This week thousands of developers gathered at Google I/O 2010 in San Fransisco to find out what Google’s got up their sleeve for the next year (and beyond) and how their contributions can make things better for the end user. At this year’s event Google introduced a new video standard, demoed their latest software revision of Android, and pulled the veil off their latest foray into a whole new market–television.
WebM: Flash, HTML5, h.264–these are all video codecs that power different types of video players on the Internet. WebM is a new video codec developed by Google. The plan for the WebM format is to make it open-source and royalty-free from the get-go. WebM is packaged into three parts: VP8, a high-quality video codec under a royalty-free license; Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec; and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container. According to Google, “VP8′s efficient bandwidth usage will mean lower serving costs for content publishers and high quality video for end-users. The codec’s relative simplicity makes it easy to integrate into existing environments and requires less manual tuning to produce high quality results.” So far, the following companies are backing the new WebM standard in their browsers: Google (duh), Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe. (Mozilla already updated their Firefox to support it, Opera says their browsers will support it “soon”, Adobe will inject VP8 support into Flash too, and Chrome support comes on on May 24.) Google will also implement it in the YouTube player (HTML5 & WebM, sittin’ in a tree…). WebM also has a list of hardware supporters including AMD, ARM, Broadcom, NVIDIA, Skype, and T.I. But the big question is if Microsoft and Apple will adopt it. At this point, there’s no word if Apple will jump on the bandwagon (big surprise there), and Microsoft has stated it will support WebM in Internet Explorer 9 (but users will be required to install the VP8 codec themselves). If there’s any tech company out there who can develop and push out a new open source video codec it’s Google. With the on-going battle for dominance between the aging Flash and up-and-coming HTML5, it will certainly be interesting to see if Google can emerge out victorious with WebM.
Travel site Kayak.com is offering what at first glance looks like standard one-way flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California. If you are a Lost fan those particular locations should ring a bell. If you look further into the flight details, more Lost clues come to the surface. The airline? Oceanic Airlines. Take-off date? September 22. Airfare? $4,815.16. Taxes and fees? $23.42. Flight duration? 10 hours, 8 minutes. Clearly the site is playing with the Lost numbers that are key to the show’s mythology: 4 8 15 15 23 42 and 108, as well as other show factoids: The Losties crashed on September 22, 2004, on an Oceanic Airlines flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. So what’s really going on here?
Obviously the people at Kayak.com are Lost fans and couldn’t resist the urge to offer up this flight in anticipation of the final season. When you actually go to buy a ticket for this flight, the site redirects you to the Lostpedia website, specifically to the Oceanic Flight 815 page. After some digging, Slashfilm traced it all back to BoingBoing and the Twitter account of a staff writer. When asked about this easter egg, a Kayak PR rep responded “It’s a mystery,” with a smiley face emoticon.
Yeah it’s around seven minutes long, but if you are even slightly interested in 3D TVs and the forthcoming slew of them entering the market this year it’s worth a viewing. In the video preview a Samsung rep details the Samsung C7000 LED TV, giving us an early peek into the brand new 3D tech that’s embedded inside. There’s SD/HD modes, a 3D mode (duh), a 2D to 3D converter, a sleek remote, and the sporty 3D shades. Man I wish I had a British accent.
LG travelled back in time to bring us the LG Serie 1 Classic television, their latest creation that radiates a retro design. Yup, it packs good ‘ol CRT technology (that’s cathode ray tubefor you younglings) with a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio in a 14 inch diagonal screen. It even comes complete with rabbit-ear antennae, knobs for channel surfing and volume, and chrome legs! LG pulled out all the stops–you have the option to switch between full color, black & white and sepia tone modes. Due to obvious technical reasons the Serie 1 does include a modern digital tuner, composite video ports, and a wireless remote. It’s available for purchase in Korea for about $215 in black and red renditions. Additional images below.
In addition to the 3D programming DirecTV promises to bring this year, ESPN and Discovery have stepped up to the plate with plans to share 3D broadcasts of their own content.
On June 11 ESPN will launch a brand new channel appropriately called “ESPN 3D” and will air their first 3D broadcast with a World Cup soccer match. According to USA Today: “ESPN 3D expects to showcase at least 85 live sporting events during the first year. There’ll be no reruns initially, so the network will be dark when there’s no 3D event. Among other events planned for 3D broadcast: the Summer X Games (extreme sports), NBA games, college basketball and college football.”
Discovery, Sony, and IMAX have joined forces to broadcast the world’s first 24/7 dedicated 3D TV network. Discovery was the first to bring a 24/7 basic cable HD channel in 2002, so this all makes sense, right? The trifecta plans to switch on such a channel sometime in 2011. Bummer, I know. At least we’ll have ESPN 3D to whet our appetite before we immerse ourselves into wild documentaries.
And remember kids–in order to watch HD 3D programming you are required to go out and purchase a compatible TV set along with those pesky glasses. Expect the first wave of 3D-enabled TV sets to hit stores this spring.
According to the HDGuru, DirecTV plans on launching the first 3D HDTV channel in the US sometime next year. It’s been reported that DirecTV recently shot a brand new satellite into orbit that supports the addition of a 3D channel plus other regular HD stations. The satillite becomes operational in March 2010, so that’s the earliest a 3D channel could pop up. HD Guru’s “sources” tell him that all current DirecTV set top boxes will receive a firmware upgrade that will enable it to receive the 3D programming. But remember, in order to watch 3D on your television, you need a TV that supports it. DirecTV is expected to make this announcement at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show; TV manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are planning on showing off their latest 3D HDTVs as well.
Thing is, I don’t think we are ready for 3D programming yet. Hell, we are just getting used to high definition! A hefty percentage of America finally owns decent HDTVs, and now the industry expects us to go out and buy a new 3D-supported TV. I think not. Let’s stick with 3D in the theatres for now (Avatar and Up were the first 3D movies I thoroughly enjoyed); slowly but surely the industry should allow it to enter the home.
Helex’s “I-Vision” integrates the two main focal points of your living room–a fireplace and a flat-screen television. The HDTV is covered with a glass panel and completely disappears above the gas-powered fireplace when it’s turned off. This fireplace-HDTV hybrid holds a modern, sleek look that can turn any ordinary living room into a technological marvel. And now it’s on my list of things to install into my future home. Additional shot after the break.
Mitsubishi Electric takes the crown for “World’s Largest High-Definition Video Display.” The high-definition video display has four Diamond Vision LED video screens (which contain 10,584,064 LED lights) and a total viewing area of 11,393 square-feet. The two main displays measure 72 feet high by 160 feet wide, and the two Diamond Vision end-zone displays measure 29 feet high by 51 feet wide. This insanely large screen can be seen hanging 90 feet above the field at Cowboys Stadium.
There has been a lot of news lately about 3D technology. You may surprised to hear that all the news does not just surround the movie industry. 3D is coming to a TV near you, and the expected date for this technological evolution is 2010 (that’s next year!). TV manufacturers such as Toshiba and Sony plan on embedding 3D tech inside their TVs that will allow broadcasts, DVDs and Blu Rays, and video games to display in glorious three dimensions, making for a more immersive experience in entertainment. The latest news comes from Sony; a representative told Engadget that a future software update for the Playstation 3 will allow “all” existing games to display in 3D. Today, though, Sony has stepped back and told Joystiq that they are “conducting a technological investigation” into the matter and that “there is no plan for the market launch of this at this time.” So, although 3D TV tech is coming soon, a reality with 3D video games may be a bit farther in the future. At least we know they are “investigating” its potential. I’ll just wait over here with my 3D glasses until it all comes true.