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JUST for Geeks

Sony Details PlayStation VR Release Date

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Sony Details PlayStation VR Release Date

Sony takes to the 2016 Games Developer Conference (GDC) to reveal the release date of the PlayStation VR-- the headset is coming out October 2016, later than the Q1 release of both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

First announced back in 2014 as "Project Morpheus," the PlayStation VR has at least one advantage over the competition in not requiring a high-end PC. Instead, as the name suggests, the headset runs VR experiences using the PlayStation 4, making it a less costly proposition to customers. Also making less expensive is a price tag of €399, lower than either Rift or Vive.

Mind, on a pure technical specification basis the PlayStation VR might look less technically capable than the competition, since it pushes lower resolution images with a smaller field of view-- something even PlayStation VP Ito Masayasu admits in an interview with games site Polygon, where he states "if you just talk about the high-end quality, yes, I would admit that Oculus may have better VR."

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DJI Intros App-Controlled Phantom 4

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DJI Intros App-Controlled Phantom 4

Drone maker DJI announces the Phantom 4-- a first "consumer quadcopter camera" from the camera featuring an "Obstacle Sensing System" providing an even easier flying experience.

The obstacle sensing system involves a combination of two front-facing cameras and software allowing the drone to, well, spot and avoid objects. Thus the Phantom 4 can either automatically fly around obstacles or slow down to a hover if it cannot work out an alternative route.

Obstacle avoidance also kicks when users trigger the "Return to Home" function, reducing collision risks when the drone automatically flies back to a take off point. Meanwhile a TapFly function provides an easy means to pilot the drone to a specific destination through simple taps on the companion DJI go app.

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Microsoft Opens HoloLens Preorders

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Microsoft Opens HoloLens Preorders

Microsoft announces preorders for the HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headset are now open-- if only for qualified developers an invite from the company allowing purchase of a Developer Edition of the headset.

The announcement is still relevant to consumers, since it represents a "monumental step" towards a commercial version of the device. It also provides some hardware details, such as the fact HoloLens carries a 32-bit Intel CPU and a Microsoft "Holographic Processing Unit," allowing it to run independently of a PC.

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FreeWrite Brings Back the Typewriter

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FreeWrite Brings Back the Typewriter

Customers wanting to write, but are too distracted by the online offerings of current laptops to actually do so? The FreeWrite might be a solution, being a single-purpose computer designed only for writing.

Originally introduced to the world via 2014 Kickstarter as the "Hemingrite," the FreeWrite is an update of the traditional typewriter. It features an eInk display (no actual paper required!), mechanical keyboard, onboard storage and wifi connectivity, allowing users to store documents on the cloud.

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Leap Motion Adds Gesture Control to VR

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Leap Motion Adds Gesture Control to VR

Gesture control specialist Leap Motion focuses its attentions on virtual reality as it presents Orion-- a hardware and software solution for the addition of tracker-free gesture control to VR headsets.

The hardware side of Orion is a small device users clip on VR headsets. It packs an array of 3D motion sensors and promises to track the wearer's entire body (including arms and legs) as well as hands and fingers faster, farther and with less latency.

The other half of the solution is software the maker claims can work out accurate hand tracking even in case of distorted angle, occlusion, backgrounds and lighting conditions.

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Microsoft Details HoloLens (Limited) Battery

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Microsoft Details HoloLens (Limited) Battery

Microsoft evangelist Bruce Harris gives a few details on the HoloLens augmented reality headset at a Tel Aviv event-- including the fact the device battery lasts for 5.5 hours of regular use.

As reported by Petri, "heavy loads" slash battery life to just 2.5 hours. The power issue also limits the display capabilities of the headset, leading to a field of view "similar" to a 15-inch monitor close to the viewer's face.

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The Smallest VR Headset at CES

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The Smallest VR Headset at CES

Customers curious about the possibilities of virtual reality yet cannot afford a headset? Homido might have a solution at CES 2016-- the Homido Mini, a small accessory for the viewing of smartphone-powered VR experiences.

The Homido Mini consists of a plastic frame and a pair of lenses. It allows users to enjoy any VR app compatible with Google Cardboard by simply attaching the frame to an iOS/Android device, without need to actually wear a cumbersome (if not outright uncomfortable) headset.

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A Gest Wearable Means for Gesture Control

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A Gest Wearable Means for Gesture Control

A startup named Apotact Labs takes to Kickstarter to propose a wearable take on gesture-based control-- the Gest (pronounced "jest"), a "one size fits all" soft glove fitted with flex and motion controls.

Somewhat reminiscent of a stripped down version of motion control gloves such as the Nintendo Power Glove, the Gest consists of 4 small bands attached to an adjustable black strap. The bands and strap carry accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, and pair with PCs or mobile devices via Bluetooth to transmit the relative positions of the fingers wearing the device.

The Gest is designed to be as light and simple as possible, and the makers claim the battery provides up to a "full day of work" on a single charge. It does not capture the exact way the hand moves, but supposedly allows for fairly complex gestures wearers can assign to specific controls.

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How to Use Wifi to See Through Walls

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How to Use Wifi to See Through Walls

Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab present a non-networking use for wifi-- as a means to see through walls, essentially making an X-ray vision of sorts.

Dubbed RF-Capture, the technology uses variations in wifi signals to recognise human silhouettes from behind walls. To do so it first transmits wifi signals before analysing reflections in the signals to piece together a human form. In other words, it is a little bit like a radar. It requires no wearable sensors and transmission power is "10000 times lower" than standard mobile phone signals.

The researchers say the technology (or rather, the algorithm behind it) is accurate enough to know who the person behind a wall is, determine how he or she is moving and even trace a person's handwriting in air, all by piecing together a silhouette from the reflected wifi signals.

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