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JUST for Geeks

Connected Smarts Reach the... Candle

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Connected Smarts Reach the... Candle

Is anything safe from the power of app-powered smarts? Probably not, as revealed with the LuDela-- a real candle with a real flame inside a sensor-packed shell.

The actual candle is a refillable wax insert (promises up to 30 hours of flames) users place inside a battery-powered exterior shell. The shell connects to smartphones and an obligatory companion app via Bluetooth, and allows one to remotely light and extinguish the candle, all without need to bother with matches and the like.

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

Apple claims the Apple Watch is the currently the second best selling watch (just after Rolex) before it announces the next generation of the smartwatch-- the Apple Watch Series 2.

The Series 2 is, essentially, an incremental upgrade over the original model. As many expected it is water resistant up to 50m, and is powered by an S2 dual-core processor and new GPU promising twice the graphical performance of the first model. The display is brighter (1000 nits) while GPS comes built-in.

Construction is in stainless steel, aluminium or, in an Apple first, ceramic with a "gorgeous pearl-white shine." Launching together with Series 2 are new Hermes bands. Nike also gets in the Watch action with Watch Nike Plus-- a version designed for athletes featuring a perforated rubber band and lighter aluminium construction for "the best running experience out there.

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A Glove to Touch the Virtual World

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A Glove to Touch the Virtual World

Chinese startup Dexta Robotics proposes a means to further add immersion to VR experiences-- the Dexmo, a force-feedback exoskeleton allowing users to "feel" the physical properties of virtual objects.

The Dexmo fits the hands like a glove, and tracks 11 degrees of freedom of motion. It applies force to the fingers when one is manipulating a virtual object, imitating the different levels of pushback provided by different objects in real life. As such, picking up a rubber duck in VR should feel different than, say, grabbing a brick.

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Intel Presents Alloy All-in-One VR

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Intel Presents Alloy All-in-One VR

Intel is not a company to be left out of the virtual reality arena-- not when it announces the Project Alloy all-in-one self-contained VR solution at the 2016 Intel Developer Forum.

Described as "the future of merged reality," the headset carries all components required to power VR experiences, meaning users can "cut the VR cord." Intel adds the headset allows a free range of motion with 6 degrees-of-freedom across a large space, while collision detection and avoidance enables users to physically explore a virtual space.

The headset also supports augmented reality (AR) through Intel's RealSense technology. Chipzilla says the result allows users to use their hands to interact with virtual objects, essentially "merging realities," without need for additional external sensors or cameras. An IDF demo had Intel engineer Craig Raymond go around a virtual room set within the stage. He opened virtual doors with his hands and walked towards Brian Krzanich... before stopping just in time, since the CEO's face appeared in the mixed reality space.

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Xiaomi Intros VR Headset

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Xiaomi Intros VR Headset

Xiaomi clearly does not want to be left out of the virtual reality game as it announces the Mi VR Play, an "entry-level" Google Cardboard-style smartphone-powered VR headset.

Designed to "bring the VR experience to a much wider audience," the Play has a lycra-built body and fits smartphones between 4.7- and 5.7-inch in size. Content comes through a Mi VR app replete with content from select partners such as Conde Nast Traveler and YouKu. Future content is somewhat guaranteed, since last year Xiaomi pledged a $1 billion investment in video content (including VR).

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Sega Follows Nintendo With Mega Drive Classic

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Sega Follows Nintendo With Mega Drive Classic

Hot on the heels of the NES Classic Edition announcement is a comeback of the Sega Mega Drive-- the Classic Line offers a pair of devices, a 2-player home console (complete with cartridge slot) and a gaming handheld.

Launched in celebration of the 25th birthday of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, both Classic Line consoles feature 80 built-in games, including classics such as Mortal Kombat, Golden Axe, Alex Kidd, Comix Zone and, obviously, a slew of Sonic titles. The console version also allows one to play original Mega Drive cartridges, while the handheld uses SD cards for the loading of more game ROMs.

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Connected Smarts Reach the Tape Measure

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Connected Smarts Reach the Tape Measure

The tape measure may be the last device one might say needs connectivity, yet the Bagel is exactly that-- a "smart" digital tape measure complete with companion app.

The Bagel offers 3 different measuring modes for users wanting to measure, well, everything. String mode is the most familiar mode, with Dyneema string one simply rolls out of the device, analog-style.

The second is Wheel mode, where users simply roll the Bagel around objects on a built-in wheel, while the 3rd Remote mode combines an ultrasonic sensor and a laser pointer to horizontal and vertical distances.

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Razer Pushes OSVR at E3 2016

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Razer Pushes OSVR at E3 2016

Razer is the next VR headset contender as it shows off an update of the Open Source VR (OSVR) project at E3 2016-- one promising specs comparable to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive together with a lower price tag.

Co-developed with VR display maker Sensics, the OSVR Hacker Development Kit (HDK) update seen at the show features an overall resolution of 2160x1200 via low-persistence OLED displays with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 110-degree field of view. This is an improvement over earlier prototypes offering a 1920x1080 resolution, and matches the specs of most of the VR competition.

Also included in the headset are custom (not Fresnel) lenses one can adjust to allow for glasses-free use and position tracking via Rift-style IR camera. As the name might suggest the open source nature of the headset allows for some hacking and replacement of parts through modular construction.

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Google Takes on Amazon Echo With Home

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Google Takes on Amazon Echo With Home

Among Android and software update announcements the Google I/O conference reveals a piece of hardware Amazon might find very familiar-- Home, a cylindrical speaker featuring voice-controlled smarts.

Similar in shape to an oversized salt shaker, the Home performs more or less the same functions as the Echo. It uses a set of far-field microphones to continuously listen to users and answer questions, control music, control some connected devices and even stream media from a smartphone or tablet to a Google Cast.

Powering such voice-controlled smarts is Assistant, a self-explanatory piece of cloud-powered Google software also first announced at I/O. Also available on Android smartphones, Assistant searches the internet to adjust itself to users' schedules, and can even provide images and other information for improved search results.

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