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Samsung, Six Flags Team For VR Rollercoasters

Riders on virtual-reality-equipped rollercoasters at nine Six Flags theme parks this year will fly with Superman or battle space aliens while wearing Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

Visitors to the North American parks will ride a real-life rollercoaster while immersed in the VR content, the companies said.

The VR rides are part of a marketing partnership in which Samsung becomes the official technology partner of the theme-park company. The partnership “will include the marketing of these new roller coasters,” a Six Flags spokesperson told TWICE. Additional details weren’t released.

Six Flags and Samsung will launch the VR roller coasters beginning this month and into the summer.

As consumers experience steep drops, inverted loops and fast twists and turns on the roller coasters, accelerometers and proximity sensors in the VR headsets will synchronize the action with a 360-degree virtual reality world, the companies explained.

On six rollercoasters, riders will be the co-pilots of fighter jets fighting alien invaders with VR weaponry. On three Superman roller coasters, riders will soar alongside Superman as he battles Lex Luthor’s evil LexBots.

Go to to see a video of the experience.

Tech Companies Ready For SXSW

Tens of thousands of music, film and tech enthusiasts will mingle this month during the city-wide SXSW 2016 festival and trade show in Austin, where tech companies such as Samsung and Sony will expose their products and brands to the crowds. In 2015, the event attracted almost 85,000 registered attendees.

During the March 11-20 event, Sony will demonstrate a prototype neck-worn wearable that will let consumers listen privately to music on the go without plugging ear buds into their ears. Samsung will demo its latest mobile phones and other new products in its Samsung Studio venue, where consumers will also ride a virtual roller coaster while wearing a Gear VR headset in a motion simulator.

Telepathy will be among the tech start-ups putting in an appearance to demonstrate its first eyewear device. The Walker is promoted as “the world’s first smart eyewear specifically developed to provide new, fun, safe and carefree ways of exploring the world around you.” The made-in-Japan device will initially be available at prices starting at $299, but post-Kickstarter prices will start at $699.

Dixons Carphone, Sprint Ink Deal To Open Up To 500 Sprint Stores

Sprint and Dixons Carphone, the European cellphone and consumer electronics retailer, agreed to form a joint venture to open as many as 500 new Sprint-branded stores across the U.S. The decision follows a pilot program announced last July in which the two companies built about 20 stores. If the pilot stores were successful, Sprint said at the time, a joint venture created by the two would open and operate “a substantial number” of Sprint-brand stores.

The pilot stores, Sprint said, “resulted in strong sales performance and increased customer satisfaction ratings.”

In a previous joint venture with Best Buy, Dixons helped launch Best Buy Mobile stores and the Geek Squad program.

Under the agreement, Sprint and the Dixons Carphone Connected World Services (CWS) division will build and operate the stores in “multiple” U.S. markets. Each company will split the startup costs, and each will own 50 percent of the joint venture.

The number of Sprint-branded outlets is currently at about 4,500 locations in the U.S., including about 1,400 co-branded Sprint-RadioShack stores opened last year.

“Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers and that begins at the retail store level,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. “We have seen incredible results from our pilot program, and I’m confident that expanding our partnership will accelerate Sprint’s distribution expansion and ongoing retail transformation.”

Dixon’s presence in the U.S. predates its affiliation with Best Buy. In 1987, Dixon’s bought the parent of Philadelphia-based 90-store retailer Silo.

Want To See Donald Trump Strike Out?

Weary of polls and searching for a new way to judge the presidential nominees? Debateball wants to bring America’s pastime to the current circus.

The app, available for iOS and Android devices, lets users act as umpires and score candidates based on their responses. A candidate who avoids the question might be scored a foul while one who knows what he or she is talking about can hit a home run.

This is the first app its developer, Donna Lee Schillinger, has created, an idea that took root after the first Republican debate. “That night in bed, trying to fall to sleep, I kept mulling over the debate and couldn’t make sense of it because there were too many candidates, and I couldn’t remember who held what position,” Schillinger told TWICE. “I felt I had wasted two hours of my life because I couldn’t say who I favored afterwards. I literally thought, ‘There ought to be an app for that.’ And my next conscious thought was Debateball. … By morning, I had hashed out about 70 percent of what the app is today.”

Debateball is free, but a $1.99 ad-free version allows users to compare scores with others. Schillinger said she will continue through the entire election season, as well as modify it after the election for use in the education market.

4K UHD Blu-ray Driving TV Sales At VAC

Video & Audio Center (VAC), which was first to launch 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players at retail, is already seeing a synergistic effect on TV sales. VAC senior technologist Tom Campbell said the four-store L.A.-area chain is selling more 4K HDR TVs, from Samsung, Sony and LG, since it began carrying the $399 Samsung players on Feb. 5. The retailer has already sold out of its first 100 4K Ultra BD units, has ordered another 200 more, and is looking to add models from Sony, LG, Panasonic and Oppo.

“Samsung is stealing the show,” Campbell said.

Also driving TV sales is the accompanying software. VAC is currently carrying a dozen 4K titles and plans to offer all 30 films that were initially slated for ultra-high-resolution release. The discs are merchandised in dedicated 4K Ultra BD departments where film clips, rather than trailers, are shown, and a Plexiglas display by the store entrances list the titles and provide directions to the showroom’s BD section.


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