Posts tagged Here’s

Here’s A New Way To Step Into A Virtual World

When you strap on an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, you’re free to look up, down and around. But as soon as you try to explore the virtual world further, you’re stuck. You can’t interact with your surroundings or walk across the room.

New controllers and sensors hitting the market are built to solve this problem, whether by tracking the precise location of your fingers so you can grab that virtual gun or giving you a simple joystick so you can “walk” from place to place. The HTC Vive, one of the highest-profile new headsets, lets you move around a real room and incorporates your motion into VR.

See also: 6 Ways The HTC Vive Will Freak Out Virtual-Reality Geeks

The startup Occipital thinks there’s a simpler way. Up until today, its candy-bar-shaped Structure Sensor, an accessory for mobile devices, has mostly been used for 3D scanning of physical objects—for instance, in order to create 3D-printable virtual models. Now, though, Occipital wants to expand into virtual and augmented reality by giving its sensor the ability to map entire rooms and incorporate a user’s actual movement onto a screen, and thus into a virtual world.

Mixing Virtual Reality And Reality Reality

At the Occipital office in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, I recently rambled around with an Pad in my hands and a Structure Sensor strapped to its back. On its screen, I explored a Portal-esque room in hopes of opening a door to move on to the next level. I noticed a laser crossing the room; blocking it would open the door. But to do so I needed a few of the cubes circulating on a line by the ceiling.

I walked over to a coffee machine in the game, which is called S.T.A.R. Ops, by actually walking down the long row of desks in the Occipital office. I moved through the virtual room in much the same way. I tapped one corner of the screen to grab a coffee cup and moved the tablet away from my body as if I was sticking the cup into the machine. Coffee poured in.

I powered up a nearby gun by tipping the iPad to pour the coffee into a grate. I shot down some cubes and then stacked them in front of the laser, the iPad once again serving as a physical representation of the blocks. The door opened.

It’s a funny mix of the virtual and real worlds. Most virtual reality experiences are seated and don’t incorporate the tipping and reaching motions calls S.T.A.R. Ops calls for. While the movements are fairly intuitive, it takes a while to get used to them. But the learning curve is quick—on my second run through the level, I cut my time by two thirds.

Positional Tracking Gone Wild

The Structure Sensor works by projecting infrared dots across everything in a room. It can sense depth and motion based on the dots’ behavior and build a map of them that updates at 30 frames per second. Occipital calls it “unbounded positional tracking.”

There are lots of sensor systems already available in the virtual reality space. Many, like Leap Motion, are more focused on hand tracking—an area with which Occipital is not currently concerned. CEO Jeff Powers related it more to the Kinect sensor, which VR companies have been hacking to incorporate into their demos, except that the Structure Sensor doesn’t need any tricky setup to be used with iPads, iPhones and Android devices.

Powers noted that high-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift also use sensors to incorporate movement, and said he believes sensors incorporated directly into the VR device are the only way to go. Though the Structure Sensor doesn’t currently deliver the precise hand tracking that Vive does, it allows users to move beyond a predetermined area if they want to walk around in a virtual world.

See also: Google’s Project Tango: What You Need To Know

Eventually, Powers sees Sensor-like systems being incorporated into our mobile devices. Google’s Project Tango phone will be an early example. But beyond that, he said the ultimate form will be wearable devices that constantly read and make sense of our surroundings. That’s the vision of augmented reality at which Google Glass hinted. 

True augmented reality is years, if not decades away. But beginning today, Structure Sensor owners can play S.T.A.R. Ops and think about the virtual-reality experiences they would like to see built in the near-term.

Lead photo courtesy of Occipital

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Sundar Pichai: Here’s How You Ought To Think About Google

Looked at one way, Google is an online advertising company with a lot of peripheral—and mostly not-very-profitable—side businesses in mobile devices and Internet service. Looked at another, it’s an ambitious-bordering-on-crackpot technological innovator that just happens to make its money from ads.

Google, of course, prefers the latter characterization. So it wasn’t any big surprise when Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of product, took the stage at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday to offer some insight into Google’s mindset and clues as to what lies ahead for the Android platform.

Pichai started with a quick outline of Google’s various techno-initiatives, including the Project Loon effort to spread the Internet to developing regions with balloons and lightweight airplanes, on-the-fly language translation and tools for things like mobile development, virtual reality and mobile payments. Android is merely one puzzle piece in Google’s master plan—assuming, of course, you believe that there really is a master plan.

To help you understand the way Google wants you to think about it, Pichai explained that the company is really made up of three things: an information platform, a computing platform and a “platform for connectivity.” That’s the rubric by which Google explains its varied and disparate initiatives.

Ultimately, of course, Google’s plan is to keep people using its services and to grow that user base in a variety of ways. Because, well, advertising.

Android, clearly, is the computing component. “We’ve built an open platform, which makes all this possible,” Pichai said, referring to the numerous incarnations of the software that operates a growing array of gadgets. Currently, Google’s software runs smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and fitness bands, televisions, car infotainment systems, and that’s just for starters. 

When interviewer Brad Stone, from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, asked Pichai what people might be buzzing about at next year’s conference, the Google executive cited everything from wearables to virtual reality devices. 

“I’m excited about newer categories like VR, [but] for me, the power of what you see is not just in devices,” he said. “These are computing devices connected to the cloud. When you look at things like machine learning [or] ‘AI’—in terms of the type of computing work that you’re doing, they make these experiences much more powerful.” 

He sees Google focusing on that over the next few years, to make competing experiences much more “seamless” and “intelligent for users.” Pichai didn’t talk specifics, but the oblique references suggest Android will become much smarter about learning what its users want and predicting what they’ll need, and making decisions for users across the gadgets it governs. 

“[Our] computing has been working on automating what people can do with their devices,” Pichai added. The company may already seem to be doing a little bit of everything, but Pichai suggests Google thinks its task is just beginning. “We’re at this exciting stage where we can do more.” 

Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Twitter Now Has An Official WordPress Plugin, Here’s What It Does by @mattsouthern

Twitter just launched its very first official WordPress plugin, which combines several features previously available through third party apps such as the ability to embed tweets, and the ability to embed videos uploaded directly to Twitter. If you’re thinking “Wait, doesn’t WordPress already have the ability to embed tweets?” — Yes, you’re absolutely right. The difference with this plugin is that you can now embed them and customize them to blend in with the rest of your site’s theme. Using WordPress’s native ability to embed tweets you’re stuck with the default color scheme. With this new plugin you can customize […]

The post Twitter Now Has An Official WordPress Plugin, Here’s What It Does by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Here’s How Badly Google Is Killing Its Digital Media Competitors (for Now)

Google isn’t just dominating search, but digital advertising across the board.

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Here’s Why Apple Really Should Build Standalone Apple Watch Stores

Move over, Rolex. According to reports by the French media late last week, Apple may be taking a page from your playbook, prompting it to build dedicated stores for its upcoming Apple Watch.

The company has not breathed a word of this, of course, but there’s reason to believe it may be true. But those reasons may be more than skin deep. The popular narrative chalks this up to Apple copying jewelry or luxury goods makers, and it’s tempting to say Apple just wants to give its “precious” an equally precious retail environment.

See also: The Apple Watch Could Get Its Own Dedicated Store

But there are more pragmatic reasons than that—some of which may offer lessons to other would-be smartwatch makers.

How Precious Can You Get?

From Apple’s Apple Watch Edition line, which features sapphire glass and 18 karat gold.

If the new device was a phone, it would sit out in the open at Apple Stores. The other jewels in Apple’s crown, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, are displayed just this way, tethered by thin cables and caked in the thick smudges that only thousands of shoppers could leave behind. They line up like good little soldiers alongside the latest iPads, iPod touches and MacBook Airs.

The company may not want the Apple Watch to suffer that indignity. After all, it has hifalutin ambitions for the product.

Apple Watches will also be available for aluminum and stainless steel versions.

Apple’s profound power of denial has it refusing to call the wrist gadget—which will link to iPhones and work with apps—something as mundane as a smartwatch. Last September, the company went out of its way to invite fashion journalists and other tastemakers to its press announcement. Vogue China editors saw the watch in person before many American tech reporters did, putting the gadget on its cover. Now Self bookends the fashion push as the first U.S. magazine to do the same.

How glamorous. So if Apple is designing whole stores around the smartwatch—and it is a smartwatch, no matter what Apple says—it seems rather fitting. The company would give its wrist device some space to breath and glass display cases to highlight the beauty. All the better to add to the product’s allure.

See also: Apple Bets Big On Its Smartwatch, Though Killer Apps May Be Missing In Action

But Apple may have another motivation for constructing special brick-and-mortar stores: theft protection. Apple Stores from California to North Carolina to many other parts of the U.S. and abroad, including Paris, have seen robberies, smash-and-grabs and even thefts enabled by barreling a car into an Apple storefront. Former NBA basketball player Rex Chapman alone made off with $14,000, and Apple’s own employees apparently can’t resist joining in on the illicit activity.

Apple downplays the issue, and it doesn’t disclose figures attached to theft, but the sums are likely considerable. (The company has hundreds of stores worldwide, with more than 250 in the U.S. alone.) A few Apple Store employees in the Bay Area have told me their locations see frequent thefts. Some are brazen snatching incidents, others skew toward subtle cons like Rex Chapman’s—with perpetrators waltzing out the door after faking an Easy Pay self-checkout transaction.

The addition of even smaller devices—worth between $350 to as much as $5,000—would surely heighten the temptation.

Apple Watch prices may top out at $5,000, but it’s still nothing compared to this diamond-crusted variation by Mervis Diamond Importers, which will cost $30,000.

Not that Apple Watches will be entirely MIA from current stores. More likely, the base models will sit out in those display tables, while premium versions will probably get stashed in backroom vaults. But that’s hardly a great way to showcase 18 karat-gold premium devices.

A jewelry store-style setting, presumably equipped with cameras, alarms and tightened security, would allow the company to feature all models of its Apple Watch in a grander—and more guarded—setting.

Why Every Smartwatch Maker Should Root For Apple

LG Urbane smartwatch

New purpose-built retail locations would allow Apple to give the public hands-on time without magnifying the shoplifting temptation in its regular stores. That hands-on time is crucial.

The last time Apple debuted a category-defining device was the iPad’s roll-out in 2010. Ahead of that launch, naysayers just couldn’t see the point of what some called “a vastly oversized iPod touch.” But the extra space allowed developers to rethink their user interfaces and create more immersive experiences that just weren’t possible on smaller displays.

In other words, you had to actually use it to really get it. The same may well be true of the Apple Watch.

Samsung Gear S is basically the tablet or “phablet” of smartwatches.

The iPad ultimately won many of the critics over, with some even publicly admitting their error. Its soaring sales prompted many of major smartphone makers to also become tablet makers. Though sales of its big-screen mobile device have dropped lately, the launch experience was valuable for Apple—particularly now as it prepares to unleash its smallest-screen gadget.

Apple likely noticed some interesting customer behavior in its existing stores: Some people need to hold the devices in their hands before they can fall in love with them. That may be even truer for unproven gadgets.

That’s one reason why, even though brick-and-mortar locations seem so very antiquated in these digital times, they’ve become surprisingly de rigueur among tech companies as varied as Amazon, eBay, Microsoft and Samsung. Apple has mastered its grip on physical retail better than most, and now it may be poised to do it once again, all for a single product.

A lot could be riding on it. While the public seems intrigued by smartwatches, many still haven’t yet hopped on the bandwagon. Perhaps, like with iPads, they need to experience them first.

That can be tougher than it seems. When the Asus ZenWatch was supposed to launch at Best Buy last November, I headed to my local outpost to check it out on day one. The employees had no idea what I was talking about, and couldn’t even find the device in their inventory database.

If Apple is building Watch Stores, it may be in part because the company wants to give its first real wearable its biggest chance of success. If it works, the tech giant might find itself popularizing a nascent product category once again and raising the profile of a whole industry.

Success should be easy to gauge. We’ll just have to look out for jewelry store-like retail spaces with customers lined up all the way down the block.

Device photos courtesy of their respective manufacturers

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Here’s What To Expect When You Hire A Paid Search Agency

You’ve found a great partner to manage your paid search advertising campaigns. What now? Columnist Pauline Jakober explains how to get off on the right foot with your PPC agency.

The post Here’s What To Expect When You Hire A Paid Search Agency appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Search Engine Land’s SMX West Is Next Week – Here’s How to Attend

Search Engine Land’s SMX West conference kicks off next Tuesday. With over 60 educational sessions and keynotes, networking activities and presentations from leading providers, you’ll get the SEO, SEM and conversion-driving tactics and solutions you need to exceed your goals. SMX West offers…



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Google Is Mislabeling Sites As Hacked, Here’s How To Fix It by @mattsouthern

Google’s John Mueller acknowledged via Google+ today that a small number of sites are getting mislabeled as “hacked” in search results. Currently, Google is in the process of rolling out a new hacked page classifier, and as a result a number of sites are getting incorrectly marked as hacked sites.Obviously this is a problem because it would deter anyone from wanting to visit your site. How do you know if you’re affected? First, do a quick search for your site and see if a line of blue text appears underneath the title tag reading “This site may be hacked.” If you […]

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Here’s The Agenda For #SEJSummit Dallas: Part 1 by @wonderwall7

Our second invite-only, one-day conference for enterprise marketers will be held at the InterContinental Hotel Dallas in Addison, Texas on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. You’ll notice that, compared to other conferences, the sessions are shorter than what you may be used to.  We’re avoiding information overload by keeping the sessions moving at an optimal pace. All SEJ Summit events contain no pitches, no product demos, and no sponsored content. Tickets are invite-only and cost is covered by our sponsor, Searchmetrics, a platform that delivers enterprise SEO and content marketing analysis, recommendations, forecasting, and reporting for companies who want potential customers to find them faster. Want to attend? We still have a few […]

The post Here’s The Agenda For #SEJSummit Dallas: Part 1 by @wonderwall7 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Here’s An AdWords Script That Will Let You A/B Test Anything

Columnist Daniel Gilbert wasn’t satisfied with AdWords’ native A/B testing capabilities, so he and his team wrote a script.

The post Here’s An AdWords Script That Will Let You A/B Test Anything appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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