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Zuckerberg steals Samsung show, unveils big vision for virtual reality

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Nothing can prepare you for the day you come face-to-face with an icon.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet, and I’m not sure if as a tech journalist I’m even supposed to feel this way. But it happened, last night at the tail end of Samsung’s hour-long Unpacked event, I came almost face-to-face with Mark Zuckerberg, and I was awestruck.

Mark Zuckerberg says Virtual Reality is THE next platform

Mark Zuckerberg says Virtual Reality is THE next platform

Staring through my camera’s viewfinder I stood huddled along with almost a hundred other journalists at the foot of the stage where just moments earlier, Samsung unveiled two impressive smartphones and an innovative 360 camera.

But our thoughts weren’t about these devices anymore, they were about the Facebook founder that stood right in front of us. A man whose unveiling was more dramatic than that of the phones we’d travelled thousands of miles to see.

Just minutes before, with virtual reality goggles on and a 360 degree video presentation playing, an entire audience was clueless that one of the world’s most recognizable faces was nonchalantly walking past, with a sheepish grin on his face that told of world domination. When the video was over we took off our headsets, and there stood Mark Zuckerberg, in the middle of the stage with a thousand watt smile on his face.

If what he was about to say comes true, there is plenty for him to be happy about.

Just two years ago his company spent $2B to acquire virtual reality company Oculus, and today he talked about how together, Facebook and Samsung were going to “push the state of (VR) technology forward.”

What happens when two of the world’s largest tech companies form an alliance? Great things. Late last year Samsung, with Facebook’s help, launched the Gear VR, a sub $100 dollar virtual reality headset – the world’s most affordable consumer VR product.

This year, Zuckerberg estimates, “millions of people will get their hands on one.”

At $99 Samsung Gear VR is the world's most affordable, commercially available consumer VR product.

At $99 Samsung Gear VR is the world’s most affordable, commercially available consumer VR product.

Zuckerberg’s 10 minute presentation was long enough to qualify for a supporting role nomination at the Oscars, but his presence here would have taken the grand prize. And I don’t think Samsung minds one bit.

Facebook’s grand vision for virtual reality is that it is THE next platform, “VR is going to be the most social platform. Pretty soon we’re gonna live in the world where everyone has the power to share and experience whole scenes as if you’re just there in person. (And) VR is the next platform where anyone can create and experience anything that they want.”

Samsung's Gear 360 camera brings 360 video to the masses

Samsung’s Gear 360 camera brings 360 video to the masses

With the launch of their new Gear 360 camera, a Go-Pro like device that can shoot 360 degree video, Samsung is positioning itself as the hardware manufacturer behind the content of tomorrow. Zuckerberg said, “Samsung is the only company in the world that can deliver, at scale, (the technology) required for a good comfortable VR experience.”

For its part, Zuckerberg said Facebook is working to push itself as the best platform for 360 videos. Last September the company rolled out support for 360 degree video in Facebook news feeds. Now with Samsung Gear 360 everyday consumers can create this kind of content, and with devices like Samsung Gear VR everyday consumers can experience them.

And this is just the beginning. “Right now VR is still mostly used for games and entertainment, but that’s quickly evolving,” Zuckerberg adds, “one day you’re gonna be able to put on a headset and that’s going to change the way you live, and work and communicate.”

Perhaps there really is a lot to be in awe about.

CES 2018

Episode 001: Getting lost at the world’s largest tech show

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In this first epidose of GadgetMatch Podcast we talk about the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas. Michael Josh and Isa share behind the scenes challenges of covering the world’s largest tech show. And the team talks about the most attention grabbing tech from the show including an entire range of Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant gadgets, Vivo’s new phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor, Sony’s new robot dog, and Razer’s Project Linda.

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Apps

How to hide from Instragram’s new Activity Status feature

It’s on by default!

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Instagram silently rolled out a new feature of its app. If you don’t like your friends to know that you’re online (and also protect your privacy), you might want to take action. Why? Because it’s automatically turned on.

If you have the latest app, you probably noticed something new inside the Direct Messages section. This new feature dubbed “Activity Status” lets your Instagram buddies know if you’re online. If you happen to be scrolling through your timeline moments ago, the status will show that you’ve been available earlier.

This is switched on by default but the data is only shared with users that you follow and those you message privately. There’s no need to panic if you think a stalker will know that you’re online — unless you follow them, too.

How to turn it off?

You can easily switch it off inside the app. Just go to your profile page and tap the top-right icon for Options.

Next, scroll down until you see “Show Activity Status” and switch the toggle button beside.

That’s it! Now that it’s off on your end, your status will not show up to your buddies. Although, you won’t be able to see the status of other accounts as well.

Since the new feature was smoothly included in the recent updates from the Play Store or App Store, it’s not clear when Instagram introduced the function. Some might not have it yet, which could mean it’s still an experimental approach with a limited number of users.

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Automotive

The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

Exciting times ahead!

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We recently wrapped up CES 2018 (see our top picks) and even though the trade show originally revolved around consumer electronics, a big chunk of what was introduced was directed towards connected cities with a focus on making driving a lot smarter.

The idea of self-driving cars surely isn’t new and has been around for quite some time now. It’s basically the concept of what the future is like in addition to flying cars. At this year’s CES, brands who participated made us realize that this “future” isn’t too far away.

Here are some of the most promising cars and car technology that we’re excited to see in the near future.

Assistance

Multiple brands showed off their new toys left and right. There’s the announcement of Amazon’s Alexa coming to cars for voice assistance and content consumption. Toyota will be the next to adapt voice assistance in addition to BMW, Ford, and Hyundai. Meanwhile, Waze has also been integrated into select infotainment systems.

Nissan, on the other hand, is taking the user-machine a step further by introducing the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology. It basically uses a system that could read your brain patterns and signals to better prepare for what you’re about to do next while driving.

Platforms

In terms of services, Ford is slightly stepping out of the shadow of car-making and plans to be the new platform for autonomous vehicles. It has partnered with Lyft, Domino’s Pizza, and Postmates to create an operating system which small to large businesses can use for their unique services.

Speaking of unique services, Toyota unveiled its e-Palette concept vehicle which has all the potential to go big in the future of mobility. It’s envisioned as a self-driving vehicle running on Toyota’s tech and platform that other brands can use for food deliveries, as a moving boutique, or even a mobile hotel that you can rent.

As far as ride-sharing goes, expect it to join the bandwagon as smart cities are developed. During the trade show, car tech company Aptiv was present and was hand-in-hand with Lyft as they demonstrated their self-driving cars to the participants of CES. The public could just hail a ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center using the app and enjoy the view of the Strip to their destination.

Additionally, NVIDIA has also added Uber and Volkswagen to their growing roster of brands that will run on the company’s self-driving computer platform.

Cars

Apart from the new platforms, there were cars — quite a lot, actually. From concept to actual models on display, we got a peek at these vehicles that probably want to take on Tesla.

Derived from Bytes on Wheels, BYTON wants to blur the line between digital and automotive with their electric intelligent SUV concept. The new-gen smart device communicates with users and pedestrians via lights and patterns on its grille and recognizes the driver and passengers by face.

Kia was also present with its very own Niro electric crossover. This concept is basically an electric version of the Niro Hybrid but gets a new grille design. Like BYTON, it is now an interactive panel with a built-in Active Pedestrian Warning System, but what makes this something to look forward to is its range. It can go as far 383km (238 miles) before needing to charge again — beating what the Tesla Model 3 can offer.

Car designer Henrik Fisker gave another shot at making vehicles; this time in the form of the EMotion luxury sedan. The vehicle is a level 4 autonomous car and is equipped with the world’s first Butterfly Doors. Fisker also wants to set standards for other EVs so they made the vehicle last up to 644km (400 miles) on the road.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is continuing its push to go green and introduced the NEXO fuel cell electric vehicle. It has a more efficient engine, is a lot quieter, and maintenance is kept to a minimum. Although the best thing about it is that it emits nothing but water vapor. Features-wise, it has autonomous driving, self-parking, self-retrieval — the whole shebang.

In-vehicle Networking

Software updates are an important aspect of vehicles relying on digital systems. Tesla has somehow established its system already but for other car brands, updating hundreds, even thousands of vehicles across a country, is still not an easy task.

Hyundai and Cisco addressed this and aims to overhaul the process of in-vehicle networking. With the use of Ethernet connectivity and the Automotive Linux platform, they promise to be able to roll out updates remotely and it’s as simple as pushing a button.

 

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