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05.23.16 | 1:04 pm

Facebook dives deeper into virtual reality with latest acquisition

Virtual reality, when done right, is about giving you an experience so real that you have a hard time believing it's fake. You know that ledge isn't really there, but you're still too afraid to step up to it.

Audio plays a big part in that experience, and that would seem to be why Facebook has acquired Two Big Ears, which makes a "real-time binaural/3D audio engine." The idea, it would seem, is to bring better audio to Facebook's Oculus platform, which includes the high-end Rift and the mobile Samsung Gear VR. Two Big Ears' original mission was to support all VR platforms. It's not clear if that will continue to be the case now.

05.25.17 | 35 minutes ago

Air New Zealand flight attendants are using AR to know what drink will make you relax during your flight

Air New Zealand is working with Dimension Data to develop proprietary software for Microsoft's augmented reality HoloLens that could take flying into the future. It also makes their cabin crew look like it raided Geordi LaForge's Star Trek wardrobe, but that's just an added benefit. 

The AR headsets can be used to help flight attendants improve customer service—a welcome idea in this day and age—by "aggregating and displaying key customer information directly in front of them," according to a press release. Such information could include everything from a customer's preferred meal and drink as well as membership status, meaning the flight attendant can keep your tray table stocked with tomato juice and coffee without needing to repeat the request out loud. Additionally, the program can tell if customers are, you know, happy, a technology that United might also want to invest in. It's unclear when or whether this tech will become widely used on Air New Zealand, but please note for our next flight that we like our coffee black.

As The Verge notes, Air New Zealand has always been a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of air travel. They have an award-winning unaccompanied minor tracking system called AirBand and introduced a biometrics-enabled self-service bag drop in the Auckland airport back in 2015. Delta just announced their plans to unroll a similar technology this summer. 

[Screenshot via Air New Zealand]

05.25.17 | 2 hours ago

Mobile game giant Seriously goes Hollywood with its first animated short, Boot Camp

Will the next big entertainment franchise be about a bunch of slugs? Seriously, the Santa Monica-based mobile game company certainly hopes so. Today the company is launching its first animated short, Boot Camp, based on its hit game Best Fiends. The short is being distributed via the Best Fiends app, and follows the comedic shenanigans of slugs Hank and Roger as they prepare to join the Slug Army and fight the Fiends.

The progression from mobile game to short film is in keeping with Seriously's manifesto, which is to reverse-engineer Hollywood IP by starting with games and moving into short films, video, and perhaps, ultimately, a feature film. The company, which was founded in 2014 by two former Rovio executives and recently became profitable, brings a Hollywood touch to its games, with plenty of emphasis on character development and narrative, and music. This formula has helped fuel the success of Best Fiends, which has been downloaded over 70 million times and has over 2 million active daily users.

Boot Camp is every bit as much of a Hollywood production as the game it is based on. The slugs are voiced by Pamela Adlon, Mark Hamill, Kate Walsh, and other stars. And its music was similarly composed by Heitor Pereira, who wrote the music for the Despicable Me movies. The short even has an Emmy-award-winning writer-producer in J. Stewart Burns of The Simpsons.

05.25.17 | 3 hours ago

What it takes to win on Shark Tank, according to a new study

During their many seasons on prime time, Shark Tank and the lesser-known business reality show The Profit have doled out nearly $100 million to hopeful entrepreneurs. Now, noted news source (?) has taken a look at the traits of those winners to craft a portrait of the successful startup business owner. The website studied 780 success stories from Shark Tank and 76 from The Profit to crack the code on who closes the deal and who goes home empty-handed. 

The winners? Unsurprisingly, white men come out on top on reality TV. On Shark Tank, 80% of successful contestants were Caucasian, while 67% were male. Having no facial hair, short brown hair, and brown eyes were also traits of most winners.

The Profit was even worse when it came to the diversity of winners, with 95% of winners being Caucasian and 69% male. In short, reality TV might be a lot more like real life than you previously believed.


05.25.17 | 3 hours ago

Schick to shave into Gillette’s and Harry’s market with new online subscription service

Schick is hoping to cut into Gillette's market with a new online subscription service that could rival Harry's and Dollar Shave Club and a blade that fits onto a Gillette handle but costs less. The website,, just launched offering a subscription service with shipments of Hydro Connect blades that work with either Gillette's Mach 3 or its pricier Fusion line. 

As cheaper online subscription services continue to shave into its market share, Gillette's parent company Proctor & Gamble announced it would slash prices by 12% on average and put a new focus on its cheaper products. Sounds like a win for consumers who are tired of shelling out big bucks just so they can look like a smooth-faced, aerodynamic Olympic diver instead of a lumberjack and/or retirement-era David Letterman.

[Photo: Johan via Wikimedia Commons

05.25.17 | 3 hours ago

Uber accused of ripping off millions of passengers

The ride-hailing company was slapped with a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York on Wednesday, reports Fast Company's Ruth Reader. According to the complaint, UberX riders are being charged based on different, less-efficient routes than the ones its using to calculate what it pays drivers—and the result is higher fares. According to the lawsuit, Uber pockets an additional $7.43 million per month from UberX drivers thanks to its upfront pricing.

Read the full story here.

05.25.17 | 6:35 am

Watch Rocket Lab send the Electron into space in its first test flight

The small-scale satellite launch company Rocket Lab, one of our Most Innovative Companies in the space industry, has completed a test flight of its Electron rocket. Powered by electricity instead of liquid fuel, and with an engine that is manufactured using a 3D printer, the Electron represents a new model for the space business—one in which launches take place with far greater frequency than they do today.

The test, which was performed from the company's private New Zealand launch pad, had been delayed for several days due to weather. It's the first of three test flights before Rocket Lab begins taking commercial payloads into orbit.

05.25.17 | 6:04 am

Jony Ive has just been appointed the head of the best art school in the world

Apple's design guru will take up the role of chancellor of the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London in July, reports Business Insider. The RCA is 180 years old and for the last three years has been named the world's best institution for art and design. Ive's unpaid role will see him help govern the college. In a statement, Ive said:

"I am thrilled to formalize my relationship with the RCA, given the profound influence the college has had on so many of the artists and designers that I admire. Our design team includes many RCA alumni, who embody the fundamental values of the college. I look forward to advising both the college and students, hoping that my experience proves useful in their work."

05.25.17 | 5:55 am

It’s official: The best Go player in the world is Google’s AI

Google's DeepMind AlphaGo artificial intelligence has won the second game in a three-part match against the world's top Go player, Ke Jie. The victory comes after AlphaGo beat Jie in the first match earlier this week. Experts had thought it would take AI decades to learn how to beat the best Go players, reports Reuters.

05.25.17 | 5:43 am

The U.K. has stopped sharing Manchester bombing info with the U.S.

British police have taken the radical step to stop sharing information about the terror attack in Manchester with U.S. intelligence agencies, the Guardian reports. The decision was made after a series of leaks from U.S. intelligence to the press about the ongoing terror investigation. A spokesperson for the U.K. police said:

"We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement, and security partners around the world. When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses, and their families. This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter-terrorism investigation."

05.24.17 | 9:19 pm

Did Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slam a reporter today? Update: He did.

At an event in Montana this afternoon, Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs tried to ask congressional candidate Greg Gianforte a question. A violent-sounding tussle then ensued, which resulted in Jacobs getting his glasses broken. 

Gianforte is a tech entrepreneur who sold a company to Oracle for $1.5 billion, catalyzing the state's startup boom.

"You just body slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs can be heard saying in audio posted by the Guardian. "Get the hell out of here," says a voice that sounds like Gianforte. 

Gianforte's campaign released a statement confirming the altercation, and blamed the incident on "aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist."

Here's the Guardian's audio:

Update: A camera crew from Fox News Channel witnessed the altercation and confirmed Ben Jacobs' account:

"Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter."

Read their report here.

Second update: Greg Gianforte has received a citation for misdemeanor assault, the Gallatin County sheriff tells Politico.


05.24.17 | 7:29 pm

Casper is the latest company to pull ads from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News

On Wednesday, amid controversy over Sean Hannity's promotion of a conspiracy theory about Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich's death, several companies pulled their ads from his highly rated show. First, removed its ads, saying in a statement: "The fact that we advertise on a particular program doesn't mean that we agree or disagree, or support or oppose, the content. We don't have the ability to influence content at the time we make our advertising purchase. In this case, we've been watching closely and have recently made the decision to pull our advertising from Hannity."

Later in the day, Peloton, the indoor exercise bike company, announced that it has decided to pull its ads from the show.

And now Casper, the mattress startup, says that it is also pulling its ads from Hannity, a spokesperson tells Fast Company: "We have reviewed our programmatic television media strategy with our agency partners and reassigned this allocation."