Google announces new search tools for online shopping

Shopping online isn’t always a convenience. If you enjoy window shopping or browsing curated collections at a brick-and-mortar store for inspiration, finding something online you don’t yet know you want or are unaware of is tricky if you start with a text search. Google is announcing new shopping search tools to try to alleviate this, with features that utilize Google Lens for finding products to buy from pictures online, broader search terms to help you browse clothing, and the ability to check in-store inventory from home. It claims the new tools will help shoppers “find what they’re looking for in a more visual way.” This comes after Google allowed all businesses to create listings on Google Shopping for free last year. Now, it wants more window shopping to be done right from Google search.

Google Lens has been around since 2017, replacing Google Goggles that came before it, with the ability to use a smartphone camera to conduct visual searches based on the identification of objects found in the real world. Those image searches have allowed users to learn more about the things around them, even finding the same or similar item to buy without looking for a label or barcode to scan. Now, Google wants to make it possible to shop for any product you see in an image or video on the web with nothing more than the picture itself. Soon, iOS users will have a new dedicated button in the Google app, allowing a Google Lens search of any image on a page to bring up Google Shopping listings for purchase through a visual match. The feature will also be coming to Chrome on the desktop.

Google did not give specific dates for this feature launching on iOS or desktop, stating that it hopes to roll them out by the end of the year. There was no initial mention of if or when this feature may come to Android, but Google has clarified that it plans to extend this functionality to Android at a later date, after the iOS and desktop versions.

Google Lens search in the Google app on iOS.
GIF: Google

Desktop Google Lens search on Chrome.
GIF: Google

Another shopping-focused feature coming from Google, which has surely been spurred on by the boom in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, is easier browsing of clothing, accessories, and shoes via search results based on general terms. Google says that if you search for a generic article on mobile, for example, “cropped jackets,” you will see a visual feed of that type of clothing in a variety of colors and designs. These visual results will be accompanied by relevant videos, style guides, or local shops that carry those styles. From there, you can filter your search further according to brand, style, or department; check ratings and reviews; or compare prices on the results that appeal to you most.

Google calls this window shopping, which is one of the challenges of shopping for clothes online compared to going to a physical store to see what’s on display. It claims the dataset is pulled from over 24 billion product listings. The new feature is available only on mobile and is usable right from a Google search beginning today.

Shoppable search within the Google app.
GIF: Google

The third and final Google Shopping update allows users to remotely check in-store inventory directly within a Google search. Shoppers searching for a product are able to filter by “in stock.” This selection should show nearby stores that have the item available. Google claims the new feature can help a small business attract new customers, though it remains to be seen how accurate it might be across a variety of retailers and how one might ensure a product is there for them once they arrive — particularly at small businesses that do not have curbside or in-store pickup.

Google has indicated that it does rely on data from the retailer to determine stock status and claims it will only indicate an item is in stock when there is high confidence; otherwise, it may show limited stock.

The new “in stock” filter is available today across mobile web browsers and the Google app on both iOS and Android.

Google’s in-stock filtering when shopping nearby locations for an item.
GIF: Google

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Meta announces plans to build an AI-powered ‘universal speech translator’

Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has announced an ambitious new AI research project to create translation software that works for “everyone in the world.” The project was announced as part of an event focusing on the broad range of benefits Meta believes AI can offer the company’s metaverse plans.

“The ability to communicate with anyone in any language — that’s a superpower people have dreamed of forever, and AI is going to deliver that within our lifetimes,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an online presentation.

The company says that although commonly spoken languages like English, Mandarin, and Spanish are well catered to by current translation tools, roughly 20 percent of the world’s population do not speak languages covered by these systems. Often, these under-served languages do not have easily accessible corpuses of written text that are needed to train AI systems or sometimes have no standardized writing system at all.

Meta says it wants to overcome these challenges by deploying new machine learning techniques in two specific areas. The first focus, dubbed No Language Left Behind, will concentrate on building AI models that can learn to translate language using fewer training examples. The second, Universal Speech Translator, will aim to build systems that directly translate speech in real-time from one language to another without the need for a written component to serve as an intermediary (a common technique for many translation apps).

In a blog post announcing the news, Meta researchers did not offer a timeframe for completing these projects or even a roadmap for major milestones in reaching their goal. Instead, the company stressed the utopian possibilities of universal language translation.

“Eliminating language barriers would be profound, making it possible for billions of people to access information online in their native or preferred language,” they write. “Advances in [machine translation] won’t just help those people who don’t speak one of the languages that dominates the internet today; they’ll also fundamentally change the way people in the world connect and share ideas.”

Crucially, Meta also envisions that such technology would hugely benefit its globe-spanning products — furthering their reach and turning them into essential communication tools for millions. The blog post notes that universal translation software would be a killer app for future wearable devices like AR glasses (which Meta is building) and would also break down boundaries in “immersive” VR and AR reality spaces (which Meta is also building). In other words, though developing universal translation tools may have humanitarian benefits, it also makes good business sense for a company like Meta.

It’s certainly true that advances in machine learning in recent years have hugely improved the speed and accuracy of machine translation. A number of big tech companies, from Google to Apple, now offer users free AI translation tools, used for work and tourism, and undoubtedly provide incalculable benefits around the world. But the underlying technology has its problems, too, with critics noting that machine translation misses nuances critical for human speakers, injects gendered bias into its outputs, and is capable of throwing up those weird, unexpected errors only a computer can. Some speakers of uncommon languages also say they fear losing hold of their speech and culture if the ability to translate their words is controlled solely by big tech.

Considering such errors is critical when massive platforms like Facebook and Instagram apply such translations automatically. Consider, for example, a case from 2017 when a Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli police after Facebook’s machine translation software mistranslated a post he shared. The man wrote “good morning” in Arabic, but Facebook translated this as “hurt them” in English and “attack them” in Hebrew.

And while Meta has long aspired to global access, the company’s own products remain biased towards countries that provide the bulk of its revenue. Internal documents published as part of the Facebook Papers revealed how the company struggles to moderate hate speech and abuse in languages other than English. These blind spots can have incredibly deadly consequences, as when the company failed to tackle misinformation and hate speech in Myanmar prior to the Rohingya genocide. And similar cases involving questionable translations occupy Facebook’s Oversight Board to this day.

So while a universal translator is an incredible aspiration, Meta will need to prove not only that its technology is equal to the task but that, as a company, it can apply its research fairly.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


US State Department announces $10 million bounty after Costa Rica ransomware attack

In the wake of a massive ransomware attack on the Costa Rican government in April, the US government issued a notice last week declaring a bounty potentially worth millions of dollars on people involved with the Conti ransomware used in the hack. Rodrigo Chaves Robles, Costa Rica’s recently sworn-in president, declared a national emergency due to the attack, according to CyberScoop.

According to BleepingComputer, the ransomware attack affected Costa Rica’s ministries of finance and Labor and Social Security, as well as the country’s Social Development and Family Allowances Fund, among other entities. The report also says that the attack affected some services from the country’s treasury starting on April 18th. Hackers not only took down some of the government’s systems, but they’re also leaking data, according to CyberScoop, which notes that almost 700GB of data has made its way onto Conti’s site.

The Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Offers  Rewards of up to $10,000,000 United States dollars for Information Leading to the Identification or Location of key leaders, and up to $5,000,000 United States dollars for Information Leading to the Arrest, and/or Conviction of the Owners/Operators/A...  Conti Ransomware as a Service Group  Contact the FBI with any tips by phone or internet: Phone: +1-800-CALL-FBI +1-800-225-5324 

The US State Department says the attack “severely impacted the country’s foreign trade by disrupting its customs and taxes platforms” and offers “up to $10 million for information leading to the identification and/or location” of the organizers behind Conti. The US government is also offering $5 million for information “leading to the arrest and/or conviction of any individual in any country conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate” in a Conti-based ransomware attack.

Last year, the US offered similar bounties on REvil and DarkSide (the group behind the Colonial Pipeline attack). REvil is largely thought to be defunct after the US reportedly hacked the group’s servers and the Russian government claimed to have arrested several members.

The Costa Rican government isn’t the only entity to fall victim to Conti’s ransomware. As Krebs On Security notes, the group is particularly infamous for targeting healthcare facilities such as hospitals and research centers.

The gang is also known for having its chat logs leaked after it declared that it fully supported Russia’s government shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began. According to CNBC, those logs showed that the group behind the ransomware itself was having organizational issues — people weren’t getting paid, and there were arrests happening. However, like many ransomware operators, the actual software was also used by “affiliates,” or other entities who used it to carry out their own attacks.

In Costa Rica’s case, the attacker claims to be one of these affiliates and says that they aren’t part of a larger team or government, according to a message posted by CyberScoop. They have, however, threatened to carry out “more serious” attacks, calling Costa Rica a “demo version.”

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Amazon announces Graviton3 processors for AI inferencing

Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other C-level and senior execs on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit this January 12, 2022. Learn more

At its re:Invent 2021 conference today, Amazon announced Graviton3, the next generation of its custom ARM-based chip for AI inferencing applications. Soon to be available in Amazon Web Services (AWS) C7g instances, the company says that the processors are optimized for workloads including high-performance compute, batch processing, media encoding, scientific modeling, ad serving, and distributed analytics.

Alongside Graviton3, Amazon unveiled Trn1, a new instance for training deep learning models in the cloud — including models for apps like image recognition, natural language processing, fraud detection, and forecasting. It’s powered by Trainium, an Amazon-designed chip that the company last year claimed would offer the most teraflops of any machine learning instance in the cloud. (A teraflop translates to a chip being able to process 1 trillion calculations per second.)

As companies face pandemic headwinds including worker shortages and supply chain disruptions, they’re increasingly turning to AI for efficiency gains. According to a recent Algorithmia survey, 50% of enterprises plan to spend more on AI and machine learning in 2021, with 20% saying they will be “significantly” increasing their budgets for AI and ML. AI adoption is, in turn, driving cloud growth — a trend of which Amazon is acutely aware, hence the continued investments in technologies like Graviton3 and Trn1.


AWS CEO Adam Selipsky says that Graviton3 is up to 25% faster for general-compute workload and provides two times faster floating-point performance for scientific workloads, two times faster performance for cryptographic workloads, and three times faster performance for machine learning workloads versus Graviton2. Moreover, Graviton3 uses up to 60% less energy for the same performance compared with the previous generation, Selipsky claims.

Graviton3 also includes a new pointer authentication feature that’s designed to improve overall security. Before return addresses are pushed onto the stack, they’re first signed with a secret key and additional context information, including the current value of the stack pointer. When the signed addresses are popped off the stack, they’re validated before being used. An exception is raised if the address isn’t valid, blocking attacks that work by overwriting the stack contents with the address of harmful code.

As with previous generations, Graviton3 processors include dedicated cores and caches for each virtual CPU, along with cloud-based security features. C7g instances will be available in multiple sizes, including bare metal, and Amazon claims that they’re the first in the cloud industry to be equipped with DDR5 memory, up to 30Gbps of network bandwidth, and elastic fabric adapter support.


According to Selipsky, Trn1, Amazon’s instance for machine learning training, delivers up to 800Gbps of networking and bandwidth, making it well-suited for large-scale, multi-node distributed training use cases. Customers can leverage up to tens of thousands of clusters of Trn1 instances for training models containing upwards of trillions of parameters.

Trn1 supports popular frameworks including Google’s TensorFlow, Facebook’s PyTorch, and MxNet and uses the same Neuron SDK as Inferentia, the company’s cloud-hosted chip for machine learning inference. Amazon is quoting 30% higher throughput and 45% lower cost-per-inference compared with the standard AWS GPU instances.


VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Astera Labs announces memory acceleration to clear datacenter AI/ML bottlenecks

Astera Labs today announced key advancements to clear up performance bottlenecks in enterprise datacenters caused by the massive data needs of AI and ML applications.

Timed to coincide with Supercomputing21, a conference for high-performance computing that happens this week, the company is launching what it claims is the industry’s first memory accelerator platform based on the Compute Express Link (CXL) standard for interconnecting general purpose CPU processors and various other datacenter devices.

The news is significant because clearing bottlenecks in datacenters has become a holy grail for the major vendors of processors. Their customers are struggling with performance, bandwidth, and latency issues as they piece together different types of processors like CPUs, GPUs, and AI accelerators that are required to drive powerful applications like AI.

By combining its existing Aries product (for PCIe retimers) with the newly announced Taurus (for smart cables) and Leo SoC (for CXL memory accelerators), Astera Labs says it can become the leading cloud connectivity provider and (more than) double its revenue annually to address the $1 billion pipeline opportunity it sees, with an overall estimated total addressable market of $8 billion by 2025, which is being fueled by the growth of AI.

The goal is to create a faster connectivity backbone that provides low-latency interconnects, shares resources, and stays efficient with tricky technologies like cache. Also, Astera Labs says its fully cloud-based approach provides significant advantages in design productivity and quality assurance.

Feeding data to memory accelerators

One of the persistent challenges in computing is to ensure that CPUs and other accelerators can be fed data. This has become a major issue given the explosive growth of AI, where model sizes have doubled in as little time as every three and a half months. In recent years, DRAM scaling has not kept up with Moore’s law, which means memory is becoming a more limiting and costlier factor than compute. The CXL protocol, based on standard PCIe infrastructure, is an alternative to the standard DIMM slot for DRAM. It can also be used to attach accelerators to the CPU.

Intel proposed the CXL standard in 2019, and its industry adoption is targeted to coincide with PCIe 5.0 in 2022. Compared to PCIe 5.0, CXL adds multiple features such as cache coherency across CPU and accelerators and also has a much lower latency. In the future, CXL 2.0 will add rack-level memory pooling, which will make disaggregated datacenters possible.

Astera Labs already has some products that are used by cloud service providers, such as PCIe and CXL retimers, but is aiming to expand this portfolio with these new announcements.

Memory accelerator for CXL 2.0

Leo, which Astera calls the industry’s first memory accelerator platform for CXL 2.0, is designed to make it possible for CXL 2.0 to pool and share resources (memory and storage) across multiple chips in a system — including the CPU, GPU, FPGA, and SmartNIC — and make disaggregated servers possible. Leo further offers built-in fleet management and diagnostic capabilities for large-scale server deployments, such as in the cloud or enterprises.

“CXL is a game-changer for hyperscale datacenters, enabling memory expansion and pooling capabilities to support a new era of data-centric and composable compute infrastructure,” Astera Labs CEO Jitendra Mohan said. “We have developed the Leo SoC [system on a chip] platform in lockstep with leading processor vendors, system OEMs, and strategic cloud customers to unleash the next generation of memory interconnect solutions.”

CXL consists of three protocols:, CXL.cache, and CXL.memory. However, only the implementation of is mandatory. For the artificial intelligence use case of a cache-coherent interconnect between memory, the CPU, and accelerators such as GPUs and NPUs (neural processing units), the CXL.memory protocol is relevant. Although the latency of CXL is higher than a standard DIMM slot, it is similar to current (proprietary) inter-CPU protocols such as Intel’s Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI). Because one of the goals of CXL 2.0 is to enable resource pooling at the rack-scale, the latency will be similar to today’s solutions for internode interconnects. CXL.memory further supports both conventional DRAM and persistent memory, in particular Intel’s Optane.

The Leo SoC memory accelerator platform positions Astera to play a critical role to support the industry in adopting CXL-based solutions for AI and ML. Because CXL is based on PCIe 5.0, Leo supports a bandwidth of 32 GT/s per lane. The maximum capacity is 2TB.

“Astera Labs’ Leo CXL Memory Accelerator Platform is an important enabler for the Intel ecosystem to implement a shared memory space between hosts and attached devices,” Jim Pappas, director of technology initiatives at Intel, said.

“Solutions like Astera Labs’ Leo Memory Accelerator Platform are key to enable tighter coupling and coherency between processors and accelerators, specifically for memory expansion and pooling capabilities,” Michael Hall, director of customer compatibility at AMD, agreed.

Inside CXL

Digging a bit deeper into CXL, the Intel-proposed standard was the last one for a cache-coherent interconnect to be announced. For example, Arm was already promoting its CCIX standard, and various other vendors were working on a similar solution in the Gen-Z Consortium. However, with the absence of Intel — still the dominant vendor in the datacenter — in these initiatives, they gained little traction. So once Intel proposed CXL as an open interconnect standard based on the PCIe 5.0 infrastructure, the industry quickly moved to back the CXL initiative, as Intel promised support in its upcoming Sapphire Rapids Xeon Scalable processors.

Within six months of the CXL announcement, Arm announced that it, too, would move away from its own CCIX in favor of CXL. Earlier this month, the Gen-Z Consortium announced that it had signed a letter of intent (following a previous memorandum of understanding) to transfer the Gen-Z specifications and assets to the CXL Consortium, making CXL the “sole industry-standard” going forward.

Other vendors have already announced support. In 2021, Samsung and Micron each announced that they would bring DRAM based on the CXL interconnect to the market. In November, AMD announced that it would start to support CXL 1.1 in 2022 with its Epyc Genoa processors.

Outside of CXL

Astera also announced Taurus SCM, which pertains to smart cable modules (SCM) for Ethernet. These “smart cables” serve to maintain signal integrity as bandwidth doubles in 200G, 400G, and 800G Ethernet (which is starting to replace 100GbE) in 3m or longer copper cables, and they support latencies up to 6x lower than the spec. Other smart features include security, cable degradation monitoring, and self-test. The cables support up to 100G-per-lane serializer-deserializer (SerDes).

Astera Labs is an Intel Capital portfolio company. The startup is partnering with chip providers such as AMD, Arm, Nvidia, and Intel’s Habana Labs, which have also supported the CXL standard. In September, the company announced a series C $50 million investment at a $950 million valuation.


VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


MSI Announces a Monster 55-Inch OLED Gaming Monitor

MSI announced the upcoming launch of two gaming monitors, both of which bring something new to the market.

The first screen has a curved mini-LED display with a 165Hz refresh rate that promises excellent color reproduction thanks to a number of technologies, including MSI’s own premium quantum dot films. The second display is a massive 55-inch OLED monitor directed at console gamers.

The curved monitor, dubbed MSI MEG Artymis 341, marks an industry first with its sharp curvature combined with mini-LED backlighting. It meets the VESA Display HDR 1000 requirements, supporting at least HDR10 high dynamic range content and achieving a brightness of at least 1,000 nits at peak luminance.

MEG Artymis 341 has a 34-inch screen with a native resolution of 3440 x 1440 and a 21:9 aspect ratio. The technology used in its creation lends itself to producing a wide color range and a high-quality image. It features a combination of Optronics adaptive mini-LED technology, full-array local dimming (FALD) based on mini-LED backlighting, and MSI’s quantum dot premium films.

The above specs certainly should contribute to a fantastic viewing experience. The monitor is likely to provide high contrasts, deep blacks, and high brightness. The superior imagery should come at no expense to gaming, as the MSI MEG Artymis also has a 165Hz refresh rate and a response time of 1 milliseconds. The screen also features a rather sharp 1000R arc curvature and an 800R center curvature.

MSI hasn’t revealed any further details about its new curved display, such as whether it will swivel, pivot, or have an adjustable stand.

MSI's new OLED gaming monitor.

MSI has another ace up its sleeve that’s also directed at gamers — although this one seems to be aimed at console gaming rather than PC. The MSI MEG 551U OLED is the company’s upcoming 55-inch OLED monitor for the gaming sector. Featuring a very large and wide screen, it promises high image quality for those who enjoy gaming on huge displays.

Both of these screens are directed at the premium sector. The curved model seems to combine everything most users wish to see in one of the best gaming monitors — fantastic image quality and high refresh rates. This combination makes it suited for both fast-paced shooters and immersive RPGs.

The pricing of these new monitors hasn’t been announced just yet, but it’s clear that they may not be cheap. MSI teased that both the screens will be available for sale sometime in 2022.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Razer Announces All-White Pro Type Ultra and Pro Click Mini

Razer isn’t just a gaming brand anymore — the company is expanding its office and work-friendly peripherals with a series of new updates. Razer announced the new Pro Click Mini wireless mouse, Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard, and Pro Glide XXL mouse mat as part of its new Razer Pro productivity suite, designed for the new work-from-home era.

The new keyboard and mouse come with features you’d expect from the best around, including long battery life and solid connections to your PC. However, it also features dampened switches to reduce noise while typing, which is a useful feature that’s becoming increasingly important as families have to work, study, and play together in confined spaces.

Even HP is marketing its latest Envy Inspire printers with noise reduction technology as a pandemic-borne necessity.

According to Razer, the new Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard also comes with silent mechanical switches, which can minimize distraction if you’re sharing a working or gaming space with other family members.

“Refined and improved through community feedback, the Razer Pro Type Ultra is the next generation of Razer’s Pro series of keyboards, bringing a quieter, more luxurious typing experience to the office space,” the company said of its latest workspace inspired keyboard. “With silent mechanical switches, rated for up to 80 million presses, the keycaps feature a soft-touch coating for all-day typing comfort”

For added ergonomics, the keyboard comes with a plush leatherette wrist rest, which was one of our biggest complaints about the original Razer Pro Type keyboard. Other features include the ability to pair with and switch easily between four different devices, 200 hours of battery life, and compatibility with Razer’s 2.4GHz Productivity Dongle for lag-free use or for use in areas with congested wireless signals.

“The new Pro range features multi-device wireless connectivity, extended battery life, and a quieter sound profile,” Razer said of its new productivity products. “Coupled with Razer’s expertise in producing high-performance, durable, ergonomic hardware, the new Pro range delivers the ideal work, home office, or mobile peripherals for today’s flexible workspace locations.”

Razer's new Pro Type keyboard comes with dampened switches for silent typing.

The Pro Click Mouse is designed to complement the keyboard. Like its sibling, the mouse can be paired with multiple devices simultaneously — up to three via Bluetooth — and can also work with the USB Productivity Dongle. It has silent tactile switches, which are becoming a common theme for work from home peripherals these days, and uses Razer’s advanced 5G optical sensor for accurate tracking and precise control alongside programmable buttons and a large scroll wheel.

“The new Razer HyperScroll wheel can switch between Free-Spin and Tactile scrolling modes for quick and easy navigation of large documents and webpages, while the 4-way tilt-click function allows for easy horizontal scrolling and movement,” the company said. “With an additional 7 fully programmable buttons for ease of use in multiple applications, the Pro Click Mini is a versatile, capable mouse, perfect for the demands of modern office work.”

If you need a mousepad to do work, the Razer Pro Glide XXL is a functional mouse mat — despite its unappealing name. With a surface area of 940 x 410mm and measuring 3mm thick, the Pro Glide XXL comes with features like “increased size for greater coverage,” a “textured micro-weave cloth surface” on top of “thick, high-density rubber foam” that’s cushioned “for long-term comfort,” and an “anti-slip rubber base.” These features make the mousepad even less safe for work than it already is.

Aside from the odd name, the good news is that all three productivity peripherals come in very neutral hues of white and silver, and Razer’s Chroma RGB backlight has been switched out for a more professionally-inspired white tone on the keyboard.

Both the wireless mouse and the mousepad are available starting today. The Pro Click Mini will sell for $79 while the Pro Glide XXL is listed at $29. The Razer Pro Type Ultra wireless keyboard will be arriving in the fourth quarter to select retailers and on Razer’s website and will be priced at $159 at launch.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Oculus announces GTA: San Andreas VR, teases big Beat Saber news

We were expecting some news about VR gaming today at Facebook Connect 2021, and that’s precisely what we got. Facebook made several announcements regarding games that are heading to Oculus VR, and while we may not expect a ton from a segment that often still feels like it’s just getting going, there were certainly surprises. If you’re a GTA or Beat Saber fan, then you’ll want to pay attention to today’s announcements.

That’s because leading Facebook’s announcements was the reveal of a VR version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any gameplay footage or even any screenshots; Facebook merely says that this game is in development at Rockstar for the Quest 2, and that the project is “many years in the making.” We’re going to have to wait for anything more substantial than that, though.

Beat Saber was also on the docket today, though unfortunately, specifics are slim there too. After looking back on 2021, Beat Games teased that it has “an amazing lineup of artists for 2022.” The company also said that it has one more announcement coming before the end of the year and teased that announcement with the trailer you see above. All we see in the trailer is a unique-looking saber with the words “Level Up!” so if you’re a Beat Saber player, take that as you will.

Facebook also shared a collection of updates on other games and developers, revealing that it’s partnering with Vertigo Games for five new titles. We don’t know what those games are, but one of them will be set in a “fan-favorite” game world from Deep Silver. In addition, the company announced that Blade & Sorcery: Nomad, which will be heading to Quest 2 later this year.

Blade & Sorcery: Nomad doesn’t seem to be a sequel to the original game – which launched for Oculus Rift in 2019 – but rather a standalone release for the Quest specifically. However, the idea will still be to provide a sandbox for players to experiment with various sorts of first-person combat, whether that’s melee with weapons like swords and axes, ranged with bows, or sorcery with magic. There’s been no specific release date announced yet, but Blade & Sorcery: Nomad should be here by the time we close the book on 2021.

Facebook – or, we should say, Meta – also announced a fitness accessory kit for Oculus Quest today. The fitness kit is straightforward and simple, as it includes grips for the controllers to keep them from flying across the room (not entirely unlike the strap on a Wii remote or Switch Joy-Con, though not exactly the same) and a face pad that’s easy to wipe down after a workout. We’ll see that launch later sometime next year.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Pimax Announces 12K QLED VR Headset With Eye Tracking

It seems that virtual reality may be about to become even more real than ever before — all thanks to a new VR headset. Pimax, a company that manufactures VR equipment, announced the upcoming release of a new 12K QLED VR headset that will feature technologies such as eye tracking, full-body tracking, and refresh rates of up to 200Hz. The headset, dubbed Pimax Reality 12K QLED, is part of the company’s venture into the metaverse and a step toward bringing true realism to using VR.

During today’s Pimax Frontier event, the company’s representatives talked at length about the goals behind the product — naturalness, self-awareness, and freedom. Pimax wants to bring these qualities into virtual reality and the metaverse, allowing people from all over the world to interact and explore virtual worlds together. While VR technology already allows for some of that to happen, Pimax wants to take it to the next level with its new invention — the Reality 12K QLED VR headset.

The new headset is going to feature a technology that Pimax dubbed Gemini. Combining the quality of PC VR headsets that stay connected at all times with the freedom of stand-alone headsets, this device is going to run on two different engines. Pimax also worked with Nvidia to optimize the graphics quality in these headsets. The new release is said to utilize Nvidia’s DLSS, VRSS, DSC, and Cloud XR technologies.

The first engine is Pimax’s customized PC VR engine, and the second is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon VR engine. The combination is supposed to improve graphics when in stand-alone mode, offering extra freedom to users at little cost to quality.

Specifications for the new Pimax VR headset.

In PC VR mode, the headset is said to offer resolutions of up to 12K, with refresh rates between 90Hz and 200Hz, a first for Pimax. It will also have a 200-degree horizontal field of view (HFOV). When used in stand-alone mode, the quality drops, but not to a level that users could complain about. Wireless performance includes resolutions of up to 8K, with a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and a 150-degree HFOV.

In order to achieve true realism, Pimax opted not to use LCD or OLED technology and instead went with mini LED and QLED. This is something that Apple has also utilized in its latest MacBook Pros. The 5.5-inch display used in Pimax Reality will feature 5,000 mini LEDs, offering a wide color gamut, deep blacks, and bright contrasts.

Pimax made other potentially industry-revolutionizing announcements regarding the new headset. The new VR headpiece is said to feature a total of 11 cameras that will track eye movement, facial expressions, hand movement, and even the movement of the whole body. It is also said to feature Wi-Fi 6E technology for quick and lag-free streaming.

A demonstration of full-body tracking in Pimax Reality VR.

As running such a powerful VR headset would require one monster of a gaming PC, Pimax also teased the upcoming release of a so-called mini PC/gaming console. Dedicated to run only with Pimax equipment, this device is meant to act as a VR station of sorts. Powerful and decked out with the latest components, it will be a portable solution for VR enthusiasts. No further details have been shared as of yet.

Jumping into high-level VR isn’t cheap. The headsets will cost $2,399, but owners of current Pimax gear may be entitled to a price reduction. The company announced that the new Pimax Reality line will be released in late 2022, shipping just in time for the holiday season. Considering that Pimax’s previous 8K X VR headset was nothing short of awesome, it seems that VR enthusiasts may have something to start saving up for.

Editors’ Choice

Repost: Original Source and Author Link


Google announces health tool to identify skin conditions

Google’s latest foray into health care is a web tool that uses artificial intelligence to help people identify skin, hair, or nail conditions. The company previewed the tool at I/O today, and it says it hopes to launch a pilot later this year.

People can use their phone’s camera to take three pictures of the problem area — for example, a rash on their arm. They’ll then answer a series of questions about their skin type and other symptoms. The tool then gives a list of possible conditions from a set of 288 that it’s trained to recognize. It’s not intended to diagnose the problem, the company said in a blog post.

The Google tool asks people to take three photos of a skin problem, and then it offers possible conditions.
Image: Google

Google decided to tackle skin conditions using artificial intelligence because of their prevalence, says Karen DeSalvo, the chief health officer at Google Health. “People are coming to Google to ask questions about skin conditions. We get about 10 billion annual skin condition queries,” she said in an interview with The Verge. Of course, experts can help people determine if it’s something simple or indicative of a more serious illness, but there’s a shortage of dermatologists all over the world. DeSalvo hopes this tool can help get people accurate information about potential conditions, quickly, without having to spend hours doing their own online research.

The team trained the model on millions of images of skin problems, thousands of images of healthy skin, and 65,000 images from clinical settings. The model takes factors like age, skin type, sex, and race into account when suggesting possible conditions. When it was tested on around 1,000 images of skin problems from a diverse range of patients, Google says it identified the correct condition in the top three suggestions 84 percent of the time. It included the correct condition as one of the possible issues 97 percent of the time.

The new system builds on Google’s past work using artificial intelligence tools to identify skin conditions. The company published the first iteration of its deep learning system in Nature Medicine last spring. That paper showed that the system could identify 26 common skin conditions just as accurately as dermatologists and more accurately than primary care doctors. In April, the company published another study showing that the system could help non-dermatologist physicians diagnose skin conditions more accurately.

Google is also working with a Stanford University research team to test how well the tool works in a health care setting.

The company obtained a Class I medical device mark for the tool in the European Union, designating it as a low-risk medical device. It has not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration.


Repost: Original Source and Author Link