If you want to play a room-scale VR game using Steam’s current tracking method, you need to do it in a 13-by-13 foot area. That’s fine for your living room, but what if you want more space? Don’t fret: Valve has announced that SteamVR Tracking 2.0 will support a cavernous 33 feet by 33 feet space starting in early 2018. You’ll need four trackers to do it instead of two, but this could be very helpful for arcades or any other experience that could benefit from greater freedom of movement.
The company is looking at support for even more tracking stations and thus a larger space, but it doesn’t have a timetable to offer. Don’t expect to run around a warehouse-sized VR environment, folks. There also won’t be an official mounting option for SteamVR until later in 2018, and the finished next-generation tracking system won’t work with existing HTC Vive headsets. Developers can use the Vive through engineering samples that add a blinker for backwards compatibility.
As you might guess, this won’t make a huge difference if you only ever experience VR in your den. It’s more about public or commercial VR, where you want as few arbitrary boundaries as possible. However, it’s advances like these that could be crucial to VR as a whole. Walkabout VR should ideally be limited only by the size of the room, not the trackers. This isn’t technically unlimited, but it’s close enough that more developers could let their imaginations run wild.
Surgeons are trained to accurately operate on you when you need it, but robotic assistants could help them get to hard-to-reach areas and boost their accuracy even more. Senhance, the robotic surgical assistant that has just earned the FDA’s approval, was designed to accomplish both of those. The machine can help surgeons carry out minimally invasive surgery — in fact, the FDA has approved its use because after a pilot test involving 150 patients, the agency has concluded that Senhance is as accurate as the da Vinci robot when it came to gynecological and colorectal procedures.
Congratulations #ASCRS2017 on a great meeting! Thank you to all who visited the booth to provide feedback on #Senhance #Surgery #RoboticCRS pic.twitter.com/9U66TSaVGa
— TransEnterix (@TransEnterix) June 14, 2017
According to TransEnterix, the company that developed the machine, it’s the first surgical assistant for the abdominal area to get the FDA’s approval since 2000. The company claims it’s also the first one with eye tracking and force feedback. As you can see above, surgeons sit behind a console with a 3D view of the site of operation to control three surgical arms. Senhance’s camera can follow their eye movements and show what they’d be looking at if they were manually performing the surgery on screen. The machine’s controllers can also make surgeons feel the stiffness of the tissue they’re operating on.
Now that Senhance has been approved by the FDA, you’ll likely start seeing it — from afar, we hope, and not while you’re on the operating table — in hospitals across the US. Here’s a sample procedure being performed with the machine’s help if you’d like to watch it in action.
Source: FDA, TransEnterix
Why it matters to you
Retro gamers have been clamoring for original Xbox backward capability for years, and now Microsoft is poised to deliver.
One of the surprise announcements at the 2017 E3 show was backward compatibility for some original Xbox games, meaning you’d be able to play some classics from Microsoft’s first console on Xbox One. Not many details were made available, but the company has confirmed that the planned feature is still on track for some time later this year. Many Xbox 360 games have been available on Xbox One for a couple of years. Although some reports suggest that backward compatibility is not a big deal for most gamers, Microsoft disputes those findings, saying that “players are highly engaged with backwards compatibility game titles.”
In a wide-ranging interview with GameSpot from the Brazil Game Show, Phil Spencer of Xbox seemed enthusiastic about the upcoming feature. “We’re close, we’re really close,” he said. “I have a little dashboard I go to and I can see all the games, where they are in getting approvals in the pipeline.”
At E3, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Fuzion Frenzy were the only two games mentioned for the backward compatibility list, although Spencer’s mention of a “dashboard” would seem to suggest a dozen or more titles. “Some of the games hold up really well; some of them don’t,” he added. “But the gameplay mechanics and the smile on your face 15 years ago playing those games, those are things that are still there. I see it, like getting back to playing Crimson Skies, fantastic, and the game actually looks really good even though it’s obviously been around.”
Last month, Windows Central got a chance to test-drive one of the games on Xbox One. It noted that the Fuzion Frenzy gameplay remains nearly identical to the original game. The games aren’t enhanced or remastered in any way for the new console generation, so don’t expect any real improvements other than frame rates.
Fuzion Frenzy was also presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, with black bars on both sides of the screen, which was pretty normal for that era. Fifteen years ago, very few games were available in the newer 16:9 ratio that’s the standard today.
Spencer also mentioned some sort of capability specific to the upcoming Xbox One X, but gave no real details. “There’s some stuff we’re going to talk about in that space in terms of how compatibility’s going to work on X specifically that I think people will find pretty interesting,” he said.
Although no date was mentioned as to when we might see the new backward compatibility games, it may very well be included the next Xbox One dashboard update, which is just around the corner in advance of the new console. The Xbox One X will launch on November 7 with a retail price of $499.
Why it matters to you
Working in a weightless environment provides its own set of unique challenges, as this video demonstrates.
What happens when you combine a NASA fidget spinner with a nearly weightless environment? Wacky hijinks, of course. Astronaut Randy Bresnik took time out from capturing pictures of the Earth and taking selfies during spacewalks to share a video on Twitter. The clip shows the crew of the International Space Station enjoying themselves with a fidget spinner. “A fidget spinner in space! How long does it spin? I’m not sure, but it’s a great way to experiment with Newton’s laws of motion!” he wrote.
Grabbing hold of the spinner allows the astronauts to spin at a speed relative to their mass. That’s why even using a simple tool such as a screwdriver can be difficult in a weightless environment if you don’t have something to anchor yourself down to.
A fidget spinner in space! How long does it spin? I'm not sure, but it’s a great way to experiment with Newton’s laws of motion! pic.twitter.com/5xIJDs2544
— Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) October 13, 2017
If you’re not following Bresnik, aka @AstroKIomrade on Twitter, you’re missing out on some of the most spectacular photographs of our planet and the ISS you’ll ever see.
When they’re not playing with children’s toys, the crew is hard at work performing experiments, maintaining the station, and transferring cargo. The latest mission to the ISS launched a few days ago, set to deliver almost three tons of fuel, food, and supplies to the station. You can experience life aboard the ISS for yourself with this free virtual reality app.
The ISS is actually visible from Earth, and it’s the third-brightest object in the sky and fairly easy to see with the naked eye. It looks like a very high, very fast-moving plane. The space station completes nearly 16 orbits of the Earth per day, and NASA has eve set up a Spot the Station website where you can find a viewing spot in your area.
The ISS can’t be seen during the day and is only visible during the morning or evening hours, when it’s reflecting light from the sun. Depending on the orbit, you may be able to see the space station several times a week or only once or twice per month. You can set up email or text alerts at the site to notify you when a viewing opportunity is coming up.
If you’d like to snag your very own NASA fidget spinner, they’re available at the NASA store for $6.
Watching porn on Google Daydream doesn’t take much at all.
Porn in VR is popular for plenty of different reasons, not the least of which is being able to experience your adult entertainment in an immersive way that puts you in the middle of the action. If you’re new to VR, or you’ve just picked up that awesome new Google Daydream headset, you may be wondering how it is you actually get to watch porn. After all, it isn’t as though you can search for it in the Play Store.
Well, have no fear, we’ve got all the details for accessing porn on your Daydream headset.
Read More at VR Heads!
Many OnePlus owners were more than a little upset when they found out that the company is collecting gobs of user data from its phones without asking, including personally identifiable info. It’s no surprise, then, that OnePlus is taking quick steps to avert (or at least, minimize) a backlash. Carl Pei has told customers that his firm will both limit the data it collects from OxygenOS phones and make it clear what you’re sending OnePlus’ way. Devices will stop sending phone numbers, WiFi info and network MAC addresses. And by the end of October, every OxygenOS device will have a prompt that asks you if you want to join the user experience program, with a setup process and terms of service that explain just what you’re sharing.
Pei stressed that OnePlus isn’t sharing the data third parties. The user analytics are to understand and improve your experience, he said, while device info is useful for post-sales support. And if you opt out of the analytics (which you could already do), anything you share in that space won’t be linked to your phone-specific data. However, it remains true that OnePlus was scooping up personal info without making it patently clear what was taking place. While the company didn’t intend anything sinister, there was the chance that a data breach could do tremendous damage without customers even knowing what was at stake.
Amazon is reportedly getting ready to take on sports apparel giants like Nike and Lululemon. According to Bloomberg, the e-retail giant is even working with known sportswear-makers’ suppliers and manufacturers to challenge them in an increasingly crowded industry. The publication says the project is still in its very early stages — Amazon hasn’t signed long-term contracts yet, but it has already started ordering small batches of products as part of a trial. The first batches were shipped to the company back in August.
One of its suppliers is Taiwanese vendor Makalot Industrial Co., known for making clothes sold by Uniqlo, Gap and Kohl’s. The other Taiwanese company it’s working with sounds a lot more interesting though: Eclat Textile Co. also manufactures clothing for Nike, Lululemon and Under Armour. This is far from Amazon’s first foray into clothing and fashion. It already has several clothing and accessories labels, including one that focuses on women’s bags and shoes.
As Bloomberg notes, the e-retail titan usually looks into making its own merchandise whenever it wants to fill the gaps in its inventory. Some brands choose not to sell certain items on Amazon, and the company wants to be able to offer those to customers, so they won’t have to shop anywhere else.
Why it matters to you
Long airline flights may be a thing of the past in the near future, thanks to enterprising startups like Spike.
You may soon be able to travel from London to New York in just three hours on a supersonic passenger jet capable of speeds up to 1,354 miles per hour. A prototype for the Spike Aerospace S-512 just completed its first unmanned test flight, and commercial versions may be able to take to the skies as early as 2021.
The company said the maiden voyage was “a huge success,” according to the Daily Star. “The SX-1.2 test flights were conducted in a real world situation, and provide significantly more data than wind tunnel tests done in an artificial environment,” said CEO Vik Kachoria. “We were able to test not only handling, but also a range of other considerations.”
Spike didn’t provide any pictures or video of the exercises, but said seven short flights were conducted to test the overall design and flight controls of the aircraft. The tests were performed at a private airfield in New England.
The S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet seats 18-22 passengers with a range of 6,200 miles and a cruising speed of Mach 1.6. “the new delta wing of the S-512 delivers high aerodynamic efficiency and improved flight performance in both low-speed flight and supersonic cruise,” said Senior Engineer Dr. Anutosh Moitra. “The highly swept leading-edge reduces wave drag and consequently reduces fuel burn and increases range.”
The aircraft also has no horizontal tail, which reduces the drag and weight on the plane in flight. There are no windows in the plane – instead, live video from outside can be viewed on thin display screens embedded into the cabin walls to create a panoramic image, or passengers can even opt to watch movies or share family photos.
All this cool stuff doesn’t come cheap, however. Each jet will run you between $60 and $80 million.
The Concorde jetliners, only 20 of which were ever built, ruled the skies in the ‘70s but were discontinued in 2003, following numerous safety concerns and a 2000 crash in Paris which killed 109 people.
But now several companies are also developing supersonic passenger vehicles for the 21st century. A startup called Boom wants to build a quiet jet with no supersonic boom. NASA has partnered with Lockheed-Martin for a new X-plane jet airliner. Elon Musk wants to basically launch people into space and land them on the other side of the globe in less than an hour.
International travel is poised to take a big leap forward in the next few years, so buckle your seatbelt and go along for the ride.
Why it matters to you
Why settle for just one functionality when you can have three? The Mooz asks the same question.
The 3D printers of 2017 aren’t just bringing your ideas to life in multiple dimensions — they’re engraving and carving those dimensions as well. Meet the Mooz, a 3D printer that is not only fully modular, but can also operate as a CNC carver and laser engraver. Because everyone is expected to be a jack of all trades these days — even our machines.
Thanks to the easily constructible design of the Mooz, you can quickly vary the shape of the modular device, allowing you to adjust the speed and resolution capabilities of the printer. Depending on how Mooz is oriented, you can either go for cost-effectiveness in your printing, precision and stability, or speed and color-mixing. What is color-mixing, you ask? As the name suggests, this practice combines colors together to help you create an imaginative 3D printing, rather than the traditional monotoned models we’re more accustomed to.
Constructed with solid aluminum alloys, an all-metal hot end, and precision acme lead screws, this printer promises precision quality and consistent performance each and every time. And thanks to the printer’s straightforward software, you need simply to drag and drop your design into the interface, and Mooz will take care of the rest.
If you’re not interested in printing something, but need to leave your mark on an existing piece, you can turn to the machine’s CNC capabilities. With an adjustable depth of zero to five millimeters, you can carve artwork with precision and speed. The Mooz also comes with a laser engraving head. So whether you’re looking to print a logo or some text, you can use Mooz to engrave wood, corks, or even your food.
To take advantage of these two functionalities, simply swap out the 3D printing head for either the CNC carver or the laser engraver. With a month left in its campaign, the Mooz has already raised well over $100,000 from nearly 300 backers, a promising start for the Kickstarter project. If you’re interested in buying one of these combination 3D printers yourself, prices start at $239. If you’re interested in purchasing the complete set (with all the various functions), prices begin at $429.
Are we crazy, or can something really make a phone worth the same amount as a used Honda?
Welcome to 2017, when the best phones from almost every company that makes high-end smartphones will cost just shy of $1,000. And plenty of people are buying them.
Samsung and Google tend to be pretty firm on the price and aren’t going to haggle with you.
I’m not wondering why people are buying them. If you want to play, you have to pay and it’s not like you’re going to be able to call up Samsung or Google and make a deal. The phones themselves are better than ever, the parts inside of them are better than ever and even the way you can buy them — 0% interest for 24 months, anyone? — is better than ever.
Enthusiasts, as well as people who need the features that come with a top-of-the-line phone, have to pay the sticker price. I get that. Heck, I’m one of the people buying them, just like many people reading this are. If we want the flagship model with the most memory and biggest display, we’re paying for it.
I just can’t shake the feeling that paying $1,000 for a phone is crazy. Even while I’m doing it and can honestly recommend you do it, too.
Let me stop for one second and call out LG. We don’t know when an unlocked V30 will be sold in the U.S. but we do know places like B&H already have a listing for it. We also don’t know the price, but most people are assuming it will be in the vicinity of $750 or so. We do know what U.S. carriers are going to charge (right around $850) and LG usually sells an unlocked model just a bit cheaper than a carrier does. $750 is a lot of money, too, but it happens to be about 75% of the price everyone else making a superphone at the end of 2017 is charging. And it’s just as feature-packed and awesome as any of the others.
Where to buy the LG V30
And yes, there’s an LG V30+ that’s just the LG V30 with an extra 64 GB of storage. (Why, LG? Just stop.) Of course, you can only buy it through Sprint ($900) and U.S. Cellular ($800) because LG just does things like this. If you count those, and I don’t because even LG knows that hardly anyone will be able to use them and nobody is switching to Sprint for 64GB of storage, then LG is creeping up on the $1,000 mark, too.
I’m not saying any company is trying to play a bit of the price gouging game. I sincerely don’t believe that and don’t want to believe that. But I know that I can buy a 2000 Honda Accord V6, with a warranty, for the same price as a new Note 8. I’m pretty sure the Honda uses even more premium metal and glass and a whole lot of Gigabytes would fit in the trunk. All that’s missing is an S Pen.
13-inches of OLED, glass, and aluminum is cheaper than six-inches. ಠ_ಠ
While comparing a Note 8 (or any of these phones) to a 17-year-old Honda is silly, you can make the same comparison with a laptop. While you can spend $2,800 on a Surface Pro or $4,200 (WTF?) on a MacBook Pro, you can also buy a really nice Dell XPS13 for about $850. It can do everything your new Note or Pixel or iPhone can do, has an even bigger QHD+ display and is made of “premium” materials to be thin, light, and beautiful. Even the new Pixelbook, which everyone says is outrageously priced, is nicely spec’d at $1,000.
Anyway, let me circle back around to the beginning. I know why we pay so much: we have no choice. I know why we want to pay so much: these phones are really cool and we want or need the best. I just don’t know what makes them worth the prices being charged.
Maybe someone out there can make a case better than “small stuff is more expensive” and help me figure it out.
- LG V30 review: The no-BS flagship
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- Full LG V30 specs
- LG V30 vs. G6 vs. GS8
- The V30 is the first phone to support 600MHz spectrum
- Join our LG V30 forums