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HTC to blur lines between virtual and reality at MWC

The Vive Focus Plus adds more controls to make it easier to interact with virtual environments.

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HTC Vive has revealed its premium virtual reality (VR) hardware for enterprise customers, the Vive Focus Plus. Vive upgraded the existing six degrees of freedom (6DoF) Focus headset to incorporate dual 6DoF controllers, giving users the ability to seamlessly interact with their virtual environment with the same freedom as PC VR devices. This enhancement also makes porting existing PC VR content easier for developers while making it physically more portable and natural to use.

“At Vive, the announcement of Vive Focus Plus furthers our commitment to rapidly iterate and refine the VR market for both businesses and consumers,” said Daniel O’Brien, General Manager of the Americas, at HTC Vive. “This rollout of Vive Focus Plus leads the way for deeper immersion, more realistic training and simulation, and easier porting of experiences from PC to the stand-alone category.”

Blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality, the VR equipment brings users greater comfort and full enterprise support. HTC claims it offers more comfort in use and lays the groundwork for extended sessions in VR needed by commercial customers. The headset also ships with several professional features including Kiosk Mode, Gaze Support, and device management tools to remotely enroll, monitor, and manage multiple headsets all at once. 

It will be available for purchase starting in Q2 2019 on www.vive.com in 25 markets worldwide, supporting 19 languages. In most markets, the product will include an enterprise license for use at no additional cost.

Powered by the Vive Wave Platform with content from Viveport, subscribers will also have access to a growing library of titles on the newly announced Viveport Infinity offering. It is the first unlimited “Netflix-like” subscription service for VR. With this subscription, members can explore a wide range of games, apps, and experiences. In addition to Vive Focus Plus, it is compatible with high-end PC-based VR systems as well as the full spectrum of WAVE supported headsets. Members will be able to use a single account across their portfolio of VR devices when the service launches on April 2nd.

NEW INNOVATIVE CONTROLLERS
Vive Focus Plus offers two ultrasonic 6DoF controllers featuring an analog trigger that gives users the ability to control objects or interactions with pressure-sensitive input, making experiences more immersive. Additionally, with the aid of the WAVE platform and SDK tools, porting from PC-based VR to Vive Focus Plus will be relatively easy for developers.

Companies across the globe such as SimforHealth and Immersive Factory are already implementing Vive Focus Plus for medical training and safety simulation purposes. This all-in-one solution is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile VR Platform enabling the business markets to collaborate and engage in new and effective ways.

Olivier Pierre, COO and Founder of Immersive Factory, said: “In our dedication to occupational health and safety, we easily ported our entire Hazard Spotting range from the Vive Pro to Vive Focus Plus to facilitate our large corporation deployments. Vive Focus Plus will perfectly immerse our clients in realistic environments enabling full movement, which supports memorization of process and procedures, and improves behavior by creating consequences to their actions. Having a professional standalone headset is very important for us to widely integrate and deploy virtual reality for workforce training at large groups, with plants all other the world, who previously saw the equipment as a barrier.”

Olivier Gardinetti, CTO at SimforHealth, said: “With HTC’s Vive Focus Plus providing a high-end processor and 3K AMOLED display, we are able to create realistic and immersive 3D environments for our medical and nursing simulators, providing better training outcomes for HCPs without wires or connected computers. Moreover, the 6DOF controllers have improved the way to perform specific medical interactions that were not possible with the regular 3DOF controllers. Now, Simforhealth’s simulators have a better, more comfortable user experience.”

VIVE AT MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS
Vive will be showcasing the newest standalone headset, Vive Focus Plus and the new Vive Pro Eye, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The company will be spotlighting its most notable partner experiences like construction safety and hazard training, medical simulation for nurses and its own multi-user collaboration tool, Vive Sync, in addition to demos on the future of VR and 5G. 

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How tech is keeping us young

Research by Lenovo revealed people who use tech feel, on average, 11 years younger.

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Technology is making the world feel younger, healthier and more emotionally connected, reveals new research by Lenovo, suggesting a growing relationship between technological innovation and wellbeing.

The research, which surveyed over 15,000 individuals from around the globe, from the US, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France and Italy, not only found 40% of global respondents feel “a lot” or “somewhat” more youthful thanks to technology, but on average it made them feel younger by 11 years.

This rings most true in China, where 70% of Chinese respondents said technology made them feel more youthful, which could be perhaps due to technologies ability to build connections between generations, especially those who might have once felt disconnected from tech-savvy youngsters. For example, grandparents are now able to better communicate with their grandchildren via smart technology due to its growing ubiquity and ease of use.

The research suggests that this sentiment is felt world-over, across genders and ages. “To know how to operate newer technology makes me feel younger” one US woman, said.  Another woman, from France, also stated, “Compared to the younger generation who are born with all these technologies, my adaptability makes me feel younger”. On the other side of the globe, one female respondent in India cited tech as making her feel like she “can do anything with it which any youngster can do,” and one Chinese male respondent said: “It helps me catch up with the times – not only gaining more knowledge, but also feel that I’m on-trend; I feel younger”.

The research generally revealed that many older generations think using technology helps them to connect better with younger people as well as feel livelier and more knowledgeable. This is especially evident when it comes to the role smart devices (from PCs, tablets to smart home assistants and more) play in terms of relationships with family and friends. When asked to compare technology today to those of 20 years ago for giving them the ability to feel connected to what is going on in the lives of the people they care about, 65 percent answered it’s “getting better”. While 75% also said technology is improving their ability to stay in touch with family and friends who live far away.

The global research also revealed that tech is helping people when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, offering emotional gains, particularly in parents. Over three-quarters (78%) of working parents stated the ever-connected nature of technology helps them feel more emotionally connected to their children, even when they are away from home. An even larger portion (83%) of working parents agreed that emerging technologies are making it easier for them to feel confident that their kids are safe and secure while they are at work.

Over two-thirds (67%) of respondents in the survey stated they were optimistic about the future of technology and the role tech can play in our lives and society, especially in wellbeing, with 67% believing devices are currently having a positive impact on the ability to improve their overall health. And that’s hardly surprising, considering 84% also said tech has empowered them to make improvements in their lives overall.

Take for instance how one respondent, a 51-year-old woman from the US, highlighted how science is using technology to do great things for amputees, and enabling those suffering from mental illness to better connect with people from all over the world. “I think that the medical breakthroughs we’ve had are a tremendous statement on how we can have a positive relationship with technology,” she said.

The recognition that tech is helping to improve the quality of life could also be a result of the time it tends to save people. Half of respondents across all markets (50%) feel their smart devices save them 30 minutes or more a day by helping them do something faster or more efficiently. Similarly, over half (57%) agreed smart devices, such as computers and smart home devices like smart displays and smart clocks, are making them more productive and efficient, the highest perceptions of which were seen in China at 82% and India at 81%.

In terms of personal health, 36% of respondents said smart devices have made it easier for them to access health care providers and make doctor’s appointments, and a further 39% of those under 60 years of age stated modern tech makes it easier for seniors to contact emergency services.

A 23-year-old woman from India, for example, expressed her belief that the technological advancement of medical science is helping people better fight diseases and potentially cure them. “Lives of people are better off nowadays because they know ways of curing such health hazards,” she said. “Through technology, increasing the life span of an individual is very much possible.”

Psychologist and founder of Digital Nutrition, Jocelyn Brewer, said: “Keeping up with advancements in technology can feel like a full-time job, but it can have positive impacts on people’s sense of themselves and their age. While older people are stereotyped as being techno-phobic or inept at staying on-trend, this research points to the fact that maintaining currency in the digital space helps people feel more youthful, more connected to young people and youth culture, which in turn is a social currency for feeling valued and a sense of belonging or in ‘the know’.

“It’s this tech knowledge that drives the perception of feeling younger, without having to revisit the angst of our adolescence!

“Staying connected to the people we care about is a wonderful feature of technology. And while it is no replacement for face-to-face connection, it is a valuable supplement to communication for those who might be geographically divided. Parents can manage a range of responsibilities and provide increasing appropriate autonomy to teenagers through a variety of communication tools, reminders and systems that can help take the struggle out of the daily juggle.”

Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of User and Customer Experience, Lenovo, said: “There is a growing relationship between innovation and wellbeing as smart technologies are not only helping people globally to stay more connected but aiding wellbeing in the form of compassion and empathy by building better connections between them.”

“Technology has a transformational ability to unite people across generations and walks of life around the world, with the potential to help them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives. At Lenovo, we passionately believe in creating smarter technology for all, which is why we focus on making our technology accessible, blending into the everyday lives for the benefit of more people.”

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Advanced traffic management tech market hits $1bn

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A new report from Navigant Research analyzes the ongoing transformation occurring in the traffic management industry, providing global market forecasts, segmented by region and technology, through 2028.

Advanced traffic management systems (ATMSs) such as adaptive traffic control (ATC) are enabling greater efficiencies in the traffic management ecosystem and can help integrate the expected growth in vehicle populations without overwhelming existing infrastructure. ATMSs are also enabling the development of smart intersections, which are emerging as one of the most important data-driven backbones needed for solving core city challenges. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, the global market for advanced traffic management will be worth more than $1.1 billion in 2019. Annual revenue is expected to grow to nearly $3.8 billion by 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.2%.

“The global advanced traffic management market is expected to more than triple by 2028,” says Ryan Citron, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “Over the next 10 years, the market is expected to achieve gradual but accelerating growth as cities prioritize reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, make improvements in safety and livability, and integrate ATMSs with other smart city initiatives (e.g., smart street lighting).”

Currently, cities vary in their level of maturity in using ATMSs. Collecting traffic and vehicle detection data is often the first step toward advanced traffic management. Then, in-depth traffic analytics enable traffic managers to develop mitigation strategies and make operational improvements to existing traffic signal timing systems. In cities with mature traffic management solutions, ATC technologies enable traffic signals to adjust based on real-time traffic conditions, traffic data is sent from traffic lights to connected vehicles, inter-agency data sharing is on the rise, and transport platforms are used to manage mobility ecosystems.

The report, Advanced Traffic Management for Smart Cities, analyzes the ongoing transformation occurring in the traffic management industry. The study focuses on ATC, traffic analytics, artificial intelligence, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and vehicle detection technologies. Global market forecasts, segmented by region and technology, extend through 2028. This report also explores regional trends in advanced traffic management strategy and highlights city case studies where innovative projects are being deployed. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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