In San Francisco on Monday Microsoft announced it will acquire Skype for $8.5bn and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told us why.
Ballmer: "We're irrepressible, and moving forward, and pursuing new things. We've been consistently focused on empowering consumers and businesses to do more with technology. This Skype acquisition is entirely consistent with our ambitious, forward-looking, irrepressible nature."
He said the company plans to optimized skype for TV with the Xbox and Kinect and for the windows phone and windows PC. He also pointed out that there are 170 million skype users with a 40 percent year on year growth. He was empatic that Microsoft wont’ monopolize Skype.
"We will continue to support non-Microsoft platforms, because it's fundamental to the value proposition of communications."
Once the deal is approved, Skype will become a division of Microsoft, headed by Skype CEO Tony Bates.
Google announced that the first Chromebooks will go on sale June 15 in the US and 7 other countries. They run Google's Chrome OS and use cloud-based storage and applications.
Consumers will be able to buy the systems at retail stores and online and they’ll also be offered for businesses and schools on a per-month service plan that includes replacement units.
Sony has apparently changed it’s mind about bringing the Playstation network back online anytime soon. Sony posted an update to its PlayStation blog Friday stating it was "unaware of the extent of the (network) attack" adding it needs to "conduct further testing of the incredibly complex system" before it can restart its network.
Here at the Computer Human Interaction conference more than 2500 researchers have gathered to exchange their ideas and present their findings. One of the first things I saw here was the Paper Phone, a flexible e-ink display that its creators think could one day replace smartphones.
The paper phone can recognize 10 unique bends or gestures, and the team hopes to add more as they develop the device further. For now the phone is tethered to a laptop, which runs the software. The team would like disconnect the phone as well as make the screen more durable.
Researchers from Texas A&M University have created an inexpensive multitouch system made of infrared sensors, similar to what’s found in your TV remote control. It can be mounted on a desktop, overtop a computer screen or it can hang in the air.
The frame is lined with 256 IR sensors and you can see on this computer screen what it looks like when you interact with the system. If Zerotouch is mounted overtop of a computer screen it turns a traditional monitor into a multitouch surface. Taken one step further, if the screen is suspended then a user could paint a virtual canvas. The colors are controlled using an iPhone and the thickness of the brush is controlled by how much enters the frame. For the next part of the project the team plans to stack the frames so that they can perceive depth.
Human computer interaction pioneer Bill Buxton brought with him more than 30 years of technology gadget and gizmos. Some that have failed, some that have exceeded, all of which the industry has learned from. He had mice on display, keyboards, tablets and iPods among other devices. He talked about iPod design and its influences.
The project is called frictional widgets and what its designed to do is make your device’s screen slippery at some points and sticky at others. Imagine if you’re dragging a folder and the screen is slippery, then suddenly it becomes stick when it hits its destination. That’s the idea behind another project here at CHI.
The screen itself has four actuators. These just shake the piece of glass. They make it vibrate. This is actually the same technology that is used in many cell phones or other devices, but it runs at higher frequency so you don’t feel the vibration itself, but it pushes your finger away from the piece of glass and a bit like an air hockey table it will push your finger off and make it more slippery.
The prototype is quite bulky now and uses lasers to determine the position of the finger. The research team would like to make the whole project smaller and wants to replace the lasers with capacitive sensing. I got a chance to try it and it does actually work…it was really impressive.
And before we sign off one of the most interesting projects here at the show it’s called the Humanaquarium. Inside are the musicians and performers and outside is the audience that can interact with the exhibit.
The team has a background in both music and technology, which has obviously helped them greatly in this project. They’re already working on their next project that replaces human performers with robots.