Facebook’s Oculus Unveils New Social, Video Features for Samsung Gear VR

Facebook's Oculus Unveils New Social, Video Features for Samsung Gear VR

Facebook-owned Oculus VR is bringing new social and video capabilities to the world of virtual reality. The company announced an update to its software that will enable Samsung Gear VR users to create a social profile while also leveraging several other features. The update will go live on Thursday. Oculus added that it also plans to introduce a feature to allow users to connect their Gear VR account with their Facebook account. The rollout of this feature, however, is planned for next week.

Oculus announced on Wednesday that its new set of features for Samsung Gear VR, which runs its software, will allow a user to look for friends, make a profile, and also rate different apps on the Oculus Store. The feature is similar to Xbox Live, Microsoft’s gaming network for Xbox One that allows users to interact and play with their friends.

The company has also added the ability to create rooms with friends in Oculus Social. This will enable friends to watch video streams on Twitch or Vimeo. On the sidelines, Oculus also announced Social Trivia, a game that lets users play with up to four friends to test their knowledge. A multiplayer adventure game called Herobound allows users to band together and fight for a common mission.

As previously promised, Facebook is also bringing some video capabilities to Samsung Gear VR. Dubbed Facebook Videos, the feature allows users to connect their Facebook account with Oculus Video. This will enable them to see personalised 360-degree videos to their taste based on the pages and people they follow. Oculus also noted that users will soon be able to like, share, and react to such videos from Samsung Gear VR headset.

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[“source-Gadgets”]

HTC One M10 Teaser Video Promises to ‘Make Your Phone Even Better’

HTC One M10 Teaser Video Promises to 'Make Your Phone Even Better'

HTC has released its first teaser video for the One M10 flagship smartphone. The video, while showing nothing of significance, promises a lot of things. In the video, the company claims that the HTC team is working “non-stop” because they want to “make your phone even better.” The YouTube video says that the team is obsessed but “in a good way.”

Considering that HTC is yet to start sending invites for the launch event of the new flagship, we can expect there are still a few days left ahead of the unveiling.

Recently, HTC unofficially confirmed the name of its next smartphone, which unsurprisingly was the One M10. The smartphone’s name was briefly found in the drop-down list of devices in the company’s own online survey form.

HTC Chief Financial Officer Chialin Chang has already revealed that the One M10 will have a “very, very compelling camera experience.” Previously, LlabTooFer, a developer turned reliable HTC tipster, had tipped some details about the HTC One M10. According to the tipster, the HTC One M10 aka Perfume (codenamed) would come in three inbuilt storage options: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, depending on the market.

Evan Blass, another prolific tipster, had earlier tweeted about the smartphone’s launch date. According to him, the upcoming HTC One M10 would launch in the US in the week of May 9. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Based on preliminary leaks, the One M10 is said to feature a 5.2-inch QHD resolution display along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC and a fingerprint scanner. Also tipped is that the smartphone will be running Sense 8.0 skin on top of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

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Tags: Android, HTC, HTC Mobiles, HTC One M10, Mobiles
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Why 3D Video Games Might Actually Be Good for Your Child

Why 3D Video Games Might Actually Be Good for Your Child

The late film critic Roger Ebert famously declared that video games could never be art, much to the outrage of die-hard gamers everywhere. While the artistic value of classics like ‘Portal’ or ‘Doom’ continues to be a matter of debate, another group of skeptics about the value of video games – namely medical researchers – are starting to come around to the idea that becoming engrossed in the virtual world of a video game may have value beyond pure fun.

Recent research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science has found evidence that playing certain video games can be like exercise for the brain.

Studies from the past decade have found that individuals who frequently play action games like first-person shooters outperform non-gamers on a variety of perceptual and cognitive measures – visual acuity, decision-making, object tracking, and task switching to name a few. Even players of casual video games, such as ‘Bejeweled Blitz’ or ‘Candy Crush Saga,’ report memory improvements and quicker response time as a result.

Now, researchers have discovered that playing 3D video games – those that immerse the player in a three-dimensional world with a more true-to-life, first-person perspective – may boost memory and stimulate the brain.

A new study published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience, trained college students with either a simple 2D game (‘Angry Birds’) or an intricate 3D game (‘Super Mario 3D World’). The subjects had little to no experience with video games before the experiment, and were instructed to play for a half-hour per day for two weeks. After the training period, the groups took memory tests designed to activate the brain’s hippocampus, which is highly involved in the formation of new memories and becomes stimulated when navigating an unfamiliar environment.

“It’s sometimes called explicit or declarative memory, but what it really comes down to is your ability to remember details of things that have happened to you – and that’s where the hippocampus comes in,” said study author Craig Stark, professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California at Irvine.

For instance, structural MRI studies have found significantly larger cortical volume in the posterior hippocampi of London cab drivers – individuals with extensive navigation experience with first-hand knowledge of tens of thousands of streets – relative to control subjects. Stark and his colleagues wanted to determine whether exploration of a virtual world would lead to similar effects in the hippocampus through the use of a 3D video game.

The group that played ‘Super Mario 3D World’ improved their scores by about 12 percent after the two-week training, with performance correlating with the amount of exploration achieved in the game’s environment, while the 2D ‘Angry Birds’ cohort showed no significant progress. To get an idea of the magnitude of this boost, a typical score on these memory tasks has been seen to drop the same amount from ages 45 to 70.

“The amount that we were able to boost people’s memory performance by playing video games represents about 20 to 30 years of cognitive decline,” Stark explained in an interview. “But it would be the sort of thing that would require constant maintenance, like going to the gym. If you work out really hard for a month, that’s great – but it won’t last the rest of your life.”

Indeed, after two weeks of no gaming, the boost in memory performance seen in 3D gamers had already started to dissipate. But Stark, whose research focuses on how the circuitry of the hippocampus changes with age, plans to further investigate how video games and other stimulating, enriching experiences can help ward off cognitive aging in an older population whose memory is on the decline.

“I don’t necessarily think there’s anything magical about 3D games themselves,” he said. “I think they’re tapping into a lot of things – they’re complex, fun, engaging and immersive – and I think that’s what is really driving [the improvements in memory].”

While specific brain training games do exist to supposedly build up memory or concentration, Stark believes that more broad-spectrum approaches like complex video games, language classes, or even traveling abroad, may be more beneficial for brain health. Living a “cognitively engaged lifestyle” as he calls it, that also captivates our imagination and sense of wonder is a natural way to draw on a number of different brain processes and potentially improve functioning as a result.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Skype Group Video Calling Coming to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile

Skype Group Video Calling Coming to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile

Marking its 10-year anniversary, Microsoft’s Skype team on Tuesday announced that it has introduced the group video calling feature to everyone on Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile. Skype already supported group video calls but only for those who opted for Skype for Business. The feature is now available to non-subscribers as well.

The feature can be used free of cost and will be rolled out to users in the ‘coming weeks’. However, for those who want to preview the group calling feature, they can sign-up by submitting some details.

The Skype group video calling service lets up to 25 users share a video call on desktop. However, the popular VoIP service is not the only one sporting such kind of feature. Rival apps such as GoogleHangouts also supports group video calling for up to 10 users. Line (with Popcorn Buzz), Viber, WeChat, and other popular chatting apps also have the feature. Hike in September last year introduced group audio calling feature, letting up to 100 people to talk to each other in a group call. Other popular chatting applications such as FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are yet to receive the feature.

Gurdeep Pall Singh, the Global Corporate Vice President of Skype in the company blog post added that in 10 years Skype users have generated nearly 2 trillion minutes of free Skype video calls. “In fact, with that amount of time, you can use Skype to read to every child in the world for 10 hours, every family can be together over Skype for more than 7 hours and there’s still time left for the entire world’s workforce to have an hour-long interview via Skype,” he said.

[“Source-Gadgets”]