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Ford story told with VR

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Ford has recently launched a virtual reality app that allows racing enthusiasts to experience the sites and sounds of a major car race, all from the comfort of their couch.

Picture yourself standing trackside at one of the biggest auto races in the world, next to one of the hottest supercars ever made. The sights, the sounds – all of it so intense. Only you’re not really there, you’re thousands of miles away in your bed.

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The new Ford virtual reality app makes all of this possible. Launched for iOS and Android users in the United States, Ford’s new virtual reality app delivers a powerful storytelling platform for consumers and fans to experience Ford innovations like never before.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to provide truly immersive experiences that showcase the best of Ford Motor Company,” says Lisa Schoder, Ford digital marketing manager. “Our virtual reality platform allows us to tell dramatic, impactful stories, to show a surprising side of Ford.”

The first piece of featured content is the story behind the all-new Ford GT’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fifty years after the original victory, the innovative balance of power and efficiency in Ford’s EcoBoost engine delivered an incredible class win earlier this year. Outside the U.S., viewers can watch the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/8sla9kSxO8I

“Just as Ford GT goes beyond the traditional at Ford, our entry into virtual reality content creation demonstrates how our passion for innovation permeates every piece of our business and offers a new touch point for tech-savvy consumers to connect with our brand,” says Schoder.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship; Continental Tire Road Race Showcase; Road America; Ford Performance; 5-7 August 2016; Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA; 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; Joey Hand, Dirk Müller; © 2016, Wes Duenkel

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship; Continental Tire Road Race Showcase; Road America; Ford Performance; 5-7 August 2016; Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA; 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; Joey Hand, Dirk Müller; © 2016, Wes Duenkel

To help achieve its goals, Ford partnered with integrated production company Tool of North America, a leader in virtual reality and 360-degree content and mobile app creation. Tool has won numerous awards for innovation in storytelling, including Emmys, The One Show, South by Southwest, AICP and the Cannes Lions Palme d’Or.

“As an auto and racing enthusiast, I was inspired by the opportunity and the challenge of helping the iconic Ford brand make its virtual reality debut,” says Erich Joiner, director and founder, Tool of North America. “For the innovative Ford GT, I wanted to create something that gives people an exciting virtual reality experience beyond the traditional. I wanted to use the immersive technology not only to transport them to a new place, but to take them where only a special few from the Ford racing team typically go – inside the famed track at Le Mans.”

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship; Continental Tire Road Race Showcase; Road America; Ford Performance; 5-7 August 2016; Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA; 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; Joey Hand, Dirk Müller; © 2016, Wes Duenkel

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship; Continental Tire Road Race Showcase; Road America; Ford Performance; 5-7 August 2016; Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA; 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT; Joey Hand, Dirk Müller; © 2016, Wes Duenkel

The Ford virtual reality app is accessible to anyone with a mobile device. Each piece of content offers users the option to experience it with a virtual reality headset, but headsets are not mandatory.

Ford virtual reality app users can expect the next story to debut in September, featuring Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Ford Focus RS RX. Users with their push notifications turned on will get the update when new content goes live.

The new virtual reality platform goes beyond showcasing Ford Performance vehicles.

“On top of sharing virtual reality stories about our innovative products, we are also looking to bring mobility issues to the forefront,” says Schoder. “As we expand our business to be both an auto and a mobility company, we are pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility.”

You can download the app now for iOS and Android devices.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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