Samsung has launched its flagship S9 smartphone on Sunday with an improved camera and augmented reality (AR) capabilities to challenge Apple’s iPhone X. The South Korean electronics giant released two versions of the device: a 5.9-inch S9 and 6.2-inch S9+. Both feature an almost bezeless display that was introduced on the S8 last year. Samsung said pre-orders for the devices began Sunday with general sale on March 16.
Key features include:
- Dual lens 12-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel front-facing camera
- Improved features for Samsung’s smart assistant Bixby
- Speakers that give a surround sound-like experience
- Wireless charging
- Headphone jack
Samsung focused it’s unveiling on the bolstered camera. It has a feature that lets users take clear pictures in very low light by taking 12 photos at once and stitching them together to form a crisp image. Another key camera feature is super slow motion video.
Samsung also launched a feature called AR Emoji, which allows a user to take a selfie and turn it into their own custom emoji. The camera can track a person’s face and mimic their facial expression on the digital version of themselves too. AR Emoji rivals Apple’s iPhone X feature called Animoji. These are animated characters that mimic a person’s face when they move it. Samsung’s offering is different because it allows a person to create an emoji version of themselves.
The phone itself does not look radically different to the Galaxy S8, but analysts said that might not be a problem because Samsung is trying to attract users on older phones. Globally, the most common Samsung flagship models in use are the S7 and S7 Edge, which were released in 2016 with a combined market share of 5.26 percent, according to IHS. The Galaxy S6 from 2015, and the four-year-old Galaxy S5 are the next most popular.
“It’s different to a handset two or three years ago. The kind of devices that consumers have in their hand is ready for an upgrade,” Ian Fogg, head of mobile at IHS, told CNBC by phone ahead of the launch. In 2017, Samsung saw smartphone shipments rise nearly 2 percent while the entire market was relatively flat, according to IDC. Users are holding onto their phones for longer while rising prices of high-end devices could be putting consumers off.
And the electronics titan saw rising competition last year in the high-end smartphone space from Apple and Chinese vendor Huawei. To counter this, Samsung revealed a new trade-in program in partnership with mobile networks, where users can get money for their old devices. The hope is that it will make buying an expensive phone more palatable and encourage people to upgrade, which will be key for growth in an increasingly saturated smartphone market.
Samsung also showed an improved version of Bixby, its smart digital assistant. In one demonstration, Samsung showed how Bixby could live translate a piece of text. The South Korean electronic giant also unveiled a new version of Dex, which allows a user to connect their smartphone to a bigger screen, to turn it into a full PC experience.
Dell Technologies Launches AR App to Help You Repair Dell Systems
Dell Technologies has announced a first-of-its-kind augmented reality app for IT repairs, the Dell AR Assistant. This free application (available on both IOS and Android) provides a step-by-step augmented reality experience to help customers replace parts on their Dell systems, enabling the next generation of consumer repairability.
AR Assistant users can see their devices and how to repair them using mixed reality and informational overlays on the machine being repaired, leveraging a smartphone camera. The app also has an augmented clone technology on select systems, which displays a cloned server in any desired space and allows full 360-degree interaction.
Dell’s AR Assistant guides users through servicing and repair procedures for more than 100 Dell PCs and servers in seven different languages. Dell is currently working to add over 20 additional systems by the end of the summer. The aim is to enable consumers to easily repair devices themselves where they are able to – and ultimately reduce repair time for issues that can be resolved by the users themselves, with a little help from Dell.
The app’s development was fast-tracked during the early months of the pandemic when technicians were unable to visit people’s homes. Currently, the use of the Dell AR Assistant is dependent on proper diagnosis first, then ordering parts through the technical support team. The future plan is to make parts more readily and easily available for sale online for an even easier customer experience.
The Dell AR Assistant also upholds Dell’s wide-reaching and longstanding commitment to sustainability. By making parts more accessible, replaceable, and reusable, Dell can exhaust fewer resources and keep more circular materials in the economy, while helping customers extend the life of their systems.
Snapchat Brings the Saudi UNESCO Heritage Site to Life with Augmented Reality
Snap Inc. has collaborated with the Royal Commission of AlUla to bring a new dimension to the Desert X AlUla art exhibition, with the first sponsored Landmarker in the Middle East.
During the event, artists Zahrah Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia), eL Seed (Tunisia) and Lita Albuquerque (United States) will feature their work on Snapchat’s inaugural the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Landmarker location, Qasr Al Farid. The artists’ work will be brought to life using a dedicated lens, creating an exciting augmented reality (AR) experience for everyone to participate in.
“We are excited to have Desert X AlUla, the first international collaboration for Desert X, as part of Winter at Tantora festival,” said Nora Aldabal, Arts and Culture Programs Director at Royal Commission of AlUla. “Artists from around the world will showcase their art in the desert of AlUla, home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites. Having Snapchat participate in this landmark event will bring the landscape of AlUla to life in an entirely new light, in a juxtaposition of modern technology and history.”
To enable the feature, when Snapchatters are close to Qasr Al-Farid they will be prompted to find the icon of this landmark. Royal Commission of AlUla’s sponsored lens will be the first placement in Snapchat’s lens carousel, and as Snapchatters point their phones’ cameras at Qasr Al-Farid, they will be able to bring to life the work of the three exhibiting artists over a 6-week time span at 2-week intervals each. Each experience is specific to the artist’s work and will have its own unique sound to come full circle.
“I am thrilled to be among the artists whose work will be uniquely displayed on Qasr Al-Farid using a Snapchat Lens,” said Zahrah Al Ghamdi, one of the exhibiting artists at Desert-X AlUla. “This amazing feature will transform my artwork into an interactive experience. Augmented reality has become an integral element that brings art to life and provides people with an unparalleled experience.”
Introduced in 2019, Landmarkers are Snapchat Lenses that enable augmented reality experiences that transform the world’s most iconic landmarks in real-time.
Lenovo Mirage AR to Power Marvel Dimension of Heroes
Following the successful launch of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, Lenovo and Marvel will immerse fans in one of the world’s most beloved franchises with the new Marvel Dimension of Heroes, available only on Lenovo Mirage AR. This new smartphone-powered augmented reality experience lets players harness the powers of six legendary Marvel Super Heroes in an original story which sees them take on infamous Super-Villains standing right before them in their own living rooms.
Players download the free Marvel Dimension of Heroes app onto a compatible smartphone, and with the power of the Lenovo Mirage AR headset and new dual Universal Controllers, they can embark upon an adventure spanning three full-fledged modes and an incredible variety of augmented reality playstyles. With the new controllers, players can use both hands to punch, slice and blast their way through exhilarating battles, while ducking and dodging enemy attacks, thanks to Lenovo Mirage AR’s freedom of movement.
Lenovo Mirage AR also allows continued play of the hit experience Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, letting you use the new Universal Controller to engage in lightsaber duels, command troops in battle, and play Holochess. In Marvel Dimension of Heroes, players wield the legendary weapons and powers of Doctor Strange, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Star-Lord against a host of augmented reality Super-Villains.
The game is playable across the following three modes:
- Play through an original Marvel story in Story Mode, in which the Dread Dormammu, Lord of the Dark Dimension, launches a surprise attack on Earth with his alliance of Super-Villains, including Loki, Ronan the Accuser, Ultron Prime, and the Winter Soldier. With the Earth in ruins, Doctor Strange manages to turn back time to secure a second chance to save the planet. Players assume the role of all of the game’s six playable Super Heroes to battle the interdimensional forces that threaten the world.
- Survival Mode lets players use their heroic powers, playing as any of the game’s six heroes, to fend off waves of powerful enemies. Players compete to achieve the highest score and rise up the game’s global online leaderboards.
- Finally, players can also partner up with a friend in Co-Op Mode, where they each play as a Marvel hero battling the forces of evil side-by-side in the same room, while competing against each other for high scores. (Each player must be equipped with the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, two Universal Controllers, a Tracking Beacon, and be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Each player must also download the latest version of the Marvel Dimension of Heroes app on a compatible smartphone. Players are recommended to stand side by side in the same direction, facing the Tracking Beacons about 4 feet away).
Lenovo Mirage AR consists of the Lenovo Mirage AR headset, dual Universal Controllers, and the Tracking Beacon, offering immersive control over both Marvel Dimension of Heroes’ array of weapons and superpowers, as well as the various modes of Star Wars: Jedi Challenges. Lenovo Mirage AR experiences can be downloaded to a variety of compatible Android phones and iPhones. Players purchasing Lenovo Mirage AR can install Marvel Dimension of Heroes and Star Wars: Jedi Challenges at no additional cost on a compatible smartphone.
“Lenovo Mirage AR with Marvel Dimension of Heroes is another milestone demonstrating Lenovo and Marvel’s shared passion for bringing rich, immersive consumer experiences to life through smarter technology. After years of close collaboration with Disney starting from Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, we’re excited to expand this incredibly fun and interactive experience for more gamers and especially Marvel fans to enjoy,” said Johnson Jia, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Business of Intelligent Devices Group, Lenovo.
Users begin by downloading the Marvel Dimension of Heroes app onto their compatible smartphone and inserting it into the tray of the Lenovo Mirage AR headset. The lightweight headset senses the user’s movements during gameplay, aided by a Tracking Beacon placed on the floor to serve as its fixed reference point in physical space.
No more sitting idly staring at a screen. Now players can engage and fight their enemies in free and natural motion through the headset’s inside-out positional tracking (enabled by two built-in fisheye sensors). The headset pairs with the Lenovo Mirage AR Universal Controllers, which are worn over the knuckles to give players an empowering sense of control over their weapons and superpowers.
The controllers also allow for complex hand and wrist motions that combine offensive and defensive moves, and its control buttons are dynamically adjusted to function on hold release or press, allowing for intuitive open hand gestures and control of complex artillery. As a result, each one of the six Super Heroes feels like a completely distinct character and playing experience, with entirely different move sets and controls.
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