Posts Tagged ‘breaks’

Opportunity rover breaks record for longest distance driven off-Earth

When the Opportunity rover landed on the red planet in 2004, NASA only intended to drive it for about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) within 90 Martian days. But the rover turned out to be a hardy Mars explorer, and on its 14th year on the planet, it has…

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How Oculus Plans To Be Riding High When The Virtual Reality Wave Breaks

oculus-large

A company that was conceived less than a year ago today announced its Series B round of funding late last night, with a massive raise of $ 75 million to add to its existing $ 16 million Series A and $ 2.4 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding dollars. That company is Oculus Rift: A virtual reality headset dreamt up by Gaikai veteran Brendan Iribe and a team of other startup vets. With nearly $ 100 million invested, expectations are huge, but the company is ready to meet those expectations, Iribe tells TechCrunch, and exceed them with a vision of the future that blurs the line between the virtual and the real.

Why So Much Money, So Fast

The Rift has already managed to sell over 42,000 units prior to its consumer launch, via development kits that are admittedly rough around the edges, according to Iribe. That’s impressive enough, but it’s not what’s selling investors like Marc Andreessen and game industry legends like John Carmack on the Rift – that’s the experience provided by the next-generation prototype, which is functionally the same as what we’ll see from the first consumer device, Iribe says, but which has been used by only a few hundred people at most as of right now.

Once the new prototype was perfected, Iribe got in touch with Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, to say that they’d achieved what they’d set out to do and asked how soon they could come in to see it. The combination of the prototype demonstration, and former id founder and Doom creator John Carmack explaining his vision of where he sees the entire Oculus project headed “pretty much convinced them on the spot,” Iribe tells me. Dixon and Andreessen join the fairly limited group of outside VCs with ownership stake in Oculus VR, and Iribe says that the partners and funding were chosen specifically with the intent that they should help them get to through the initial V1 consumer launch without having to go find more money elsewhere.

“The point of the first raise was to build out the technology,” Iribe says, explaining what the money has been spent on so far. “We actually thought it would take us a bit longer to get to the point of where we’re at now.”

But it didn’t take that long. The new Oculus Rift prototype should be virtually identical in terms of experience to the version that ships to consumers.

Achievement Unlocked: Consumer-Caliber Experience

“We got to the point where the latest prototype of this technology really is beyond even what we expected for V1,” Iribe told me. “We kind of put the hammer down and said ‘Okay, this is it, this is definitely enough to totally blow away the world and deliver our consumer, V1 product.’ We’re looking back even now on the dev kit and going ‘oh gosh, this new one is so much better.’ It is literally an entirely different experience.’”

oculus-rift-consumer“Of the 300 people who have seen the current prototype, not a single person has come away not saying ‘That’s gonna change the world,’ and that’s really [what we needed to accomplish] in terms of delivering on the promise of the vision we’ve all had for so many years,” Iribe says.

There’s a general feeling that it’s a true ‘Holy Grail’ experience in terms of immersive reality tech among those who’ve tried the latest prototype, Iribe says. I asked if I’d be able to see for myself at CES coming up in January, but he says they’re not ready to announce yet what they’re bringing to the show, and we’ll find out closer to the date. Not to read too much into it, but that does sound pretty promising for those hoping to get a sense of this new design in action. The latest hardware still isn’t close to final in terms of product design, however, Iribe adds:

“It’s what we want to bring as an experience,” he said. “It’s a prototype, so it still has its circuit boards and exposed wires and all that, but the experience, meaning once you put the device on, it is what we want to deliver in a consumer product. People go in, spend long periods of time in the experience and come out and say ‘I want to do more of that.’ There’s no kind of discomfort, no dizziness, no nausea. So many of the technical hurdles have been pretty much nailed.”

Vision In The Near-Term: Both Literal And Figurative

As for things they’re still working on the engineering side, Iribe says that there’s an increasing interest in building more advanced eye movement detection to the Rift’s functionality.

“[We recently hired] a lot of vision guys, that’s a big effort for us now,” he says. “We’re really focusing on the vision side, in terms of tracking and using optical tracking and camera tracking. That’s going to be a big focus for us going forward. Over time, we want to get more of the body in the game, but right now we’re trying to get your eyes in the game, combining your vision with your head tracking.”

Aside from engineering work, there’s a lot that needs to be nailed down in the immediate future. There’s figuring out how to consumerize the actual product design itself, and then ramping up the initial production run. That’s why Iribe isn’t putting a firm date on the Rift’s availability date just yet: internally, they have a pretty good idea of when to expect it to reach retailers and customers, but they’re purposely keeping tight-lipped about those projections to make sure everything’s ready when the time comes. To that end, they’re also hiring smart people aggressively in virtually every capacity, as there’s not just a hardware and software component to the Rift, but services, an ecosystem, a consumer education initiative and much, much more that all need to come together at launch.

Carmack Codes And Codes And Codes To Avoid A Deflating Launch

Hardware startups, especially those dealing with novel input paradigms or wearable computing, have been multiplying sharply in the past couple of years, and recently we’ve seen a number that were initially crowdfunded via pre-orders deliver their shipping consumer devices. The results aren’t pretty: while some like the Pebble have been fairly well-received (though not universally loved), others like the Leap Motion and the Ouya have sounded a sour note. Iribe admits that potential fate is a little daunting, but believes that Oculus is doing everything right to avoid the same kind of crash at the gate.

Carmack_Headshot_PR“John Carmack is writing code as fast as he can, travelling as little as he can,” he said. “I think he’s back to the early days of kind of a Doom and Quake era of him being held up in a room just programming as fast as he can to make this work really well, and he tells me having more fun than he’s had in a really long time.”

That likely explains why his dual roles at both Oculus and id didn’t last long, as he stepped down from the original home of Doom and Quake late last month to focus on being Oculus VR’s CTO full-time. Carmack is doing what he loves most at Oculus, according to Iribe, which is tackling a difficult problem that’s “right on the edge of reality.” Carmack pioneered both 2D and 3D gaming, and he’s doing the same thing all over again with the Oculus Rift, and it “really works,” Iribe says.

Acquisition Potential, Valuation And Launch Sales Estimates

Along with launch date and Carmack project specifics, Oculus is also keeping mum on valuation. Essentially, Iribe very loosely suggested a 20 to 40 percent equity sale at this stage for a startup like Oculus VR, which would put the valuation somewhere between $ 200 and $ 400 million or so, with the heavy caveat that this is mostly educated guessing on my part and not data sourced direct from the company.

“The valuation wasn’t so high that [our investors] were getting a tiny sliver, we had a pretty good valuation at each round [...] that was fair for everybody,” was the only thing Iribe would say for sure on the matter. “It’s good, but not too crazy.”

That valuation is high enough that any prospects of Oculus Rift getting scooped up by Microsoft, Sony or any other major incumbent gaming company is slim to none, Iribe says, at least until after they deliver their initial run of consumer devices. He also says that personally, the idea of having built what they have and not releasing it themselves just seems impossible.

“We feel like we have a pretty good idea of what we can sell through pre-orders, and through consumer launch, for the first six, eight or even twelve months,” Iribe explains regarding their budgeting and the amount raised, and why they don’t anticipate having to find more capital pre-launch. Extrapolating from comments he made to me, I’d suggest they’re looking somewhere in the neighborhood of one million devices for a production run funded by what’s in their existing coffers, though Iribe declined to get into specifics. He did say that they see that expanding to hundreds of millions of devices and active users sometime in the next decade or so, thanks to the long-term Oculus vision of VR beyond the confines of gaming.

Immersed In The Big Picture

What we’re looking at is the evolution of virtual reality, starting with this headset. It’s going to be a little bigger than we’d all want it to be of course, and it will have its form factor challenges, but the experience inside is good enough that people are going to really enjoy it, and love going in, playing games and watching movies. And then it’ll quickly evolve, and its form factor will keep getting better; closer and closer to sunglasses, lighter and easier to wear. Very quickly, over the next decade or two, what we’re looking at really becomes about communications.

Just like the smartphone now represents the primary means with which we communicate digitally, Iribe sees a future where VR supplants a lot of the same usage, so that you have a pair of sunglass-style Rift goggles that you simply slip on when you want to talk face-to-face, as if in person, with your friend halfway around the world. Our kids will laugh at stories of typing away on virtual keyboards and smiling back at grainy video into the unblinking eye of a monitor-mounted webcam, and remote business won’t be so remote anymore. In short, Oculus is taking the first step towards a world where the “virtual” in virtual reality is just a technical distinction, not a description of experience.

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How Oculus Plans To Be Riding High When The Virtual Reality Wave Breaks

oculus-large

A company that was conceived less than a year ago today announced its Series B round of funding late last night, with a massive raise of $ 75 million to add to its existing $ 16 million Series A and $ 2.4 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding dollars. That company is Oculus Rift: A virtual reality headset dreamt up by Gaikai veteran Brendan Iribe and a team of other startup vets. With nearly $ 100 million invested, expectations are huge, but the company is ready to meet those expectations, Iribe tells TechCrunch, and exceed them with a vision of the future that blurs the line between the virtual and the real.

Why So Much Money, So Fast

The Rift has already managed to sell over 42,000 units prior to its consumer launch, via development kits that are admittedly rough around the edges, according to Iribe. That’s impressive enough, but it’s not what’s selling investors like Marc Andreessen and game industry legends like John Carmack on the Rift – that’s the experience provided by the next-generation prototype, which is functionally the same as what we’ll see from the first consumer device, Iribe says, but which has been used by only a few hundred people at most as of right now.

Once the new prototype was perfected, Iribe got in touch with Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, to say that they’d achieved what they’d set out to do and asked how soon they could come in to see it. The combination of the prototype demonstration, and former id founder and Doom creator John Carmack explaining his vision of where he sees the entire Oculus project headed “pretty much convinced them on the spot,” Iribe tells me. Dixon and Andreessen join the fairly limited group of outside VCs with ownership stake in Oculus VR, and Iribe says that the partners and funding were chosen specifically with the intent that they should help them get to through the initial V1 consumer launch without having to go find more money elsewhere.

“The point of the first raise was to build out the technology,” Iribe says, explaining what the money has been spent on so far. “We actually thought it would take us a bit longer to get to the point of where we’re at now.”

But it didn’t take that long. The new Oculus Rift prototype should be virtually identical in terms of experience to the version that ships to consumers.

Achievement Unlocked: Consumer-Caliber Experience

“We got to the point where the latest prototype of this technology really is beyond even what we expected for V1,” Iribe told me. “We kind of put the hammer down and said ‘Okay, this is it, this is definitely enough to totally blow away the world and deliver our consumer, V1 product.’ We’re looking back even now on the dev kit and going ‘oh gosh, this new one is so much better.’ It is literally an entirely different experience.’”

oculus-rift-consumer“Of the 300 people who have seen the current prototype, not a single person has come away not saying ‘That’s gonna change the world,’ and that’s really [what we needed to accomplish] in terms of delivering on the promise of the vision we’ve all had for so many years,” Iribe says.

There’s a general feeling that it’s a true ‘Holy Grail’ experience in terms of immersive reality tech among those who’ve tried the latest prototype, Iribe says. I asked if I’d be able to see for myself at CES coming up in January, but he says they’re not ready to announce yet what they’re bringing to the show, and we’ll find out closer to the date. Not to read too much into it, but that does sound pretty promising for those hoping to get a sense of this new design in action. The latest hardware still isn’t close to final in terms of product design, however, Iribe adds:

“It’s what we want to bring as an experience,” he said. “It’s a prototype, so it still has its circuit boards and exposed wires and all that, but the experience, meaning once you put the device on, it is what we want to deliver in a consumer product. People go in, spend long periods of time in the experience and come out and say ‘I want to do more of that.’ There’s no kind of discomfort, no dizziness, no nausea. So many of the technical hurdles have been pretty much nailed.”

Vision In The Near-Term: Both Literal And Figurative

As for things they’re still working on the engineering side, Iribe says that there’s an increasing interest in building more advanced eye movement detection to the Rift’s functionality.

“[We recently hired] a lot of vision guys, that’s a big effort for us now,” he says. “We’re really focusing on the vision side, in terms of tracking and using optical tracking and camera tracking. That’s going to be a big focus for us going forward. Over time, we want to get more of the body in the game, but right now we’re trying to get your eyes in the game, combining your vision with your head tracking.”

Aside from engineering work, there’s a lot that needs to be nailed down in the immediate future. There’s figuring out how to consumerize the actual product design itself, and then ramping up the initial production run. That’s why Iribe isn’t putting a firm date on the Rift’s availability date just yet: internally, they have a pretty good idea of when to expect it to reach retailers and customers, but they’re purposely keeping tight-lipped about those projections to make sure everything’s ready when the time comes. To that end, they’re also hiring smart people aggressively in virtually every capacity, as there’s not just a hardware and software component to the Rift, but services, an ecosystem, a consumer education initiative and much, much more that all need to come together at launch.

Carmack Codes And Codes And Codes To Avoid A Deflating Launch

Hardware startups, especially those dealing with novel input paradigms or wearable computing, have been multiplying sharply in the past couple of years, and recently we’ve seen a number that were initially crowdfunded via pre-orders deliver their shipping consumer devices. The results aren’t pretty: while some like the Pebble have been fairly well-received (though not universally loved), others like the Leap Motion and the Ouya have sounded a sour note. Iribe admits that potential fate is a little daunting, but believes that Oculus is doing everything right to avoid the same kind of crash at the gate.

Carmack_Headshot_PR“John Carmack is writing code as fast as he can, travelling as little as he can,” he said. “I think he’s back to the early days of kind of a Doom and Quake era of him being held up in a room just programming as fast as he can to make this work really well, and he tells me having more fun than he’s had in a really long time.”

That likely explains why his dual roles at both Oculus and id didn’t last long, as he stepped down from the original home of Doom and Quake late last month to focus on being Oculus VR’s CTO full-time. Carmack is doing what he loves most at Oculus, according to Iribe, which is tackling a difficult problem that’s “right on the edge of reality.” Carmack pioneered both 2D and 3D gaming, and he’s doing the same thing all over again with the Oculus Rift, and it “really works,” Iribe says.

Acquisition Potential, Valuation And Launch Sales Estimates

Along with launch date and Carmack project specifics, Oculus is also keeping mum on valuation. Essentially, Iribe very loosely suggested a 20 to 40 percent equity sale at this stage for a startup like Oculus VR, which would put the valuation somewhere between $ 200 and $ 400 million or so, with the heavy caveat that this is mostly educated guessing on my part and not data sourced direct from the company.

“The valuation wasn’t so high that [our investors] were getting a tiny sliver, we had a pretty good valuation at each round [...] that was fair for everybody,” was the only thing Iribe would say for sure on the matter. “It’s good, but not too crazy.”

That valuation is high enough that any prospects of Oculus Rift getting scooped up by Microsoft, Sony or any other major incumbent gaming company is slim to none, Iribe says, at least until after they deliver their initial run of consumer devices. He also says that personally, the idea of having built what they have and not releasing it themselves just seems impossible.

“We feel like we have a pretty good idea of what we can sell through pre-orders, and through consumer launch, for the first six, eight or even twelve months,” Iribe explains regarding their budgeting and the amount raised, and why they don’t anticipate having to find more capital pre-launch. Extrapolating from comments he made to me, I’d suggest they’re looking somewhere in the neighborhood of one million devices for a production run funded by what’s in their existing coffers, though Iribe declined to get into specifics. He did say that they see that expanding to hundreds of millions of devices and active users sometime in the next decade or so, thanks to the long-term Oculus vision of VR beyond the confines of gaming.

Immersed In The Big Picture

What we’re looking at is the evolution of virtual reality, starting with this headset. It’s going to be a little bigger than we’d all want it to be of course, and it will have its form factor challenges, but the experience inside is good enough that people are going to really enjoy it, and love going in, playing games and watching movies. And then it’ll quickly evolve, and its form factor will keep getting better; closer and closer to sunglasses, lighter and easier to wear. Very quickly, over the next decade or two, what we’re looking at really becomes about communications.

Just like the smartphone now represents the primary means with which we communicate digitally, Iribe sees a future where VR supplants a lot of the same usage, so that you have a pair of sunglass-style Rift goggles that you simply slip on when you want to talk face-to-face, as if in person, with your friend halfway around the world. Our kids will laugh at stories of typing away on virtual keyboards and smiling back at grainy video into the unblinking eye of a monitor-mounted webcam, and remote business won’t be so remote anymore. In short, Oculus is taking the first step towards a world where the “virtual” in virtual reality is just a technical distinction, not a description of experience.

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Dutch regulator says Google’s privacy policy breaks the law

Almost two years after it updated its privacy policy, Google is still facing the wrath of European watchdogs. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) has just ended a seven-month investigation into the search giant’s practices and, similar to rulings in the UK and France, has deduced that Google isn’t doing enough to inform users about the data it “collects and combines.” The DPA accuses Google of spinning an “invisible web of our personal data without our consent” with its Search, Gmail and YouTube services, which it states in no uncertain terms “is forbidden by law.” It’s another knock for Google, which has found itself under investigation by a total of six European privacy authorities after French privacy regulator CNIL initiated action on their behalf last year. Google has said that it “respects European law,” but its commitment will be tested at the Dutch DPA’s upcoming hearing, after which the authority will decide it wants to take “enforcement measures” against the company.

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Via: Techie News

Source: Dutch DPA

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Dutch regulator says Google’s privacy policy breaks the law

Almost two years after it updated its privacy policy, Google is still facing the wrath of European watchdogs. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) has just ended a seven-month investigation into the search giant’s practices and, similar to rulings in the UK and France, has deduced that Google isn’t doing enough to inform users about the data it “collects and combines.” The DPA accuses Google of spinning an “invisible web of our personal data without our consent” with its Search, Gmail and YouTube services, which it states in no uncertain terms “is forbidden by law.” It’s another knock for Google, which has found itself under investigation by a total of six European privacy authorities after French privacy regulator CNIL initiated action on their behalf last year. Google has said that it “respects European law,” but its commitment will be tested at the Dutch DPA’s upcoming hearing, after which the authority will decide it wants to take “enforcement measures” against the company.

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Via: Techie News

Source: Dutch DPA

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San Francisco Tech Company Gets Charity Tax Breaks For Helping Other Tech Companies

San Francisco asked tech companies to help local community groups in exchange for tax breaks. 21Tech’s charities, however, look an awful lot like startups.

Paul Sakuma / Via AP

Technology consulting company 21Tech is one of the six San Francisco tech companies earning 1.5% payroll tax breaks on new hires over the next six years in exchange for “giving back” to the community. The idea: to bring more tech companies to the city, but to make sure the massive influx of new, monied residents doesn’t come at the expense of existing neighborhood residents — a phenomenon recently described as “hyper gentrification.”

While most of the companies have focused on schools, nonprofits, and homeless shelters, 21Tech has taken a different approach: assisting two startups with getting bids on government contracts.

21Tech first proposed its plan to the city as follows: It would help small local businesses register as minority- and women-owned small businesses, which would give them priority status for getting discounted government contracts. 21Tech would help them navigate the whole process, including bidding for the government deals. The city didn't specify what kind of businesses they had to be, only that they somehow benefit the Mid-Market area.

The city did not outright dismiss the concept. “We didn't specify the sort of business,” Bill Barnes, the city administrator overseeing the tax break process, told BuzzFeed. “I know in Mid-Market, a lot of individual sole proprietors that are struggling with rent are PR or marketing or startups. That is the business mix that exists in the area.”

Whether these count as neighborhood businesses is a matter of technicality. So is the question of whether they qualify as minority-owned or women-owned businesses, or whether they really need much help in the first place. The question of whether their existence and success helps the neighborhood, however, is not. It should be possible to determine if Regroup, a mass messaging platform, and DelC2, a business and international transaction consulting group, have any true relation with and impact on the Mid-Market neighborhood. There is scant evidence that they do.

DelC2, according to their website, is an “international network of professionals in the United States and Spain” that helps clients “develop global strategies” by providing “business and international transactions solutions.”

Information about the company itself is limited. It has no records on LexisNexis. According to city records, its address is the tony Marina district. Its website lists a Google Voice number and a list of advisors. 21Tech helped the company register as a small, women-owned local business by listing one of those advisors as the owner.

DelC2 did not respond to BuzzFeed's emails or phone calls. But one of the advisors listed on the company's site told BuzzFeed he has no relationship with the company beyond a single conference call. He subsequently got his name removed from the website.

The other company, Regroup, isn't located in the Mid-Market area either. It is registered at a Mission District address, four blocks from Zuckerberg's $ 10 million pied-à-terre. The CEO, Joe DiPasquale, splits his time between New York and San Francisco.

DiPasquale founded Regroup while getting his MBA at Stanford. The platform, which allows companies, universities, and local governments to send simultaneous mass messages via email, text, social media, and voice, started as a service for Stanford students.

In 2008, DiPasquale raised an initial $ 2 million round of funding, mostly from prominent angel investing groups. He himself is an angel investor as well as a venture investor at an early stage and structured growth capital firm, and has worked in investment banking at Deutsche and done strategy consulting for Bain, IBM, and McKinsey.

At a recent City Hall meeting, 21Tech introduced DiPasquale to the community board as the poster boy of their work helping the local community.

When asked about the two companies' relationship, DiPasquale told the board that he met the 21Tech CEO several years ago at a Silicon Valley event, long before the tax breaks were conceived.

Questions were raised as to whether Regroup qualified as a minority-owned business. 21Tech argued that it did, because the CEO is gay.

In its October six-month progress report, 21Tech reports that it has registered Regroup as a small, locally owned business. According to city records, it has not.

Reached by BuzzFeed, DiPasquale said he didn't know much about how the tax break program worked. He seemed genuinely concerned: He couldn't remember the name of the committee he spoke before at City Hall but also seemed anxious to get off the phone. He has not responded to follow-up inquiries. Whether he knew he was helping 21Tech get tax breaks remains unclear.

21Tech did not respond to multiple inquires from BuzzFeed.

According to its six-month report to the city, 21Tech has helped the community in other ways, including taking an online pledge to keep streets clean, hiring a summer intern from San Francisco State University, telling staff about a local street fair with emails and a poster in the break room, posting jobs on the city website, going to local restaurants — a list on which it included Subway and Starbucks — and having the local Bike Coalition talk to employees about biking over lunch.

Barnes said he and the community advisory board are in the process of reviewing 21Tech's case.

He and the community board have asked 21Tech for additional information. The company will appear before the board next month to answer this and other questions about its six-month progress report.

“The intent is good, but they haven't verified the deliverables,” he said. “Our big focus is how are these benefits serving the geographic area.”

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This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: Steam News Breaks While We Record, Surface Sequels And Adobe Gets Mighty

kqwqOEe

A rare treat this week as you can hear the TechCrunch team react to breaking gadget news (the Steam Controller, to be specific) live as it unfolds. It’s like being inside our brains without the echoes and cobwebs. We also cover the big Surface 2 reveal, Steam OS, the Steam Box announcementsAdobe’s Mighty hardware and BlackBerry’s very bad quarter.

This week, we have a very special episode of the Gadgets Podcast with a ragtag team of lovable characters, including myself – Darrell Etherington – Chris Velazco and special guests Frederic Lardinois and TCTV Producer Steve Long, so you just know it’s going to be the heartwarming comeback story of a lifetime.

We invite you to enjoy our weekly podcasts every Friday at 3 p.m. Eastern and noon Pacific. And feel free to check out the TechCrunch Gadgets Flipboard magazine right here, as well as the TechCrunch Droidcast.

Click here to download an MP3 of this show.
You can subscribe to the show via RSS.
Subscribe in iTunes.

Intro Music by Rick Barr.

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Chromecast update breaks local media streaming in third-party apps

Meditate on Chromecast

We hope you aren’t depending on your Chromecast for local media playback. If you are, the device has just become a paperweight — temporarily, at least. Google’s most recent Chromecast update disables playback from external video sources, breaking third-party apps like AllCast and Fling that use the code for local-only streaming. Developer Leon Nicholls is hopeful that functionality will return when the official Cast SDK is ready for public apps, although we wouldn’t count on it. As Android Central notes, Google isn’t promising local media support on the Chromecast; for now, it’s focused on the cloud.

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Via: GigaOM

Source: Koushik Dutta (Google+), Leon Nicholls (Google+)

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Dropbox Alternative Lima (Née Plug) Works With Chromecast, Breaks Into Kickstarter Tech Top 10

Plug Kickstarter

It’s been a crazy 36 days since Plug started its Kickstarter campaign. First, Plug is now called Lima due to some trademark issues. But everything else stays the same. The $ 69 adapter will seamlessly transform your USB drives into a personal Dropbox for all your devices. And now it will support Chromecast.

As a reminder, here’s how Lima works: you plug your router into the little adapter, as well as one or multiple USB drives. After that, you launch the app on your computer and then everything will go through Lima thanks to a deep filesystem integration. All your files will be moved to those drives and available on all your devices, at home or away. The only limit of this Dropbox alternative is the amount of storage space you have on your USB drives.

Lima is actually a small Linux-based machine that creates a VPN network between your devices and the adapter. The overall experience feels a lot like browsing and using your Dropbox files, except that you can choose to cache some folders on your device or not — it works like the offline playlist button in Spotify. Finally, you don’t have to pay a subscription fee and you own your files since they are not stored in an Amazon S3 data center. Lima expects to deliver its adapters in December.

For its new Google Chromecast feature, the company takes advantage of the SDK to stream media content to your TV using your phone or tablet. Music, photos and even videos should all work. For a little bit more than $ 100 ($ 69 + $ 35), you can stream everything that is on your computer from your sofa.

“We automatically re-encode all the videos that are stored on Lima,” co-founder and CEO Séverin Marcombes tells me. “An h.264 version of each video will be kept in Lima’s cache.”

That step was already necessary to allow Lima users to watch their videos on their phones and tablets — especially for iOS devices that can really only stream h.264 videos. The team just took it one step further by building Chromecast support into the iOS and Android apps.

Even more impressive than the device itself is the Kickstarter campaign. Back in July I wrote: “the Kickstarter campaign just started but its goal is pretty low. At $ 69,000, the Paris-based team will certainly attract a thousand backers to reach its goal.” It turns out that this sentence diminishes what the team has accomplished.

In just 12 hours, Lima managed to shatter its $ 69,000 goal. In fact, with $ 858,000 and 24 days to go, the campaign is now the 10th most-funded Kickstarter campaign in the technology category. In this list, there are pretty well-known projects, such as Form1 and Oculus Rift. The question on everyone’s mind now is whether the campaign will break the $ 1 million barrier.



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Scanadu Scout ‘medical tricorder’ for smartphones breaks crowdfunding record

Scanadu_large

Scanadu, the health startup aiming to arm consumers with a smartphone accessory capable of reading vital signs on their body, has taken another step forward in making its “medical tricorder” a reality. Having met its $ 100,000 crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo in one day, the Scanadu Scout went on to become the website’s most funded project ever, ending with $ 1,664,574 in total funding from 8,500 backers. While Canonical’s Ubuntu Edge smartphone looks set to smash that record, the campaign is some way off its $ 32 million target.

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