Posts Tagged ‘professional sports betting software’

In pursuit of a winning strategy: Getting millennials to gamble

Picture a slot machine on a casino floor in Las Vegas. Sound effects blaring, lights flashing, graphics dancing across the screen. Maybe it’s “The Hangover” machine, where quotes from the movie pop up with each spin and the reels are filled with the film’s characters alongside images of a hospital bracelet, a satchel and a chicken. Oh, look! Five Mike Tysons in a row!

Now zoom out. A few feet away from Bradley Cooper’s whirling face, perky TV host Ellen DeGeneres is smiling on the screen. “Surprise! It’s bonus time,” she says, before sheepishly making it rain dollar bills when someone wins on her branded slot.

One row over, colorful signs advertise Blazing 7s, Buffalo Stampede and “The Walking Dead.” Here and there, people stare into the shining boxes, hitting the buttons and hoping they’ll hit it big.

Now zoom out once again, to the line snaking down a casino hallway filled with young people in bandage dresses, too-high heels, crisp button-down shirts and 11 p.m. buzzes. They’re waiting to get into a club, to join the crowd downing vodka tonics to a soundtrack spun by a disc jockey. While they’re in town, they’ll drink and eat. They will hit the pool and maybe catch a concert. But they won’t sit down and gamble, not like the generations before them, not enough to make casino operators, game manufacturers and people across the gambling industry sleep well at night.

Las Vegas has a problem.

It’s not that people aren’t visiting the city or that they’re staying out of the casinos. It’s that when they do visit, they’re gambling less, spending less money at the slots and tables. For young people especially, gambling seems low on the collective to-do list. They’re simply not that enticed by what they see on the casino floor. And besides, Dutch DJ Tiesto is spinning music upstairs.

Cleopatra Pinball, developed by IGT, is a hybrid device that combines gambling and video-game play.

Gaming revenue in Las Vegas is still below its prerecession high. While Strip revenue as a whole is up, the casino floor isn’t keeping pace. So to boost gambling and appeal to the next generation of Vegas visitors, the industry is evolving and adapting, developing apps for mobile betting, building social spaces into casino floors and creating an entirely new category of slot machine that feels more like a video game than the classic one-armed bandit.

Those changes might not sound inherently groundbreaking, and opinion is mixed on how they will impact the city in the long run. But ask around and you’ll hear some big predictions and a very bold assessment: Las Vegas is in the midst of gaming revolution.

A thinning slice of the pie

The problem itself is a matter of interpretation.

The good news is that Strip revenue is high. In 2015, a record 42 million people visited Las Vegas, and the Strip brought in a whopping $16.7 billion, up significantly from a prerecession high of $15.8 billion in 2007.

This growing revenue is coming less and less from gaming. While gambling is still the largest piece of the Strip’s revenue pie, its slice is thinning. In 2007, gaming accounted for 41% of casino revenue. Last year, gambling on the Strip brought in just 34.9%.

Some argue that this isn’t a bad thing, that relying less on betting is nothing to be worried about and could actually benefit Las Vegas Boulevard in the long run. But there’s another issue looming on the horizon, one that has industry regulators, casino operators and game manufacturers on alert: the emergence of millennials and Generation Xers as Las Vegas’ core visitor demographic.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Generational Report, millennials (born after 1980) and Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) made up a combined 64% of Vegas visitors in 2014, the most recent year for which data was available. They were also the least likely to play the slots or a hand of blackjack during their stay.

While 71% of visitors report that they gambled while in Vegas, that figure dropped to 68% for Gen Xers and 63% for millennials. Among those who did play, millennials also averaged the least amount of time gambling (1.8 hours) and budgeted the least money ($328.31), over $200 less than the overall average of $530.11 per trip.

To a lot of people in the gaming world, that looks like a problem.

“You’ve got 100% of the floor devoted to traditional casino product, but interest when you drop below 45 years old is very low, and it falls off a cliff when you hit the cutoff for millennials,” said Eric Meyerhofer, the CEO of Gamblit Gaming, a California-based company dedicated to the intersection of gaming and gambling.

Catapult King is a skill-based game created by Gamblit Gaming, one of the ways casinos hope to reach the millennial market.

Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman A.G. Burnett said that when in casinos, adults ages 21 to 40 or so are “interested in their phones and the games that they find on their phones and are not necessarily as interested as some previous generations in terms of baccarat or blackjack or poker tables or slot machines.”

While stats are not available to decipher what millennials play when they decide to gamble, Blaine Graboyes, the CEO of video-game gambling company GameCo, sees two fundamental problems with the traditional slots crowding casino floors.

“The gambling experience has gotten overly complicated, while the gaming experience is overly shallow,” he said. “You press a button and the decision is made in a microsecond [in video games]. You’re basically just waiting for an animation to play out.”

On the other hand, payout schemes for slots have become a zigzagging mess of hundreds of lines. “I can’t really figure out what’s going on with a lot of the machines,” Graboyes said.

And millennials? They’re just walking right by.

Enter skill-based slot machines

On May 21, 2015, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 9, which established a framework for a new kind of game, skill-based slot machines, to be allowed in Nevada casinos. Last September, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved regulations to govern such devices, and tech standards went on the books earlier this year. 

“I think the regulators heard the cries of the industry that they need to be able to offer some new types of products in a regulated fashion,” Burnett said. “We agreed.” Now, chance-based, skill-based and hybrid slot games are all written into the state’s laws.

The world got a glimpse of what those games might look like at the annual G2E gaming convention last fall. At the show, Gamblit created a lounge that showcased the company’s hardware: a surface table that enables groups to play head-to-head or against the house and touch-screen tablets for solo play, a new generation of casino games for a new generation of player.

Like first-person shooters, arcade classics and Angry Birds, Meyerhofer said, these games are definitively skill-based. “It’s very clear as to why the skill matters,” he said. “If you don’t perform well, you can’t expect a good return.”

Grab Poker is a skill-based game from Gamblit Gaming that combines elements of video-game play with poker.

In Grab Poker, for instance, four players sit around one of Gamblit’s interactive tables. Each player is dealt two cards, with the remainder of a standard deck flipped over one card at a time in the middle of the screen. If you see a card that you want for your hand, you hit a button to be the first person to grab it. When the first person reaches a five-card hand, just 11 more cards are flipped to fill out the other hands. Then the person with the best hand takes the pot.

Gaming giant IGT is also moving into this space with hybrid slots that offer a skill-based experience during the bonus round. Texas Tea Pinball functions like a traditional slot until users hit that bonus. Then the player can choose between free spins or a game of digital pinball. Keep that silver ball bouncing around for a while and you’ll earn a higher payout. Let it slip past and you’re back to the basic slot game in no time.

Burnett had the chance to try out a few of the prototypes during G2E 2015. “It is vastly different from slot machines and what you see normally today,” Burnett said. “The ability for the player to interact with the game is way higher. I thought they were fun, personally.”

GameCo’s video-game gambling machine is an arcade-meets-slots device that comes with its own controller.

At New York-based GameCo, Graboyes uses the term “video-game gambling” to describe the company’s slot cabinet and the games it offers. “Our machine looks like a cross between an arcade cabinet and a slot machine,” he said. It comes with a custom controller that resembles what you might use with an Xbox, and the company’s software platform is designed to adapt mass-market video games to the casino environment.

Graboyes sees video gamers as an untapped market for casinos, and he sees his company’s model as a potent one-two punch: replacing underperforming slot machines with games that arrive with a built-in audience.

“Ultimately, our focus is the idea of bringing in net new gamers to the casino floor, whether they’re in the club or hanging at the pool or not at the casino at all,” he said.

Beyond Sin City

Nevada isn’t the only state that has recognized the need for and potential of skill-based slot machines. New Jersey has adopted the regulations, and Massachusetts is drafting its own.

In Nevada, Burnett said, manufacturers are currently submitting their games, and after independent testing, he expects to see some version of Grab Poker or Texas Tea Pinball hitting casino floors in the next six months. Meyerhofer said he is in talks with a couple of notable operators, including “people on both sides of Las Vegas Boulevard.”

Just how his games will be incorporated into the existing casino landscape is still up in the air. They could be placed among more traditional games, installed as a block or broken out into their own environment.

Meyerhofer believes that last model is the way to go, because creating a social space around the games is “fundamental. If you took new types of skill games and littered them around the floor, I don’t think you’d see any success. They might even do worse.”

Young people, he added, want to “experience hop,” to grab a drink at the bar, play a game and socialize, all within the same general space.

The Encore Players Club at Encore Las Vegas is a multipurpose lounge space separated from the casino that contains gaming, a cocktail bar, complimentary billiards and shuffleboard and touch-screen tables.

That’s the idea behind the Encore Players Club, a sort of gaming lounge set in a corner of the casino floor at Encore Las Vegas. It has a low wall, separating it from the rest of the casino, and its own carpet pattern and ambiance.

The 5,000-square-foot venue is a cocktail bar, gaming pit and social space rolled into one. The lounge includes roulette, craps and blackjack; free shuffleboard and billiards; 23 TVs; a bar; a DJ booth and eight interactive touch-screen tables where guests can play nonbetting social games and browse the drink menu or check sports odds.

“Previously, it was a blackjack pit, the slowest pit in the hotel,” said Players Club general manager Michael Waltman. But, he said, there’s a new energy emerging from the multipurpose space. “This is not a party pit,” he said. “It’s also not a nightclub. You don’t need a membership card. There’s no cover charge.”

Down the street at the Cosmopolitan, the resort embraced a similar concept for its new race and sports book. Of course, there are betting windows and stations, comfortable seating and massive screens, but the venue is really a social hot zone, a hybrid space designed to cater to different people at the same time with eight table games, free billiards and shuffleboard and a large central bar that serves food around the clock from the nearby Henry cafe.

“We wanted to make this much more interactive,” senior vice president of casino operations Brian Benowitz said shortly after opening the space in February. “We want people to be here, and we want it to be a destination.”

Which brings us to our final innovation in the gaming revolution, a technology-based approach designed not to create a destination but to free people from one. Sports betting mobile apps allow bettors to put down cash on their team of choice from anywhere within the Nevada state lines. While the apps are hardly new, they’ve been growing quickly as more casino companies realize their potential and roll out their own versions. LegalSportsReport.com, a website dedicated to the sports betting industry, counts eight different apps available to bettors in Nevada.

“I’ve been working on a platform to wager on sports for a couple of years,” says Johnny Avello, Wynn’s executive director of race and sports, who launched the resort’s mobile sports betting app on Feb. 29. “I can see where we’re going tech-wise, getting away from doing things point of sale.”

The Westgate sports betting mobile app allows wagers to be placed legally anywhere within the state of Nevada.

The Westgate, home to the SuperBook, debuted its app on Jan. 19. Jay Kornegay, the vice president of race and sports operations, called the app the “wave of the future” and said it has already exceeded expectations for early sign-ups.

To use the apps, customers must initially visit the casino in person to set up and fund an account. Once that’s done, they can place a bet from anywhere in the state: waiting for their luggage at McCarran Airport, under the table during dinner, even when poolside with a cold beer.

“I expect within the first two years that half of our handle will be accepted via the app, and it will continue to grow after that point,” Kornegay said. “The younger generation, they do everything with their phones, and it’s capturing the growing market of millennials and beyond.”

There it is again, that watchful eye gazing toward millennials and the gaming products that just might reach them. How worried do Vegas casinos need to be?  

Some in the industry are unconcerned. They see the lower gambling stats among millennials as a function of age and income, an issue that every generation has faced and that will be resolved as this group grows up and makes more money. Others see big changes on the horizon.

“I think it’s going to be huge,” GameCo’s Graboyes said of the impact of skill-based gaming. “Our vision is we’re not that far away from a video-game casino, where an entire casino is built and designed specifically for gamers.”

Most in the industry are not willing to go that far, but there is a lot of agreement on the basic principle at the foundation of all these developments: There is a younger generation of patrons visiting casinos, and resorts must adapt to them and embrace them — or risk losing big.

Article source: http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/In-pursuit-of-a-winning-strategy-Getting-millennials-to-gamble

Flipagram, Stance socks, Honor and Headspace are among the week’s LA tech highlights

With venture capitalists more guarded about where to put their cash amid a global economic slowdown, many technology start-ups are having to shed costs and generate profits sooner than expected.

Not Flipagram Inc.

“If you want to become profitable at all costs, you’re leaving users and growth on the table,” said Farhad Mohit, chief executive of the image-sharing app.

His Los Angeles company raised $70 million from investors about a year ago, a big haul that’s still fueling the business today.

The app enables people to create a slideshow from photos and videos, place samples of popular music in the background, add effects and share it with friends. Flipagram can get a small cut of sales if users buy a full song.

Though Flipagram laid off workers and slowed down hiring, it has largely maintained course and not faced a push from investors to make money, Mohit said. There are conversations with advertisers and some experimentation with what ads might look like, but any rollout of a big moneymaker is far off.

The opportunity he’s chasing is one reason why he has been given flexibility. Social media apps usually seek revenue through selling ads, but they need a huge number of users or incredible data about them to interest advertisers.

Flipagram, at 40 million registered users, just isn’t there yet. As long as Flipagram reports growing viewership with costs in check, investors are saying “good, fantastic, onward,” Mohit said.

Focusing some of Flipagram’s 50 employees on developing advertising tools would distract from the larger goal of adding users, and “it’s too early” to make those trade-offs, Mohit said.

In putting off significant revenue-generation, Mohit is betting that users will continue to post on Flipagram without getting anything of value in return. Mohit said people gain “love and attention” from their “Flips” and that the company can play “kingmaker” by highlighting the best stuff.

Then, comedians, beauty tip givers, cooks and others who become widely followed could privately seek endorsement deals to promote a product within their videos. It’s already happening in rare cases.

Still, it’s much easier for amateur and professional videomakers to make money from Instagram and YouTube because advertisers are more familiar with the services.

Flipagram expects its distinguishing feature will keep users coming back: the background music library, filled with 60-second clips acquired through licensing deals with the top record labels. Time limits on Snapchat and Instagram videos don’t make background tracks worthwhile, said Mohit, who had a record player and crates of vinyls behind him in his office and a “Keep Calm and Jingle On” mug by his hand. YouTube videos tend to be too long for the samples record labels are willing to license.

That’s why many Snapchat users download their posts from that app (which otherwise would be automatically deleted after a day) and then combine them into a Flipagram video, set to music.

Everyone has stories worth telling and we have to work to get all of those people,” Mohit said.

Mohit has been cautious even when the company has chances to aggressively grow. Flipagram could have new users automatically send out download invites to their friends as part of the sign-up process, which quickly could reel in other newbies. Instead, the app encourages users to select particular people they want to invite to try Flipagram when they elect to share a post with a small, private group.

“That’s a more organic, slower way to grow,” Mohit said. “But it’s better than spamming.”

Last year’s huge funding round could have been used to advertise Flipagram. But Mohit has avoided spending money to sign up users because apps that can’t spread by word-of-mouth “don’t deserve to live,” he said.

“The unicorns and companies shielding crap products with paid marketing are going to go away,” he said, referring to the small number of start-ups valued at more than $1 billion.

Flipagram has been cautious with expenses for a while. Mohit described the company’s office as “modest” — there’s a ping-pong table and he keeps a paddle at his desk. But it lacks the “frivolous nonsense,” including massage chairs and gourmet cappuccino machines, that other tech companies have, he said.

Since launching in late 2013, Flipagram has evolved from a photo-editing tool to a social network unto itself. Recently, the company launched direct messaging within its app and reached 40 million users. Last month, Flipagram introduced its own photo-taking tool within the app. This allows people to snap a series of photos to use in a Flipagram, but quickly delete all of them after they’re included to free up space on the smartphone.

Mohit wouldn’t discuss upcoming features. He did make clear that one thing absent from his vision is becoming a media company. For instance, Snapchat has hired producers and journalists to generate videos using internal and user-filmed clips. Many of their creations are called Stories, and they bring together multiple perspectives from events such as fashion shows and sports games.

Flipagram is unlikely to copy that playbook because its users are already creating complete stories. Mohit thinks it should be up to users, not company editors, to decide how to tell stories — with software promoting the ones that gain the most interest. 

Flipagram offers variety, Mohit said, pointing to dueling Flipagram videos following a Baltimore police shooting of a young black man last year. One favoring the black man was set to a Rage Against the Machine song, while the other had the song “Why Can’t We Get Along?”

 

From left are Stance co-founders Ryan Kingman, Jeff Kearl, Aaron Hennings and John Wilson.
From left are Stance co-founders Ryan Kingman, Jeff Kearl, Aaron Hennings and John Wilson. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Stuffing money in socks

The downturn in venture capital funding apparently doesn’t apply to luxury socks.

Stance Inc., a San Clemente start-up with a host of celebrity designers — including Rihanna, Big Sean and James Harden — closed a $30-million Series D funding round last week led by Mercato Partners.

“We made this investment largely because Stance is not just about lifestyle or performance, men’s or women’s” categories, said Greg Warnock, Mercato’s co-founder and managing director. “The brand is scalable across both genders and multiple categories.”

The company has now raised a total of $116 million at a time when the financing spigot has tightened. Los Angeles start-ups, for example, experienced their weakest quarter in two years for investment earlier this year.

The latest round of funding for Stance includes big name firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Menlo Ventures.

Stance features socks with wild patterns and colors that can cost as much as $50 a pair. The company signed a multiyear licensing agreement with the NBA to include team logos.

Stance’s co-founder and president, John Wilson, is the former president of Reef and has been an executive at Oakley.  

Honor heightens home-care competition in L.A.

Start-ups including Honor and HomeHero have developed online services aimed at making it easier for families to book an in-home care provider. Last year, HomeHero, based in Santa Monica, expanded its service area to San Francisco, and Honor, based in San Francisco, came to Los Angeles.

Now, Honor is taking a bigger step in Los Angeles. Last week, it started moving into a Beverly Hills office that will serve as a recruitment and training center. The company also announced the hiring of investor and former medical billing executive Steve Seigel as regional manager.

A look inside Headspace's new office.
A look inside Headspace’s new office. (Headspace)

New space for Headspace

With seven million downloads and counting, venture-backed meditation app Headspace has ridden the wave of popularity in modern mind health the last few years, infiltrating Hollywood, Silicon Valley and corporate America.

Headspace recently ditched its Venice office and moved into new 19,000-square-foot headquarters in Santa Monica. The office interior was designed by Kelly Robinson, whose portfolio includes tech players such as Airbnb, Soundcloud and Couchsurfing.

Naturally, Headspace’s new office includes large open spaces for group meditation as well as a handful of so-called meditation pods — phone booth-sized blocks of wood with seating space carved out inside.

The space also features swings and gymnastic rings because, well, it’s a tech start-up.

Headspace has raised more than $30 million, largely through the Chernin Group, a Los Angeles entertainment and media-focused investment firm.

The company counts celebrities Jessica Alba, Jared Leto and Ryan Seacrest among its investors.

A desk at Headspace's new office.
A desk at Headspace’s new office. (Headspace)

In case you missed it…

Small and midsize start-ups are trying to outlast the downturn by cutting back on one of tech’s trademark innovations: outlandish spending.

Snapchat and NBC struck a deal that will see the Venice app-maker feature some videos from the 2016 Olympics in August, with the two companies splitting revenue from ads running alongside the content.

Honest Co., a Santa Monica start-up co-founded by actress Jessica Alba that sells more than 100 consumer products touted as healthy and nontoxic, has been hit with another lawsuit challenging its product claims — this time over an organic infant formula. Honest says it’s “confident this lawsuit will be dismissed.”

Elsewhere on the Web

Delivery start-ups that bring gas to your vehicle and fill it up for you are not allowed in Los Angeles, a city Fire Department spokesman told Bloomberg, but officials are exploring how the companies could safely operate. One start-up disagreed, saying it’s up to code.

Snapchat is looking for office space in San Francisco, a tech-laden area the company specifically shunned in favor of Los Angeles’ wealth of entertainment companies, according to Re/Code.

Snapchat’s latest test of new ways to show ads involved allowing users to jump straight from a video ad to the online shops of Target and beauty products maker Lancome, according to Adweek.

Snapchat has hired several executives to start getting Australian advertisers onto its app, according to AdNews.

Snapchat Chief Executive Evan Spiegel told students at Columbia University that the Venice start-up’s practice of waiting until employees have been around for four years to award them most of their stock options ensures the hiring of people who are thinking long-term, according to a TechCrunch contributor.

Untappd, an app for tracking beers you’ve tried that’s used by 3.2 million people, was founded by two people, including one who lives in Los Angeles, according to CNBC. The two co-founders started working on Untappd full-time in February when they merged with Next Glass, a wine-and-beer recommendation app.

Dating app Tinder is testing a feature in Australia that matches up two separate groups of friends for a night out together, according to Gizmodo.

Dual:Lock, a start-up founded by college students in New York, plans to test its fingerprint-protected gun lock with the Los Angeles Police Department this summer, according to Albany Business Review.

Singer Will.i.am’s tech operation i.am+ has developed a virtual assistant called Aneeda, according to Wired. It’s installed on the second model of the Los Angeles company’s smartwatch.

Online story publishing service Wattpad is launching a Studios division to partner with the entertainment industry on movies and other projects based off its library of books, according to TechCrunch.

Inc. runs through the upsides and downsides of restaurant chain Sweetgreen identifying itself as a tech company.

SleepBus is offering overnight transportation between San Francisco and Los Angeles in bed-equipped trucks, according to SFist.

KT Corp., a top telecommunications company in South Korea, opened a data center in Los Angeles earlier this year seeking a big share of the cloud computing market, according to the Korea Times.

ShipBob, a Chicago shipping company that services crowdfunded start-ups, plans to open a Los Angeles warehouse in June, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Coming up.

Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck and executives from Twitch and Coca-Cola will discuss the future of eSports — the entertainment industry developing around video game competitions — at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday in Beverly Hills.

paresh.dave@latimes.com

Twitter: @peard33

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-la-tech-20160502-snap-htmlstory.html

F5’s Future Not So Cloudy

Shares of F5 Networks (FFIV) look cheap—again. The stock is down more than 20%, to $104.75, from a recent high of $135. In the past, F5 has fallen on short-term issues. This time, when Mr. Market comes to his senses about the company’s favorable long-term prospects, the shares could rise 30% within 24 months.

The latest blows come from cloud computing worries, and the surprise resignation last December of then-CEO Manuel Rivelo, for…

Article source: http://www.barrons.com/articles/f5s-future-not-so-cloudy-1461990724

How science and statistics are taking over sport

In America, you can judge a crowd by its merchandise. Outside the Connecticut Convention Centre in Hartford, frail old men and brawny moms are selling “your Trump 45 football jerseys”, “your hats”, “your campaign buttons”. But the hottest item is a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Hillary sucks . . . but not like Monica!” and, on the back: “Trump that bitch!” Inside, beyond the checkpoint manned by the Transportation Security Administration and the secret service (“Good!” the man next to me says, when he sees the agents), is a family whose three kids, two of them girls, are wearing the Monica shirt.

Other people are content with the shirts they arrived in (“Waterboarding – baptising terrorists with freedom” and “If you don’t BLEED red, white and blue, take your bitch ass home!”). There are 80 chairs penned off for the elderly but everyone else is standing: guys in motorcycle and military gear, their arms folded; aspiring deal-makers, suited, on cellphones; giggling high-school fatsos, dressed fresh from the couch, grabbing MM’s and Doritos from the movie-theatre-style concession stands. So many baseball hats; deep, bellicose chants of “Build the wall!” and “USA!”. (And, to the same rhythm, “Don-ald J!”)

A grizzled man in camouflage pants and combat boots, whose T-shirt – “Connecticut Militia III%” – confirms him as a member of the “patriot” movement, is talking to a zealous young girl in a short skirt, who came in dancing to “Uptown Girl”.

“Yeah, we were there for Operation American Spring,” he says. “Louis Farrakhan’s rally of hate . . .”

“And you’re a veteran?” she asks. “Thank you so much!”

Three hours will pass. A retired US marine will take the rostrum to growl, “God bless America – hoo-rah!”; “Uptown Girl” will play many more times (much like his speeches, Donald J’s playlist consists of a few items, repeated endlessly), before Trump finally looms in and asks the crowd: “Is this the greatest place on Earth?”

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb. Only a minority within a minority of Americans, it was assumed, could possibly be stupid enough to think a Trump presidency was a good idea. He won New Hampshire and South Carolina with over 30 per cent of the Republican vote, then took almost 46 per cent in Nevada. When he cleaned up on Super Tuesday in March, he was just shy of 50 per cent in Massachusetts; a week later, he took 47 per cent of the votes in Mississippi.

His rivals, who are useless individually, were meant to co-operate with each other and the national party to deny him the nomination. But Trump won four out of the five key states being contested on “Super-Duper Tuesday” on 15 March. Then, as talk turned to persuading and co-opting his delegates behind the scenes, Trump won New York with 60 per cent.

Now, the campaign is trying to present Trump as more “presidential”. According to his new manager, Paul Manafort, this requires him to appear in “more formal settings” – without, of course, diluting “the unique magic of Trump”. But whether or not he can resist denouncing the GOP and the “corrupt” primary system, and alluding to violence if he is baulked at at the convention, the new Trump will be much the same as the old.

Back in Hartford: “The Republicans wanna play cute with us, right? If I don’t make it, you’re gonna have millions of people that don’t vote for a Republican. They’re not gonna vote at all,” says Trump. “Hopefully that’s all, OK? Hopefully that’s all, but they’re very, very angry.”

This anger, which can supposedly be turned on anyone who gets in the way, has mainly been vented, so far, on the protesters who disrupt Trump’s rallies. “We’re not gonna be the dummies that lose all of our jobs now. We’re gonna be the smart ones. Oh, do you have one over there? There’s one of the dummies . . .”

There is a frenzied fluttering of Trump placards, off to his right. “Get ’em out! . . . Don’t hurt ’em – see how nice I am? . . . They really impede freedom of speech and it’s a disgrace. But the good news is, folks, it won’t be long. We’re just not taking it and it won’t be long.”

It is their removal by police, at Trump’s ostentatious behest, that causes the disruption, rather than the scarcely audible protesters. He seems to realise this, suddenly: “We should just let ’em . . . I’ll talk right over them, there’s no problem!” But it’s impossible to leave the protesters where they are, because it would not be safe. His crowd is too vicious.

Exit Trump, after exactly half an hour, inclusive of the many interruptions. His people seem uplifted but, out on the street, they are ambushed by a large counter-demonstration, with a booming drum and warlike banners and standards (“Black Lives Matter”; an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, holding aloft Trump’s severed head). Here is the rest of the world, the real American world: young people, beautiful people, more female than male, every shade of skin colour. “F*** Donald Trump!” they chant.

After a horrified split-second, the Trump crowd, massively more numerous, rallies with “USA!” and – perplexingly, since one of the main themes of the speech it has just heard was the lack of jobs in Connecticut – “Get a job!” The two sides then mingle, unobstructed by police. Slanging matches break out that seem in every instance to humiliate the Trump supporter. “Go to college!” one demands. “Man, I am in college, I’m doin’ lovely!”

There is no violence, only this: some black boys are dancing, with liquid moves, to the sound of the drum. Four young Trump guys counter by stripping to their waists and jouncing around madly, their skin greenish-yellow under the street lights, screaming about the building of the wall. There was no alcohol inside; they’re drunk on whatever it is – the elixir of fascism, the unique magic of Trump. It’s a hyper but not at all happy drunk.

As with every other moment of the Trump campaign so far, it would have been merely some grade of the cringeworthy – the embarrassing, the revolting, the pitiful – were Trump not slouching closer and closer, with each of these moments, to his nomination. 

Article source: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/sport/2016/04/how-science-and-statistics-are-taking-over-sport

“Labour is an anti-racist party to its core," says leader.

London is soon going to lose one of its most familiar sounds when the world-famous Big Ben falls silent for repairs. The “bonging” chimes that have marked the passing of time for Londoners since 1859 will fall silent for months beginning in 2017 as part of a three-year £29m conservation project.

Of course, “Big Ben” is the nickname of the Great Bell and the bell itself is not in bad shape – even though it does have a huge crack in it.

The bell weighs nearly 14 tonnes and it cracked in 1859 when it was first bonged with a hammer that was way too heavy.

The crack was never repaired. Instead the bell was rotated one eighth of a turn and a lighter (200kg) hammer was installed. The cracked bell has a characteristic sound which we have all grown to love.

Big Ben strikes. UK Parliament.

Instead, it is the Elizabeth Tower (1859) and the clock mechanism (1854), designed by Denison and Airy, that need attention.

Any building or machine needs regular maintenance – we paint our doors and windows when they need it and we repair or replace our cars quite routinely. It is convenient to choose a day when we’re out of the house to paint the doors, or when we don’t need the car to repair the brakes. But a clock just doesn’t stop – especially not a clock as iconic as the Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster.

Repairs to the tower are long overdue. There is corrosion damage to the cast iron roof and to the belfry structure which keeps the bells in place. There is water damage to the masonry and condensation problems will be addressed, too. There are plumbing and electrical works to be done for a lift to be installed in one of the ventilation shafts, toilet facilities and the fitting of low-energy lighting.

Marvel of engineering

The clock mechanism itself is remarkable. In its 162-year history it has only had one major breakdown. In 1976 the speed regulator for the chimes broke and the mechanism sped up to destruction. The resulting damage took months to repair.

The weights that drive the clock are, like the bells and hammers, unimaginably huge. The “drive train” that keeps the pendulum swinging and that turns the hands is driven by a weight of about 100kg. Two other weights that ring the bells are each over a tonne. If any of these weights falls out of control (as in the 1976 incident), they could do a lot of damage.

The pendulum suspension spring is especially critical because it holds up the huge pendulum bob which weighs 321kg. The swinging pendulum releases the “escapement” every two seconds which then turns the hands on the clock’s four faces. If you look very closely, you will see that the minute hand doesn’t move smoothly but it sits still most of the time, only moving on each tick by 1.5cm.

The pendulum swings back and forth 21,600 times a day. That’s nearly 8m times a year, bending the pendulum spring. Like any metal, it has the potential to suffer from fatigue. The pendulum needs to be lifted out of the clock so that the spring can be closely inspected.

The clock derives its remarkable accuracy in part from the temperature compensation which is built into the construction of the pendulum. This was yet another of John Harrison’s genius ideas (you probably know him from longitude fame). He came up with the solution of using metals of differing temperature expansion coefficient so that the pendulum doesn’t change in length as the temperature changes with the seasons.

In the Westminster clock, the pendulum shaft is made of concentric tubes of steel and zinc. A similar construction is described for the clock in Trinity College Cambridge and near perfect temperature compensation can be achieved. But zinc is a ductile metal and the tube deforms with time under the heavy load of the 321kg pendulum bob. This “creeping” will cause the temperature compensation to jam up and become less effective.

So stopping the clock will also be a good opportunity to dismantle the pendulum completely and to check that the zinc tube is sliding freely. This in itself is a few days’ work.

What makes it tick

But the truly clever bit of this clock is the escapement. All clocks have one – it’s what makes the clock tick, quite literally. Denison developed his new gravity escapement especially for the Westminster clock. It decouples the driving force of the falling weight from the periodic force that maintains the motion of the pendulum. To this day, the best tower clocks in England use the gravity escapement leading to remarkable accuracy – better even than that of your quartz crystal wrist watch.

In Denison’s gravity escapement, the “tick” is the impact of the “legs” of the escapement colliding with hardened steel seats. Each collision causes microscopic damage which, accumulated over millions of collisions per year, causes wear and tear affecting the accuracy of the clock. It is impossible to inspect the escapement without stopping the clock. Part of the maintenance proposed during this stoppage is a thorough overhaul of the escapement and the other workings of the clock.

The Westminster clock is a remarkable icon for London and for England. For more than 150 years it has reminded us of each hour, tirelessly. That’s what I love about clocks – they seem to carry on without a fuss. But every now and then even the most famous of clocks need a bit of care. After this period of pampering, “Big Ben” ought to be set for another 100 or so years of trouble-free running.

The Conversation

Hugh Hunt is a Reader in Engineering Dynamics and Vibration at the University of Cambridge.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Article source: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/04/jeremy-corbyn-appoints-shami-chakrabarti-lead-inquiry-labour-and

How Nintendo took the world by storm then blew it

The constant allure of Nintendo is you never know what you’re going to get. 

The mysterious NX will be revealed later this year, ahead of a March 2017 release, but Nintendo is in a precarious position. The Wii U has failed to capture public interest to the same manner as the Wii. PlayStation 4 is dominant, Xbox One resurgent and mobile gaming as popular as ever. This is not the first time Nintendo has been tested, though.

The last time the company had its back against the wall, it pulled Wii out of the bag. Both Nintendo 64 and GameCube were well received by its dedicated fans, but also failed to sell enough units. Nintendo was in decline. Sales of each new console were down from those amassed in the previous generation.

In response, the Wii blew the world away. Once people stopped smirking at the name, the system smashed global sales records month after month. It passed the hallowed 100 million marker and stretched an insurmountable lead over its rivals. Nintendo was back. And then, almost overnight, it was gone again. 

After six phenomenally successful years, the Wii U failed to make an impact at retail. The console has shifted an estimated 13 million units worldwide – a feeble figure compared the the 70 million units sold at the same stage of Wii’s life. How could Nintendo get things so right with the Wii, but fall so far with its follow up?

Developer Jamie Firth has worked on several Wii games. “The reveal of the Wii’s controller was a very big deal. 2006 was my first E3 and there were huge lines to see it and have a go,” says Jamie. “It was very much like VR at this year’s GDC. After that event, every game maker I know was suddenly coming up with hundreds of different ways it could be used. It was very exciting and liberating for designers – they had only had sticks and buttons to play with for so long and this opened all sorts of new possibilities.”

In Firth’s view, Wii’s launch in late 2006 was flawless, bringing together a budget price with the console’s killer-app, Wii Sports, available from day one. “All of the games [in Wii Sports] were instantly understandable and instantly rewarding. There was something in there for everyone,” continues Firth. “One of the things people overlook as well is that Wii Sports was probably the first case of ‘snacky’ gameplay – sessions were very short and you could really dip in and out really quickly. This is key for a more casual audience.”

The idea that Wii broke down walls and included people who never played games is well established. “You could literally place a Wii Remote in the hand of anyone and point them in the direction of Wii Sports tennis and they just got it right away; the barrier that usually exists between games and non-gamers dissolved immediately,” says Damien McFerran, Editorial Director at Nintendo Life. “There was no need to learn what all the buttons did or remember different combinations for certain controls – you just swung your arm and the game responded to that in a way that was easy to comprehend. I think from there it was easy to ‘sell’ the console to anyone who saw it.”

Nintendo found itself back at the top of the tree, and Microsoft and Sony struggled to implement their own motion-sensing add ons with varying degrees of success. Kinect on Xbox 360 was, at launch, the fastest selling piece of consumer electronics ever made. PS Move offered a greater degree of precision than the Wiimote, but always lacked the software to justify it it’s existence (you’re right to look red-faced, The Fight: Lights Out).

Wii had changed the rules. Most consoles initially sell to the hardcore early adopters before slowly spreading their appeal into the mainstream, moving from bleeding edge tech to family friendly devices by the end of their run – Sony is an old master at this strategy, with the likes of Singstar and Buzz! released on PS2 4-5 years after launch. Wii appealed to everyone from the start. The Wii Remote offered the hardcore something revolutionary to literally grasp, but it also gave newcomers an easy route in. “Wii essentially made an entire generation aware of the power of gaming by giving players an interface which stripped away all the layers of befuddling complexity that had built up over the past two or so decades – controllers with multiple buttons, sticks and triggers are just too intimidating for people who are new to gaming,” explains McFerran. “I’m personally shocked that Nintendo failed to recognise this as a massive benefit and didn’t build on the Wii Remote with the Wii U.”

It’s this idea that Wii was almost too good – that Nintendo brought so many new gamers into the fold they didn’t know where to point them next – that’s a key indicator of Wii U’s comparative failure. “The mass market’s flirtation with games consoles was to be a one off,” suggests Firth. “By the time Wii U came along, smartphones had already started to take that over. I don’t think that Nintendo had a winning hand, to be honest.” 

Of course, Wii U’s design suggests Nintendo knew of the threat mobile represented to its business, even if it wasn’t quite sure of how to combat it. The Japanese giant’s decision to include a touchpad controller with the Wii U was undoubtedly a direct response to the changing way people played games. However, while Nintendo was ahead of the curve with the original Wii, Wii U it followed a trend established by Apple and Google – not that this appeared to be a bad strategy at the time, argues McFerran. “It’s important to remember that the tablet sector was only just starting back then, and the notion of having a controller which could replicate that kind of functionality felt smart. I certainly felt more confident about the Wii U than I did about the Wii, which just goes to show how unpredictable this industry is.”

As well as keeping an eye on the rise of smartphones, Nintendo also wanted to shield Wii U from Microsoft and Sony’s next consoles, both expected to be high-powered, traditional machines. “I think Wii U fell into a space of trying to cater to both ‘casual’ and ‘core’ audiences at once, instead of picking one and then expanding to include the other later,” says Jonathan Price, designer at aPriori Digital, currently working on Wii U release Aperion Cyberstorm. The strategy of appealing to everyone that proved so successful with Wii was now undermining Wii U’s launch. More problematically, very few people understood what Wii U actually was. Nintendo was in trouble.

“I was watching a livestream of Nintendo’s E3 conference during Wii U’s unveiling, and embarrassing as it is to say, I thought it was a Wii 1.5,” continues Price. “The branding, focus on the controller, and overall message gave the impression that this was going to be a revision for the Wii instead of something new. Sometime after the conference, everything became a bit clearer, but that initial presentation was confusing.”
Nintendo found itself in the position of having to clarify just what Wii U was, while as contending with fans disappointed it wasn’t simply an HD version of the original Wii. It was a massive PR headache, and one Nintendo never resolved. “Calling the system the Wii U confused many players who assumed it was simply an add-on device for the Wii. By maintaining support for Wii accessories and games, this confusion was amplified,” says McFerran. “Early attempts to advertise what made the system so special were woeful, and outside of a handful of titles, Nintendo struggled to leverage the possibilities the GamePad brought to the table. When you see games like Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze totally ignore the GamePad’s features, then you know you’ve got problems.”

Undermining all of this was a feeling that even Nintendo didn’t know what Wii U was for. From the very outset, when Wii U was still in the planning stage – then dubbed Project Café – the late Satoru Iwata decided the new console should be designed to win back PlayStation and Xbox gamers who assumed Wii catered only for casual audiences. At the same time, it was Wii’s mass market appeal that enabled it to sell in the first place. Saying goodbye to casual gamers to compete with Sony and Microsoft seemed foolish. 

“I think Nintendo aimed halfway between core and casual markets, and ended up making something that had better alternatives for both,” continues Firth. “It always happens when you misunderstand the demand for your product. I think they made something pretty boring actually and perhaps didn’t quite know who they were making it for.”

The end result was a console that’s home to typical moments of Nintendo genius thanks to the talent working on first party games, but is likely to be the lowest selling home console Nintendo has ever released by the time NX launches in March 2017. If rumours are to be believed, projects originally planned for Wii U are now being shifted to its successor, and even its last big hitter – the long anticipated next chapter in the Zelda series – is no longer an exclusive. Nintendo cashed in its chips on Wii U a long time ago, and is now betting the farm on its successor. “I just want to see Nintendo endure, because even the most cold-hearted of gamers will admit that the industry owes Nintendo a lot, and for people like myself with young families, there’s no better introduction to gaming that a Nintendo console,” says McFerran of NX. 

Ironically, NX’s big advantage is that it’ll launch with Nintendo at the bottom of the pile. If the house that Mario built struggled with funnelling 100 million Wii owners onto its follow up, launching NX with no such burden might be just the tonic Nintendo needs. After all, we all know what happened the last time Nintendo fought back from third place, don’t we?

Article source: http://www.gamesradar.com/how-nintendo-took-the-world-by-storm-then-blew-it/

How one regulated business successfully moved to the Cloud | #OpenStack

Though the OpenStack Summit has been going for several years now, each new convention brings fresh faces and companies into the fold of the community, each with their own ideas about how the technology can be utilized.

Richard Haigh, head of delivery enablement at Paddy Power Betfair, a “primarily sports-betting” business, sat down with Stu Miniman (@stu) and Brian Gracely (@bgracely), cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, to talk about how the cloud and its utilities have changed things for his company, as well as what he expects to see come from it over the next few years.

Moving to cloud

The discussion quickly turned to the reasons behind Betfair’s move to the cloud, explained by Haigh as being motivated by the scalability it offered. “We were looking to replace and update our infrastructure,” he said, and as a regulated business, Amazon Web Services or some other public service were non-options. On the other hand, by going with a private cloud, the flexibility to burst capacity up and down as needed, an option that is quickly becoming standard with public cloud services, was taken out of their hands, but Haigh felt this was a worthwhile trade-off for the regulatory compliance.

With their private cloud, Betfair had to conduct heavy testing to make sure the scaling and ability to handle serious network traffic were ready for field use, something they accomplished with an integrated set of tools from various suppliers.

Software-defined networking was “a pivotal part of the product,” according to Haigh. And while it was something new to his company, he said, “It’s worked remarkably well.” Praising the “ability to deploy and mutate the network at a pace that suits the developers,” Haigh identified the automation it allowed as the key piece of utility it had brought to his company’s toolset.

Keeping the small pieces clean

A number of more detail-oriented improvements came with the cloud shift, including scaling factors, granular data, exact long-term records and, as Haigh described, the log of activity it provides is “absolute and complete,” which is very useful in auditing compliance. Meanwhile, the “hardened and secured” processes provide reassurance, and there are further benefits from the reworked infrastructure.

“We’re also using this as a chance for them to adopt the delivery tooling, to make best use of the pipelining, the monitoring, and all the tests that we’re doing as a part of that,” he said.

To Haigh, “It’s one thing landing the technology, but trying to land the cultural change is quite different. … Hopefully, just like in the software world, we can stop doing the monotonous tasks over and over.”

Haigh also has bright expectations for how these changes will shape the company’s future. “What I’m hoping we’ll do is we’ll start to be able to track these delivery times … and that will make a new set of metrics to test the chain. … I’m happy that we’ve got something that’s fit for purpose now, but I’m also happy that we’ve got the road-map for going forward.”

Watch the full interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of OpenStack Summit — Austin. And make sure to weigh in during theCUBE’s live coverage at the event by joining in on CrowdChat.

Photo by SiliconANGLE
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Article source: http://siliconangle.com/blog/2016/04/27/how-one-regulated-business-successfully-moved-to-the-cloud-openstack/

The Race to Make Virtual Reality an Actual (Business) Reality

Despite feverish press coverage of VR, two-thirds of the U.S. population remains unaware of the technology, according to a survey by research firm Horizon Media. That suggests a definition is in order. There are a few flavors of the technology: virtual reality, augmented reality, and a combination known as mixed reality. They all use a special headset to alter human perception and, in effect, take you somewhere or enable you to see something that would otherwise be invisible. We’re lumping all the technologies under the term VR in this article, both for simplicity’s sake and because all the permutations share the same roots.

Remember View-Master, the toy that debuted 77 years ago and delighted children by transporting them from their bedrooms to the Taj Mahal or the Great Smoky Mountains? Consider it an ancestor. The flight simulators of the 1980s were early incarnations. Then there were the headsets developed and abandoned by Sega and Nintendo in the ’90s. At that point the Internet captured everybody’s attention, and VR was largely forgotten.

That all changed when Facebook


fb



paid $2 billion to buy the current VR poster child, Oculus, in 2014, from a 21-year-old entrepreneur named Palmer Luckey. Oculus didn’t have a commercially available product at the time. But its demo was powerful enough to convince Mark Zuckerberg of VR’s far-reaching utility.

The wisdom of his bet will be tested in the coming months. The company’s first headset, Oculus Rift, priced at $599, or roughly $1,500 with a PC powerful enough to run it, began shipping in March. The Rift provides an experience unlike anything that has ever been available to consumers, thanks to remarkable advancements in screen resolution, positional tracking and movement sensors, haptic technologies (the processes that make phones and videogame controllers vibrate), computational horsepower, 3-D graphics, and audio.

Oculus executives are careful not to promise immediate mass-market success. For starters, the very mention of VR may cause ennui in some quarters and trigger memories of past promises unfulfilled. And companies will need to overcome people’s aversion to wearing a snorkel-style mask. So executives have talking points to address those issues.

“VR has come and gone many times,” says Jason Rubin, the head of content at Oculus and a legend in the gaming community. His videogames, including the Crash Bandicoot series, have sold more than 40 million copies. He’s been into VR for as long as he can recall, but lately he’s become fanatical. “If you go back and look at the ’90s VR, people were basically wearing [cathode ray] TVs on their faces,” he says. “They were -blurry and loud. Now we have high-resolution, low-cost screens with high refresh rates and low latency.”

The constant improvement of technology has enabled the Oculus Rift to cross an indefinable but crucial threshold: It can now create situations that simply feel real. Rubin thinks gaming will be the first market, then compelling content will bring wider use. “The ramp up from launch to widespread adoption might not be as fast as it was with the smartphone,” he says. “But over the long run it will be the same scale.”

The tech giants are staking their claims. Google moved for the low end with a cardboard-and-plastic device that turns a smartphone into a VR experience. It also recently launched a VR division with far greater aspirations and invested in the startup Magic Leap, which has raised more than $1.3 billion in funding.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has the HoloLens. It “augments” reality by layering holographic images on top of what you see of the actual world, with a headset that looks like a combination of sunglasses and a typical VR mask. The company, which is working with Autodesk


adsk



, Japan Airlines, NASA, and Volvo, among others, intends it to enable all sorts of training and exploration scenarios. Microsoft began shipping developer kits in March but hasn’t said when a consumer version will appear.

Intel is putting its weight behind VR as a way to help boost PC sales. Netflix


nflx



has a VR app. Amazon


amzn



is reportedly working on one as well. And Apple is definitely up to something. The company is mum about its plans (though CEO Tim Cook has declared interest), but officials are happy to forward leaked reports about how they’re hiring hundreds of people.

At Nvidia


nvda



, general manager Jason Paul tells me the graphics-chip company has created a new line of chips for VR and even recently formed a new division devoted to the cause. He identifies VR as one of its three strategic growth areas, and with good reason: VR rendering requires seven times as much graphics horsepower as 1080p HD rendering. “Over the last three years the technology and performance has come down to the point where it’s possible to think about a mass-market audience,” Paul says. “VR is going to touch every industry from gaming to automotive to entertainment, and we’re focused on helping build the ecosystem and deliver performance.”

VIR.05.01.16.sidebar VR getting real_v2 Illustrations by Nico 189 for Fortune Magazine

On my recent visit, he and his team show several demos. One put me in a $180,000 Audi R8. I was able to sit in the sports car’s front seat and even stick my head inside the engine. From this and the work Volvo is doing with Microsoft, it seems clear that the traditional test-drive will soon be augmented by the living room experience. You’ll hear the roar of the engine and feel the vibrations of the steering wheel as you hit autobahn speeds on a twisting alpine road—all from the safety of your sofa.

The arms race has already begun for selling headsets. Samsung has its Gear VR, produced with Oculus, which retails for $99 and uses a Samsung phone as the display. The company won’t disclose the number of units sold since the Gear launched in November, but it’s using TV ads and promotions to seed the marketplace. One recent offer: Anyone who buys a Galaxy S7 gets a free headset and six VR games. “There’s a lot of friction to adopting VR. If we can lower the barriers, that helps us explain why VR is so amazing, innovative, and powerful,” says Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s GM of immersive products and VR. “You’re getting a level of simulation quality that might’ve been possible only in a $1 million system just 20 or even 10 years ago.”

At the tech trade show CES early this year, the real excitement surrounded VR gaming. Thousands lined up outside the Oculus, HTC—which launched its $799 Vive system in April—and Sony PlayStation booths for the chance to spend five minutes playing VR games. PlayStation executives hope that excitement reflects how 36 million PS4 owners will react when the $399 PlayStation VR is released in October. Sony will be doing everything it can to turn gamers into proselytizers. Because as executives readily admit, the power of VR can’t be conveyed through TV commercials. In the words of VP of marketing John Koller, “You just have to try it.”

VIR.05.01.16.pullquote Nick DiCarlo_v3 Photo: eVRydayVR

Article source: http://fortune.com/virtual-reality-business/

The Race to Make Virtual Reality an Actual (Business) Reality

Despite feverish press coverage of VR, two-thirds of the U.S. population remains unaware of the technology, according to a survey by research firm Horizon Media. That suggests a definition is in order. There are a few flavors of the technology: virtual reality, augmented reality, and a combination known as mixed reality. They all use a special headset to alter human perception and, in effect, take you somewhere or enable you to see something that would otherwise be invisible. We’re lumping all the technologies under the term VR in this article, both for simplicity’s sake and because all the permutations share the same roots.

Remember View-Master, the toy that debuted 77 years ago and delighted children by transporting them from their bedrooms to the Taj Mahal or the Great Smoky Mountains? Consider it an ancestor. The flight simulators of the 1980s were early incarnations. Then there were the headsets developed and abandoned by Sega and Nintendo in the ’90s. At that point the Internet captured everybody’s attention, and VR was largely forgotten.

That all changed when Facebook


fb



paid $2 billion to buy the current VR poster child, Oculus, in 2014, from a 21-year-old entrepreneur named Palmer Luckey. Oculus didn’t have a commercially available product at the time. But its demo was powerful enough to convince Mark Zuckerberg of VR’s far-reaching utility.

The wisdom of his bet will be tested in the coming months. The company’s first headset, Oculus Rift, priced at $599, or roughly $1,500 with a PC powerful enough to run it, began shipping in March. The Rift provides an experience unlike anything that has ever been available to consumers, thanks to remarkable advancements in screen resolution, positional tracking and movement sensors, haptic technologies (the processes that make phones and videogame controllers vibrate), computational horsepower, 3-D graphics, and audio.

Oculus executives are careful not to promise immediate mass-market success. For starters, the very mention of VR may cause ennui in some quarters and trigger memories of past promises unfulfilled. And companies will need to overcome people’s aversion to wearing a snorkel-style mask. So executives have talking points to address those issues.

“VR has come and gone many times,” says Jason Rubin, the head of content at Oculus and a legend in the gaming community. His videogames, including the Crash Bandicoot series, have sold more than 40 million copies. He’s been into VR for as long as he can recall, but lately he’s become fanatical. “If you go back and look at the ’90s VR, people were basically wearing [cathode ray] TVs on their faces,” he says. “They were -blurry and loud. Now we have high-resolution, low-cost screens with high refresh rates and low latency.”

The constant improvement of technology has enabled the Oculus Rift to cross an indefinable but crucial threshold: It can now create situations that simply feel real. Rubin thinks gaming will be the first market, then compelling content will bring wider use. “The ramp up from launch to widespread adoption might not be as fast as it was with the smartphone,” he says. “But over the long run it will be the same scale.”

The tech giants are staking their claims. Google moved for the low end with a cardboard-and-plastic device that turns a smartphone into a VR experience. It also recently launched a VR division with far greater aspirations and invested in the startup Magic Leap, which has raised more than $1.3 billion in funding.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has the HoloLens. It “augments” reality by layering holographic images on top of what you see of the actual world, with a headset that looks like a combination of sunglasses and a typical VR mask. The company, which is working with Autodesk


adsk



, Japan Airlines, NASA, and Volvo, among others, intends it to enable all sorts of training and exploration scenarios. Microsoft began shipping developer kits in March but hasn’t said when a consumer version will appear.

Intel is putting its weight behind VR as a way to help boost PC sales. Netflix


nflx



has a VR app. Amazon


amzn



is reportedly working on one as well. And Apple is definitely up to something. The company is mum about its plans (though CEO Tim Cook has declared interest), but officials are happy to forward leaked reports about how they’re hiring hundreds of people.

At Nvidia


nvda



, general manager Jason Paul tells me the graphics-chip company has created a new line of chips for VR and even recently formed a new division devoted to the cause. He identifies VR as one of its three strategic growth areas, and with good reason: VR rendering requires seven times as much graphics horsepower as 1080p HD rendering. “Over the last three years the technology and performance has come down to the point where it’s possible to think about a mass-market audience,” Paul says. “VR is going to touch every industry from gaming to automotive to entertainment, and we’re focused on helping build the ecosystem and deliver performance.”

VIR.05.01.16.sidebar VR getting real_v2 Illustrations by Nico 189 for Fortune Magazine

On my recent visit, he and his team show several demos. One put me in a $180,000 Audi R8. I was able to sit in the sports car’s front seat and even stick my head inside the engine. From this and the work Volvo is doing with Microsoft, it seems clear that the traditional test-drive will soon be augmented by the living room experience. You’ll hear the roar of the engine and feel the vibrations of the steering wheel as you hit autobahn speeds on a twisting alpine road—all from the safety of your sofa.

The arms race has already begun for selling headsets. Samsung has its Gear VR, produced with Oculus, which retails for $99 and uses a Samsung phone as the display. The company won’t disclose the number of units sold since the Gear launched in November, but it’s using TV ads and promotions to seed the marketplace. One recent offer: Anyone who buys a Galaxy S7 gets a free headset and six VR games. “There’s a lot of friction to adopting VR. If we can lower the barriers, that helps us explain why VR is so amazing, innovative, and powerful,” says Nick DiCarlo, Samsung’s GM of immersive products and VR. “You’re getting a level of simulation quality that might’ve been possible only in a $1 million system just 20 or even 10 years ago.”

At the tech trade show CES early this year, the real excitement surrounded VR gaming. Thousands lined up outside the Oculus, HTC—which launched its $799 Vive system in April—and Sony PlayStation booths for the chance to spend five minutes playing VR games. PlayStation executives hope that excitement reflects how 36 million PS4 owners will react when the $399 PlayStation VR is released in October. Sony will be doing everything it can to turn gamers into proselytizers. Because as executives readily admit, the power of VR can’t be conveyed through TV commercials. In the words of VP of marketing John Koller, “You just have to try it.”

VIR.05.01.16.pullquote Nick DiCarlo_v3 Photo: eVRydayVR

Article source: http://fortune.com/virtual-reality-business/

iGaming Business Directory – 2016 Edition – Research and Markets

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research and Markets has announced the addition of the “iGaming
Business Directory – 2016 Edition”
book to their offering.

The Directory of iGaming sites includes casinos, poker rooms, sports
books, bingo halls and betting sites, backgammon sites, skill games,
lotteries, and forex sites with site name, URL, gaming activities,
phone, fax, e-mail addresses, software developer, licensing
jurisdiction, currencies, languages, deposit methods, and web traffic
ranks. Listings of the top iGaming sites are provided for each gaming
type ranked in order of popularity.

The new 2016 edition of the iGaming Business Directory covers every
aspect of the industry and includes 11,000 executive contacts.

Features:

– Profiles and contact information for more than 3,500 iGaming sites and
1,200 site owners including casinos, poker rooms, sports books, bingo
and backgammon sites, games, lotteries, and financial market sites.

– Top Internet gaming sites by gaming type, ranked in order of
popularity.

– iGaming software providers, affiliate programs, regulatory
jurisdictions, products and services, and industry suppliers.

– Directory of more than 500 iGaming affiliate sites with popularity
rankings and owner cross-reference.

– iGaming analysts, attorneys, trade shows and trade publications

The Directory will help you:

– Understand the landscape and identify your competitors in the iGaming
industry.

– Identify affiliate portal sites or affiliate programs for possible
affiliate relationships.

– Reach the right contacts to market and sell your products to the
Internet gaming industry.

– Find a vendor who offers a gaming product or service you need.

Profiles for more than 3,500 online gaming sites are included with
casino, poker, sports betting, bingo, lottery, skill game and financial
market sites plus ranked lists of top sites by game.

1,200 owner and operator profiles are included with associated gaming
sites, thousands of owner executive contacts and a ranked list of owners
based on traffic to their sites.

500 game and platform software provider profiles are provided with the
sites using the software, executive contacts, and software provider
rankings based on the popularity of sites using their software.

Coverage of 300 online gaming jurisdictions are included with background
information, regulatory agency and contact information, and sites
operated from or regulated by the jurisdiction.

A directory of 1,200 affiliate programs is provided with sites
represented, affiliate managers, and other program details.

A directory of nearly 500 affiliate sites is included with game
verticals, traffic rank, language, geographic focus, and owner. (More
than 9,000 additional affiliate site profiles are also included in the
online version and on the CD.)

A directory is provided of 1,400 suppliers to the online gaming industry
ranging from attorneys to back office support and marketing to turnkey
solution providers.

Additional sections include information on:

– Payment processors

– Trade associations

– Trade shows

– Trade publications

Key Topics Covered:

1. Preface

2. Online Gaming Sites

3. Gaming Site Owners and Operators

4. Affiliate Programs

5. Affiliate Sites

6. Game and Platform Software Suppliers

7. Industry Suppliers

8. Payment Methods and Payment Processors

9. Regulatory Jurisdictions

10. Trade Associations, Conferences and Publications

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/j5mrtz/igaming_business

Article source: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160426005890/en/iGaming-Business-Directory---2016-Edition--