Month: June 2013

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.)


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.

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.

Spring 2013 Student Projects

Here are some of the Media Projects done this past Spring.

Beautifully Fragile, a film by Jane Luceno

A Hero’s Best Friend (Odyssey 17.290-304), reading by Lucy McInerney

Part of an on going project created during the class Greek 112: Introduction to Greek Poetry, taught by Christopher Francese that consist of a passage from Homer’s Iliad discussed, translated into English, and then recited in Greek.

Global Economy

Michael Fratantuono’s class create mini video lectures on current global economy topics.

The Keystone XL Pipeline, by Brooke Watson, Christine Gannon, Mike Hughes, and Eleonora Vaccori

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Qatar 2030 Vision, by Rogelio Cerezo, Abby Glascott, Chloe (Ruijiao) Ma, Danette Moore

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Megacities: A New Perspective, by Steven Haynes, Mike Adams, and Mike DeVivo

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Digital Imaging

Final Projects for Todd Arsenault’s Digital Imaging course

Kexin Shu

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Kalie Garrett

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Plan X: A Strange Fusion of Cyberwarfare & Gaming

Hearing that the pentagon is teaming up with DARPA to develop a cyber weapons platform that creates a well defined and polished cyber-warfare platform may not be surprising, but the idea that they’re comparing the graphical interface for this platform to World of Warcraft or Angry Birds should at the very least throw you for a loop. But that’s exactly what the new Plan X that DARPA is working on intends to do, it will blend Cyberwarfare and easy to use gaming interfaces to create a platform a non tech-savvy general could still use to carry out an advanced cyberattack. Underneath the GUI is a complex and well-coded system that should more efficiently enable the U.S. to map and deal out cyber-attacks when they deem appropriate against the networks of  hostile groups, but the actual interface that the commanding officer will use may remind you more of a Starcraft II interface than some complex Matrix-looking code screen. For more details check out this article or Google Plan X to get some of the details on this whacky new project.

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