Six Flags announced today that it is working with electronics giant Samsung to allow people who are riding its Superman roller coasters to don wireless VR headsets. The idea is to synchronize the virtual experience with the twists, turns and drops of the ride.
Riders will have an experience designed to immerse them in a 360-degree world of flying, fighting and fantasy. People will be able to opt out of the VR portion and still go on the coasters.
The VR experience is expected to be available this spring on Six Flags’ three new Superman Virtual Reality Coasters, along with six new Revolution Virtual Reality Coasters.
Riders on the Superman coasters will be immersed in the comic-book world of Metropolis where riders, and Superman, are fighting Lex Luthor and his army of Lexbots that are trying to destroy the city.
On the six other roller coasters, the experience is designed to transport riders into an air combat battle to save Earth from an alien invasion.
“This remarkable technology is a definite game-changer for theme park rides and represents everything our brand stands for, delivering the most thrilling and innovative rides and attractions in the world,” said John Duffey, Six Flags president and CEO, in a prepared statement.
Riders, who need to be 13 and over, will wear Samsung Gear VR and Oculus headsets.
Kids 12 and younger can ride the coasters but will not be able to use the headsets because of manufacturer guidelines.
“I think it’s a good step in that a big-name entertainment company is using virtual reality,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “The big virtual reality discussion is around the content and new experiences. This is a new experience.”
He added that while this could turn a lot of people onto virtual reality, for people who get sick on the thrilling ride, it could really turn them off to trying virtual reality again.
“I’m imagining people getting very sick,” said Moorhead. “That could turn them off for a long, long time.”
Six Flags, however, says they’ve taken steps to keep that from happening.
“Because the visuals on the virtual reality screen are synched precisely with the coaster’s drops, twists and turns, there is no motion sickness as some might expect,” the company said on its website. “Unlike watching the visuals while standing still, there should be no adverse effect.”
The U.S. military is looking to create a chip that can be implanted in a soldier’s brain to connect it directly to computers that can deliver data on an enemy’s position, maps and battle instructions.
The implanted chip would essentially create soldier cyborgs that would be safer and better fighters.
“Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said Phillip Alvelda, manager for DARPA’s Neural Engineering System Design program. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.”
DARPA announced this week that it formed the new program to develop a neural interface — a system working at the intersection of a biological nervous system and a device — that would create “unprecedented signal resolution and data-transfer bandwidth” between the human brain and the digital world.
Think of the neural interface as a translator that would turn digital signals into electrochemical language that the brain can read, and vice versa.
DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, focuses on emerging technology for the military, wants the neural interface to be no larger than one cubic centimeter, with the volume of two nickels stacked back to back.
There are already some neural interfaces approved for use with humans, but they’ve proven to be imprecise and provide a user with a cacophony of information, more like noise than helpful data. DARPA said it wants to improve the technology so the system that can communicate clearly and individually with any of up to one million neurons in a specific region of the brain.
For years now, industry players have said that mixing biology and machines is going to create the most powerful technology in the future.
The military’s new research project will involve scientists from various fields, including neuroscience, synthetic biology, low-power electronics, photonics, medical device packaging and manufacturing. The scientists will need to work on advanced mathematical and neuro-computation techniques to translate between biological-electromechanical language and digital ones and zeros.
The military is hoping industry players will become partners in the research, offering prototyping and manufacturing services and intellectual property.
The Open Register of Patent Ownership (ORoPO) has been backed by key partners including IBM, Microsoft, ARM, BAE Systems, Shazam, Patent Properties, Conversant and Finjan.
ORoPO is voluntary and not for profit, and founder members’ patents are already available online.
The idea is to put the information currently stored in the world’s 180 patent offices in a central repository to avoid duplication, omission and inaccuracy, all of which can be pounced on by trolls.
Manny Schecter, chief patent counsel at IBM, said: “ORoPO is a simple solution to a complex and long-standing problem.
“Greater transparency around patent ownership is vital to eliminating transactional inefficiencies and enabling a patent system that runs optimally for every constituent in the system, from patent owners to innovators, licensees and the public.”
“Microsoft believes that patent ownership transparency continues to be an important part of a well-functioning patent system,” added Erich Andersen, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.
“Microsoft has publicly listed all the patents the company owns since March 2013, and we will continue to do so via our participation in ORoPO.
“This voluntary effort, led by top patenting companies, will help to ensure that the patent system continues to promote and encourage innovation across our economy.”
ORoPO estimates that 25 percent of information held in patent offices is inaccurate, which is even more horrifying against the backdrop of intellectual property forming 70 percent of enterprise value.
ORoPO is to be led by Roger Burt as CEO with an advisory board consisting of key people from the technology and legal sectors.
The US Supreme Court acknowledged ‘patent troll’ as a valid term for the first time last month in a case investigating whether ‘good faith’ was an adequate defence in cases where a patent is assumed invalid.
Patent and intellectual property fights have been a mainstay of the IT industry, and the tussles between Apple and Samsung have taken center stage.
A peace accord seems to have been reached, but many existing cases are still sub judice.
In a story published in the country’s largest daily newspaper, North Korea said it would wage a cyber war against the U.S. to hasten its ruin. Such bellicose threats are fairly common in North Korean media and aren’t always followed by action, but when it comes to cyber attacks, the country has been blamed for several large attacks in the past.
Most have been against South Korea, but the country was also publicly accused by the U.S. government of being behind last year’s devastating attack against Sony Pictures.
“The DPRK can react to any forms of wars, operations and battles sought by the U.S. imperialists,” the article said, using the acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“It is the firm determination of the DPRK to wage Korean-style cyber war to hasten the final ruin of the U.S. and the forces following it, who attempted to bring down the former with the cyber war,” it said.
The article was published on page 6 of the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers Party of Korea and a key propaganda mouthpiece.
In late May, Reuters reported that the U.S. had attempted a cyber attack against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program five years ago, similar to the Stuxnet attack that damaged thousands of centrifuges used by Iran’s nuclear program at about the same time.
The attack against North Korea was unsuccessful because the virus couldn’t gain access to North Korea’s nuclear computer network, Reuters said, quoting intelligence sources.
Microsoft Corp lost a round in a potentially expensive patent fight when a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled that the software giant used InterDigital Inc’s technology in its mobile phones without permission.
The judge, Theodore Essex, said that Microsoft infringed two wireless cellular patents owned by InterDigital , a patent licensor, and said it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft devices from being imported into the United States.
The judge’s decision must be reviewed by the full commission before any import ban is enacted.
The ITC has the authority to stop the import of products that it determines infringe a U.S. patent. Companies frequently sue at the ITC to win an import ban and in district court to win damages.
Wilmington, Delaware-based InterDigital first accused Nokia Corp of infringing its patents in 2007. Microsoft acquired Nokia’s handset division last year. The InterDigital patents relate to moderating a mobile phone’s power to reduce signal interference.
The ITC originally cleared Nokia of infringement, but in 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the nation’s top patent court, overturned that decision and sent it back to the ITC.
Microsoft called Monday’s decision one step in the process.
“We have a successful track record challenging patent assertion entities that misuse industry standards,” the company said in a statement.
InterDigital Executive Vice President Lawrence Shay said the company looks forward to “continued discussion” with Microsoft to license its patents.
Samsung’s components businesses is finding itself under pressure to pick up the slack and secure external customers for chips and display panels and might even start flogging them to rival mobile companies.
According to Reuters the reason for this is that the Smartphone industry is tanking and the only one making any money out of it is Apple — and even it is suffering a bit.
Samsung Display has begun supplying organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels to Chinese smartphone makers Lenovo, Coolpad, Oppo Electronics and Vivo Electronics.
The subsidiary says it’s on the lookout for more clients, aiming to have half its total revenue by 2017 from sales to outside customers, up from just over a third in 2013.
Industry experts think that external clients account for around a fifth of Samsung Display’s sales of smaller smartphone and tablet panels compared to about 50 percent for large panels for TVs, underscoring a need for more mobile clients.
Samsung was not interested in overseas sales when Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S devices were selling well, but suddenly it is trying to push into new pastures.
Samsung’s systems chips business is also trying to grow its customer base . It lost a $1 billion last year on declining sales of Galaxy smartphones and the loss of a contract to supply the processor for Apple Inc’s iPhone 6.
Samsung’s next Galaxy S smartphone is widely expected to be powered by its own Exynos processor.
The outfit is in talks with third-party customers about supplying its Exynos mobile processors. Samsung is likely to win back the Apple contract and supply the majority of mobile processors for the next iPhone.
For a while, the rumor mill has manufactured hell on earth yarns claiming that Samsung is set to buy the Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry.
The deal always seems to fall through, and in any event has never happened.
However the Financial Post has found evidence that this time Samsung is actively pursuing a plan to take over or buy a significant stake in BlackBerry.
The story is still a rumour because both companies have denied such a plan may be in the works, but a document obtained by the Financial Post, prepared for Samsung by New York-based independent investment bank Evercore Partners, outlines the case for, and the potential structure of a possible purchase of BlackBerry.
The paper is a little elderly and was written in the last quarter of 2014, but a source familiar with the matter said that Samsung remains very interested in acquiring all or part of BlackBerry for the right price.
J.K. Shin, Samsung’s co-chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that his company is in talks to use some of BlackBerry’s technology in the South Korean company’s devices, but is not interested in an acquisition. “We want to work with BlackBerry and develop this partnership, not acquire the company.”
But it appears that Samsung was caught off guard by a Reuters leak earlier this week. It had hoped it could move in quickly on BlackBerry, and the company’s share price would stay low. When the news went up and the share price rose its bid looked a little weak.
BlackBerry appears to have learned of the price Samsung was hoping to pay through the Reuters leak, before the company could make a formal offer. This is the sort of thing Samsung wanted to avoid.
In five years, BlackBerry thought the return on their turnaround strategy as implemented by John Chen was going to do better than the cash they will be receiving today.
Still, the source maintains that Samsung is still keen on making a deal happen. The talk earlier this week about Samsung extending its cooperation with BlackBerry, which was notably lacking in specifics, is “just setting it up,” the source said. “Samsung hasn’t walked away” from an acquisition. “They’re leaning towards it.”
Samsung Electronics recently offered to purchase BlackBerry Ltd for as much as $7.5 billion, hoping to acquire its valuable patents as it battles Apple in the corporate market, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents seen by Reuters.
South Korea’s Samsung proposed an initial price range of $13.35 to $15.49 per share, representing a premium of 38 percent to 60 percent over BlackBerry’s current trading price, the source said on Wednesday.
Representatives from the two companies, which are working with advisers, met last week to discuss a potential transaction, the source said, asking not to be identified because the conversations are private.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said in a statement that it “has not engaged in discussions with Samsung with respect to any possible offer to purchase BlackBerry. Shares of BlackBerry, which soared nearly 30 percent following the Reuters report, fell back about 15 percent in after-hours electronic trading following the statement.
Samsung also told Reuters in Seoul that it has no plans to acquire Blackberry. “Media reports of the acquisition are groundless,” a company spokeswoman said.
Separately on Wednesday, Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail reported BlackBerry has shunned a handful of takeover overtures in recent months as its board and largest investor think its restructuring strategy will deliver greater shareholder value than current acquisition offers.
Commercial companies are showing off robots at a four-day event at the Fort Benning Army post in Georgia this week.
The robotic demo is set to culminate today when robots built by four companies will fire machine guns with live ammunition before a group of senior military officers.
The event was scheduled so the Army’s top officers can “see what technology is available,” said Keith Singleton, chief of the Unmanned Systems Team for the Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning. “Sometimes we have lofty dreams about what we can do. This shows us what’s actually available.”
Companies like Northrop Grumman, 5D Robotics, HDT Robotics, iRobot, QinetiQ and Lockheed Martin are showing how robots can maneuver through rough or wooded terrain, carry heavy loads and move autonomously.
Singleton said that the Army has field tested a weaponized robot, but has yet to add the technology to its battlefield inventory.
“We’ve been looking at robots for years,” he said. “They save soldiers’ lives. Robots can do things like investigate IEDs. There are some challenges, like mobility. You need it to go where you go. And there’s security. You need to protect it from being taken by the enemy or having its weapons system taken.”
The military has said repeatedly that it’s looking to expand the role of robots from the dumb tools used today to working as an active member of a troop in the battlefield.
In 20 to 40 years, humanoid robots could precede soldiers into dangerous areas, and performing tasks such as turning a wrench to open valves, opening doors and climbing ladders. Some day, the Army might send autonomous robots into battle to physically engage the enemy.
Scott Hartley, a senior research engineer and co-founder of 5D Robotics, toldComputerworld this week he estimates that in 10 years, there may be 10 robots for every soldier in the U.S. military.
The robots will do everything from moving supplies around military bases to doing security patrols, following soldiers onto the battlefield and even flanking soldiers during dangerous situations, he predicts.
Satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp and wireless network provider nTelos Holdings Corp stated they would collectively develop a broadband service within nTelos’s coverage footprint serving parts of Virginia, Maryland and a few other states.
Dish has been trying to diversify beyond its core pay-TV business that has matured and faces tough competition from cable, telecom and Internet video providers.
The new service will give nTelos and Dish customers, especially those in underserved rural communities, access to high-speed Internet, the companies said in a statement.
“We are pleased to team with nTelos on this exciting opportunity to leverage their mobile capabilities along with our technical service infrastructure to develop broadband services,” Charlie Ergen, chairman and co-founder of Dish said.
Dish is mired in two takeover battles, for Sprint Nextel Corp and Clearwire Corp, as it looks to expand its businesses.
Sprint offered to buy Clearwire in December for $2.2 billion but Dish announced a counterbid of $2.3 billion in January. Dish followed up in April by making a $25.5 billion cash and stock bid for Sprint.
The boards of both Sprint and Clearwire have, however, advised shareholders against voting for Dish.
Two U.S. senators will propose that Congress or President Barack Obama’s administration should pursue trade and immigration sanctions against China and other countries that allegedly support cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies and businesses, the lawmakers said Wednesday.
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, called on the administration, including the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, to step up efforts to battle cyberattacks.
Congress or the administration should block immigration from countries supporting cyberattacks on the U.S. and it should limit trading with those countries, Graham said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s crime subcommittee.
“Our Chinese friends seem to be hell bent on stealing anything they can get their hands on here in America,” Graham said. “We’re going to do something about this. We’re going to put nation states on notice that, if you continue to do this, you’ll pay a price.”
Witnesses pointed at China as the major source of cyberattacks on the U.S.
Graham asked witnesses to identify the top countries where attacks originate. Both Kevin Mandia, CEO of security vendor Mandiant, and Stewart Baker, a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson and former assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said China was by far the top attacker.
Russian attackers seem to abide by some rules of engagement and tend to withdraw after U.S. security professionals catch them attacking networks, Mandia said. “The Chinese are like a tank through a corn field, they just keep mowing through it,” he said.
Graham asked Mandia and Baker for two-page memos detailing Chinese attacks that he would take to officials with the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “I’ll give you 100 pages, sir,” Mandia said.
Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments on the hearing.
Warhammer 40K owner Games Workshop has confirmed a new licensing deal with Roadhouse Interactive to develop new titles for mobile space based on the franchise. The developer, who is based in Vancouver, describes the new Warhammer title as a side screening action game.
While Roadhouse confirms that the game is in development, the end mobile platforms that will see the released version of the game are still up in the air at the moment; but more information is sure to be coming in the months ahead, according to the studio.
The Warhammer 40K has had others attempts to capture the tabletop war game in video form before. These Warhammer offerings have met with mixed reviews, but this new title from Roadhouse will be a first for Warhammer 40K in the mobile space.
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The Taiwanese handset maker had originally planned to release its flagship smartphone globally in March. But on Wednesday, the company said in an email, “We will start fulfilling pre-orders by end March in certain markets and will roll out to more markets as we approach April.”
HTC made the statement, after U.K. smartphone vendor Clove Technology said in a blog post the HTC One would arrive in the local market on March 29, two weeks after the original launch date.
It is unclear what has caused the delay, but HTC’s newest phone contains high-end components that are often in limited supply, said Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys. The HTC One is built with 4.7-inch display featuring a density of 468 pixels-per-inch, comes in an aluminum body, and is equipped with a so-called “ultrapixel camera” for better quality photos.
It’s not the first time HTC has seen delays in its product launches. Last year, the company’s smartphones came late to the U.S. market because of a U.S. Customs review brought on by HTC’s patent battles with Apple. The Taiwanese handset maker also struggled to keep up with demand for its 5-inch HTC Butterfly smartphone, which was popular in markets such as China, but limited in supply, according to Peng.
“The company sees product innovation as very important,” she said. “However, the supply chain efficiency has been a problem.”
The HTC One launch is seen as especially critical for the company’s smartphone business, which has lost market share to rivals including Samsung. By delaying the flagship phone’s launch, the HTC One risks being drowned out by the Korean company’s soon to be unveiled Galaxy S4 handset, which could arrive in markets in late March, or April, said Peng.
“It will probably clash with the S4, and Samsung will have a massive marketing campaign,” she said. “If they clash with such a high-profile device, it will definitely hurt HTC.”
Google Inc, in a long-running legal battle over its plans to build a digital library of books, argued in court on Thursday that associations of authors and photographers should not be allowed to sue the company as a group.
Manhattan federal judge Denny Chin did not make an immediate decision, but noted during oral arguments that “it would take forever” to resolve cases brought by individual authors and it “seems to make sense” to consider the lawsuits as a group.
The judge reserved decision on Google’s motions to dismiss the lawsuits by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers. They accused the search-engine giant of copyright infringement when it signed contracts with libraries for scanning, distributing and displaying about 20 million books.
Authors Guild lawyer Joanne Zack said Google was an “intimidating defendant” for individuals. “This action does call out for a mass litigation to adjudicate the mass digitization.”
The litigation stems from a seven-year legal dispute over Google’s desire to create the world’s largest digital library. In March 2011, Chin rejected a settlement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers Inc, citing antitrust and copyright concerns.
He has urged that the pact be amended to include only books whose copyright owners agree to the arrangement, rather than require authors to “opt out.”
The Authors Guild decided to litigate further and Google and the publishers say they are still hopeful of reaching agreement, perhaps sometime this year.
Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, some academics and authors are among those who say the settlement appeared to violate copyright and antitrust law. The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division has also opposed the settlement.
If you are a Warhammer 40K fanboy and have been waiting for the release of the game by publisher THQ. Be advised that Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine you are likely not going to be happy with some of the talk that happening on the official forums. Apparently, while the posting was removed, the word is that multiplayer Co-Op for the game is off the table at release.
The rumors seem to indicate that while the developers are committed to the multiplayer Co-OP and they still plan to add it, they need more time to do it right; and with the crunch to finish the game right now the effort needs to go into finishing the main game.
The word is that the multiplayer Co-Op will follow the release of the game in about 30 days after the game ships in an update of the game. THQ has not confirmed that this is officially the way it is going down, but it seems (despite the removal of the post) those in the forums believe that this will be the case.