Apple’s live photos meet Google’s new app to make your photos less shaky and more awesome

June 8, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video

Apple’s Live Photos are, by design, something most people don’t really think about. You just take your still photos as you always would, and iOS automatically captures a bit of footage from before and after the photo was taken and turns it into a little animation. Sometimes these animations are amazing – little coincidental gems that you never would’ve nabbed otherwise. Often, though, they’re blurry, shaky messes that you won’t want. Google just released an app to try and fix this. Called “Motion Stills”, the new app exists pretty much solely to improve your Live Photos. Borrowing much of what Google has learned from its video stabilization efforts on YouTube and other projects, the app analyzes your Live Photos and does a bunch of crazy stuff in no time flat:
  • Throws out blurry frames, and tries to crop out bits where you’re just putting your phone back in your pocket
  • Determines what’s in the background and what’s in the foreground and actually isolates them for better stabilization (note the intense parallax effect between the barn and the hills behind it in the stabilized GIF below)
  • Tries to determine the best start/end point for the loop
  • Makes a GIF for you to share
The app only exists on iOS for now — which makes sense, given that Live Photos are pretty much exclusively an iOS thing. Third parties have been working on their own alternatives to Live Photos for Android, but none really reign supreme. With that said, this does further propel the idea that Google’s engineers are becoming more and more interested in iOS – it’s the second Google app in recent history to land on iOS first, following the May release of their (rather friggin’ good) iOS keyboard, Gboard. While Gboard borrows much from the Android keyboard, it also does quite a bit that the built-in Android keyboard doesn’t yet — things like GIF search, or emoji auto suggestions. You can find Motion Stills in the iOS app store right over here. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

This app builder is letting students turn their ideas into apps for free

June 6, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Technology

In 2016, everyone and their mother has an idea for an app. This is especially true on college campuses, where starting an app has seemingly replaced beer pong as the most popular extracurricular activity. The only problem is that there are far fewer developers than ideas, and no CS major is going to turn your napkin sketches into a full-fledged app for a 3 percent stake in the business. That being said, the trend of students starting companies (app-based or not) is great. It provides a type of entrepreneurial education that is unobtainable in the classroom, and can even spur the economy if it turns into a full-fledged business. So to help non-technical students get started, Bizness Apps, a DIY app development platform, has been giving free access to any student with a .edu account. In the first few months about 30,000 students have registered for the platform, and the company has partnered with entrepreneurship departments in about 50 universities to onboard students. What exactly does access to the platform get them? Either the tools to build an app for their own startup, or the ability to use Bizness App’s white-label solution  and sell apps to local small businesses, which could be a business in its own right.
But why is the company giving away a tool that normally costs $59/month per app, plus an optional $2,000 design fee for the white-label portion of the platform? Mainly because Bizness Apps was started while its founders were still in school. Andrew Gazdecki, co-founder of Bizness Apps, explained that starting a company in college changed his life, and “if [he] can help one student do the same I would consider this mission accomplished”. Of course, the more students using the platform, the stronger word-of-mouth promotion the company will get. But ultimately, the company is genuinely interested in helping create as many student entrepreneurs as possible. And in this app-crazed world we live in giving students access to an app-builder is probably the best way to make this happen. Is using a platform as good as learning to build a native app? Of course not. But for many students, free access to this platform could help them build the minimum viable product they need to prove traction, which help them raise funding or recruit real developers. Any student can register here, and as long as they use their .edu email address to sign up before September 1st they will receive free access forever. The company says that deadline is mainly to encourage students to get to work ASAP, and maybe even entice them to build something over the summer to bring back to campus in the fall. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Periscope Now Saves Broadcasts — And Streams From Your Drone

June 2, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Conversation, Culture, Interaction, Music, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video

PERISCOPE

If you want to know what’s really cool right now, go to a concert. Any concert. Once you get there, don’t look at the musicians. Watch the smartphone screens everyone throws up in the air as soon as the headliner appears. Look at the apps they run. Some people boot up the camera. Others choose Instagram or Snapchat. But more and more people are opening Facebook Live, or Periscope, or maybe even YouTube (but probably not YouTube) and streaming what they see to their friends who can’t be there. Live streaming is a hot topic in the film and TV industries, and at developer conferences all over Silicon Valley. But many questions remain. How do you shoot it? How do you find it?  Where does it go when it’s no longer, you know, live? This morning, Periscope attempts to answer a few of these unknowns. Most important, it will let you to keep your broadcasts forever, instead of having them disappear after 24 hours. This represents a fundamental shift for Periscope. Now you can build channels and maintain a presence instead of being exactly as cool as your last 24 hours. (It’s certainly also a response to Facebook Live, which from the start permanently preserved your videos.) Keeping anything for later, required downloading it and uploading it to YouTube or Facebook, which just crushes Periscope’s ongoing value. Periscope has tested the feature for a few days now by letting people add “#save” to their video description, and it’ll roll out to everyone over the next few weeks. Everything gets saved by default, by the way, so deleting that dumb ‘scope where you accidentally started the selfie cam and caught yourself picking your nose, means doing it manually.

...For the complete article, please see the link below. 

SOURCE: WIRED

The VR Photography Experience

May 16, 2016   |   filed under Uncategorized

Who remembers Pokemon Snap? The game was released in 1999 for N64 as a rail “shooter”, and let you take pictures of Pokemon while riding through different courses. But while your path through each level was predetermined, the photographs were not. Meaning users had free control of the camera and absolute discretion in what they could photograph and which type of shot to use. Now, almost 20 years later, one VR game developer has brought this idea into the 21st century by making a photography demo for the HTC Vive. Made by Chicago-based game developer Robomoto, the aptly-titled “VR Photography Experience” puts you in the shoes of an action sports photographer stationed at the top of a halfpipe, while a skateboarder skates from side to side. While the default view just makes it feel like you are standing there in VR, you have the ability to “raise” the camera and enter a viewfinder mode, which lets you snap shots of the action. Interestingly, the VR environment goes from 3D to 2D when a user raises the viewfinder, something that the developers said took a great deal of fine tuning and work. The developer noted on Twitter that the demo is part of a broader goal of using VR to “relive memories” instead of just play games. It’s not hard to imagine the simulation genre becoming a mainstay of VR gaming, whether it is photography games, flight simulators, or anything else that lets you experience what it’s like to do someone else’s job that is much cooler than yours. Currently, the experience only exists as an internal prototype, but the team said they are looking at various options to release it to VR audiences. The demo video also teases other real-life VR photography “missions” including paparazzi, wildlife (literally Pokemon Snap), war journalist, and stake out. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Dive head-first into the cosmos with SpaceVR

April 29, 2016   |   filed under Conversation, Culture, Participation, Technology, Video

One of the major promises of virtual reality is the ability to find yourself transported to exotic locations. Nothing is quite so exotic as the final frontier. SpaceVR wants to launch high-definition 360-degree cameras into space so that users can experience the majesty of the cosmos on their virtual reality headsets. The small 5-person company just raised a $1.25 million Seed round led by Shanda Group with participation from Skywood Capital. This money is going to quite literally throw their company into the sky. SpaceVR launched a KickStarter this past September to begin the process of getting their cameras into space. They raised over $110,000 with the goal of presenting viewers the same views as the International Space Station. Fast forward a few months and the company has gotten more ambitious— they want to launch their own satellites. To do so they’re looking to recruit the help of a little company called SpaceX to launch their eye 200 miles into the sky. The camera, dubbed the Overview 1, will have a pair of 4K fisheye cameras capturing the vast space around it and a lifespan of 6 months. VR filmmaker Chris Milk has famously called virtual reality the “ultimate empathy machine.” SpaceVR founder and CEO Ryan Holmes believes that VR in space only heightens that emotion. I chatted with Holmes about the “overview effect,” where people, when presented with a view of earth from afar, are much more likely to empathize with others and see the pettiness of so-called major issues in the face of viewing our little planet. “Prioritization changes,” Holmes told me. “There’s more of a focus on making the world sustainable, and [people] freak out about a lot of the stuff we’re doing to the planet now.” SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Your Phone’s Next Superpower? Putting Awesome VR in Your Pocket

April 25, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology

NEIL GODWIN/T3 MAGAZINE VIA GETTY IMAGES

For all the attention lavished upon the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and Magic Leap, most people will experience the wonder of VR with the same device they use to send a text and summon a car.

It's all going to be on your phone.

“While mobile VR may not trump PC-based VR gaming,” says Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s head of immersive and VR products, “we do believe mobile VR can be the best when it comes to videos and social interactions.” This makes sense when you consider two things. First, no other tech approaches the smartphone’s scale: 6 billion people will own one by 2020, according to one report. And second, phones are relatively cheap. Even Oculus founder Palmer Luckey concedes that a Rift for everyone remains years away. Meanwhile, smartphones are approaching the Rift’s capabilities. Throughout the industry, virtual reality is driving the next generation of features and technology. Your next phone will be a kickass virtual- and augmented-reality machine. This new design focus will change everything about smartphones, from the chip to the chassis. The first wave of smartphones led us all far beyond calls and texts. The next will take us into entirely new worlds. Continue Reading at WIRED

Infinite Arcade Makes It Simple to Build Your Own Videogames

April 22, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Technology

Players can build their own worlds by painting different kind of terrains into environments TINYBOP

Harkening back to an age where kids in the early 80's could build their own video games, the new Infinite Arcade (out April 28) revolves around constructing worlds. The app lets you choose from a handful of templates, from pinball to pong to runner games, and customize just about anything within them. Players begin by choosing a setting (desert, cave, candy land) and a character. “They all have slightly different behaviors,” says Gutierrez. He points to a square-jawed green character reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster. “This one runs around chomping things,” he says. Infinite Arcade draws on game tropes of the 1980s and ’90s without feeling retro. “I wanted to do a hardcore pixel game, but our designers were like, ‘We want to use curves!’” Gutierrez says. Terrain blocks, manipulated by dragging a finger across the screen, provide the game’s foundation. Each has a different function. Lava, for instance, is a deadly obstacle that kills any character that touches it. A trampoline tile propels you into the air. Faux bricks crumble under foot, and water is, you know, water. Players can add enemies like a zombie or evil snail, or collectibles like coins, or bricks that burst into coins when you collide with them. The app offers quite a bit of customization, and players can make levels as complex as they like, says Gutierrez. “This is the Minecraft generation of kids,” he says. “This is the generation of kids who are already immersed in worlds that are super complex.” Less obvious is the ability to create narratives. Players can attach speech bubbles and audio to any component the character can run into, essentially allowing them to build a story in game form. SOURCE: WIRED

“The World’s First Virtual Human”

April 21, 2016   |   filed under Uncategorized

Watch the EPIC Games and Ninja Theory teams join forces in creating a virtual connection for human actors to interface with game characters.

YouTube now offering support for 360-degree live streams and spatial audio

April 18, 2016   |   filed under Music, Participation, Technology, Video

YouTube will today begin supporting 360-degree live streaming on its service, confirming reports from earlier this year stating that such a feature was in development. One of the first videos to take advantage of this more immersive format will be this year’s live stream from music event Coachella, where select performances from the festival will now be live streamed in 360 degrees. With this announcement, YouTube is the first to launch 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio at scale, we should note. Spatial audio means playing sounds the same way people actually hear – or as YouTube explains, it’s about letting you listen as you do in real life – “where depth, distance and intensity all play a role,” writes Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer for YouTube on the company blog. For YouTube creators, all that’s required to take advantage of this new feature is a camera that supports the technology. Other than that, there’s no change to the current live streaming process, YouTube tells us. While all these technologies offer a new means of telling stories through video, they’re very new. Their ability to boost user viewing metrics in terms of engagement and minutes-watched in the long-term still remain unproven. That said, there’s definitely growing consumer interest in 360 degree videos and VR. Starting today, anyone will be able to do live 360-degrees on YouTube. Coachella will happen on the weekend, and will be the first high-profile example of the new live streams on the site. Meanwhile, from the end user perspective, there’s no extra technology or headsets required to watch 360-degree live streams – they’re available on any device, including desktop, tablet, iOS or Android. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Unreel.me Allows Creators To Build Their Own Video Streaming Sites and Apps

April 14, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology

  Unreal entertainment is set to launch their new platform, "Unreel.me", which provides users with the necessary tools to build their very own streaming site and app.  Monetization possibilities through Unreel.me includes advertising, paywalls, subscriptions, and merchandise sales.  The best part? Unreel.me's first $1 million will go entirely to creators, and it is completely free!  After the first million, the revenue share deal is 85% to creators, and 15% to Unreel.   SOURCE: TECH CRUNCH