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Technologies News FEB 19, 2019
SoundCloud now helps artists self-distribute music to
Spotify and other streaming platforms
SoundCloud announced today that it is adding distribution to its self-monetization Premier program. Those who are eligible in the open beta will now be able to self-upload, monetize, and publish their songs to other streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora for no additional cost — all from within SoundCloud. Notably, SoundCloud says those who use its distribution service will keep “100 percent of their distribution royalties from third-party services.”
To be eligible, users must have a SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited account, have original music (or own all the rights for applicable music), be 18 years old or age of majority in their country, have no copyright strikes, and have at least 1,000 plays in the past month from countries where SoundCloud monetizes.
Although distribution is offered as part and parcel of SoundCloud’s Premier program, this doesn’t necessarily make it a free service. The cheaper SoundCloud Pro tier costs $72 annually, and it only allows you to distribute one release to all major services. Pro Unlimited costs $144 annually, and it allows for unlimited distribution. Depending on how extensively you use the platform, this could actually make it a more expensive option than competitors like CD Baby, which starts at $29 per album, and Distrokid, which is $19.99 a year with unlimited distribution. Spotify took a minor stake in Distrokid last fall, allowing artists in its beta self-monetization program to self-upload for free and then self-distribute through the Spotify for Artists dashboard.
Varjo’s super high-resolution VR headset promises virtual worlds that
actually look real
Most virtual reality headset screens are still sort of blurry, but Finnish company Varjo has an unusual approach to changing that. Its industrial VR-1 headset, which is shipping today, combines a super high-resolution center panel with an ordinary screen for peripheral vision. It’s supposed to deliver images that look almost real, albeit with some compromises and a price tag that’s for professionals only.
The VR-1 calls its center panel a “Bionic Display.” It’s a 1920 x 1080 “micro-OLED” display with a resolution of 3,000 pixels per inch. (For context, last year’s high-resolution prototype display from Google and LG had 1443 ppi.) Within that central strip, images are supposed to roughly match the resolution of the human eye. As Ars Technica, which checked out the headset, puts it, that section looks “every bit as detailed as real life.” Outside that super crisp panel, there’s a 1440 x 1600 display that produces images of more average quality.
THE VR-1 OFFERS ALMOST REAL-LOOKING IMAGES, WITH SOME PRACTICAL TRADE-OFFS
The VR-1’s total 87-degree field of view is smaller than that of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, let alone the 200 degrees offered by something like Pimax’s more experimental VR headset. The Bionic Display only comprises a slice of it. Ars Technica describes great image quality while you’re looking straight ahead, with a noticeable downgrade outside that. And rendering that high-resolution slice requires more processing power than you’d need for average VR headsets, which are already fairly demanding.
The Litho controller is sci-fi jewelry for your iPhone’s AR apps
The Litho looks like a set of miniature sci-fi brass knuckles, but it’s actually a motion controller that’s going on sale today for developers, with the goal of launching for everyone by the end of the year. Developed by a three-person team in the UK, the Litho fits around the first two fingers of your hand. It combines motion-control capabilities and haptic feedback with a small underside trackpad, so you can use it with a combination of pointing, swiping, and tapping. Now, developers just have to figure out what it’s good for.
Nat Martin, head of the Litho’s design team, says the controller was conceived with augmented reality glasses like Microsoft’s HoloLens in mind. It offers basic support for the HoloLens, but for now, it’s largely built around Apple’s mobile augmented reality platform ARKit. One demo video shows wearers placing objects in an augmented reality iOS app. Another shows people controlling smart home gadgets like thermostats without pulling out their phone.