Disney’s Star Wars Campaign Uses Augmented Reality to Hype Film

Disney is harnessing all of its media might to make the next Star Wars movie the biggest film of the year, employing augmented reality and social media in a global campaign to promote “The Last Jedi” and related merchandise.

Starting September 1, which Disney again dubs Force Friday, fans of the sci-fi films can use smartphones to take part in an augmented-reality treasure hunt, like the Pokemon Go craze that gripped video-game fans last year. The worldwide Find the Force hunt will take place over three days, starting in Sydney, and will involve more than 20,000 stores in 30 countries, Disney said in a statement Thursday.

Disney’s Star Wars movies – it’s released two since buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion (roughly Rs. 25,622 crores) in 2012 – rank among the biggest ever, and the Burbank, California-based studio plans a total of at least six. Key to the company’s success has been its ability to draw in a new generation of fans, especially now with US box-office sales in decline. The movie opens December 15.

As part of the campaign, Disney has created a smartphone app that’s activated by special logos that appear on cut-out figures in stores. Fans who turn up to buy action figures or drones from the new lineup of products can use the devices to discover characters like the alien birds called Porgs, pose with them and share the images on social media. Fans who post on social media can win prizes, like tickets to the movie’s premiere.

“This campaign is on a bigger scale than the first Force Friday, both in terms of geographic scope and the number of retailers,” Paul Southern, a senior vice president at Disney’s Lucasfilm, said in an interview.

At its D23 fan event in July, Disney unveiled a smartphone-based augmented-reality headset, designed with Lenovo Group Ltd. It lets fans play fantasy games from the original Star Wars trilogy, like Holochess. Characters appear against the backdrop of whatever the smartphone camera is pointed at, making them seem real. Disney’s augmented-reality products coincide with a broader tech-industry push in the field in coming months, including Apple’s launch of a new iPhone operating system.

Disney's Star Wars Campaign Uses Augmented Reality to Hype FilmThe first Force Friday promotion in 2015, tied to The Force Awakens, sparked a sevenfold increase in online sales of Star Wars toys for the month of September. The studio drummed up excitement for new action figures and toys with a global unwrapping of Star Wars merchandise on YouTube and coverage on ABC’s Good Morning America. The movie went on to become the top-grossing US movie ever.

While toy sales soared, Disney faced a backlash for failing to adequately include Rey, the film’s female lead character, in action-figure sets and themed games such as Monopoly. Disney underestimated demand, and the shortage was compounded by a limited rollout of new merchandise designed to avoid revealing too much about the new Star Wars hero.

This time around, Rey features centrally in the promotions, and the company is working hard to avoid shortages.

“This film is focused on Rey and that is reflected on the consumer product side,” Southern said. “She is front and center.”

In “The Last Jedi,” Daisy Ridley reprises the role of Rey, rejoined by John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as the villain Kylo Ren and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker. The film is expected to open with North American weekend sales of $230 million and go on to generate $1.7 billion to $2 billion (roughly Rs. 10,889 crores – Rs. 12,810 crores) globally, according to Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOfficePro.com.

“The Last Jedi” is the third film Disney has made from the George Lucas action series. The first, “The Force Awakens,” generated $936.7 million (roughly Rs. 5,999 crores) in the US and Canada, unseating “Avatar” as the domestic record holder, and brought in more than $2 billion (roughly Rs. 12,811 crores) worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was the first of potentially three standalone stories. Released in December 2016, it generated a more modest $1.06 billion (roughly Rs. 6,789 crores) worldwide and was the No. 2 release of the year.

Lenovo Posts First Quarterly Loss Since 2015 on Higher Costs, Slowing PC Market

Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group posted a first-quarter loss on Friday citing higher costs and slower growth in the personal computer market, and said the outlook was challenging due to supply constraints.

Lenovo, which lost its position as the world’s largest PC maker to HP in the quarter through June, lost $72 million compared with a profit of $173 million for the same period last year.

It was the company’s first quarterly loss since September 2015 and lagged forecasts for a profit of $5.29 million, according to the average of 8 analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.

“Looking forward, the supply constraint of key components in the industry and cost increases will continue to bring short-term challenges to the group’s business environment,” Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

“Market conditions remain challenging in the short term, notably the component supply shortage and cost hike are expected to continue pressuring business operations.”

Revenue was flat at $10.01 billion (roughly Rs. 64,205 crores), in line with an estimate of $10 billion.

Lenovo has suffered from a global decline in PC demand as consumers turn to smartphones and tablets, particularly in its home market of China. Gartner forecast the global PC market will shrink by 3 percent in volume in 2017.

Lenovo Posts First Quarterly Loss Since 2015 on Higher Costs, Slowing PC MarketLenovo’s PC shipments declined 6 percent, after two quarters of growth. That compared with a 3 percent drop for the industry, Lenovo said in its filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Its market share dropped 0.6 percentage points year-on-year to 20.4 percent.

Shortages of memory chips added to costs and dragged down margins, it said.

Revenue from the PC and smart devices business, contributing almost 70 percent of the total, increased 0.2 percent to $7.01 billion in the quarter.

The operating loss from the group’s struggling mobile business narrowed to $129 million, from a loss of $163 million a year ago. It turned in revenue of $1.75 billion on a 1 pct rise in smartphone shipments.

Its data centre business group recorded an operational loss of $114 million, versus a loss of $31 million a year ago.

Android Oreo Is the Android O Release You’ve Been Waiting For

Android Oreo is the official name of the Android 8.0, in line with Google’s tradition of naming its mobile operating systems after desserts. Google said it has released the AOSP code to its manufacturing partners, and will soon release the Android Oreo software update to the Google Pixel, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P smartphones as well as the Pixel C and Nexus Player devices. Android Oreo brings several interesting features including picture-in-picture mode, which will enable users to watch a video in a resizable and movable small window atop of any other app. Imagine watching a video while texting your friends. Google is also making it possible for users to create customisable channel for each type of notification, through a feature called “notification channel.”

Additionally, notification badges are coming to apps, allowing users to see the number of notification an app has cultivated — and need their attention — by just looking at an app’s icon on the home screen. Moreover, another new feature called “snoozing” will enable people to snooze a notification to make them reappear at a later, more appropriate time.

The new update will also improve boot speed – the time it takes from switching on the phone to reaching the home screen, the company said, claiming it would be twice as fast on its own flagship smartphone, the Google Pixel. Google is also making it easier to login to different apps, extending the autofill feature currently available on website, to apps. The much-awaited Android instant apps, which can be accessed right from the browser without requiring installation, are also set to take off with Android Oreo.

As Google mentioned at the developer conference I/O earlier this year, where it first unveiled Android O, much focus with Android O aka Android Oreo release is to improve the user experience on the phone. One way the company is doing so is by improving the battery life, it had noted. To ensure Android Oreo is more stable, Google also released the first beta version of it earlier this year, buying a longer duration to iron out the rough surface of the operating system that if left unattended hinder with the performance and user experience.

Android Oreo Is the Android O Release You've Been Waiting ForPerhaps coincidental, the timing of Android O’s christening is in line with solar eclipse, which people in the United States are witnessing today. It’s almost poetic. Much like those few people who are in a geography who could witness the solar eclipse first hand, only a few customers would get their hands on Android Oreo in the next one year. Rest of us, would only get to hear about it.

Nearly one year after its release, Android Nougat, the current version is only running on 13.5 percent of Android devices, which includes smartphones, tablets, streaming devices, and some smart TVs among others, according to the most updated information provided by Google on its dashboard.

It’s not necessarily Google’s fault, however. The OEM partners such as Samsung, LG, Lenovo, HTC, and Xiaomi often take months before pushing new software updates to their respective smartphones. It’s a long process, but much to Google’s credit, things are quickly improving.

In May, the company announced Project Treble, an initiative that makes it “easier for OEMs to deploy Android updates,” a spokesperson told Gadgets 360 earlier this month. The company has found a way to cut short the time period it takes its new updates to reach people’s smartphones by remodelling how and when carriers, silicon manufacturing partners, device makers intervene in the process.

Motorola Granted Patent for a Smartphone Display That Repairs Itself

Lenovo’s Moto brand has previously provided smartphones that have ‘shatterproof’ displays but it seems like the company is now ready to take things a notch higher. Motorola Mobility has now filed a patent for a screen that is capable of healing itself after getting deformed, at least to certain degree, as per the documents that were spotted on the Patent and Trademark Office website of the US.

As per the documents, spotted by The Verge, Motorola has explained that using a heating effect, the proposed smartphone will be able to repair the damage partially in the affected area after identifying the cracks on its own, as per the report. In its documents, Motorola has mentioned “shape memory polymer” to make the screen, which can essentially come back to its original condition after being deformed by simply applying some heat.

Motorola Granted Patent for a Smartphone Display That Repairs ItselfThe user can reportedly use their body heat to get the screen to its original shape as well. Considering that this is just a patent filing, you can almost be sure that we are not very close to seeing these kinds of displays on smartphones soon. There is also a possibility that Lenovo might ditch this concept altogether and move onto a different technology.

Despite all the aforementioned factors, there is no doubt that this kind of a screen will save users from the cost of screen protectors and cases and will certainly help those of us who drop our phones from time to time.

Lenovo Says It Will Not Phase Out Its Own Phone Brand

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Lenovo Group chairman and chief executive Yang Yuanqing told Reuters on Thursday the company’s China business reorganisation will not affect its mobile business on the mainland.

Yang, speaking after the company reported a return to profit for the year to March, said the company will keep its Lenovo-Motorola dual-brand strategy for it mobile business despite a widening loss.

“We will never phase out Lenovo,” Yang said.

PC competition took a step up this week when China’s largest mobile phone maker, Huawei said it would enter the market for premium consumer models.

Lenovo also competes with Huawei in mobile, which accounts for 18 percent of its revenue. The business’ loss widened to $566 million (roughly Rs. 3,653 crores) last year from $469 million a year prior on a 10 percent drop in revenue to $7.7 billion (roughly Rs. 49,692 crores), though Lenovo said the business had strong growth in markets outside China, especially Latin America and Western Europe.