OCC TECH NEWS
April 8, 2014
The last time Bethesda Softworks published a gameplay trailer for Wolfenstein: The New Order, it showed a single four-minute scene from the game that featured no shooting. It was more of a story trailer than anything else. This time around, Bethesda went for something a little more traditional – a gameplay trailer that splices together various scenes from the game. Entitled "Nowhere to Run", today's trailer provides a better taste for the action players will experience, showing off various enemies and weaponry, including the much talked about ability to dual-wield just about anything.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on May 20, 2014. Pre-ordering grants you access to the DOOM Beta on PC, PS4, or XBO, depending on what platform you pre-order. There's also a limited edition Panzerhund Edition that features a bunch of goodies, but not the game itself.
Being comfortable is important, but it is not always possible, depending on the situation, so people are constantly trying to find ways to fix that. One area that could use some work is medicine as many sensors for monitoring vital signs are uncomfortable or sacrifice ability for comfort. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign however have developed a stick-on patch that can have off-the-shelf electronics built into it.
The patch itself is like an elastic envelope, filled with fluid and the electronics. Of course the chips are rigid, but by using a squiggly pattern, the wires that connect them are able to survive stress without fracturing. No matter which way the stress is directed, the wires are able to unfold and continue functioning. This design is so that the patch can survive being adhered to a person's skin, without uncomfortable pulling.
When the researchers tested this patch against traditional EKG and EEG monitors, it performed equally well. As this patch design is compatible with off-the-shelf electrical components, the technology can be used pretty cheaply, especially compared to similar patches with specially-designed components.
Source: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
We have a few items for you to check out today, with all of them designed to help out in games in one way or another. The biggest item is a review on the dual-GPU AMD Radeon R9 295X2, which packs two Hawaii XT GPUs onto a single PCB for what should be some truly impressive performance. There's also a look at the new NVIDIA GeForce R337 driver and how much of a boost it provides in Titanfall, and whether or not you can kick the graphical quality up another notch. Lastly we have a review on the Logitech G400s gaming mouse, with its familiar shape and hopefully familiar performance letting you get the best control out of your games.
AMD Radeon R9 295X2 @ TechSpot
Titanfall Performance Boost: NVIDIA R337 Drivers @ Benchmark Reviews
Logitech G400s @ LanOC Reviews
April 7, 2014
ECS has announced the release of three new motherboards based on the the AMD FM2+ APU socket, featuring additional features over the FM2 platform. The boards will offer support for PCIe 3.0, DirectX 11.1, and 4K resolutions. The A78F2P-M2 uses the A78 chipset, offers six SATA 3 connections, HD Audio, and video connections through HDMI, Display Port, DVI, or VGA. The A58F2P-M4 uses the A58 chipset and has four SATA 2 connections with HDMI or VGA options. The A55F2P-M2 uses the A55 core, adds DVI capability, and can accommodate an additional PCIe x1 card when compared to the A58F2P-M4. All three boards have two memory slots for dual channel DDR3.
Source: Press Release
Sapphire has announced its newest iteration of the AMD R9 series of graphics cards, the R9 290 Vapor-X OC. The card is based on the AMD Graphics Core Next architecture and has 2560 Stream Processors. The card is factory overclocked to a core speed of 1050MHz with 4GB of GDDR5 running at 1400MHz. As the card has been overclocked, Sapphire has taken care to include an improved cooling solution with its Vapor-X technology. "Sapphire pioneered the use of vapor chamber technology on graphics cards and has now used it in several generations of highly successful products. The vapor chamber is mounted between the GPU itself and the base of the heatsink and cooler assembly to ensure the maximum transfer of heat away from the GPU into the cooler." The cooler has five heatpipes and three 90mm fans, and a PCB component heat spreader helps to round out the cooling solution.
Source: Press Release
When in a new environment, or lost in an old one, we will do the natural thing of picking out landmarks to help us keep our bearings. For humans this is natural, but for robots and computers, such a process is quite difficult. Researchers at MIT though have devised a new algorithm to help robots find their way.
One of the reasons robots have such difficulty tracking landmarks to orient themselves is that they have a hard time identifying the orientation of the landmark to begin with. The researchers' algorithm addresses this by mapping estimates for the orientations of points onto a sphere. As a robot moves in one direction, the sphere will rotate in the opposite direction, allowing the robot to follow how the landmarks change. As the estimates are not going to be perfect and will cluster together, the algorithm forms Manhattan frames, which are sets of axes within the sphere. It is these axes that the robot follows, as they should be more accurate than the individual points, and simpler to operate on than a multitude of points.
This algorithm is also useful in achieving plane segmentation, which a computer does to determine what planes elements in a scene are in, as there are fewer orientations to consider. This is used to build representations of the objects to compare to reference objects.
Ubisoft's highly anticipated open-world hack-a-thon Watch Dogs appeared on Steam the other day, and while at first the system requirements were listed as temporary, it now seems the list has been finalized. Back in March, Creative Director Jonathan Morin tweeted out the minimum specs and was pretty spot-on. Of key importance to take note of is the requirement of a quad-core CPU and 6GB RAM, minimum. The latter obviously means that the game only supports 64-bit operating systems, which includes Vista, 7, and 8.
The new tidbit of information comes in the form of the Recommended Specs, and that's where things get quite interesting:
- Processor: Eight core - Intel Core i7-3770 @3.5 GHz or AMD FX-8350 X8 @ 4 GHz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: DirectX 11 graphics card with 2 GB Video RAM - Nvidia Geforce GTX 560 ti or AMD Radeon HD 7850
Now obviously when it says "eight core" it really means "eight threads" since the i7-3770 is a quad-core CPU with Hyper-Threading – but, of course, software just sees it as eight cores. As mentioned late last month, Watch Dogs features over 3,000 "character kits" to ensure each NPC is unique, which is presumably why the CPU requirement is one of the highest we've seen from a game yet. The real question is whether the recommended specs can max all the settings at 1080p or beyond, or if gamers will need an even beefier PC for that. Either way, it does seem like the PC version will be the definitive one...if your machine can handle it.
In addition to the specs, the Steam page was also updated with confirmation that Watch Dogs will indeed utilize Uplay (when the page first went live, there was no mention of it). As with any Steam game that features third-party DRM, there is already an outcry on the Steam forums, but personally I've never had an issue with Uplay. It's really no different than a game that features a launcher, like Borderlands 2. Unfortunately, what it does mean, is that the game doesn't feature any Steamworks features like Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud, or Steam Trading Cards.
Watch Dogs is launching May 27, 2014, on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360, with the Wii U version coming at an undetermined later date. There is a Digital Deluxe Edition that provides a bunch of extras, while pre-ordering either version on Steam gets you the Blume Agent Pack, containing an outfit and weapon perk.
Source: Steam Store Page
Skype is used by various radio stations and video channels to bring callers into broadcasts. While it has been decent at doing so, Microsoft has decided to launch a revised version of Skype that is specifically aimed at audio and video broadcasters. The new version, dubbed Skype TX, offers higher quality audio and video while also supporting the HD-SDI interface. Skype TX also handles multiple calls through a single interface and eliminates advertisements as well as call notifications.
Availability and pricing have not yet been announced for Skype TX.
While some viewers were able to watch the Game of Thrones premiere that debuted last night, others were left angry and disappointed. Those who tuned into the premiere through HBO GO were unable to successfully complete the episode, with the HBO service crashing due to overwhelming demand that the service experienced. An HBO GO representative did confirm the issue that affected potentially millions of viewers of Game of Thrones, and stated that the service was available on several platforms shortly after the outage took place.
It is worth noting that HBO GO also experienced an outage last month when it aired the finale of True Detective.
Back in February, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said that the company wasn't currently working on Borderlands 3, but did add that, "We have more to do in the franchise." We already knew about the Tales from the Borderlands Telltale Games collaboration, but that may not be the only Borderlands game in the works. And no, I'm not talking about Borderlands 2 Vita or the final Borderlands 2 Headhunter DLC.
According to UK-based GamePointsNow, 2K Australia is currently working on Borderlands: The Pre-sequel, which takes place during the five year gap between Borderlands 1 and 2. While I was initially hesitant about the news, despite being a huge Borderlands fan, if the details are true, it actually sounds like a pretty sweet installment – adding a slew of new aspects to the series' highly addictive and popular gameplay mechanics.
The game is reportedly set on the moon of Elpis, where Hyperion has set up a large H-shaped moon base (which could actually be seen in Borderlands 2). The game follows Handsome Jack before he became known as Handsome Jack, and players get to play as one of his four lieutenants: Athena The Gladiator, Wilhelm The Enforcer, Nisha The Lawbringer, and Fragtrap.
Athena made an appearance in the General Knoxx DLC for the first game and "will be a melee focused character able to absorb incoming fire with here kinetic shield while dispatching enemies with her plasma sword." Wilhelm was the half human, half Hyperion Loader boss in Borderlands 2, but sadly he's just a human in this game, though he does have a shoulder-mounted cannon and drones that can aid you in combat. No information was provided on Nisha, though GamePointsNow says that she "bears a striking resemblance to [...] Sheriff of Lynchwood" from Borderlands 2, who happened to be Jack's girlfriend. Fragtrap, in the meantime, is a militarized Claptrap!
Aside from those brand new playable characters, The Pre-sequel will add two new weapon types: laser and cryo. The former is pretty obvious (and how can you be set on a moon and not have lasers?), while cryo finally adds the one elemental attack that has been sorely missing in the Borderlands series, cold/freezing! Because the game is set on the moon, gravity (or rather, reduced gravity) will come into play, allowing you to toss enemies into orbit. It also means a new method of travel (jetpacks!) and one of the biggest changes: oxygen will be a new lootable resource in the form of OX-Kits. While this means you'll have to carefully manage your own oxygen levels, it also means you can utilize it to your advantage by shattering an enemy's helmet and depriving them of oxygen.
While this is all just a rumor, the sheer amount of details does add a bit of credibility to the report – or is an extremely elaborate hoax. Borderlands: The Pre-sequel does not have a set release date, but will likely be this year since it's supposedly only coming to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. If it's real, it sounds like it could be a nice stopgap until Borderlands 3 inevitably arrives.
Source: GamePointsNow via IGN
Two weeks ago, NVIDIA announced that a brand new driver would be arriving in April that would dramatically improve performance across all DirectX 11 (DX11) games. The major selling point was that NVIDIA's flagship card running DX11 would beat AMD's flagship card running Mantle. According to NVIDIA, "by remaining laser-focused on DirectX 11 (and the forthcoming DirectX 12), we have dramatically enhanced the efficiency of our DirectX 11 driver, enabling performance games of up to 71% in DirectX 11 games, and additional benefits in games with multi-GPU SLI support. Unlike changes tailored around custom graphics APIs, our new optimizations can benefit all DirectX 11 titles the second they go on sale, regardless of developer or publisher, and apply to all DirectX 11-capable NVIDIA GPUs."
The driver released today is the 337.50 Beta driver, so your system won't be asking you to upgrade to it automatically. But if you're running an NVIDIA DX11 card and playing some of today's hottest AAA titles, you may want to give it a shot. NVIDIA has provided benchmark results for every GTX 700 series card, both as a single-card configuration and an SLI configuration (see images below). While I won't list every single result for every game, if you're a Total War: Rome II player, you'll definitely want to upgrade, as a single GTX 700 series card can see gains up to 64%, while an SLI configuration can see gains up to 71%, according to NVIDIA's release notes. Other big single-GPU gainers are Skyrim, Sleeping Dogs, Star Swarm, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Metro: Last Light, while other big SLI gainers are Sniper Elite V2, Aliens vs. Predator, Sleeping Dogs, Black Ops 2, and Hitman Absolution.
The other big news is that GeForce Experience (GFE) 2.0 has officially arrived. One of the biggest new additions is Desktop Capture for ShadowPlay, allowing users to capture everything from windowed games, browser games, OpenGL games, and even just Windows use itself. Desktop Capture requires the 337.50 Beta driver and is disabled by default. GFE 2.0 has also added beta versions of ShadowPlay and GameStream for Notebooks, along with the beta of Remote GameStream. Remote GameStream is part of the NVIDIA SHIELD April 2014 Update, which has also officially gone live today.
Source: NVIDIA    and Driver Release Notes
Mobile communication has become an important part of our lives, so secure mobile communication is of vital importance. Personal and sensitive information, such as passwords and account numbers are exchanged between our mobile devices and remote servers over the air, and securing it can be difficult due to the small size of mobile devices. Researchers at the University of Bristol though have demonstrated a means to bring quantum cryptography to mobile devices, without adding too much bulk.
Quantum cryptography is a security system that takes advantage of the sensitivity of quantum systems. These systems are so fragile that even the act of observing them can change them, which is what the cryptographic protocols use. By transmitting an encryption key between two parties with quantum particles, such as photons, they can both be alerted to a third party listening in, as the particles will have been affected. The technology to create those particles though is typically too bulky to be integrated into a mobile device. The Bristol researchers however have developed a protocol that need only have an optical chip built into the device.
With such a protocol it would become almost impossible for a hacker to pull your information out of the air. Now the researchers are just working on bringing the protocol out of the lab and into a real device.
Source: University of Bristol
April 5, 2014
Last month, 11 bit studios announced a new game, This War of Mine, which is quite the departure from its popular reverse tower defense series, Anomaly. But the Polish indie studio isn't quite done with that series, announcing that there's one final installment in the works: Anomaly Defenders. However, this time around it's not a reverse tower defense game, it's a "reverse tower offense" game.
In Anomaly Defenders, players will be in control of the Alien race, defending their home from a human counter-attack over the course of 24 levels. So instead of going on the offensive, Anomaly Defenders puts you in control of the towers, transforming Anomaly into a traditional tower defense game – though the human units still attack. The game features eight unique towers with three upgrade possibilities apiece. There are also six active abilities and a tech tree that allows players to buy additional upgrades for the towers.
Anomaly Defenders is expected to arrive Spring 2014 for PC and mobile devices.
Source: Press Release and Official Site
April 4, 2014
Sapphire has announced the addition of three new graphics cards based on the AMD Graphics Core Next architecture to its lineup as part of the R5 230 series. The three cards are low profile PCIe cards "that require no additional power connector, making them ideal for entry level systems or for upgrading existing PC systems and providing additional monitor support." All cards have 160 stream processors with a 625MHz core clock. There will be two basic models that offer a choice of 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 and several outputs including Dual-link DVI, VGA, and HDMI. The R5 230 FleX has 1GB of DDR3 that runs at an enhanced speed of 800MHz. The FleX also has the ability to support up to three monitors in an Eyefinity setup, and according to Sapphire "delivers the most cost-effective Eyefinity solution available."
Source: Press Release
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II was originally slated to hit Steam on April 17, but has now been pushed back to May 22 "due to Monster Invasion." Okay, so that's obviously not the real reason – the real reason is that developer NeocoreGames wants to take an extra month to polish the game, ensuring the sequel is superior to the first game in every way. The date will also mark the one year anniversary of the first game's release, so it only seemed natural.
The silver lining – aside from extra polish – is that you now have an extra month to nab some pre-order bonuses, while still getting immediate access to the Closed Beta. Speaking of the Closed Beta, Neocore published two screenshots from it, which can be seen below.
Source: Press Release and Neocore Dev Blog
Last Friday, French indie developer Spiders (Of Orcs and Men, Mars: War Logs) released the first combat demo for its fantasy RPG Bound by Flame, showing off three separate battles. Spiders has released Combat Demo #2 today, featuring "100% pure gameplay" from the PS4 version of the game. This time around, the demo shows four separate battles: two-handed hammer + trap versus Impaler, dual-wielded daggers versus Swamp Beast, two-handed axe versus Undead General, and stealth + crossbow + two-handed axe versus undead.
Project Manager Walid Miled explained that "the combat system lets you instantly switch between three stances (Fighter, Ranger, and Pyromancer), allowing you to adapt to the enemy you're facing on the fly." The combat demo illustrates how players can tackle enemies in a variety of ways using melee, traps, stealth, and/or long-range attacks.
Bound by Flame will be launching May 9, 2014, on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Microsoft has confirmed that Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, which is being developed by Skybox Games, will be available to download on May 8, 2014. The extended edition of Age of Mythology represents a graphical remake of the original game released in 2002, and will include two new gameplay modes, better lighting and shadows, improved water, day and night cycles, and more. Microsoft has revealed that the remake will include all content from the original game, as well as content from its expansion pack. Other features will be present as well that were not available when Age of Mythology was first released, such as Twitch support, Steamworks Workshop support, Steam achievements, and virtual trading cards.
While the game will officially be released on May 8, 2014, and carry a price tag of $29.99, Age of Mythology: Extended Edition is currently available for pre-order on Steam for a 20 percent discount.
A feature of the Nest Protect smoke alarm, known as Nest Wave, allows users of the device to disarm their smoke alarm with a simple wave of their hand. While beneficial in most circumstances, it could prove problematic in others. Thanks to internal testing conducted by Nest, an important safety issue has been found in which the smoke alarm could be deactivated unintentionally, possibly endangering lives. Due to the awareness of the issue, Nest has ceased all sales of its Nest Protect smoke alarm and is currently in the process of remedying Nest Wave. In the meantime, owners of the Nest smoke alarm will notice that the wave feature has been disabled.
After Nest fixes the safety issue, and receives proper approval from safety entities located within the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, Nest Wave will once again be available as a convenience feature. Nest is expecting this process to take at least two or three months however.
A month ago, Swedish indie developer Frictional Games (Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Penumbra) revealed a lot of details about its upcoming sci-fi survival horror game SOMA, including the studio's five goals for the game. The one thing the studio did not touch on was the game's setting, but at the end of last month's post, Creative Director Thomas Grip promised "to reveal a big secret about SOMA" soon. That big secret was revealed today, and it was indeed the game's setting.
If you watched the video above, you now know that SOMA is set underwater at the bottom of the ocean. Grip explained that the decision for the game's setting came rather quickly and early on in development. "Most of our earth is covered in ocean, and yet it's something that we know very little about. It is an incredibly hostile environment filled with strange creatures, and it is right on our door step." While BioShock already explored this setting, it didn't take advantage of the actual real-life "monsters" that live down there. Frictional Games feels it's the perfect setting for a horror game and should provide some interesting (and chilling) exploration.
SOMA is coming to PC and PlayStation 4 in 2015.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation has had three developer diaries so far: "Origins", "Creating The Alien", and "Behind the Terror". The fourth developer diary, released today, is called "The Sound of Alien: Isolation." Sound is arguably the most crucial aspect of any horror experience, and thankfully Creative Assembly realizes this. Creative Lead Alistair Hope said that the studio was actually "given access to the original sound recordings from the first film," which certainly helped them recreate the atmosphere so many fans want to see.
Another aspect of the sound is obviously the musical score. Audio Designer Byron Bullock explained that because the alien is adaptive, a static score wouldn't work. Instead, the studio programmed the score so that it would adapt based on what the player was doing and what the alien was doing. For example, when the player is hiding from the alien, the score recognizes this action and becomes more tense.
Alien: Isolation is coming October 7, 2014, to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: Official Site
Violence in video games is nothing new, but it has been changing along with the technology that drives the games. The tolerance of the virtual violence has also been changing, and according to researchers at the University of Missouri, Columbia the tolerance has actually increased with the realism of violence, instead of decreasing.
For their study, the researchers examined the issues of GamePro Magazine released in the 1990s, as it was the most popular video game magazine at the time. They found that in the beginning of the decade, the journalists showed a great deal of concern over the violence in the video games they covered. As the decade continued, and more powerful game systems were released, this concerned lessened, despite the increasing realism of the depicted violence.
The researchers suggest some reasons for this inverse relationship. One is that as gamers matured, so did their tolerance of the violence, and the journalists reflected this in their writings. Another is that the video game rating systems we use today enable a defense against criticisms of violence, as anyone can be informed of a game's content. Finally the researchers also point out that society has changed over the years, developing a greater interest in violence, with more R rated films and violent music being released.
Source: University of Missouri, Columbia
We've reached the end of the first week of April, and there are a couple reviews to mark the occasion. The ASUS Maximus VI Gene gets put to the test to see how the Micro-ATX entry in the Republic of Gamers line holds up. It may be a smaller motherboard, but it certainly isn't lacking in all the ROG features gamers and overclockers have come to expect. Our other item for the day is a look at the ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro mechanical gaming keyboard, with the Cherry MX Brown model showing what it can do.
ASUS Maximus VI Gene @ ThinkComputers
ROCCAT Ryos MK Pro Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
April 3, 2014
Just about two weeks removed from being named Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich has stepped down from the position. Mozilla executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker announced Eich's departure in a blog post, saying Eich "made this decision for Mozilla and our community." It comes after many people were clamoring for Mozilla to act after Eich's support of a 2008 anti-gay marriage bill in California became public. Eich was the only Mozilla employee to donate money in support of the bill, while others donated against it. Baker says the company believes in equality and free speech, and that sometimes figuring out how to advocate both at the same time can be difficult. Clearly this is one of those times.
What happens next for Mozilla isn't as clear, but the company does want to be open about what is in store. More information about replacing Eich should be available next week, so be sure to check back then. As for Eich, his future at the company he co-founded isn't known just yet, but that could also be discussed next week.
Source: Mozilla Blog and CNET
Nearly three weeks ago, Zeno Clash developer ACE Team released a "Know Your Enemy" video for its new game Abyss Odyssey, showcasing Judith's combat abilities. The combat took place in a training room and was controlled by game designer Carlos Bordeu. When ACE was ready to show off a new enemy, Bauta, the studio decided to do things a bit differently, inviting publisher Atlus's lead tester Rob to do the honors. Rob, a "fighting game enthusiast," managed to achieve combos ACE never thought possible and achieved them at unbelievable speeds. Whereas Bordeu only managed a 10-hit combo with Judith, Rob was able to pull off an 18-hit combo with Bauta!
After analyzing the video frame by frame, ACE discovered that Rob took advantage of the game's cancel system, particularly via dashing. Dashes in Abyss Odyssey "are more like evade rolls which have invincibility frames like in Smash Bros." While the game features "cancel points," which limit how many cancels can be performed within a combo, Rob took advantage of a bug wherein canceling anything into a dash didn't consume any cancel points (see the images below). As a result, ACE is now evaluating whether to leave it as is or if the "increased gameplay speed" that results from the exploitation needs to be limited further. The best news to come out of all this is that ACE will now "develop a special player-vs-player game mode," because the studio realized just how fun it would be to fight friends with such a dynamic system. That being said, it won't be added until after launch.
Abyss Odyssey will launch Summer 2014 for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Source: ACE Team Blog
Unreal Engine 4 has seen quite a bit of fanfare lately, with a features trailer being broadcasted at GDC 2014 and Firefox support being recently announced. That fanfare will continue, as a new update is set to be released by Epic Games for Unreal Engine 4 later this month, bringing its version number to 4.1. Within this incremental update are many bug fixes and improvements that cover various portions of the game engine. New features to Unreal Engine include flying and rolling project templates, a scene outliner folder system, an asset deletion assistant, an undo history window, the ability to jump to connection in graph, debug histogram visualization, and a translation editor. The most notable addition that will be included in Unreal Engine 4.1 is support for SteamOS and Linux, allowing developers of videos games to package and deploy their titles to a wider audience than ever.
Source: Unreal Engine Blog
According to Jason Toff, the Product Manager at Vine, private messaging has been needed in order to share videos and communicate with others ever since the inception of the video service. In the latest update to Vine, that capability to communicate with others through the service now exists. Users of Vine can create Vine messages, or VMs, in order to send Vine videos and text messages to users of the service or anyone located within an address book. The messaging feature allows multiple friends to be messaged, though each conversation is a one-on-one experience.
Users who want to access the new messaging feature within Vine can do so by downloading the latest version from the App Store or Google Play.
As a situation changes, it is useful for systems to be able to change as well and adapt to the new state. Depending on the system though, this may not be easy or even possible, but there is a chance someone is working to change that. Researchers at the University of Bristol for example have recently found a way to alter a phononic crystal in real time, which could lead to some interesting new devices.
The phononic crystal in this study is actually a collection of colloidal, metamaterial crystals. Metamaterials are materials with properties not possible in Nature, and being colloidal means these crystals are actually in a liquid suspension. This combination gives the larger phononic crystal special properties and the researchers the ability to manipulate it, and even change how those properties are expressed. That manipulation comes by applying the proper acoustic wavelength to the crystal.
Potentially this phononic crystal could be used to create acoustic barriers that can be changed to best respond to whatever sound is striking it. The research could also be applied to other colloids, granting control over their properties cheaply and in a manner that could be easily integrated into other systems.
Source: University of Bristol
The Sentry 3 from NZXT is a touch screen fan controller that will give users the ability to control up to five fan channels with an "extraordinarily intuitive UI." The size of the touch screen sets the Sentry 3 apart from competitors as the 5.4" touch screen is "33% larger than any other single bay fan controller screen on the market." Each channel can handle 15W and channel linking allows users to control multiple fans simultaneously. The Sentry 3 also includes protection from short circuits, undervoltage, and overvoltage, helping to safeguard the components of your system. The Sentry 3 is now available for pre-order at an MSRP of $34.99 and should ship in "roughly two weeks."
Source: Press Release