PT-Logo
Forgot your password?
BenchmarkXPRT Blog banner

Category: Virtual reality

Reflecting on 2016

The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back on the previous 12 months and take stock of everything that happened. Here’s a quick recap of a very busy year:

In 2016, the XPRTs travelled quite a bit. Eric went to CES in Las Vegas, Mark attended MWC in Barcelona, and Bill flew out to IDF16 in Shenzhen.

We also sent a team to Seattle for the first XPRT Women Code-A-Thon, an event we’re very proud to have sponsored and co-hosted along with ChickTech, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech-related fields. The Code-a-thon also served as inspiration for an eight-part video series entitled Women Coding for Change. The series explains the motivation behind the Code-a-thon and profiles several of the participants. If you haven’t watched the videos, check them out. They’re well worth the time.

Speaking of videos, we also published one about Nebula Wolf, the mini-game workload produced through our first collaboration with the North Carolina State Senior Design Center. That experience was promising enough for us to partner with another student team this past fall, which resulted in a virtual reality app that we hope to share with the community in the near future.

Of course, we also continued work on our suite of benchmark tools and related resources. We released TouchXPRT 2016 to the public, published the Exploring TouchXPRT 2016 white paper, and released the TouchXPRT 2016 source code to community members.

In 2016, we unveiled the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, a new way for device vendors and manufacturers to share verified test results with buyers around the world. We put 46 devices in the spotlight throughout the year and published Back-to-School, Black Friday, and Holiday device showcases.

In the last quarter of 2016, we celebrated our most widely-used benchmark, WebXPRT, passing the 100,000-run milestone. WebXPRT is still going strong and is as useful and relevant as ever!

Finally, we ended the year with the exciting news that we’re moving forward with efforts to develop a machine-learning performance evaluation tool. We look forward to engaging with the community in the coming year as we tackle this challenge!

As always, we’re grateful for everyone who’s helped to make the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community a strong, vibrant, and relevant resource for people all around the world. Here’s to a great 2017!

Justin

CES 2017

I’ve attended many tech shows over the years, but this year’s CES has more energy than any I’ve attended in a long time. Part of the energy is the breadth of products. There are amazingly slim TVs that make my TV at home, which I thought was slim, look fat. And, there are beautiful 8K TVs that make my new 4K one feel old.

I’m seeing all manner of smartphones. I’m seeing mobile remote presence devices such as the one from Beam, and after seeing the latest Fenix 5 from Garmin, I think I’ve found my next smartwatch.

Photo Jan 05, 2 05 53 PM

There are many differing devices and approaches to VR and AR. There are drones everywhere. And, lots of massage chairs.

Photo Jan 05, 1 13 17 PM

There are also plenty of products, let’s call them longshots, that contribute to the Wild West feel of the show. Maybe you’d like the Hydreon FakeTV, a small device to make it seem like a TV is on in your house to keep away burglars? Or Dr. Fuji’s Body Shaper, a vibrating platform to “accelerate your workout”?

Another part of the dynamic feeling is the breadth of vendors. Almost all the big tech vendors are here, except for Apple, of course. The excitement for me, however, is the small vendors displaying things that may well never see the light of day, but give glimpses of the future. For example, while I doubt most of the drone vendors at CES will be around in a few years, I think the trend toward small, inexpensive selfie drones will be.

The main reason for the energy at this year’s CES could be the convergence of multiple big industries. The most obvious example of this phenomenon is the large auto presence. Cars have been at CES before—the first time I drove my current car, a BMW i3, was at CES 2014—but this time around they seem to really want to make a statement. Faraday Future is making a splash by trying to be the next Tesla with its FF91.

Photo Jan 05, 3 08 30 PM

Multiple vendors, including VW, Nissan, Toyota, and Mercedes, have concept cars on display—most of them are electric and all of them are heavy on technology. The biggest tech they’re touting is autonomous driving. The auto companies are showing their products while companies like NVIDIA, Intel, and Magic Eye are displaying the tech they have as well.

Regardless of the source of the energy at this CES, I see many opportunities for the existing XPRTs to continue to be important resources. I also see how important emerging technologies like machine learning and VR/AR are going to be and how the XPRTs can be of help there as well.

Exciting times!

Bill

Exploring virtual reality

We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about new technologies we are evaluating for the XPRTs. You may remember that back in June, we also wrote about sponsoring a second senior project with North Carolina State University. Last week, the project ended with the traditional Posters and Pies event. The team gave a very well thought‑out presentation.

NCSU VR blog pic 1

As you can tell from the photo below, the team designed and implemented a nifty virtual reality app. It’s a room escape puzzle, and it looks great!

NCSU VR blog pic 2

The app is a playable game with the ability to record the gameplay for doing repeatable tests. It also includes a recording that allows you to test a device without playing the game. Finally, the app lets you launch directly into the prerecorded game without using a viewer, which will be handy for testing multiple devices.

The team built the app using the Google Cardboard API and the Unity game engine, which allowed them to create Android and iOS versions. We’re looking forward to seeing what that may tell us!

After Posters and Pies, the team came to PT to present their work and answer questions. We were all very impressed with their knowledge and with how well thought out the application was.

NCSU VR blog pic 3

Many thanks to team members Christian McCurdy, Gregory Manning, Grayson Jones, and Shon Ferguson (not shown).

NCSU VR blog pic 4

Thanks also to Dr. Lina Battestilli, the team’s technical advisor, and Margaret Heil, Director of the Senior Design Center.

We are currently evaluating the app, and expect to make it available to the community in early 2017!

Eric

 

The things we do now

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Microsoft Store added an option to indicate holographic support, which we selected for TouchXPRT. So, it was no surprise to see Microsoft announce that next year, they will release an update to Windows 10 that enables mainstream PCs to run the Windows Holographic shell. They also announced that they‘re working with Intel to develop a reference architecture for mixed-reality-ready PCs. Mixed-reality applications, which combine the real world with a virtual reality, demand sophisticated computer vision, and applications that can learn about the world around them.

As we’ve said before, we are constantly watching how people use their devices. One of the most basic principles of the XPRT benchmarks is to test devices using the same kinds of work that people do in the real world. As people find new ways to use their devices, the workloads in the benchmarks should evolve as well. Virtual reality, computer vision, and machine learning are among the technologies we are looking at.

What sorts of things are you doing today that you weren’t a year ago? (Other than Pokémon GO – we know about that one.) Would you like to see those sorts of workloads in the XPRTs? Let us know!

Eric

Seeing the future

Back in April we wrote about how Bill’s trip to IDF16 in Shenzhen got us thinking about future benchmarks. Technologies like virtual reality, the Internet of things, and computer vision are going to open up lots of new applications.

Yesterday I saw an amazing article that talked about an automatic computer vision system that is able to detect early-stage esophageal cancer from endoscopy images. These lesions can be difficult for physicians to detect, and the system did very well when compared to four experts who participated in the test. The article contains a link to the original study, for those of you who want more detail.

To me, this is the stuff of science fiction. It’s a very impressive accomplishment. Clearly, new technologies are going to lead to many new and exciting applications.

While this type of application is more specialized than the typical XPRT, things like this get us really excited about the possibilities for the future.  Have you seen an application that impressed you recently? Let us know!

Eric

Looking ahead

It’s only been a couple of weeks since we announced a cross-platform XPRT. It’s still early days, but we’ve already started getting ideas from vendors and media—from both people within the community and those who have not yet joined. We’re incorporating these ideas into our investigations, and plan to be sending a design document for the community to critique in a few weeks.

However, we are always looking ahead and Bill’s trip to IDF16 got us thinking about future benchmarks. Virtual reality is obviously going to be big. Bill said that he thinks he saw more things using the Oculus Rift than there are Oculus Rifts in the world! The Internet of Things has been ramping up for a while now, and shows no sign of slowing down. Computer vision is another emerging area, one with many possible applications. There are a lot of exciting possibilities!

As always, we want to know what you think. What upcoming technologies are you excited about? What would like to see in these benchmarks? Please let us know!

Eric

Check out the other XPRTs: