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VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user's environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user's environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.

In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas. The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users' passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer's insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:47 PM (CDT)

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some "early designs" of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe's specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven't seen on a high-end reference card in some time.

Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel's upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 8:32 AM (CDT)

Intel Ice Lake Shows Up In EEC Database

Intel showed off a 10nm Ice Lake "client SoC" at CES this year, and revealed that it will use the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture. While they gave a few details about the upcoming mobile chips and the core itself, we didn't hear much about Ice Lake in higher power parts. However, Twitter user and data-miner Komachi has once again found some unreleased hardware on the Eurasian Economic Commission's Online Portal. The first listing shows an "Idaville Ice Lake-D Pre-Alpha 85W Clear Linux Internal 32G Physical SDP," suggesting that Intel will brink the upcoming 10nm architecture to their (relatively) high power Xeon-D server chip lineup. Assuming the listing is accurate (as some other EEC listings have been,) this more or less confirms that Ice Lake won't be confined to the realm of low-power laptop chips.
Meanwhile, the next listing suggests that the low power "Ice Lake-Y" chips will have a "4+2" core config. Intel's current Amber Lake processors top out at 2 cores, so if I'm reading the listing right, it looks like ultra low power notebooks could get a core count boost next generation. There's also an Ice Lake-U "upgrade kit" listing with the same "4+2" core config. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:48 AM (CDT)

What Happens When You Water Cool an Air Cooler?

What happens when you try to water cool and air cooling tower? One YouTuber decided decided to find out, as he sealed the upper part of a Hyper 212 EVO inside a closed ice loop. The setup managed to keep and overclocked 2500k at a stable 44C under load, but just how practical such a setup would be long-term remains to be seen. Check out the experiment below:

Ever since I can remember, when it comes to CPU cooling there are two main options, water cooling or air cooling. That got me thinking, why cant you do both. I took my Hyper 212 EVO and set out to water cool it, I thought it would be cool But I had not idea it would work this well.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 9:09 AM (CDT)

Get Ready for Targeted Ads on Your Smart TV

Disney, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and other top media companies have teamed up with VIZIO for a new standard that will bring targeted ads to television viewers. VIZIO, which recently lost $2.2 million after being caught tracking and selling viewing data using software on its Smart TVs, claims targeted ads, which are "relevant" to the household, will "drastically enhance" the viewing experience.

The companies are calling themselves a consortium, and they've dubbed this "Project OAR," or Open Addressable Ready. Once developed, the new, open standard will make it possible for all connected TV companies to sell targeted ads in scheduled and on-demand programs. While this will theoretically make ads more successful and therefore more valuable, it also means viewers' data will be shared with third parties. That raises the usual data privacy concerns.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 2:45 PM (CDT)

Paramount Is Urging Theaters to Show Ang Lee's New Sci-Fi Movie at 120 FPS

Moviegoers have been turned off thus far by films that weren’t shot and projected at standard frame rates (e.g., 24 FPS), but that isn’t stopping Paramount and critically acclaimed director Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain") from pushing high-frame-rate cinema: letters from the studio indicate Lee’s latest, "Gemini Man," a sci-fi venture starring Will Smith, will be shown in some theaters at 60 FPS (3D) and 120 FPS (2D). Critics of HFR claim it results in "hyper-real and unnatural visuals," but supporters suggest that’s because audiences have been subjected to 24p film and 30p video for far too long.

Paramount's letter includes directions on how to conduct an HFR test and describes the 120 FPS-4K-3D combo as the "most pristine and immersive format" for showing the film. Billy Lynn was the first film to be presented at 120 fps, meaning it had a higher frame rate than the 24 frames per second adopted by most movies. HFR advocates James Cameron (who's shooting the Avatar sequels in the format) and his long-time producer pal Jon Landau have been opining about its benefits since 2011.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 5:45 PM (CDT)

Hunt Showdown is On Sale at The Humble Store

As we've noted before, Hunt Showdown is one of the best looking, and best playing, multiplayer shooters around, and it gets better with every update. While it normally goes for $30 (and will likely be even more expensive once it leaves early access), the Humble Store has the Cryengine-based co-op shooter on sale for $21.

Hunt's competitive, match-based gameplay mixes PvP and PvE elements to create a uniquely tense experience where your life, your character, and your gear are always on the line. At the beginning of each match, up to five teams of two set out to track their monstrous targets. Once they've found and defeated one of these they will receive a bounty-and instantly become a target for every other Hunter left on the map. If you don't watch your back, you'll find a knife in it, and your last memory will be of another team of Hunters walking away with your prize. The higher the risk, the higher the reward-but a single mistake could cost you everything.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 11:57 AM (CDT)

Footage Shows a Click Farm in Action

Anyone who spends time online has probably heard of, and run into, websites and social media posts that are clearly being promoted by bots. But just what do those bots look like on the other end? While I expected to see rackmount servers spoofing various devices en masse, according to a post from Tom-James Lee, CEO at Vagabond Digital, some of those "click farms" are literally giant banks of smartphones.

This is scary... A click farm in full flow. Most probably these programmatically controlled devices are liking, engaging and clicking on social media posts, pages and ads trying to trick algorithms. You hear about it happening but it's scary to see it in action as it can be seriously detrimental to digital and social marketing for businesses and brands everywhere. Keen to get everyone's thoughts?

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 9:27 AM (CDT)

Gigabyte Factory Tour Shows Motherboard Manufacturing from Start-To-Finish

Gamers Nexus recently took a tour of the Gigabyte factory located on Nanping Road in Taiwan. At this location, Gigabyte manufacturers both video cards and motherboards. Although most of the SMT factory is automated, some of the components and wires must be installed by hand. It takes 40 - 50 minutes for a motherboard to be created and Gigabyte processes 600 - 800 motherboards per hour or about 5,000 per 8 hour workday. Make sure that you compare the Gigabyte tour to the MSI factory tour that Hardocp documented in 2007. I thought it was fascinating that the Gigabyte "museum" featured test equipment similar to what Hardocp observed over a decade ago. My, how things have changed!

Motherboard manufacturing is a refined process, but each board still takes upwards of an hour to finalize on the assembly line. About half of the assembly is now done by automated SMT lines, with the rest being manual quality checks and large component installation (like PCIe slots). As for how to make a video card, it follows exactly the same process -- the difference is just which board is being fed through the machines on each day.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 8:59 PM (CDT)

Facebook and Instagram Are down

Facebook and Instagram are reportedly down. This probably means that your personal information will have to wait until both services are back up before it is harvested (sarcasm.) Facebook acknowledged the connection troubles on Twitter since it couldn't announce it on its own social media platform. Maybe this is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to shift Facebook to a "privacy-focused" platform?

We're aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We're working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 2:31 PM (CDT)

PlayerUnknown Leaves PUBG Development Team

On Twitter, Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene announced that he's leaving the the PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds development team to head up a new division of PUBG corp called "PUBG Special Projects." While he will still be a "creative consultant" for PubG's development, Brendan Green says he's moving to Amsterdam to focus on research and game development. Just what the new division will work on isn't clear, but he says they're tasked with "exploring, experimenting, and creating new technologies, tools, pipelines, and gameplay..."

But for me, it's more than just that. Together with a team of game developers and researchers, we will explore the possibilities of interaction and connection within the game space.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 11:19 AM (CDT)

Update 5.0 for Hunt Showdown is Out

Hunt Showdown's 5.0 Update is out, and among other things, it seems to make make the already visually stunning game look even better. The developers have added times of day to the Lawson Delta and Stillwater Bayou Maps, meaning you can now hunt in "Daylight, Nighttime, Golden, and Foggy" conditions. The developers also made a number of performance optimizations, added the Immolator AI, introduced a new pistol, and re-balanced shotguns. You can read the lengthy patch notes on the Steam announcement page. As we noted yesterday, the developers announced that Hunt: Showdown is coming to the Xbox One "this spring," but as far as I can tell, no-one knows if the game will support crossplay with PC. Some company representatives allegedly gave ambiguous answers to the question on the forums and the official Discord, and one staff member said "We will announce more information in the near future!"

With 5.0 we are finally able to take another look at how shotguns work in Hunt. We've never really been happy with the RNG gameplay their current implementation caused, spreading the individual shot pellets randomly within the spread cone defined by the crosshair. The changes we have done allow us to do two things: Make sure a certain number of pellets are more likely to hit closer to the center of the crosshair to help normalize damage between shots. And on the other hand, allow us to push shotgun gameplay closer to how real shotguns work. In video games, shotguns are often seen as room sweepers that pepper large areas, while in reality, the choke is actually quite narrow, requiring some aiming to be effective and being lethal at quite impressive distances still. Shotguns in HUNT will feel a bit different now, allowing players to reach out further with them, but also require more precise aiming to score hits. We also tried to make shotguns feel different now, with the Romero and its Handcannon variant having more range and a tighter spread pattern than the other shotguns to give them a meaningful place in the arsenal. Please spend some time playing with shotguns and also play AGAINST shotguns using other weapons to get a feeling for these changes and let us know how you feel about them. We plan on doing additional tweaks based on your feedback over the next weeks!

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 9:59 AM (CDT)