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ooVoo and Intel bring augmented reality to video chat

ooVoo and Intel team up to bring augmented reality to video chat, changing up the plain video chat game forever.

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ooVoo innovates the video chat game

ooVoo has already been pretty tight for a while. All of my high school and college friends have moved off to big cities like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago to pursue their dreams. But I had to go and start a band based out of Tampa, so I can’t exactly up and relocate. Video chatting has been paramount to maintaining my social life upon the departure of my dear comrades, and ooVoo allows me to hang out with a few people at once. It… almost feels like I have friends again… *cries a single alligator tear*

But the video game world is changing, and ooVoo is incorporating all sorts of unique new bells and whistles to make the user experience more customizable. You’ve heard us at AG blab on and on about augmented reality, so I’ll try to keep the repetition to a minimum.

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One of the awesome things they’re cooking up is the development of “virtual avatars that can mimic users’ facial expressions in real time.” In other words, if you have a very important ooVoo call with your long-distance boyfriend at 9:00 sharp and you haven’t allotted enough time to put on makeup or do your hair, you can just opt to be a giant whale. Or a magical fairy. Or Shrek. I don’t know what your actual choices will be, but I’d really like to think that Shrek is one of them.

But wait, there’s more!

Another thing they’re working on is background replacement. If you’re anything like me, you grow tired of staring at that same blank spot on the wall behind your pal while you catch up. A change of scenery is good for the soul, and makes it feel like you’re not stuck in a rut (unlike Google+ Hangouts which has offered this feature for some time now, cough cough). Thanks to these new ooVoo features, you’ll be able to visit with your friends in the ocean deep. Or in space. Or in a swamp. Like the one from Shrek.

These are only a few of the cool features that ooVoo is planning on employing, and whether Shrek is involved or not, like many other video chat devotees, I’m holding my breath with anticipation.

#ooVooAugmentedReality

Staff Writer, Johnny Crowder, is a hard working creative with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a deep passion for writing. In his other life, he is the front man for signed metal band, Dark Sermon. He has a wicked sense of humor and might literally die if he goes a day without putting pen to paper.

Tech News

Moocha.io sources classes for you to get smarter

(BUSINESS NEWS) It is growing more and more common for people to take courses to supplement professional development and Moocha.io searches tons of sites for available courses.

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The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement is well underway, but professionals, particularly entrepreneurs and small business fellows, may find them to the perfect way to learn some new skills or brush up on existing ones.

Popular delivery platforms like ItunesU, Coursera, Edx offer free or low cost curriculum.

Moochia.io is one such way to find course offerings. Think of all the things you want some education on: public speaking (429 courses!), project management (1284 courses!), marketing (181 courses!), Excel (46 courses!) – the list goes on.

Training and development costs are often the first to get cut, so even big company employees can find some value in MOOC’s as online providers of content.

Also, given the great challenge of finding enough hours in the day, online delivery platforms typically offer self-paced, media heavy learning that you can consume as time becomes available.

With mobile and tablet applications for most providers, there are plenty of options. All that it takes to get started is usually just the will and the plan.

#TakingCharge of your learning goals starts with some self-assessment and review. Ask yourself – what are your strengths (which you want to keep developing, and feel good to develop) and where are your gaps – the skills you need to accomplish your goals.

Ask yourself what is needed to accomplish that to-do list – maybe you need to learn how to program, maybe you need a crash course on how to handle small business taxes – what’s going on?

Challenge: one of the biggest disadvantages of online courses is that in general – people don’t’ finish them. So one of the ways you can get more benefit is by committing a specific goal to complete a course: set a date, outline how much you need to get done per day/week, and track it.

Owning your own professional development is important both for your success, but also for your satisfaction: learning makes us more satisfied about our careers.

There are an abundance of good resources to utilize, not only MOOC’s, but books, podcasts, YouTube, and of course – good old social media. So, make a plan, get studying, and #ownthatlearning.

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Giving kids smartwatches might not be too smart

(TECH NEWS) If you’re trying to teach your kid about stranger danger, giving them smartwatches won’t help the lesson.

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All of these smart devices are not exactly the smartest choice when it comes to privacy. This is especially true for protecting your children. A new report from the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) and European Security firm Mnemonic tested just how safe smart watches are, and the results are unsettling.

The report, appropriately and almost embarrassingly titled “#WatchOut,” details analysis of 4 different types of smart watches from Gator, Tindell, Viksfjord and Xplora.

All of these watches have been marketed to consumers as a way to protect children. Some come with an SOS button and alert parents when their children go beyond certain boundaries. Unfortunately the report found that these features are unreliable.

In addition, two of the smartwatches were found to be vulnerable to hackers. If successful, hackers could remotely control the watches giving them access to location, personal information and even the ability to communicate through the device.

Even scarier, expert hackers would be able to listen to surroundings through the watch.

As researchers took a closer look at the smart device app permissions, they found that only one of them allows parents to opt out of data collection. Xplora explicitly states that they give data to marketers, which might be something that parents overlook.

Most people permit apps to collect and share data without a second thought.

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) has adamantly opposed smart watches targeted towards children until these flaws are corrected. They ran a public service announcement warning against using the devices because of their failure to provide adequate security.

Ideally, BEUC wants to create mandatory regulations for companies to adhere to, to prevent future hacks. One member even said that smart watches that choose not to comply should be withdrawn from the market.

Flawed as they may be, these smartwatches are not the only vulnerable device putting children’s lives at risk. Mattel had to pull one of the newest Barbie dolls off of the shelves after realizing that the mic, once hacked, turned into a recording device in a child’s bedroom.

Regardless of the technological advantages of smart devices, it’s best to think twice before buying them for children.

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Mac Minis are alive and well according to Cook

(TECH NEWS) Apple has had a slew of products release in the last three years with one notably missing — the Mac Mini. But ole Timmy Cook has squashed rumors of its death.

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The long-anticipated iPhone 8 and iPhone X are here. As consumers have been rushing to get one into their possession, other Apple products have found a comfortable place in the background. One of those devices is the Mac Mini.

The last version of the Mac Mini was launched in 2014 and since then, Apple has been relatively quiet about any updates. It took a fan of the forgotten device to finally get somewhat of an answer from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

It’s not surprising that the Mac Mini has gone on unnoticed.

Stating that Apple has been busy since 2014 is an understatement. Mobile devices are their forte, so they have shifted most of their focus towards improving them.

The iPad and MacBook also receive regular updates. Mini Macs are still on the market, but without the newest updates, they fall behind in sales and popularity compared to Apple’s other products. Luckily, their quiet following has finally received an answer.

Well, not so much an answer as a glimmer of hope. One fan, who goes by the name of Krar, took a long shot and reached out to Tim Cook directly.

Much to everyone’s surprise, the CEO actually responded. Cook wrote back, “We do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.”

Hallelujah! However, Cook gave no specifics or timeline regarding the process of revamping the device. Paul Schiller, the Marketing Chief of Apple also confirmed Cook’s statement.

In April, Apple announced plans for a new addition of iMac desktops that will be released later this year. They also mentioned that they are “completely rethinking” the MacBook Pro, however there is no set date for this release.

The Mac Mini update will likely follow the MacBook Pro, because let’s be honest, no matter how many fans send emails to Apple, the Mac Mini is still not their number one priority.

In the meantime, consumers will have to continue using other products to fill the void of the Mac Mini. Fortunately, there is no shortage of Apple devices.

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