BBC Strictly Come Dancing Transformed into 360 Degree Video Wonder

Ok, I will be the first to admit that I do not sit down in front of a TV or computer on a Saturday evening to view BBC 1’s hugely popular show Strictly Come Dancing. I know people who do, I am just not one of them, but, when you place the technical filming innovation that is 360-degree video with the intention of creating something unique, well, even I want to know more.

The video below looks like a fairly standard YouTube flash video, I mean HTML 5 clip, but while playing the video, you now have the option of viewing the clip in a full 360 degrees. To do this simply hold the left click while moving the mouse or trackpad within the video, you will now experience a whole new immersive and interactive viewing experience.

Quick tip, if the video seems a lower definition than normal, don’t worry, eTeknix has not suddenly leapt back to the 90s, the video quality menu is located in the normal position which is within the black bar that incorporates the volume icon etc, for some reason the icon does not clearly show up when embedding; this video goes up to 1080p.

This project was a collaborative effort that incorporated the technical skills of Rewind, BBC Technology and the Strictly production team.  The clip is choreographed to include the shows regular dancers who are dancing to a classical version of music star Rihanna’s hit “Only Girl In The World”

This project certainly pushes both the boundaries and also opens up a world of possibilities for future broadcasts which could, in theory, utilize the 360-degree technique. Hopefully, the BBC will remain a vibrant source of creative output which will in turn offer audiences greater interactivity with programmes in the future. Technology accomplishments such as this open the door for an exciting future where 360-degree online streaming could revolutionize TV habits.

 

Firefox Users Can Now Stream Netflix Without a Plugin

Firefox users will no longer be required to download the Microsoft Silverlight plugin if they are wanting to watch Netflix through their browsers. The newest version of Firefox integrates Adobe Content Decryption Module (CDM), which is needed to stream from Netflix on HTML 5.

For a long time now Mozilla has been anti-DRM due to their open-source philosophy, but it seems now they are bending to the demand of users by including the Adobe Content Decryption Module. They haven’t forgotten their roots though as they also have a non-CDM version of Firefox that users can download if they don’t want any additional DRM in their browsers. This may help Firefox gain some users since there are so many who currently stream Netflix through their browsers. It seems like they are wanting to capitalize on part of that user base that wants to move away from Chrome or another browser. There are millions of Netflix users around the world with more customers joining every day so even gaining a small percentage would help grow the Firefox user base.

Now the only problem for users with Netflix is what to watch and how long they will have to wait for the second season of Daredevil to drop so they can binge watch it in one sitting.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Unity 5 Released, Including Fully Featured Free Version!

Unity 5 is finally here! This has proven to be a quick response to Epic’s shocking shift in making Unreal Engine 4 free last weekend. Unity 5 brings “over a thousand” improvements, including making the engine 64-bit and adding support for 21 platforms.

In terms of more detailed improvements, the team at Unity call the new engine a “graphical powerhouse”. What they mean by this is that there have been a lot of changes in terms of rendering:

  • Physically-based Standard Shader
    • The new Standard Shader will make your materials look consistent in any lighting environment, across mobile, high-end desktop, and consoles. Apply it across 95% of the materials in your game, such as metal, plastics, wood, ceramics and cloth. Use it together with the new HDR Skybox, Reflection Probes and Global Illumination System to create stunning visuals.
  • Real-time Global Illumination
    • Animate lighting with Real-time Global Illumination built on Geomerics Enlighten technology. Achieve dynamic lighting treatments on high-end mobile, desktop and consoles, and for lower-end devices, create beautifully detailed results with baked artwork.
  • HDR Reflection Probes
    • Enhance visual fidelity with our new HDR Reflection Probes. Add richer detail by having any object realistically reflect its surroundings. Reflection Probes are easy to implement—just place a probe at any location in your scene to sample reflections for its surrounding objects.

Moving further under the hood, we see some major changes in the Editor as well, having added a new audio mixer, enhanced animation workflows and PhysX 3.3:

  • The Audio Mixer
    • Now anyone can massively improve the audio in their game! Our new Audio Mixer brings nested mixing workflows, with snapshots to capture mixes in different areas of your project, plus industry-standard effects to add immersive new depths.
  • New Physics Engine
    • PhysX 3.3 brings massive performance improvements to 3D physics in Unity 5. New multithreaded simulation is available for platforms that support it, and there’s a new cloth component for character clothing. New wheel colliders bring better support for suspension and tire force simulation. Collision detection is improved and bake-free scaled MeshCollider support is added.
  • A more powerful Animator
    • We added more flexibility to the animation system. Add State Machine Behaviours to states to give precise control of script functions during animation. Anything in your game that requires some kind of State Machine-like logic can now use our visual editor live feedback. A new Asset Creation API is now exposed so animators can now create all sorts of tools to create and edit animation assets.

Other improvements include WebGL Preview, which is a preview of the deployment support for advanced 3D and 2D content in modern browsers. It aims at enhancing support for HTML5 and WebGL applications through Unity Web Player, stating that the new improvements will “deliver performance at native speeds”. Aside from WebGL, Unity 5 now supports iOS Metal Rendering, taking full advantage of iOS hardware in order to achieve greater detail, smoother performance and interactivity in games at a lower CPU usage cost.

Also, Unity 5 along with Oculus are working to “further boost the exceptional frame rates achievable with Unity on the Oculus”. This means we are going to see a lot of developers taking an interest in VR technology and in return, we should expect a lot of titles supporting the technology in the future.

In terms of new features, Unity 5 apparently is heading “to the clouds”. The team has prepared a new feature for developers, namely Unity Cloud Build, along with a set of game performance reporting tools and analytics:

  • Unity Cloud Build
    • Unity Cloud Build brings the magic of build automation to all Unity developers. Unity Cloud Build automates the creation and distribution of builds, by monitoring your team’s source control, and when changes are detected, it builds your project for multiple platforms in the cloud. Your whole team is kept updated with email notifications, making it easy for them to install builds on their devices with the tap of a button.
  • Game Performance Reporting
    • Game Performance Reporting is a new cloud service for Unity Professional customers that provides developers with new tools for improving game performance, starting with a preview of exception logging. Exception Logging captures exceptions in editor, development and release builds, and delivers detailed reports that can be read via a web dashboard.
  • Unity Analytics
    • Our new cloud-based analytics tool is currently in open beta. Unity Analytics provides you with powerful yet simple-to-understand tools that will help you understand your audience and get actionable insights into your players’ behavior. With that knowledge in hand, you can then improve your players’ gaming experience to boost retention, engagement and monetization.

Other improvements and additions are as following:

  • A 64-bit Editor to handle large projects
  • iOS 64-bit support
  • New Deferred Rendering
  • Graphics Command Buffers
  • Improved Linear lighting, HDR, Skybox and Cubemap workflows
  • Improved job scheduling system, plus a new CPU Timeline Profiler lets you see and investigate multicore usage
  • Improved NavMesh pathfinding system
  • Integrated SpeedTree support to create lush, rich and dynamic vegetation
  • New Frame Debugger to track down graphical issues in your projects
  • Improved Project Wizard
  • Updated Standard Assets
  • New UI and scripting APIs for AssetBundle Build system

Lastly, Unity 5 not only brings a lot of changes in terms of features, performance and improvements, but in terms of pricing as well. The team seems to be working with having two “goals” in mind:

Goal #1 — One of the founding principles of Unity is the idea that we work hard to solve very hard technical problems so our developers / users won’t have to. For this to be at all relevant, our best tools need to be a great value.

Goal #2 — Deep in Unity’s culture is the principle of Democracy. The goal is to price in such a way as to reflect our principles. Democracy is the principle we were founded on, and it means we do our best to put Unity in the hands of developers, Indies or Pros, that may not have the resources to pay for it. It’s about enabling most everyone to create with the best tools we can make. I won’t get too soppy in this post — but is an honor for me to work in a company so mission driven and principled.
Unity 5 Personal can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website.

This is reflected in Unity 5’s pricing. This is why the Personal edition can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website. However, the free version does not include the analytics, cloud, performance reporting and some other features. This is why the Professional edition comes with a subscription fee of $75/month.

However, the subscription fee mentioned above is just for Indie companies. There are three more subscription options, which include Enterprise, Education and Industry Solutions which are offered to bring the best subscription package for the job at hand. The pricing and more detail about the subscription packages can also be found on Unity’s website.

Sources: Unity Blog, Unity 5

New Version Of Xbox One May Arrive As Early As Next Year

Microsoft will start shipping the Xbox One on November the 22nd. Latest reports from the Taiwan-based supply chain makers via Digi Times suggest that a new version of the Xbox One may be released in the first quarter of 2014.

The estimated shipments of Xbox One started at one million units a month in the third quarter and monthly shipments have been increasing in the fourth quarter. Having a new Xbox One version launch as early as next year may affect the latter and in terms of sales. Even so, users who already pre-ordered the Xbox One do not want to have performance or compatibility issues when it comes to games if there is to be two Xbox One consoles on the market.

Microsoft has recently announced that its Xbox One features Internet Explorer, supporting both HTML5 and CSS3 technologies. The system will also support gesture and voice control. Its competitor, Sony’s PlayStation 4, is priced at $399 in the US, €399 in Europe and £399 in the UK and achieved sales of one million units on the first day of release.

The Xbox One, at an US price of $499 and €499 respectively £499 in Europe and the UK, may be more expensive, but the Taiwanese sources state the Xbox has a strong ecosystem. While no news is available in terms of specs or price, Microsoft is playing a strange game having two versions of the same console available on the market. Maybe more insights on this matter would shed some light on the matter at hand.

Thank you Digi Times for providing us with this information

Tizen 3.0 Features Revealed At Tizen Developer Summit

Tizen OS version 2.2.1 was announced by Samsung at their first Developer Conference as being complete and capable of being deployed on smartphones. Version 3.0 of Tizen OS was also announced, and according to the key features which are detailed below it is the most able candidate for deployment in the near future.

Key Features:

  • Updated Core and ToolChain
  • Multiple user support (Multiple user support with protection)
  • 64-bit Support (IA and ARM chips, performance improvements, larger, memory address space)
  • 3D UI framework (3D Rendering Engine for 2D and 3D Objects in the real world and Dynamic Animation library)
  • WayLand based compositor
  • Crosswalk (HTML5 based application runtime based on Chromium/Blink)

According to The Handheld Blog, the first Tizen devices will be available in stores in February 2014. Despite the advantages of Tizen 3.0, Samsung will not be able to release the handsets with the 3.0 operating system pre-installed. They will be release with the Tizen 2.2.1 operating system and Tizen 3.0 is set to be a feature update which will be come later on.

Thank you NextPowerUp and The Handheld Blog for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of The Handheld Blog