For some fans of the Xbox gaming system, the upcoming Xbox One release is bittersweet news. The issue is not title availability. It's Microsoft's next generation of Kinect sensor, which has to be connected to the console for both to function.
The Microsoft next-gen Kinect. (Source: Microsoft)
Think of the next-gen sensor as a power button for the console with an impressive array of hardware. The new Kinect will feature a high-definition 3D camera system that can put out 1080p HD images at an ultra-smooth rate of 60 frames per second. It will also use a regular imaging sensor for initial visualization of users, and it will offer Skype transmissions at a slightly lower resolution (720p). One unique feature is an infrared imager that takes advantage of the time of flight of photons to gauge depth better than its predecessor. It can detect objects even in complete darkness.
The system is so sensitive that it can detect the user's pulse by detecting changes in skin color. A rather unusual facet of the sensor is its ability to sense the user's emotional state by tracking eye and head positions and lip movement. Microsoft says the system can tell with 90 percent accuracy whether you are paying attention to it. The new microphone system may give some people a sense of privacy invasion; it constantly listens for voice commands, even while the Xbox One is off. The four-microphone array is used for multiple purposes, such as providing additional data on user tracking and allowing users to navigate through game titles and even TV channels without a remote.
The new sensor looks to be a huge improvement over the previous one, which has been used for everything from simple gaming to advanced robotics. In a recent press release, Microsoft announced that developers will be able to get their hands on the next-gen sensor before it's released to the masses. Developers can apply now to take part in the SDK program, which will begin in November. Participants will receive an alpha version of the Kinect and the final product when it launches -- all for $399. In addition, participants will have access to a Kinect engineering team (through a private forum), early SDK access, and all the API documentation needed to get started with their projects.
I heard Kinect takes control over your home entertainment preferences. If Kinect detects that there's more than a certain number of people in a room, it will refuse to play a movie. These kind of gestures, at best, seem bothersome to me.
I see the next Kinect sensor as more of a home entertainment assistant than something purely related to gaming. That said, Microsoft seems to be shiping out early copies to devs in an attempt to gain an edge over SONY. Smooth move, but then again, we don't know if SONY has already done the same with PS4.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
The increased adoption of wireless technology for mission-critical applications has revved up the global market for dynamic electronic general purpose (GP) test equipment. As the link between cloud networks and devices -- smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- results in more complex devices under test, the demand for radio frequency test equipment is starting to intensify.
Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers. Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.
Some humanoid walking robots are also good at running, balancing, and coordinated movements in group settings. Several of our sports robots have won regional or worldwide acclaim in the RoboCup soccer World Cup, or FIRST Robotics competitions. Others include the world's first hockey-playing robot and a trash-talking Scrabble player.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.