Airports may use face recognition to screen US citizens (update: more info)

This could end up streamlining your airport security experience, Wagner says. If you’re an everyday traveler short connecting flight, you might be directed to a different security lane than someone considered high-risk. However, the privacy concerns might outweigh saving a few minutes on your way to the gate.

The existing plan has facial recognition systems tossing out photos of US citizens as soon as they’re recognized. It’s primarily meant to target visa holders, who are already subject to identity checks when they leave the US. However, the answers on citizen privacy safeguards aren’t completely reassuring. Wagner says CBP will “work through the privacy approvals” if it has a need to keep citizen info, but there are other questions that haven’t been answered. Will there be measures ensuring those photos are scrubbed, and sufficient punishment if agents abuse the system? What if an innocent person keeps getting dumped into lines for higher-risk travelers, with all the privacy intrusions that follow? We’ve asked the CBP if it can elaborate, and we’ve also asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation for its take on the potential privacy issues. We’ll let you know what either can add to the discussion.

There are also worries about accuracy. Current facial recognition technology requires a clear, emotionless and well-lit view of your face, and you don’t get all of those very often at the airport. Outdated source photos could be a problem, too. The CBP hasn’t addressed how its system would deal with crowds or poorly-lit areas, let alone what happens if there’s a false identification. Officials are putting a lot of faith in technology that doesn’t work flawlessly, and might create more security problems than it solves.

Update: CBP tells us that the initial rollout of its existing program (that is, non-citizens only) will station officers at gates and alert them if there’s either a photo mismatch or someone on a watch list. They’ll decide what comes next, such as reviewing passports, collecting fingerprints or calling in law enforcement. Nationwide deployments are still uncertain, however. Customs is still working with airlines to decide what to do, so it could be a while before there’s an approach that doesn’t require extra hand-holding.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/05/09/airport-face-recognition-for-us-citizens/

Facebook reminds you Messenger video chat exists with new effects

Messenger video chat reactions are essentially the animated versions of the five Facebook emoji icons you probably already know: love, laughter, surprise, sadness and anger. Tap any of those emoji icons and the reactions will appear on screen as animations — the love icon, for example, will prompt hearts to fly around your head, while the laughter icon will prompt several laughing emoji heads to crowd the screen.

As for filters and effects, those who are familiar with Facebook’s Snapchat-style Camera will probably already recognize them. The filters range from mild color changes to bolder black and white transformations, while mask effects can add everything from a crown to bunny ears to your head. And if you open or close your mouth, you could even trigger some fun animations. We should note that mask effects like these have already been in Messenger video chat since last December; there’s just simply more of them now.

And as you’re having fun with all of these new video chat features with your friends, you can also now capture the moment for posterity by tapping the camera icon. It’ll screenshot the chat, which you can then post to Messenger Day, send it to the folks you’re chatting with, or share on other accounts. If you’re keen on adding more flair to your own video chats, you can try out the new Messenger features starting today.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/26/facebook-messenger-video-chat/

YouTube’s 2017 lineup of Red Originals includes six new shows

NEW TO YOUTUBE RED:

RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES ON TELEVISION*: ​This action-comedy is set in a world where the LAPD thinks it’s a good idea to form a task force partnering actors with homicide detectives so they can use their “actor skills” to help solve murders. Starring Ryan Hansen (“Veronica Mars,” “Party Down”) who plays himself and guest star Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Orange Is The New Black”) as his no-nonsense partner Detective Mathers, the series features a who’s who of broadcast and cable television stars playing bizarro versions of themselves including, but not limited to, Joel McHale Jon Cryer and Kristen Bell. Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Central Intelligence,” “We’re the Millers,” and “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) serves as the director, writer, creator and executive producer of this super meta half hour comedy procedural which is as much about Hollywood as it is an action-comedy cop show. The series is executive produced by Thurber, Scott Stuber, Beau Bauman, Krysia Plonka and Tracey Baird.

DO YOU WANT TO SEE A DEAD BODY?: ​This comedy series follows comedian Rob Huebel (“Childrens Hospital,” “Transparent”) and his celebrity friends who begrudgingly join him on adventures that see them frolicking at the beach, getting tacos, …oh…and seeing a dead body. Celebrity guest stars include Adam Scott, Judy Greer, Terry Crews, Craig Robinson, and John Cho along with many more. Huebel, Owen Burke, Nick Jasenovec, and Jonathan Stern serve as executive producers. ​The series is being produced by Abominable Pictures and Funny or Die. GOOD GAME: ​The worlds of eSports and comedy collide in GOOD GAME, a new scripted series from Starburns Industries, Dan Harmon’s Emmy Award-winning production company. The series follows a newly formed team of eSports players trying to make it to the top in the cutthroat world of competitive gaming, and stars the Game Grumps’ Dan Avidan and Arin Hanson along with Michele Morrow. GOOD GAME debuts on YouTube Red on August 30, 2017.

LACE UP: THE ULTIMATE SNEAKER CHALLENGE:​ LACE UP: THE ULTIMATE SNEAKER CHALLENGE, hosted by YouTube star Swoozie, is an innovative new series from legendary television producer Ken Mok and famed sneaker designer D’Wayne Edwards. In the first-ever unscripted competition series, aspiring footwear creators from around the world battle it out to determine who can design, develop and produce the next great sneaker. LIFELINE:​ Set in the not-too-distant future, a little known life insurance company sends its agents forward 33 days in time to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients. The company’s best agent, Conner Hooks (Zach Gilford), has never missed a save – until he takes on the most personal case of his life. When sixteen-year-old Norah (Sydney Park) is orphaned on his watch, Conner pledges to protect her, even if that means putting his career at Lifeline – or his own life – in jeopardy. The series is being produced by Seven Bucks Productions, co-founded by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, and Studio71, the digital entertainment company and multichannel network of ProSiebenSat.1.

FURZE WORLD WONDERS: ​In FURZE WORLD WONDERS, extreme inventor and YouTube superstar Colin Furze takes his signature mad genius builds to brand new places. Known for his incredible backyard inventions, Furze puts his unique talents to use for other people, in this new YouTube Red show. Whether helping a brother and sister achieve A GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the largest water rocket or creating an epic battle barge for a family looking to even the score in an annual water fight, every episode is filled with epic and outrageous creations from YouTube’s most extreme inventor. Records will be set and minds will be blown! Produced by 9 Story Media Group, FURZE WORLD WONDERS is family viewing at its best.

RENEWALS/SEQUELS:

ESCAPE THE NIGHT: SEASON 2: ​The popular murder mystery series starring Joey Graceffa, transports YouTube creators into a whodunit murder mystery where they’ll form alliances, solve clues, and brace themselves for terrifying new surprises in every episode. This season, nine new dinner guests find themselves transported into a Victorian-era masquerade ball where they must solve a mystery to survive. The 12-episode second season is produced by Brian Graden Media and Graceffa and debuted on YouTube Red today. FOURSOME: SEASON 3​: After season two premiered to over 12 million views, FOURSOME has been renewed for a third season. In the new season, the gang scores tickets to a winter break vacation, but the Foursome’s problems aren’t so easily left behind. Starring Jenn McAllister, season three will premiere later this year on YouTube Red.

RHETT & LINK’S BUDDY SYSTEM: SEASON 2:​ Rhett & Link return for the second season of their hit comedy series RHETT & LINK’S BUDDY SYSTEM. The series features Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal playing fictionalized versions of themselves. In the first season, the duo embarked on a Mythical adventure and confronted a cast of bizarre characters to save their wildly popular YouTube channel, Good Mythical Morning, from the clutches of their evil co-ex-girlfriend. The second season will see the two traveling to even greater comedic heights and encountering more outrageous characters along the way. The second season is produced by Mythical Entertainment and will premiere on YouTube Red later this year.

MIND FIELD: SEASON 2: ​Michael Stevens takes us on a journey deep into the mysterious depths of the human psyche as he investigates the strange and surprising terrain of the MIND FIELD. This season, Michael dives deep into the amazingly intertwined worlds of psychology and neuroscience as no one has ever before. Working with the world’s top scientists and research labs, Michael will conduct groundbreaking demonstrations that are even bigger, deeper, and more astonishing than before and offers us a revealing look inside our own minds that we will never forget. The series is Executive Produced by Michael Stevens and by Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman for The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC). David Wechter serves as showrunner and Executive Producer. FIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: SEASON 2:​ Alpine Labs’ and Revolver Picture Company’s FIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD returns for another intense season of zombie mayhem in FIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: PARADISE CALLS. When a group of YouTube’s most notable stars find themselves trapped in a fresh scenario battling all-new flesh eating humanoids, all bets are off as they must decide between forming an alliance with a rebel organization or following the potentially nefarious directives of underground government organization CONOP. The rules of the game remain the same…

DON’T. GET. BIT. LAZER TEAM 2​: The Lazer Team returns in this sci-fi action comedy and second feature film from Rooster Teeth, co-directed by Daniel Fabelo and Matt Hullum. After Woody (Gavin Free) goes missing while working on secret, alien research, scientist Maggie Wittington (Nichole Bloom) must recruit the former members of Lazer Team (Burnie Burns, Colton Dunn, Michael Jones) to join her in rescuing their lost friend. It’s up to Maggie to bring the Lazer Team back together and rescue Woody. YouTube Red is a paid membership that gives you access to YouTube Red Original Movies and Series. In addition, you get a premium music service and an uninterrupted experience across YouTube, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Kids. YouTube Red is currently available in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Korea.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/23/youtube-red-originals-2017/

The Wirecutter’s best deals: Get a $100 credit with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle

Logitech Harmony 650

The Wirecutter's best deals: Get a $100 credit with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle

Street price: $55; MSRP: $80; Deal price: $40

This is a very nice discount on this universal remote. At $40 (silver color only), it now matches the lowest price we’ve seen at any point in the past few years. While this model has been on the market for a couple years, it hasn’t seen significant or consistent price drops, so it’s still a tremendous value at this price if you have components that accept an infrared signal. Shipping is free.

The Logitech Harmony 650 is our pick for the best universal remote. Darryl Wilkinson and Grant Clauser write, “The Harmony 650 remains the best universal remote for the typical AV system of a TV, receiver, cable DVR, and Blu-ray player. It’s cable of controlling up to eight components, which leaves plenty of room for a few extra gadgets as long as they’re controlled via infrared (IR) signals; most gear is.”

Wilkinson and Clauser continue, “Two of the key features that put the Harmony 650 above the competitors are an easy-to-read, backlit, color display and a built-in Remote Assistant function for troubleshooting. The display tells you what activity mode you’re in (such as Watch TV, Watch Blu-ray, and Listen to CD) and also displays icons for your favorite channels, so you don’t have to remember the channel number every time you want to watch SyFy. The Remote Assistant feature is like a built-in help desk. If the remote fails to perform a task you expect it to (such as turn up the TV’s volume), you can follow the Remote Assistant’s guided suggestions to quickly resolve the problem. Usually that’s a matter of answering yes or no to questions about which components are correctly powered up.”

Eagle Creek Specter Packing Cubes

The Wirecutter's best deals: Get a $100 credit with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle

Street price: $38; MSRP: $40; Deal price: $28

This is the lowest price we’ve seen on these packing cubes. We’ve only seen them go below $30 twice in the past, so this is a great price to pick them up. The few times we’ve seen deals near this price point in the past have been very short-lived, so it’s unlikely that this deal will be around for long. Luckily this deal is available in a much more reasonable and less fluorescent color than last time.

The Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set is the lighter packing cubes pick in our guide to the best gear for travel. Wirecutter Staff writes, “If you value lightness over the ability to easily access your contents, Eagle Creek’s Specter packing cubes ($40 for three) are about 40 percent lighter than similarly sized competitors (62.1 grams for a medium cube, compared to 106.6 grams for non-Specter Eagle Creek medium cube). You can still use them to organize your garments, and they stack like cubes, but you still need to take everything out if you want to access what’s at the bottom of the cube.”

Oculus Rift + Touch Bundle + $100 Oculus store credit

The Wirecutter's best deals: Get a $100 credit with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle

Street price: $600; MSRP: $600; Deal price: $600

Here’s a great deal on our top pick for VR headset. This is the first deal we’ve featured since the Oculus Rift + Touch had a $200 drop in price down to $600. While the price of the bundle itself hasn’t dropped yet, it’s currently available with a very nice deal that gets you 6 free games and a $100 in Oculus store credit. You’ll receive the promotional code via email within two days of your order.

The Oculus Rift headset is our top pick in our guide to the best VR headsets for PC and PS4. Signe Brewster writes, “The Oculus Rift + Touch strikes a compromise between the PSVR and the Vive with a high-end VR experience that doesn’t require much fuss. It’s clear Oculus put a lot of thought into building a headset that will appeal to gaming veterans and newcomers alike with a comfy fit, quick startup process, and wide range of content. If you get the Rift, you should also spend the extra $100 for the Touch controllers, which greatly increase your immersion and completely change the way you can use the Rift. We tested the Rift with the Touch controllers and don’t recommend it without them.”

Brewster elaborates, “It was the lightest and most comfortable of the bunch (so you can wear it for longer), had the most well-balanced and capable controllers, and was the easiest to set up. The Rift has only three cords, and its on-ear headphones require zero thought compared with the earbuds bundled with other kits. Additionally, Oculus currently has the widest selection of SteamVR compatible content. In short, it’s the most complete package you can get right now.”

Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 22-Inch Express Spinner Suiter

The Wirecutter's best deals: Get a $100 credit with an Oculus Rift + Touch bundle

Street price: $250; MSRP: $580; Deal price: $185

While we recently featured a deal on this carry-on luggage, it went out of stock quickly. Luckily it’s back, below our previous deal price and over $50 below the street price. We have seen it for less than $180 before, but those deals usually only last a few hours. This is still a great price to pick up the Magna 2 and a great opportunity to pick it up if you missed the deal last week.

The Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 22-Inch Luggage is our top pick in our guide for the best carry-on luggage. Kit Dillon and Brent Rose write, “The Magna 2 is better balanced and less prone to tipping, and it has a sleeker, higher-end aesthetic. A new built-in garment folder with a removable folding board (similar to the one in our Briggs & Riley upgrade pick) increases the bag’s overall packing flexibility but doesn’t protect a suit from creases quite as well as the removable garment bag in the old version. But if your main priority is keeping your dress clothes in great shape, we have a pick for that below.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursdays, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/22/the-wirecutters-best-deals-100-credit-with-oculus-rift-touch/

Instagram gives social media influencers the benefit of the doubt

Julie Zerbo, editor-in-chief of legal site The Fashion Law, says that a large number of influencers who received an FTC warning letter are still violating its advertising guidelines. This includes people such as Emily Ratajkowski, the model-actress who just happened to be revealed as a OnePlus brand ambassador earlier today, during the company’s launch of its latest smartphone, the OnePlus 5. Zerbo, who has been covering the lack of ad disclosures on social media since 2014, says she believes Instagram is introducing its new tool to avoid secondary liability in the future.

As we saw with the Fyre Festival, Instagram has become the platform of choice for many influencers who want to promote products, be it their own or another from a third-party brand. Because of that, she says “it’s not a huge stretch that the FTC might take action against Instagram for providing a platform for such FTC Act violations, and/or failing to police the potentially illegal content of its users.” On a broader scale, tackling misleading content seems to be an ongoing problem for Facebook, as shown by how slow the company tends to take down graphic material from its site, or even ads promoting counterfeit goods. And even though you can’t compare the livestreaming of murders, suicides and rapes to shady paid ads, at least Instagram is trying to change for the better.

Ultimately, though, the FTC needs to take tougher action if it wants to put an end to the issue at hand. Because as of this writing, the agency has yet to file a legal case against any individual, although it did settle charges with Lord & Taylor last year for deceiving consumers through sketchy advertorial and paid Instagram posts by 50 fashion influencers. There was no monetary fine, however, only an agreement to put a monitoring program in place for the brand.

This remains the highest profile case to date related to the topic, despite clear evidence of new violations in situations like the Fyre Festival. And brands, too, are partially responsible for the rise of stealth shilling, since they should be doing their due diligence and educating their partners on how to properly disclose paid advertisements. Adidas, one of the companies who works with influencers for product activations on Instagram, did not respond to our request for comment.

“I am not terribly optimistic that Instagram’s new feature will change [anything],” Zerbo says, “especially since the FTC has not officially penalized any influencers or brands by way of monetary fines.” As such, she added, these social media celebrities will continue to view their actions as a non-issue. Still, we won’t know if Instagram can reverse this problematic trend until its new transparency tools are fully implemented, so there’s some hope. Until then, Instagram’s 700 million users (and counting) will have to question if their favorite celebrity is really on Bumble or if it’s just an ad.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/21/instagram-social-media-influencers/

The Olympics’ VR aspirations will be powered by Intel tech

And then there are the drones. Intel says it’ll be using these to “create never-seen-before images in the sky,” similar to the fancy light show it showcased during Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl 51 half-time performance. The company has also used drones in an NBA All-Star game before, where it used one of its high-tech flyinf devices to help a player in the Slam Dunk Contest. “Bringing together the two visions,” said IOC President Thomas Bach, “will allow us to make a great progress with regards to the experience of the games.”

As for which virtual reality headsets are expected to be compatible with Intel’s plans, Krzanich mentioned Gear VR, Daydream and “one of the tethered” devices. Ultimately, he said, it’s about giving viewers a whole new way to enjoy the games from wherever they may be.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/21/intel-olympics-tech-partnership/

Rapid-fire archery battles are the best way to do E3

Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian and the site’s managing editor, Carolyn Petit, joined Engadget social media manager Evan Rodgers and senior reporter Jessica Conditt (that’s me!) on stage at the heart of E3 for a live TowerFall gameplay session. After nearly a week of press conferences, surprise announcements and hands-on events, we all needed a few rounds of calming, couch-based, competitive playtime.

Rapid-fire archery battles are the best way to do E3

TowerFall landed in 2014 as a local-mutliplayer-only experience, and creator Matt Thorson is currently working on a new, single-player platformer called Celeste.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2017 here!

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/18/towerfall-e3-live-stream-archery-feminist-frequency/

Prepare for the world’s first nanocar race this month

The nanocars come in a variety of shapes and functionalities, and they’re not technically “cars,” since they don’t have motors (and most don’t even have wheels), as noted by Nature. The teams will make their nanocars move by shooting electrons at them from the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). They won’t be allowed to actually push the tiny vehicles, but many designs will take advantage of this specific racetrack environment.

For example, the entry from the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, has butterfly-like wings that are meant to flap when the STM gives it a jolt. Some nanocars will react to the electrons in ways that should raise their energy states, propelling them even further down the track.

Of course, the entire race will be broadcast, almost-live, on YouTube and the event’s official website. The researchers have developed a creative method of filming the race: After each prod of the STM, the teams will take three minutes to scan the track with the microscope; these scans will be collected every hour and posted online as short animations.

The race isn’t all fun and games, of course. The scientists plan to use it as an opportunity to collaborate and further study the way isolated nanomachines behave on solid surfaces — research that could impact the future of medical treatment and other integrated technologies.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/prepare-for-the-worlds-first-nanocar-race-this-month/

‘Arden’s Wake’ paves the way for never-ending VR stories

Little did I know when I watched a preview of Arden’s Wake recently at Penrose’s San Francisco HQ that the world of virtual reality was about to shift. This week, Facebook revealed Spaces, an app that melds hanging out with real friends with the synthetic worlds of VR. While Zuckerberg’s frivolous virtual selfies might be getting the headlines, Penrose has quietly been using VR collaboration almost every day for the past 18 months. CEO Eugene Chung explained to me that Arden’s Wake likely wouldn’t have been possible, not at this level of visual fidelity and sophistication, without it.

Collaborating inside the actual virtual world they were creating itself was so crucial that Penrose developed its own in-house tool for the job: Maestro. Imagine a VR Slack with moonlike faces for avatars, and chunky articulated hands. Maestro allows everyone involved on a project, creatives and engineers alike, to step out of their separate professional worlds, into the same virtual one. “We’re cooking food in the kitchen because we’re hungry,” Chung tells me, explaining that in absence of any existing tools for the job, Penrose was basically forced to create its own. “I don’t think we could have done any of the Penrose sequences without Maestro,” he says.

Arden’s Wake takes place in the middle of the ocean sometime after the family of its hero, Meena, is torn apart during an accident at sea. The episode I was shown is described as the prologue for a tale that will continue to grow in installments. It sets the scene, the context and the back story, with just enough teasing elements to have you hungry to know what happens next. Meena’s father, Tide, is an inventor, but is he a good inventor? We catch a glimpse at a potential love interest and a mysterious beast in the darkest depths of the deep blue. Each character’s role is unclear right now, but the delivery is captivating.

Artistically, Penrose’s last project, Allumette, sits somewhere between Henry Selick’s James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Quirky and magical. Arden’s Wake is much closer to something you’d expect from Disney or Pixar in its aesthetic style. (Penrose’s staff does contain some Pixar DNA.) The artistic style is vaguely similar to what we’ve seen before in Henry (by Oculus Story Studio, where Chung once also worked). The distinctive visual style makes Arden’s Wake feel more like a “proper movie.” The characteristics of the world it portrays feel familiar, so your attention isn’t drawn away from the characters but it’s visually compelling enough that you sneak a look around any moment you can.

I am given the chance to dive into Maestro to see how the team collaborates in the virtual world they have created. This is my first time in a “social” VR environment, and it’s hard not to smile the first time a real-not-real VR person waves at me. Through my headphones, I hear my boss’s familiar yet disembodied voice (he’s in the same building in real life, but also in the virtual meeting), and it’s all jolly fun. But then the work starts, and the tone changes.

Chung talks us through what’s happening, and the basics of how Maestro works. He also explains why the avatars are so simplistic. It’s the same reason Facebook would give a week later: Real faces, skin and expressions are just too much “uncanny valley” right now. I later find out my boss’s avatar had an older setting that gave him more realistic appendages, and for the first time, I felt genuine retroactive hand envy.

'Arden's Wake' paves the way for never-ending VR stories

Inside Maestro, we’re once again in Meena’s world, this time joined by a huddled crowd of artists and developer avatars. Animator Bruna Berford is holding virtual court, scrubbing back and forth a part of the scene in which Meena walks across the mezzanine in her wooden house. Berford thinks one, maybe two steps don’t quite look natural enough and draws a virtual path within the scene to show how she thinks it would feel more natural. Virtual heads nod, and the occasional chunky hand waves a gesture. Meanwhile, I have a very real sensation I’m standing in someone’s virtual way. Even digital worlds still have human problems.

If Maestro has been around for so long, why is Penrose just showing it now? There are probably a few reasons. First, it’s a constant work in progress and has likely only just reached a stage where it’s stable enough for media eyes. Also, naturally, there’s the question of intellectual property and keeping new tools out of the way of curious, unwanted eyes. Chung’s clearly ready to stick his flag in the ground, though. “I think in the next two years social collaboration and social connection will drive the next wave in virtual reality.” Chung, technically a former Facebook employee (via his time at Oculus), may also know that with F8 approaching, it was probably a good time to ride the wave of interest in social VR.

That doesn’t mean Chung doesn’t want to share Maestro with the community. “We’re crafting one of the most powerful social applications in the world out of necessity,” he told me. “But at this early stage of virtual reality, it’s almost better to share [with the community].” But he’s not naive; he knows he may have a product on his hands. “I think there are some really powerful consumer applications. […] This is effectively like Slack for the virtual world.”

Penrose’s San Francisco office looks much like you’d expect an animation studio to look: Open spaces, with a kitchen full of snacks to keep empty bellies from rumbling, and large glass-fronted meeting spaces with wooden floors, where hand-drawn slides adorn the walls. The postcard-size drawings form a storyboard of virtual-reality possibilities, potential narratives for Arden’s Wake, but it’s clear that Maestro is the glue that holds it all together.

'Arden's Wake' paves the way for never-ending VR stories

I asked Chung what’s next, both for Arden’s Wake and Maestro. The focus right now is with the Tribeca Film Festival, where the short film will have its world premiere (in the Immersive category and Virtual Arcade section). Chung already said that the film is part of a series, and anticipates the next chapter — which is already underway — will be ready by the fall. Part of the problem with episodic ventures like this is that VR is evolving almost in real time. Maintaining the core feel of the film is potentially at odds with capitalizing on the latest technology and innovation.

“With VR we have the possibility of people coming back to these worlds if they love what’s happening there,” said Chung. “Additionally, you can add interactivity. But the most intriguing thing is: How do you build full interactivity with a full story and get that to work together? And that’s going to involve a lot of AI.” Something he and his team are still experimenting with.

If you’re not at Tribeca, you’ll be able to find Arden’s Wake on Steam, PSVR, Oculus Rift and, eventually, Daydream and Gear VR. Right now, the challenges with mobile are the technical limitations. I was shown a mobile translation of The Rose and I, and graphically it’s very similar to the original — but it’s the positional tracking that’s the problem (somewhat mitigated by creative use of the Daydream controller).

Perhaps the most immediate challenge for Penrose is recognizing where it finds itself. Virtual reality is a microcosm consisting of art, software and hardware. Chung’s studio straddles two of those three pillars. It’s a company that could as easily win an Oscar as it could birth the future of virtual-reality collaboration. No mean feat for a young Bay Area film studio. Chung, for his part, is a little more pragmatic: “It’s that synthesis of the two that allows us to do what we do.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/ardens-wake-maestro-social-vr/

Instagram on Android works without an internet connection

While Instagram only activated the feature for its Android app since Android devices are more common in the developing market, offline mode is present to an extent on its iOS application. It also caches previously loaded posts and comments, but users can’t interact with them without an internet connection. The photo-centric social network said it plans to make more feature available offline, which could make it a bigger hit in places where getting postpaid plans with mobile data isn’t the norm. Further, Instagram told TechCrunch that it’s exploring the idea of making offline mode available on iOS in the future.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/19/instagram-android-offline/