DMA TECH WATCH: First Oculus Rift Delivered, the New Mars Race & More

By Phill Powell

Welcome to DMA Tech Watch, where we review the biggest news events and tech trends now on the radar. Here’s what we’re watching as of March 28, 2016:


Kids across the U.S. and Canada love DMA…and are registering for camp in record numbers!

Like Sunday’s Easter Bunny, our DMA Spring Savings camp discounts are about to go into hiding again for another year. You only have through Thursday, March 31st to score the season’s biggest break on tuition to DMA camps, courses and academies.

You’ll save a nice $50 on each DMA learning experience you register. For families with multiple children (or kids who want to attend more than one DMA session), this is a particularly great deal, because there’s no limit to the number of discounts you can get.

The other key benefit of registering now is the peace of mind that comes with locking down your choice of camps – which is especially important this year, because our camps are filling up more rapidly than ever before.

Take advantage of DMA Spring Savings through Thursday, March 31st!


Video proof: Oculus founder hands off first consumer Rift to lucky Alaskan!

Not just delivered, but delivered in person, by the founder of Oculus himself, Palmer Luckey. Luckey displayed his trademark sense of humor by flying to Alaska this past weekend (where the product’s first pre-orderer lives) and wearing an ultra-casual Silicon Valley wardrobe of Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops.

He handed off the very first production model of Oculus Rift, in a box signed by himself and other developers. “This is incredible, man!” said Ross Martin, who ordered his Rift in January 2016. The product’s preorders are backed up for months now as the company boxes and ships Rifts out to consumers, who are more than willing to pay $599 to meet the future of games.

(Of course, another way to get hands-on with the Oculus Rift is to take one of DMA’s VR tech camps this summer, where we show you not only how to explore virtual reality, but also how to build game levels to use with it.)


This case underscores the growing importance of encryption and keeping online data secure.

Last Monday: Late-breaking news announced the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked for a postponement to its federal court hearing with Apple, Inc. The real bombshell: The FBI didn’t think it would even need Apple’s help in unlocking the encrypted iPhone that was used by a recent domestic terrorist; the agency had found some other group or person who could do what the tech giant was refusing to do.

Late today: The DOJ has officially dropped the request to Apple, claiming that it no longer needs its help in unlocking the phone, stating that it has gained entry to the phone.

Last week, FBI Assistant Director David Bowdich told reporters that not only had they found this new hacker, but that the hacker has already demonstrated that he could unlock the phone.

So, for now at least, Apple’s battle with the DOJ is concluded. But observers say it might not really be over.

For Apple it marks the latest twist in what has become a growing PR problem. Consider: Last week Apple was being pressured by the government to perhaps compromise the security of its product line. This week, if this unnamed hacker had indeed been able to unlock the phone, Apple may have to admit that its much-praised security has already been compromised.


The Big Year: The space agencies of at least five countries will all be launching trips to Mars in 2020.

It’s less than four years away, and it’s going to be a watershed year in Mars exploration. The space community is already actively discussing 2020, the year everybody and their brother will be going to Mars – a traffic jam in space. Why 2020? Turns out that Mars is best approached at particular times, and 2020 offers the right window that will guarantee Mars is at its closest point relative to Earth.

For its part, NASA is scheduled to send a new and enhanced rover then. Tricked out with only cutting-edge tech, the vehicle cost almost $2 billion to build.

In addition to American missions to the Red Planet, China will be sending a two-part orbiter/rover via the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

Not to be outdone, so will Europe and Russia, in a joint effort. The ExoMars Phase 2 rover is now planned for a 2018, but many feel that budget delays will push the launch to 2020.

Even the United Arab Emirates – with a fledgling space program only two years old – will be dispatching a rocket to Mars in 2020.

(Everybody’s getting into space exploration these days. Maybe this is your summer to learn rocket science?)


You’ve got just over two weeks to design a great mobile app for Android.

Google is launching the Android Experiments I/O Challenge today in an effort to bring more interesting open-source apps to its Android Experiments showcase.

You don’t have long to get in on a pretty cool contest – especially if you’re an app developer who can create cool open-source apps for Google’s Android platform.

If you submit a winning entry (on or before April 13th), you could score a free trip to the 2016 Google I/O Developer Conference. (Other winners will receive Nexus 6Ps.)

Google wants to popularize Android use in mobile-app game dev, and says it’s looking for open-source projects that might inspire other developers. Apps can be for nearly anything (phones, tablets, robots or wearable tech through Android Wear).

Start designing!

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