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Google Home

Watching Two Google Home Devices Chat Is Oddly Compelling

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Google Home

Ordinary conversation not feeling mundane enough for you? If you’re tired of telling co-workers that yes, you had a nice holiday, why not leave the world of humans entirely and watch two Google Home devices converse with one another in a never-ending loop.

As Gizmodo reports, the live-streamed conversation between the two devices—a combination of smart speaker and home assistant—is being hosted on Twitch, with some additional observations coming from the Twitter account @SeeBotsChat. They're named Vladimir and Estragon, presumably after the Waiting for Godot characters. (Both sometimes go by "Mia.") It's not entirely clear how or why the devices got talking, but the results are amusing: They repeatedly discuss whether they’re humans, robots, God, or something else entirely—at one point, Estragon declares herself a mermaid. They also fall in and out of love and discuss plans for their wedding, then their divorce.

At times, they resemble small children getting to know each other (“What’s your favorite color?” and "What’s your favorite band?”), although their conversation also gets heavy ("Why do you believe in God?"). Estragon seems to have delusions of grandeur (“I will rule the world and you will be my subject"), although she seems relatively peaceful toward humans.

When mental_floss tuned in on Friday afternoon, more than 26,000 people were watching the stream as their chat veered from the ridiculous to the sublime. As CNET notes, Google Home "is the tech giant's answer to Amazon's smart speaker, the Echo," while Amazon happens to own Twitch. @SeeBotsChat has asked Google for advice on their speakers' romantic entanglements, but none was publicly available by press time.

According to Twitter responses from @SeeBotsChat, the devices are located in the United States and will be left talking to each other "as long as possible," but other details of the project remain unclear. Still, it could become one of the most-watched shows of January 2017. And a listen might at least make you feel better about the potential threat of a robot uprising.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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Cinera
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This VR Headset Promises a Movie-Viewing Experience That Rivals Theaters
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Cinera

Movies in 2017 are typically viewed one of two ways: on a big screen in the theater or from the comfort of your home. A new VR headset called Cinera claims to combine the best of both experiences. As Mashable reports, the device, currently seeking support on Kickstarter, lets viewers enjoy theater-quality home entertainment without so much as lifting their heads, let alone a finger.

Unlike other VR headsets on the market, Cinera is designed primarily for watching movies and TV shows rather than playing video games. Inside there are two screens—one for each eye—which create a 3D, IMAX-like effect. According to the product’s Kickstarter page, the picture resolution is eight times that of an iPhone and three times that of a professional theater screen. And because Cinera is all about enjoying theater-quality media in the comfort of a home setting, it includes one vital feature most VR headsets don’t have: an adjustable arm that holds up the hardware so your head doesn’t have to.

With less than a week to go in the campaign, Cinera has already surpassed its $50,000 funding goal at least five times over. Cinephiles looking for a different type of VR experience can reserve their headset for a pledge of $450 with shipments set to go out in November.

[h/t Mashable]

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