Japan's Brother Industries recently showcased a head-mounted transparent display, called AiRScouter, which projects images directly onto the retina, conjuring up a rather “mysterious effect” – that of watching a display hanging in air about one meter in front of the eyes. The head-mounted display, based on the company's propriety Retinal Imaging Display (RID), made its maiden public appearance in 2008. However, it wasn't going to have a proper name until an year later when Brother unveiled a more advanced prototype.
"Firstly, we expect this display will be used in industrial applications. Using the AirScouter, it's possible to look at a manual or the like while working on site. The advantage of this is, it reduces the time lost in moving around. Also, a camera can be attached, so pictures of the work site can be sent to head office. This makes it possible to work in collaboration, while receiving instructions from experts in the office,” the company said in a release.
“Apart from industrial applications, this display could be used in AR technology, combining the real and virtual worlds. In the future, it'll be possible to connect a smartphone to the AiRScouter, so the display of the smartphone can be seen on the head-mounted display.”
Brother plans to begin shipping the AirScouter before the end of fiscal 2010.
OnLive's cloud-based gaming service launched in June with Wi-Fi support conspicuously missing from its armory. While OnLive's lack of Wi-Fi support was never really a pressing concern for the vast majority of the world's population, it did matter to both the service's early adopters and detractors, with some admittedly ardent fans even stooping to such abject lows as building Ethernet loopback adapters to pass off their Wi-Fi connection as a wired one.
At the time of its theatrical release, many in the consumer electronics industry hoped that “Avatar” would usher in a new era in home entertainment, an era where 3D is no longer a novelty but the norm. James Cameron's magnum opus didn't disappoint and is now viewed by many as a watershed in 3D's march to the living room.
However, its upcoming release on 3D Blu-ray is unlikely to strengthen the case for 3D's place in the living room. Panasonic execs have confirmed that the Avatar 3D Blu-ray disc will be exclusive to the company's Viera 3D TVs when it arrives in December, 2010.
According to a TWICE report, the 3D Blu-ray disc will only be available as part of a bundle with “Viera 3D TVs and related equipment” for an unspecified period of time after launch.
"For the consumer, there is really no better way to experience 3D in the home than with this particular disc," Victor Carlson, Panasonic's consumer marketing VP, told TWICE. "This is the perfect marriage between this blockbuster made for 3D and what we think is the ultimate home entertainment system for enjoying 3D using our TV sets."
Best Buy’s CTO and Geek Squad founder, Robert Stephens has just piqued our interest today after tweeting some pics of a Rocketfish tablet. In case you haven't spent any time in the big box electronics chain, Rocketfish is Best Buy's in-house brand for various accessories. But a Best Buy tablet? There are a few things this might be, some of them pretty exciting.
There are a fair number of similarities to the HP Slate, at least superficially. The ports seem to be the same, and the design is similar. So it's possible this tablet is being manufactured by HP. It would be a cunning way for HP to test the markets. They said the HP Slate would be a business only product, but they didn't say anything about a Rocketfish-branded, HP-built tablet. If this device fails, consumers will chalk it up to Best Buy, not HP.
But what OS is this tablet running? The obvious answer is Windows 7, just like the Slate. But HP did acquire Palm for webOS. But would they really debut a webOS tablet under someone else's brand? While webOS is a long shot, Stephens did let it slip a while back the company was working on an Android 2.2 tablet. What's your take on this?
Welcome to the first edition of my new column, Top of Mind, in which I’ll discuss a variety of issues percolating at the top of my brain. Some topics will be from the news, others will spring from my life as a tech geek, and many will be related to my day-to-day work as reviews editor here at Maximum PC.
One trend that’s been bugging me lately is the proliferation of products that come with subscription plans attached. I’ve recently encountered three examples where subscriptions are ostensibly optional, but where much of the product’s value and appeal vaporizes if you don’t pony up for the subscription.
We’re long-time fans of Logitech’s Wi-Life security cameras—we’ve used them to remotely monitor Maximum PC Lab North since the home was built in 2007. Now we can’t wait to retire that system and replace it with Logitech’s all-new and vastly superior Alert system.
Logitech wisely carried forward everything we dug about the old Wi-Life product line: The cameras (there are indoor and outdoor models) are equipped with customizable motion sensors, they can be programmed to record video when those sensors are activated, and the software sends alerts via email (or a message to your phone) with video clips attached.
When it comes to place-shifting—streaming live TV content from your set-top box to a PC or mobile device somewhere else in the world—most people think of Sling Media and the Slingbox. Monsoon Multimedia offered a competing product as early as 2007—but you’ve probably never heard of the Hava Wireless HD (unless you read our review).
We haven’t heard much from Monsoon over the past few years, but today they announced a new a brand-new place-shifter with an equally odd name: The Vulkano. Monsoon is making some pretty big promises for this device; if they can deliver, the Vulcano could become a breakthrough product when it ships in August.
Young Brian Maupin of Kansas City made a hilarious video on YouTube that over a million people viewed (check out the vid here). The only problem is that Brian also works at Best Buy, and Best Buy has no sense of humor. The videos in question poke a little fun at Apple and the iPhone. Best Buy feels the video disparages a product that it sells, as well as the electronics retailer itself. Heaven forbid your employees have opinions about gadgets that they express in their spare time. Brian is now suspended indefinitely and is probably on the way to unemployment.
The most popular video has a customer at "Phone Mart" insisting that the only phone he (or she, the cartoon is indistinct) wants is the iPhone. Even after being told the Evo 4G could print money and grant wishes, the customer still wanted the iPhone because it has "the Wi-Fis". The weird thing here is that the videos say nothing about Best Buy, and Brian does not announce himself as a Best Buy employee. Indeed, the only connection Best Buy has to these videos is the one it has created for itself by perusing this. Maupin is taking the whole thing in stride saying, " I see it all as a blessing in disguise. I’ve wanted to start my career in graphic design/animation for so long, I see this as my kick in the pants to go get it."
Brian suspects Best Buy figured out who he was by digging through his other videos, which he removed at Best Buy's request. He refused to remove the Evo vs iPhone video as it had nothing to do with Best Buy. We wish him the best in his future video endeavors, and shake our collective fist at Best Buy.
Despite releasing a Kindle app for the iPad, Amazon isn't giving up on their own hardware just yet. Lab 126, the Amazon department responsible for the Kindle hardware, has been on a hiring spree as of late. Many of the new positions are for testing and product creation. This indicates that Amazon may be readying new hardware.
This is further evidenced by their recent acquisition of Touchco, a touchscreen technology startup. Sources at Amazon that could not speak on record also indicated Amazon is working with publishers to discuss adding games to the Kindle platform. This could signal a direct assault on the iPad.
It's clear the Kindle needs to evolve. Compared to the iPad, it's looking a little dated considering the current price of $260. Even though the Kindle is meant for only one thing, we feel like it could stand to gain a few new features. It doesn't have to compare spec for spec with the iPad, but it has to change or risk obsolescence.
In a time long ago, Amazon was a book seller. They've continued to sell paper books while becoming the leader in ebooks, but they also sell a multitude of other products. In the past, most of Amazon's business was selling media like books, music, and movies. Now those "other" products make up the majority of the online retailer's sales. The news came in Amazon's earnings call today when it was also announced that they smashed projections by rocking a 46% revenue increase over last year.
Overall, Amazon took in $3.43 billion in sales from media, and $3.51 billion from everything else. Many analysts have expected this so-called "inversion point" to occur eventually. Amazon benefits from this in that they have a solid buffer in the face of the changing media landscape. It's no secret that Amazon liked having the eBook business all to themselves, but they'll never have that kind of comfortable perch again.
Certainly people are buying all sorts of things from Amazon. What are getting there? Still just books and DVDs? Or have you started buying your electronics from Amazon as well?