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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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Nintendo announces Stranger Things 3 game

The Netflix Original show is set to launch a retro-style game on the Nintendo Switch.

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In collaboration with Netflix, developer BonusXP has created Stranger Things 3: The Game. It is the official companion game to Season 3 of the hit original series. The game and latest season are expected to launch on US Independence Day, the 4th of July, a date that will, of course, stick in American gamers’ memories.

This adventure game blends a distinctively retro 16-bit art style, reminiscent of games from the time when the series was set. It is claimed to have modern gameplay mechanics to deliver nostalgic fun with a fresh new twist. Players will be able to experience their favourite show through a mix of exploration, puzzles, and combat.

Just ad in the show, teamwork is at the heart of Stranger Things 3: The Game. Players can team up in a two-player local co-operative, or in single player mode alongside an AI partner. Players can choose to play as one of twelve characters from the show, each with different abilities and attributes. Together, they’ll play through familiar events from the series, while also uncovering never-before-seen Stranger Things secrets, ensuring a fun experience for those new to the world of Stranger Things as well as for those familiar with the series.

Key Features:

  • Experience the show in a new way, exploring the eerie world of Hawkins to uncover new mysteries beyond what’s seen in Season 3.
  • Jump right into the action of this pick-up-and-play adventure: gameplay mechanics that allow players from beginner to advanced skill levels to get in on the fun.
  • Take your game to a higher level by trying out different character combinations and collecting all the secrets the expansive world of Hawkins has to offer.
  • Team up with a friend, leveraging drop-in/drop-out local co-op to take on the mysterious monsters of Hawkins together. While playing solo, use a collection of “buddy commands” to control both characters and still experience all the fun.
  • Choose from 12 playable characters, each with their own unique talents and stats.

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New AirPods and iMac in iStore this weekend

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iStore has announced availability of the new second generation AirPods and iMac, unveiled this week, in store this weekend.

The AirPods are priced from R2 899 and the new iMac from R23 499. Customers can also order these new products from iStore’s website.

“AirPods revolutionised the wireless audio experience with a breakthrough design and the new AirPods build on the magical experience customers love,” said iStore in its announcement. “The new Apple-designed H1 chip, developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free ‘Hey Siri’.”

AirPods come with either a standard charging case or a new wireless charging case that works with Qi standard chargers. The wireless charging case can be ordered for R3 699. The case can be used with the first or second generation AirPods.

The iMac line now has up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance. The new iMac is faster for everyday tasks, up to demanding pro workloads. It includes retina display, all-in-one design, quiet operation, fast storage and memory, modern connectivity and macOS Mojave.

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