So far, Apple has been the slowest of the big boys to getting an augmented or virtual reality product to market. The company’s iPhone is the single most popular smart phone on the planet and its computer products enjoy relative popularity (in early 2014, they were almost 9% of the market, a quadrupling from turn-of-the-century numbers). On a trip to Tokyo this week, CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed that he believes there is “no substitute for human contact. And so you want the technology to encourage that.”
Cook also said he thinks augmented reality can be “huge.” And if the numbers from the recent phenomenon of Pokémon Go are any indication, he’s absolutely right. Apple’s various platforms add up to a big opportunity, but their phones in particular could pave the way for the company making a serious play in the augmented and virtual reality space.
In many ways, modern humans are already experiencing many of the things previously only dreamed of in science fiction. One can walk down the street and have a video call with someone a thousand miles away. Perhaps the next step on this path will be the spectre of hologram calls. Back in 2013, Skype told the BBC that it was already capable of as much. Apple would certainly make waves if it were the first major platform to make this Star Wars-esque technology an everyday reality.
Other potential exists on the hologram front. Video entertainment and gaming could reach a whole new level. The Apple TV is one of the less successful ventures the company has ever launched, but the advent of holographic television shows taking place in one’s living room might revive interest.
Apple has made a number of acquisitions that point in the direction of holographic, augmented, and virtual reality technology. The company which created the original Microsoft Xbox Kinect sensors, PrimeSense, is now owned by Apple, along with Faceshift, who provided real-time motion capturing for Star Wars productions. The two main reasons to acquire a company are either to stop it from competing with you or to make use of its assets, and Apple presently has no major dog in the augmented reality/virtual reality fight. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that somewhere in Cupertino, someone is working on something for the future.
Cook also said that he doesn’t think virtual reality is as “broad-based” as augmented reality. The company has been in meetings with immersive technology companies such as Jaunt, a company which makes films compatible with virtual reality technology. Cook seems most interested in the communication aspect of AR and VR, saying that conversations could be made more productive.
I think that things like these are better when they’re incorporated without becoming a barrier to our talking. You want the technology to amplify it, not to be a barrier.
Perhaps Cook, like many, fears a future of people walking around with helmets, totally immune to their surroundings, and would rather find ways to boost traditional communication and technological capabilities. More of a Google Glass than an Oculus approach to the thing, as it were. In any case, it does seem that virtual reality, augmented reality, and even holographic communications are just around the bend for consumers.
It’s important to remember that just a decade ago, a smart phone in every pocket was hard to imagine, so the rise of these technologies could happen faster than anyone expects. The success of Pokémon Go was only a preview of things to come.
Images from Shutterstock.
Eidoo Ethereum Wallet Takes Out Full Page Ad in WSJ to Troll J.P. Morgan
A Swiss-based Ethereum startup has taken out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal to troll J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who only last month called cryptocurrency a “fraud.”
Eidoo Launches Digital Wallet
Eidoo took out the ad on Wednesday, the same day it launched its digital currency wallet for users of Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. The company also plans to launch a debit card allowing people to spend ether and bitcoin.
The WSJ ad, which is a clear PR stunt ahead of the company’s launch, reads: “Maybe Jamie will fire you. But, you’ll be free to trade in the crypto-world.”
J.P. executive Jamie Dimon came under fire last month after declaring bitcoin a fraud. It later came to light that the Wall Street bank is trading bitcoin for clients.
“It’s worse than tulip bulbs. It won’t end well. Someone is going to get killed,” Dimon said at a conference hosted Barclays. “Currencies have legal support. It will blow up.”
Dimon’s criticism was ill timed, and not just because his firm was facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. Well-known figures on Wall Street and beyond are starting to embrac blockchain technology. Chief among them is Goldman Sachs, which recently announced that it i considering a bitcoin trading operation.
Morgan Stanley CEO recently said cryptocurrency is “more than just a fad,” but didn’t disclose any plans to launch a trading operation. Like other banks? Morgan Stanley is exploring the potential of blockchain applications.
Cryptocurrency Market Regains Momentum
After a volatile month of September, the cryptocurrency asset class is once again attracting strong bids. The total market cap for all digital currencies is approaching $155 billion, with bitcoin accounting for more than half the total.
Ethereum briefly traded above $310 before paring gains all the way back down to $300 where it currently sits.
Digital currency wallets like Eidoo have grown in popularity as investors look to safeguard their tokens from cyber breaches.
KickassTorrents Domains Seized, Alleged Owner Arrested
The world’s largest torrent website has been seized, with its alleged founder arrested by US authorities, in what is a comprehensive blow to the domain and the wider torrenting community.
Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national and the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, the largest torrent website in the world was arrested in Poland yesterday. The US Government is seeking his extradition.
Following his arrest, US authorities have charged Vaulin with criminal copyright infringement and have seized multiple domain names associated with the website.
The complete list of charges are:
- One count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement
- One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering
- Two counts of criminal copyright infringement
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R.Caldwell made the announcement, revealing that Vaulin had set up servers in multiple locations around the world and moved his domains several times due to several law enforcement seizures and lawsuits.
Vaulin is charged with running today’s most illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.
The criminal complaint against Vaulin alleges some intriguing numbers behind the world’s most popular torrent website.
- The website gained over 50 million unique visitors per month.
- It was also the 69th most frequently visited website on the internet
- Its net worth is estimated at over $54 million.
- Its annual advertising revenue was in the range of $12.5 million to $22.3 million.
- The website operated in nearly 28 languages.
Furthermore, the website was already ordered to be blocked by courts in various countries including the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia, the complaint alleged.
As things stand, KickassTorrents and a number of its domains, all of which can be found in its very own server-status page, are all offline and unreachable.
The arrest and the subsequent takedown is certain to leave a void in the torrent community, as KickassTorrents was even bigger in the popularity stakes than the Pirate Bay.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
Popcorn Time Is Still Going Strong despite Netflix’s Global Expansion
Movie- and TV shows-streaming platform Popcorn Time is still being used as a go-to viewing resource for users around the world.
An MPAA-led takedown ensured that headlines were made of the demise of PopcornTime and its streaming resource YTS. YIFY, the group behind YTS was declared to be shut down permanently. An unnamed individual in a quiet suburb in New Zealand was revealed to be the mastermind behind the movie-release operation. All of the above occurred during the final months of 2015.
At the time, the takedowns were heralded as a comprehensive blow to piracy and illegal streaming.
2016 saw Netflix expand globally to a 130 new countries, adding the internet movie and television streaming network’s reach extend to a massive 190 countries.
Popcorn Time’s Many Variants
Arguably, a majority of the millennials who were far too young or unemployed during the advent of streaming music and downloading movies online are likely to be able to afford a monthly Netflix fee. However, Netflix may have shot itself in the foot with a recent revelation. More on that soon.
PopcornTime’s alternative .se fork is found to be among the top 9000 websites in the world – plenty of traffic for a website that’s essentially the sum of its home-page. There’s an active reddit community for PopcornTime’s CE (Community Edition) and other forks, including the SE variant.
The community is still strong for a software that was supposed to be all but dead. Reddit boards are filled with competing chatter and accusations of malware-laden forks. It goes without saying that readers should always proceed with caution while downloading any installer or executable on the internet and the same applies for installers of movie and tv-streaming platforms, illegal or otherwise. The point is, there are numerous forks replacing the original Popcorn Time, enough to compete and engage in flame wars against each other.
A week after Netflix firmly basked in the spotlight and worldwide attention following its expansion, a recent update by the company on its official blog announced that it will strengthen measures to restrict VPN users connecting to Netflix. Before Netflix officially went global, paying users from around the world used unblockers, proxies and VPNs to gain access to the streaming platform. This practice has long been discussed by Netflix, even publicly.
David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture at Netflix, penned a blog post titled “Evolving Proxy Detection as a Global Service”.
An excerpt from the post reads:
Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are.
For Fullagar’s part, he begins the note in acknowledging that members only use proxies or unblockers in order to gain access to all content. However, such a measure could, plausibly, put off paying members of Netflix, let alone those that the company is trying to rope in with its new global expansion.
That’s not to say there’s bound to be a mass exodus away from Netflix to other streaming options such as Popcorn Time. However, the very notion of restriction is certain to put off a member who is paying as much as anyone else around the world and yet, is told of the unavailability of programming – due to the location of the user. Furthermore, restrictions are also likely to keep those using free streaming services from trying Netflix and instead continue to use the free resource.
In the meantime, peer-to-peer sharing via torrents, streaming platforms like Popcorn Time and release groups may be squashed. In the age of the distributed internet, there will always be replacements.
Images from PopcornTime.SE
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