OCC TECH NEWS
September 24, 2014
We all know that when two people get on a seesaw, the side with the heavier person on it will tip down, until that person pushes up. What if the 'people' were massless? That is like what researchers at the University of Minnesota have investigated when they built a nanoscale seesaw and put photons on either side.
The device itself is just 0.7 microns by 50 microns in size and consists of a seesaw with arrays of holes at both ends. These holes are photonic crystal cavities and will actually hold onto photons from a nearby source. When photons, or a single photon, are in the cavities, their optical force will actually move the seesaw, even though that force is equivalent to one third of a quadrillionth of a pound, and that movement can be measured. The researchers also found that when one side of the cavities had photons and the other side had none, the seesaw would start to oscillate. When that oscillation was strong enough, photons would actually start to be shuttled from one side to the other, and the team was able to achieve about 1000 photons being shuttled with each cycle. A 10 W light bulb produces about 1020 photons every second.
Eventually the researchers would like to see this system used to transport a single photon with each cycle, which would make it useful for quantum mechanical devices. The ability to mechanically control photon movement could lead to other advances as well, including sensitive micromechanical accelerometers and be used in navigational gyroscopes.
Source: University of Minnesota
The middle of the week is here, with a few reviews to help get you through it. We have another look at the Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL keyboard, which relies on Topre switches instead of Cherry MX mechanical switches for a different feel. For those desiring a new tablet, there's a review on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10+ HD. It features a 1920x1080 screen, a more powerful processor than its predecessor, and a unique cylindrical edge on the bottom that doubles as a kickstand. We also have a look at the DOOGEE DAGGER DG550 smartphone, an entry-level smartphone that offers plenty of features without breaking the bank. Rounding out today's items is the second part of a look back at the history of the personal computer.
Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL @ Benchmark Reviews
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10+ HD @ ThinkComputers
DOOGEE DAGGER DG550 Smartphone @ Madshrimps
History of the Personal Computer, Part 2: Intel & Motorola's Duopoly Come to an End @ TechSpot
BIOSTAR, a manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and industrial computing systems, has launched its Hi-Fi Z97Z7 motherboard, which was reported as coming soon just last month. The new motherboard from BIOSTAR is an ATX form factor board that features Intel socket 1150 support, four memory slots for up to 32GB of 2800(OC) RAM, on-board HDMI, and SATA Express. The Hi-Fi Z97Z7 comes with special components that ensure its performance and reliability, such as Super Durable Solid Caps that feature doubled lifespan thanks to an ultra-low ESR design, Super Durable Ferrite Choke that provides reduced energy loss and better power stability, and Super Conductive Heatsink Design that ensures super-fast heat dissipation for extreme performance. The BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97Z7 also comes with Super Rapid Debug 3, which provides critical POST code information on a digital LED display that is located directly on the motherboard. Additional technology and connectivity options include a PCI Express 3.0x16 slot, PCIe M.2 support, and BIOSTAR exclusive Super Hi-Fi Audio technology.
The Hi-Fi Z97Z7 from BIOSTAR is available immediately and carries an MSRP of $119.
Source: Press Release
Thecus, a company that specializes in Network Attached Storage and Network Video Recorder solutions, has announced that it is adopting a new slogan to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. The new slogan, “Empowering Professionals,” is meant to highlight the core strengths of the company in the commercial landscape. Thecus came into the limelight in 2005 at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany, and each year since its initial offering, the company has provided unmatched innovation by brining world firsts to consumers across the globe. Some of these world firsts include a NAS with 10GBASE-T support which was released in 2011, and an Intel Atom SoC CE5315 embedded NAS that was released last year. As technology continues to improve and consumer needs change overtime, Thecus plans to remain relevant and has vowed with its new slogan to continue to do what it always has, empower professionals.
Source: Press Release
September 23, 2014
It seems a lot of publishers decided to compete for your wallet today. Unveiled last month, real-time strategy game Ancient Space has officially launched today for PC via Steam. Ancient Space is a single-player, story-driven space RTS developed by CreativeForge Games and published by Paradox Interactive. The game features deep space exploration with full 3D movement, ship and fleet customization, several unique crew members to recruit, upgradeable units, and a stellar voice cast.
Ancient Space is priced to move at a mere $19.99 and comes with both the original soundtrack and a digital art book. As of now, only the Windows version is available, with the Mac version scheduled to arrive on October 23.
Source: Press Release
NVIDIA has revealed that the SLI LED bridges it had on display at GAME24 are now available for purchase. The new bridges, which come in 2-Way, 2-Way Spaced, and 3-Way Spaced configurations, feature a sleek design that proudly displays the NVIDIA logo. Compatibility only exists for GeForce GTX cards with SLI support, which include the GeForce GTX 770, GTX 780, GTX 780 Ti, GTX TITAN, GTX TITAN Black, GTX 970, and GTX 980. Additionally, the SLI Bridge LED is only supported on NVIDIA reference designs and requires GeForce Experience 1.7 or higher.
The GeForce GTX 2-Way and 2-Way Spaced Bridges retail for $29.99 while the GeForce GTX 3-Way is priced at $39.99. All three configurations are available immediately for purchase from the NVIDIA store.
Source: Press Release
While Hidden Path Entertainment's 2012 Kickstarter campaign didn't quite reach the stretch goal needed for Defense Grid 2, thankfully for fans of the original, the studio chugged on, not only developing the sequel to one of the best tower-defense games ever, but also offering all backers a key. Now the wait is over; Defense Grid 2 has officially launched not only for PC, but also for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. With 21 maps, Defense Grid 2 ups the ante over its predecessor, offering not only single-player, but online player-versus-player and multiplayer co-op campaigns as well!
Defense Grid 2 is priced at a mere $24.99 on Steam (PC, Mac, Linux, SteamOS), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A Special Edition is available exclusively on Steam for $29.99, which includes: "the digital book, The Art of Defense Grid 2; the ebook, The Making of Defense Grid 2: The Complete Story Behind the Game by Russ Pitts; and additional content including 'A Matter of Endurance,' a new original audio story written by Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal and performed by the English voice cast."
Source: Press Release
After getting a slight delay last month, Gauntlet has finally launched today! As a fully modernized reboot of the hack-and-slash classic of the same name, Gauntlet offers single-player and multiplayer for up to four players, both local and online. With four distinct heroes, a combination of uniquely built and randomly generated levels, and Classic Mode, there's a lot to love. If you haven't picked up the game yet, well, you can enjoy the launch trailer and 45 new screenshots below.
Gauntlet is priced at a mere $19.99 with a four-pack available for $59.99. Currently it's only available for Windows via Steam, but SteamOS support will be arriving next year.
Source: Press Release
The gaming division of manufacturer Thermaltake, Tt eSports, has announced a pair of new gaming mice, the TALON and TALON Blu. The two mice have the same underlying hardware but offer different lighting options. The TALON series was designed with all gamers in mind and an ambidextrous design ensures that righties and lefties will find it comfortable. The TALON uses an optical sensor capable of a maximum DPI of 3000, which is adjustable from as low as 500 DPI. A pair of thumb buttons are included on the side of the mouse, and both side panels are removable. Both mice will have an MSRP of $19.99.
Source: Press Release
We all know the classic scenario, and may even have experienced losing our keys, phone, or remote control, leading us to search through our homes, for the missing object. If robots are to ever enter our homes, they will have to be able to search for specific objects, and finding them will not necessarily be any easier for them. That may change though, thanks to the work or researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which uses UHF RFID tags to direct robots to their goals.
Typically a robot will search for objects using its cameras, which can be problematic, depending on the clutter in the area. What the Georgia researchers have done is placed RFID tags onto objects and built an antenna system into a robot, which can then play 'hot-or-cold' to find it. When the antennas are oriented toward the tag, the signal will be stronger than when they are looking in another direction. Using this information, the robot can move to the tagged object, and does so without explicitly estimating the objects 3D location.
Among the potential uses for this technology is marking medication with RFID tags, so a robot can find the correct bottle for the correct person. As RFID tags can uniquely identify potentially billions of objects, and can be quite inexpensive, the possible applications are tremendous.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology
Valve has released the details for the latest update to Dota 2, known as Rekindling Soul and teased yesterday as version 6.82. The name of the massive update can be attributed to the model rework and new Arcana set for hero Shadow Fiend. Two new features have also been added that will change the model of the courier in use as it delivers items and give detailed statistics about fights with the Fight Recap feature. Fantasy Season Two will also kick off with a new web interface to access your team on the go. A new rune was added that gives bonus gold and experience along with a new item, Crimson Guard, that was first seen in a past holiday event. A number of changes have been made to the map and two heroes, Bloodseeker and Phantom Lancer, have received ability reworks. Follow the link to view the rest of the changes to heroes and items and wait anxiously for when the update will be added to the game.
Source: Dota 2 Blog
Blizzard had been working on a new MMO, codenamed Titan, for many years before hitting the restart button last May when the company realized it didn't meet the expectations and quality expected of games today, both from a design standpoint and a technology standpoint. The once 100-person team was reduced to a mere 30, with those 30 people starting over from scratch. But now, according to Polygon, development has officially been canceled.
"We had created World of Warcraft, and we felt really confident that we knew how to make MMOs," [Blizzard co-founder and CEO Mike] Morhaime said. "So we set out to make the most ambitious thing that you could possibly imagine. And it didn't come together. We didn't find the fun. We didn't find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that's the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no."
So Titan joins Warcraft Adventures and StarCraft Ghost in Blizzard's canned projects bin. Chris Metzen, Blizzard's senior vice president of story and franchise development, told Polygon that the company didn't want to identify itself with a particular genre, so just because World of Warcraft was such a huge success, doesn't mean Blizzard should now be an MMORPG company. That being said, Morhaime added that he wouldn't say no to ever doing an MMO again, just that right now, that's not where the studio wants to spend its time. And while a lot of time and resources was already put into Titan, Morhaime and Metzen said they'd rather cut out a game no matter how much was spent than put out something that might "damage the relationship [and] smash the trust."
In the meantime, despite losing some subscribers, World of Warcraft is still going strong, and Metzen hopes to continue to "support it forever." Also lending to the decision to cancel Titan was Blizzard's recent success with smaller-scale titles like Hearthstone and the currently-in-alpha Heroes of the Storm. The overwhelming success of Hearthstone in particular has led to the studio realizing that it can do more than big-budget, big-scale projects and still find mass appeal.
"Maybe we can be what we want to be and inspire groups around the company to experiment, get creative, think outside the box and take chances on things that just might thrill people," Metzen said. "Maybe they don't have to be these colossal, summer blockbuster-type products."
After roughly a year of rumors and speculation regarding a Sleeping Dogs follow-up, last Friday developer United Front Games stated that we would finally learn more details in the coming weeks. While a reddit AMA is scheduled for later today (12PM PST), United Front made the official announcement last night, accompanied by a "Welcome to the Triad" video.
Triad Wars is more like a spin-off to Sleeping Dogs than a direct sequel. It's a PC-only, online, open-world, action-adventure, strategy game set in Hong Kong where the criminals take front and center. Players take on the role of an enforcer running a gang in the Hong Kong Triads. The goal is to expand your turf and build a criminal empire. The game is a pure sandbox experience, allowing you to control exactly what criminal enterprises you're involved with on your turf, whether it be counterfeiting, smuggling, etc. Combine that with deciding how to outfit your gang, and you understand where the strategy part comes into play. And of course you'll be competing with rival gangs. That being said, United Front is very keen on involving community feedback, so as Rob Olivera (character design) states in the video, it can be a completely different game in two years depending on how it evolves based on the community's input.
Triad Wars is set to release for PC in early 2015, but a limited Closed Beta registration is currently open. Applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to head to the official site below and sign up ASAP.
Source: United Front Games and Official Site
Silicon is potentially one of the most important elements to certain human societies, with how reliant we are on our electronics. When silicon is eventually replaced with something better though, it will be truly amazing what may be achieved. Researchers at the University of Cambridge, the Singapore A*STAR Data Storage Institute, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design have recently made an important discovery for phase-change materials, which could be one of silicon's replacements.
Semiconductors, like silicon are used in electronics because they can be used to switch electrical signals on and off, and thereby logic devices can be built with them. Phase-change materials, however, actually switch between phases with different electrical properties, using electrical pulses. This switching can take just nanoseconds to happen, and once done, the material will persist in that phase. Naturally this gives PCMs a potential use for storing data, as non-volatile memory, but it could also be used to perform logic operations. Such in-memory logic devices have been demonstrated, but they have been slower than silicon devices and lack stability. However, the researchers have discovered that by reversing the process that had been used, starting from the conducting, crystalline phase and going to the insulating, amorphous phase, the devices could be faster and more stable.
Combining memory and logic operations into a single device could have dramatic impacts on computing, by conserving space and improving speed. Also, as PCM memory devices are non-volatile, there would be energy savings compared to DRAM, which must refresh the data it stores, or risk losing it.
Source: University of Cambridge