Simply click a button to pop out your needed piece of plastic, and when you’re done, you won’t have to worry about having to jam things back into a bulky getup. Better still, thanks to the Tile Smart Location Platform, you won’t have to worry about (permanently) losing your wallet. If you ever find that you’ve misplaced your valuables, simply ring your wallet or tap into the expansive Tile community (8 million of these guys have been sold) for help.

In order to keep your wallet energized enough to be tracked, the Ekster relies upon solar energy. “This smart wallet is the first ever solar-charged wallet. This means no wires, no clutter and no low battery,” said Richard Canneman, another one of Ekster’s co-founder. The Ekster Wallet requires just 3.5 hours of sunlight per month to offer full tracking functionality. From there, you can connect it to a phone via Bluetooth and keep tabs on your money at all times.

“With Ekster’s second-generation wallet, we’ve created an alternative to the traditional bi-fold wallet, so our customers can enjoy the fastest card access to date in an even slimmer design,” noted Rick Scharnigg, an Ekster cofounder. So if you’d like an Ekster Wallet of your own, head over to Kickstarter and grab one at the early bird price of $25.

21
Feb

A pretend Pornhub app is infecting Android phones with malware


Why it matters to you

If you needed another reason not to download a porn app, here’s one — a fake Pornhub app is infecting smartphones with malware.

It’s almost too ironic to be true. Porn is giving smartphones a virus, and it’s one that locks out their owners. As per a new report from cybersecurity firm ESET, apps pretending to be from Pornhub are infecting mobile devices with malware that locks users out of their handsets and demands a ransom for their release.

Because the Google Play Store forbids Pornhub from having an official app in the database (it doesn’t allow for pornographic material to appear on its software distribution platform), folks are apparently being tricked into looking elsewhere, and downloading apps that may look like what they’re lusting for, but that in fact are far more dangerous. The result is that users are finding they then need to fix their smartphone.

More: New Android virus poses as an Adobe Flash Player update

When you download one of these apps, it tells you first that it has to check your phone for viruses before playing any illicit videos. But rather than checking, of course, it’s actually installing a virus. Once the malware has made its way onto a handset by way of one of these rogue apps, it installs ransomware that locks you out of your phone and asks you to pay $100 in Bitcoin to release it from its hostage situation.

ESET has published a set of guidelines instructing smartphone owners on how to avoid this sort of malware, and has also provided instructions on how to get rid of the virus should you have already fallen victim. For example, you can put your device into Safe Mode, which blocks third-party apps, and “in the event that the application has been granted Device Administrator privileges,” you’ll need to revoke app access before deleting it to ensure that everything has been wiped.

Of course, if all else fails, you can always do a complete factory reset, though that tends to be a tad annoying. For more information on the malware and what to do about it, you can check out ESET’s full report on its official website.

21
Feb

Artificial synapse could help computers process information like the brain does


Why it matters to you

This artificial synapse could play a pivotal role in projects where computers need to quickly respond to audiovisual input.

From artificial intelligence to machine learning, there is no shortage of projects that use computers to mimic some aspect of the human brain. However, even the most advanced computers struggle to imitate the brain’s natural capacity to process information efficiently.

Now, a team of researchers from Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories has managed to create an artificial synapse that mimics the way real synapses learn information from the signals they receive. Traditionally, computers would process information and store it into memory as two separate processes, whereas this device creates a memory by processing, which is a more efficient solution.

“It’s an entirely new family of devices because this type of architecture has not been shown before,” said Alberto Salleo, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, who also served as the senior author of the artificial synapse paper. “For many key metrics, it also performs better than anything that’s been done before with inorganics.”

More: Meet SyNapse, IBM’s computer chip that can help the blind see, detect diseases, and much more

The artificial synapse is said to be based on a battery design. Three terminals are spaced across two flexible films which are connected by an electrolyte that consists of salty water. The synapse then works as a transistor, with the flow of electricity between two terminals being controlled by the remaining terminal.

It is thought that this technology could one day be used to create a computer that can better imitate the way a human brain responds to auditory and visual stimuli. This would be particularly useful for voice-controlled interfaces and self-driving vehicles that need to process information quickly and accurately.

Only one artificial synapse has been produced so far, but researchers were able to simulate how an array of artificial synapses would work in a neural network by using thousands of measurements taken from experiments on the prototype. The simulated array was able to recognize handwritten single-digit numbers with 93 to 97 percent accuracy, which is considered to be a very encouraging result.

21
Feb

Samsung’s VR concepts aim to help the blind, decorate your home, travel the world


Why it matters to you

These applications go beyond gaming and entertainment, using VR to make a practical difference in people’s lives.

Samsung has announced it is preparing four exhibitions for next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, from its Creative Lab, or C-Lab, department, all specializing in new and inventive uses for virtual and augmented reality. The projects will debut at 4 Years From Now, a platform that connects startups, investors, and corporations to co-develop new ventures.

Samsung’s proposals range from an application that can help the visually impaired enjoy television, movies, and books in VR, to software that can help users visualize new furniture in a three-dimensional model of their home, to a travel app that records 360-degree video and sound for future viewing, and on to a pair of glasses that can wirelessly stream VR and AR content from another device.

More: Check out 6 whimsical projects from Samsung’s experimental C-Lab


Samsung Newsroom

The first project, Relúmĭno, is perhaps the Creative Lab’s greatest breakthrough. The app can correct images and text for people who suffer from distorted vision, and compensate for blind spots as well. Samsung says Relúmĭno can help these users watch television in a manner that obviates the need for the much more expensive visual aids on the market currently.

VuildUs is Samsung’s interior design app that works by constructing a model of the user’s home with the help of a 360-degree depth-recording camera. Through VR, the user can then drag and drop different items of furniture into that model, and purchase them on the spot if they so choose. The app would scale room and object dimensions proportionately, eliminating the need to physically measure out space.


Samsung Newsroom

With traVRer, tourists can visit their favorite locales in VR, record 360-degree video and audio, and post their discoveries so others can take in the sights. The interface is outfitted with a map, so users can trace the path of the tour as they watch, and it allows seamless switching between videos, enabling users to instantly observe a single location at multiple times of the day.

Finally, there’s Monitorless, C-Lab’s solution to unlocking the entire gamut of VR experiences on mobile and PC with a single pair of glasses. The glasses feature an electrochromic display that uses WiFi Direct to stream content from a compatible device. Because no actual monitors are involved, the glasses can be used as a VR device, for a theater-like viewing experience, or as an AR device, with adjustable transparency so users can still see what’s in front of them.

Samsung calls C-Lab an “internal incubation program” that cultivates experimental ideas from employees. While there’s no guarantee these projects will actually surface in public-ready form in four years’ time, they do provide a sense of what Samsung hopes to accomplish in the future with the emerging medium.

21
Feb

Samsung’s VR concepts aim to help the blind, decorate your home, travel the world


Why it matters to you

These applications go beyond gaming and entertainment, using VR to make a practical difference in people’s lives.

Samsung has announced it is preparing four exhibitions for next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, from its Creative Lab, or C-Lab, department, all specializing in new and inventive uses for virtual and augmented reality. The projects will debut at 4 Years From Now, a platform that connects startups, investors, and corporations to co-develop new ventures.

Samsung’s proposals range from an application that can help the visually impaired enjoy television, movies, and books in VR, to software that can help users visualize new furniture in a three-dimensional model of their home, to a travel app that records 360-degree video and sound for future viewing, and on to a pair of glasses that can wirelessly stream VR and AR content from another device.

More: Check out 6 whimsical projects from Samsung’s experimental C-Lab


Samsung Newsroom

The first project, Relúmĭno, is perhaps the Creative Lab’s greatest breakthrough. The app can correct images and text for people who suffer from distorted vision, and compensate for blind spots as well. Samsung says Relúmĭno can help these users watch television in a manner that obviates the need for the much more expensive visual aids on the market currently.

VuildUs is Samsung’s interior design app that works by constructing a model of the user’s home with the help of a 360-degree depth-recording camera. Through VR, the user can then drag and drop different items of furniture into that model, and purchase them on the spot if they so choose. The app would scale room and object dimensions proportionately, eliminating the need to physically measure out space.


Samsung Newsroom

With traVRer, tourists can visit their favorite locales in VR, record 360-degree video and audio, and post their discoveries so others can take in the sights. The interface is outfitted with a map, so users can trace the path of the tour as they watch, and it allows seamless switching between videos, enabling users to instantly observe a single location at multiple times of the day.

Finally, there’s Monitorless, C-Lab’s solution to unlocking the entire gamut of VR experiences on mobile and PC with a single pair of glasses. The glasses feature an electrochromic display that uses WiFi Direct to stream content from a compatible device. Because no actual monitors are involved, the glasses can be used as a VR device, for a theater-like viewing experience, or as an AR device, with adjustable transparency so users can still see what’s in front of them.

Samsung calls C-Lab an “internal incubation program” that cultivates experimental ideas from employees. While there’s no guarantee these projects will actually surface in public-ready form in four years’ time, they do provide a sense of what Samsung hopes to accomplish in the future with the emerging medium.

21
Feb

Samsung Flow app to let you use phone’s fingerprint sensor to log into Windows


Why it matters to you

An updated version of Samsung’s Flow app will allow you to log into your computer using your smartphone’s fingerprint sensor.

If you haven’t heard of Samsung’s Flow, that’s probably because it hasn’t been made widely available. Samsung’s companion app for Galaxy devices is somewhat akin to Microsoft’s Continuity feature on Windows devices: It lets you start something on your phone, put it down, and pick up where you left off on a tablet — or vice versa. But you needn’t worry about missing out. On February 21, Samsung announced that it would expand Flow to support any Windows 10 device.

The new feature will allow Galaxy device owners to unlock Windows machines using their smartphone’s fingerprint sensor, or by entering a “pattern.” It’s a feature Samsung introduced last year, but exclusively for the Galaxy TabPro S — non-Samsung computers couldn’t take advantage.

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The change of heart is reportedly due to consumer demand. According to SamMobile, Flow used Windows 10’s Windows Hello Companion Device Framework, a development hook that allows third-party devices to verify Windows users, authenticate payments, and even log into websites. The new Flow app will expand on that implementation.

Flow is good for more than just security. Once activated through Android’s share menu (or a dedicated Flow button, in some apps), it provides a list of target devices to which you’re free to beam content. If you select a video, picture, or document, it’ll pop up on the tablet, phone, or Windows computer in question. Even more impressively, video calls placed on one device can be seamlessly resumed on another.

Flow can also serve as a bookmarking tool — you can save an app’s state and pick it back up later, sort of like a pause button on a game console. It synchronizes phone call and text message notifications. It links paired desktop and tablet devices to mobile hot spots automatically. And Samsung says additional features are on the way. Eventually, Flow will be able to synchronize applications and mirror apps.

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Samsung’s not the only one trying to reduce the friction between smartphones, tablets, and workstation PCs. Microsoft’s Cortana app for Android devices synchronizes notifications about calls, incoming messages, low battery, and app notifications between multiple devices. On a Windows machine, missed calls and message notifications are actionable — you can respond with canned replies like “I’ll get back to you soon.” And you can reply to some messages directly from your PC.

The Flow app with expanded Windows device support expected be released after the next major Windows 10 update, which is the Windows 10 Creators Update, in early April. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s the month Samsung is expected to release the Galaxy S8, its next flagship smartphone.

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