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Magic Leap signs content deal with comics giant Grant Morrison

July 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Magic Leap

Magic Leap has teamed up with Scotland-based Square Slice Studios, which was co-founded by comic book industry veteran Grant Morrison, to create content for its mixed reality headset. You might know the prolific writer for his work with Batman and All-Star Superman, as well as for creating the boundary-pushing sci-fi comics The Invisibles, among many other things. The studio will conjure up interactive experiences for the headset, though it has yet to reveal their exact nature. While we can probably expect some interactive comics, it’s worth noting that Morrison co-founded the company with a number of other creatives, including Grand Theft Auto artist Stewart Waterson.

Morrison’s statement hints at something big, though:

“Storytelling is my passion and I’ve found that new platforms allow me to extend my creative boundaries. We see Magic Leap as the next great platform for storytelling and we are excited to collaborate on content that helps bring our wildest dreams to life in the near future.”

Magic Leap also has a partnership with Madefire that will make the service’s mixed reality comics available on the headset from day one. But by teaming up with Square Slice Studios, it’s showing that it’s willing to invest in creating good content for its platform in addition to giving users access to existing non-exclusive offerings. The investment could pay off in the future when the company can no longer rely on years of mystery and hype to sell the device. Magic Leap’s mixed reality headset — one of them anyway, since there are supposed to be multiple versions — will start shipping this summer.

Tech News

Recommended Reading: The accent struggle for Alexa and Google Assistant

July 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Engadget

The accent gap
Drew Harwell,
The Washington Post

Smart speakers (and the virtual assistants they house) offer voice control for so many connected devices it’s hard to keep count. Those audio gadgets can also assist with a range of questions — that is, if they can understand you. The Washington Post took a close look at the performance of Alexa and Google Assistant when it comes to understanding people with strong accents. The results show that while these devices are certainly handy and increasingly popular, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Zuckerberg: The Recode interview
Kara Swisher,
Recode

The Facebook CEO covered a range of topics, including its evolving approach to fake news and a comment about Holocaust deniers that warranted a clarification afterwards.

For one last night, make it a Blockbuster night
Justin Heckert,
The Ringer

News of the one remaining Blockbuster store in the US circulated late last week, and The Ringer examined the end of an era.

The gospel according to Pusha T
Josie Duffy Rice,
The Atlantic

An interesting profile on the Kanye West protégé following the release of his latest album Daytona.

My search for the spirit of Prime Day at an Ariana Grande concert in a giant Amazon box
Hudson Hongo,
Gizmodo

Just trust me on this one.

Tech News

The Macallan distillery opens up for 4D virtual reality tours

July 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Not everyone has the means to travel to Scotland and visit their favorite distillery a la Ron Swanson. To help connoisseurs live out their dreams of traipsing through its facilities, The Macallan has created the Macallan Distillery Experience. VRFocus describes it as a “4D multi-sensory” group tour that guides folks through the company’s process for making its Single Malt spirit. Along the way you’ll explore the Scottish distillery an the estate it resides on, learning about the outfit’s history along the way. Visitors will step into a “15x15x15 cube-like projection structure” with 360-degree videos beamed to the installation’s walls.

This won’t be the first time Macallan has experimented with VR-tech. Back in 2016, it released a 360-degree video featuring its 12-year double cask liquid. The experience apparently makes use of scents and wind machines to help sell the illusion.

It will debut next week in New York at a private event in Brooklyn on the 23rd, and a few days later it’ll take up temporary residence at Grand Central Station, running from the 25th through the 27th, National Scotch Day. Everyone not in New York will have to make do with talking a walkthrough via their home VR devices. Hopefully if Macallan hands out samples it’ll happen after you take the headset off. Shooting the spirit is kind of beside the point, VR can make you sick while sober and adding booze to the mix can exacerbate that uneasy feeling.

Tech News

Netflix and Shonda Rhimes reveal eight exclusive series in the works

July 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Jimmy Kimmel Randy Holmes via Getty Images

On Friday Netflix revealed the first eight series in the works as a result of its production deal with Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes. They include a previously-announced show focusing on the exploits alleged con artist Anna Delvey, as well as an adaptation of the 2010 Pulitzer prize-winning book The Warmth of Other Suns. Another series will stem from former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s memoir Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change that detailed her life, career and gender discrimination lawsuit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins.

In a statement, Rhimes said: “I wanted the new Shondaland to be a place where we expand the types of stories we tell, where my fellow talented creatives could thrive and make their best work and where we as a team come to the office each day filled with excitement…Ted (Sarandos) and Cindy (Holland) and everyone at Netflix have been incredible partners in making that happen. This is Shondaland 2.0.”

Untitled Shonda Rhimes Project

Based on the New York Magazine article How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People by Jessica Pressler. Manhattan makes a new friend like no other. But is she the stuff American dreams are made of or is she New York’s biggest con woman? Is it a con if you enjoy being taken?

* Shonda Rhimes (EP) will create the series.

Untitled Bridgerton Project

Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling series of novels, this smart feminist take on Regency England romance unveils the glittering, wealthy, sexual, painful, funny and sometimes lonely lives of the women and men in London’s high society marriage mart as told through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

* Scandal veteran Chris Van Dusen (EP) will adapt and showrun the series.

The Warmth of Other Suns

Based on Pulitzer-Prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson’s award-winning book of the same name, this powerful groundbreaking series tracks the decades-long migration of African-Americans fleeing the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in the North and the West between 1916 and 1970.

*National Humanities Medal recipient, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and 2-time Drama Desk winning playwright Anna Deavere Smith (EP) is set to adapt.

Pick & Sepulveda

Set in the 1840s against the surreal and sensual backdrop of the then-Mexican state of California, the series tracks the end of an idyllic era there as American forces threaten brutality and war at the border to claim this breathtaking land for its own.

*Emmy-award writer Janet Leahy (EP) will create the series.

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change

Netflix and Shondaland have acquired the rights to Ellen Pao’s groundbreaking memoir detailing her life and career, including the lawsuit she brought against her former employer that sparked intense media scrutiny, shook Silicon Valley to its boys’ club core and pre-saged

Tech News

'Star Trek: Discovery' mini episodes arrive this fall

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

CBS All Access won’t have the next season of Star Trek: Discovery ready for streaming until early 2019, but fans won’t have to wait until then for new content. Today at Comic-Con executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman revealed four “Short Treks” will arrive throughout the fall, as 10 – 15 minute standalone episodes. Rainn Wilson’s character Harry Mudd will be featured in one, Aldis Hodge as Craft in another, while the other two follow characters Saru and Tilly. Naturally CBS also dropped off a trailer for season two, which you can check out after the break.

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Tech News

'Emojiland' review: Come for the 💩, stay for the 💗

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Warning: This review contains mild spoilers.

Spending two hours of my life watching emoji deal with existential crises isn’t something I ever expected to do. That almost feels fitting considering that the show’s creators, Keith and Laura Harrison, never expected they’d have the chance to stage their emoji musical off-Broadway. Emojiland runs through Sunday as part of the New York Musical Festival, and it endeavors to deal with weightier subjects than you might expect from a show in which a woman dressed as a 💩 brings the house down with a brassy, gospel-inspired number in a bathroom stall. But what is it like to actually sit through? Not bad, actually, as long as you’re walking in with an open mind.

The narrative is, as you might expect, pretty thin. All is more or less well in this microcosmic kingdom until a software update arrives — which obviously calls for a party at the Progress Bar — bringing a handful of new emoji with it.

Packed with endearing characters and scene-stealing performances, Emojiland is a charming way to kill an evening off-Broadway. Just beware of the show’s uneven pacing and scattershot character development — it’s been four years in the making, and the show still feels like it needs more focus.

The newcomers instantly give the cast a jolt of energy: The feckless, domineering Princess emoji (played with scene-stealing verve by Broadway vet Lesli Margherita) suddenly meets her match in a flamboyant Prince (Josh Lamon) who can belt just as well as she can. And Emojiland co-creator Keith Harrison soon appears as Nerd Face, the endearing, nasal pseudo-protagonist who quickly forms an emotional connection with the Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes emoji (also known as Smize) played by the show’s other co-creator, Harrison’s wife, Laura.

Given their years-long marriage, it’s little surprise that the moments the Harrisons share onstage feel so substantial. Even though the circumstances of Nerd Face and Smize’s meeting are somewhat trite, their affection embodies an earnest magnetism that’s totally absent in the bond Smize shares with her douchebag boyfriend, Sunny. (You might know him better as 😎.) It’s at this point that Emojiland reveals its true colors. Sure, you’re there to see how emoji deal with a world-ending crisis in two hours, but it revels in fleshing out the relationships that the world is built around.

Especially affecting was the easy, natural romance between the female Police Officer emoji (Angela Wildflower) and female Construction Worker emoji (Megan Kane), which provided a satisfying contrast to the show’s other love story. While Nerd Face and Smize spend the show sorting out their feelings for each other, PoPo and CoWo, as they refer to each other, have an established, caring relationship between two working women devoted to their careers and each other.

Theirs is the most mature and functional relationship in Emojiland, and the fact that the show portrays a gay, interracial love story without so much as

Tech News

Disney’s first VR short ‘Cycles’ debuts next month

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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John Keeble via Getty Images

Walt Disney Animation Studios is set to share its first VR short, a film called Cycles that took four months to create. The short will make its debut at the Association for Computing Machinery’s annual SIGGRAPH conference in August and the team behind it hopes VR will help viewers form a stronger emotional connection with the film. “VR is an amazing technology and a lot of times the technology is what is really celebrated,” Director Jeff Gipson said in a statement. “We hope more and more people begin to see the emotional weight of VR films, and with Cycles in particular, we hope they will feel the emotions we aimed to convey with our story.”

Cycles is about a house, what happens inside of it and how those that live there make it a home. When making the film, Gipson drew from childhood experiences in his grandparents’ home as well as the time he spent riding BMX bikes in empty swimming pools and wondering about the families who lived in the houses they were attached to. “Every house has a story unique to the people, the characters who live there,” he said. “We wanted to create a story in this single place and be able to have the viewer witness life happening around them. It is an emotionally driven film, expressing the real ups and downs, the happy and sad moments in life.”

The Disney short will air at SIGGRAPH’s Immersive Pavilion, an area dedicated to virtual, augmented and mixed reality. “What’s cool for VR is that we are really on the edge of trying to figure out what it is and how to tell stories in this new medium,” says Gipson. “In VR, you can look anywhere and really be transported to a different world, experience it from different angles and see every detail. We want people watching to feel alive and feel emotion, and give them a true cinematic experience.”

Last year, Pixar, a subsidiary of Disney, released a VR experience to promote the film Coco.

Image: Disney Animation Studios

Tech News

A live-action 'Stargirl' series is coming to DC's streaming service

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

DC

When DC officially announced its own streaming service, we couldn’t help but ask whether it could offer enough content to justify its $8-per-month pricing. For loyal fans, the price is probably worth it, because in addition to old Batman animated shows and movies, it will serve as the exclusive home to the comic giant’s originals. DC’s Geoff Johns has revealed one of those originals during his spotlight panel at SDCC 2018: a live-action series based on teen superhero Stargirl.

On his spotlight panel, @geoffjohns announces a new addition to @TheDCUniverse lineup: Stargirl, on a mission to bring back the legacy of the Justice Society! #DCSDCC pic.twitter.com/kbKyjMSuRe

— DC (@DCComics) July 19, 2018

Stargirl aka Courtney Whitmore is the first character Johns made for DC, and he based her on his late sister. In the show, we’ll see her as a high school sophomore who brings together a group of unlikely heroes to form the Justice Society of America, which you might know as the precursor to the Justice League. As a prominent member of the JSA, she appeared in many other DC shows over the years — just last year, she showed up in CW’s Legends of Tomorrow as a WWII-era superhero. It’s unclear if DC is considering the actress (Sarah Grey) who played her in Legends for the series’ title role, but we’ll likely hear more about it the nearer we are to its 2019 premiere.

Tech News

Watch the trailer for George R. R. Martin's new sci-fi horror show

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Game of Thrones is one of the most beloved, watched and pirated TV shows in recent history, but it’s not the only George R. R. Martin tale being adapted for the small screen. The author’s sci-fi horror novella Nightflyers was first published in 1980 before being turned into a movie later that decade, and now a new TV adaptation airing this fall on Syfy in the US and Netflix in other regions. A brief teaser for the show’s first, ten-episode season caught our attention a few months ago, and now we have a full trailer that debuted at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con to sink our teeth into.

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Set in the year 2093, George R. R. Martin describes Nightflyers as “a haunted house story on a starship. It’s Psycho in space.” It follows a group of explorers heading away from a dying Earth towards a mysterious craft at the edge of the solar system. Their mission is to make first contact with aliens, but the voyage quickly becomes a living nightmare. As things take turns for the worse, is the threat out there, on board, or the ship itself? Find out later this year — assuming you don’t read the original novella and spoil it for yourself first, of course.

Tech News

Under Armour’s Sport Wireless Train headphones are ready for the gym

July 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Last month, Under Armour launched its Project Rock on-ear headphones, which are built for intense workouts and were designed in collaboration with Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock). But not every fitness buff is going to be a fan of him (even though they should be, because gains), so it only made sense for the company to introduce a model without all his Rock branding. Enter the Sport Wireless Train, Under Armour’s latest on-ear headphones, created alongside audio firm JBL. The new set was first revealed in 2017 and looks nearly identical to the Project Rocks, with the only difference being the UA and JBL logos on the earcups and headband, respectively.

Outside of the design, Under Armour and JBL tuned the Sport Wireless Trains to be more neutral than the Project Rocks, which are quite bass heavy. I was able to notice that right away when I listened to a couple of albums on the Sport Wireless Trains — the vocals just seemed to pop and be more clear in every track. The other main difference, and this is a big one, is that UA made the Sport Wireless Trains $50 cheaper than the $250 Project Rocks. $200 is a much more compelling price point, especially when it still has all of the features that make The Rock’s pair appeal to people who hit the gym frequently.

The Sport Wireless Trains are made from rugged, sweat-resistant materials (IPX4 rating) and come with breathable ear cushions that can be removed and washed — that’s going to make it easy to clean them after your workouts. They also feature 40mm JBL drivers, a 16-hour battery life (5-minute charge will get you one hour of listening), oversized volume and playback buttons, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack in case you don’t want to do Bluetooth pairing. Additionally, Under Armour is throwing in a 12-month premium subscription to its Map My Fitness service, which is usually costs $30 per year.

Unfortunately, as with the Project Rocks, there’s no active noise-cancelling — and that’s likely going to be a deal-breaker for some people. But if that’s something you can live without, the Sport Wireless Train headphones are hitting stores in early August, though you can pre-order on July 24th from the Under Armour and JBL sites.

Gallery: Under Armour’s Sport Wireless Train headphones | 11 Photos 11 +7