TIME oculus

Oculus’ Virtual Reality Headset Will Cost You Some Very Real Dollars

Inside The 2014 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An attendee wears an Oculus VR Inc. Rift Development Kit 2 headset to play a video game during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo

The virtual reality headset is expected to come out next year. But is the price tag too expensive?

Video gamers may have to fork out some very real money if they want to play using Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality gear. The geeky looking headset and accompanying electronics will cost $1,500.

But Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe made it clear Wednesday at the Code tech conference in Southern California that the big price tag is only for people who are starting from scratch in buying the technology. It is expected to go on sale sometime next year.

“We are looking at an all-in price, if you have to go out and actually need to buy a new computer and you’re going to buy the Rift … at most you should be in that $1,500 range,” Iribe said on stage.

Oculus is developing a headset, which looks like a big pair of ski goggles, that lets users play games and interact with other content in virtual reality. Oculus’s product — along with virtual reality technology in general — are hailed as the next generation in video games mainly because of the immersive experience it gives users. The idea behind the technology is to help people feel like they’re truly inside the game or content’s world.

Gaming publication Polygon has pegged the average computer needed to use Oculus’s gear at around $1,200, which means the headset itself will cost about $300 as expected. Iribe added, however, that he hopes to see the total price of using Oculus drop to $1,000 — still pricey, but an improvement from $1,500.

The company first raised $2.4 million via a crowdfunding campaign, before raising another $91 million in venture funding and selling to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.

MONEY Wages

Here’s One Statistic Explaining Why You Haven’t Gotten a Raise Lately

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Krakozawr—Getty Images

A big chunk of workers are yearning for more hours, raise or no raise.

More than one-third of American workers would be willing to work longer hours without a raise, according to a new Federal Reserve report.

The report, which surveyed nearly 6,000 individuals about their financial well-being, found 36% of respondents would prefer to work more hours at their currently hourly wage. Another 58% of respondents said they are happy with the number of hours they currently work, while 5% wished they could work fewer hours.

While those who took the survey were not necessarily hourly workers, a Federal Reserve spokesperson said the question is a general proxy for whether employees would be willing to work longer for higher pay.

As Bloomberg notes, the Federal Reserve’s findings may help explain why inflation-adjusted wages have remained essentially flat, even as the economy has improved.

“When [Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen] says that the unemployment rate probably does not fully capture the extent of slack in the labor market, this is exactly what she’s talking about,” said Thomas Simons, a money-market economist at Jefferies LLC, in an email to Bloomberg. “Until workers perceive that there are more opportunities available that offer higher wages, they will be content to work for the same rate rather than take a risk for more.”

TIME legal

Jawbone: Fitbit Employees Stole Company Secrets

Day Two Of Mobile World Congress 2014
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Fitbit Flex wearable electronic fitness devices sit on display at the Fitbit Inc. pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

New lawsuit comes as Fitbit readies IPO

Fitbit is prepping for its upcoming market debut, but its road to going public just got a lot bumpier.

Jawbone, Fitbit’s biggest competitor in the wearable health-tracking industry, alleges in a new lawsuit that Fitbit has “systematically” plundered confidential information by luring employees who brought along sensitive materials. Jawbone says Fitbit put into place “clandestine efforts” in order “to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property,” according to the complaint, filed Wednesday in California State Court.

Fitbit is the leader in health tracking devices. According to its initial public offering prospectus filed this month, Fitbit’s market share is nearly 85%. Jawbone, Apple and Nike are all competing for the No. 2 spot.

Jawbone’s complaint says that a number of former employees downloaded company information, like business plans and strategy documents, and took that data with them to a new position within Fitbit using thumb drives. It quotes an unnamed executive search consultant saying, “Fitbit’s objective is to decimate Jawbone.”

Jawbone is asking for both financial damages and the court’s intervention to prevent former employees from using any more information they may take.

TIME Startups

Startup Founders Get their Rightful Place: On a Deck of Cards

Can you guess which late tech titan is the king of spades?

Running a startup is like playing a game of cards. Founders keep a sharp eye on competitors, and make the best of the hand they were dealt while mixing in secrecy, guessing, and bluffing.

So it’s only fitting that some of these tech company founders make it onto a deck of cards. New York City design firm Red Bean has started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $3,500 to make the deck, “Startup Founder Playing Cards,” into reality.

The deck features iconic characters like Apple’s Steve Jobs (king of spades), the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington (queen of diamonds), Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel (jack of clubs) and Jack Dorsey (jack of hearts) of Twitter and Square fame. But to find out the rest of the deck’s founders, you’ll have to fund the campaign.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Silicon Valley is lending itself to a game. Earlier this year, three friends created their own take on the popular board game Settlers of Catan that featured San Francisco’s startups that they funded through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Last summer, San Francisco-based blog The Bold Italic, which has since shut down, had some fun creating would-be cards for Cards Against Humanity that lampooned Silicon Valley culture. To play Cards Against Humanity, players take turns playing a black master card with an incomplete statement or question. The rest of the players then attempt to play a clever response from their own hands of white cards.

As for Red Bean’s startup founder cards, they’ll cost you $15. Shipments are expected to start in August.

MONEY Minimum Wage

Unions Say It’s OK for Businesses to Sidestep the L.A. Minimum Wage

Labor leaders say that businesses with unionized workers should be exempt from the $15 minimum wage requirement.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor a new law that would increase the city’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 an hour by the year 2020. Yet the Los Angeles Times reports that labor officials, who until now have been strong supporters of the wage hike, are asking for a last-minute change that would allow unions the freedom to collectively bargain for wages that are lower than the minimum.

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both,” Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Some business leaders suspect the sudden about face by the organization, which represents over 300 unions in the L.A. area, might be a tactic to increase membership and enhance the power of organized labor. Ruben Gonzalez, a senior vice president with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the wage legislation, told the Times he believes labor leaders are hoping to use this exception to pressure companies into unionizing, thereby allowing them to avoid minimum wage rules.

The city council’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled this Friday to review an ordinance enacting the new minimum wage law.

TIME Walmart

Walmart Settles Accident Lawsuit with Actor Tracy Morgan

Tired Truck Drivers
Will Vaultz—AP In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it's side early Saturday morning, June 7, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The "30 Rock" star filed the lawsuit after a truck for the retailing giant crashed into his limo

Walmart has reached an undisclosed settlement with actor Tracy Morgan, ending a lawsuit against the retailer after one of its truck drivers crashed into the actor’s limousine last year.

Terms of the agreement with the “30 Rock” TV star and other plaintiffs in the case were confidential.

“I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably,” Morgan said in a statement.

Morgan filed a lawsuit against Walmart in a U.S. District Court in July 2014, roughly a month after an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike involving a Walmart truck driver. Morgan was seriously hurt in the accident, which resulted in one death and three injuries. Earlier this year, Walmart settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a comedian, James McNair, who was killed in the accident.

The lawsuit filed by Morgan claimed that the driver of a Walmart truck was speeding when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the entertainer’s vehicle. It was also alleged that the driver was fatigued from working long hours.

“We are pleased to have reached an amicable settlement that ends this litigation,” said Greg Foran, Walmart U.S. president and CEO. “We are deeply sorry that one of our trucks was involved.”

Morgan, who suffered a severe brain injury in the highway crash, has slowly recovered and was seen walking with a cane last month.

TIME Autos

Ford’s Zipcar-Killer Is Launching in This City

Ford Brings Dynamic Car-Sharing Experiment to London; First Serv
Ford Ford Brings Dynamic Car-Sharing Experiment to London

It's an on-demand rental service called "GoDrive"

Ford is going head-to-head with Zipcar as it launches its new GoDrive car rental service in London.

The app-based service will allow users to pick up one of Ford’s 50 vehicles on-demand and drop it off at one of a number of hubs across central London. When a users books a car through the service, they automatically book a parking spot at one the 20 available locations, making one-way trips stress-free.

The service uses a pay-per-minute pricing approach that covers all fees, including congestion fees, insurance and fuel. A pilot program launched earlier this year with 100 members. Ford is now extending GoDrive’s reach to 2,000 members.

The global car-sharing industry is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2020, and the U.K. car-sharing sector alone is expected to grow 23% from 2013 to 2015, according to PwC research. But even as the industry booms, car-sharers are looking for more flexibility.

“Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations,”said Alicia Agius, project lead, GoDrive, Ford of Europe. “Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer.”

GoDrive is Ford’s move to take on car-sharing kings like Zipcar as well as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft which are trying to become realistic replacements for car ownership, especially in major metropolitan areas. The service is also an opportunity for Ford to show off its electric vehicles. Half of the GoDrive fleet will consist of zero-emission Focus electric models.

The London launch is still in beta phase, and the automaker plans to tweak its service as it learns more about its members. Ford is also exploring car-sharing experiments in Germany, India and the U.S.

TIME Apple

Apple Exec: The Car Is the ‘Ultimate Mobile Device’

Amid rumors of an Apple Car

Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams hinted on Wednesday the company is interested in doing more with cars.

At the Code Conference in California, an Apple shareholder asked Williams if Apple has its sights set on the auto industry. “The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it?” said Williams, according to Business Insider. “We explore all kinds of categories. We’ll certainly continue to look at those, and evaluate where we can make a huge difference.”

Williams’ response comes amid rumors that Apple may want to take on Tesla with an electric car of its own. The efforts are supposedly nicknamed Project Titan.

Still, Apple has other car plans in the works, too: Its new CarPlay software replaces vehicles’ infotainment systems with an iPhone-style interface.

Williams also spoke on Wednesday about third-party apps coming to the Apple Watch this fall.

TIME Apple

This TV Broadcaster May Put its Shows on Apple’s Rumored Cable Killer

Sheldon faces a personal crisis after deciding he's wasting his time with string theory, onThe Big Bang Theory on April 10, 2013.
Sonja Flemming—CBS/Getty Images Sheldon faces a personal crisis after deciding he's wasting his time with string theory, onThe Big Bang Theory on April 10, 2013.

Apple's upcoming TV service could include major networks like CBS

Television broadcaster CBS will likely sign onto Apple’s rumored streaming TV service, giving viewers access to marquee shows like Big Bang Theory and NCIS.

Speaking on-stage at the Code tech conference near Los Angeles, CBS CEO Les Moonves said that his network will “probably” sign a deal with Apple to be part of the service. Apple is said to be preparing a streaming TV service that will bundle shows and channels that people normally get through cable providers.

“We’re very excited about it,” he said, adding that he met last week with Apple’s VP of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue. The conversations are still ongoing, however, and nothing’s set in stone yet.

While the service is still being developed and its release has reportedly been delayed, it could become a success. Television viewers are increasingly balking at shelling out big bucks for hundreds of channels — most of which they don’t watch — and that provide limited flexibility in how they can be viewed. Instead, many are turning to online video services like Hulu and HBO Go, which offer individual television shows on demand.

“Apple TV is trying to change the universe,” Moonves said. “I think the age of the 200 channel universe is slowly dying.”

“The good news for us, is any one of those groups will need CBS,” he said about the various competitors like Apple and Sling that are trying to create online television packages. Larger networks like CBS could benefit by getting a larger proportion of the revenue from these new services than they do from traditional cable television packages.

TIME Fast Food

McDonald’s Is Making 2 Big Changes to Its Burgers

McDonalds Campaign
Gene J. Puskar—AP A McDonald's Big Mac sandwich at a McDonald's restaurant in Robinson Township, Pa. on Jan. 21, 2014.

The fast food chain is changing things up to boost sales

McDonald’s believes it has the solution to declining sales —and it starts with warmer buns.

The world’s largest fast-food chain is “recommitting to hotter, tastier food,” said CEO Steve Easterbrook, who launched a new strategic turnaround plan earlier this month.

To make that happen, McDonald’s will now toast its burger buns 5 seconds longer, thus making the bread 15 degrees warmer. It will also bring the heat to its burger patties. The chain will change the way it sears and grills its beef so it’s juicier, though the company didn’t elaborate on the details.

Easterbrook, who took the helm in March after the former CEO stepped down, believes that every little bit counts and sums up “to a big difference for our customers,” he said at a conference Wednesday morning, according to Buzzfeed.

READ MORE: Can McDonald’s get its mojo back?

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has futzed with its toasting levels. In the 1990s, the chain gave up toasting its buns altogether in exchange for efficiency, but the quality decline didn’t go over so well. By 1997, McDonald’s changed its mind and required new stores to install toasting equipment at a cost of about $7,000 per location.

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