Author's Archive

Oculus Execs Believe Controllers Are The Missing Link In Virtual Reality

Future of VR panel_2 When you put a child in virtual reality, they instinctively raise their hands hoping to see them, says Oculus CTO John Carmack. Yet Oculus doesn’t have its own gloves or handheld controllers, despite rumors amongst the VR community that Oculus would reveal a controller today at its Oculus Connect conference. Carmack concluded “The missing link in VR is controllers”. But… Read More

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Josh Constine

September 20th

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The “Oculus Platform” Marketplace For Virtual Reality App Launches This Fall

Oculus Platform Oculus announced the “Oculus Platform” store for developers to distribute their virtual reality apps and experiences today at the Oculus Connect conference. Starting this fall on the Samsung Gear VR made by Oculus, this revamp of the Oculus Share marketplace will let users browse the Oculus Platform within virtual reality and download apps, games, and entertainment… Read More

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Josh Constine

September 20th

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Oculus Reveals Its New “Crescent Bay” Developer Kit With 360-Degree Head Tracking And Headphones

Crescent-Bay-Rear-Pers-on-Light Oculus gave the world the first look at its new developer kit Crescent Bay today at the Oculus’ Connect conference (livestream), and I got the very first hands-on demo. Crescent Bay has a faster frame rate, 360-degree head tracking, and integrated headphones, plus it’s lighter. Oculus also announced the new Oculus Platform coming to the Samsung VR, which brings VR to a large… Read More

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Josh Constine

September 20th

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Rumor: Oculus Will Unveil A Handheld Virtual Reality Controller At Its Conference

Sixense Stem Oculus Oculus‘ headset lets you look around virtual reality but requires integrations with unofficial controllers to move an avatar, fire weapons, or input other commands. But at tomorrow’s Oculus Connect virtual reality conference, sources say Oculus is expected to unveil an official controller or controller industry standard to make it easier for developers to build more complex games. Read More

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Josh Constine

September 19th

Gadgets

Come To The TechCrunch Virtual Reality Meetup In LA On Sept 18th

vr-meetup14 The night before the Oculus Connect conference, TechCrunch is bringing together the virtual reality community for an evening of cool demos, free drinks, and a chance to meet TechCrunch’s writers and VR startups in the space. Register here for the TechCrunch Virtual Reality Meetup. From 6:30pm to 9:30pm at the The Mondrian Hotel’s beautiful Skybar in West Hollywood, come mingle… Read More

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Josh Constine

September 12th

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Airware Preps Launch Of Its Commercial Drone Operating System With $25M From Kleiner

Airware Featured Image Building a drone’s hardware and software from scratch is tough and expensive, but open source drone kits are inflexible. So to power businesses looking to customize drones for commercial uses from agriculture to industrial inspections, Airware has raised a $25 million Series B led by Kleiner Perkins. The money will fund the launch of Airware’s drone operating system later this… Read More

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Josh Constine

July 23rd

Gadgets

Google Glass’ Lead Electrical Engineer Adrian Wong Defects To Oculus

1006243_10101105202352425_1191882884_n Adrian Wong still lists himself as a “professional daydreamer” on LinkedIn, but he’s just left Google[x] where he was a lead electrical engineer on Glass to start “Building the Metaverse” at Oculus VR. Wong had been at Google since December 2010 following a stint at Sandia National Laboratories, but now he’s working at Facebook’s latest mega-acquisition. A… Read More

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Josh Constine

May 15th

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How Oculus And 8 Fake Ears Could Morph Concerts Into Video Games

Binaural 3D Microphone head I’m standing on a circular stage with neo-folk musician Beck. Surrounded by cheering fans, I blush, then turn and wave to thank them. They don’t see me though, because I’m actually sitting in a dark, empty back room at Sundance Film Festival, wearing an Oculus Rift. Read More

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Josh Constine

April 13th

Gadgets

How Oculus And 8 Fake Ears Could Morph Concerts Into Video Games

Binaural 3D Microphone head I’m standing on a circular stage with neo-folk musician Beck. Surrounded by cheering fans, I blush, then turn and wave to thank them. They don’t see me though, because I’m actually sitting in a dark, empty back room at Sundance Film Festival, wearing an Oculus Rift. Read More

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Josh Constine

April 13th

Gadgets

For More Than War: Airware Demos Its Drone Platform By Protecting Rhinos From Poachers

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Airware wants to prove drones have plenty of uses beyond killing people. Today the unmanned aerial vehicle hardware/software/firmware startup detailed how it’s built and deployed special drones to thwart animal poachers in Kenya, Africa. The demo could build interest for the launch of Airware’s commercial drone platform later this year.

Airware was founded in 2010 and graduated from Y Combinator in March 2013 with the goal of bringing the drone revolution to a wide variety of businesses and other areas such as precision agriculture, land management, infrastructure inspection of powerlines or oil derricks, and search and rescue.

Airware builds drone hardware, software and firmware operating systems that control them, as well as their user interfaces. Businesses and organizations can then build apps and other functionality on top of Airware’s drone platform to perform their own specific purpose without having to create an end-to-end UAV system by themselves.

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In May 2013, Airware raised a big $10.7 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by Google VenturesRRE VenturesLemnos LabsPromus VenturesShasta Ventures, and Felicis Ventures – the biggest post-Demo Day round in Y Combinator history. It’s been using the money to bridge the gap between hardcore military UAV development, and the do-it-yourself drones and toy quadcopters that have recently become popular.

Later this year, Airware’s commercial drone platform will expand beyond beta testser and become broadly available. But first it needs to help change the world’s perception of what drones are for. “We want to educate  people on the very positive uses for drones”, Airware founder and CEO Jonathan Downey tells me.

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Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Air Prime certainly helped, but commercial drone use in heavily populated area is a still a ways off and will require strict regulation. Airware wants to show how drones can be used for good right now.

So in December, Airware sent a team to Kenya to work at Ol Pejeta, East Africa’s biggest black rhino sanctuary. There the worked the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to deploy a drone built specifically to monitor the sanctuary for intrusions by poachers using the drone’s on-board cameras. Airware writes that “The drone, equipped with Airware’s autopilot platform and control software, acts as both a deterrent and a surveillance tool, sending real-time digital video and thermal imaging feeds of animals – and poachers – to rangers on the ground using both fixed and gimbal-mounted cameras.”

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Covering so much ground on foot or even by car would be cumbersome, while using full sized planes or helicopters would be prohibitively expensive. But with Airware’s drones, Ol Pejeta rangers can use a simple interface to fly drones around the sanctuary and spot poachers day and night.

Downey says “I think the more people that see these [non-military uses for drones], the more comfortable they’ll be with someone coming to their house and doing a rooftop inspection using a small drone.” While it’s easy to imagine all the scary things that drones can do, it’s important to remember that few technologies are inherently bad. It’s about what we do with them. Sure, some inventors become masters of war.  But Airware wants to democratize drones to benefit mankind, not blow it up.


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Josh Constine

January 14th

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