Computers & Linux News

Researchers Find Way To Shrink a VR Headset Down To Normal Glasses Size

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-08-11 06:00
Researchers from Stanford University and Nvidia have teamed up to help develop VR glasses that look a lot more like regular spectacles. PC Gamer reports: "A major barrier to widespread adoption of VR technology, however, is the bulky form factor of existing VR displays and the discomfort associated with that," the research paper published at Siggraph 2022 says. These aptly named "Holographic Glasses" can deliver a full-colour 3D holographic image using optics that are only 2.5mm thick. Compared to the traditional way a VR headset works, in which a lens magnifies a smaller display some distance away from it, shrinking all the prerequisite parts down to such a small size is quite the spectacular step forward for VR. The Holographic Glasses prototype uses pancake lenses, which is a concept that has been thrown around a couple of times in the past few years. These pancake lenses not only allow for a much smaller profile but reportedly they have a few other benefits, too: the resolution they can offer is said to be unlimited, meaning you can crank up the resolution for VR headsets, and they offer a much wider field of view at up to 200 degrees. [...] The research paper lists the glasses as such: "a coherent light source that is coupled into a pupil-replicating waveguide, which provides the illumination for a phase-only SLM that is mounted on the waveguide in front of the user's eye. This SLM creates a small image behind the device, which is magnified by a thin geometric phase (GP) lens." Though, it's very much a promise of what's to come more than an immediately shippable product today. There are some limitations: while there's scope to have a much higher FOV than current generation VR headsets, this particular wearable prototype only offered an FOV of 22.8 degrees. The benchtop prototype offered even less, at only 16.1 degrees. "[The FOV] is far smaller than commercially available VR/AR displays. However, the FOV was mainly limited by the size of the available SLM and the focal length of the GP lens, both of which could be improved with different components," the researchers say. Another limitation is the likely requirement for a very accurate measurement of the user's pupil, which won't be easy without a well-thought-out design. It would be possible to use an infrared gaze tracker to do this, the researchers note, but you'd need to be able to track the wearer's pupil size constantly as they will adjust often to different light conditions while using the glasses.

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Galaxy Z Flip 4 vs. Z Fold 4: Which Style of Samsung Foldable is A Fit for You? - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-11 05:31
We compare the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4 spec-by-spec.

Please Don't Mount Your TV Where You Poop - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-11 05:00
Can you put a TV in the bathroom? Yes. Should you? Absolutely not.

'The Summer I Turned Pretty' Is a Love Letter to Teenage Girls Everywhere - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-11 04:23
The Prime Video romantic comedy series is about so much more than team Conrad or team Jeremiah.

Best Multipoint Bluetooth Headphones and Earbuds for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-11 03:00
Looking for headphones that can be paired simultaneously with two devices? Here's a list of headphones that offer the feature.

FCC Cancels $886 Million In Funding For SpaceX's Starlink

SlashDot - Thu, 2022-08-11 03:00
The FCC is canceling $886 million in funding for Starlink to expand access in rural areas, citing the satellite internet system's cost and doubts over whether it can supply fast enough speeds. PC Magazine reports: The agency today announced it had rejected "long-form applications" from both SpaceX and an ISP called LTD Broadband to secure funding from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. "The Commission determined that these applications failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service," the FCC said in a statement. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel added: "We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements." In December 2020, the FCC awarded $886 million to SpaceX to help its Starlink service supply high-speed broadband to 642,925 locations in 35 states. However, it came with a requirement that SpaceX provide a long-form application about how Starlink would meet its obligations before the federal funding could be fully secured. The FCC's goal with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is to supply gigabit internet speeds to over 85% of the selected rural locations and at least 100Mbps download speeds for all 99.7% of the locations in the coming years. "Starlink's technology has real promise," Rosenworcel said. "But the question before us was whether to publicly subsidize its still developing technology for consumer broadband -- which requires that users purchase a $600 dish -- with nearly $900 million in universal service funds until 2032."

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The 2022 Motorola Razr Arrives in China With a Bigger Screen, Second Camera - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-11 02:00
The new Razr is Motorola's third foldable yet as it seeks to challenge Samsung's dominance.

GM Makes $1,500 OnStar Subscription Mandatory On GMC, Buick, Cadillac Models

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Drive: If you don't want to pay for in-car subscriptions every month, no problem: Just pay it all upfront. That's the line from General Motors today after news spread that it's making a three-year, $1,500 OnStar connected services subscription a mandatory "option" for new Buick, GMC, and Cadillac Escalade models. The subscription, which enables things like using your phone as a key fob, data-enabled navigation, audio streaming, and Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, is still optional on other GM vehicles, with the Premium package running $49.99 a month. But don't be surprised if this new setup spreads across the automaker's full portfolio. The $1,500 charge for OnStar will effectively raise the base prices of these cars, though the exact increase varies from model to model. All Buicks will see a price increase of $1,500. Higher trim GMCs will see an increase of as little as $905 with the Hummer EV getting no MSRP boost. Base model GMC pickups, the Sierra and Canyon, are hit the hardest with a $1,675 increase. By far the most common price hike is $1,500, which also applies to the Cadillac Escalade, Automotive News reports. Speaking to GM Authority, a spokesperson said making customers pay for the service will "enhance [their] vehicle ownership experience." They went on to state that "By including this plan as standard equipment on the vehicle, it provides more customer value and a more seamless onboarding experience." The automaker confirmed to AN that buyers who don't activate OnStar and have no desire to use the services will not be offered a discount. Further reading: BMW Starts Selling Heated Seat Subscriptions For $18 a Month

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IRS Seeks SFOX Customer Information in Cryptocurrency Tax Push

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 22:02
The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to identify customers of cryptocurrency prime dealer SFOX as part of its efforts to force crypto investors to pay taxes on their holdings. Bloombeg reports: In court filings in New York and Los Angeles, the tax authority asked federal judges to let it serve summonses on SFOX and M.Y. Safra Bank, which partnered with SFOX in 2019 to offer its customers cash deposit accounts backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The IRS is seeking account and transaction records for users with cryptocurrency transactions over $20,000 in any year from 2016 to 2021. "Transactions in cryptocurrency have grown substantially in recent years, and the IRS is concerned that taxpayers are not properly reporting these transactions on their tax returns," a lawyer for the government said in court papers filed Monday in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg (paywalled), the FTC is "investigating the operators of the BitMart cryptocurrency exchange over a December 2021 hack that led to consumer losses between $150 million and $200 million -- marking the agency's first known probe into crypto markets."

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Iran Cheerfully Admits Using Cryptocurrency To Pay For Imports

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 21:25
Iran has announced it used cryptocurrency to pay for imports, raising the prospect that the nation is using digital assets to evade sanctions. The Register reports: Trade minister Alireza Peyman Pak revealed the transaction with the tweet [here], which translates as "This week, the first official import order was successfully placed with cryptocurrency worth ten million dollars. By the end of September, the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts will be widespread in foreign trade with target countries." It is unclear what Peman Pak referred to with his mention of widespread use of crypto for foreign trade, and the identity of the foreign countries he mentioned is also obscure. But the intent of the announcement appears clear: Iran will use cryptocurrency to settle cross-border trades.

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'House of the Dragon' on HBO: What To Know Before Watching - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-10 21:15
House of the Dragon is set 200 years before Game of Thrones, and airs on Aug. 21.

Spotify Tests Selling Concert Tickets Directly To Fans

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 20:45
As first reported by Music Ally, Spotify is testing a new website to sell tickets directly to fans, "rather than just linking to external ticketing firms." From the report: For now, this is strictly a test rather than a full commercial launch. It kicks off [August 10] with a small number of artists, with pre-sale tickets available to fans through Spotify's app and a newly-launched website. The test is happening in the US, with Annie DiRusso, Tokimonsta, Osees, Dirty Honey, Limbeck, Crows and Four Years Strong the first artists confirmed for the initiative. The tickets will come from those artists' pre-sale allocations for upcoming concerts. Don't get carried away with any 'Spotify takes on Ticketmaster' hyperbole just yet. The company is making it very clear that this is just a test for now, and that it's focused on pre-sales rather than primary ticketing. [...] The theory behind the test kicking off this week is to find out whether Spotify can both widen its involvement in pre-sales while selling the tickets directly. We would expect that to include a share of the revenues, although Spotify declined to give any details of the business model. There's another obvious motivation behind the test. Pre-sales of their own allocations can be an important income stream for artists, so if Spotify can help them do it, that could be a reputation-booster at a time of renewed debate (alright: big arguments) about musicians' streaming royalties. If Spotify can also become one of the ways artists ensure their tickets go to genuine fans rather than touts -- resales are not allowed in the test -- that could also be positive. And in this case, Spotify has the data to prove whether ticket buyers are genuine fans: their listening history. Important caveat: there's no suggestion at this point that Spotify will use this data as a barrier to purchase, in a 'you can't buy this artist's pre-sale ticket because you haven't streamed them enough' way. We're imagining something else: options for artists to promote their native-Spotify pre-sales to their biggest listeners in the cities / regions where the concerts are happening.

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Docuseries Looking at Armie Hammer Abuse Allegations is Being Released This Fall - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-10 20:15
Watch the trailer for the three-part House of Hammer series here.

Twitch Founder Justin Kan: Web3 Games Don't Need To Lure Players With Profit

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Top crypto VCs are constantly touting the potential of video games as one of the most compelling use cases for blockchain technology. [...] TechCrunch talked to Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch and more recently, Solana-based gaming NFT marketplace Fractal, to get his thoughts on what it will take for this subsector of web3 to live up to the hype. Kan said that web3 gaming has a long way to go -- while there are about 3 billion gamers in the world, including those who play mobile games, he noted, far fewer have bought or interacted with any sort of blockchain-based gaming asset. Kan sees this gap as an opportunity for blockchain technology to fundamentally change how video game studios operate. "I think the idea of creating digital assets, and then taxing everyone for all the transactions around them is a good model," Kan said. In some ways, web3 gaming was been built in response to the success of games such as Fortnite that were able to unlock a lucrative monetization path for gaming studios through micro-transactions from users buying custom items such as outfits and weapons. Web3 game developers hope to take that vision a step further by enabling players to take those custom digital assets between different games, turning gaming into an interoperable, immersive ecosystem, Kan explained. Kan has made around 10 angel investments in web3 gaming startups, including in the studio behind NFT-based shooter game BR1: Infinite Royale, he said. Still, he admitted that building this interoperable ecosystem, which he sees as the future of video games overall, doesn't technically require blockchain technology at all. "Blockchain is just the way that it's going to happen, I think, because there's a lot of cultural momentum around people equating blockchain with openness and trusting things that are decentralized on the blockchain." [T]he appeal of an open gaming ecosystem is more about the principle of the matter than it is about making a living. "I actually think that people equate NFTs and games with this play-to-earn model where people are making money and doing their job [by gaming], and I think that's completely unnecessary," Kan said. "Having digital assets in your game can work and be valuable, even if nobody is making money and there's no speculative appreciation or price appreciation on your assets," he added. It's common for popular games to attract new development on top of their existing intellectual property. Kan shared the example of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), a video game in which custom "skins" have sold for as much as $150,000 each. "I funded a company that builds on top of the CSGO skins," he said. "CSGO changed the rules about what was allowed and actually confiscated over a million dollars just from this company -- so yeah, I don't want to build on top of these non-open platforms anymore." "Kan sees blockchain-based games as just a 'more economically immersive' version of the marketplaces that already exist in video games," adds TechCrunch. "He doesn't think users will flock to blockchain gaming just to make money, though." "I think that web3 games are just being more open and saying, instead of this being a black market, we're going to make this a real market and people's economic participation is going to vary to different levels. There's gonna be people who only play the game and never buy things with money. There's gonna be some people who are making some side money because they're really good at the game, and they're getting some things in the game they're selling [or trading]." He added: "In order for this market to actually be big, it's going to require normal people who want to play games for fun to play these games. That doesn't exist yet. I think most of the market today is people who are crypto-native."

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Percentage of Teens Who Say They're 'Almost Constantly' On Social Media Has Doubled in Survey - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-10 19:51
A Pew Research Center survey found 95% of kids aged 13 to 17 have access to a smartphone.

Disney Raises Streaming Prices After Services Post Big Operating Loss

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 19:20
As part of an effort to make its streaming business profitable, Disney announced that the price of ad-free Disney+ will rise 38% to $10.99 -- "a $3 per month increase," reports CNBC. "The price of Hulu without ads will rise by $2 per month, from $12.99 to $14.99, effective as of Oct. 10. Hulu with ads will go up by $1 per month, rising from $6.99 to $7.99." From the report: The price increases reflect the growing operating loss for Disney's streaming services. Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ combined to lose $1.1 billion in the fiscal third quarter, $300 million more than the average analyst estimate, reflecting the higher cost of content on the services. The increased operating loss occurred even while Disney added about 15 million new Disney+ subscribers in the quarter, about 5 million more than analysts estimated. Disney has previously stated it plans to lose money on Disney+ until 2024. Average revenue per user for Disney+ decreased by 5% in the quarter in the U.S. and Canada due to more customers taking cheaper multi-product offerings. Overall, the company's quarterly results, also announced Wednesday, beat analysts' expectations on the top and bottom lines. Disney+ subscriptions rose to 152.1 million during the most recent period, higher than Wall Street's projections of 147 million. In a separate article, CNBC reports that Disney now projects between 215 million and 245 million total Disney+ customers by 2024, "down 15 million on both the low end and high end of the company's previous guidance." Previously, the guidance was between 230 million and 260 million by the end of fiscal 2024. They also reaffirmed its expectation that the streaming service will become profitable by the end of 2024.

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Best Filtered Water Bottles for 2022 to Remove Bacteria, Sediment and More - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-10 19:00
Don't let bacteria get the best of you. Find out which filtered water bottles are best for outdoors and tap water.

A Fifth of US Teens Use YouTube 'Almost Constantly,' With TikTok Not Far Behind

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-08-10 18:40
Pew Research has published a new report that examines social media usage trends among US teens. The organization found that a whopping 95 percent of them use YouTube, while 19 percent are on the platform "almost constantly." Engadget reports: Perhaps unsurprisingly, two-thirds (67 percent) said they used TikTok, with 16 percent claiming they are on the app "almost constantly." The third most-popular social media platform among teens is Instagram, per Pew, with 62 percent using it. A tenth say they use it almost all the time -- despite the app occasionally telling them to take a break. A previous poll conducted in 2014-15 found that 52 percent were using Instagram (Pew didn't ask about YouTube usage for that survey and TikTok didn't exist at the time). Snapchat also rose among teens, with 59 percent using it in 2022, compared with 41 percent in the previous poll. Facebook was the top social media app among teens seven years ago, with 71 percent of them using it, but that figure has dropped to 32 percent. Teen adoption of Twitter (down from 33 percent to 23 percent) and Tumblr (14 percent to five percent) has fallen over the same period too. The 2014-15 poll didn't ask about Twitch, WhatsApp or Reddit. These days, a fifth of teens use Twitch, 17 percent are on WhatsApp and 14 percent are accessing Reddit.

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Companies Must Prepare for Future Cyber Threats, Former CISA Director Says - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-08-10 18:04
The threat from both state-sponsored actors and cybercrime gangs continues to rise, while companies collect even more personal data.