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Valve president Gabe Newell at GDC 2015

Among the handful of announcement Valve made at this year's Game Developers Conference was a subtle and hugely important one: Lighthouse. What in the world is Lighthouse? It's the "base stations" referenced in Valve's VR headset announcement, and it's even more important than the incredibly impressive headset. Valve president Gabe Newell compares it to USB and expects it to fundamentally change how people interact with virtual reality. "Now that we've got tracking, then you can do input," Newell said in an interview with Engadget this morning. "It's a tracking technology that allows you to track and arbitrary number of points, room scale, at sub-millimeter accuracy 100 times a second."

What that means for me and you is that Lighthouse puts your body into the virtual world with stunning precision. I tested it and can confirm: holy shit, yes, this really works. Want to reach out and touch something in VR? Lighthouse is how you'll do it.

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Last year was a mixed bag for fans of magical rings and short dudes with a penchant for going barefoot. On the one hand, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies was a disappointing close to the mediocre second Tolkien film trilogy. On the other, Monolith Games made one of the best pieces of Lord of the Rings-related fare in years in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Its thriving world and "Nemesis System," which has you intimidating, manipulating, and confusing an army of monsters, made it one of the first standout successes on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. We're diving into "The Bright Lord," a brand new downloadable story campaign, on JXE Streams at 4PM ET.

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Good tidings for Xbox One owning folks pining for a procedurally-generated space exploration game to call their own: Elite: Dangerous is coming to your console. Details are scant at this point, so there's no telling what, if any, sacrifices will be made to get the 1:1 scale open world based on our own Milky Way galaxy running on Microsoft's current-gen console. At its Game Developers Conference presentation today, though, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that the game will launch this summer and include all of the content from the PC version will make its way to the console port, including the just announced March Wings expansion.

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If you're looking to post multiple photos to Instagram at once, you have to employ another app to create a grid of snapshots. Well, that's about to change... for brands. The filter-driven app announced today that "carousel ads" will soon appear in your feed, allowing companies to post multiple images with "more flexibility" in the storytelling. When you encounter one of the new adverts, swiping left will reveal additional images, linking out to the appropriate website for further investigation. Underneath the post, dots will show your which photo you're viewing, and that handy link comes in the form of a "learn more" button. Of course, advertisers can also leverage the app's video abilities to drive the intended message home. Use of the new ad format will be limited at first, as Instagram plans to make some tweaks once they go live in the "coming weeks."

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Here's what our readers think of the iPhone 6 PlusThough the iPhone has always been a good (if not great) product, one area where it was lacking was size. If you wanted a bigger screen, you had to pick up an Android device. And plenty of people did, which is why Apple finally entered the fray last year with the iPhone 6 Plus. We really liked its camera and its beautiful display, though we found that the larger size "can fatigue even the biggest of hands if you hold on long enough." But while we didn't find the iPhone 6 Plus groundbreaking, we did note it brought much-needed freshness to Apple's lineup. But how did the 6 Plus' larger dimensions and updated design fare with consumers? Our readers were ready to let us know, writing reviews on the 6 Plus' product page to show us how this 5.5-inch device felt in their own hands.

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If you watched Microsoft's announcement of its Hololens augmented reality headset and wondered if you'd play Xbox games with it, well, wonder no longer. Today at its Game Developers Conference presentation, Redmond announced that games would be en route to the device and that the APK should be available come its Build conference late April.

Don't miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page right here.

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UPGRADES TO DIA

On the scale of extremely disconcerting government revelations, this isn't PRISM, but damn if it isn't alarming. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) air traffic control systems. The FAA is basically just asking to be hacked thanks to its lackadaisical approach to security and software updates. Things are so bad, that relying on servers that have past their "end-of-life" date is probably the least concerning revelation made by the GAO. The government also found that FAA employees were sharing passwords through unencrypted communications channels, and had failed to patch out of date software with three-year-old security flaws.

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The Gallery: Six Elements is a magical fantasy exploration game created by Vancouver Island studio Cloudhead Games for Valve and HTC's new virtual reality headset, the Vive. It includes motion controls and a soundtrack by Elder Scrolls composer Jeremy Soule, and at first glance it's a truly gorgeous 3D, puzzle-solving experience -- the game's first trailer, released today, shows that much. The Gallery was successfully Kickstarted back in April 2013, where it was pitched as an Oculus Rift game. Perhaps sensing a hit, Valve jumped on Cloudhead early on in Vive's development, Creative Director Denny Unger says.

"Valve has been stellar," Unger says. "They brought us into the process very early and genuinely listened to what we had learned about the VR space since its 2013 rebirth. Valve shared a common goal with Cloudhead Games in that they saw a vision for VR that was tantamount to the holodeck. This is the closest we've ever been to breaking down the boundaries and letting users physically step into virtual worlds. It is the fracture point all sci-fi geeks have been waiting for. It's here and its incredible."

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Waze on an iPhone

Waze is mostly meant to help you avoid traffic snarls and speed traps, but it's now performing a valuable public service. Effective immediately, the navigation app will notify you about AMBER Alerts for abducted children wherever you're driving. Stop for at least 10 seconds and you'll get details for both the victims and any vehicles they might be traveling in. It's a simple upgrade, but it could make all the difference if you spot a child or captor in time for police to stage a rescue.

[Top image credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]

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Last year, Epic Games Chief Technology Officer Kim Libreri and Unreal Engine 4 General Manager Ray Davis visited some friends at Lord of the Rings effects studio Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand. They only wanted a tour of the studio, but along the way they ran into Weta's head of R&D, Alasdair Coull. He mentioned that he was messing around with Unreal Engine 4, Epic's game development platform. Fast forward to March 2015: Epic Games and Weta are showing off a virtual reality demo featuring the greedy dragon, Smaug, swimming through mountains of gold in the second Hobbit film, voiced in all his baritone glory by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Smaug speaks directly to the person in the headset -- Oculus Rift's Crescent Bay model -- and his daunting size is on full display. Five hundred feet of red-scaled, deep-speaking Smaug.

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