Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has showcased virtual reality (VR) headset prototypes to indicate how the company is trying to win against competitors in the race of making immersive experiences more realistic to humans. Under the Reality Labs division, Meta is working towards overcoming the ongoing challenges in the VR field by developing new hardware. The prototypes show us that work — alongside making it clear that a full-fledged headset that can take us to an as realistic virtual world as its physical counterpart is yet to be built.
The first one in the series is codenamed Butterscotch. It is an attempt to deliver a near retinal resolution and is touted to help users comfortably read the smallest letters of a virtual vision chart. This solves the problem of giving close to the 60-pixel-per-degree resolution that Meta considers as a standard for a human retina.
However, the headset is not perfect in terms of making the virtual experience as vivid as the physical world. Meta has, thus, developed its Half Dome prototypes.
Zuckerberg says that the Meta’s Half Dome prototypes allow users to focus on any object at any distance. This comes from varifocal lenses and eye-tracking technology that lets the device adjust its focus on the basis of which object a user wants to look at in a virtual environment.
But just like Butterscotch, Half Dome prototypes are not capable of being a commercial device at this moment.
“We also need to fix optical distortions in software so quickly that it’s imperceptible to the human eye,” says Zuckerberg.
The next prototype that Meta’s Reality Labs has built is codenamed Starburst. It is designed as an HDR VR system.
“Nature is often 10 or 100 times brighter than modern HDTVs and the highest-end monitors, and we need those colours to be just as vivid to feel realistic, so we built Starburst,” Zuckerberg says.
The headset is, though, quite bulky to hold and has components including exterior fans that make it nowhere close to a typical VR headset.
Nevertheless, Zuckerberg says that the goal of testing prototypes including Starburst is to fit all the technologies that are in testing into a device that is “lighter and thinner than anything that currently exists.”
Holocake 2 is one-step closer towards that direction. It is a “working experimental device” that includes holographic displays to play PC VR experiences, but without requiring any additional hardware.
But nonetheless, the headset is not meant for a commercial purpose.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Zuckerberg underlines.
Meta currently has the Quest 2 as its latest commercial VR headset. But that model does not include the features and refinements, which the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company wants to integrate to enhance its VR offerings. The ongoing prototyping is, therefore, likely to help develop an enhanced hardware for the near future.
Alongside building VR experiences for consumers, Meta is working on developing both hardware and software to enter the market of professional-grade solutions. Testing different prototypes is also expected to help the company on that front.
In addition to Meta, Apple and Google are reportedly in development for their native VR offerings. Early moves by the Facebook parent are, though, likely to help give it an edge against the other players in the race.
Wearable Technology Can Change Autistic People’s Lives – if They’re Involved in Designing It
Many autistic people experience difficulties in expressing their emotions. This can result in increased anxiety, depression, anger and physical health problems. Research shows autistic adults are significantly more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their peers.
Imagine a future, where technology could help people regulate their emotions and alert them to sensory overload before they became overwhelmed.
An increasing number of technological solutions, that aim to help people regulate their emotions are being developed for autistic people. And some autistic people are adapting technology such as digital heart rate monitors to try and track their stress levels.
Many studies have explored autistic people’s use of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, virtual reality (VR) or brain-computer interfaces (BCI) to regulate their emotions.
BCIs are a direct communication pathway between the brain’s electrical activity and an external device, commonly a computer or robotic limb.
Speaking to the community
But before our study, no one asked the autistic community for their views on how useful the technology is.
Poor usability is a longstanding problem for autistic users of this technology because developers lack of awareness of their needs.
A recent study found only 10 per cent of wearable technologies for autistic people addressed their needs and 90 per cent viewed autistic traits as shortcomings that need correcting.
Our recent study explored the autistic community’s thoughts on any technology they had previously used to help them regulate their emotions and their views on what they need from technology.
Thirty-four autistic individuals and their allies (family, health and social care professionals and college staff) took part in focus groups.
We presented information on how emotional regulation technology could be used. For example, smartwatches that detect physiological stress signals and prompt users to start coping techniques.
We found the autistic community was keen to use technology to help regulate their emotions but it often costs too much, was difficult to use without training and wasn’t well adapted to their needs.
Our focus group results showed wearable technologies could be uniquely beneficial to autistic people, if they are involved in the design process.
Life with autism
One participant shared how their daughter deals with emotional challenges: “She looks perfectly fine and she’s behaving perfectly fine. Except she’s not. She hides it so well, the anxiety and everything that – we haven’t got a clue! Sometimes the prodding can lead to a big explosion.” Meanwhile, care staff spoke about how important it was to understand how autistic people are feeling: “You want to get in before the behaviour starts. Before it escalates. We could go in before to offer reassurance, a distraction. For other people it’s withdrawal. give them their own space.” Another care worker said: “We know there might be a pattern but we just can’t see it.” Participants told us technology could make all the difference. A relative of an autistic person said: “I’d like something … that he can self regulate, tell people how he’s feeling. Something that’s an app that somehow connects with a colour, so he can pick a picture that says how he’s feeling and people know without it being a big song and dance.” Some autistic participants felt there is a shortfall of support for those with higher IQ.
One told us: “You feel like you kind of walk between the two worlds almost. You’re not quite severe. So you’re not at that point on the spectrum where you need a lot of support that you’d get if you were.” Help me, don’t fix me Most research has been based on out-of-date theories about autism, such as the idea it is a medical illness that can be cured or treated.
Recent breakthroughs in the neuro-diversity movement triggered a call for autism research to focus on empowering autistic people and their unique communication styles instead of trying to “fix” them.
Autistic participants agreed technological designs should promote independence, rather than try to mask autism.
Many participants were reluctant to use technology due to a lack of confidence in their ability to use it, especially within community care settings. Other barriers included cost or lack of awareness about existing technology.
Our study results emphasised the importance of strategies that take an individual’s life goals into consideration.
Although a lot of money is spent on developing new technologies, both researchers and healthcare organisations often fail to consider how it will be implemented in practice.
As one autistic person, said: “If you’re going to make something for someone ask them what they want. Don’t just spit out something and go here’s what I made. The amount of papers where people claimed to have made something for learning disabilities. Have you ever had it tested? Have you ever used it with anyone?” Technology companies must create their products alongside the autistic community. And products should aim to adapt to the environment according to individual needs, rather than trying to change the person.
Autism is simply a different way of seeing the world. Not only would this new approach help develop useful technology-based support strategies, it would help to create more inclusive environments for everyone.
Fitbit to Discontinue Support for Music Transfer From Computers This Fall
Fitbit is putting an end to Fitbit Connect app, soon leaving the users unable to transfer music from their computer to a Fitbit device. The Fitbit owners will soon lose the company’s service to transfer music files to their Fitbit device.
In their statement on the Help page, Fitbit stated that they are discontinuing their Fitbit Connect app on October 13. However, the company has also given two options to users to download music to their devices. “You can continue to play personal music stored on your watch and transfer music to your watch with the Deezer app and Pandora app,” the statement read.
In the FAQs related to the discontinuation of the Fitbit Connect app, the company has elaborated that users can undertake a 90-day trial of Deezer or Pandora before subscribing to their paid services for downloading music to their Fitbit devices in the future.
Meanwhile, Fitbit users in the US can download the Pandora app to listen to music. The feature is supported in the Fitbit Ionic, Fitbit Sense, and Fitbit Versa series (except Fitbit Versa Lite Edition). To download music from the app, one will need a paid subscription and a working Wi-Fi connection.
Fitbit Connect is a companion app for Mac and Windows computers that lets you sync fitness data between devices and transfer music to legacy Fitbit devices. The phasing out of the software on desktop is also evident from the fact that the company no longer recommends Fitbit Connect on its setup page.
LG Tone Free T90, T60 With 9 Hours of Battery Life, ANC Unveiled: All Details
LG Tone Free earbuds 2022 lineup has been unveiled along with some specifications by the South Korean company. The lineup includes Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, and TF8. The true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds are going to be rolled out starting late-August, according to LG Electronics. The Tone Free T90 TWS earbuds are this year’s flagship earphones from the company, and they feature up to 9 hours of battery life with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) off and a IPX4 rating for water and sweat resistance.
The South Korean tech giant, LG Electronics, has not revealed the prices for any of the above mentioned four TWS earbuds so far. Although the company is yet to reveal a definite launch timeline, it has announced that it will start rolling out the TWS earbuds in major markets globally in late-August. As previously mentioned, the company revealed some specifications of the LG Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, and TF8 earbuds.
LG Tone Free T90, T60, TF7, TF8 specifications
According to the company, the LG Tone Free T90 will be 2022’s flagship TWS earbuds offering from LG Electronics. It features a new internal structure with larger dynamic driver to help the earphones generate deeper and more satisfying bass, according to LG Electronics. The Tone Free T90 uses graphene, a material that is said to reduce vibrations. The earbuds also use Meridian Headphone Spatial Processing (HSP). The technology is said to enable the Tone Free T90 to offer a consistent tonal balance at a given volume.
LG Tone Free T90 TWS earbuds also feature Dolby Atmos with support for Dolby Head Tracking technology across all content. The company claims that the Tone Free T90 earbuds are the first wireless earbuds to feature an audio virtualiser designed by Dolby. They also support the Snapdragon Sound Technology Suite 1. It is said to offer 24-bit/96kHz resolution audio. The ANC technology on the Tone Free T90 gets the Double Step ANC Algorithm and Real Time ANC Optimiser. The Tone Free T90 feature a three mic + VPU setup. The eabuds support wireless charging. Both, Tone Free T90 and T60, feature IPX4 rating for water resistance.
The design of the upcoming earbuds’ has been created by LG Electronics in collaboration with POSTECH Ergonomic Design Technology Lab. The four TWS earbuds are said to be smaller and lighter in weight. The company said that the “Performance Fit” ensures the right positioning of the earbuds inside wearer’s ears. LG Tone Free T90 and T60 get the UVnano charging case, which offer a wider coverage by sterilising all parts of the ear gels. They also sport the Plug and Wireless feature that is said to enable the charging case to also work as a Bluetooth transmitter. The package will include a USB Type-C and an auxiliary cable as well.
LG Tone Free T90 and T60 are claimed to offer up to 9 hours of battery life with the ANC off. The charging cases of the two are claimed to come with up to 20 hours of battery life with ANC off. The quick charge feature on the Tone Free T90 and T60 TWS earbuds enables them to be completely charged after about an hour in the UVnano charging case.
Meanwhile, LG Tone Free Fit TF7 and TF8 feature a three-microphone setup. They also get the Median Sound technology and ANC. Both these earbuds models will also get UVnano charging cases. The earbuds are said to be designed for active lifestyles, and hence, they feature the SwivelGrip technology.
The Tone Free Fit earbuds also support fast charging. The Tone Free Fit TF8 and TF7 are claimed to offer up to 10 hours of battery life with ANC off, and the charging cases are said to come with up to 20 hours of battery life with ANC off. Both the TWS earbuds models from LG Electronics get a IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. The Tone Free Fit TF8 TWS earbuds also feature Plug and Wireless technology.
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