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How Virtual Reality tech products will kill the age of Smartphones

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By Isha Srivastva

On Monday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed the details of long awaited Apple Watch. The smart watch performs all the functions which an iPhone does.

“Apple Watch is the most personal device we have created. It isn’t just with you, it’s on you,” Cook told his audience in California.

One might argue that the device is hardly liberating as it still needs the iPhone for connectivity, however, there is no doubt that smartphones in the near future may not be our permanent accessory after all!

Birth of Virtual Reality

Back in the 90s, virtual reality had a very clouded future. In early 2014, when Facebook bought the virtual reality company Oculus, it signalled a promising possibility for VR acolytes. VR is yet to fully permeate the markets and as of now, two giants stand ahead of the pack, Sony and Oculus (owned by Facebook).

At the Mobile World Conference this year, there was a plethora of VR technology products. Samsung (teamed with Facebook owned Oculus) revealed a new version of the Gear VR that can be powered by both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge.

HTC’s VIVE VR headset (Very Immersive Visual Experience) also grabbed a lot of eyeballs during the MWC. It provides a ‘full room experience’ and comes with two wireless wand like controllers. Tracking sensors allow users to use your hands to create 3D art, and all of this without being connected to a smartphone.

The kind of leap into future technology that VR epitomises, is akin to 3D graphics technology. 3D graphics are omnipresent in so many areas like the web and the movies. Virtual Reality too, offers unlimited potential to be used for gaming, storytelling, or simply witnessing a historical event even at places you’re not physically present.

Let’s not forget that these are still prototypes and are not yet ready for public use. While Oculus is slated to arrive early next year, Sony Morpheus (which is releasing around the same time) promises to drive PS4 gaming to another level.

Computerised glasses, also called ‘augmented reality’ are rationally the next step in personal computing. The wearable tech market maybe at its nascent stage but Glass has already captured public’s imagination like no other.

 Will smartphones go modular?

Google is planning to launch its Project Ara (or Google Ara) some time in August 2015. The idea is fairly simple: you buy a basic Ara phone and parts of it can be pulled out and swapped as you please. It’s an extremely versatile computing platform which will allow you to upgrade to more powerful components, for example a better camera, from a dedicated hardware Google store. This even provides a good potential to startups for developing their own components specifically for the phone.

Smartphones may be ubiquitous for atleast a decade, but for tech enthusiasts, it is virtual reality that is already becoming an obsession. The headsets companies are still facing hurdles of position tracking, multi user experiences, social stigma and high prices before they fully penetrate domestic market.

However, It isn’t specifically about one VR headset, or an Apple Watch; these devices present the limitless nature of digital world building, almost akin to an art which will manifest itself in a new myriad of devices and technologies. The question is- what virtual worlds are we capable of creating, and how will we use this technology as a medium of progress?

 

 

 

 

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Social Media in India: Understanding The Dynamics of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’

Social media, a double-edged sword, is an evolving forum of communication in the internet media

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India has world’s largest number of Facebook Users with over 195 million users, overtaking US by over 4 million subscribers. Pixabay

Social media is a strange place that connects millions of people worldwide. It is a platform that keeps people engaged in several trending issues. However, the point of concern being, how do they react? This makes social media a double-edged sword.

Let’s take an example. Once, a photo of a young schoolboy from a poor family went viral. The boy was sitting outside a Noida metro station, trying to earn money through a weighing scale and studying at the same time. He caught the attention of one of the commuters. A picture was taken and uploaded on Facebook. The picture went viral. Now, there were several people who came forward to help. One of them was the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav, who promised to ensure full opportunity for them to study without having to work.

ALSO READ: Social Media: Here is how it is creating Lifestyle pressure on Youth!

social media
Twitter, the microblogging site has 23.2 million Monthly Active Users in India, which is 2nd largest in Asia-Pacific after Japan with 26 million MUAs. Pixabay

This was one example or the so-called ‘positive side’ of social media. Now let’s turn the page and look at the other side of the road. Here the ‘other-type’ instances on social media:

  • In 2012, morphed pictures and videos of earthquake victims went viral. The morphed images were aimed to show that these were Muslim victims of civil riots in Assam and Burma. This was done to provoke riots by vested interests.
  • There were instances of hate and revenge messages being spread against Hindu migrants living in South India. This resulted in a mass exodus of people from the North East.
  • At an individual level, there are many examples where when a relationship went sour, one of the partners uploaded intimate pictures, videos or information, in revenge against their former partner.
  • Another point of concern is the easy access to all types of porn by minors. This is resulting in rapidly changing social behaviour and redefining morality.

The major problem being stated is that the society as a larger whole is unable to keep pace and social media is, hence, increasing the gap between older and younger generations rather than bringing them closer.

social media
There are over 30 Million LinkedIn Users in India, while 467 million users globally. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Teenagers using Social Media more likely to suffer sleep deprivations: Study

Should there be government intervention in the use of social media?

India is witnessing increasing internet and mobile penetration. With first-time users onto these platforms, the risk of mass hysteria or communal reactions increases. It is imperative for the government to get together all stakeholders of civil society and try and address the issue of balancing media freedom with media regulation.

Putting regulations or any type of curbs on the internet will be a sensitive subject in any type of free society and of course, it will result in certain opposition. However, what we need to understand is, each society is different. Therefore, every society has to develop its own mechanism to address the negative consequences of social media.

social media
There are 16 Million Instagram users in India. Pixabay

For example, the Indian government had blocked internet services in the state of Jammu and Kashmir during the period of eid in 2015. It was a preventive measure. However, despite the ban, there were clashes with the police and violence. The point of concern being, the situation could have been much worse had the internet and social media been accessible.

With the world getting increasingly connected through the web and India on the cusp of a ‘Digital’ revolution, the government must take up establishing clear cybersecurity laws and cyber management policies on an urgent basis. Social media could work as a development catalyst or could become a national threat.