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20
Nov

A Facebook news feed in VR could help make the technology mainstream


Virtual reality may be making its way much closer to the eyeballs of a global audience in the very near future. Oculus VR is testing native support for the web-based React VR protocol on the Facebook news feed. The technology, which allows plugin and app-free virtual reality, could help expose VR to Facebook’s billion users in a manner that is, as of yet, unseen.

One of the biggest hurdles for virtual reality hardware and software makers is actually getting people to try it out. With the specific hardware and software requirements for modern VR, it’s not easily done. Pushing VR content through Facebook though will make it easier than ever before, and will enhance the types of experiences available to headset owners.

As much as virtual reality web browsing is still in its infancy, pushing WebVR and React VR content through Facebook’s news feed will make what is there, widely available and will encourage more developers to try it out. Anyone with a headset — be it an HTC Vive or one of the upcoming Oculus Go headsets — will be able to experience VR content right from the comfort of their Facebook feed.

Although we don’t know when the support will be made widely available, we do know Oculus is testing native integration at this time. When the support is added for all Facebook users, it will make it possible for companies to put out promotional and entertaining VR content right through Facebook. We could see something like the recent Jumanji experience or previews of VR museum exhibits shown on people’s news feeds.

Some of the other highlighted internet VR content showcased in Oculus’ blog post includes a tourism experience where you can take a virtual tour of Dubai and a showcase of a visit to the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing in virtual reality.

These sorts of more in-depth VR experiences are what Oculus will be looking to push to Facebook’s news feed in the future and will enhance already existing 360-degree video content that, as UploadVR highlights, was introduced in 2015.

Serving VR experiences over the internet without local applications holds a lot of promise. With the proliferation of technologies like React VR and WebVR, as well as unifying standards like OpenXR, the internet could become much more virtually accessible in the near future.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • VR and pose: How to take a screenshot in VR with the Oculus Rift
  • Fall Creators Update to push VR browsing with WebVR on Windows Mixed Reality
  • VR web browsing needs revolution more than evolution
  • Everything we know about the Oculus Go virtual reality headset
  • Google Earth VR now lets you explore Street View imagery from 85 countries




20
Nov

Kevlar finds a use beyond bulletproof vests — as a cartilage replacement


We trust Kevlar to protect us from external force, but we may soon put the material to use internally as well. As per new research from the University of Michigan, we may soon be padding the insides of our bodies with “Kevlartilage,” a Kevlar-based artificial cartilage that could help joint injury patients the world over. In fact, in the U.S. alone, some 850,000 patients undergo surgeries that remove or replace knee cartilage every year, and having a viable man-made material to aid in the recovery process could prove a huge boon.

Our natural cartilage is actually comprised of about 80 percent water, a stunning characteristic considering it’s able to withstand some of the most extreme pressures placed on our bodies. “We know that we consist mostly of water — all life does — and yet our bodies have a lot of structural stability,” noted Nicholas Kotov, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan who led the Kevlartilage study. “Understanding cartilage is understanding how life forms can combine properties that are sometimes unthinkable together.”

As it stands, most of today’s synthetic cartilage is “unable to achieve that unlikely combination of strength and water content,” researchers note. This is because most artificial materials that attempt to replicate the physical characteristics of cartilage do not contain adequate amounts of water to transport the necessary nutrients for cells. Hydrogels, meanwhile, have plenty of water incorporated into them, but aren’t strong enough to replace our cartilage.

But the Kevlar-based hydrogel that makes up Kevlartilage is said to combine a network of Kevlar nanofibers with a material found frequently in hydrogel cartilage replacements — PVA. The Kevlar allows for the framework of the artificial cartilage to remain strong, while the PVA keeps water inside the network even when the Kevlartilage is stretched or compressed.

To be fair, we likely won’t see this new cartilage in action for quite some time, as researchers must patent their creation and work alongside medical device companies to actually bring the product to market. But if Kevlartilage works as well in real patients as it has in lab tests, a bum knee may not end your athletic career after all.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • From CERN to the ISS, here are 9 big tech projects that changed the world
  • Energy from evaporating water could power 70 percent of the U.S.
  • The most reliable cars you can buy
  • Samsung Connect Home review
  • Vizio M65-EO review




20
Nov

New Uber features aim to drive the stress out of your holiday transportation


The holiday season is fast approaching, and so too is your need to find a designated driver. With so many opportunities to make merry, you’ll also want to make good decisions when it comes to leaving the party. Uber wants to lend a helping hand, and not by gouging prices this time. Rather, the ridesharing company has introduced a few new features just in time for the busy season to help you hop from one party to another with ease, starting with live location sharing.

While your driver already has a rough idea of where you are when you request a ride, live location sharing allows you to alert Uber as to your exact location relative to your pickup spot. Rather than having to call your driver to let him or her know that you’ll actually be walking around the corner to hop in, or attempting to wave her down from across the street, Uber’s new feature should make for a less stressful pickup.

“The rendezvous point between rider and driver is one of the most stress inducing parts [of the trip]. Often times you’re on the street, it might be cold, you’re looking around. It could be dark,” Uber product lead Nundu Janakiram told CNN Tech. “Riders kept telling us that they were basically trying to verbally [describe] their GPS point.”

To turn on live location sharing, you’ll need to tap the gray icon located in the bottom right corner of your screen. Once it turns blue, you’ll know that you’re sharing your location. Should you prefer to stop sharing your location, simply tap the icon again, or head over to the privacy settings in the Uber app to make necessary adjustments.

Though this feature is great for drivers, Uber is also making it easier for passengers to spot their rides. With the expansion of Uber’s beacons, more riders will be able to find their designated cars. The beacon sits on a driver’s windshield, and is said to “help drivers and riders more quickly connect at night and in crowded areas.” You can select the color that you want your driver’s beacon to emit, which ought to reduce confusion on busy nights when there are tons of Ubers circling the same block. While beacons were first introduced last holiday season, the service is now being expanded to New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Uber vs. Lyft: This is the ultimate ridesharing app showdown
  • How does Uber work? Here’s how the app lets you ride, drive, or both
  • Uber is assisting riders in communicating with hearing-impaired drivers
  • Uber now lets you make multiple stops, whether or not you’re dressed as a horse
  • Rideshare wars: Lyft takes on Uber in Toronto in first battle outside of U.S.




20
Nov

Amazon Echos given to people in need to reduce demands on caregivers


Whether it’s telling you whether or not you need to take a raincoat on a walk or controlling the lights in your apartment with a simple verbal command, there are plenty of ways that smart speakers such as Amazon Echo or Google Home make our lives a little bit easier. But can they fundamentally improve people’s lives? That’s the question posed by a trial currently taking place in the U.K., in which a small number of people with learning disabilities are given devices like the Echo to see whether they can help make their lives easier — and save the care sector some money in the process.

The trial gave these devices to five people in Wales for a six-month period. The study will examine whether, during that time, they reduce the need to staff people’s homes 24/7, by carrying out caregiver jobs including offering reminders about taking medication, attending appointments, and carrying out some household tasks. The Amazon Echo devices being used in the study are linked to several electrical items in the home, including smart lighting, music players, kettles, and televisions.

“If proved successful, the Intelligent Personal Assistant system can then be used in other supported living homes during the implementation phase, with the aim of reducing staff support on a gradual basis for tasks which the IPA can perform,” Ron Woods, Community Services Director at organizing group the Innovate Trust, told Digital Trends. “[This would mean that] direct staff support can be utilized in more creative and productive ways, whilst retaining an emergency on-call system — increasing the independence of people with learning disabilities to manage their daily lives.”

With only a few people included in the current trial, this is still early stages of the project. If all goes according to plan, however, it could result in local councils giving Amazon Echos to those in need — since this would actually provide a saving in the long term.

“With demand increasing on public services, and budget constraints across the country, finding new ways of delivering services is vital,” Rob Ashelford, head of Y Lab, another group working on the protect, told us. “The Innovate Trust team showed an openness to experimentation with new technology which we found compelling. What we discover during this project could have real impact in future.”

Until then, folks will need to buy their own artificial intelligence assistants, unfortunately!

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The Amazon Echo vs. the new Echo vs. the Echo Plus: Which should you get?
  • Harmon Kardon Invoke review
  • Google Home vs. Google Home Mini vs. Google Home Max: It’s all about the sound
  • Amazon Echo (2017) review
  • All Alexa-enabled devices you can utilize with Amazon’s Echo lineup




20
Nov

Anker’s Black Friday deals start today, with sales on chargers, speakers, and more


A one-stop shop for whatever you need.

Anker is dropping prices on… well, everything. Today includes deals on chargers, cables, speakers, and a whole bunch of other things. Whatever gear you need, pretty sure you can get a nice chunk off the price today. All Anker products are covered by an 18-month warranty.

  • Cables
  • Cases
  • Chargers
  • Headphones
  • Home
  • Speakers
  • Wireless Mouse

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Cables

  • PowerLine 10-feet Lightning Cable for $9.49 (from $12)
  • PowerLine 3-feet USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable 3-pack for $10.99 (from $14)

Cases

  • Karapax Rise heavy-duty iPhone X Case for $9.99 (from $16) – use code KRPXIW47
  • Karapax Breeze military-grade iPhone X Case for $9.99 (from $12) – use code KRPXIW47

Chargers

  • Quick Charge 3.0 Dual USB Wall Charger for $17.99 (from $23.99) – use code BFBF2225
  • PowerCore Fusion 5000 2-in-1 Portable Charger and Wall Charger for $20.49 (from $26)

Headphones

  • SoundBuds Slim+ Bluetooth Wireless Headphones for $22.99 (from $33)
  • SoundBuds NB10 sweatproof Bluetooth earbuds for $23.99 (from $40) – use code ANKSPT60

Home

  • Eufy 33-feet White LED decorative string lights for $7.99 (from $13)
  • Eufy Lumos white 2700K smart bulb for $13.99 (from $20)
  • Eufy Genie smart speaker for $19.99 (from $35) – This is part of Amazon’s Gold Box deals, so the price is temporary

Speakers

  • SoundCore nano Bluetooth Speaker for $15.99 (from $21)
  • SoundCore 2 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker for $31.99 (from $40)

Wireless Mouse

  • Vertical ergonomic optical wireless mouse for $13.99 (from $20)

20
Nov

Get a free Chromecast and Moto X4 when referring people to Project Fi


The promotion is running through December 17.

Despite its hardware restrictions and potentially expensive data charges, Project Fi is still one of the most unique service providers around. Google’s been continually adding new features and services since its debut in 2015, and a new promotion lets you grab a free Chromecast and Moto X4 for referring others to join.

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Google launched a referral system for Project Fi last December that allowed you to get credits on your bill when new customers signed up with your referral code, and between now and December 17, you can use that same system for grabbing some new tech.

Making two successful referrals will allow you to get a free Chromecast, but making five more for a total of seven will grant you with a Moto X4. That’s the Android One version of the Moto X4 that comes with a stock build of Android and fast software updates, and considering that it normally costs $399, this is a fantastic promotion if you’re a Fi customer.

In addition to this, Project Fi is also donating $50,000 to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center to help provide some relief for areas affected by this year’s devastating hurricanes and other storms.

Moto X4 review: A mid-range phone done right

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20
Nov

Intel’s first commercial 5G modem, XMM 8060, is now under development


Intel is also working on the XMM 7660 for Cat-19 Gigabit LTE speeds up to 1.6 Gbps.

Qualcomm’s been making huge strides in developing the 5G future lately, but it isn’t the only company committed to this venture. Intel recently announced a couple new chips that it’s currently working on, and the XMM 8060 – it’s first commercial 5G modem – will be shipping out in just a couple of years.

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The XM 8060 is the first addition to Intel’s XMM 8000 series of modems, and it’ll be able to support standalone and non-standalone 5G NR, 4G, 3G/CDMA, and 2G networks. Commerical devices that are based on the XMM 8060 should begin shipping in mid-2019, but as the XMM 8000 series grows, Intel will be able to integrate this power into smartphones, computers, vehicles, etc.

We won’t see a full deployment of 5G networks until some point in 2020, so while we’re waiting, Intel also announced that its XMM 7660 will be available for use in 2019. The XMM 7660 is a Cat-19 LTE modem, and it’s capable of download speeds reaching as high as 1.6 Gbps. That’s not as fast as what we’ll be able to see with 5G, but it’s considerably quicker than what current 4G LTE is capable of.

Intel’s XMM 7660 is the successor to the XMM 7560 that was announced earlier this year, and Intel says that the XMM 7560 is currently being used and tested by smartphone makers with successful Gigabit-class speeds. A timeframe for its rollout isn’t concrete quite yet, but commercial products should start shipping with it as soon as next year.

Qualcomm achieves first end-to-end 5G system based on 3GPP Standard

20
Nov

Consolidate your remotes with a Harmony Companion for just $100


Control everything from one thing!

Is this deal for me?

Amazon has dropped the price on Logitech’s Harmony Companion Remote down to $99.99, which is a savings of $50. This remote will allow you to leave behind the stack of remotes you currently use to control your TV, DVD player, cable box and home theater system, and use just one insteadl.

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Feature include:

  • Works with Alexa for voice control. Performs activities like Lower the blinds, dim the lights, fire-up the TV for movie night—all with a tap of the finger.
  • Use your Smartphone (with available app) or included Harmony Remote for one-touch control of your entertainment system and home automation devices such as Philips Hue lights or Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Companion remote includes full featured home entertainment controls including dedicated home automation controls
  • Included Harmony Hub lets you control devices hidden behind cabinet doors or walls, including game consoles such as PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360
  • Simple setup on computer or the available smartphone app – works with over 270,000 devices, including your TV, satellite or cable box, blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos, game consoles, Philips Hue lights, and more

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? – This isn’t an all-time low on this remote, but it’s the lowest we have seen in quite a while. It allows you to stop using 10 different remotes all the time and instead just use one.
  • Things to know before you buy! – If you want to take advantage of the Alexa features, you’ll need an Alexa-enabled device. You can bundle the remote and an Echo Dot for just $30 more, which is an additional $20 in savings.

See at Amazon

20
Nov

Android color management: Everything you need to know


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Color is complicated, but Oreo might be able to help.

There has been a lot of talk about color management here and elsewhere on the internet lately. Android Oreo provides new support for color management, the Pixel 2 XL has a reputation for doing it poorly, and these two things combined make us want to talk about it. But, what exactly does color management mean?

Let’s talk about that and a bit about how and why it’s used, and maybe even some more cool stuff.

What is color management?

Don’t laugh, but you have to understand just what color is based on the way our eyes see it before you talk about how our gadgets try to do it right.

Color is easiest described as the result of Hue, Saturation, and Brilliance.

Light emits energy over specific bands or wavelengths, but our eyes can’t see most of them. This is known as spectrum. Terms like IR (infrared, or longer wavelengths than the red end of the spectrum we can see) and UV (ultraviolet, shorter than the blue wavelengths we can see) are real and there is plenty of science about measuring their intensity but they don’t have anything to do with color because color is a human thing.

In those wavelengths of light that are visible, Hue is the point where a band has the most energy, Saturation defines the bandwidth (where the emission of light begins on the spectrum and where it ends), and Brilliance is the intensity of a human-visible light wave. Hue defines what color our eyes will see, Saturation defines the purity of it, and Brilliance defines its brightness. Charts help, so here’s one.

HSB-chart_0.png?itok=191vCw_7 This is the type of light that a plant can’t use for photosynthesis. This is why plants are mostly this color — they reflect this light!

In this chart, red, green and blue all have approximately the same hue — they peak around 450 – 550 nanometers. Red has the most bandwidth (it covers more spectrum) so is less saturated than blue which has the least amount of bandwidth. All three colors have a very high brilliance where they peak, so they are equally intense. Our eyes interpret this as a muddy ugly yellow color. All colors created in red, blue, and green will have their own spectrum profile just like ugly-yellow does.

The color on your TV and the color on your phone and the color from your camera all need to match.

RGB stands for red, green, and blue. It’s an additive model to create color, where light in each spectrum is emitted to create the color. If you have a color inkjet printer (remember those?) it creates a color using cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) as a subtractive model, where colors are applied so that the light reflected from a surface is a specific color. RGBA (the A is for Alpha and determines the level of transparency) is the model used on a display to produce a color, no matter what type of display is being used.

The color produced by a printer using the CMYK model and color produced on your phone’s screen using the RGBA model have to appear the same to our eyes — red needs to look red.

This is color management in its most basic form.

Actual color management

There are a lot of different ways to “create” color. We looked at the HSB, RGB, and CMYK models above, but there are a lot of other ways to try and represent what the output of a light source looks like to our eyes. They were all designed so that pink looks pink, green looks green, orange looks orange, and so forth. We can get a good basic idea of what color is trying to be represented by any color model in any medium. But a basic idea just isn’t enough.

Doing something is not the same as doing it well, and that goes fro color management, too.

There spectrum of colors is nearly infinite, and when you are using something capable of displaying more than a handful of them you need a way to make sure a particular shade of green looks the same to a person’s eyes no matter where it’s being displayed or what model is being used to create it. When you’re dealing with the millions of different colors a modern electronic display can show, a good method to reproduce the correct color becomes very important.

You need a good screen

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You start with the display itself. Any good high-end display needs to be able to reproduce a Wide Color Gamut. There are standards from the ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union – Radiocommunications Sector) that decides what a wide color gamut is, and they involve a lot of math and science. Thankfully, we don’t need to do the math and only need to know what color spaces meet the standards. For our phones, that’s usually the DCI-P3 color space.

This matters more now that displays can show more colors.

The ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 is listed as the first phone to ship with a 100% DCI-P3 HDR display, but since we’ve seen DCI-P3 capable displays from plenty of companies. The iPhone 7 and newer ship with one, the OnePlus 5 and up have one, the HTC U11+ and the Pixel 2 XL and more all have 100% compliant DCI-P3 displays. This means that the screen can reproduce colors correctly and accurately to meet the ITU-R standards.

Then you calibrate it

Once you use the right hardware, calibration comes into play. Calibration is measuring the output of a display as it reproduces different colors and adjusting the hardware so that the readings meet a specific value. because it’s impossible to calibrate 16.7 million different colors, common colors spaces are used. the most common is sRGB (standard Red Green Blue).

Developed by HP and Microsoft, sRGB is the standard on monitors, printers and the internet when no specific color space is defined, and it’s a very good standard. Calibrating for sRGB is fairly easy because you adjust with one channel at a non-zero value and the other two at zero and cycle through. That’s why you’ll see 255,255,255 expressed for a color (that one is white) or 255,0,0 (that’s red). Once the chromatic of each primary channel is calibrated, every other color will be, too.

Ideally, this is what every company making a display does then it ships the display out the door.

Before Oreo, color management on Android was broken

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The problem is that some companies using Wide Color Gamut displays would stretch the sRGB space and reinterpret the color values into their own unique gamut. This makes the three primary channels very oversaturated, which in turn means that every one of the 16.7 million colors the display was capable of showing was no longer calibrated to look the same on any other device.

There are many color spaces and profiles. The one most important to Android is sRGB.

Before Android Oreo, applications used the sRGB color space. There’s a reason for this — low-end hardware. Displaying a wide color gamut takes more GPU and CPU power than the sRGB space. If Android were set up with a wide color space as the default, some of the phones people are buying would struggle to display it. Even if a phone’s display wasn’t even capable of showing all the colors, there’s still a fairly large performance hit.

Manufacturers of high-end devices felt that “breaking” color calibration and processing color with their own values would showcase their superior displays, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned doing this job for almost eight years is that a phone manufacturer only cares about what’s best for itself.

Some apps still need to show mostly accurate color, even when a manufacturer breaks the color space, so developers had to desaturate their assets to try and compensate. A video, for example, looks best when a red stop sign is the same red you recognize it as and not a random color that a manufacturer decided it should be. Once you introduce a device with a 100% DCI-P3 display calibrated for the sRGB color space, things start to look broken. This is the crux of the issues surrounding the “muted” colors on the Pixel 2, though some experts say the calibration is not very accurate from unit to unit.

Here’s how it gets fixed

PB170008_0.jpg?itok=HV_3RpmH Proper Wide Color Gamut support makes this particular Pixel 2 XL and the Note 8 display this image the same on both screens.

This is the simple part and probably should have been done from the very beginning. A developer can detect if a device is using a Wide Color Gamut display and have an activity inside of the application use the correct color space to make the most of it. If the device is not capable of displaying wide color, the default sRGB profile is used.

Google has provided plenty of assets for developers who want to follow the new guidelines in their apps:

  • Android general color space documentation for API 26
  • Color spaces supported by Android
  • Wide color assets and content guide

This is all well and good and should prove to be a great way to make sure that colors look the same from device to device unless it’s a lower-end model incapable of displaying every color. Those would still look correct between devices because they would use the sRGB color space. The problem is getting everyone on board to do the same thing.

We’re hopeful things will get better

For this to work, Samsung, OnePlus, LG and every other company that’s “broken” the sRGB interpretation has to go back and correct it and developers need to rebuild their apps to support the new color space guidelines. And nobody wants to do it.

Companies won’t likely change the way they do things until app developers make the apps that look good, and developers aren’t going to write apps that will look broken on millions and millions of phones. Apple was able to transition to proper color management because it controls the hardware and software space, as well as set App Store guidelines. Google doesn’t have that luxury.

Somewhere someone is thinking of the way to fix all of this. And shipping a broken user-selectable color space on Pixel 2 phones to compensate — wel, that’s not it. We know that everyone involved wants to do things the right way, and that also means not breaking anything on the phones that have already been sold. Hopefully, it gets sorted out sooner than later.

Android Oreo

  • Android Oreo review!
  • Everything new in Android Oreo
  • How to get Android Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Oreo will make you love notifications again
  • Will my phone get Android Oreo?
  • Join the Discussion

20
Nov

Anker’s Zolo Liberty wireless earbuds now available for $99


In the Bluetooth headphone/earbud market, completely wireless solutions like Apple Airpods and Samsung’s Gear IconX are all the rage. There are a lot of companies trying their hand in this area, and Anker is the latest to do so with its recently released Zolo Liberty earbuds.

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The Zolo Liberty buds feature a design that’s pretty commonplace these days for truly wireless earphones. You have two individual earbuds that aren’t connected by any wires, and when you’re not using them, you can store/charge them in the included carrying case. The buds themselves should get you around 3.5 hours of use per charge, and the case allows for 24 hours of stamina before you’ll need to dig out the included microUSB charger.

The Liberty+ costs $50 more and comes with 48-hour battery life and Bluetooth 5.0.

Anker is promoting a tight seal in your ears with the Zolo Liberty, and this should allow for excellent bass and great sound-isolation. The Push And Go system creates for a simplified pairing process, and tapping the earbuds will bring up Anker’s Smart AI that you can use to talk to either Alexa or Siri.

One thing to keep note of is that these are not the Zolo Libery+ earbuds that Anker launched on Kickstarter this past June. The Liberty and Liberty+ are very similar to one another, but the latter offers 48 hours of battery with the charging case and Bluetooth 5.0 compared to Bluetooth 4.1 on the regular model.

If a bigger battery and newer Bluetooth standard aren’t important to you, however, you can buy the Zolo Liberty on Amazon right now for $99.

See at Amazon

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