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Displays

John Carmack's Oculus Connect Keynote Probably Had Samsung Cringing 88

Posted by timothy
from the now-in-our-day-we-had-leeches-on-both-ears-for-balance dept.
An anonymous reader writes John Carmack, famed keystone developer of 3D networked gaming, has now been working with virtual reality company Oculus for over a year. Much of that time has been spent collaborating with Samsung on the forthcoming Gear VR headset. At his keynote presentation during Oculus Connect, Carmack took to the stage with 90 unscripted minutes of no holds barred discussion of the last 12 months in VR. 'I believe pretty strongly in being very frank and open about flaws and limitations so this is kind of where I go off message a little bit from the standard PR plan and talk very frankly about things,' he said to applause from the audience.
IBM

IBM Solar Concentrator Can Produce12kW/day, Clean Water, and AC 268

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
Lucas123 writes IBM Research and Switzerland-based Airlight Energy today announced a parabolic dish that increases the sun's radiation by 2,000 times while also producing fresh water and air conditioning. The new Concentrator PhotoVoltaics (CPV) system uses a dense array of water-cooled solar chips that can convert 80% of the sun's radiation into useful energy. The CPV, which looks like a 33-foot-high sunflower, can generate 12 kilowatts of electrical power and 20 kilowatts of heat on a sunny day — enough to power several average homes, according to Bruno Michel, the project's lead scientists at IBM Research in Switzerland.
Robotics

Octopus-Inspired Robot Matches Real Octopus For Speed 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-skynet-needs-to-rule-the-seas-too dept.
KentuckyFC writes: Underwater vehicles have never matched the extraordinary agility of marine creatures. While many types of fish can travel at speeds of up to 10 body lengths per second, a nuclear sub can manage a less than half a body length per second. Now a team of researchers has copied a trick used by octopuses to build an underwater robot capable of matching the agility of marine creatures. This trick is the way an octopus expands the size of its head as it fills with water and then squirts it out to generate propulsion. The team copied this by building a robot with a flexible membrane that also expands as it fills with water.

The fluid then squirts out through a rear-facing nozzle as the membrane contracts. To the team's surprise, the robot reached speeds of 10 body lengths per second with a peak acceleration of 14 body lengths per second squared. That's unprecedented in an underwater vehicle of this kind. What's more, the peak force experienced by the robot was 30 per cent greater than the thrust generated by the jet. The team think they know why and say the new technique could be used to design bigger subs capable of even more impressive octopus-like feats.
Power

South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the kangaroo-on-a-treadmill dept.
ferrisoxide.com writes: South Australia has hit its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020, 6 years earlier than expected, delivering clean power to the state through investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy — mothballing one coal-fired power station in the process. Not content to rest on their laurels, the SA government has now announced a new "stretch" target of 50% by 2025. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declared that despite initial upfront costs to renewable energy generators such as wind farms, the 50 per cent target will not add one extra dollar to energy prices.
Japan

Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-mothra dept.
sciencehabit writes: Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than previously thought — at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time. In other lingering radiation news, reader Rambo Tribble writes: Forest detritus, contaminated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (abstract), is decaying at a much slower rate than normal, building up and creating a significant fire risk. This, in turn, is creating a real potential for the residual radioactive material to be distributed, through smoke, over a broad area of Europe and Russia. Looking at different possible fire intensities, researchers speculate, "20 to 240 people would likely develop cancer, of which 10 to 170 cases may be fatal." These figures are similar to those hypothesized for Fukushima.
Handhelds

Now That It's Private, Dell Targets High-End PCs, Tablets 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the dude-you're-gettin'-a-weird-looking-tablet dept.
jfruh writes: If Dell has a reputation in the PC market, it's as the company that got low-end PCs to customers cheaply. But after the great drama of founder Michael Dell taking the company private, the company is following a new path, adding higher-quality (and more expensive) products like the Venue 8 7000, the thinnest tablet on the market today, to its lineup. One analyst notes that "Because they are no longer reporting to Wall Street, they can be more competitive."
Handhelds

Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6 277

Posted by timothy
from the but-that-was-different dept.
Velcroman1 writes Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it? Apple's newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs. Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. Are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here's what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.
AI

New Long-Range RFID Technology Helps Robots Find Household Objects 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-signal dept.
HizookRobotics writes Georgia Tech researchers announced a new way robots can "sense" their surroundings through the use of small ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) tags. Inexpensive self-adhesive tags can be stuck on objects, allowing an RFID-equipped robot to search a room for the correct tag's signal, even when the object is hidden out of sight. Once the tag is detected, the robot knows the object it's trying to find isn't far away. The researchers' methods, summarized over at IEEE: "The robot goes to the spot where it got the hottest signal from the tag it was looking for, zeroing in on it based on the signal strength that its shoulder antennas are picking up: if the right antenna is getting a stronger signal, the robot yaws right, and vice versa."
Moon

Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light 275

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-proves-nothing dept.
schwit1 writes Using its new top-shelf graphics processing unit, Nvidia tackles one of the most persistent conspiracy theories in American history: the veracity of the 1969 to 1972 Apollo moon landings. From the article: "'Global illumination is the hardest task to solve as a game company,' Scott Herkelman, Nvidia's GeForce general manager, said in an interview. 'Virtual point lights don't do a bad job when the environment stays the same, but a game developer has to fake shadows, fake reflections...it's a labor-intensive process.' So when a Nvidia research engineer used the company's new dynamic lighting techniques to show off a side-by-side comparison between an Apollo 11 photo and a GeForce-powered re-creation, the company knew it had a novel demo on its hands. 'We're going to debunk one of the biggest conspiracies in the world,' Herkelman said."
Displays

Vrvana's Totem HMD Puts a Camera Over Each Eye 25

Posted by timothy
from the translucency-=-50-for-walking dept.
The Verge reports that Montreal startup Vrvana has produced a prototype of its promised (and crowd-funded) VR Totem headset. One interesting aspect of the Totem is the inclusion of front-facing cameras, one over each eye, the output of which can be fed to the displays. Reviewer Mike Futter has worn a prototype, and seems to be generally impressed, writing at Game Informer: Vrvana’s device offers 1080p resolution and features 90-degree field of view (the same as the Project Morpheus, but less than the Oculus Rift's 100-degree FOV), an OLED display, and adjustable lenses that can compensate for lens prescription. The HMD is usable by glasses wearers, but the tuning provides an option for those that don't want to wear corrective lenses while in VR. The system connects via HDMI to any source, and can model 3D (side-by-side) from game consoles as virtual reality right now. The Totem is currently compatible with all Oculus developer kit 1 applications, and Vrvana is working on getting DK2 experiences working. The prototype I wore was a good proof of concept, but didn't yet feature the OLED screen. This led to increased persistence due to the LCD. The head tracking also wasn't perfect, requiring some software tuning to prevent drift (something easily surmountable down the road). The clarity was impressive, rivaling some of the best experiences I've had with a Rift or Morpheus.
Displays

New "Crescent Bay" VR Headset Revealed and Demo'd At Oculus Connect 65

Posted by timothy
from the as-the-ndas-fall dept.
Oculus Rift revealed today its new 'Crescent Bay' prototype wearable display, at its inaugural Oculus Connect conference. (You can find more in the company's blog too.) From Gamasutra's coverage: The new headset has 360 degree tracking and integrated audio, as well as improved performance that allows better presence, says Iribe. It has higher resolution and a better refresh rate than even its recent DK2 headset. It's also much lighter than earlier prototypes. The company has also licensed technology from RealSpace 3-D for improved 3D audio on Oculus moving forward. Audio is becoming a priority for the company, [CEO Brendan] ]Iribe said. Road to VR has a gushing hands-on review: One of the stand-out demos put me in front of an alien on some sort of Moon-like world. The alien was looking at me and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue. When I moved my head, its gaze followed me. Its big and detailed eyes, combined with reaction to me as I moved, imbued it with a sense of living that was really cool. Spaceships flew over head and drew my gaze behind me, leading me to look at some incredibly detailed scenery.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards? 96

Posted by timothy
from the if-they're-smart-they-can-write-it-themselves dept.
SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes Teacher here, you can call me Mr. SmarterThanMe. I have a fancy smartboard installed in my room. Smartboards allow me to show students a whole range of other stuff other than just whatever I'm writing. I can prepare instructions and activities before the lesson and just move through the boards. I can pull up some students' work and display it through the projector. I can bring up some stimulus for use in a writing task. So much better than blackboards. Except the software that comes bundled with this particular brand of smartboard is ridiculously clunky. Without naming this particular piece of software, and highlighting its shortfalls, has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives (open source or otherwise)? The main features that I'd like are:
  • Handwriting recognition
  • The ability to make and use templates
  • Grids or guides or *something* to be able to teach measurement

I have gold star stickers for any good suggestions.

Input Devices

Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera 51

Posted by timothy
from the for-just-a-few-euros-more dept.
New submitter atagunov writes "Video clips have been released as crowdfunding starts for the world first open source cinematic videocam. "I am a filmmaker myself ... I would like to have powerful tools that I know to have full control over and that I can tune and tweak," says Sebastian Pichelhofer of Apertus. He is working on the Axiom Beta, the 2nd generation Apertus videocam, fully open sourced under GPL and OHL. It's not cheap compared to consumer-grade cameras, but being not-cheap hasn't stopped people from snapping up Joel Rubenstein's Digital Bolex.
Apple

Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple 408

Posted by timothy
from the you-just-haven't-earned-it-yet-baby dept.
HughPickens.com writes Medium reports that although many startups want to design something that mimics the fit and finish of an Apple product, it's a good way to go out of business. "What happened when Apple wanted to CNC machine a million MacBook bodies a year? They bought 10k CNC machines to do it. How about when they wanted to laser drill holes in MacBook Pros for the sleep light but only one company made a machine that could drill those 20 m holes in aluminum? It bought the company that made the machines and took all the inventory. And that time when they needed batteries to fit into a tiny machined housing but no manufacturer was willing to make batteries so thin? Apple made their own battery cells. From scratch." Other things that Apple often does that can cause problems for a startup include white plastic (which is the most difficult color to mold), CNC machining at scale (too expensive), Laser drilled holes (far more difficult than it may seem), molded plastic packaging (recycled cardboard is your friend), and 4-color, double-walled, matte boxes + HD foam inserts (It's not unusual for them to cost upwards of $12/unit at scale. And then they get thrown away.). "If you see a feature on an Apple device you want to copy, try to find it on another company's product. If you do, it's probably okay to design into your product. Otherwise, lower your expectations. I assure you it'll be better for your startup."
Upgrades

NVIDIA Launches Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 GPUs 125

Posted by timothy
from the upgrade-treadmill dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes NVIDIA has launched two new high-end graphics cards based on their latest Maxwell architecture. The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are based on Maxwell and replace NVIDIA's current high-end offerings, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, GTX 780, and GTX 770. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are somewhat similar as the cards share the same 4GB frame buffer and GM204 GPU, but the GTX 970's GPU is clocked a bit lower and features fewer active Streaming Multiprocessors and CUDA cores. The GeForce GTX 980's GM204 GPU has all of its functional blocks enabled. The fully-loaded GeForce GTX 980 GM204 GPU has a base clock of 1126MHz and a Boost clock of 1216MHz. The GTX 970 clocks in with a base clock of 1050MHz and Boost clock of 1178MHz. The 4GB of video memory on both cards is clocked at a blisteringly-fast 7GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate). NVIDIA was able to optimize the GM204's power efficiency, however, by tweaking virtually every part of the GPU. NVIDIA claims that Maxwell SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors) offer double the performance of GK104 and double the perf per watt as well. NVIDIA has also added support for new features, namely Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), Multi-Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), and Voxel Global Illumination (VXGI). Performance-wise, the GeForce GTX 980 is the fastest single-GPU powered graphics card ever tested. The GeForce GTX 970 isn't as dominant overall, but its performance was impressive nonetheless. The GeForce GTX 970 typically performed about on par with a GeForce GTX Titan and traded blows with the Radeon R9 290X.

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