Plus, scientists discover three oceans-worth of water beneath the Earth's surface.
By Jason Imms on June 20, 2014 at 8:08 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 Palmer Luckey’s opinion on frame rates, the espresso machine for the ISS, and the Amazon Fire Phone.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey considers 30fps gaming a failure
In an interview with Linus Tech Tips during E3 this year, Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey was speaking on the subject of performance requirements for VR. During the conversation he stated that VR gaming really needs to be in the neighbourhood of 60 frames per second, with returns diminishing above 90 and 120hz. Even outside of VR, however, Luckey puts a lot of stock in high frame rates. “Virtual reality is going to need much higher frame rates than consoles,” he said. “Although even for consoles or traditional PC games I don’t think 30 frames per second is smart. It’s not a good artistic decision, it’s a failure.” Watch the rest of the interview below.
International Space Station to get some new automated toys
It seems that the various crew members of the International Space Station will soon find life aboard the orbital observatory slightly more comfortable, with the addition of a specially-designed espresso machine being delivered alongside Italy’s first female astronaut to go into space with November’s Futura mission. The machine, developed jointly by engineering company Argotec and well-known coffee brand Lavazza is capable of producing espresso, tea, and broth, and rehydrating food. 2014 will also see the first ever 3D printer installed aboard the space station, with a view for it to eventually be used to produce replacement parts and tools on demand, without the potentially perilous wait for the next mission. The first printer will be launched on SpaceX CRS-4 in August, and will print 21 various parts before being dismantled and returned to earth for analysis. Later, a permanent printer will be installed on the station based on the findings.
Amazon announces the Amazon Fire Phone
The everything store has announced its latest step in its campaign to firmly latch potential customers to its teeming retail teat: a smartphone. The Amazon Fire Phone is a 4.7 inch handset with a 720p display, Qualcomm processor, Adreno 330 graphics chip, and 2GB of RAM, and should do all of the things that you expect a phone to be able to do, e.g., phone calls, SMS, web browsing. The gimmick at the heart of Amazon’s announcement is the addition of four forward-facing cameras on the face of the handset which are designed to track the user’s head. This data is used to drive a quite impressive parallax effect, designed to give the user interface a depth similar to that usually reserved for 3D displays. This feature can also be used to drive games, and to better inform the phone’s orientation lock, presumably reducing frustrations when using the device while lying down. The phone also comes with in-built tools for identifying items and media in the world around the user, and directing them to the Amazon store to make a purchase. It should go without saying that until Amazon starts to provide real services to Australia, it’s unlikely you’ll see many Fire Phones during your daily commute.
Three oceans-worth of water discovered beneath the Earth’s surface
A huge quantity of water has been discovered deep below the Earth’s surface, which amounts to three times the volume of our oceans. Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois led a team which made the discovery by using 2000 seismometers to measure the seismic waves produced by more than 500 earthquakes. These waves move at different rates as they pass through certain materials, which led Jacobsen’s team to the discovery of a massive layer of a water-laden crystal known as ringwoodite near to the Earth’s core. “It’s rock with water along the boundaries between the grains, almost as if they’re sweating,” said Jacobsen. So far Jacobsen’s team has only found evidence of the rock beneath the US, but his studies continue to find out whether it wraps around the entire planet.
Earin earbuds are the most wireless wireless earbuds
Tangled headphone cables will soon be a thing of the past, at least if the hopeful developers of the Earin get their way. The Earin is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds entirely without wires. There are a number of “wireless” Bluetooth headsets on the market but even the most inconspicuous of those—Dre’s new Powerbeats—have a wire connecting the two earpieces. Earin earbuds, on the other hand, remove the need for a wire connecting them, by using two independent power sources and having them present to available devices as a single Bluetooth output. The Earin provides a modest three hours of battery life, which is bolstered by placing the buds into a protective aluminium charging tube. These tiny buds are designed for music playback and little else, given the fact that they don’t provide any further features to your smartphone – not even a microphone. Interested parties are encouraged to back the Earin Kickstarter, with a pledge of £119 (approx. AUD$219) being the minimum necessary to secure a pair in January 2015.