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Tech News

Oculus Medium is becoming a better VR sculpting tool

June 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Oculus

With the next version of Medium, the immersive VR sculpting tool for the Rift, Oculus is giving users exactly what they’re asking for. That includes long-awaited features like grid snapping (below), up to 100 layers and the ability to add more than one light. Medium is similar to Google’s Tiltbrush, except it’s focused on creating 3D objects, not entire scenes. Another useful addition: You can now send your 3D sculptures directly to your Oculus Home virtual living room.

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For the most part, Medium 2.0 seems much easier to use than its predecessor. With a revamped file system and UI, it’s easier for you to find the elements you want quickly. And thanks to a new rendering engine, which uses Vulkan, it can also take more advantage of GPUs. You can expect things to be a bit smoother when you’re dealing with larger sculptures, for example. Medium 2.0 also has tutorials to help you get a hang of new tools like “Elastic Move,” which lets you stretch out your creations.

At $30, Medium 2.0 is $10 more than Tilt Brush, but it’s still inexpensive enough for would-be 3D designers to take a look.

Tech News

AMC's 'Stubs A-List' subscription is a direct attack on MoviePass

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

FAYEZ NURELDINE via Getty Images

That took…. longer than expected: To compete with MoviePass, AMC Theaters will launch a monthly subscription service starting June 26th. With the AMC Stubs A-List program, in exchange for $19.95 per month folks will be able to see three movies of their choosing per week — even if that means seeing the same movie three times in the same day. According to a press release, this also includes IMAX, Dolby Cinema and 3D features. You can buy tickets day-of or weeks in advance, too, using either the AMC website or mobile app.

A-List includes the perks of AMC’s current Stubs Insider loyalty program (no service fees for online purchases, discounts and free upgrades at the concession stand, line skipping) and waives the $15 annual fee from that program. Oh, and you don’t have to wait for a membership card to show up in the mail to start using the service. Each “week” runs Friday to Thursday, and there’s no rollover from one to the next. Meaning, if you only saw one movie the previous week, you don’t get to watch five the next as part of your subscription.

This is a clear attack on MoviePass. AMC has been incredibly vocal about its disdain for the competing service, and this is the next logical step for the theater chain. The price is twice that of MoviePass’ monthly fee, but AMC’s offering sounds quite a bit more convenient. For starters, there’s no need to “check in” to a showing and then go through the hassle of taking photos of your ticket stubs. Instead, you just buy your tickets like normal.

Slashfilm writes that if you choose to see all three movies in one day that there needs to be a two-hour gap between showtimes (likely to prevent fraud), and that each ticket will have your name printed on it. That convenience might make the higher price less of an issue for some. You’ll need to present photo ID at the time of pickup.

Since launching last August, MoviePass has had its share of foibles, changing policies on the fly and angering customers. Rivals have popped up since last year as well, both domestically and abroad. The general consensus seems to be that no one knows how its business model works and how long it’ll stay afloat. If more theater chains start offering their own services akin to AMC’s it could prove difficult for MoviePass to compete — especially in smaller cities where there’s a lack of competition among theaters.

Tech News

Scientists create the first 3D-printed human corneas

May 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Newcastle University

Newcastle University researchers have devised a groundbreaking experimental technique that could help millions on the corneal transplant waiting list. By using a simple 3D bio-printer, Professor of Tissue Engineering Che Connon and his team of scientists were able to combine healthy corneal stem cells with collagen and alginate (a type of sugar sometimes used in tissue regeneration) to create ‘bio-ink’ — a printable solution that enabled them to reproduce the shape of a human cornea in just 10 minutes.

The cornea has a significant role in helping us focus and barricading our eyes against dirt and bacteria. However, since it’s located on the outermost layer of the eye, it’s also pretty vulnerable to injury. Worldwide, approximately 10 million people risk corneal blindness due to infectious disorders like trachoma, but there’s a dearth of readily available transplants. Because Connon’s 3D-printed corneas utilize stem cells, corneal replicas could potentially provide a limitless supply of much-needed transplants.

“Our unique gel – a combination of alginate and collagen – keeps the stem cells alive whilst producing a material which is stiff enough to hold its shape but soft enough to be squeezed out the nozzle of a 3D printer,” Connon said.

Before printing the corneal replicas, researchers scanned patients’ eyes to ascertain the necessary dimensions and coordinates. While it’s likely patients will have to wait “several years” before these 3D-printed corneas are available in an official capacity, they still represent incredible hope for those with more severe corneal-related impairments.