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Nearing an AR future: Toronto artist sells 'revolutionary' digital NFT house for over $500,000 in world first – National Post

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Mars House is a 3-D digital image that users can experience via virtual reality technology on the Metaverse platform

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It’s a warm afternoon on the surface of Mars. You’re lazily stretched out on a red glass reclining chair by the pool on your patio. As its reflective waters lap at your feet, you glance up at the fiery Martian landscape, with towering mountains, red skies and blazing clouds.

There is no other human in sight, but you hear the thrum of peaceful music as you get up and walk through the glass doors of your house, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a minimalist design. The Italian glass furniture is painted in colourful hues and arranged with plenty of space to lounge or entertain guests.

All of a sudden, your stomach rumbles, signalling its time for lunch. You have no choice but to exit your dreamscape, shut down your laptop and head to your real kitchen for a bite to eat.

But soon, you’ll be back to Mars House.

That’s what Toronto designer Krista Kim has named her latest creation, a digital house that is meant to be explored in virtual reality, or, perhaps eventually, augmented reality.

“I want people to experience the light, the movement of the light. I want people to experience the healing qualities of the house through the light installation. That is the purpose of the house,” Kim said in an interview with the National Post.

The 3D file sold last week for over $650,000 as an NFT, or non-fungible token. NFTs are verified by blockchain technology, which is also used by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and they act as a certificate of authenticity, allowing artists to encrypt their signatures on digital artworks and designs.

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Kim said she designed the digital NFT house, described as the first of its kind in the world, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the world was locked in their homes.

“I meditate twice a day. So my art is really a meditative experience,” she said. “And I thought, why not create a house that heals.”

The addition of a scorched Martian landscape, she said, was to bring a futuristic element to her design.

“I really wanted to put across that this is a breakthrough new concept,” she said. “It’s kind of a revolutionary concept, harnessing technology and integrating into tech architecture, for wellness and healing.”

The new owner of the artwork, an anonymous internet collector, paid Kim 288 Ether — a cryptocurrency that was worth $662,874.85 in Canadian dollars on March 29 — for the virtual real estate.

The artwork was initially valued at 33 Ether ($75,895.85).

“The collector and I, we started a dialogue,” Kim said, during which he emphasized his desire to invest in art in a manner that benefits the community as a whole, rather than just the artist.

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He agreed to use the sale of Mars House to finance a world tour of healing light and sound installations by Kim and Jeff Schroeder, who created the soundtrack for her house, as part of an initiative by the Continuum Foundation.

Selling the house as an NFT was especially advantageous, Kim said, as it removed the need for an intermediary between the artist and the collector, eliminating commission fees.

Mars House is the first-ever digital NFT house to be sold.
Mars House is the first-ever digital NFT house to be sold. Photo by Krista KIm/Instagram

The collector, who will receive a 3D file directly from Kim, plans to upload the digital house to a Metaverse — a platform where one can experience virtual real estate as an avatar — and open it for viewing to the public.

“He wants to share Mars House with the world. And I’m obviously very pleased that he would want to do that,” Kim said.

Existing technology does not allow the house to be experienced in augmented reality, but Kim remains hopeful.

“There is an app called SuperWorld that is very early, but within two years will become the augmented reality interface of the world,” she said. On this app, users could buy virtual real estate and populate their land with 3D assets that are programmable.

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“It’s going to revolutionize the NFT market,” she said.

Living an augmented reality life could allow people a host of avenues in which they can express their own creativity without being limited by the physical world.

For example, in the near future, with the right technology, one could purchase their choice of digital fashion and overlay it on their clothes. People could even purchase a digital pet or tattoo. The possibilities are endless, according to Kim.

Global interaction would become easier.

“Artists will collaborate to beautify public spaces. Parks will be more interactive. There will be children playing with other children around the world. You don’t have to be from Toronto or Japan but now you could actually travel to Japan and play with other kids there.

“We are now entering a future civilization of decentralization,” she said.

“I think this is going to be the greatest transcendent experience of human civilization…. Beyond geographical, political, religious, or any barriers.”

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Corning's newest Gorilla Glass is for smartphone cameras – MobileSyrup

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Corning has unveiled a new Gorilla Glass set, but it’s not for phone displays — it’s for smartphone camera lenses.

According to Corning’s announcement video, traditional smartphone lenses have an anti-reflective coating on the inside that allow light to enter and hit the sensor, producing an image, but these traditional coatings still lose on some of the light that reflects back, never registering on the sensor.

Corning’s new product, the DX and DX+ for camera lenses, reportedly can capture 98 percent of incoming light (in comparison to 90-92 percent with traditional camera glass), allowing for a more detailed and crisp image, all while protecting your smartphone lens from scratching or cracking.

While this sounds wonderful, Corning points out that the glass isn’t something new. DX and DX+ have been used in smartwatches since 2018, but the design has now been modified to meet the demands of a smartphone camera lens, i.e., letting in as much light as possible.

Additionally, Corning demonstrated how the new DX and DX+ hold up durability-wise when put against a standard AR coating and Corning’s regular Gorilla Glass and also claims that the DX+ is near sapphire, which is known for its immense durability.

Although no particular phones with Gorilla Glass DX/DX+ have been revealed, Corning said in its press release that Samsung will be the first client to employ a Gorilla Glass DX lens cover on a future smartphone.

Image credit: Corning Gorilla Glass

Source: Corning

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Dead Space Remake Officially Announced at EA Play – CGMagazine

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After weeks of different rumors and leaks, the Dead Space remake was officially confirmed at EA Play 2021.

The Dead Space remake wasn’t given any kind of release window, but it is in development for next-gen systems only, meaning PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The game is being built with the Frostbite Engine and is handled by EA Motive, who is best known as the developer of the recent Star Wars Squadrons. The original trilogy was developed by Visceral Games, which was shuttered by EA in 2017.

The announcement didn’t show much at all but presented fans with a short teaser trailer showing a grisly space station as the iconic sounds of Necromorphs echoed in the background. As the camera zooms in Isaac Clarke’s backpack lights up and reveals the words Dead Space. A press release from EA says fans will “experience an improved story, characters, gameplay mechanics.” Phillippe Ducharme, Senior Producer of Dead Space, says the team at Motive has invited fans to give their feedback on the remake ever since the early days of development. With that in mind, it’s not exactly clear how far along in development the Dead Space remake actually is. You can watch the reveal trailer yourself down below.

One of the most prolific survival-horror series of all time, it’s been eight years since the release of the last game in the series, Dead Space 3. The franchise was always known for its nail-biting horror and inventive combat, requiring players to hack off the limbs of enemies in order to both slow them down and kill them. Here’s EA’s description of the first game and remake,

“In Dead Space, Isaac Clarke is an everyman engineer on a mission to repair a vast, sprawling starship, the USG Ishimura, only to discover something has gone horribly wrong. The ship’s crew has been slaughtered and infected by some alien scourge…and Isaac’s beloved partner, Nicole, is lost somewhere on board. Now Isaac is alone with only his tools and engineering skills as he attempts to uncover the nightmarish mystery of what happened aboard the Ishimura. Trapped with hostile creatures called “necromorphs”, Isaac faces a battle for survival, not only against the escalating terrors of the ship, but his own crumbling sanity.”

While Dead Space is coming back, Glen Schofield former executive producer of the series, has gone on to make a brand new sci-fi horror game called The Callisto Protocol.

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OnePlus Nord 2: An impressive 5G phone at an affordable price – CNET

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The OnePlus Nord 2, also called the “flagship killer,” has some impressive specs and performs well all round. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

OnePlus calls its brand new Nord 2 the “flagship killer,” and I get why. This phone has impressive specs, performs well and when paired with a reasonable starting price (only £399 here in the UK), it’s designed to offer everything you’d need from a phone without emptying your bank account. A powerful processor, a solid dual rear camera setup, 5G connectivity, super fast charging — and it’s not bad to look at either. 

Read more: OnePlus Nord 2 vs. Nord vs. Nord CE vs. OnePlus 9: Comparing OnePlus’ latest phones

Like the previous Nord — and the cheaper Nord CE, launched just a few weeks back — the Nord 2 will not be on sale in the US. It’s destined for the UK and wider Europe, where it’ll cost £399 for the version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or £469 with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For reference, £399 converts to about $540 or AU$740.

But no, it doesn’t really “kill” any flagships. It’s not as powerful as a “true” flagship like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or S21 Ultra, nor will its camera skills attract the world’s most demanding photographers. The flagship that I feel is most at risk is OnePlus’s own 9 series, which shares many features with the Nord 2, yet has a much higher starting price of £629 ($729). 

I’ve spent a short amount of time with the Nord 2 ahead of its unveiling, and here are the five things I like most about it.

A powerful MediaTek processor 

OnePlus has typically used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of processors for its phones but it went with MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200-AI chip for the Nord 2. You’ll notice absolutely no difference in use — it’s the same as any other Android phone — but you will notice that it’s surprisingly powerful for the price. 

While it’s not up there with the iPhone 12 Pro Max in terms of benchmarks, it did beat the Pixel 5 and wasn’t far below the more expensive OnePlus 9. It’s certainly powerful enough for gaming, photo editing and video streaming and navigating around the Android 11 interface is smooth and stutter free.

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The OnePlus Nord 2 houses a powerful processor, a dual rear camera setup, 5G connectivity and super fast charging. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Android 11 software

The Nord 2 runs Android 11 at its core, over which OnePlus has slapped its usual Oxygen software. I really like OnePlus’s software as it’s neat, easy to use and doesn’t try and load the phone up with too many bundled services and bloatware. As a result, the phone remains nippy and trouble-free for longer.

It’s particularly important on lower and midrange phones that might not cope as well with being bogged down by services. The result here is a phone with smooth performance that I expect to remain for some time to come. 

OnePlus says it’s guaranteed to get at least two years of Android upgrades — so an update to Android 12 this fall and Android 13 next year is a given — with an additional year of security updates after that. 

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The OnePlus Nord 2 runs Android 11 software. 


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Incredible fast charging

The Nord 2 has the same 65-watt fast charging seen on the OnePlus 9 series and it’s amazing. It’ll take the phone from empty to full in only about 30 minutes, which makes it amazing for giving it a quick boost before you head out from home. The 4,500-mAh battery should still give you a day of use from a charge, but when you can recharge so quickly, battery life becomes somewhat less of an issue.

Even better is that a 65-watt fast charger comes in the box, so you don’t need to scour Amazon for one. What the phone doesn’t have is wireless charging, but I don’t see that as a particular problem. 

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The OnePlus Nord 2 has the speedy charging with 65-watt support.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Vibrant, sharp display

The Nord 2’s display measures 6.43 inches and boasts a resolution of 2,400×1,080 pixels, which is sufficient to make tiny text look nice and sharp. It’s an AMOLED panel, making it extremely vibrant too: great for videos, photos or playing whatever colorful game is currently making the rounds on the Google Play Store.

It has a 90Hz refresh rate which is a touch lower than the 120Hz of the OnePlus 9 series, but I doubt you’d be able to tell any real difference in day-to-day use. It’s silky smooth when scrolling around the interface, but you can also turn it down to a more regular 60Hz, which will apparently help save battery life. 

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The main cameras on the OnePlus Nord 2 are a 50-megapixel lens combined with a 8-megapixel super-wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Decent rear cameras

We haven’t done our full suite of camera tests yet, but what we’ve seen from the cameras so far looks good. The main sensor is a 50-megapixel affair — the same one seen in the OnePlus 9’s ultrawide camera. Outdoor images look well-exposed, with plenty of detail and natural-looking colors. 

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OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, super-wide lens.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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OnePlus Nord 2 outdoor camera test, standard lens with 2x digital zoom.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The 8-megapixel super-wide lens is noticeably less detailed, but it too seems capable of capturing good-looking outdoor images. There’s an on-screen option for 2x zoom but there isn’t a zoom lens, so that 2x is based on digitally cropping the shot. Results still look good, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you won’t get maximum quality doing this. 

There’s also technically a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor, which is totally pointless in my opinion as a photographer. If you want good-looking black and white images, use the regular camera and apps like Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed to have full control over converting to mono. Frankly, I feel OnePlus could have pulled this out and lopped another 20 quid or so off the price. 

OnePlus Nord 2 specs

Display size, resolution, refresh rate 6.43-inch AMOLED, FHD+ (2,400×1,080 pixels), 90Hz
Pixel density 410ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.25×2.88×0.32 in.
Dimensions (Millimeters) 158.9×73.2×8.25 mm
Weight (Grams) 6.66 oz; 189g
Software Android 11
Camera 50MP (main),  8MP (wide-angle),  2MP (mono)
Front camera 32-megapixel
Video 4K
Processor MediaTek Dimensity 1200-AI processor
Storage 128/256GB
RAM 8/12GB RAM
Fingerprint reader No
Battery 4,500 mAh
Price In-display
Connector USB-C
Headphone Jack No
Special features 5G-enabled, 65W fast charging, 90Hz, dual stereo speaker, face unlock
Price (USD) Approximately $540 (converted from UK price)
Price (GBP) £399
Price (AUD) Approximately AU$740

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