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With a new branding, 1&1 IONOS wants to be more than just a hosting provider

Latest Tech News - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 05:40

1&1 recently announced that it would be joining forces with ProfitBricks, the German specialist for cloud infrastructure solutions, to form a new united brand called 1&1 IONOS. 

The change is meant to accelerate the firm's ambitions to move beyond just web hosting and it will give customers the opportunity to use a personal consultant free of charge as their central contact person for all questions related to products.

TechRadar Pro sat down with 1&1's Achim Weiss (the founder/CEO of ProfitBricks) to learn more about 1&1 IONOS and how the new entity will benefit its customers.

Categories: Tech News

Alexa gets new navigation skills for the Fire TV Cube

Latest Tech News - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 05:20

Amazon's Alexa smart assistant is no stranger to updates to expand its range of skills or functions. The latest, however, is bringing in some new directional functionality to better navigate streaming apps and services through the Amazon Fire TV Cube.

Users are now able to use voice commands to move up, down, left, or right across a selection screen, mimicking the Fire TV remote's d-pad and moving closer to a truly hands-free viewing experience.

Commands like 'Alexa, go up' or 'Alexa, move left' can replace the basic remote functionality and make it all that easier to start your weekend TV binge - with the option to use Alexa to 'select' specific content seen on screen, rather than every search query being run through the app's entire content library.

The feature has been quietly rolling out over the past few weeks, but has now reached all Amazon Fire TV Cube devices. 

This girl is on fire

There's currently no word on when the feature will be coming to less premium streaming devices like the Fire TV Stick, but we'd be surprised if Amazon didn't bring it across its entire Fire TV range eventually. 

Amazon is going full throttle on smart home connectivity, with a widening range of streaming devices and an increasingly flexible smart assistant appearing in everything from Sonos One hi-fi systems to Alexa-enabled microwaves.

Via TechCrunch

Categories: Tech News

Hyper-Reality: the UK’s first VR haunted house pops up for Halloween

Latest Tech News - Wed, 10/31/2018 - 05:00

As Halloween creeps closer, you’re probably thinking of what you can do to give yourselves a good fright. Sure, you can pick out an old-fashioned horror film or game, but if you want to take it to another dimension, virtual reality is the way forward.

While a home set-up can have its thrills and chills – such as the on-rails ghost ride of Until Dawn: Rush of Blood on Playstation VR – there are limits to just how immersed you can get before an annoying cable or long loading screen breaks the illusion.

This is where Hyper-Reality comes in. Billed as the UK’s first VR haunted house, the pop-up venture opens this week in Shoreditch, London and uses the latest cutting edge technology to offer a number of creepy curated experiences.

Explore and survive

There are four in total split into two categories: two free-roaming haunted houses and two more of the arcade survival shoot-em-up variety. Visitors can even book one of each for the same evening for £20 (for a 40 minute slot). That’s a pretty good deal for experiencing room-scale VR when high-end blockbuster fare like The Void’s Star Wars experience can cost over £30 a pop.

Hyper-Reality’s founder, Yu-Jen Chen, believes this fills a specific gap in the current VR market. “There’s the upper expensive end – big brands like Star Wars, Ghostbusters – that isn’t something a small team can do,” he explains. 

“There are also VR arcades that use a framework where I as a customer basically book a timeslot and I can play whatever I want. The problem is there’s no curation, there’s no experience... You’re just renting a room and playing games off Steam. As a gamer, there’s not a lot of differentiation; if I buy the equipment, I can still play that at home.”

For its opening, Hyper-Reality aims not only to offer a curated Halloween-themed experience, but also with the kind of content that you can’t just buy from Steam – the kind that sees you actively walking through a physical space, and not just a virtual one. Chen’s VR inspiration comes at least partially from his native home of Taiwan, where HTC opened its VR theme park Viveland in 2016. Like all of Viveland’s most popular attractions, each Hyper-Reality game also supports multiple players.

Free-roaming VR will be powered by state-of-the-art MSI backpack PCs designed specifically for VR

Hyper-Reality will be using Vive headsets, but it won’t just be a case of setting up Lighthouse sensors in a rented space. For starters, visitors won’t be tethered to a computer in the conventional sense. For the shooting games, the cables are tethered to the ceiling so that you can freely move around and blast away the undead without fear of tripping up. Meanwhile, to enable free-roaming for the haunted houses, you’ll simply be wearing the tech in the form of light and sophisticated PC backpacks.

Asian horror

There’s a distinctly Asian flavour to the selection, owing to Chen entering the VR industry through Taiwan’s AR/VR association TAVAR, who put him in touch with the local developers. 

And by far the most unusual game available for Hyper-Reality has you and another player fending off against waves of ‘jiangshi’, a zombie-vampire hybrid from Chinese folklore dressed in Qing dynasty garments – and one that became a cult phenomenon in the 1980s thanks to Hong Kong horror hit Mr. Vampire. 

According to Chen, the developers were actually formed of that film’s production team, quoting them as saying, “we have all these assets on our hands, so let’s make a VR game out of this!”

Chinese Terror

Instead of guns, you need to cast spells on strips of yellow paper before flinging them back at the jiangshi as they menacingly hop towards you. It’s certainly different from usual zombie-shooting fare we come to expect from horror games, and should take people a bit further out of their comfort zone.

As well as one haunted house that essentially has you walking around a burnt-out Victorian house, Chilling Japanese Adventures has you exploring a mystical realm that feels one part Spirited Away and a strange mixture of Shinto mythology and neo-Tokyo aesthetics. He stresses, however, that this particular experience is accessible even for children aged 12 to try: 

“It’s more like an exciting adventure where you meet Japanese monsters or ghosts,” he says. “I worry people will associate it with Ring, which is just terrifying!” 

Each game comes with a scare rating, but hopes are that nothing is too intense to cause someone to want to rip off their headset midway.

Chilling Japanese Adventures

Pop-up party

As a lapsed gamer himself, it’s the possibilities of VR that has pulled Chen back in to the industry. As such, he also wants Hyper-Reality to attract a wider audience beyond the usual gaming crowd. He’s therefore not really comparing his concept with other existing VR arcades but more with the unique activities that pop up in London all the time. 

“There’s things like Secret Cinema, the Ghost Bus Tours, events that people are willing to try as a date night. That’s the way I’m pitching this – something you can do with your friend or date, and do as a set of experiences,” Chen says.

Having already researched and curated a selection of other VR titles, Chen hopes that, if this Halloween pop-up proves successful, he will be in a position to offer a wide variety of Hyper-Reality locations in the future, such as an esports-themed one. “Ideally, if people have an amazing time, they’ll think, ‘I want to try more, so what is there to try?’ That’s how I hope to get people to get more engaged with VR.”

Hyper-Reality opens in Shoreditch from October 19th until November 29th. More information and advanced booking can be found on their website.

Categories: Tech News