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Virtual Reality Is Coming To A Retailer Near You

Not just a gimmick or a novelty anymore, virtual reality technology has finally made it to the point of viability in a variety of uses. What was once “future-tech” is now ready to benefit everything from sports, video games, virtual tourism, real estate, online retail. […]

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A woman using a VR headset at SXSW, 2015 by Nan Palmero (CC BY 2.0)

Not just a gimmick or a novelty anymore, virtual reality technology has finally made it to the point of viability in a variety of uses.  What was once “future-tech” is now ready to benefit everything from sports, video games, virtual tourism, real estate, pornography and online retail.

VR Becoming More Widespread

Virtual reality has seen rapid growth and adoption that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We’re seeing additional uses for the technology being developed to help push VR further into the mainstream. The NFL network is using VR technology to give the fans an in-depth football experience, by putting them on the sideline or on the field for some of the biggest games, offering a firsthand view into the sport. Even players and coaches are getting in on the act, with VR being used in training sessions and tactical planning.

Video gaming in VR is mostly self explanatory, with an abundance of games available for popular headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, DaydreamVR, Samsung Gear and more.  Everything from sports, racing, 3D shooters and adventures are available and pushing the VR market further upwards.

Virtual tourism is using the technology to sell vacations by giving consumers a virtual taste of a resort they may stay at or a cruise they may be interested in booking. Realtors are selling houses with virtual tours of properties and many home buyers are now asking for this technology to help narrow down their search.

Dating has also dabbled with virtual reality through apps like ConVRge, Vrchat, ALTspaceVR or the more risqué and adult 3DXChat. Users can meet, mingle and connect with each other in virtual, and hopefully inrealtiy sometime soon.

Of course, the pornography industry has also embraced the VR experience whole heartedly, creating some of the most erotic and immersive porn ever made. With tons of VR porn studios such as BaDoinkVR and tube sites like VRSmash available online, it’s begun a sort of virtual revolution in the market. Alongside VR porn, teledildonics, or digital sex toys are becoming a huge deal in the industry too, but that’s another topic for another day.

In terms of current market share, video games, the NFL and VR porn dominate, but that landscape will be changed drastically by VR adoption in the retail industry.

Virtual Reality & Retail

It’s great for virtual reality that so many industries have adopted the technology but none will prove to be as important or widespread as the consumer retail market.  That doesn’t mean selling virtual reality headsets or peripherals, it means retailers themselves adopting VR to help sell their products. VR headsets and other wearable tech such as the Apple iWatch or Google Glass are going to have a major impact on the future of retail.  Adoption by the retail industry will all but cement virtual reality technologies place for the future.

As much of retail business is now done through online channels, it’s becoming more important to increase the quality of the online shopping experience. Online shopping is predominantly done through a personal computer, a tablet or a mobile Smartphone, with use of the latter increasing dramatically in the last couple of years. Even though it’s still fairly new, online retailing as we know it may not last long, as virtual reality retailing is designed to take control over online shopping.

Imagine you want to buy something (it doesn’t matter what), but don’t want to go to a crowded shopping mall or deal with traffic on the roads to get there. You’ll be able to sit on your couch and throw on a VR viewing device that lets you get to shopping almost instantly. A virtual avatar of yourself (a realistic one) can try on clothing, sun glasses, make-up etc. and essentially eliminate the need to shop in person. The same goes for something mundane like groceries, where consumers will be able to order products based on meals they see, ingredient lists or just browse the aisles as they would in a real-life store.

Online shopping in VR could appear much like shopping at a brick and mortar location, where consumers can walk the aisles, browsing virtual shelves full of graphical representations of the actual products. Consumers can pick up, inspect and even try on these products before making a purchase. Gigantic virtual spaces could be filled with endless wares for consumers to browse. Programming can be used to narrow down selections or incorporate digital salespersons or assistants. Once inside the machine, the possibilities are endless.


Samsung Gear VR by Maurizio Pesce (CC BY 2.0)

Will It Be Beneficial?

This type of virtual shopping experience has advantages for both consumers and retailers, which makes it more suitable than shopping on mobile. For consumers, the convenience factor is the largest but don’t forget that shopping is supposed to be fun.  The fun factor is something that’s lost when shipping through mobile or desktop but can be rejuvenated in virtual.  What consumers would call “fun”, retailers see as extra sales through the concept of the “impulse buy”.

As consumers browse a physical store, they come into contact with many other items that they would not see shopping in a traditional online or mobile setting. A virtual store that mimics the real thing can bring back the impulse buy for retailers and the fun for consumers, minus most of the hassles. Selection will expand and stock levels will be easier to manage inside a virtual marketplace versus a brick and mortar store. Both sides will also benefit from reduced prices as retailer’s costs decrease and product availability skyrockets.

Another massive benefit for both consumers and retailers is the ability to shop around the clock and from any location. Time has been an issue in shopping forever, but VR can put an end to rushing to make the store before it closes and more.

Integration Of Wearable Tech

Wearable tech would offer a very different experience to that of the VR headset.  Where a VR device offers an expansive experience, wearable tech such as a smartwatch or even smartphone would offer a condensed one. Perhaps wearable tech is best suited to augment, rather than to be the predominant shopping tool. An example would be to monitor status of an order, an online auction or shipping progress etc. It will be up to the individual retailer to figure out which technology is best suited to them and adjust accordingly.

It will be interesting to see which direction and what level of adoption virtual retail achieves, but it seems like VR has been tailor made for shopping and retail. Virtual reality can offer a convenience to the industry that has never been seen before and will benefit everyone involved.

Technology has been promising a retail revolution for some time, and it seemed like mobile online shopping was taking over. Virtual reality may be stopping mobile shopping in it’s tracks as it offers much the same convenience with whole lot more.  The convenient and immersive shopping experience is on the way and it’s going to cause a shopping revolution.

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Phones

Apple Unveiled Three Different iPhones. Which One Should You Buy?

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Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS MAX, iPhone XR

Every year, we look forward to Apple’s September event, where they unveil their new phones and gadgets. Most years have been fairly predictable, with either an all-new iPhone model or an iPhone “S” model being introduced.

But this year was a little different, as Apple unveiled not one, not two, but three new iPhones, making this year’s choice perhaps the hardest one to date.

In the past, I would simply upgrade my iPhone every two years when my contract was up for the newest iPhone (if I had an iPhone 6, I’d skip the iPhone 6S and upgrade to the iPhone 7), and I was usually able to do an even swap thanks to generous trade-in deals, so my out-of-pocket cost was pretty close to zero.

This time around, Apple’s Tim Cook introduced the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, three phones that look similar but have some key differences between them. Honestly, we were a little surprised by the decision to release 3 phones at once. But Apple wants to offer a specific model for every need. Here, we break down the different models for you:

The iPhone XS (“Ten S”) is the successor to the iPhone X, and it retains the same design, with a 5.8″ Super Retina HD display and edge-to-edge design, along with that dreaded notch at the top. As with most “S”, the phone gets some minor upgrades, with a more powerful A12 Bionic chip, dual 12-megapixel wide and telephoto cameras for even better photos, and a new 512GB capacity option. Pricing for the iPhone XS starts at $999.

The iPhone XS Max is essentially the same as the iPhone XS, only bigger, with a massive 6.5″ screen, making it the largest display yet on an iPhone. But thanks to it’s edge-to-edge display, it actually manages it in a smaller form factor than previous “plus size” models like the iPhone 8 Plus. Pricing for the iPhone XS Max starts at $1,099.

Apple iPhone XR

Last but not least is the iPhone XR, and this is where things get a little confusing. You see, the iPhone XR offers many of the same great features from the iPhone XS, with a slightly larger screen (6.1″), but at a significantly lower price, starting at just $749. So how’s it $250 cheaper? By cutting a few corners along the way. The iPhone XR uses aluminum for the frame, with 6 colors to choose from. In addition, the XR features an LCD screen (which Apple calls “Liquid Retina Display”), rather than the OLED of the XS/XS Max. It also comes with a single camera setup rather than dual lenses, though Portrait Mode is still supposed to work.

While the iPhone XR seems like a good deal, until we’re able to compare both phones side by side and see how different the two phones are, it’s really hard to make a decision one way or another. And to further complicate matters, Apple is releasing the iPhone XS and XS Max nearly a month before the XR.

In the end, I’m not sure if Apple made the right move giving people too many options like this. Only time will tell I guess.

What do you think of the new iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR phones?

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Technology

Want To Record Audio On Your Mac?

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Your Mac computer is packed with plenty of useful in-built features, many of which are used by professionals to accomplish their specialized tasks. However, there is one piece of software that your Mac doesn’t normally come with – the advanced and specialized software that can capture audio on your Mac without distorting it in the process. Yes, there are plenty of third-party tools available on the web. In fact, the Internet is cluttered with them, but most of them promise a lot and don’t deliver. These often come bundled with a host of malware and adware that you would rather live without.

With Movavi Screen Capture Studio, you are now able to capture audio and video on your Mac without any strings attached. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own voice, audio streams or just plain old system sounds – if your Mac can play it, Movavi can record it.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some specialized software that can already accomplish this, but they have a prohibitively difficult learning curve that an average user simply doesn’t have the time for. Movavi gives you the skill set of a professional audio engineer without going through the pain and hassle of learning all the tools of the trade. For more information, you can visit www.movavi.com/support/how-to/mac/capture-system-sounds-on-mac.html.

So how does Movavi Screen Capture Studio help you, again? Just follow these instructions:

Step 1) Installing the Software

The first step is to download and run the installer. Simply follow the onscreen instructions to install Movavi Screen Capture Studio in a directory of your choice.

Step 2) Running the Software

Once the software has been properly installed, run it and click on “Record Screen” when prompted. This mode lets you record all the sound that is outputted from your Mac, including songs from streaming services, microphone output and other sources of audio. If you prefer to capture isolated audio from the microphone only, you can choose the “Record audio” option to stop other sources.

Step 3) Adjusting the Audio Capture Settings

The “Record Screen” button will reveal a window with what looks like a recording frame. You don’t need this frame for audio purposes. Instead, ensure that that “System Audio” is activated if you want to capture all audio output from your Mac in an unadulterated form. To capture only audio, you can click on the “Microphone” button.

Step 4) Recording the Audio

Once you have configured your settings, it is time to start playing the audio that you want to capture. Once you are ready, click on the “REC” button. This will reveal two buttons, “Pause” and “Stop”, to let you control the recording process. Alternatively, you can also press the hotkeys 1 and 2 for pause and stop respectively.

Step 5) Saving the Audio Clip

A preview window will let you replay the audio clip. From here, you can also adjust the length of the audio recording process. Movavi Screen Capture Studio captures the ongoing screen as well, but you can discard the video and save the recording as an audio file.

Simply click on “Save As” and select the “MP3” format – or similar audio formats – in the pop-up export window. Now click “Save”.

Step 6) Editing Your Audio

Movavi Screen Capture Studio is a highly versatile tool that also lets you edit the audio track. To do this, simply select the timeline and double-click on it. You can adjust several settings on the popup “Audio” window. Some of these options include:

  • Changing the volume
  • Altering the tempo
  • Removing noise
  • Overlaying extra audio effects

Once you are satisfied with the changes, you should proceed by saving the results. Click on the “Export” button. This will reveal the export window once more. Open the “Save Audio File” button and select your preferred audio format. Now press on “Start” to activate processing.

Movavi Screen Capture Studio helps you capture the ongoing screen activity as well, giving you 100% lossless audio and video quality which normally doesn’t require any post-processing with advanced audio software.

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Drones

Yuneec Introduces Its All-New Portable Folding Drone, The Mantis Q

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Yuneec Mantis Q drone

If you’re in the market for a drone that won’t break the bank, you’ve got to check out the all-new Yuneec Mantis Q, which is now available for pre-order in the US for just $499.99.

But don’t let that low price tag fool you, as the Yuneec Mantis Q offers cutting edge, advanced drone features such as voice control and facial detection in an easy-to-use, ultra portable package that’s small enough to tuck away in a bag. It also delivers up to 33 minutes of battery life and autonomous flight modes with top speeds over 44 miles per hour.

Yuneec Mantis Q drone

“Consumers will find that the Mantis Q seamlessly integrates into everyday experiences, and they will appreciate the incredible energy efficient package that allows up to 33 minutes of flight time to help capture every moment,” said Michael Jiang, CEO of Yuneec International.

Indeed, the Yuneec Mantis Q is ideal for adventurers, families and drone enthusiasts thanks to its portability, ease-of-use and superior flight time. With the Mantis Q’s foldable arms, it’s small enough to fit in your backpack. And while the flying time is great, if you need even more time in the air, simply pick up an extra battery or two to extend your effective flight time.

Yuneec Mantis Q drone

With the Voice Control feature, users can command Mantis Q just by using their voice. Voice control allows you to take a photo or record video all without having to take your hands off of the controls, making it that much easier to capture the perfect shot. You can say things like “Take a picture”, “Record a video” and “Take a selfie”. Pretty cool, right?

Another notable feature of the Mantis Q is its Facial Detection and Gesture Control. Users simply smile at the drone to activate face detection and as soon as the Mantis Q “sees” the user’s face, it will take a photo from up to 13 feet away for the perfect selfie. And in Gesture Control mode, Mantis Q will detect a hand waving and it will take a photo.

Yuneec Mantis Q drone

Using the built-in camera, the Mantis Q records high resolution photos and videos, with photo resolution as high as 4800×2700 (16:9) or 4160×3120 (4:3), and video resolution up to 4K, with electronic stabilization on video up to Full HD (1920×1080). The camera can be tilted upwards by up to 20° or downwards by 90° during flight. For cinematic camera flights, the Mantis Q also comes with automatic flight modes such as Journey, Point of Interest and Orbit Me.

We’ve talked about the Mantis Q’s ultra-portable design, but just how small is it? When folded together, it measures just 6.6 x 3.8 x 2.2 inches and weighs just 1 pound. The Mantis Q is the ideal companion for big and small adventures alike.

Want to see the Yuneec Mantis Q in action? Then check out the video above, which shows off the drone’s various features and shows you the amazing footage it can capture.

For more information or to place your pre-order, visit Yuneec.com.

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