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Steam Is Getting a Redesigned Library and New Events Features

At GDC today, Valve announced a new UI for the Steam Library. The new Steam Library has larger game icons and more categorization for your games. PC Gamer says the library reminds them of Plex or the Apple TV. The Steam Friend's List is integrated into the Library view on the right side. They noted that the coolest feature is using Steam Tags for games to create new categories such as "Ninja Action." A Beta release is scheduled for this summer. The new Steam Events page will create a new way for fans of games to connect with developers. Games in your library that are organizing occasions like game updates, streams, tournaments, and so on will be found here. This is being built in response to today's live service games. Developers will be able to get the word out to fans through calendar support for Google and iCal, Steam client notifications, email, text message, and Steam mobile app. These events will be shown in other parts of Steam also.

"We think of this as the way developers will be able to communicate with players through Steam," Kroll said. "We want to build the foundation for a communication platform where all the interesting things that are happening in games can find their way to the customers. And the customers that are interested in finding out 'what's happening in games in my library, what kind of events are happening, what's been updated recently, what are my friends doing,' making all that much easier for players to be able to find."

Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 6:32 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.

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

Samsung Launches 12GB Smartphone Memory Packages

Samsung just announced what it claims to be the world's highest-capacity mobile DRAM package in production. The Korean company's new LPDDR4X modules combine six 16-gigabit, "10nm-class" DRAM ICs into a package that's 1.1 millimeters tall, allowing manufacturers to stuff just as much RAM as the desktop I'm typing this on into razor-thin phones. Samsung also says the module can hit transfer rates of up to 34.1GB per second, and claims that power consumption is only minimally increased in spite of the dramatic capacity boost. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

Since introducing 1GB mobile DRAM in 2011, Samsung continues to drive capacity breakthroughs in the mobile DRAM market, moving from 6GB (in 2015) and 8GB (2016) to today's first 12GB LPDDR4X. From its cutting-edge memory line in Pyeongtaek, Korea, Samsung plans to more than triple the supply of its 1y-nm-based 8GB and 12GB mobile DRAM during the second half of 2019 to meet the anticipated high demand.

Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 10:43 AM (CDT)

Nissan Will Use a Vive and HaptX Gloves to Prototype Designs

Nissan is teaming up with haptic feedback expert HaptX to create a system where designers and engineers can prototype future car designs in a virtual environment. Using HaptX gloves and what appears to be an HTC Vive, the workers can interact with mock-ups of car interiors and exteriors without having to build an expensive physical prototype for every new design. Nissan seems to be particularly invested in VR technology, as they claim to be "the first automaker in Japan to use HaptX Gloves." They also showed off a number of driver-focused AR technologies at CES last January, including a rain-parting navigation system and a holographic, animesque avatar that pops out of the dash.

It takes years between creating the first 3D model to sitting in the driver's seat of a complete physical prototype. HaptX Gloves can reduce that time from years to days, letting you grip the steering wheel, adjust the volume dial, and feel the click of the glove compartment in VR, before the first piece of steel is bent. This type of nuanced interaction allows auto designers to get a better sense of their customer’s experience. "Automakers have faced imperfect options in the design process. VR controllers are unnatural and inadequate for realistic feedback, but full-scale physical models are expensive and limited in their utility," said Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of HaptX. "HaptX Gloves address these limitations, enabling auto designers to feel their new vehicle models throughout the design process and allowing for rapid prototyping within VR."

Posted by alphaatlas March 08, 2019 11:59 AM (CST)

Rumor: Witcher 3 Director Now Design Director on Cyberpunk 2077

The bad news: Cyberpunk 2077’s former creative director, Sebastian Stepien, now reportedly works for Blizzard. The good news: CD PROJEKT RED has just found a replacement. The even better news: it’s the guy who directed The Witcher 3 (and its expansions), Konrad Tomaszkiewicz. These are very different games, however, so some fans are concerned whether the changing of the guard could lead to substantial changes in gameplay and, perhaps, an even later release date.

Tomaszkiewicz looks to have updated his LinkedIn profile to say that, as of February of this year, he is "CD Projekt Red’s Vice President of Game Development / Design Director - Cyberpunk 2077." Previously, he was simply listed as the game director for The Witcher 3's Blood and Wine expansion. Considering the technical difference in titles involved it's hard know for sure how this will impact the development of the game, this could point toward whatever changes took place internally after Stepien left now being official.

Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 3:40 PM (CST)

KOTOR II Designer/Writer Chris Avellone Helped Write Respawn's "Jedi: Fallen Order"

The story may be headed nowhere on celluloid, but there appears to be hope yet for the Star Wars mythos in video game land: Chris Avellone, a designer and writer who needs no introduction by RPG fans, has revealed on Twitter he helped Respawn shape their upcoming Star Wars game, "Jedi: Fallen Order." Avellone, whose credits include KOTOR II, Planetscape: Torment, Icewind Dale, and Fallout 2, has added the following to his LinkedIn page: "Narrative Designer/Writer (contractor) did story work, story/character reviews, and wrote cinematic scripts for Jedi: The Fallen Order."

We don't know much about Fallen Order at this point, but leaks indicate that it will take place shortly after Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith, and will be about a Padawan who managed to survive Order 66. It will also be singleplayer-only, which might seem a bit unusual for Respawn, whose previous games include Titanfall and Apex Legends. But let us never forget that Titanfall 2 was one of the best singleplayer shooters to come along in years (seriously, it's a tragedy that it wasn't a major hit), and adding Avellone to that formula makes it an even more exciting prospect.

Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 3:15 PM (CST)

Boeing Reveals an Intelligent Drone Designed to Escort Manned Fighters

Yesterday, Boeing introduced a autonomous UAV designed to perform the role of a "loyal wingman to manned platforms." The press release says that the aircraft is about 38 feet long has a range of over 2,000 nauticle miles, while Defense News says it can carry unspecified weapons into combat. It can supposedly be controlled from the ground or the manned aircraft its following, and Boeing also mentioned that it will "Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft." Unfortunately, they stopped short of revealing just how extensive the aircraft's autonomous systems are, what sort of silicon they use for the aircraft's artificial intelligence, or what kind of performance we can expect from the plane. But unlike most other military drones I've seen, this particular airframe seems to be optimized for supersonic (or at least high transonic) travel.

"This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements," said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International. "The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers - led by Australia - effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce." First flight is planned for 2020.

Posted by alphaatlas February 28, 2019 10:49 AM (CST)

San Francisco Uses Computer Algorithm to Dismiss 9,362 Marijuana Convictions

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has teamed up with nonprofit Code For America to use a computer algorithm based on its "Clear My Record" technology to overturn 9,362 marijuana convictions dating back to 1975. The algorithm automated the scanning of many thousands of court records to find cases that were eligible for expungement. California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016 and Proposition 64 allowed for old cases to be overturned. But individuals had to petition the court and the process was confusing, costly and time-consuming. Only 23 cases had been processed in the court system before the computer algorithm was able to perform the task in just minutes. "The cleared records will help people gain employment and be approved for housing and other opportunities they might have been denied because of their criminal records." Code For America says it is hopeful that it can bring the technology to other cities and counties.

"If you are the mom or dad who wants to participate in the kids' school activities and they're being told you can't go to that field trip because you have a felony conviction because you sold a nickel bag in the Tenderloin 10 years ago, that's the people that we care about," said Gascon. "Contact with the criminal justice system should not be a life sentence, so we've been working to reimagine the record clearance process," Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America founder and executive director, said in a statement."This new approach, which is both innovative and common sense, changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the country."

Posted by cageymaru February 26, 2019 4:43 PM (CST)

Energizer Smartphone has a 18,000 mAh Battery

While the big Android smartphone players like Samsung, Huawei, LG and others tend to dominate the headlines and the markets, occasionally, smaller companies or corporations from other markets will come out with crazy designs. Caterpillar, for example, has a lineup of rugged, steel bodied steel Android phones, and Phone Arena reports that Energizer is throwing their hat into the fray as well. At MWC, they showed off the "Energizer Power Max P18K Pop" smartphone that comes with an 18,000 mAh battery. Insane capacity aside, the phone features a 6.2 inch 2160 x 1080 display, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a MediaTek Helio P70 SoC, a relatively clean instance of Android 9, and 5 cameras, putting it on par with other upper-middle range Android handsets.

18,000 mah - this is the amount of charge this beast of a phone can hold. To put this figure into perspective, this is 4.5 times the charge capacity of a Galaxy S10+ or a Galaxy Note 9. The device can sustain a 90-hour phone call and will last 50 days in stand-by. To drain it, you'd need to play video for 2 days straight. The phone also doubles as a power bank, while a full recharge requires around 9 hours if its bundled quick charger is used. But perhaps it is now time to address the elephant in the room: this phone is humongous, reminiscent of Thor's hammer, and it barely fits in a normal pocket. It also weighs a ton and can literally be used for self defense as the frame is made of metal. We can imagine it being a great phone for long flights or trips in the wild, but we can't picture ourselves with this as our primary handset. The blue color is pretty, though... We're told that the phone is set to launch in September of this year.

Posted by alphaatlas February 26, 2019 10:59 AM (CST)

Nokia 9 PureView: The World's First Quintuple Camera Smartphone

Because one, two, three, or even four cameras isn’t enough, Nokia has announced a new PureView phone that boasts five rear sensors: "ZEISS optics on the back, two of which are RGB and the other three - monochrome." These work in unison, capturing lighting, detail, and color data to stitch a 12MP image. "According to HMD, taking a single photo results in at least 60 MP of imaging data being processed."

This is made possible with a dedicated image co-processor, which helps out with the heavy task. Every picture is HDR, can have up to 12.4 stops of dynamic range, and ends up with a full scene 12 MP depth map. Yes, this means that you will be able to use a depth editor to specifically adjust bokeh effects after the photo has already been taken. It'll even allow you to tweak colors and contrast between different depth fields. And yes, it can shoot RAW.

Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 11:25 AM (CST)

Huawei Announces the $2,600 Foldable Mate X Smartphone: It Folds Outwards!

Samsung, hold my beer: Huawei has unveiled its own vision for the foldable smartphone, the Mate X. Unlike the Galaxy Fold, Huawei’s contraption folds out on itself: "its display wraps around the outer sides of the handset when it is in a folded state." Keeping the 8-inch, 2480 x 2200 AMOLED panel and pieces together is a patented hinge with over 100 components, the "Falcon Hinge." It also supports 5G and incorporates a 4,500mAh battery.

When unfolded, it's not one uniform slab -- it's a 5.4 mm (0.21 in) thick tablet with an 11 mm (0.43 in) bulging strip located in the rightmost part of its back. It works sort of like a handle, giving you more meat to hold on to, and also houses the phone's triple camera sensor. When it folds, the "back" display meets with the bulge to make for a uniform shape all around, giving you an 11 mm (0.43 in) thick handset.

Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 10:30 AM (CST)

Microsoft Workers Protest $480M Army Contract with Tech "Designed to Help People Kill"

A group of Microsoft employees have penned an open letter urging CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith to cancel their $480M contract with the army, which would fulfill the military’s desire for an "Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS)" with thousands of HoloLens augmented reality devices. Workers claim they didn’t sign for weapons development and warn the technology turns combat into a "simulated video game."

Microsoft intends to apply its HoloLens augmented reality technology to this purpose. While the company has previously licensed tech to the U.S. Military, it has never crossed the line into weapons development. With this contract, it does. The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated "video game," further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.

Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 12:10 PM (CST)