You can wake up Microsoft’s Surface Studio by talking to it

Waking up your PC from sleep is as easy as tapping the touchscreen, moving the mouse or pressing a button on the keyboard — but if you have a Microsoft Surface Studio, it just got even easier. Thanks to a new audio driver update, Studio owners can now wake their machine by simply calling out for Microsoft’s digital assistant. As long as you have the Windows 10 Creator Update and the latest patch, all you have to do is say the assistant’s keywords: “Hey Cortana.”

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/microsoft-surface-studio-hey-cortana-wake-command/

Facebook’s new cameras bring live-action video closer to VR

The x24 is so named because it has 24 cameras; the x6, meanwhile, has — you guessed it — six cameras. While the x24 looks like a giant beach ball with many eyes, the x6 is shaped more like a tennis ball, which makes for a less intimidating look. Both are designed for professional content creators, but the x6 is obviously meant to be a smaller, lighter and cheaper version.

Both the x24 and the x6 are part of the Surround 360 family. And, as with version one (which is now called the Surround 360 Open Edition), Facebook doesn’t plan on selling the cameras themselves. Instead, Facebook plans to license the x24 and x6 designs to a “select group of commercial partners.” Still, the versions you see in the images here were prototyped in Facebook’s on-site hardware lab (cunningly called Area 404) using off-the-shelf components. The x24 was made in partnership with FLIR, a company mostly known for its thermal imaging cameras, while the x6 prototype was made entirely in-house.

Facebook's new cameras bring live-action video closer to VR

But before we get into all of that, let’s talk a little bit about what sets these cameras apart from normal 360 ones. With a traditional fixed camera, you see the world through its fixed lens. So if you’re viewing this content (also known as stereoscopic 360) in a VR headset and you decide to move around, the world stays still as you move, which is not what it would look like in the real world. This makes the experience pretty uncomfortable and takes you out of the scene. It becomes less immersive.

With content that’s shot with six degrees of freedom, however, this is no longer an issue. You can move your head to a position where the camera never was, and still view the world as if you were actually there. Move your head from side to side, forwards and backwards, and the camera is smart enough to reconstruct what the view looks like from different angles. All of this is due to some special software that Facebook has created, along with the carefully designed pattern of the cameras. According to Brian Cabral, Facebook’s Engineering Director, it’s an “optimal pattern” to get as much information as possible.

I had the opportunity to have a look at a couple of different videos shot with the x24 at Facebook’s headquarters (Using the Oculus Rift, of course). One was of a scene shot in the California Academy of Sciences, specifically at the underwater tunnel in the Steinhart Aquarium. I was surprised to see that the view of the camera would follow my own as I tilted my head from left to right and even when I crouched down on the floor. I could even step to the side and look “through” where the camera was, as if it wasn’t there at all. If the video was shot through a traditional 360 camera, it’s likely that I would see the camera tripod if I looked down. But with the x24, I just saw the floor, as if I was a disembodied ghost floating around.

Another wonderful thing about videos shot with six degrees of freedom is that each pixel has depth. Each pixel is literally in 3D. This a breakthrough for VR content creators, and opens up a world of possibilities in visual effects editing. This means that you can add 3D effects to live action footage, a feat that usually would have required a green screen.

Facebook's new cameras bring live-action video closer to VR

I saw this demonstrated in the other video, which was of a scene shot on the roof of one of Facebook’s buildings. Facebook along with Otoy, a Los Angeles-based cloud rendering company, were able to actually add effects to the scene. Examples include floating butterflies, which wafted around when I swiped at them with a Touch controller. They also did a visual trick where I could step “outside” of the scene and encapsulate the entire video in a snow globe. All of this is possible because of the layers of depth that the footage provides.

That’s not to say there weren’t bugs. The video footage I saw had shimmering around the edges, which Cabral said is basically a flaw in the software that they’re working to fix. Plus, the camera is unable to see what’s behind people, so there’s a tiny bit of streaking along the edges.

Still, there’s lots of potential with this kind of content. “This is a new kind of media in video and immersive experiences,” said Eric Cheng, Facebook’s head of Immersive Media, who was previously the Director of Photography at Lytro. “Six degrees of freedom has traditionally been done in gaming and VR, but not in live action.” Cheng says that many content creators have told him that they’ve been waiting for a way to bridge live action into these “volumetric editing experiences.”

Facebook's new cameras bring live-action video closer to VR

Indeed, that’s partly why Facebook is partnering with a lot of post-production companies like Adobe, Foundry and Otoy in order to develop an editing workflow with these cameras. “Think of these cameras as content acquisition tools for content creators,” said Cheng.

But what about other cameras, like Lytro’s Immerge for example? “There’s a large continuum of these things,” said Cabral. “Lytro sits at the very very high-end.” It’s also not nearly as portable as both the x24 and x6, which are both designed for a much more flexible and nimble approach to VR capture.

As for when cameras like these will make their way down to the consumer level, well, Facebook says that will come in future generations. “That’s the long arc of where we’re going with this,” said CTO Mike Schroepfer.

“Our goal is simple: We want more people producing awesome, immersive 360 and 3D content,” said Schroepfer. “We want to bring people up the immersion curve. We want to be developing the gold standard and say this is where we’re shooting for.”

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2017!

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/19/facebook-surround-360-x24-x6/

Get these all-weather bluetooth headphones for half off

These earbuds deliver crystal-clear, balanced sound thanks to their comfortable in-ear design. They get 7 hours of playback on a single charge, and a complete recharge in just 2. Most importantly, their flexible silicone ear hooks make sure they comfortably stay in place while you’re on a hike, a bike, or stuck on a crowded morning train.

For high-quality wireless audio that won’t melt from sweat or rain, the ARMOR-X GO-X3 headphones are a solid bet. Get a pair today for just $29.99, half off their retail price.

Check out these other popular offers from GDGT Deals:

Engadget is teaming up with StackCommerce to bring you deals on the latest gadgets, tech toys, apps, and tutorials. This post does not constitute editorial endorsement, and we earn a portion of all sales. If you have any questions about the products you see here or previous purchases, please contact StackCommerce support here.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/19/all-weather-bluetooth-headphones/

Netflix expects to sign up its 100 millionth subscriber this weekend

The company also shed light on its growing plans for movie production. By Netflix’s measure, flicks like Adam Sandler’s movies and The Siege of Jadotville were successes, while Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon:
Sword of Destiny
was not. As usual, it did not release any numbers, but said its formula for success is if a movie “will attract and delight members at better economics relative to licensing movies under traditional windowing.”

Developing…

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/17/netflix-expects-to-sign-up-its-100-millionth-subscriber-this-wee/

Uber saw rapid growth in 2016, but it still bled cash

That’s not bad at all, except its net losses for the year were $2.8 billion, excluding the $1 billion it lost in 2016 from its failed venture in China. Add those two figures, and its net revenue doesn’t sound that impressive anymore. MarketWatch even pointed out that Uber would’ve been one of the top 10 biggest money losers in 2016 if it were public.

While the company didn’t give Bloomberg a detailed picture of its earnings, it told the publication that its gross bookings for the last three months of 2016 were 28 percent higher than the previous quarter’s. As a result, its revenue ($2.9 billion) was 74 percent higher. Unfortunately, the last quarter of 2016 followed its earnings’ overall trend for the year, and the losses for that period were 6.1 percent higher at $991 million. As Columbia University business professor Evan Rawley told Bloomberg: “That’s a lot of cash to burn in a quarter.”

Further, its $6.5 billion net revenue might not even be accurate, considering it doesn’t account for employees’ stock compensation, some real estate investments, car purchases and a few other expenses. Uber also considers the entire amount of UberPool fares as revenue, including the part taken by drivers. For normal Uber rides, it only counts its portion of the fare.

Money, however, isn’t Uber’s sole or biggest problem. It has to deal with the fallout from various issues, including the sexual harassment allegation by a former engineer who said Uber’s HR repeatedly ignored her complaints. Uber is also embroiled in a court battle against Alphabet after the tech titan sued the company for stealing its self-driving technology. Plus, reports that it employs sleazy business practices recently came to light. It apparently uses a tool called Greyball to prevent local authorities from grabbing a ride and ran a program called Hell to spy on Lyft’s drivers for two years.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/15/uber-2016-earnings-bloomberg/

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 launch will happen without Bixby Voice

Samsung:

With its intelligent interface and contextual awareness, Bixby will make your phone more helpful by assisting in completing tasks, telling you what you’re looking at, learning your routine and remembering what you need to do. Key features of Bixby, including Vision, Home and Reminder, will be available with the global launch of the Samsung Galaxy S8 on April 21. Bixby Voice will be available in the U.S. on the Galaxy S8 later this spring.

There’s no word on exactly why the voice features are being delayed, but Bixby will need everything in place to fight competition from Google, Amazon and Apple.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 launch will happen without Bixby Voice

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/11/samsungs-galaxy-s8-launch-will-happen-without-bixby-voice/

Ben Heck’s mini pinball game

As the team works on bringing their projects into production, it’s time to turn our attention to the Super Space Shuttle mini pinball game. This was definitely an element14 community favorite, and the first thing the team needs is some critical analysis on how well the original hardware was put together. Changing up the design is the first order of the day — ultimately, the team needs to nail the layout and use the right materials. Karen and Ben use Autodesk’s Fusion 360 to design new flippers, while Felix assembles a new set of solenoids and mosfets with a powerful spring kit. Meanwhile, the main consideration is what size bearing to use. How do you think the design should be laid out? Perhaps a different theme of pinball? Let us know over on the element14 Community.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/09/ben-hecks-mini-pinball-game/

Democrats aren’t backing down on internet data privacy

Rosen’s not the only politician looking to put pressure on the government to restore consumer privacy protection, either. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said yesterday that he’s leading a group of seven other democrats looking to get more clarity around how ISPs will use consumer data that’s available to them. Specifically, the group is asking AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and CenturyLink whether they will use opt-in consent to use or sell consumer information. They’re also asking what opt-out procedures are like, whether data on former customers is stored, if they make consumers pay to opt out, what the polices to protect customer data are like, and a host of other questions.


We’re seeking answers from ISPs about how Trump & #GOP rollback of #BroadbandPrivacy protections will impact you. https://t.co/ShG8CEFRlK

— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) April 5, 2017

Whether or not Markey’s inquires will lead to actual responses from the companies in question remains to be seen; it’s also not clear what’ll be done with this info if the ISPs do respond. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see more legislation introduced like Rosen’s bill. Indeed, Markey recently told CNET that he plans to “introduce legislation that directs the FCC to reinstate strong broadband privacy rules.”

And if enough constituents let their representatives know how mad they are about the privacy rollback, those representatives might feel enough pressure to reconsider the next time a bill is brought up. There’s also the possibility of states putting their own protective measures in place — so either way, it’s worth letting your representatives know how you feel about privacy.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/06/democrats-fighting-for-internet-data-privacy/

German law urges parents to rat out kids’ illegal downloads

The precedent-setting decision by the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) charged the parents of three children with a €3,500 fine after someone in the home illegally downloaded Rihanna’s 2010 album “Loud.” The father stated that Germany’s Basic Law protects family members from testifying against each other and refused to out which child did the deed. The court didn’t force him to reveal the perpetrator, but held him liable in their stead.

If parents refuse to name the guilty party, the decision establishes, whoever gets the bill for internet service is ultimately responsible to pay the fine. But nobody will be forced to “deliver their children at knifepoint,” state prosecutor Christian Rohnke reportedly said.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/03/31/german-law-urges-parents-to-rat-out-kids-illegal-downloads/

Amazon takes on supermarkets with drive-through grocery pickup

You can order the items online, pick a time to drive up to an AmazonFresh location, and an Amazon employee will bring the groceries to your car when you get there. The service, which requires a Prime membership, is limited to two outlets in Seattle for now.

The Pickup locations are indicative of the company’s online efforts to make a mark on the booming supermarket industry, which it had struggled to make a dent in with AmazonFresh alone. The company’s overall goals are also not restricted to the digital space. Amazon has been inching forward toward building brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S. According to a recent New York Times report, Amazon’s ambition to take on the retail market is now starting to take physical form. In addition to groceries, the company is starting to think about stores for home appliances and furniture, too.

This article is automatically posted by WP-AutoPost Plugin

Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/03/28/amazon-takes-on-supermarkets-with-drive-through-grocery-pickup/