Monthly Archives: March 2014

FILE -- A visitor tries the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, March 28, 2013. In the unpredictable world of tech start-ups, some interesting firms to watch, like Oculus Rift, in 2013 could fizzle and be forgotten by the end of the year, but they could also be the next big thing. (Winni Wintermeyer/The New York Times) Credit: New York Times / Redux / eyevine For further information please contact eyevine tel: +44 (0) 20 8709 8709 e-mail: info@eyevine.com www.eyevine.com©Redux

Palmer Luckey is holding court among the geeks. The boy king of virtual reality is answering questions from game developers about whether the pioneering headset he built in his parents’ garage, Oculus Rift, might work with something known as “galvanic vestibular stimulation”.

GVS, he gleefully explains, is “basically taking high-voltage electrodes and passing current through your head for entertainment”.

 Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Want to hear a Silicon Valley joke? Two geek billionaires walk into a coffee shop and nobody notices.

There’s no punchline. This actually happened a couple of weeks ago when I was in Mountain View and the co-founders of WhatsApp popped into their local for a brew. Despite being full of start-ups, nobody in the Red Rock Café seemed to recognise the pair who had just sold their app to Facebook for upwards of $16bn.

WhatsApp has almost 500m active users around the world but many in Silicon Valley’s elite only discovered the chat app when Mark Zuckerberg opened his chequebook. It’s entirely possible that, in the past year, more people here have tried Google Glass, the sci-fi headset that most outside Silicon Valley love to hate, than sent a message on WhatsApp. Read more

By Adam Palin in London

 

Education technology company 2U appears to have passed its entry exam, with shares up 7 per cent at noon on its Nasdaq debut.

 

At a share price of $13.91, the Maryland-based company – which develops cloud-based degrees with universities – is valued at $544m. Not a bad start as a listed company for one that has yet to turn a profit.

 Read more

You shoot me down but I won’t fall. I am titanium.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, must be humming that tune this morning after announcing a solution to the two car fires that dented the electric car maker’s reputation last year. Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5 (Getty)

South Koreans consumers will be able to jump the global queue for Samsung Electronics’ new flagship smartphone, after mobile operators put it on sale two weeks ahead of the official launch date. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

Facebook has just spent $2bn on start-up Oculus VR, in a bet that virtual reality headsets will be the next big social platform after smartphones. The world’s largest social network thinks virtual reality will become part of everyone’s daily life, being used in everything from entertainment to education. This is Facebook’s second big deal of the year, as Mr Zuckerberg goes on an acquisition spree to help maintain its dominance. Join Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw for a live blog of the call where Mr Zuckerberg is expected to explain the sense behind the deal.
 

Machine blowing away pieces paper

It only takes a quick internet search of the terms “UPS” and “telematics” to understand why the promised benefits of big data are likely to take longer to arrive than many have been led to believe.

Among the links to technology information sites and Teamsters Union web pages is a comment from a blogger known as Denverbrown.

Addressing drivers for the US parcel delivery service UPS, it sums up the mood of workers who sometimes find themselves at the sharp end of new technologies like this: “The system should be known as Harassamatics. They tell you it’s about safety, and seat belts . . . It’s all about stealing your break time for their profit, and harassing you into a heightened state of frenzy about your job.”

Big data is facing its human moment.

 Read more

The prospect of a US-based IPO by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba has triggered a recent wave of short-term conjecture over the eye-watering figures involved.

A listing could garner as much as $25bn for example – making it the largest float in history. Wall Street banks could reap up to $400m in fees. Alibaba’s $170bn annual revenue now accounts for 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product, and is bigger than those of eBay and Amazon combined.

 Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Ray-Bans via Instagram

Google has been working hard lately to dampen the constant, rumbling criticism of Glass. First, it issued guidelines on etiquette for its pioneering wearable gadget, warning early adopters: “Don’t be a glasshole.”

Then last week, it decided that the people buying its $1,500 headset weren’t glassholes after all, trying to dispel ten “myths” about the prototype product: Glass really isn’t a “distraction from the real world” or “the perfect surveillance device”, it insisted in a blogpost.

The ground suitably prepared, Google has now made a much more meaningful step towards mainstream acceptance: it is partnering with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to make Glass fashionable. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Square, the payments processing start-up, is looking for new users for its credit card device among the US’s growing Latino community.

The company, co-founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, is today unveiling Spanish language support and software in hopes of tapping into the purchasing power of America’s more than 50m Latinos. Read more