New Google products, services take aim at its biggest rivals

Boston Herald

From virtual reality to a new smart-home speaker, Google is showing off just how pervasive it has become even as it's squeezed by its biggest competitors -- Facebook, Apple and Amazon. Google showed off a VR system called Daydream, along with plans for headsets that will compete with Facebook's Oculus Rift. In a jab at Amazon, the company announced Google Home, an Internet-connected speaker that listens for your voice commands to play music or control lights and thermostats in the home. It is reminiscent of Amazon's Echo and will be available later this year for a yet-unannounced price. In an attempt to outshine Apple, Google is also adding features to its Android operating system, including the ability to run apps without actually installing apps.

Augmented reality rocket launch app shows you the SpaceX launch like never before

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Using augmented reality, the 321 LAUNCH app will transform the way you watch live rocket launches. The 321 LAUNCH app uses AR technology to "launch" a SpaceX rocket. Are you ready to experience a rocket launch like never before? USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY worked together to blend technologies that will put you in control of a rocket launch from anywhere in the world. The app leverages cameras available in smartphones and tablets to pull in a live feed of your surroundings while dropping spaceflight hardware – in this case, launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center – on any flat surface.

Apple's iPhone could give augmented reality a jumpstart

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

There's some expectation that Apple could included an augmented reality feature in its upcoming iPhone. SAN FRANCISCO -- The reality is augmented reality is slowly seeping into everyday technology use by millions of Americans. It just needs an iPhone power boost. Last year's phenomenon of Pokemon Go -- one of the most-downloaded apps worldwide in 2016 -- and the popularity of Snapchat illustrated the potential of this technology to put mobile games and social networking into overdrive. The nascent tech, which overlays digital images onto the physical world (a park bench, your best friend, a pet), now gets down to business.

How Crowdfunding Can Help Save Silicon Valley From its Harebrained Investors

Huffington Post - Tech news and opinion

One of the best examples of a technology that would not have seen the light of day without crowdfunding is virtual reality. As Mollick explained, this was largely ignored by traditional funders after it failed to gain traction in the 1990s. In 2012, a 19-year old Palmer Luckey, who had built a prototype of a virtual reality headset in his parent's garage, launched a Kickstarter campaign for a commercial product. His goal was to raise 250,000 but there was so much demand that he ended up getting 2.4 million in orders. The product he later developed, Oculus Rift, was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for 2 billion.

As Facebook plans for the future, VR looms large

Los Angeles Times

When Google wanted people to know it was serious about virtual reality two years ago, it sent software developers attending its I/O conference home with Google Cardboard -- a cheap, build-it-yourself VR headset that developers could use with Samsung Galaxy smartphones. When Facebook wanted people to know it was serious about VR on Tuesday, it sent software developers attending its F8 conference -- all 2,600 of them -- home with Gear VR headsets, which retail at 99.99, and Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones, which cost 598 apiece. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's announcement of the high-end swag was met with emphatic applause from the audience of developers, who packed an auditorium in San Francisco's Fort Mason Center to hear him detail the company's 10-year plan. The Gear VR may not rival the coveted, high-end virtual reality headset released last month by Oculus VR, which Facebook acquired in 2014 for 2 billion. But it was enough to drive the message home: VR will play a big role in Facebook's future -- and so will developers who embrace the medium.