Developer ‘Survios’ Details Process of Porting VR Title to iMac Pro, Says Apple Has ‘A Lot of Passion’ for VR

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When Apple launched the iMac Pro last December, virtual reality applications and content creation were headlining features for the high-end computer. Prior to that, the company focused on Metal 2 and VR-based content as major additions to macOS High Sierra during WWDC 2017, also announcing multiple game studios putting their support behind Mac-based VR experiences, like Valve and Epic using the HTC Vive headset.

Today, another VR studio backing Apple’s efforts in this space has become the focus of a new report by Ars Technica. The studio, called “Survios,” was approached by Apple to port its new software “Electronauts” to macOS, part of many VR apps aimed at showcasing the iMac Pro’s top-of-the-line capabilities.


In the new interview, Survios studio head Mike McTyre and software engineer Jason Meisel discussed the “nearly painless” porting process, what working with Apple was like, and the important distinction between Apple’s focus on AR vs VR.

According to Meisel, Apple focused on ease of portability and ensured that early VR Mac developers wouldn’t hit roadblocks during the porting process. Right now on Mac, VR experiences are supported using an optimized version of Valve’s SteamVR platform and Survios developed Electronauts in the Unity game engine, which “can build directly to a multitude of platforms” spanning macOS and Windows.

“Essentially, what they’ve done really well is that they’ve been working with Unity and with Valve to make that whole process of porting a game that already exists using Unity and just get it running on the iMac,” Meisel added.

Speaking on the topic of the small install base of an iMac Pro-only VR title, McTyre said that the studio noticed “a lot of passion” from Apple, and it’s clear that the Cupertino company is planning “a lot more growth” in VR moving forward.

We’re seeing a lot of resources on their end, a lot of effort, a lot of passion. They want to focus on this and work on this. So that might be true now, but that’s just the starting point. It starts here, and let’s see what they add on to that next… I truly believe that they’re going to put a lot more growth into that going forward beyond this. This is just a starting point.

To expand the support of VR on Mac computers, McTyre said that in a few years he hopes to see Macs launch with integrated GPUs that sport minimum spec requirements for VR. Right now, even the iMac Pro development kit includes an external GPU enclosure, and support for eGPUs will launch wide in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. McTyre hopes this is just a stopgap solution for graphics-heavy apps like VR: “I do think we are not that far off from the built-in GPUs just being good enough to just, out of the box, play VR.”

Photo of the Survios offices in Culver City, California by Samuel Axon via Ars Technica

McTyre also touched upon the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, the latter of which has been more of a focus for Apple in recent years thanks to ARKit in iOS. Apple has been tied to potential future products that could use either AR or VR, but Survios is specifically focused on VR and McTyre said AR is just “not as far along yet as VR.”

The concept that AR is a version of VR but better, in my mind, is not true. It’s a different experience. Televisions did not make movies obsolete. Movies did not make books obsolete. Mobile gaming did not making console gaming obsolete, and console gaming did not make PC gaming obsolete. It’s all nonsense. We’ve been through this a million times over the last century. It’s a new medium, and AR and VR are different. Is there overlap, just like TV and movies have overlap? But they’re not the same thing.

For more details on Apple’s relationship with VR developers, be sure to visit Ars Technica and read the full interview with Survios.

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Apple opens application process for 350 scholarships to 2018 WWDC

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As it has done in most other years, Apple has started taking WWDC scholarship applications for attendees that could not otherwise afford to attend the $ 1500 event.
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Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains

Brain-Like Computers

As much as it might seem like our computers are “thinking” as they perform human-like tasks, like recognizing our faces and predicting what we might say next, they don’t actually function like the human brain — at least not yet. Researchers at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering have developed a device known as the “memtransistor,” which performs both memory and information processing functions. This makes it remarkably similar to a neuron and unlike a computer, which can only complete these processes separately. The team’s work was recently published in the journal Nature.

An artist's depiction of the memtransistor, which looks something like a gray square computer chip, in between two halves of a "brain." Image Credit: Hersam Research Group
An artist’s depiction of the memtransistor in between two halves of a “brain.” Image Credit: Hersam Research Group

The memtransistor is essentially a combination of a memristor and a transistor. Memristors, or memory resistors, remember the voltage that has been applied to them but can only control a single voltage channel. By transforming such a memristor from a two-terminal to a three-terminal device in the memtransistor, the Northwestern team made this tech much more capable for complex circuits and systems.

Developing an efficient, working neural network that operates like the memtransistor would not only be more brain-like; it might also use less energy than digital computers, as it would eliminate the need to run two separate processes.

Transforming Tech

Study leader Mark C. Hersam clarified in a press release why the abilities of the memtransistor allow it to be more brain-like and effective, explaining: “…in the brain, we don’t usually have one neuron connected to only one other neuron. Instead, one neuron is connected to multiple other neurons to form a network. Our device structure allows multiple contacts, which is similar to the multiple synapses in neurons.”

The researchers believe that it will be relatively simple to scale up this technology for larger, practical use.

“Making dozens of devices, as we have done in our paper, is different than making a billion, which is done with conventional transistor technology today,” Hersam qualified. However, he added that: “Thus far, we do not see any fundamental barriers that will prevent further scale up of our approach.”

Whether this scale-up will actually take place is yet to be seen. But such technology could make the computers and smart devices that we interface with every day smarter and more capable, and even perhaps make them start to feel more organic and even human. It could also allow neural networks to advance and perhaps make futuristic tech like brain-computer interfaces much more possible.

The post Future Computers Will Process and Remember Info at the Same Time, Functioning More Like Real Brains appeared first on Futurism.

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[Update: Available now] Google’s Tez app will soon be able to process bill payments

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A couple of months back, Google introduced a brand new mobile payments app exclusive to India. The country’s banking landscape is a little different to many of the territories that currently have access to Android Pay, and so it needed a different approach. Until now, Tez has only been able to pay participating merchants or transfer between users, but it will soon be possible to pay utility bills, too.

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[Update: Available now] Google’s Tez app will soon be able to process bill payments was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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HomePod setup process requires an Apple device capable of running iOS 11

Additional HomePod details are trickling in ahead of its scheduled February 9 launch…. Read the rest of this post here


HomePod setup process requires an Apple device capable of running iOS 11” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Snapchat is now selling hats and sweatshirts inside its app — and testing out Snapchat’s commerce potential in the process

Do people want to buy stuff inside Snapchat? Looks like Snapchat wants to find out.

Do people want to buy things directly through Snapchat? The company is trying to find out.

The company launched a new in-app Snap Store on Thursday, a section where users can buy sweatshirts with Snapchat’s logo, or a stuffed plush toy depicting Snapchat’s now famous dancing hotdog character. You can get to the store by scanning a special QR code on Snapchat’s website, and the company will sometimes feature the new store inside the Discover section of the app where it has professional content, like shows, from publishing partners.

Snapchat has sold branded merchandise before, but only on Amazon, not inside its own app. It even sells its video-recording sunglasses, called Spectacles, from an online store, but not inside Snapchat.

Snapchat’s dancing hotdog Snapchat

Which makes Snap’s decision to open this new store an interesting one. Snapchat is not going to make meaningful money selling sweatshirts — but that’s not the point. Instead, it looks as though Snapchat is trying to get some insight into how its user base might discover and buy products inside the app. Do people want to buy items from inside Discover? Do users navigate to the store using the special QR code that opens it inside the app?

Maybe Snap doesn’t care about that stuff — and selling sweatshirts is a fun way to turn some of its users into walking billboards for the product. Or maybe Snap has broader commerce ambitions, and selling its own gear from inside the app will give it a way to figure out what works — and what doesn’t — before signing up a bunch of partners.

Snap’s been thinking for years about selling items inside Discover. But that hasn’t happened. When the company first rolled out Snapcash, a peer-to-peer payments feature, it looked like commerce was going to follow. That never happened, either.

In any case, the store is now available inside the app, and Snapchat says it’ll drop new products next week. For now, the company will only ship to U.S. addresses.


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Apple to decide location of new campus without public bidding process

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Following comments from CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday, Apple on Thursday confirmed it will not hold a public auction to decide the site of a new U.S. campus that will be built in part using money repatriated from the company’s overseas cash hoard.
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New York attorney general says FCC’s net neutrality vote would come after a ‘corrupted’ comments process

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an update today on his office’s investigation into fake FCC net neutrality comments. More than 5,000 people have filed reports with the office over fake comments, the group says, and up to 2 million comments misused Americans’ identities. More than 100,000 came from New York, Florida, Texas, and California separately. As we reported last month, and as Schniederman confirmed again today, the FCC has refused to help with the investigation.

Schneiderman said in a public statement: “As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda. The FCC must postpone this…

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Google’s Tez app will soon be able to process bill payments

A couple of months back, Google introduced a brand new mobile payments app exclusive to India. The country’s banking landscape is a little different to many of the territories that currently have access to Android Pay, and so it needed a different approach. Until now, Tez has only been able to pay participating merchants or transfer between users, but it will soon be possible to pay utility bills, too.

According to Google, Tez has handled 140 million transactions in its first ten weeks and has more than 525,000 businesses signed on to accept payments.

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Google’s Tez app will soon be able to process bill payments was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Rumored Snapdragon 845 specs point to next-gen Kryo cores, but old process

Qualcomm should announce the Snapdragon 845 chipset by the end of the year but some unconfirmed info is making the rounds. The new flagship chip will be built on a 10nm Low Power Early process (from TSMC rather than Samsung). So we can’t expect performance gains due to the process. Gains will be had, however, as new chip will use 3rd gen Kryo cores – four of them, based on Cortex-A75. Those will be paired with four A53 cores for efficiency. The graphics will be upgraded to Adreno 630, though little is known about it beyond further AR and VR optimizations. The Snapdragon 845 will…

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