Plus, Edward Snowden's surprise TED interview via teleconference robot
By Jason Imms on March 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm
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 first direct evidence of the Big Bang, Sony’s Project Morpheus virtual reality headset, and Android Wear, Google’s upcoming wearable tech OS.
First direct evidence of the Big Bang has been discovered
A recent discovery by a research collaboration spanning a large number of institutions could prove to be the lynchpin in confirming the Big Bang theory. Andre Linde and his colleagues developed the “inflation” theory in 1980, a hypothesised period of exponential expansion of the universe, or as one researcher calls it, “the bang of the big bang.” It was theorised that inflation would have occurred in the early fractions of the second during which the universe began, and the BICEP2 collaboration believes that it has clearly observed the phenomenon, with direct evidence. The findings still need to be confirmed by peer review, but as you’ll see from the video below, celebrations have already begun.
XBOX CPO Marc Whitten leaves Microsoft, heads to Sonos
On Tuesday, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten announced both his resignation, and his plans to move into the same role for wireless audio solution company Sonos. Whitten joined Microsoft in 2000, and was present for the entirety for each of the Xbox console releases. In a statement at news.xbox.com, Whitten said “It’s incredibly tough to leave but I am confident the best days are ahead for Xbox fans, in the capable hands of a very talented team.” A replacement has not been selected to fill the role at this time, leaving the rest of the Xbox leadership team reporting in the interim directly to Microsoft’s executive vice president of operating systems Terry Myerson.
Sony demos virtual reality for PS4: Project Morpheus
During the 2014 Games Developers Conference (GDC), Sony gave attendees hands-on (or rather heads-on) demos of their virtual reality offering for PS4, currently codenamed Project Morpheus. The VR headset is clearly being developed as a direct competitor to the much talked about Oculus Rift, and like the Crystal Cove/Dev Kit 2 version of the Rift, Project Morpheus relies on a camera pointed at the user for positional and depth tracking. The PS4 camera is used to track the headset in space, thanks to a four lights on the front of the visor, and users are expected to interact with the experience via the DualShock 4, or PlayStation Move controllers. While some hands-on impressions articles have mentioned issues with light-bleed and the field of view, Sony is quick to note that this is still very much a prototype. Check out Ben Kuchera’s impressions of Project Morpheus over at Polygon.
Edward Snowden interviewed in surprise TED appearance
In a surprise appearance on the Vancouver 2014 TED stage, Edward Snowden participated in an interview via a Beam teleconference robot from his hideout “somewhere in Russia.” During the interview, Snowden encouraged any and all Internet companies to encrypt their websites, “The biggest thing that an Internet company in America can do today, right now, without consulting lawyers, to protect users of the Internet around the world, is to enable Web encryption on every page you visit,” he said. “If you look at a copy of 1984 on Amazon, the NSA can see a record of that, the Russian, the French can—the world’s library is unencrypted. This is something that we need to change, not just for Amazon—all companies need to move to an encrypted browsing habit by default.”
Later, Snowden moved on to discuss his role in leaking documents proving the US government’s involvement in unlawful surveillance, the rights of Internet users worldwide, and his support of Tim Berners-Lee’s concept of an Internet “Magna Carta”. Check out the full story over at Wired UK.
Google reveals Android Wear OS for wearable devices
The announcement of Android Wear heralds Google’s official foray into wearable technology aside from Google Glass. Android Wear leverages existing Google applications and features that focus on giving users quick access to contextual and relevant information, based on a series of indicators captured by their Android devices, and displays that information on a wearable device. The only examples provided in the announcement material are of smart-watches, and feature users controlling their watches with both touch and voice inputs. A developer preview of the Android Wear SDK is available now, giving developers the ability to extend their existing applications onto wearable devices. Google have released a number of aspirational videos that show how they would see the technology used in the wild, and Motorola and LG have already announced their upcoming Android Wear-based smart-watches.