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Gear VR goes beyong gaming

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Although the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR was initially launched mainly for entertainment uses, many companies are finding it useful in the restaurant, travel and hotel sectors.

The Samsung Gear VR, the virtual reality gaming and multimedia headset, is ‘gearing up’ to move into other realms. Users of the Gear VR are already comfortable with the plug-and-play device’s ability to transport users into new gaming arenas.

But, it turns out, the Gear VR has valuable uses over and above individual enjoyment.

“The Gear VR paired with Samsung devices delivers an entirely new level of immersive virtual entertainment,” says Craige Fleischer, Director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa. “Consumers can now download a collection of games, multimedia and movies in HD quality with a 360° view.”

The Gear VR is already bringing new entertainment dimensions in terms of home movies, games and numerous app capabilities. Where it really shows its flexibility is in the spheres of business and education.

The Samsung Gear VR is adding value to the business industry in sectors such as restaurants, travel agencies and hotels, while the possibilities for educational use keep rising. Giving students of all levels the opportunity to interact with content in 3-D learning environments can be enormously productive, whether looking at school-level science pupils ‘walking with dinosaurs’ in 3-D or medical students learning how to perform a delicate surgical procedure.

Futurists have been predicting the rise of immersive virtual reality headsets as instructional tool. The Samsung Gear VR, through its personal engagement with the student, helps to make learning even more meaningful. It can ‘bring the world’ to learners wherever they might be. Significantly, it also allows students to become creators of content and not only consumers.

The Samsung Gear VR has the ability to enhance business performance as well. For example, a major credit card company is discussing how it might use virtual reality technology to give customers insights into places they are considering visiting and hotels where they might like to stay. Similarly, this thinking can be extended into the areas of real estate and luxury brands, offering potential buyers a truly enhanced preview of property or items they might be interested in buying.

Another futuristic business opportunity lies in fine dining. By adding in a virtual reality facility, restaurants can enhance the sensory experience of dining even further. Instead of only enjoying the taste of a region’s food, you could enjoy a meal while ‘looking’ around the area from which it originated: Imagine eating French-inspired food while gazing at the vista of a Paris café setting, for example.

“The technology offered by the Samsung Gear VR offers more than simply individual enjoyment,” says Fleisher. “We are seeing that the possible scope is no longer limited to gaming and consuming multi-media. Today, we are becoming ever immersed in creating content and using virtual reality to provide business and education solutions as well.”

*The Gear VR is compatible with the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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