It seems hardly a day goes by that there isn’t a new piece of technology in the news that is going to forever change our lives in some respect. However, the idea behind virtual reality headsets does have the real chance to change things in a range of ways and top on the list of anticipated headsets is the Oculus Rift. But what is it all about?
According to Oculus, the Rift is unlike anything a user has experienced before. Regardless whether being used to step into a game, watch a VR movie, spend time with friends or even glimpse a location thousands of miles away, it offers a real-world experience that is unique.
While the final consumer version has yet to be tested, experts have already had their hands on the current versions and most are impressed. The headset is very lightweight and comfortable to wear, even for people with glasses, something that is high on the list of concerns voiced by potential users. It looks sleek as well, not that that is too much of a worry when you are wearing it!
Features that appeal to users include removable audio pieces, so you can use your own headphones and an adjustable faceplate to ensure comfort. While the full specs have yet to be released, there seems to be a strong chance that the Touch controllers will be available, though not perhaps bundled with the headset initially.
What It Will Do
Pending the final details, what we know the Rift will do is slightly prone to change. But one of the features that seems fairly certain is the 360-degree spatial audio experience as well as a constellation tracking system that determines your position when you are wearing the headset. The sensor will then recognise the head movements of the user regardless of whether they are seated or standing.
There are doubtless going to be a huge range of games to choose from when the full release happens but some of the games already glimpsed includes a Sports Challenge where users can play football, baseball, hockey and basketball. Games will use the touch of the Xbox controller to operate and gameplay consists of players turning their heads to keep track of the ball or puck. While the gameplay doesn’t seem too elaborate, the reality factor of it makes it different to any sports game attempted before.
Finally, the Touch controls that are looking to be an add-on to the initial package offer a high level of interaction for total immersion in the game. With one in each hand, the controllers allow users to shoot guns, punch objects, move items and even light a sparkler with a lighter in one demonstration.
The potential for the Oculus Rift seems limited only by the speed that new technology can be created for it. Of course, we don’t know the exact cost of the system yet and this may stop some people being able to opt for it but if it lives up to its hype and continues to develop, it may quickly become a must-have piece of tech around the house.
Wearables are big news at the moment with all the major companies trying to convince customers that their latest version will be the next essential piece of tech. This means that there is a bewildering a variety of styles, functions, performances and costs to take into consideration. The two main contenders for the title of Top Wearable are Apple and Android, as with much in the tech world. But how do they compare? And what is the difference between the products?
The Apple Watch certainly generated the most hype in the lead up to its release and was heralded as the change in wearable tech that was needed. It certainly has the looks – slim and slender, it looks sophisticated and high-tech but then with a price tag started at $349, it needs to look the part. There are features that are carried over from the iPhone and those that aren’t so it can listen to dictated texts then sends either an audio message or a transcript but there isn’t a function to edit the message. Contacts are carried over to make calls but no new contact can be added.
The proximity of an iPhone to get certain features to work can be an issue for those who don’t own one. For instance, it can tell you what a song is using the Shazam app but it needs the microphone from the iPhone to do so. There’s a basic fitness app but for more complex GPS-enabled third party apps to work, again the iPhone has to be nearby.
There is definitely a greater range of prices and options with the Android versions of the smartwatch as they come from a number of different manufacturers. This means that people can spend as much or as little as they want.
At the high end of the price scale is the LG Urbane. This retails at a similar price to the Apple Watch and has the sophisticated look of an expensive watch to it. However, it does tend to appeal more to men than women due to its looks. It operates on the latest version of Android, the first smartwatch to do this and there are a number of hands free options with it operated by flicking the wrist but this doesn’t work to scroll through emails.
Another Android option available at a lower cost is the Samsung Gear Live. This normally retails at around $169 and comes out as many expert’s favourite Android watch. It has built in Wi-Fi connectivity and slightly larger, 1.63 inch screen. There are other built in features such as a heart rate monitor and even a small travel charger. In the looks department it has a curved shape that conforms to the wrist and has smart, minimalist look that will work for ladies as well as for the guys.
And the Winner is…
While the Apple watch has many features, the connectivity with the iPhone could work against it unless you are a dedicated Apple fan and already own one. If that’s the case, then the Apple Watch would be the winner. However, if you aren’t an iPhone owner, then the LG Urbane offers the style and the very latest version of Android that other manufacturers can’t yet offer.
It seems that hardly a day goes by where WordPress publishes a blog about their newest theme or one that someone has created for the websites. Sometimes picking one can be a bit like a kid in a sweet shop – there’s so many, how do I choose? There are plenty of different ways to choose from the simple ‘I like it’ to choosing one aimed at the business type or industry you are in. The newest idea for themes is a more interactive style called parallax. So what is this? I spoke to the Grapefruit, one of the leading web design and optimisation businesses in the UK, to find out more about this type of theme and what kind of impact they might have on the SEO services London clients come to them for.
So what is a parallax theme? Parallax scrolling the technique where a background image of a website moves at a slower rate than the elements in the foreground or images when the page is scrolled through. This creates the illusion of depth and motion and gives the visitor a stunning effect while in no way affect the search engine optimisation of the website.
But more than just looking great, there is an element of practicality to the idea. With a normal theme, you would have a static image on the website, unless of course you were using a video or a flash. When using a parallax theme, the visitor can instead interact with what they see. This opens up a lot of different ideas and concepts that can be utilised to make the experience more immersive for the visitor and generally a lot more fun.
Uses of Parallax
One example of a clever use of a parallax theme is by a mobile app that uses its character to ‘walk’ through a dark, spooky neighbourhood and explain what he (the app) does to protect the user’s personal information. The visitor watches the story and can’t leave until the end, though it is visually interesting enough that they probably don’t want to.
Nor does it need to be too complex. Using parallax scrolling to trigger visitors to enter a site is a simple and effective idea. Visitors take the most notice of what they see ‘above the fold’ on a website, in other words the part that is on the screen when they arrive. Rather than scrolling down to find out more, the parallax theme prompts visitors to follow the prompt on screen straight in front of them.
Live is one of the top WordPress themes using the parallax scrolling idea. It is a cool and creative theme that features unlimited layers of parallax, a unique feature to this theme. It is fully responsive as well as being easy to work with.
Parallax is another responsible theme that comes with two colour variations to work with the smooth parallax scrolling effect as well as being completely Widget ready for all those add-ons that make a website. It is visually stunning and gets visitors attentions even from a mobile browser.
Harmony has been designed for the musicians and bands seeking a unique website. It includes the ability to play their songs, upload photo galleries from gigs and events and even sell their merchandise. The background images are big and the site is easy to customise.
So there you go – grab yourself a great-looking theme and make your website look amazing! And if you want to keep up with the Grapefruit, you can check out their Twitter feed (@GrapefruitMktg), for all sorts of news and tips on how to make the most of your web design and optimisation.