Author: Chris Barber (Page 1 of 2)

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Sony Wins E3, and Possibly the Next Generation of Gaming

As the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii reached the end of their life cycles, the big three video game companies were certainly scrambling to find what innovation would win the next generation of consoles. And who could have guessed that it might be, well, not really changing anything? While the Wii U was released  november last year, it has suffered from a small library of games, leaving Microsoft and Sony gearing up for a showdown this June at E3, one of the largest industry expositions, at which they were both expected to reveal their new consoles. (This technically makes the 8th generation of consoles, but we already just started saying “next-gen” last generation so I’m not sure where that leaves us.)

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After a lackluster announcement in February in which Sony told us almost nothing about the Playstation 4 – they didn’t even show the console itself – MIcrosoft seemed poised for the kill. But they decided to pre-empt E3, announcing the Xbox One in a press conference in late May, and was immediately panned by critics. While there are some neat features, like integration with Microsoft Smartglass, many fans balked at the new Xbox’s supposed restrictions on used games and game trading – there may or may not be fees associated, zealous digital rights management by requiring the Xbox One to connect to the internet every 24 hours, a high price point at 499$, and no apparent innovations except for a built in Kinect, which would always be on – leading some to voice privacy concerns over having an HD camera with a direct link to microsoft in their living rooms. All of which left the internets calling the thing the “Xbone” and wondering whether Microsoft took one step forward or 359 backwards. Then, yesterday at E3, Sony does this:

That’s one of what fans are calling Sony’s “FU Microsoft” slides. Apparently put together at the last minute in Powerpoint, this part of Sony’s press conference won cheers and thunderous applause – announcing no more than features that everyone had already had in the last generation. Meanwhile, Sony released a video on youtube called the “Official Playstation Used Game Instructional Video” bashing Microsoft’s restrictions by showing how to share games on playstation: hand the game to somebody. Plus, they talked about a few cool features like full integration with the PS Vita and the ability for indie developers to self-publish. And perhaps the best part? The PS4, while featuring basically the same hardware as the Xbox One (minus the Kinect), it’ll be exactly 100$ less at 399$.

Meanwhile, Microsoft brought a press conference to E3 that was “all about the games”. Now, if you’ve just announced a new console and you make your press conference “all about the games” something is clearly amiss. Announcing a new Halo (surprise, Master Chief is back… again) and a slew of other titles, they avoided talking about the new console – probably scared that they’d find some other way to alienate fans. Redditor lolmycat summed up his feelings about Microsoft and the Chief:

So the videogame press and nerds everywhere are hailing Sony as the winners of E3 and the leaders going into the next generation, mostly because they didn’t do anything but wait for their competition to shoot itself in the foot. Microsoft took away features from the Xbox One that gamers expect, Sony didn’t, and priced their console cheaper. More features + cheaper price is a pretty simple marketing win. To recap, as redditor Shadow8P put it: Microsoft has Halo, while Sony has offline play, used games, better hardware and a lower price. The final score? Xbox: one, Playstation: four.

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Mind Controlled Flying Robots

Yeah, you read that right. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have unveiled their latest project: a non-invasive system which allows a user to pilot a small, commercially available UAV using their thoughts. A student researcher pilots the quadrocopter through seeming telekinesis in the video that the team released earlier today:

The team at University of Minnesota, which published their findings from this project in The Journal of Neural Engineering, have been working on computer-neural interfaces for some time and previously developed a  system for identifying what patterns of brain activity correspond to certain imaginary movements, like imagining making a fist with your right hand. An EEG (electroencephalogram) cap can detect and identify that thought. The next step was to develop a simple program to translate that to computer input  – at first, this meant moving the paddle in a version of “Pong” up and down. Now, they’ve developed a system that can be used to pilot a drone in 3D space. While of course there’s exciting potential for this technology to be used to help amputees and wheel chair bound persons, there’s tons of other interesting applications for drone technology, like, you know, delivering pizza.

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3D Scanner

Announcing the newest edition to the Media Center: our new NextEngine 3D scanner! To complement the Makerbot 3D printer, we now have the capability to produce high definition 3D meshes of small objects within around two hours. The NextEngine software also allows us to export in the .stl format – a format that can be printed on the 3D printer – so in due time we should be able to scan an object and then immediately start turning out plastic copies. I like to think that it brings us just one step closer to having Star Trek replicators.

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After running a few calibration and test runs, we decided that our first victim for scanning and subsequent replication would be this miniature Buddha figurine. The scanner uses the combination of a camera and an array of lasers to scan objects, meaning that the easiest objects to scan aren’t too dark, light or shiny, and of course finer details and textures are harder to pick up. Ignoring that advice completely, we went ahead and scanned the Buddha figure.

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Scans take about an hour to two hours to complete depending on the detail of the scan – for the Buddha, I used two 360° scans, one at a 0° tilt and one a around a 20° positive tilt to get some of the details on top of Buddhas hands and arms. Each 360° scan family consists of six to sixteen rotations – for this one I used twelve.  Once the scans are complete, the software patches them together into a single 3D model, but sometimes it needs a little manual adjustment to get it just perfect.

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After some toying with the scans on the NextEngine software we went ahead and printed a copy of Buddha on the Makerbot! Now I would draw your attention to the surprising level of detail on Buddha 2.0’s upper body, and not the fact that his lower half is slightly completely mutilated. Then again, we learned the importance of insuring that there are no holes in the 3D mesh or Makerbot kind of freaks out. Now, we think we’ve figured out a method for getting a 3D scan that is watertight and should produce printings that aren’t bisected.

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Amp

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We have an audio amplifier available to be checked out. This standard amp is fairly portable and great to use with a line in or a microphone.

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Audio Mixers

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The Running Man ProFX12 is a complete audio mixer station that is still relatively portable for easy setup and fairly simple to use. In addition to the standard audio connections, it also comes with built in USB I/O, allowing for easy recording or streaming music from a laptop.

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We also have the Zoom R24 available, which is smaller and more portable than the Running Man ProFX12. This model also comes complete with an SD card which can be recorded to.

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Shoulder Rig

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We also have a shoulder rig available which is compatible with our DSLRs, camcorders, and digital cameras. This can be an easy solution to creating stable shots with more mobility than a tripod or tripod and dolly.

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Green Screen

We have green screens available which can be used to provide a green background for your video or photography shots in order to facilitate digital effects.

SBC Softbox

Softbox

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We have Soft boxes available for photography and filming which are useful when a diffused, even lighting is desired.

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Webcams

Webcams which can be connected to computers via USB are available both for checkout and installed in the various workstations at the Media Center. These cameras are easily configurable and useful for video conferencing.

Logitech Orbit AF

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Hard Drives

We have external hard drives available for check out. There are both terabyte and 500 gigabyte drives available. These can be useful when moving large files or large groups of files around campus. LaCie Hard Drive 1TB

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