Ex-Microsoft Tech Chief Thinks He Can Get You to Talk on the Phone Again



The irony is that as our smartphones become more and more powerful, they behave less and less like phones.

Think about it. When was the last time you worried about the number of call minutes you’re using? Do you even listen to your voicemail messages? More than ever, we use our phones to communicate via text—not voice—leaning so heavily on everything from SMS messages to Facebook, Twitter, and many other internet chat apps, that talking hardly seems to matter.

But Ray Ozzie thinks this is silly. We all have voices for talking. Every smartphone still has a microphone for listening. And voice is the most natural way of interacting. The only problem, he says, is the phone part of the smartphone hasn’t evolved as quickly as the rest of it. That’s why he’s introducing a new collaboration tool called Talko. The idea is to bring more voice to online collaboration, particularly in the business world.

Ozzie isn’t the only one to explore this kind of thing—think Google and its video Hangouts—but his effort carries more weight than most. From 2005 to 2010, after Microsoft acquired his online collaboration startup Groove Networks, Ozzie served as chief technology officer and chief software architect at the tech giant. Before that, he built one of the most important business communication tools of pre-web era: Lotus Notes. He’s been thinking about computers and communication since before many of today’s startup founders were born.

During the client-server days, Ozzie says, the focal point of collaboration and productivity in companies was the document. “How you communicated about it was at the periphery,” he says. But today, that communication—made possible by mobile computing—has become the core way people in businesses work together. “We’re entering the golden age of social software,” he says. Talko aims to ride this wave.

Talko co-founder Ray Ozzie.

Talko co-founder Ray Ozzie. Talko

To hear Ozzie tell it, Talko is an attempt to rebuild the smartphone phone app from scratch, free of the legacy practices and assumptions of the landline. In practice, this makes it a kind of full-featured messaging app with a voice-over-internet layer built on top of it. Or you can think of it as a group calling app with texting, photo-sharing, audio bookmarking, and annotations built in.

Talko operates around the concept of a group. Users can be members of any number of groups, much as with group messaging, and initiating a call opens up the conversation to the whole group. A key feature is the default recording of all audio on the call, which is meant to create a way to go back through voice conversations just as you would an email or texting exchange.

“Almost every other tool has some sort of artifact,” Ozzie says. The problem, he explains, is that those tools often don’t allow for the necessary complexity of thought. “We’re texting way more but we’re saying less because of the stacatto nature.”



Group conversations on Talko also allow anyone to drop in audio without making a phone call at all. Other group members will be notified that there’s been activity in the conversation, just as they would if new messages or photos came in. In one sense, that creates the danger of Talko acting as just another version of the reviled voicemail, which has emerged as the least efficient way to convey information on a mobile device.

On the other hand, Apple’s own Messages app on iOS 8 now includes the ability to send and receive audio messages right in the app. Ozzie says he doesn’t look at Apple’s move so much as competition but as a gateway for getting users accustomed again to the idea of talking a lot more on their phones, which he believes will get more people on Talko. And Ozzie is convinced that more talking will equal more doing.

“Voice on its current path is in its decline,” he says. Success in his eyes means reversing that trend. “We increase the total addressable market in words spoken,” he says. A side benefit: the more talking and less texting people are doing, the less they’re bumping into each other in the street.

Square Is Making a Register That Takes Bitcoin and Apple Pay

Ringing up a Bitcoin transaction at San Francisco’s Buyer’s Best Friend. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

At San Francisco’s Buyer’s Best Friend, a worker demonstrates the company’s custom-built bitcoin payments system. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

Over the past year, it’s become a lot easier to buy bitcoin, thanks to services such as Coinbase. And thanks to retailers such as Overstock.com and TigerDirect, it’s now a lot easier to to spend them online. But there’s still one big pothole in bitcoin’s bumpy road to mainstream adoption: Your local coffee shop.

That’s because most cash register software still doesn’t support the world’s most popular digital currency. But the situation is about to change, according to Square CEO Jack Dorsey. He says that Square is building a register that will allow companies to accept bitcoin as well as Apple’s new contactless payment system, Apple Pay.

“We’re building a register so that sellers can accept a credit card, so they can accept cash, so they can accept a cheque, so they can accept Bitcoin and so they can accept any form of payment that comes across the counter including future ones and burgeoning ones like Apple Pay,” Dorsey told the CBC this week, speaking at the opening of Square’s new Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario.

Reached Monday, the company didn’t have any word on when its bitcoin-ready register might be on the market. But it said say that it wants to support new types of payment systems. “Square sellers should never have to miss out on a sale. They should be able to accept any form of payment,” said Square spokesman Johnny Brackett.

Today, shops such as Buyer’s Best Friend in San Francisco and restaurants such as the Pink Cow in Tokyo accept payments in bitcoin. Basically, you hold your smartphone up to a scanner at the cash register. But such systems can be difficult for businesses to set up. Square, whose in-person payment systems are already used by so many businesses, could potentially make it much easier for small stores and restaurants to accept bitcoin, a new kind of currency that exists only on the internet.

Though many believe bitcoin can remake the way we handle money—removing some of the control traditional exhibited by big banks and government organizations—it is still a long way from reaching the mainstream. But with company such as Overstock now accepting bitocin payments across the globe and Square flirting with a bitcoin register, the currency is inching closer.

Home Page Photo: David Shankbone

Influenza A potentiates pneumococcal co-infection: New details emerge

Influenza infection can enhance the ability of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae to cause ear and throat infections, according to research published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity.

In the study, the investigators infected mice with either influenza alone, pneumococci alone, or both at once, and then monitored the populations of bacteria and virus over time. They also monitored the mice for development of middle ear infection.

Influenza infection enhanced the bacterium's ability to colonize the nasopharynx, and to infect the normally sterile middle ear.

"We learned that once influenza virus is introduced, all of the "rules" regarding phase variants are out the window," says corresponding author W. Edward Swords of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. Phase variation refers to the fact that the colonizing bacteria have transparent cell surfaces, while those that spread within the host have opaque surfaces.

"However, in the presence of influenza, opaque variants can readily colonize the nasopharynx, and transparent variants can persist in the ear," says Swords. "This indicates that the host environs are more permissive for infection by the entire bacterial population."

Furthermore, recent research had shown that influenza interferes with innate immunity in a way that enables pneumococci to flourish. In this research, Swords shows that that interference manifests as increased inflammatory responses at the mucosal surface in the influenza-infected mice, such as within the middle ear, and in the nasopharynx.

"As with most pneumococcal infections, it should be appreciated that localized nonlethal infections are much more common than the rapidly lethal presentations," says Swords. "For example, influenza is a contributing factor in otitis media (middle ear infections) in children."

"If we can understand why and how viral infection causes bacteria to colonize privileged sites like the middle ear, we will better know what aspects of disease to focus on with preventive or therapeutic treatments," says Swords.

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The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Immune system of newborn babies stronger than previously thought

Contrary to what was previously thought, newborn immune T cells may have the ability to trigger an inflammatory response to bacteria, according to a new study led by King's College London. Although their immune system works very differently to that of adults, babies may still be able to mount a strong immune defense, finds the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Our immune system is made up of several different types of immune cells, including neutrophils which play an important role in the frontline defense against infection, and lymphocytes: B cells which produce antibodies, and T cells that target cells infected with viruses and microbes.

Up to now, it was generally believed that babies have an immature immune system that doesn't trigger the same inflammatory response normally seen in adults. Although babies need to protect themselves from the harmful pathogens they are exposed to from birth, it was thought that their T cells were suppressed to some extent to prevent inflammatory damage to the developing child. Sceptical of this notion, the King's-led study set out to characterize the properties of T cells, examining very small samples of blood in twenty-eight highly premature babies, as they developed over the first few weeks of life.

The team discovered that whilst T cells in newborn babies are largely different to those in adults, it is not because they are immunosuppressed; rather, they manufacture a potent anti-bacterial molecule known as IL8 that has not previously been considered a major product of T cells, and that activates neutrophils to attack the body's foreign invaders.

Dr Deena GibbonsDeena Gibbons, lead author in the Department of Immunobiology at King's College London, says: "We found that babies have an in-built anti-bacterial defense mechanism that works differently to adults, but nevertheless may be effective in protecting them. This may also be a mechanism by which the baby protects itself in the womb from infections of the mother. The next stage of our work will be to better understand the pathways that result in the immune cells of newborns being so different to those in adults."

This T cell activity could become a target for future treatments aimed at boosting the immune system of neonates in intensive care, where infection is a major risk for morbidity and mortality. Premature babies are also at serious risk of developing inflammatory diseases such as necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), where severe inflammation destroys tissues in the gut. NEC is the most common gastrointestinal surgical emergency in preterm babies, with mortality rates of around 15 to 30 per cent in the UK.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by King's College London . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

X Prize Pledges $15M for Software That Lets Children Teach Themselves

Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis Ted S. Warren / AP

The X PRIZE Foundation, the brainchild of entrepreneur and futurist Peter Diamandis, is already working on everything from sending people to the moon, to cleaning up our oceans, to developing a real life Star Trek tricorder. And on Monday, the venerable non-profit announced another ambitious goal. It wants to bootstrap technology that will let the world’s children teach themselves to read and write.

The newly launched Global Learning X PRIZE is offering up $15 million to fund open source software that can remake education in the developing world. Ideally, Diamandis says, the X PRIZE team is looking for software that is artificially intelligent, so it can better understand how students learn and what their interests are, in order to keep them more engaged in their education.

“This 200-year-old industrial age educational system that we all grew up in, in which we all sit in a classroom, the bell rings, and like cogs in a wheel, we change classrooms? Inevitably, half the students are lost, and half are bored,” Diamandis told WIRED on Monday at the Social Good Summit in New York City, where the new prize was announced. “The question is: How do you change that so it’s personalized education? That’s possible, and that’s the goal.”

‘We’re aiming at kids who live in villages where there’s nothing. This has to take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy.’

As Diamandis admits, there’s no shortage of technological innovation in education these days. The last few years have given birth to models like the massively open online course, which promises to give an elite global education to anyone online for free. But as important as this technology may be, he says, it often “assumes a higher state of learning than exists.” “If you don’t have the basics of education, you don’t know how to use the web and don’t know how to type in a URL,” he says. “We’re aiming at kids who live in villages where there’s nothing. This has to take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy.”

If X PRIZE were to achieve such an ambitious goal, it wouldn’t be the first time. In 2004, the foundation launched its Ansari X PRIZE, which challenged teams to create their own private spacecraft and is often credited with kickstarting what is now becoming a mature commercial spaceflight industry. Just last week, NASA awarded two multibillion dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing, entrusting them with the development of two new spacecraft that will shuttle NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station in the near future.

“I’m really proud we helped kick the private space flight industry in the butt,” Diamandis says of the Ansari prize’s legacy. “We helped bring regulatory reform, capital to the marketplace, and more excitement about spaceflight to the industry.”

Now, Diamandis hopes to replicate that success with the Global Learning prize. Teams will have six months to register, after which they’ll have 18 months to build their software. “It could be teams from Microsoft and Google or two kids in a garage from Nairobi,” he says.

Then, the foundation will test those technologies with children throughout Africa, and it is now raising money through crowdfunding to expand that test from 5,000 kids to 10,000. Once the winning team is chosen, Diamandis says he plans to work with companies like Google, Samsung, HTC, and other device manufacturers to ensure the software is integrated into all of their new phones and tablets.

“I want to make this software available for every tablet and smartphone out there,” Diamandis says. “Imagine that when someone gets a tablet in the future, it will become their teacher, as well.”

Innovation: Hedge First, Optimize Later


infocux Technologies/Flickr

There is a sequence to growth, an implicit order. Consecutive development activities are initiated and concluded by the forward and aft positions. We look out to discover opportunities and threats to our growth before we may streamline our actions to maximize their value to us. First, the unknown must be found and revealed. This is not only to minimize the risk of failure but to speculate where opportunities for growth may abound. Investor and scientist alike know well the value of spreading out when the future is impenetrable.

For example, venture capitalists invest in dozens of diverse companies in the early or angel phases in order to quickly learn which approach will win the day. It’s less about natural selection and more about learning what the fish are biting. In subsequent rounds of investment the sums get larger and the range, of possible solutions become optimized until they grow to sufficient scale to provide spectacular returns to the investors. Efficiency is the final stage, otherwise we move with all due speed to our undoing. The rich do in fact get richer not simply because they have “risk” capital, but more from the way in which they manage it. To bet it all on a sure thing is either to invest in something so incremental that only those firms with a quasi-monopoly can prevail or something so new that the level of risk is unmanageable — Viva Las Vegas!

Unfortunately, this irrational exuberance cuts a destructive path through the lives of many. They know their soul mate or place to bliss or vocation all without the benefit of test or trial because they fear they will get disconfirming feedback. It’s not that we should not pursue our aspirations or believe in emerging opportunities but rather that we should lure them out bit by bit with a wide array of real bait. What moves the bobber is not self-fulfilling but an indication and perhaps an affirmation that what we seek has an appetite to grow as well.

It seems counterintuitive that big growth and its companion success should typically be preceded by prudent experiments that are designed to produce constructive failure, but as the journeymen say, “You don’t know what you know until you know it.” Maybe the genius of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) wasn’t their oracular foresight but rather their unwavering belief that future generations would continue to make it up as they went along. To do the latter is to be both mindful and faithful. Wishing is an essential part of our growth while evidence is paying attention to the answers given.

Only the perfect walk in straight lines from hither to yon and only the trenchant believe in perfect people. The path to the future is ever winding and walked by those brave irregulars who constantly shift their weight and correct their course. As with innovation, we must first lose our way in the complexity of possibilities before we may find our one true path.

Jeff DeGraff is a professor, author, speaker and advisor to hundreds of the top organizations in the world. He is called the Dean of Innovation because of his influence on the field. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffDeGraff and LinkedIn.

Hands On: Nintendo’s New 3DS Underwhelms at Tokyo Game Show

Monster Hunter fans at the Tokyo Game Show get an early look at the New Nintendo 3DS.

Monster Hunter fans at the Tokyo Game Show get an early look at the New Nintendo 3DS. Ko Sasaki/WIRED

CHIBA, Japan — Nintendo doesn’t attend the Tokyo Game Show, but its latest gaming platform made an appearance anyway.

Nintendo will release the New Nintendo 3DS, in two different sizes, on October 11 in Japan. Upgrades include more powerful internals for enhanced graphics on certain games, a second analog stick, and wider viewing angles for its signature 3-D display. WIRED took it for a test drive at the Capcom booth on the Tokyo Game Show floor, where it was playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

The upgrades work as advertised, but other than that, it’s a very similar experience to the 3DS you already own.

The 3-D screen is a big improvement. I usually play with the 3-D turned off, because I hate how the illusion breaks itself if you move your head slightly. New 3DS has a face-tracking sensor, so it can tell where your eyes are, and it adjusts the 3-D display to match your perspective.

I was able to tilt the screen left and right, even up and down, without the image breaking down into a blurry mess. For fun, I would look away from the screen, only to look back and watch the image snap into position. (I can only imagine what the Capcom staff thought of me.)

The addition of a second analog control stick, above the buttons on the unit’s right-hand side, is the biggest potential game-changer. After 10 years of offering directional controls on only the left side of its Nintendo DS family of hardware, and creating a cumbersome add-on for players who wanted a second stick to control the camera in games like Monster Hunter, Nintendo 3DS finally has a set of controls to match home consoles’.

Nintendo's New 3DS LL, playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Nintendo’s New 3DS LL, playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Nintendo

Calling it a “stick” might be going too far. It’s more like the mouse pointer nub that’s set into the keyboards of many laptop computers. It doesn’t tilt at all when you push it.

The—stick? nub?—feels out of place, in relation to where it sits next to the buttons. The PlayStation 4 controller, the Xbox controller, even the PlayStation Vita all feel comfortable in my hands whether my thumb is resting on the right stick or the buttons. But with New 3DS, the nub is just a bit too far out of the way to reach comfortably. (I tried the XL size of the new handheld, so the smaller size might end up feeling more comfortable.)

The New 3DS also sports a second pair of shoulder buttons, which means there are now four buttons on the top of the unit that you press with your index fingers. The four buttons feel distinct, though it’s easy to forget the new additions are even there. What better compliment is there for superfluous hardware changes than “if you don’t need it, you won’t notice it?”

I say “superfluous,” because who knows how many games will actually take advantage of all these extra switches?

Capcom’s latest version of Monster Hunter is one such title, and it launches in Japan the same day as the New 3DS. Yet when I played it on both a New 3DS and an Old 3DS at Tokyo Game Show, my experience barely changed.

Yes, the right stick is a better camera controller than the virtual controls on the 3DS touch screen. But Monster Hunter, by design, already lets you “lock on” to targets and quickly center the camera on your prey. The extra shoulder buttons didn’t have any functions assigned to them. The improved 3-D was nice, but I’m not sure it’s nice enough to get me to switch back from playing all 3DS games in the 2-D mode.

Nintendo has announced that it will create software that will only function on the New 3DS, the first one being a port of the acclaimed Wii role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles. But at launch, if Monster Hunter is the big draw, then I’m not sold. If I were in the market for a 3DS, I’d go for the latest model. But as an early adopter who has already bought three different iterations of the 3DS hardware since it launched in 2011, New 3DS isn’t that attractive to me yet.

2014 Is on Pace to Be the Warmest Year Ever


Kai Foersterling/ZUMA

The story originally appeared in Slate and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Earth’s oceans have never been this far beyond the bounds of normal.


Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense.

New data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that Earth’s oceans reached a level last month not seen since humans have been keeping comprehensive records. Global ocean temperatures in August 2014 warmed to "the largest departure from average for any month on record" according to a NOAA statement. The previous record was set just two months ago, in June 2014.

Records date back to 1880, though there’s ample evidence that the new record hasn’t been matched in much longer than that.

Climate scientists took the news with a sense of foreboding:

The NOAA data also showed the temperature of the Earth as a whole hit a new all-time August record last month, confirming similar results earlier this week from NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, which use slightly different ways of crunching the numbers.

Additionally, the combined temperature of June, July, and August was also unprecedented in historical records. According to the JMA, four of the last five months have now been record-breaking for that particular month. (July was No. 2, just a hair behind the super-charged El Niño year of 1998.) The eastern United States is among the only land areas on Earth still running below normal for 2014, a legacy of the polar vortex outbreaks of earlier this year.

Later Thursday morning, NOAA expanded on the implications of the new records in a conference call, saying that on its current pace—and with the help of a newly resurgent El Niño—2014 is poised to become the warmest year ever measured.

"If the next four months rank among the five warmest on record, 2014 will be the warmest on record for the globe," said Jake Crouch of the National Climatic Data Center.

The warming effect of El Niño, which boosts temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, appears to have begun finally kicking into gear over the last week or so. In a separate announcement Thursday, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society declared that "borderline El Niño conditions have now returned in both ocean and atmosphere." The El Niño is expected to persist until at least March 2015, affecting a range of weather patterns around the globe over the coming months.

Should 2014 become the new warmest year, a lingering El Niño means the record may not last long.

"Having an El Niño would increase the chances of 2015 at least starting out much warmer than average, and approaching record or near record warmth," said Crouch.

The news came just days before a planned march in New York City, which organizers expect to be the largest ever mass demonstration on global warming in the world. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Oculus’ Mindblowing New Prototype Is a Huge Step Toward Consumer VR

The weeks leading up to Oculus’ first developer summit were full of rumors. Would the virtual-reality company finally unveil the consumer version of its Oculus Rift VR headset? If the design wasn’t finalized, would we at least learn the unit’s specs? Its resolution? Would there be a controller?

The answer to all of these was “no.” But Oculus still managed to blow everyone’s mind.

When Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe took the stage Saturday morning at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, his keynote was equal parts VR pep rally and love letter to the developer community, but it wasn’t detail-rich—until he revealed a brand new feature prototype called Crescent Bay. “This prototype shows off the features, the quality, the presence that we need to deliver for consumer VR,” he said, referring to the feeling that one is truly existing in a virtual space.

(Fun fact: Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, CA is very close to Oculus’ Newport Beach headquarters—and Crystal Cove State Park, which inspired the name of the company’s previous feature prototype. If there’s another one to come in the future, our money’s on Pelican Point or Arch Rock.)

Crescent Bay is as big of a leap forward from the current developer kit DK2, Iribe continued, as DK2 was from the original devkit that Oculus funded via Kickstarter in August 2012. It features 360-degree tracking, improved ergonomics and weight, and integrated audio. And it was available to try that day: an in-house team in Oculus’ Seattle office had created a suite of experiences for it, and Epic Games&mdash:which had designed demos for each Rift prototype thus far—had contributed the piece de resistance, a new demo called “Showdown.”

Entering the Bay

Later that day, an Oculus staffer took me into a massive meeting room that had been partitioned into a series of 10 individual rectangular chambers, each the size of a decent-sized office. I walked into Room 9; the walls were bare, save for a small tracking camera mounted on the longer wall in front of me. In the corner, another staffer stood with a Crescent Bay unit, which was connected to a computer rig and a monitor. This wouldn’t be a seated demo, though. A slightly raised platform, about four feet square, sat in the middle of the floor for me to stand on; the edges were beveled, the staffer explained, so that when my feet hit the slanted edges I’d know that I was near the edge.

Up to this point, the only freestanding Oculus experience I’d had was in “The Room,” a small office in the Oculus offices that replicated the Valve Room, an experience that an R&D team at Valve Software had cooked up in 2013. (It was the Valve Room that first convinced Iribe, notoriously sensitive to simulator sickness, that presence was possible and virtual reality was a viable consumer technology.) The Room, though, had been papered in fiducial markers, symbols that allowed a prototype headest to orient itself in free space; this room had no such markers. If Oculus had indeed managed to replicate the performance of The Room, and Crescent Bay could induce presence, then it was a breakthrough that they’d been chasing for months: “We have to be better than that,” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had told me in April, talking about The Room.

The Oculus staffer handed me the prototype, and I slipped it over my head. Once I had it settled so that I was in the “sweet spot,” seeing the VR display with the best focus and resolution possible, he helped tighten both the headband and a new adjustment band that ran from the crown of my head down the back. Immediately, I could feel the weight and ergonomic improvements. Even using the DK2, I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a hand on the eyebox just to stay in the sweet spot; with Crescent Bay, once I was in it I was in it for good—that sucker was staying put. I gave the word, and the demos began. “Feel free to move around,” the staffer said. “Crouch, stand, lie on the ground if you want to.” Again, this was a huge departure from any other official Oculus demo I’d ever experienced.

Re-Establishing Presence

The demos, to a one, were breathtaking, each in different ways. All told, there were 13, ranging from the lifelike interior of a submarine to a cartoonish meadow to standing on the edge of a skyscraper in a Bioshock Infinite-like cityscape. There was a T. Rex walking up to me and roaring; there was some sort of insect rendered in an electron microscope. A couple of them, particularly one that let me crouch over a small town and examine its paper inhabitants, were clear homages to the experiences from the Valve Room. And finally, Epic’s “Showdown” put me in the middle of a slow-motion firefight between near-future sci-fi soldiers and some sort of oversized droid, complete with bullet-time effects and a car flipping directly over my head, its driver still inside it.

Through them all, the experience was vastly improved over anything I’d seen for the DK2, and even The Room itself. The so-called “screen door” effect, in which the spaces between individual pixels are visible, was completely gone. The 360-degree tracking was nearly flawless; try as I might, spinning this way and that, I could only break presence in two of the 13 demos. The 90Hz refresh rate made everything appear incredibly smooth and lifelike, from a hugely magnified microbe to a friendly alien. The display was, frankly, astounding, though whether that was due to improved resolution or a diffusion layer that blurs out the screen door effect I’m still not sure. (At this time, Oculus is refusing to discuss display specifications, leading to conjecture that Crescent Bay might utilize a new 21:9 panel that Samsung patented earlier this year.) Despite their underwhelming appearance, the integrated earphones delivered impressive sound; Oculus’ licensing Visisonic‘s Realspace 3D audio technology so far seems like a smart move.

Individual dimensions, though, are just that. The one thing that matters is whether or not all those dimensions can come together to deliver presence. I’ve experienced that presence before; I can tell the difference. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the DK2, it was never quite able to recapture that magic. Crescent Bay did.

Of course, knowing Oculus, this isn’t the end of the line. The company still won’t give a date for the Rift’s consumer release, and Iribe was quick to point out in his keynote that they’re “not there yet.” But if Crescent Bay is any indication, Oculus is well on its way.