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CES 2016: HTC aims to reshape virtual reality

At CES 2016 in Las Vegas this week, HTC announced new developments to the Vive VR system that it says represent the next step in bringing virtual reality to a mass-market.

With Vive Pre, HTC is “fulfilling the promise of creating fully immersive experiences that change how we communicate, how we are entertained, and how we learn and train”, according to a company statement.

“When we first announced Vive ten months ago we had an ambitious goal of fundamentally changing the way people communicate and interact with the world – forever,” said Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO, HTC. “Since then Vive has received a phenomenally positive reception from media, industry commentators, consumers, and the hundreds of partners and brands we’ve been working with to deliver inspiring and dynamic VR content.

HTC Vive product 1

“For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise. Today we stand on the precipice of a new era. Vive is creating a world where the only limit is human imagination.”

HTC provided the following information:

The refreshed design of the Vive headset has been refined to offer greater comfort to the wearer, increasing the sense of immersion in the virtual worlds it creates. The headset is now more compact and features an updated strap design that provides greater stability and balance. An improved visual system with brighter displays and image refinements leads to increased clarity, and an even deeper sense of presence. On the inside, interchangeable foam inserts and nose gaskets mean the Vive Pre fits comfortably and securely to the user. Vive Pre can also be easily adjusted to suit a variety of facial shapes while remaining compatible with a variety of eyeglasses.

Integrated front facing camera merges the physical and virtual

Vive Pre brings elements of the real world into the VR realm. A newly developed front facing camera allows you to do more both inside and outside your Virtual world by blending physical elements into the virtual space. Being able to take a seat, find your drink, and carry on conversations without removing your headset is only the beginning of what’s possible.

Greater Control

Completing the VR experience, the Vive’s controllers have been overhauled and enhanced with updated ergonomics and softer edges, greater balance, new textured buttons, and grip pads for a more comfortable feel in the hand. The new dual stage trigger makes interaction with objects smoother, and haptic feedback delivers vital feedback about your interactions with the virtual world. For power, the controllers now feature integrated rechargeable lithium polymer batteries with micro-USB charging that provides over 4 hours of runtime on a single charge.

The Vive base stations have also been redesigned to be more compact, quieter, and provide improved tracking.

Complete Solution

The HTC Vive will be the first VR hardware to support SteamVR. Created by Valve, Steam VR tracking and the Chaperone system are optimized for use with Steam, one of the largest online platforms for PC, Linux and Mac games and software.

Shaping the Virtual Reality Industry

Since announcing Vive, HTC and Valve have worked with thousands of developers and partners to create VR content across a wide spectrum of sectors; from gaming and entertainment to health, automotive, retail and education. HTC and over 15 Vive partners will be showcasing VR applications at CES 2016, demonstrating the potential of a world without limits on imagination. Leading automotive manufacturer Audi has created a premium retail experience where consumers can explore their dream car with virtual reality, and Dassault Systemes, the 3DEXPERIENCE company, will showcase how it is developing the future of 3D product design in VR. HTC is also showcasing a new brand for Vive at CES 2016.

While Vive is scheduled for commercial launch in April 2016, HTC and Valve will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers.

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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