Finally, Marvel's ready for you to hear its comics (scoop)

It's a fallacy of the superhero genre that a new costume accompanies every power boost the hero earns. That's also the case with a major upgrade to Marvel Unlimited, the preferred (and only) subscription-based comics reading app for fans of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America.

Scheduled to be announced on Sunday afternoon's Marvel panel at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, and currently live in Apple's iTunes Store, the new version of Marvel Unlimited looks a lot like the old version of Marvel Unlimited. Don't let that fool you, though, as the changes … Read more

Infinity AR: We'll fulfill sci-fi promise of augmented reality

Augmented reality has so far been mostly a sci-fi vision that overlays information from the virtual world atop what we see in the real world. An Israeli startup called Infinity Augmented Reality, though, wants to make a business of it.

In three to six months, Infinity AR plans to launch its app, called the Brain, for Google Glass; devices running Android, iOS, and Windows Phone; Microsoft Sync in cars; and perhaps most notably Meta's 3D augmented-reality glasses. The last example is closest to the science fiction vision of AR, where translucent information is merged with your full field of … Read more

Screw you, pink polka dots: When tech products for women go awry

I'm back from CES 2014, where I spent time hefting a connected tennis racket, riding a Segway competitor, and drooling over a DeLorean. In my meanderings, I saw endless displays full of phone cases covered in rhinestones and pink zebra stripes. Business as usual. What turned my head was what I found at the Acoustic Research booth.

Acoustic Research was showing off its new "AR for Her" spring collection of tech accessories. The first thing I thought about was "Bic for Her," the much-maligned and ridiculed pen "designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand." Is Acoustic Research stepping into the same mud puddle of stereotypical lady-pandering design? Yup.… Read more

We get a faceful of smartglasses at 2014 -- and it ain't pretty

What's ugly and techy and lives on your face? One of the five pairs of smartglasses we saw at CES 2014.

Some are Google Glassalikes, some are their own unique thing. All of them are just as oversize and geeky-looking as Google's developer model.

The point is that the development of smart devices you can wear on your face is growing, albeit slowly and awkwardly.

Nailing down a trendy design is one thing, but getting the technology right is the most daunting part of the process. The optics must be razor-sharp -- both in terms of the projection … Read more

Bulky Ora-S AR eyewear more goggly than Googley (hands-on)

LAS VEGAS -- It's hard not to gasp when laying eyes on the ridiculously enormous Ora-S AR eyewear smartglasses. But in this early stage of smart spec development, looks take a back seat to demonstrating functionality. In this case, Optinvent, the company behind the Ora-S, is focused on augmented reality.

Sure, the Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth-capable smartglasses will display notifications, directions, and all the rest, but what really gets Optinvent going is the software developer kit that is designed to engender more AR apps. For instance, the Ora-S will launch with the Wikitude augmented reality browser.

The company also … Read more

Drone maker Parrot gets playful

LAS VEGAS -- Drones just got a lot more playful.

Parrot, which thanks to its AR Drone already is a leader in the space, will release a brand-new mini version of its signature device later this year. Designed to be very easy to use, extremely lightweight, and less expensive than its cousin, the Mini drone offers much of the same technology and features as the AR.

Built with a high-speed camera, a 3-axis gyro sensor, and a 3-axis accelerometer, the Mini can climb walls, or fly around effortlessly, controlled by either an iOS or Android device. Unlike the AR, which … Read more

Chipmakers helping to give computers a visual cortex

Samsung, Qualcomm, ARM, Broadcom, and a bunch of other technology companies want your computer to see.

To that end, they banded together at the Khronos Group to try to standardize some elements of machine vision technology. It's the kind of thing that could make it easier to write an augmented reality app for a mobile phone or sign-recognition software for an autonomous car, for example, because difficult low-level technology would be taken care of.

Machine vision combines data from image sensors with technology to make sense of what a computer is seeing. A new standard called OpenVX is geared … Read more

Former Valve devs Kickstart new gaming headset

Earlier this year, a round of layoffs hit Valve. Included in the fallout were hardware developer Jeri Ellsworth and software developer Rick Johnson, and apparently, this is a match made in gaming heaven.

The pair, you see, had been developing a top-secret project that Valve allowed them to take with them -- an augmented-reality system that displays 3D images right before your eyes that they are calling castAR.

castAR consists of a pair of active-shutter glasses mounted with a pair of micro projectors and a retro-reflective surface, made out of the same kind of material you see used in high-visibility safety clothing and road markings, and embedded with infrared ID markers that allow it to track your head position and orientation. … Read more

Eyewear shopping app turns your headshot into 3D image

The last time I picked out new eyeglasses, I spent about an hour trying out different pairs in the store. Of course I had to drive there, find and pay for parking, and get soaked in the rain.

I would have much rather used Smart Vision, an Australian technology that can create an augmented-reality 3D model of a face from a 2D image.

It can show you what you look like when trying on many different pairs of glasses or sunglasses, and you won't even have to leave home. … Read more

AR startup Meta displays 'Toy Story' on a piece of paper

With the the press of a button, Meta's CTO Raymond Lo overlaid a trailer for Pixar's "Toy Story 3" that perfectly fit inside the piece of white paper he was holding in front of him. Using what is right now a bulky, cerulean headset -- it's going to get smaller, and sexier, Meta says -- Lo was able to fix the video onto the piece of paper and move it back and forth. He even began bending the sheet, and the video bent too.

This is what Meta's CEO Meron Gribetz called the future of computingRead more