Consumer Electronics Show awash with altered realities

LAS VEGAS -- Altered realities abounded at the Consumer Electronics Show gadget-fest, touching everything from sex and sports to sales and space exploration.

See Full Article

Virtual reality (VR) headsets immersed people in fictional worlds, while augmented reality (AR) eyewear overlaid digital data on the scenes around them.

"Virtual reality takes you to another place, while augmented reality brings another place to you," said Ari Grobman of Lumus, an Israeli company that specializes in optics technology for augmented reality.

"I don't see them as competing forces at all; they are very complementary."

Facebook-owned Oculus began taking pre-orders for its eagerly-anticipated Rift VR headsets at a price of $599 when the CES show floor opened on Wednesday. Rift was slated to begin shipping in March.

The Oculus booth at the CES trade-only event had a seemingly endless queue of people waiting to dive into Rift.

HTC used CES to announce enhancements to a Vive VR headset it is bringing to market.

"For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise," HTC chief executive Cher Wang said in a release.

"Today we stand on the precipice of a new era."

While video game players have been natural early targets for virtual reality, the technology is being put to use for education, medicine, sports, porn and more.

"Virtual reality is a big deal here," Gartner analyst Brian Blau said at CES.

"I was trying to count the number of booths that at least had a VR headset, and there were too many."

VR for QBs

Young startup STRIVR Labs mentally trains US pro football quarterbacks by virtually putting them into plays using Rift headsets.

"It takes you as close to the real life experience of a player that you can get," former quarterback Trent Dilfer said while taking part in a virtual reality panel at CES.

"I think coaches that don't implement this are really missing the boat."

Virtual reality is also being used for fan experiences, such as providing the illusion of being at a stadium or trying to block hocky pucks fired at a net by pro players.

California-based porn company Naughty America is using virtual reality to put viewers in the heart of the action in sex scenes, a demonstration showed.

"I think everyone has been looking for that in adult entertainment and it is here," Naughty America vice president Lauren S told AFP.

"Seeing is believing."

Naughty America has added VR videos to the online porn catalog that can be accessed by people with monthly subscriptions to the service.

US space agency NASA used Rift at CES to let people virtually fly around a towering rocket that it plans to launch in 2018.

The International Space Station is equipped with Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality headgear.

"I think it is going to increase the speed at which we can do our science," said Hugh "Trey" Cate of NASA.

Information in the air

San Francisco-firm Skully was at CES with its first augmented reality motorcycle helmet.

A tiny projector displayed driving directions, or showed what was going on behind a rider by tapping into a camera built into the rear of the $1,499 helmet.

"Motorcycle riders are fanatics, and they are really excited about this," Skully manager of special projects Clint Masterson told AFP.

Lumus AR technology has been used by US military jet pilots.

"It is battle-proven," Grobman told AFP. "It has been in combat almost daily in Iraq."

Silicon Valley-based Atheer Labs uses Lumus optics engines in a "smart glasses platform" aimed at businesses.

People wearing the glasses see information float in front of them, and can interact with it using gestures, head motion or voice commands, according to Ketan Joshi of Atheer.

"This is the evolution of computing," Joshi said.

"Information surrounds you and you can interact with it by literally reaching out and touching it or talking to it."

Industries in which AR is being put to work include manufacturing, health care, insurance, and oil-and-gas, according to Joshi.

Workers in the field are able to remotely tap into computer or brain power in the office for help with unfamiliar or puzzling scenarios.

Grobman envisioned a day when a car driver could slip on AR glasses to get help with a roadside repair or someone could use them to have a spouse guide them through cooking dinner.

Travelers might one day slip on AR glasses to get translations displayed as they explore places where they don't speak the language.

"We don't believe, in the end, people will be wearing these glasses day in and day out," Joshi said.

"It is more the genie who comes to my aid and we solve a problem together."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Waterton, Glacier parks get dark-sky designation

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WATERTON, Alta. -- A pair of sister parks straddling the border between Alberta and Montana have received a special designation. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, as the Canadian and U.S. parks are known, have received an International Dark Sky Park designation. Source
  • Robots boldly go where no one has gone before: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The robotic Cassini spacecraft that has been orbiting Saturn for the past 13 years began its final and most daring observation of the ringed planet by diving down through a small gap between the rings and the planet itself, a dangerous move never attempted by a spacecraft before. Source
  • Trump administration wins victory in effort to roll back Obama climate change efforts

    Tech & Science CBC News
    At the Trump administration's request, a federal appeals court agreed Friday to postpone a ruling on lawsuits challenging Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency had asked the court to put a hold on the case shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing officials to roll back the Clean Power Plan. Source
  • Facebook isn't doing enough to control violent posts, says expert

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeMeet the godfather of Canada's outlaw biker club, Satan's ChoiceWhat's life worth? Ken Feinberg on victim compensationFacebook isn't doing enough to control violent posts, says expertFull Episode Serena McKay was just 19 when she was killed in Sagkeeng First Nation in northern Manitoba. Source
  • Facebook preparing to fight political propaganda

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Facebook is acknowledging that governments or other malicious non-state actors are using its social network to influence political sentiment in ways that could affect national elections. It's a long way from CEO Mark Zuckerberg's assertion back in November that it was "pretty crazy" to think that false news on Facebook influenced the U.S. Source
  • A robot that picks apples? Replacing humans worries some

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SPOKANE, Wash. -- Harvesting Washington state's vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. Source
  • Humpback whale babies 'whisper' to their moms to avoid detection by predators

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Newborn humpback whales "whisper" to their mothers to avoid being detected by predators such as killer whales, new research suggests. Never captured before, the baby whale call recordings were collected using tags placed temporarily on the whales by a team of ecologists in Denmark, Australia and Scotland. Source
  • Scientists solve century-old mystery of Antarctica's Blood Falls

    Tech & Science CTV News
    It’s a mystery that has baffled scientists for more than a century; how salty, blood-red water is able to ooze out from a million-year-old glacier in a region known for its freezing temperatures. When explorer and geoscientist Griffith Taylor discovered a 54-kilometre long glacier in Antarctica that released a deep red liquid in 1911, he attributed the strange phenomenon to red algae colouring the moving water. Source
  • Robots and new technology take the stage in battle against invasive species

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A robot zaps and vacuums up venomous lionfish in Bermuda. A helicopter pelts Guam's trees with poison-baited dead mice to fight the voracious brown tree snake. A special boat with giant winglike nets stuns and catches Asian carp in the U.S. Source
  • British inventor demonstrates flying suit in Vancouver

    Tech & Science CTV News
    British inventor Richard Browning lifted off from the shore of Vancouver Harbour on Thursday in a personal flight suit that inspired references to comic superhero 'Iron Man.' Using thrusters attached to his arms and back, Browning flew in a circle and hovered a short distance from the ground, captivating attendees at a prestigious TED Conference. Source