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Weekly Roundup: AR money, Nerf’s new drone and Bjork’s VR album

Our weekly roundup of the top news stories in the world of tech for the week beginning May 30th, 2016.

Every British bank note now packs an augmented reality experience

In case you haven’t heard, the Bank of England is about to start placing a new £5 note into circulation. The note, which the bank will begin seeding from September 13th this year, is the nation’s first polymer note, designed to last up to 2.5 times longer than the current fiver.

Fiver Blippar

Notable features include the mug of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the back and a see-through window that shines purple and green, but if you want to get up close with the new note now and find out everything it has to offer (beyond a value of £5, obviously) you can use the paper already in your wallet or purse and experiential augmented reality app Blippar.

The BoE and Blippar have teamed up so you can check out the new bank note through the app’s augmented reality technology, using your Android, iOS or Windows Phone device and any existing English bank note you’ve got lying around. The free AR experience points out key security features and links through to a video on this new money. Find out more here.

Nerf’s upcoming RC drone shoots darts and streams HD video

The newly unveiled Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout RC Drone might pack a mouthful of a name, but the premise it brings to the table is simple – you’ll soon have a drone at your disposal that can stream video and fire Nerf darts remotely. My 10-year-old self would be losing his mind right now (and my 27-year-old self is still perhaps a little excited too).

Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout RC Drone

Whilst this the TerraScout isn’t Hasbro’s first Nerf drone, it is the first to boast tank tracks to roll around and an integrated camera which streams video to a remote and records locally to an SD card onboard the drone in 720p HD quality. The drone also packs a magazine-loaded 18-round blaster and runs off just four AA batteries.

It’s slated to launch in the US in the coming months with a fairly substantial price tag of $199 (around £139), but here’s hoping we get word of its arrival in the UK soon. Find out more here.

HTC and Björk are releasing the world’s first VR album

World-renowned Icelandic singer, Björk and HTC have teamed up to produce a virtual reality album exhibition as part of the musician’s new 18-month digital world tour, which coincides with the launch of her newest album, Vulnicura.

 

A video posted by Björk (@bjork) on May 31, 2016 at 7:41pm PDT

The tour kicks off at the Vivid Festival in Sydney, Australia from June 4th, with the first attendees receiving VIP access to a VR exhibition featuring Björk herself, serving as the event’s DJ, as well as a number of VR experiences, relating to specific tracks from the singer’s eighth studio album.

The exhibition will feature several HTC Vive stations, each demoing the visual collaborations created with directors Andrew Huang, Jesse Kanda, Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones.

This news comes as another example of HTC’s push into VR beyond hardware, with recent news of the company’s intentions to start producing its own VR software, games and content too. Find out more here.

Samsung releases new fitness-focussed wearables

This week also saw the arrival of the new Samsung Gear Fit2 and the new IconX wireless earbuds. Like the original Fit, the Gear Fit2 features a wraparound design, in this instance featuring a curved 1.5-inch 216×432 SuperAMOLED display. It also features an optical heart rate sensor and as a new addition, Samsung has thrown in GPS too. With the 4GB of internal storage, the integrated music player and the automatic activity tracking for everything from running and cycling to rowing, the Fit2 looks like it’ll work well as a standalone activity tracker, as well as a smartphone accessory. It’s also been designed to work with any Android device running 4.4 or newer (with at least 1.5GB RAM), giving it wider compatibility and appeal.

Much like Bragi’s Dash earbuds (which you can pick up from O2 in the UK), the main advantage of Samsung’s new IconX range is that they are truly wire-free. They automatically turn on when worn and can track distance, speed, duration, heart rate and calories burned, synchronising the data with the company’s S Health app. IconX also boasts voice feedback, 4GB of internal storage for music and come in black, blue or white.

As well as internal batteries, the IconX come with their own colour-matched charging cases, which feature a larger internal battery of their own to extend life when you’re away from the wall plug.

The Gear Fit2 comes out June 10th and the IconX wireless earbuds are slated to arrive in July this year. Find out more here.

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