OCC TECH NEWS
August 6, 2014
After abandoning its plans to acquire T-Mobile, Sprint has named Marcelo Claure as its new Chief Executive Officer. Claure is the founder and CEO of Brightstar, a subsidiary of SoftBank, which owns Sprint, and joined the Sprint board of directors last January. Claure has seen his fair share of success throughout his career, as Brightstar, a wireless distributor and provider of services to the wireless industry, grew into a global business worth $10.5 billion under his leadership. According to Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son, “Marcelo is a successful entrepreneur who transformed a start-up into a global telecommunications company.”
Marcelo Claure will replace Dan Hesse, who became the president and CEO of Sprint in 2007 and was with the wireless carrier through a series of acquisitions, as president and CEO of Sprint starting August 11, 2014.
Mad Catz has just launched its latest keyboard offering, the S.T.R.I.K.E. M Wireless Keyboard. The compact keyboard features innovative technology packed into a unique design such as a rechargeable battery with up to 45 hours of battery life, illuminated backlighting, dedicated media buttons, and on board memory that is used to store multiple macro commands. Mad Catz has also included an Optical Finger Navigation Mouse Sensor that provides the familiarity of moving a mouse cursor on a computer screen to users of the keyboard. This unique feature can be utilized on a plethora of devices, as the S.T.R.I.K.E. M Wireless Keyboard features universal Bluetooth compatibility.
The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. M Wireless Keyboard retails for $99.99 and is available in gloss black, gloss white, and gloss red.
Emu, a mobile text-messaging application with a built-in virtual assistant, has been officially acquired by Google. While terms regarding the acquisition were not revealed by either company, Emu did make it known that the application will soon cease to exist. As of August 25, 2014, Emu will no longer be available for download within the App Store, and its existing users at that time will no longer be able to send, receive, or download messages. The company did offer an apology for this inconvenience, but noted that it is quite excited to begin its journey with Google going forward.
Emu was founded in 2012 and the application has been available on Android devices since late last year and iPhone devices since April of this year.
In an effort to improve the lives of its customers, Amazon has expanded its Same-Day Delivery service to six additional cities within the United States. The latest cities that can now receive items within the same day of ordering include Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC metro areas. Customers within these newly announced regions, as well as Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle metro areas, can browse Amazon with an applied “Get It Today” filter that reveals items that qualify for Same-Day Delivery. Amazon Prime members pay just $5.99 for all the Same-Day Delivery items they can order, with the online retailer touting more than a million items that qualify for the expedited delivery service.
Amazon Same-Day Delivery is available on orders that are placed as late as noon, seven days a week.
They say 'thin is in' for electronics, but actually achieving that can be very difficult, depending on what it is you are trying to do. For solar cells, making something thin requires the right material and the right connections to keep the energy from being lost before it is used. Tungsten diselenide would work for converting light to electricity, but actually using it to harvest power would have been very difficult, but researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have recently found a way to do it.
Tungsten diselenide is a semiconductor just three atoms thick, with a layer of tungsten between two layers of selenium. It has previously been shown that it can convert light into electricity and back, but for use in a solar cell, it would need electrodes to be attached to it every few micrometers. Without these electrodes, the electrons excited by the light would just fall back into their holes, losing their energy. The researchers found that if a layer of molybdenum disulphide were placed on top though, the electron-hole pairs would not recombine, because the holes would remain in the semiconducting tungsten diselenide while the electons would migrate to the molybdenum disulphide. Electrodes would then be able to pull the electrons away, to be put to use.
As these materials are just atoms thick, the resulting solar cell is considered ultra-thin and is so light weight that 300 m2 of it would come it at one gram. It is also thin enough to make it transparent and very flexible, though the former may change as the researchers try adding more layers to generate more electricity.
Source: Vienna University of Technology
PAPAGO!, an electronics company established in Taipei, Taiwan, has just unveiled a video contest in which three selected participants will win a GoSafe 200, with one of the three winners also receiving a $400 gift card of the company’s choice. The GoSafe 200 is the first slide out dashcam on the market and features a 140-degree angle of capture while supporting 1080 high-definition video. Those who would like to participate need to follow three steps, which can all be found within the PAPAGO! promotional video below. Contest rules and guidelines do apply, so potential participants should be sure to read them thoroughly on the PAPAGO! video contest website.
Source: Press Release
In partnership with Wargaming Public Company, Thermaltake has just introduced the Urban S71 World of Tanks Edition full tower windowed chassis. The latest case by Thermaltake provides an unmatched experience for gamers, offering an innovative and stylish design while also providing proper usability. The Urban S71 World of Tanks Edition features a top-mounted hard drive docking station that supports either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, a tool-free drive bay design, a wide cable routing gap for easy cable management, and one rear 120mm turbo fan and two 200mm speed control fans. The connectivity panel on the front of the case provides gamers with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and HD microphone and headset jacks.
No information has been released by Thermaltake in regards to pricing or an expected release date of the Urban S71 World of Tanks Edition chassis.
Source: Press Release
Dirty windows and glasses can be annoying and even dangerous in some situations, and in others, such as with solar panels, dirt can compromise efficiency. The only way to address the problem is to clean the surface, and researchers have been working on developing better ways to do this, possibly making it automatic. Now researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia have found a way to make a surface that grants control over what covers it, which could lead to advanced cleaning methods or new biomedical devices.
Typically surfaces are just a passive object that other things rest on, so getting those things off requires some external force. By putting a microtexture on the surface and a magnetic fluid in the bumps and ridges, the researchers have made it active. When something, like a water droplet or small particle falls on this surface, the magnetic fluid made of oil and magnetic particle, will actually coat it, and being magnetic, enables a magnetic field to manipulate the droplet. As the surface is also low friction, the droplet is easily moved by an external field, unlike in other experiments which required powerful magnets to work.
Potentially this technology could be used to quickly clean off solar panels with less labor and less water, which is very important for solar panels in desert environments. We could also see active-surface systems being used to manipulate biological fluids, which are usually difficult to manipulate.
At the end of June, Belgian studio GRIN unveiled the first look at its upcoming 2.5D side-scrolling platformer, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries. As the name subtly suggests, Woolfe uses the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood as its backdrop, but adds a dark fantasy twist. "Following the death of her father, Red dons a cape, picks up an axe and faces her worst fears in a bloody vendetta against the evil B.B. Woolfe, CEO of Woolfe Industries." No, this is most certainly not the Little Red Riding Hood story you grew up with.
As announced back during that June unveil, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries will be playable for the first time publicly at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany from August 13-17. In fact, according to GRIN, "the core gameplay is already in place," so why the need to turn to crowdfunding? The answer is cliche, but important nonetheless: to make it even better.
While at this point much of the core gameplay is in place and with the current funding at our disposal, we could continue through development as-is. But, we want Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries to be something truly special. Kickstarter gives us the opportunity to include some excellent features that would otherwise have to be sacrificed and the opportunity for our supporters to (quite literally) be a part of the game.
Before we get into what the Kickstarter funding will allow the studio to accomplish, let's first delve into what the game entails. GRIN broke the game down to five core features: 2.5D action-platforming; fast, axe-wielding combat with skillfully executed combos (mindless hack-'n'-slash this is not); deranged fairy tale bosses, such as The Pied Piper, a monstrous Pinocchio, and a Creeping Beauty; a rich, visual experience inspired by Tim Burton and Dutch painter Anton Pieck; and a twisted fairy tale story. Over the course of the adventure, players will navigate across four main environments: The City, The Forest, The Mines, and The Factory. Each locale will not only offer a unique aesthetic, but of course unique enemies to overcome, like scary fairies or evil dwarves.
A successful Kickstarter campaign will allow GRIN to add two additional key features. The first is having Red Riding Hood harness magical abilities, "blessed with superhuman skills that help her overcome opponents" instead of simply having her relying on her axe. Four such abilities GRIN would like to include are: Animal Instinct, providing heightened senses, such as vision and smell, that help you detect environmental clues; Shadow Trance, which allows you to submerge in your surroundings and become almost invisible; Smoke Teleport, which allows you to disappear and reappear at a different location, even moving through objects and closed doors; and Wolf Power, containing a set of attack modes using a mystical shadow wolf. Most importantly, GRIN doesn't want to just tack these powers on, but rather seamlessly integrate them into the game, "ensur[ing] that magic is incorporated into level designs, enemy encounters, puzzles and the story in ways that feel natural and exciting to the player." This means extra challenges and workload for the writing department, programming and level design, and of course the concept art and 3D modelling department.
The second major feature GRIN plans on adding is one of the coolest things I've ever seen a Kickstarter campaign promise – every single backer actually having a personalized part in the game. If you watched the trailer, you probably noticed that Red Riding Hood has to fight her way past thousands of Toy Soldiers in the game. At the moment, each Toy Soldier has the same generic stats; rather boring. Instead of GRIN tweaking or randomizing each Toy Soldier on its own, the studio is going to put that power in the hands of every single backer. Everyone backing the game will receive access to the Online Toy Soldier Editor, providing each backer with his or her own "in-game enemy to pimp and personalize." Not only is your creation guaranteed to be encountered somewhere within your game, but every other Toy Soldier you encounter will be some other backer's creation. "Every time your soldier is victorious against Little Red Riding Hood or gets killed the stats will be logged. Your soldier will receive skill points for every battle he fights and a bonus for every battle he wins." You'll then be able to log into the Editor and spend your skill points to buff up health, strength, speed, aggression, evasion, and armor. As such, every time you do so, you're strengthening the Woolfe Army and thus gradually making the game harder for everyone playing, including yourself. If that's not worth the minimum $15 pledge, I don't know what is!
While those two additional features are certainly reason enough for the Kickstarter campaign, the extra funding will of course also be used to improve the quality of the game. The two main areas of attention will be combat and animation – creating "smarter AI and more realistic and challenging combat/combo experiences" and hiring a talented professional to rework the in-game animations and cut-scenes. GRIN provided a pie chart that breaks down where the money would go, with nearly half focused on some aspect of magic and a quarter going toward the "quality upgrade."
While GRIN plans to eventually bring the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the initial launch platform for Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is PC via Steam. The game was greenlit after just five days, so Steam is already a guarantee, and that is the key backers will receive. The studio still has to figure out the logistics of console download keys, but stated that, "if it is possible, you will receive a console version too (when released)." Only Windows support is guaranteed, but the studio will look into supporting Mac as well, if it doesn't prove too difficult; Linux is out of the question though, due to the use of Unreal Engine 3. The current time table is that Woolfe enters Closed Beta this September, with the full PC Steam release planned for Q1 2015. The console release would then follow in Q2 2015.
As stated earlier, the minimum pledge is $15 ($10 via early bird), which grants you a copy of the game upon release and the Toy Soldier Editor. If you'd like Closed Beta access, that starts at $50 and up, while Alpha access starts at $100 and up. There are of course a lot of other tiers in between and after, so take a look to see which one appeals to you the most. If you're on the fence, set a reminder and come back to it after we get some impressions from gamers at Gamescom next week. I'm certainly looking forward to learning more!
Source: Press Release and Kickstarter
Image editing has become quite prolific with companies and individuals using software tools to do everything from removing blemishes to creating practically new scenes. These tools are generally limited to just acting in two dimensions. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University though have developed software that allows for 3D manipulation of objects in 2D images, by leveraging archives of computer models.
The idea behind the system is to manipulate images based on what we know, instead of just what we see. An object captured in a scene, like a taxi, may only be seen from one angle, but we can recognize that it is a taxi, and from that interpret what it looks like from other angles. The software does essentially the same thing as it semi-automatically aligns 3D models to objects in an image. It also estimates the illumination and the appearance of the hidden portions, so it appears to be seamless, as the object is manipulated.
Of course this technique has limitations, including that there are only so many 3D models for it to draw from, and even as the number increases, it will have to be able to find these new models.
Source: Carnegie Mellon University
August 5, 2014
Take-Two Interactive Software published its fiscal first quarter 2015 financial report today, and in it listed all the games currently on the docket. Grand Theft Auto V, Battleborn, Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, WWE 2K15, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and NBA 2K15 are all still right on schedule, but apparently Turtle Rock's Evolve is not. No explanation was given, just an unceremonious sentence that said: "The title is now planned to launch globally on February 10, 2015." This past weekend was a big alpha stress test for the game, which may have impacted the decision to push the game back, but again, no reason has been provided.
When the original release date of October 21, 2014 was announced, it had a lot of competition that month: Alien: Isolation, Batman: Arkham Knight, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Of those games, now only Alien and Middle-earth remain in October. Delays are an inevitable part of the video game industry. In the meantime, if you didn't get to play in the Evolve alpha test and aren't patient, you can always print out your own figurines and make up your own matches in the real world like you did when you were a kid.
UPDATE: The Evolve Facebook page has confirmed the new release date.
Sony has revealed that it does not currently have any plans to develop a successor Reader model, effectively ending its efforts to successfully grab and maintain a portion of the e-reader market. The announcement comes a few months after the company made its last batch of Reader devices, the PRS-T3, outside of Japan. As such, the PRS-T3 will continue to exist as long as supplies remain within Europe. Sony Reader owners within North America can continue using Kobo for book purchases, while owners located in Japan can continue to make use of the Sony Reader Store.
Source: BBC News
For years now, people have been fascinated by metamaterials, which can make light and sound waves do the unexpected, including creating invisibility cloaks. The fact that these are actual devices though limits their effectiveness, so researchers have been looking for ways to replicate the results without special mediums. Those at Berkeley Lab have recently discovered how to create an acoustic bottle in open air.
An acoustic bottle, like the name suggests, is a bottle of sound with the sound waves travelling around a space, instead of passing through it. As the center is pressure neutral, whatever is in it will not interact with the sound waves, like how an invisibility cloak works. To achieve this without a metamaterial for the sound to pass through, the researchers used an array of speakers and carefully tuned the sound's phase profile across it. Phase is a property of waves that represents the position of the crests and troughs, and by changing it one can control how waves will interfere with each other. In this instance the interaction creates a high pressure wall around a space that will actually pull sound waves into the wall, and around from the space.
Potentially acoustic bottles could be used for routing sound waves around objects, cloaking an object from sonar detection or avoiding obstacles to ultrasound imaging. Also it could be used for achieve acoustic levitation, which can manipulate millimeter-sized objects.
Source: Berkeley Lab
The Resident Evil series has sold over 61 million units to date, but the last few iterations of the franchise have been a far cry from the original ones, which defined what true survival horror was all about. Originally released way back in 1996, the original Resident Evil was actually remade in 2002 "from the ground up with new visuals, gameplay elements, environments and story details while retaining the survival horror atmosphere the series had become synonymous for." Today, Capcom announced that it will be revisiting the classic once again, remastering the remaster.
Planned for release in early 2015 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, Resident Evil will feature upgraded visuals, with increased resolutions and textures, enhanced 3D models, and 1080p support for the new-gen consoles. Sound effects are also being fully remastered with 5.1 surround support. Most interestingly, players will be able to toggle between two visual options and two control scheme options at any time. Visually, you can try out the classic 4:3 ratio or switch to the stunning 16:9 widescreen mode. For controls, "Purists can choose to play with the classic control scheme or enjoy a new alternative scheme in line with current standards where the character moves in the direction of the analogue stick."
If you got into the Resident Evil series late and never experienced where it all began, soon you'll be able to do so without your eyes bleeding! The screenshots below are from the PS3/360 version, not PC or new-gen. Here's hoping Capcom plans on giving the remaster treatment to Resident Evil 2, my favorite survival horror game of all-time.
Source: Press Release
Comcast has been offering its Internet Essentials program, which provides 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds to low-income families, for just under two years. While it has successfully connected 350,000 eligible families since its launch, Comcast is looking to bring more of the 2.6 million people that are eligible nationwide onboard. Today the company announced that it is reworking Internet Essentials by making it even more enticing for those who have not signed up for the program. Comcast is providing new subscribers that sign up between today and September 20, 2014, with six months of complimentary service. The company is also providing families with an amnesty program, in which outstanding bills owed to Comcast that are more than one year old are forgiven, allowing even more low-income families to be eligible for Internet Essentials.
Comcast plans to utilize many public service announcements to promote its six months complimentary offer while also engaging parents, teachers, non-profit partners, and elected officials about the Internet Essentials program.
When Assassin's Creed Unity was announced for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, word got out that a last-gen Assassin's Creed game was also in the works, codenamed Comet. Today, Ubisoft has officially announced Assassin's Creed Rogue, coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 worldwide on November 11 (two weeks after Unity). Whereas Unity takes place in 18th century Paris during the French Revolution, Rogue concludes the North American trilogy, transporting us to new locations across North America during the Seven Years War, also in the 18th century. These locations include "the frozen North Atlantic, the Appalachian River Valley and New York," and the game will feature a naval component with a new ship called the Morrigan.
Assassin's Creed Rogue marks the first time players will be able to take on the role of a Templar. "After a mission for the Assassin Brotherhood goes terribly wrong, Shay Patrick Cormac leaves the Order, prompting his former brothers to make an attempt on his life. Of course, what doesn’t kill you turns you into a hunter. Now Shay is on a path of vengeance, tracking down the Assassins and systematically eliminating them. Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be the darkest chapter in the franchise as you take off your Assassin hood and step into the role of a Templar."
Assassin's Creed Rogue is being developed by Ubisoft Sofia, in collaboration with Ubisoft's Singapore, Montreal, Quebec, Chengdu, Milan, and Bucharest studios. Pre-ordering grants you the Ultimate Hunter Pack (an exclusive collection of Templar weapons and items) and The Siege of Fort de Sable Mission (a bonus fort-raiding mission). The standard edition is priced at $59.99. A collector's edition will also be available with an art-book, three lithographs, the original soundtrack, and two additional single player missions, but pricing was not disclosed. Of course, the real question is, how long before an "HD Version" comes to PC, PS4, and XBO? We all know it's going to happen eventually; it's a matter of when, not if.
Source: Press Release and UbiBlog
An easy way to extend the battery life of devices like smartphones is to turn off their wireless radios. Broadcasting signals is an energy expensive process, which is one of the reasons we have not yet achieved an Internet of Things that will connect non-traditional devices. Researchers at the University of Washington though have developed a technology that drops the energy required for wireless data transfer to negligible levels by taking advantage of the signals already there.
Traditional wireless communication relies on a transmitter to put out a signal for a receiver to pick up. Previous research has demonstrated that the energy of those signals can be captured and used to power some small devices, but typically the power acquired this way is not enough to send a signal. The Washington researchers solved this problem by not sending signals but by using Wi-Fi backscatter, which alters signals already in the air, instead of producing new ones. Doing this is so much simpler that the device using this technology would not need a battery to communicate.
So far the researchers have demonstrated communication at 1 Kbps with a two meter distance between devices, which they hope to increase to 20 meters. While that is a relatively slow connection, the idea here is not to download webpages and videos but to provide simpler data, like temperature information on a room or your workout statistics to an online spreadsheet.
Source: University of Washington
We are moving right along with August, with plenty of items for you to check out. There is the ASUS R9 270 Direct CU II OC video card, which may not have as high stock clocks as a 270X, but that custom cooler could easily help surpass those numbers. If you're into water cooling and reside on the NVIDIA half, we have a look at the EKWB ASUS GTX 780 Ti DCII OC full cover water block that also comes with a rear plate for maximum cooling. To house your computer, and have it look good while doing so, there's a review on the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe, a fancier version of the Enthoo Pro. Thecus' N2560 Dual-Bay NAS gets put to the test to see how well this affordable option performs. If you need a new mouse pad, maybe the XTracGear Ripper is the one for you. Rounding out today's assortment is the ASUS MeMO Pad 7, an Android tablet powered by Intel.
ASUS R9 270 Direct CU II OC @ Madshrimps
EKWB ASUS GTX 780 Ti DCII OC Full Cover Water Block @ Madshrimps
Phanteks Enthoo Luxe @ ThinkComputers
Thecus N2560 Dual-Bay NAS @ PC Perspective
XTracGear Ripper @ Benchmark Reviews
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 @ TechSpot
Last month, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and NetherRealm Studios surprised nobody by revealing that franchise mainstay Raiden would be in Mortal Kombat X. Today, WBIE released a new video narrated by NetherRealm Studio's creative director Ed Boon, describing Raiden's character variations and play styles, along with some new images:
- Thunder God — "The Thunder God Variation enhances Raiden's lightning attacks. This allows him to extend and perform combos that are unique only to this Variation. Thus giving Raiden the potential to do more damage."
- Displacer — "In his Displacer Variation, Raiden gains the ability to teleport to multiple attack zones. This tactic can be used to move into close range, attack from behind, or even escape rushdowns, making Raiden difficult to contain and significantly more mobile."
- Storm Lord — "The Storm Lord Variation gives Raiden the ability to create lightning traps. These traps can be used defensively or as a method to corner opponents. They can be used to affect wide areas, allowing Raiden to control the entire battlefield."
Mortal Kombat X will be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2015.
Source: Press Release
Sound waves can be described as vibrations in a medium, whether that is air, water, or another material. Though you cannot see it with the naked eye, those vibrations can be translated to objects like bags, aluminum foil, and the surfaces of water. Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have recently developed an algorithm that can identify these vibrations in a video and recreate the sounds that caused them.
For the most accurate reconstructed audio, the video needs to have a frequency greater than the audio signal, so the researchers employed high speed cameras to film at 2000-6000 frames per second. They were also able to use video from more typical cameras that record at just 60 FPS by exploiting how some sensors will actually record a row of pixels at a time, instead of recording a full frame. This means that quick movements can be seen as an object moves between recording one row and the next. To overcome the very small size of the vibrations, which are smaller than the size of a pixel, the algorithm watches for color shifts, indicative of a border moving in the image. The pixel covering the border would be a blend of the colors on either side of the border, so if the border moves, the color will shift one way or the other.
As it is now, this technology can capture intelligible audio signals from video of some objects, or provide information concerning how many people are speaking, and their identity. Naturally there are possible applications in law enforcement and forensics, but like any new technology, it could have a variety of uses not yet imagine.
August 4, 2014
Walmart has just launched a redesigned version of its online storefront thanks to Walmart Labs, its research and development team located in Silicon Valley. The new design incorporates many improvements that were based on input received directly from Walmart customers. These improvements include a mobile-based layout, an improved personalized search engine that utilizes past purchases and search history, and more in-depth product pages. Additionally, larger buttons and a larger search box are now featured on the Walmart website. Overall, the new design is tailored towards making Walmart more competitive against other online retailers such as Amazon.
According to Walmart, the new personalization feature is currently available to roughly half of all its customers, though plans are in place for it to be rolled out to all of its customers by the end of this month.
In an effort to limit its use of foreign technology, China has excluded anti-virus vendors Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corporation from its approved vendor list. At this time, only five anti-virus brands are approved for use, all of which are developed within China. The announcement from the state-controlled People's Daily shows that Beijing is intent on using domestic information technology products, which is no doubt related to documents that were released by Edward Snowden last year that unveiled United States surveillance programs. Although Symantec officials were not available for contact, Kaspersky spokesman Alejandro Arango noted that the company is working closely with Chinese authorities about the exclusion of its software.
Kaspersky Lab and Symantec are not alone in this challenge to be listed as an approved vendor, as companies like Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft have all reportedly faced challenges with China since the release of documents pertaining to United States surveillance programs. China has even banned governmental use of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, for personal computers.
The Battle Dragon Edition Power Bank is the latest accessory from the Tt eSports line from Thermaltake. It carries up to 8,800 mAh of charge and can power multiple mobile devices on a single charge. A high efficiency design provides for up to 90% power conversion to provide the fastest charging times. Four LEDs indicate the amount of charge remaining on the device and a pair of USB ports provide for normal charging or fast charging through a 2.1A port. The Battle Dragon Edition Power Bank will retail for $39.99 and is available now.
Source: Press Release
Two-dimensional materials have been of great interest since their discovery, as they can possess many interesting mechanical and electrical properties. Sometimes those properties will not translate to 3D forms of the material, but other times they will. Researchers at Rice University have recently devised a way to grow foam made of graphene oxide and white graphene that could find possible use as electrodes and structural components.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon, with graphene oxide (GO) being a close relative that is actually easier to produce. White graphene is not related to either material though, except by having the same flat, hexagonal structure, as it consists of boron nitride. Because both GO and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) have the same structure, they can form seamless connections, creating a hybrid material many researchers are investigating. Those at Rice discovered that they could combine the two with certain catalysts and then freeze-dry the mixture to create a foam of the 2D materials. The structure resembles an office building with multiple floors and walls supporting them.
When stress tested, the researchers found the foam stood up very well to compression and stretching. How well it survived depended on the ratio of GO and h-BN, which the researchers intend to optimize through additional experiments, while also testing how large a sample they can grow.
Source: Rice University
ECS first announced the LIVA Mini PC early last month and the small form factor system has "received all the positive feedback from users as well as many awards from media globally." ECS has decided to expand the line with a white version of the system with a 64GB eMMC storage capability. The eMMC storage option represents an upgrade over the previous model and was intended "to fulfill the high storage requirement and to enjoy the quick Read/Write Speed."
Source: Press Release
If you're like me, you only really care about the Create A Sim and Build Mode tools, but for those of you that actually want to "play the game," The Sims 4 is chock full of emotions. I'm not talking about the sadness you feel when your favorite sim dies or the satisfaction you get when you trap a sim in a burning building (I won't judge...). No no, I'm talking about the sims themselves, as displayed in this "New Emotions Official Gameplay Trailer":
The Sims 4 is coming exclusively to PC on September 2, with pre-orders currently available for the standard Limited Edition ($59.99) and the Digital Deluxe Edition ($69.99).
Source: Official Site
Graphene is an unusual material with its amazing electrical, optical, and mechanical properties. This makes it of particular interest to many people for use in electronics and sensors, but we are still learning new things about it. Researchers at MIT have recently found that the way graphene interacts with light depends on it electron concentration, which serves to explain contradictions in some previous studies.
When a short, bright pulse of laser light strikes a semiconductor, the pulse increases its conductivity, while the same pulse will decrease the conductivity of a metal. Graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, has been observed to both increase and decrease conductivity under laser pulses, despite the fact that it is typically a metal-like conductor. The MIT researchers discovered that the behavior depends on the electron concentration of the graphene, with a low concentration causing its photoresponse to be like a semiconductor and a high concentration causing it to behave like a metal. To find this result, the researchers placed the graphene on top of an insulator with an electrode beneath it, and then used one laser to provide the pulse and another to measure the conductivity. This all-optical, non-contact approach allowed for the electrical response to be measured within a trillionth of a second.
Now armed with this information, researchers can develop and improve advanced, highly sensitive light detectors made of graphene. These detectors could have ultrafast response times and respond to a broad spectrum of frequencies.
Last week, despite Rust still being in Early Access, developer Facepunch Studios unveiled a new project codenamed Riftlight. In a follow-up post, Facepunch founder Garry Newman explained that the studio actually had "three other prototypes being worked on." In a new blog entry posted by Facepunch's Ian James, we now know one of those additional prototypes: "an arcade style tennis game with a focus on unique characters and courts."
Referred to as Deuce and described as tennis meets Street Fighter, it appears like any other isometric tennis game on the surface, but with special moves. Four such special moves that currently work in the prototype build "to some degree" include: Ice, which freezes the opponent on returning the ball; Tornado, which sends the ball flying in a random direction; Teleport, which switches the ball position mid flight; and Fireball, which isn't described but appears to be a fast, powerful shot. Balance is a large concern for James though, as the current iteration of Tornado "is almost impossible to return." He's also iterating on ideas about how and when to trigger the special moves and how "in position" a player has to be to be able to return the ball. He's even coded his own physics system instead of simply using Unity's built-in physics engine, allowing for backspin, topspin, or curving along a spline for some of the special moves.
Aside from the special moves, the other unique aspect of the game will be its characters. James plans on a large roster of playable characters, each with their own move set, and each with their own look that's atypical of a tennis player. James and his team "want to build a selection of characters that could star in their own games in the future or perhaps play different sports." Each character will also have a matching location just as you'd expect from a fighting game like Street Fighter, and James is "toying with the idea that elements in the court environment will come in to play during a match."
As with Riftlight, there is no release window provided for Deuce, but the core game is already functional, as is both local and online multiplayer. James plans on providing weekly updates to keep us informed.
Source: Deuce Devblog
On the small, personal scale, batteries have enabled many technologies, and on the large scale, they could do the same. One of the outstanding issues of solar and wind panel is their variability throughout the day, which massive batteries could address, but such batteries are expensive, dangerous, and do not always survive long. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory however, have found a way to ease these problems for one class of battery.
Sodium-beta batteries are massive batteries the size of cargo containers that use pure sodium as the negative electrode, with a solid, ceramic membrane made of beta alumina separating the electrodes. Ideally the sodium will completely coat the beta alumina, but molten sodium resists the ceramic if temperatures are below 400 ºC, so the batteries operate at 350 ºC. While this is necessary for operation, it also shortens the lifespan of the batteries, and poses a fire risk. The PNNL researchers found a solution by changing the electrode from pure sodium to a sodium-cesium alloy that will wet the ceramic at lower temperatures.
The new battery has an operating temperature of just 150 ºC and keeps the 420 milliampere-hours per gram capacity of traditional sodium-beta batteries. That capacity last longer in the new battery as well, as one hundred cycles only brought it down to 97%, while pure-sodium batteries are at 70% after sixty cycles. Also the reduction in temperature would allow cheaper materials to be used for the battery, as steel could be replaced by polymers.
Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
It's the start of a new week, and that means some new items for you to check out today. There is a review on the AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU, a new model meant to fill in some of the gaps in AMD's Kaveri line. It is similar to the A10-7850K, just it has nearly half the power usage to make it a prime candidate for an HTPC build. Our other item for today is a giveaway, as you can enter for a chance to win a Phanteks Enthoo Pro case and PH-TC14CS CPU cooler.
AMD A10-7800 Kaveri @ LanOC Reviews
Win a Phanteks Enthoo Pro Case & PH-TC14CS CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers