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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.

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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3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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