Plus, Oculus Rift sponsoring a VR game jam with sweet prize money.
By Jason Imms on July 26, 2013 at 11:18 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of the Oculus VR Jam, the Ubuntu Edge smartphone, Google’s Chromecast, and rejected Google Glass hotwords that preceded “OK Google.”
Oculus tempts independent developers with $50,000 VR Jam competition
While the concept of a “long-format” game jam may be counter to the entire premise of a game jam, it is difficult to argue with the prize money on offer. Oculus, the company behind the much anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has put up $50,000 in prizes, and a showcase exhibition at IndieCade Festival 2013. Hopeful indie developers are “challenged to build the most innovative virtual reality games” designed specifically for the budding VR platform. The VR Jam will be split into two separate competitions: one for a small list of hand-picked developers, and the other being open to all comers. Grand prize winners in each pool will receive a $10,000 cash prize, the IndieCade exhibition slot, and a visit to Oculus HQ to meet the team,
Ubuntu Edge smartphone seeks $32M in crowdfunding
Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, has started an Indiegogo campaign in an effort to raise the $32 million necessary to produce their flagship dockable Ubuntu handset, the Ubuntu Edge. According to company founder Mark Shuttleworth in the video below, the Edge is not Canonical’s attempt to get into the phone business, “we’re working with phone companies for your normal mid, and high-end phones. This project is just for us, the real enthusiasts.” Having said that, he goes on to mention that if the project goes well, it’s possible that further “future phones” will be produced via crowdfunding on an annual basis. At the time of writing, the campaign has raised $5,533,589 of the $32 million goal, with 28 days remaining.
Google announces the Chromecast, and the successor to the Nexus 7
During a press event on the 25th of July, Google announced the Nexus 7, the confusingly named successor to its previous Nexus 7 reference tablet. The new Nexus 7 is manufactured in partnership with Asus, and will be available from July 30 for $229 in the US. In arguably more interesting news, Google also announced a new device called the Chromecast, which is an HDMI dongle for your television that allows users to “sling” content from your phone, tablet or PC to your television over Wi-Fi. Priced at $35USD, the Chromecast is an interesting contender to the Apple TV, especially given its platform-agnostic nature. Any device that can run Chrome should work with the Chromecast, and will stream any web audio or video content, excluding Silverlight and Quicktime video.
Microsoft is experimenting with odd haptic feedback for touchscreens
Touching desktop displays is generally a bad idea, but Microsoft’s Research arm is working on a technology that could help to contextualise the display by implementing haptic feedback. The Actuated 3D Display experiment consists of a display that is mounted on a robotic arm that will recede the display when it is pushed, and returns to its original position when released. Pairing this with a pair of 3D glasses allows for the display to move to inform the 3D space, for example, if the user touches a round object displayed on the screen, the display could tilt to give the user an impression of the surface of that object. For clarification, see the video below.
Rejected Google Glass activation phrases that paved the way for “OK Glass”
Google Glass Marketing Manager Amanda Rosenberg has released an email sent to Glass Product Manager Mat Balez on April 14, 2012 that outlines some of the rejected activation phrases that led to “OK Glass.” The Next Web’s coverage includes details from Rosenberg on the origin of the “hotword.” During and after a dinner with Balez, Rosenberg felt the need to show off, in order to secure for herself a position on the yet-unfounded Glass Marketing team. “In the car on the way back, Mat told me about how the team had been working on the ‘hotword’ for Glass. I must confess, I did not know what ‘hotword’ meant. Did I ask what it mean? No. Did I nod whilst looking pensive? You bet your glass I did.” Rosenberg was then presented with the chance to suggest a hotword, “In that moment the only phrase I could think of was ‘OK Glass’.” Some of the failed suggestions included:
- Listen up Glass
- Hear me now
- Let me use Glass to
- Go Go Glass
- Clap on
- Device, please
- 3, 2, 1…
- Glass alive
- Pew pew pew