hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

Technology

 photo

CES expands to Asia with a new tradeshow in Shanghai


Launching May 2015
Jul 17
// Dale North
The Consumer Electronic Show is one of my favorite events. It was Destructoid's very first trade show, and we've been back every year we've been in business. While not necessarily a videogame trade show, it still brings us bi...
 photo

Microsoft layoffs cut 18,000 workers


Nokia division hit hard
Jul 17
// Dale North
Microsoft says that they're working to realign their workforce, with the first step being a large scale workforce reduction of up to 18,000 jobs. They say that the vast majority of the jobs that will be eliminated will happen...
Samsung photo
Samsung

Here's Samsung's bid at entering the VR market


It's all red
Jul 09
// Brittany Vincent
A new leaked image of Samsung's entry into the VR headset arena is making its rounds on the internet today. Known as Gear VR, it's poised to implement software co-developed by Rift creator Oculus, with screens and additional ...
 photo

Razer micro console powered by Android TV revealed at Google I/O


Gaming focused, affordable
Jun 25
// Dale North
A new product, a Razer "micro-console" powered by Android TV, was shown as part of the keynote at Google I/O today. This is a device that will stream games and other content to televisions. Razer says that it will be priced t...
 photo

Microsoft acquires cloud-computing company GreenButton


High-performance cloud tech
May 02
// Dale North
Microsoft has acquired a high-performance cloud-computing company named GreenButton today. The two companies have worked together in the past, with GreenButton also providing services to HP, Amazon, and others. But TechCrunch...
ZeniMax vs. Oculus VR photo
ZeniMax vs. Oculus VR

ZeniMax seeking compensation over the Oculus Rift


Asserts Carmack worked on IP while at id that went into the headset
May 01
// Jordan Devore
id Software parent company ZeniMax Media has sent a "formal notice of its legal rights" to Oculus VR and Facebook over intellectual property worked on by chief technology officer John Carmack while he was still at id that Zen...
Windows photo
Windows

Windows Start Menu slated to return in the near future


Just like starting over
Apr 24
// Brittany Vincent
In a marked change of pace for typical Windows releases, Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s Windows and Xbox software division, demonstrated a prototype build of a hybridized Start Menu. Combining the classic function ...
 photo

Grush, the gaming toothbrush


This is a thing
Apr 23
// Dale North
I have this thing about breath. I'm not so concerned about those that just had coffee or ate roasted garlic. It's more about the people with the breath that lets you know that they just don't bother to brush. That breath. Th...

Sony's Project Morpheus: An impressive first showing

Mar 20 // Dale North
Headset impressions We admired the headset before strapping it onto our heads. Sony's version of VR looks bigger and heavier than Rift, but it certainly doesn't feel heavy when wearing it. Trying out Oculus' second development kit this week, I thought that it felt a little heavy on my face and nose. Sony has engineered a solution that has a couple of straps letting the back of the head do the holding, keeping the weight off the nose and cheekbones. An elastic band gets you started, but a secondary plastic band with clickable tightening points does most of the work. It's pretty comfortable, and removing it doesn't mess up your hair as much as Rift does. Morpheus looks pretty slick with its glossy white finish and black matte trim. The colored lights that it uses for tracking are also attractive. But for as slick as it looks off, I can't say that it looks cool on anyone I've seen wearing it. And, of course, you won't see any of the design or trim work when you're using it. The Deep Sony's London Studios have built a really impressive demo that has users deep diving the ocean in a shark cage. My nervous giggles and head darts turned into full-on uncomfortable blurts of laughter as a large shark circled around my cage, breaking it down piece by piece with its terrifying mouth. After the first few shark attacks, looking down and to my left, I noticed that my character had started bleeding a bit, with clouds of red starting to seep up from my body. It was fun, and not unlike a theme park experience. Though The Deep was limited on the interactivity front, it's easily the most visually impressive VR demo I've experienced. The clarity of the 3D effect, the quality of the demo assets, and the level of immersion were all very high. It looked less like a demo and more like a full-on VR game. The Deep was also one of the most immersive VR demos I've tried. Having to sit and wait as the cage descended kept me tense, and knowing that I only had a flare gun to defend myself made it that much worse. A DualShock 4 controller held in one hand let me freely aim and fire the flare gun, and its tracking of my movements with it was spot-on. Excellent head and body tracking tech also let me turn my head in any direction and even turn fully around to follow the shark as he circled my cage. I drew back in fear at the shark's final attack, and I could see and feel my avatar's body drawing back with me.  The Castle While The Deep was limited in control, The Castle let me go all-out with two PlayStation Move controllers. Situated in front of a knight dummy, I was able to use my virtual hands to punch, push, pull, and otherwise manipulate it through the Move controllers, with completely accurate 1:1 control. Later, I was able to draw a sword from my side to cut at it. I tried grabbing the dummy's head with one hand (by gripping the Move's trigger) and lopping it off with the other using a sword, and liked it so much that I dismembered several more dummies before continuing. Just being in this virtual world and looking around was quite the experience. Even simple parts of it, like trying to pick up a sword, just missing, and then trying to catch it as it falls, feels impressively immersive. I saw that I was standing on a grate in front of a castle, and I tried walking forward a few steps to get a better look. I looked down and saw the moat that lied below that grate and felt a real sense of vertigo, and I felt my knees catching. This looked and felt very realistic! As the demo continued, I was able to take hold of a crossbow and shoot at dummies and other targets in the world. By holding up a PS Move controller and squeezing the trigger, I easily took targets out. I found it interesting that I could draw the controller close to my face and close one eye to get a better look through the crossbow's crosshairs.  The demo wrapped up with one of my shots aggravating what I thought was a statue of a huge dragon. It came alive and devoured me. Seeing my virtual head going into its massive mouth was pretty freaky. EVE: Valkyrie While we've seen CCP's EVE: Valkyrie before, the Project Morpheus build is easily the best version we've seen. It looks more fleshed out visually, and there's much more polish in its interfaces and assets. It also feels more like a game now than it ever has. Flying around space requires more work, and taking down enemy ships requires more hits. Enemies have hit points, and they're more than happy to dodge your missiles and come back at you while you're trying to avoid asteroid collisions. Even in its unfinished state, running on this non-final prototype kit, I'd happily buy Project Morpheus as is to play more of EVE: Valkyrie.  Impressions: Sony has had a very strong first showing for their Project Morpheus VR platform. It's clear that they've been working behind the scenes for some time now, and that this offering isn't just a me-too product. Overall, I've been more impressed with what I've seen right out of the gate than I have with any of the numerous Oculus Rift showings I've attended. The device looks better, fits better, and seems to have more immersive and higher-quality demos to share.  Oculus Rift still wins on resolution, and there is less motion blur in their latest kit, though. And they have what seems like all the brain power in the world at their disposal to figure out any issues that might come up otherwise. But both companies still have a long way to go before they have a final product. They have to build the final kit, come up with compelling experiences, and meet a price point that gamers can accept before VR will become a reality.
Sony VR hands-on photo
First hands-on at GDC
Sony choose GDC as its coming out party for its virtual reality platform, Project Morpheus. The goal was to build interest at a show where just about every developer in the industry is in attendance. And from the look of the ...

Sony's eye tracking technology will be a game changer

Mar 20 // Dale North
In an after hours demonstration last night, I sat down with Sony Computer Entertainment software engineer Eric Larsen to check out eye tracking, not knowing what to expect. I wondered what the big deal was about a game tracking my eyeballs. Why would a game need to look at me when I'm looking at it? Larsen had me sit in front of an infrared sensor and look at a screen to see a really creepy shot infrared of my own eyes, and then he had me follow a marker that moved around the screen to finish calibration. And that's all it took.  From there, I was able to try out a demo stage of Infamous: Second Son that had been modified for eye tracking input. It looked exactly the same as the current PS4 release, but I noticed that when I looked around the screen, the camera followed. As you can imagine, this took a bit of getting used to. Having my eyes scanning the game's setting had the camera shifting left and right. It wasn't fast enough to be disorienting, but it was like someone had their thumb on the right analog stick, pushing it slightly to mess with me. It only took a few seconds to get used to, and using the analog stick to compliment eye camera control became natural quickly.  But when I turned the corner out of an alley, I immediately found myself under fire, and I had to quickly get used to aiming with my eyeballs. Again, scanning the screen to try to keep an eye on all the action wasn't helping, but as soon as I learned to focus my attention on one object on the screen, I only had to mash R2 on the controller to take anything out. Once it clicked, the feeling of power was overwhelming. After blowing away my first few enemies I was so excited by this ability that I almost jumped out of my seat! I imagined that aiming and controlling the camera with my eyes would be tiring, but it felt completely natural. Just look and shoot. It almost felt like a mind power being able to focus on one object on the screen and have all my fire direct exactly on it. Picking off targets in the distance became really easy for me after a couple of minutes. But it wasn't too easy; the concentration required to target properly still had this control scheme feeling like a game, and as soon as that concentration broke, my aim faltered. Larsen explained that this demonstration used currently available technology, and that their software was doing most of the heavy lifting. He said that one day they might be able to combine this eye tracking technology with their virtual reality technology to make for an even more immersive experience.  Imagine being able to use eye tracking in a sports game. You could look at another player before passing the ball instead of having to choose a player with a controller button. A survival horror game could have you training a flashlight in the dark with your eyes. We came up with several great ideas like these during our chat. For someone that plays games professionally, I'm a terrible aim. I'd love to see this come to market for this point alone!  Let's hope that Sony continues to move forward with this exciting technology.
Sony eye tracking tech photo
The coolest thing I've seen at GDC so far
Imagine never having to use the right analog stick to move a game's camera or reticle. Instead, you'd use your eyeballs to aim or move the camera -- simply look at what you want to shoot at or move to.   This sounds like...

 photo

Oculus on virtual reality competition: 'We're excited'


Oculus welcomes the 'titans'
Mar 19
// Dale North
When we met with them yesterday morning, the people at Oculus VR were not surprised to hear my questioning on what they thought of the rumors of a potential Sony VR headset announcement at GDC. We spoke with them just hours b...

Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 pre-orders open today, priced at $350

Mar 19 // Dale North
The new dev kit looks much more tidy than the Crystal Cove prototype we last saw. I was surprised at just how clean and tidy it looked at first glance, and was even more surprised at just how light it is in its final form. The external interface box and processing has now been worked into the headset, though it doesn't seem to have added any noticeable weight. The little white infrared bits we saw on the Crystal Cove prototype are now hidden behind the DK2's black plastic face, though the new near infrared CMOS tracking sensor sees them perfectly fine.  DK2 is also cleaner on the connection side, with its single thin cable that runs from the set. At its end it splits into HDMI, USB, and sync plugs. The top of the unit has a couple more ports (USB and sync), giving developers more connectivity to play with.  I was able to revisit older kit for a bit for comparison's sake in a demo that gives the user a first-person view of Italian countryside from a porch. It's nice to look at on the older kit, the but difference was pretty surprising seeing the same demo on DK2. The first thing I noticed was that the increased resolution made a huge difference. But, in looking around the virtual world, the improved tracking made the biggest difference. Looking around feels totally natural, with no apparent lag to speak of. They've all but closed the door on motion sickness with this upgrade. The best demo I saw was called Couch Knights, created in cooperation with Epic Games. The game takes place in a virtual living room, where two players sit opposite of each other. Through Rift's positional tracking, the players are able to lean in any direction and the field of view change appropriately and realistically. This tracking also has the other player's avatar moving appropriately with their leans.  When Couch Knights starts, small knights are summoned onto the virtual living room's coffee table to fight. Armed with a sword and shield, both characters are free to run around this living room, hiding behind couches, knocking objects over, and even fighting from avatar's laps. The demo was a pretty simple one, but imagine if this concept were applied to a party brawler like Super Smash Bros. How neat would that be! All that Oculus were able to achieve with their Crystal Cove prototype and beyond is now ready for use in development kit 2. This gets us one step closer to Oculus' final retail release, and will hopefully give game makers the tools they need to build experiences for it as it has the core functionality that the final will feature. These are exciting times.
Oculus Rift DK2 announced photo
First hands-on with the new kit
As of this morning at 8 a.m. PST, pre-orders are open for the Oculus Rift development kit 2 (DK2). They're priced at $350, and will ship beginning in July of this year. Oculus tells Destructoid that the kits will be shipped o...

Project Morpheus photo
Project Morpheus

The technical details of Sony's Project Morpheus virtual reality


Specs of first dev kit revealed
Mar 18
// Dale North
After tonight's reveal, Sony spent some time at their GDC talk to discuss some details on the technical goals for their new VR headset, codenamed Project Morpheus.  Project Morpheus calls on Sony's electronics divisions ...

Two new Razer laptops offer power and profile at a premium

Mar 12 // Steven Hansen
Razer Blade Pro (17") The Razer Blade Pro is in an iterative year. Of course there has been an obsessive attention to making the laptop more powerful, abetted by Nvidia's Maxwell generation Geforce GTX 860M. With what is seen as the fastest mobile GPU, the Pro has seen 46 percent higher benchmark performance.  With the 860M comes a host of Nvidia Geforce features. ShadowPlay allows for easy live streaming to Twitch and ten-minute buffered game capture without performance issues while GameStream allows streaming from the Pro to a remote display. Nvidia's Battery Boost, meanwhile, can reportedly double battery life. Locking the frame rate to 30 will help with that as well. Doubled RAM (now 16GB) and a fourth-generation Intel i7 have all been jammed into the Pro's consistent form factor. Razer is also pushing its Switchblade UI. The touch pad on the Pro is also a screen, which you can use to browse Twitter or watch YouTube -- even while you're playing a game. It's all customizable and Razer has more partnerships in the works with applications. A new Twitch app lets you watch streams on the little screen and even chat while the Windows 8 Charm app tries to pare down the new OS. Razer even co-developed a DJ app with electronic/dance artist Afrojack.  It starts at $2,299. Razer Blade (14") Here's where things get crazier. The (relatively) cheaper 14" Razer Blade started at $400 less last year. We expect technology to go down in price. I think we still do. I still do, anyway. But an edge-to-edge glass 3200 x 1800 10-point capacitive multi-touch display doesn't come cheap. And it looks incredible, thanks also to a 250 percent improved contrast ratio and 160-degree viewing angle on both axes. In his review, Dale was disappointed with the Blade's lack of vibrancy and color in its display, particularly, "compared with Apple's MacBook Pro Retina." Razer clearly took that criticism to heart, delivering the highest resolution 14" laptop display there is. Somehow Razer managed to squeeze that ludicrous touch display -- does that really make Windows 8 that much more usable? -- into its flagship gaming laptop without sacrificing its claims of being the thinnest and lightest in its field. ".7 inches thin," Razer explains in the same way my mother talks about how many "years young" she is. Sei vecchio, va bene. The new Blade uses Nvidia's GTX 870M, a fourth-generation Intel i7, and a bunch of other computer parts (specs are on site, naturally) to deliver around 65 percent benchmark improvements. Which means when Battlefield 4 crashed, it wasn't the computer's fault, and Sleeping Dogs looked more vivid than ever and all I want to do now is play it more. The average FPS at 3200 x 1800 during its benchmark was over 50. You could probably run that on the battery for longer than my laptop will play a movie with the display turned off (critical warnings before one True Detective episode finished).  It starts at $2,199.
Razer's new laptops photo
Razer? I hardly even know her!
Every time I see a razor blade in person I have to pick it up. Those things are dangerous and shouldn't be left lying about. Kids could put them in their mouth or pigeons could weaponize them. Maybe mobsters will smuggle them...

Oculus VR photo
Oculus VR

Carmack couldn't work on VR at id Software, so he left


Doom 4 with a virtual-reality headset 'would have been a huge win'
Feb 04
// Jordan Devore
As much as I want John Carmack to do good work at Oculus VR, it was sad to see him depart from id Software. In an interview with USA Today, he elaborated on why he chose to leave instead of working at multiple companies simul...
Technology photo
Technology

Neat idea: A headset that can help stop gamer rage


Put this tech into something more viable and I'm in
Jan 20
// Jordan Devore
I don't know anyone who hasn't at one point in the life or another gotten upset at a videogame, whether that be due to bad design, an inability to play well enough, or something else entirely. Sam Matson has a novel solution ...
Fancy new RTS engine photo
Fancy new RTS engine

This engine could mean massive new strategy games


Oxide Games uses AMD's Mantle for its new engine
Jan 14
// Jordan Devore
Leveraging AMD's Mantle technology, Oxide Games has come up with a new game engine intended for real-time strategy titles on PC and consoles called Nitrous that can handle up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (like laser...
GameFace VR photo
GameFace VR

Oculus Rift has some competition: meet GameFace


Yes, they do say 'Get your GameFace on'
Jan 14
// Darren Nakamura
Back in 2012 we first heard about the vision of Oculus Rift: to make virtual reality a relevant conversation again by bringing the technology up to today's standards, with low-latency head tracking for optimal immersion. Sinc...

ViviTouch: The future of feedback

Jan 13 // Dale North
Bayer MaterialScience created a super thin film that either shrinks up or expands depending on the charge sent through it. This Electroactive Polymer is weird-looking when it moves -- kind of like a muscle flexing. It looks entirely organic, like some science fiction stuff. A row of three or more of these segments and a bit of circuitry make up ViviTouch's actuators, replacing bigger motors and and their weights. This little board can fit in just about anything, from phones and tablets to their cases to game controllers and accessories. Simply attach a flat weight on top and you have a very capable alternative to vibration motors. Amazingly, this flat sliver of tech can do so much more than its predecessors. Unlike motors, they don't have to spin up or down to react. I saw naked actuators react to receiving a charge in a few examples -- their reaction time is practically instant. The main benefit of ViviTouch's actuators is that it can create movement so fast and fine that it can convey countless different types of feelings. Instead of the standard vibration motor oscillations, these actuators are able to play out their own kind of feel waveforms. Any vibration tech can do heartbeats or explosions, but ViviTouch has the ability to convey subtle things like a ball rolling against wood, or a car's gears shifting. Other side benefits of the technology have these actuators being completely silent and highly energy efficient.  I felt a full range of these sensations in a series of demos. All of them had me wondering why ViviTouch technology wasn't already in all of our gaming devices already. While the flat actuator on its own was interesting enough,  other smaller ones shown to me during a CES demo last week really had my imagination going. Flat, circular actuators topped thumbsticks on an Xbox 360 controller, while longer ones lined the edges of the trigger buttons. They're able to send different feel waveforms to each of the actuators. Imagine having the rumble of a tank localized to only your fingertips, while the vibration of turrets are felt in your trigger fingers. The feedback is so fine and fast that you can feel that each gun has its own kind of feedback. ViviTouch even has a developer tool that easily lets game makers apply feedback profiles to each of these actuator pads. Looking like a basic musical sequencer, like Apple GarageBand, this tool lets developers simply drag and drop pre-programmed feedback waveforms to one of the four feedback channels of the timeline. In other words, implementing this superior type of feedback would be pretty easy. And the uses go beyond controllers. I played a labyrinth-style ball rolling game on a mobile phone and could feel every roll, bump, and drop of the steel ball. Even touchscreens can benefit. I tried a demo that used smaller actuators that were placed along the edges of a touch panel. The feedback is fast and responsive enough that it could be used to give players a sort of virtual button press feedback. A new set of Mad Catz headphones have ViviTouch actuators built in. I felt tank treads rolling uphill, and gunfire vibrations had convincing pressure coming through the earpads onto the side of my head. There are even applications for audio outside of gaming. I tried on a set of modified Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones that had bass frequencies being conveyed through feedback. The sensation was like having a subwoofer added to the standard drivers -- very impressive stuff. As strange as it sounds, artificial muscle could change the way we play games.  Let's hope that ViviTouch technology is on its way to replacing motor-based feedback.
 photo
Artificial muscle brings a new kind of rumble
You know how controller rumble works right now, don't you? In most controllers you'll find a couple of motors that spin weights. These spin up when you're supposed to feel the rumble effect, and then begin spinning down when ...

Oculus Rift makes a huge leap with Crystal Cove prototype

Jan 10 // Dale North
A new demo uses Epic's Unreal Engine to show a tower defense game that you can look over and down into. And when I say down into, I mean that you can physically look down and lean forward as you watch the action a game board where your button presses trigger shots to hold back the attackers on your tower. And where you could always turn your head freely look around the environment with previous Oculus prototypes, this new one lets you move your whole body freely to change your view. I was able to lean at the waist sideways to sort of look around the side of the game table.  Being able to make such a natural movement to change my virtual view really had an impact. Imagine being able to lean to avoid fire or dodge a punch in a virtual world. Being able to use your body to react to something your eyes are seeing is a level of immersion that we're just not used to yet. I hope they play with more along these lines in future demos, as it really impresses. This new trick uses a camera that reads markers on Crystal Cove's front plate to track the wearer's movements. Oculus boss Brendan Iribe told us that this addition adds three more dimensions of movement to the already existing motion sensing capabilities. The combined effect of the old and new tracking abilities makes Crystal Cove so much more impactful than any demo we've experienced before. Another demo took CCP's incredible space cockpit fighter Eve Valkyrie and made it even more entertaining than the last time we saw it. In a game where barrel rolls in deep space are the norm, motion blurring and delayed action are the last thing you'd want to see. The low persistence upgrade of Crystal Cove let me move my head and body freely in the virtual cockpit to target enemy ships without seeing blurry smearing of the visuals. Floating text in the cockpit dash was crystal clear, even when moving my head back and forth. This alone made for a massive improvement over the already outstanding version of Eve Valkyrie we saw at gamescom last year. But the new positional tracking made it even better. Instead of having to turn my head in unnatural positions, I was now able to move my body more naturally to look around the cockpit during dogfights. I immediately felt immersed and connected, and this allowed me to complete the dogfight mission with a total victory. Comparing with past demos, it looks like the improvements to Oculus Rift's tech have made an already great experience even more enjoyable and effective. Valkyrie was already one of the coolest things I experienced in 2013, but with Crystal Cove's new tech, it looks cleaner, moves better, is much more responsive, and is way less disorienting.  Again, I'm happy to have the privilege of watching Oculus Rift continually improve as time goes by. Looking back, it has changed so much even since last CES, and these new changes are a huge leap forward. At the rate they're going, I think we're in for a treat. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Oculus Rift photo
Hands-on with new prototype impresses
We've been following Oculus Rift since its very beginnings. We were honored to be one of the first to play with one of the earliest prototypes, demonstrated by none other than John Carmack himself. Last year's CES was Oc...

 photo

You're going to want Nvidia's G-SYNC


When it's cheaper, and if you use Nvidia GPUs
Jan 09
// Dale North
We've known about Nvidia’s G-Sync tech for a bit, but seeing how it performs first hand at CES today has moved the purchase of new compatible hardware up my priority list by quite a bit. Nvidia had several of the newly ...
 photo

Steam Machine: 12 partners are making machines so far


Alienware listed among them
Jan 06
// Dale North
CES 2014 is the big coming out party for Valve's Steam Machines. I'm seeing one bright and early tomorrow morning here in Las Vegas, coming from Digital Storm. Later tomorrow evening I'll be attending Valve's press conference...
The Snowdrop Engine photo
The Snowdrop Engine

Ubisoft thinks The Division's Snowdrop Engine is amazing


Ubisoft is all next-gen and stuff
Dec 09
// Joshua Derocher
Ubisoft released a video showing off the Snowdrop Engine from The Division, and it seems like they thinks it's really cool. In fact, they say that "never before has a video game reached this level of detail." I think th...
DICE tech photo
DICE tech

DICE CEO ponders using cloud power to create clouds


Prepare 4 weather
Dec 03
// Steven Hansen
In a recent Guardian interview, EA DICE head Patrick Söderlund talked about some of the new avenues cloud computing is opening for developers and posed the question, "what if we had servers where it pulls in just things ...
inFamous: Second Son photo
inFamous: Second Son

Check out the new inFamous screens with neon powers!


Next-gen beanie graphics!
Nov 25
// Alessandro Fillari
We're seeing a ton of inFamous: Second Son media lately. After the release of the recent trailer, the floodgates have opened, so to speak. And now, the Facebook page for the game has released a set pictures showing off the ne...
6 Million Dollar Ram photo
6 Million Dollar Ram

Crucial announces that DDR4 RAM is coming out soon


We have the technology
Nov 18
// Joshua Derocher
Crucial are rolling out the next-generation of memory, and it might be available as early as the end of 2013. Crucial has a promo up on their site for the new DDR4 memory, and there are lots of fancy graphics showing you just...

Xbox One and television: working together

Nov 08 // Dale North
TV is waiting for you to watch it: That HDMI passthru port has a television signal continually streaming into the Xbox One, waiting for you to watch it. Simply call out that you'd like to watch television and the Kinect will understand you, instantly pulling up the feed from your cable box. The Xbox One UI runs in the background quietly while you're watching the boob tube, meaning that users remain fully connected to their friends and the rest of the world.  This means that everything that Xbox Live is connected to is available, even while watching your favorite game shows or crappy nighttime dramas. Game invites, Skype invitations, and more are visible during television watching. If you're popular, expect to get more pop-ups than a shady porn site! Your wish is Kinect's command: You won’t need a remote control to control your television with Xbox One. Voice commands let you do everything from turning up the volume to changing channels. You can simply call out the name of the network or program you’d like to watch if you’d like.  This works because the Kinect sensor doubles as a massive IR device that blasts out infrared codes to every corner of the room. The signals bounce off walls and return to the devices in the room, even if they’re in shelves or behind glass. This lets users completely do away with remote controls.  Upon initial setup, Xbox One’s system looks up your components in an online database and plugs in their respective command data. The Xbox One does all the heavy lifting, taking your voice command and translating it to IR that your devices can understand.  Channel and content surfing becomes even easier with the One Guide app. It looks like your standard DVR/cable box channel guide at first glance, but all of its functions can be navigated via voice. Numbers, channel names, program names and more work as valid commands. Users can ask Kinect “What’s on Discovery?” to see its listings, and then say “Watch this channel” to tune to it, for example.  Beyond television listings, One Guide also lists programming from other apps and services, letting you navigate streaming content alongside television listings. For example, Hulu Plus has app channels for popular shows and movies. Even non-video applications can be saved as an app channel. We saw an example where a photo gallery in Microsoft’s Sky Drive was saved as a channel. Selecting it in One Guide lets it act like a channel of programming, showing a slide show of the photos.  The experience can't be 100 percent hands free, though. Basic commands, like transport control, channel changing,  and the like, will all be available via voice controls. You will  have to dig the remotes out for deeper control of your DVR and cable box, though.  Aw Snap: Of course, you can choose to filter these notifications or shut them off completely. But fellow internet addicts will enjoy Xbox One's snap feature, which lets you pin just about any app to the right side of the screen. Xbox One's notification feed app will keep you connected while you watch your crap syndicated reruns. I'm going to use Twitter while I watch reality cooking shows. You can search for hot pictures of Kari Byron in a snapped Internet Explorer app while watching MythBusters if you'd like. Snapping will be a game changer for television watchers with an internet problem.  Sports fans are going to freak out: I'm not a sports fan. At all. But even I was extremely impressed with Xbox One's NFL app. Through Microsoft's partnership with the NFL, exclusive content is available for users through this app. Highlights are constantly being pushed to the servers from the NFL, and are instantly available in the app on Xbox One.  Sports nuts will enjoy snapping the NFL app while watching television, letting them watch one game while keeping track of others. The app keeps track of your favorites as well as highlights from around the league. Users could watch games live while tracking how plays impact their fantasy league in real time in the NFL app. ...if you like TV, that is: I'm not much of a television watcher, so I don't expect to use a lot of this. But the level of integration is impressive enough that I expect that Xbox One will change the way a lot of people watch television. If Microsoft is still out to own the living room, the TV integration for Xbox One is a big step toward that.  
Xbox One and TV photo
Watch TV in a new way
You probably won't buy an Xbox One to watch television, but television watching seems to be pretty neat with all the integration and applications Microsoft have worked into their new console.  They want you to always hav...

Xbox One's Kinect: impressive control, instant access

Nov 08 // Dale North
Easiest sign in ever: Much has been said about the all-seeing Kinect sensor camera. I saw the benefits of its always-on status immediately in the demonstration as Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw was able to log into the Xbox One by just... well, being there. He pulled a cloth cover off of the Kinect sensor and the Xbox One immediately saw him and logged him in, changing the screen to reflect his settings, and populating the menu with his apps and data. He didn't have to say or do anything for this to happen.  Everything you would need, from his most recently used apps to his friends list, were automatically listed up on his home screen. Henshaw's most recently played game, Forza Motorsport 5, was placed front and center for ease of access. In the pin area, all of his favorite apps, sites, and music were placed.  A technology called beam forming lets Kinect triangulate the source of spoken commands. Whitten says that the beam narrows down to read a width of about five inches -- about the width of a mouth -- and this lets Kinect associate a command with a face and skeleton so that it 'knows' which person in the room spoke the command. To demonstrate, Microsoft's Jose Pinero entered the mock living room. By simply saying "Xbox, show my stuff," the system switched the home screen from Marc's to Jose's, populating it with his favorites, pins, and more.  Users can go to any Xbox One in the world and sign in to have their preferences come up this same way. Getting into/out of the game: Microsoft wants users to be able to get into their games as fast as possible. A demonstration had us jumping back into a stopped game of Forza Motorsport 5 from the home screen by simply calling out to the Xbox One. It loaded instantly, right where the user left off on last play. This is even more impressive when you consider that the user was logged out previously.  Of course, not every game would load this quickly. They have it so that the last game you played sits in this hot state, ready to be loaded back up instantly.  Getting out of a game is just as easy. While Forza 5 was open, we called out to the Xbox to switch to Internet Explorer, and in an instant the browser was loaded. We flipped through other apps to further test the systems reaction speed. Every other app -- from television watching to Skype to the music player -- loaded instantly upon voice request. No lag, no load times.  This works because the Xbox One was designed to run apps and games in separate spaces, with each having its own CPU cores and memory space. Your last game will always load quickly for this reason. As for apps, the last few you've used will continue to be at the ready.  Putting the Game DVR features to the test: I played a bit of Forza 5, doing my best to keep clean lines to impress those watching. Getting to a point that I felt a bit proud of, I was able to call out "Xbox, record that" to have the system record what I was doing. From here, the system gave me the option to share this clip or edit it.  We took the clip into the Upload Studio app. From there, trimming of the file, from 30 seconds to the last full five minutes, was possible. We pulled up a picture-in-picture effect preset and then filled the second box with taunting, using the Kinect camera. Other options let you add voice overs for walkthroughs, or add skins to your finished video.  We saved the video, and it encoded very quickly. Being on a broadband connection, it also uploaded to the Xbox servers very quickly.  The whole process -- capturing, editing, and uploading -- is very quick and simple. Snap: I think that the ability to "snap" apps to the right side of the screen while watching television or playing games will be popular with Xbox One owners. You're free to tell the system to snap just about any application to the side by simply telling it to do so vocally. You could snap an internet browser window to view a FAQ while playing an RPG, or the music player while playing a racing game. I like the idea of having Twitter snapped to the side while watching television so I can keep an eye on things.  It really works: No one likes the idea of having to continually yell at your game system to get it to do things, hoping it will understand your commands. So many have expressed similar concerns since the Xbox One's announcement.   I'm glad to report that the Kinect sensor and all the tech powering it makes controlling the Xbox One seem really simple. This was an in-house demo that Microsoft conducted, but I did get to try it out for myself, so it wasn't like it was scripted or controlled.  Everything we tried seemed to work beautifully. Let's hope things work as well when we get our Xbox One systems home later this month. 
Xbox One Kinect photo
Hands... er, voice-on with Xbox One
I had a chance to see exactly how Xbox One's interface works with the Kinect sensor in a demonstration last week. After seeing several examples and even trying it out for myself, I came away impressed at how well the voice co...

 photo
Well, tech heads will enjoy it
Sony and Wired invite you for a peek inside the angular next-gen game system known as the PS4. All its innards, including the CPU, GPUs, optical drive, memory, cooling systems and more, are on display in this video. Sony's Y...







Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Why were we all put on this earth, and where are the best tacos?
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -