Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, May 26.

1. A new social 5G VR headset

Former HTC CEO Peter Chou has a new project, and it’s in VR: XRSpace Move.

Officially announced today, there’s at least some reason to think this won’t be dead on arrival.

What is it?

  • The XRSpace Mova is a new headset, reportedly shipping in the third quarter of 2020 for $599.
  • Selling points include 5G support, hand tracking by default, and a virtual world dubbed ‘Manova’ – more on that below.
  • It’ll run a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, pack 6GB RAM, a bigger 4,600mAh battery, and a 2880×1440 resolution display, plus 90Hz refresh rate. It has 6DoF, too.
  • And, that display will be 702dpi, an insane pixel density, because of a smaller panel with more restricted view. Who knows, it might work.
  • It’s also said to be the “smallest, lightest” standalone VR, weighing 470 grams, quite a bit less than the Oculus Quest at 571g.
  • There’ll be accessories, too, but no details yet.
  • Some tech reporters have already worn the headset this year, but under NDA, with no details about the experience.

Why?

  • It’s all about the social experience, with Chou wanting to call this “XR” not strictly VR.
  • Manova seems to be focusing on virtual world social experiences. I hesitate to slap the ol’ it’s ‘Second Life-but-in-VR’ moniker on the whole thing but that’s the fastest way to understand what this is about.
  • Virtual worlds have already failed: Linden Lab’s High Fidelity didn’t really work, not something lost on the former HTC exec.
  • Manova is VR-first, not adapted from PC, and it is working closely with its Mova headset to use features like hand tracking to high-five or fist bump other avatars, which are higher-quality designs than we’ve seen before.
  • The reason I’m not super sceptical is that the current pandemic is leading to some people holding VR meetings. With travel problematic now and in a vaccine-less future, going from a 2D Zoom call to a VR meeting has been mentioned as being much richer and better for meetings (Mind you, I haven’t tried one).
  • Manova looks adaptable towards professional use too: one early partner involved is a real estate agency that wants to offer VR houses for tours this year.
  • So why won’t it work? Problems include that the $399 Oculus Quest is $399, and even at that price can’t attract a significant uptake. But the Quest is hard to buy right now, too, with limited availability at times.
  • XRSpace has signed up a range of partners, too, but the struggle will be for anyone to make VR truly exciting. Does 5G help significantly?
  • I mean, I do still want to play Beat Saber, but gaming has been the only real medium of success for now, outside of some niche healthcare and industrial AR uses.

2. Motorola Razr 2 specs leak: The (officially confirmed) second foldable Razr will have much better specs, 5G, but build quality and pricing is key here too (Android Authority).


3. Samsung Exynos 880 revealed: A cheaper Exynos 980 with 5G support (Android Authority).


4. HTC is still alive! Word is it could release a 5G flagship in summer: Here’s what we know (Android Authority).


5. NASA and SpaceX are ‘go’: Historic launch of Crew Dragon with astronauts on board: 4:33 pm ET tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Gizmodo). Here’s more on the dress rehearsal for Launch Day (nasa.gov). As for the weather? The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron last predicted a 60% chance of unfavorable weather conditions for the Demo-2 mission, due to clouds, but things may be looking up: “It certainly has been trending better over the last day or two for launch weather.” Check the latest weather updates here (patrick.af.mil). And here’s where to watch SpaceX launch those NASA astronauts to the ISS (YouTube). I’ll mention all this tomorrow, too!


6. The plane/rocket hybrid small satellite launcher Virgin Orbit has failed to launch a rocket to space during first test flight. It was always going to be tricky with a liquid-fuelled rocket being launched from a horizontal position at a 50-mile attitude (Engadget).


7. PlayStation Plus users can get ‘Call of Duty: WWII’ for free today (Lifehacker).


8. grad student solved the epic Conway Knot Problem in a week: “He started yelling, ‘Why aren’t you more excited?’” (Wired).


9. ow to reverse-engineer a rainforest: Can scientists figure out how to replant the Amazon? (Engadget).


10. Ars’ summer reading guide: sci-fi newer releases, plenty of old classics, and a lot of alternate reality too (Ars Technica). I’ve barely read any of these, and right now I’m stuck trying to finish Don Quixote. A true masterpiece, but it’s a long, long read…


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