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8
Jun

Phab2 Pro: First Lenovo Project Tango smartphone leaks to Google AR fan joy


Project Tango is Google’s attempt to make augmented reality something that works well on phones and tablets. This means dedicated hardware built by manufacturers to support the platform. This hardware has already been officially announced by Lenovo as coming soon in the form of its first Project Tango phone. Now that handset has leaked.

Ahead of Lenovo’s expected Motorola Moto X / Z (2016) and Project Tango launch on 9 June at its Tech World event, an AR focused handset has leaked from China. Two photos of the handset and some specs have appeared from various sources.

Serial leakster Evan Blass has tweeted than the handset will be more of a phablet with a hefty 6.4-inch QHD display, dubbed the Lenovo Phab2 Pro.

Another major source of leaks, Steve Hemmerstoffer, tweeted images from both Weibo and a Chinese news site that have apparently shown off this new handset. The site mentions the focus of the handset will be on augmented reality games, virtual interior decoration, interior navigation and more.

Little else has been revealed but from the photos we can see a Tango specific logo on the handset. We can also glimpse the dual camera technology which will likely be needed to offer virtual objects, on screen, overlaid on the real world captured through the lenses.

These are exciting times for augmented reality but it feels like an AR smartphone offers very specific features for certain people. When this translates to head worn kit that may change, suggesting Google is building up to that, hopefully with Magic Leap technology in mind.

Check back on Thursday 9 June to hear more from the Lenovo Tech World 2016 event.

Steve Hemmerstoffer

READ: Moto Z / X / Project Tango launch: How to watch Lenovo Tech World and why

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8
Jun

Turtle Beach HyperSound Glass speakers direct sound so only you can hear the awesome


Turtle Beach has created a set of glass speakers aptly named HyperSound Glass that use ultrasonic audio to deliver sound directly, without filling the room. That means you can only hear them loud if you’re sat directly in front of them – ideal for gamers.

The HyperSound Glass speakers not only look cool, with a slim pane of glass creating the audio, but they’re also versatile. That means you can hook them up to your console, television or music player of choice and listen loud without bothering others.

There is some bleed to those not sat in front of the speakers, but the sound is just quiet as if it’s turned down low or coming from far away. Check out the demo video below to hear the directional audio in effect.

Turtle Beach has created prototype directional speakers like this before, but these required a wire mesh. This glass version is the first clear speaker model that should look great in the home. HyperSound has been pitched by the company for use in directional audio advertising on public displays too.

Turtle Beach is showing off the prototype HyperSound Glass speakers at the E3 2016 games conference next week. We’ll be there to bring you more, hopefully including a release date and price.

READ: Best games coming in 2016: Top PS4, Xbox One, Wii U and PC trailers for upcoming games

8
Jun

Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview: Cyberpunk satisfaction


Games franchises with a reputation for being intelligent and thought-provoking are pretty rare at the best of times. And with the current trend towards online-only games which don’t even pay lip-service to storylines, they’re becoming even more so.

For that reason, it’s intriguing to welcome back Square-Enix’s much-loved stealth-action epic Deus Ex, in its latest Mankind Divided instalment. At a recent Square Enix pre-E3 gaming expo showcase, we managed to get a decent amount of play time with the game, which has certainly whetted our appetite for its forthcoming release on August 23.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preview: Dystopian future

As a franchise, Deus Ex has always explored the consequences of a particular overarching storyline which, to an extent, has moved from the realms of fiction to fact during the 16-years since the first game. It posits a near future in which mankind has mastered the art of cybernetic body-augmentation, and plots the consequences of that. Mankind Divided picks up the story in 2029, two years after the events chronicled in the last instalment, 2011’s Human Revolution.

Square Enix

Those two years have not been kind to the so-called “augs” (short for augmentations). Shortly after Human Revolution, a form of computer virus infected the augs, which temporarily embarked on a global rampage, in the course of which 50-million humans were slaughtered. As a result, “mechanical apartheid” has been implemented, with the remaining augs segregated and under suspicion. Naturally, they have started to fight back.

As in Human Revolution, you play Adam Jensen, himself the recipient of early, experimental augmentations. The mission we played was the first of the game. It starts off in a hover-plane, with Jensen the only aug among a black-ops unit called Task Force 29. With the rest of the team homing-in on an abandoned, half-built hotel in Dubai, intent on nabbing the perpetrators of an arms deal which is about to go down, Jensen free-falls from the plane onto the hotel roof (performing a nifty shock-absorbed landing) to run interference from above.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preview: Puzzles, takedowns and minigames

Before the mission got under way, we were offered the option to use the new control system or to revert to Human Revolution’s one. We chose the new one, which proved to be only lightly tweaked, with fine control over Jensen’s movement between cover-points now mapped to the left stick. It felt thoroughly intuitive and generally superior.

Working through the impressively designed level – a typically overblown Arabian folly, abandoned to decay – we encounter all the key elements of Deus Ex’s gameplay: from minor puzzle-solving in order to traverse seemingly blocked areas (Jensen has an augmentation which lets him spot structural weaknesses in walls and punch through them), to much stealthing and pulling-off takedowns. Hacking mini-games similar to those from Human Revolution are abundant too.

Square Enix

Jensen has a gas-grenade and non-lethal dart gun, which was a moderately dangerous object to employ, since any enemies who encounter bodies will raise the alarm and initiate a search protocol. Mankind Divided’s artificial intelligence is pretty rigorous, as it should be.

As ever, your path and general approach are entirely up to you – and a pre-mission choice between taking a lethal or non-lethal weapon with you offeres a reminder that in Mankind Divided, as with its predecessors, makes it possible to complete the game without killing anyone. How rare. You would have to be a bit of a ninja to pull that off, though: we rued the choice of a non-lethal weapon when a big cover-based shoot-out took place at the end of the mission. Luckily, we could pick-up a decent weapon from a dead enemy. So much for pacifism.

Jensen has an invisibility aug, which proves useful, although in common with previous Deus Ex games, the augs had to be powered, and it was easy to run out of juice for them. It’s a safe bet that Mankind Divided will feature more (and better) augs than ever before, and you’ll be able to choose and upgrade them according to your favoured play-style.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preview: Multi-layered story

A hands-off demo at a later level shed more light on Mankind Divided’s storyline, which is clearly labyrinthine and seemingly absorbing. The action shifts to Prague, where Jensen lives – his apartment is a game-hub. His mission sounded simple enough: to visit Dr Koller, a sort of underground augmentation-specialist. But we learn that Koller is besieged in his office by a bunch of gangsters, so moving freely around Prague is far from straightforward, due to the generally paranoid atmosphere and the presence of security guards, gangsters, cameras and the like on the streets.

Square Enix

Again, multiple approaches are possible – such as employing conversational wiles to charm security cards out of people (a conversational engine features heavily in the game, and you can work on enhancing Jensen’s power of suggestion). Eventually, we stealthily entered the building via an open window, and dispatched a load of gangsters in spectacular style.

Another story thread involves the Church of the Machine God – basically an aug-revering cult who want to recruit Jensen – giving us a hint of a story-thread in which Jensen discovers his augs are actually more extensive than he has previously been led to believe. Back-story-filling logs are plentiful and it’s clear that story-wise, Mankind Divided will feel like an entire cyberpunk novel in game form.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preview: Breach mode

We also played a new mode, which is a departure for Deus Ex. Entitled Breach mode, it isn’t quite multiplayer, in that you don’t play it against or with anyone else, but Square describes it as “live”, meaning it requires an internet connection and that you can compete to complete missions quicker than rival players, or set your friends specific challenges in it.

Its story premise hinges on the Palisade Bank in Prague, where one of the private military companies that pretty much runs the world in 2052 has stored its most secret data. Naturally, your task is to hack in – which is achieved by a VR-style interface in which you control an avatar endowed with augmented abilities much like those of Jensen. It’s basically a version of the game boiled down to its most fundamental gameplay, with ultra-stylised, almost Tron-like graphics.

Square Enix

In Breach, you seek out server-blocks, hacking pre-determined amounts of data from them before beating a hasty retreat – once the alarm sounds when you’ve reached your hacking quota – back to your initial entry point. The security systems also have avatars, on which you can perform takedowns and the like, and all manner of obstacles are placed in your path, which require some thought to circumvent.

Breach had a separate augmentation upgrade path – unsurprisingly given that in it, you control an avatar – so it will let you explore a very different character to the version of Jensen in the main game.

It’s extremely enjoyable and quite moreish, leaving you keen to embark on the next mission, and often bringing rewards in the form of new augmentations and the like. We’re not quite so convinced about whether people will bother with the competitive side of it, given the breadth of games out there already, but it certainly adds extra meat and replay value to Mankind Divided.

First Impressions

Overall, our initial play time with Mankind Divided left us gagging to play more of the game. After five years in development, it’s very polished. Its stylised graphics look great and story-wise, it feels worryingly believable.

If you like your games with a cyberpunk vibe and sufficient narrative depth to deserve the description “thought-provoking” then Deus Ex: Mankind Divided should satisfy that craving.

8
Jun

What is Google’s Project Tango?


Google is well-known for working on highly exploratory products and services. From internet-carrying balloons to cars that drive themselves, and everything in between. One such innovation is Project Tango, which is part of the same ATAP division that’s currently working on bringing us the first truly modular smartphone.

Project Tango: What is it?

To explain Project Tango in its most basic form – It’s giving devices the ability to see and understand their surroundings in a similar way to how we do. That means building a custom set of sensors and a processor that can connect the various sources of information, and understand it all.

There are three main parts to the Project Tango technology. First is the motion tracking technology. Using a motion tracking camera, 3D depth sensor, accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope and GPS, a Project Tango-compatible device can tell where it is, and how it’s moving within a specific space or area and which way it’s pointing.

When combined with the second and third features – depth perception and area learning – it can understand the space you’re moving with great accuracy. So if you’re holding it while walking through a narrow corridor and turn a corner, it remembers where you’ve come from and tracks where you’re going. It can even tell where the walls are, and how close you are to specific objects.

Perhaps more impressive within the depth perception is that it can tell whether an object is small and close, or far away and large. It calculates both distance between you and the object, the object’s size, and where it sits in relation to other items in the area.

NVYVE – Google Play Store

Project Tango: What can I do with it?

In and of themselves, Project Tango’s capabilities are useless, it’s what you can use that information for that makes them truly compelling. Again, there are a couple of key uses for this kind of technology that Google has listed so far.

For the average consumer, augmented reality is going to be one of the biggest draws for this technology. Because its sensors are so advanced, it can use the cameras to detect the surroundings, and then place virtual items in the scene in relation to the real life physical objects. That could be something as useful as placing a virtual desk or coffee table in a room to see how it would look, or more interactive gamified items.

There are a few games already developed for Project Tango, one of which is called Bullseye’s Playground which essentially builds an entirely virtual 3D world modelled on a building’s physical layout. Users can then interact with characters or throw snowballs and find various surprises on the way. Google partnered with Target in the States to offer an in-store experience to its walk-in customers using this app.

Project Tango will also let users measure objects accurately. You could measure a table, as an example, using augmented reality to draw a joining line between one end and the other. And what’s great is that – because of its motion tracking and area learning technology – you don’t have to hold the device completely still. It can recognize and measure an object regardless of how far away it is, or even if you move during measuring.

READ: Project Tango demoed in first sneak peek video of 3D-mapped room

What’s more, because it can detect surfaces and knows and measure angles etc. it knows how, and what angle, to place the virtual objects. As a basic example, it knows how to orientate a virtual object to lie on a horizontal surface, like the floor,  it can place items on a vertical surface, like a wall or a chair leg. Again, you can move your device any which way and it remembers where those surfaces are, and how and where you placed the virtual items.

Project Tango can also be used to accurately map indoor locations, potentially expanding Google Maps’ knowledge to reach inside buildings. So if you’re in a particularly huge shopping centre and it’s been mapped using Google’s Project Tango, you can easily find your way using your smartphone.

From a business and enterprise standpoint, Tango could be incredibly useful for estate agents, building surveyors, architects or interior designers who want a more visual way to measure buildings.

Google

Project Tango: Which devices support it?

As of right now, there’s one device available to buy with Project Tango support, and that’s the tablet development kit. It’s not the most impressive device spec-wise, but it’s been made primarily so that developers can build apps and programs that make the most of the project’s capabilities.

The tablet itself features a 7-inch full HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass, built onto a body that’s 15mm thick and weighs less than 400 grams. It has all the sensors and cameras needed to support Project Tango, including a custom NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor and a huge 128GB storage for storing all the data captured and 4GB RAM. It ships with a charging unit, mini dock, USB cable and card removal tool, and costs £256.00 when it’s in stock on Google’s online store.

READ: Lenovo Tech World 2016: Watch the Moto Z and Project Tango phone launch live

For the average consumer, there will be one other device coming very soon. Lenovo will launch its first consumer-friendly Project Tango-equipped smartphone at Tech World in San Francisco on June 9th alongside its next Moto-branded flagship phones.

According to Evan Blass, this device will be called the Lenovo Phab2 Pro, and it’ll be a behemoth. It’s claimed that it features a 6.4-inch screen boasting a resolution of 2560×1400 (Quad HD/2k) and will feature the dual camera system and other sensors required for Project Tango support. It will even feature the Tango logo on the back.

We don’t know how much it will cost or when it’s going to hit the market, but we’ll find out soon and update this article as soon as we do.

It’s been clear from the outset that Project Tango is a very niche capability, but with the huge surge in new VR and AR products being announced, it’s not surprising to see Google (and Lenovo) pushing a new device into customers’ hands. It likely won’t sell like hotcakes, but it could be the start of something much bigger, and might even contribute to Google’s secretive Magic Leap project.

8
Jun

Watch Dogs 2 preview: Best-looking open world game ever?


We’ll come right out and say it, we loved Watch Dogs. It was flawed for sure, and the two years of hype before release only served to raise expectation far higher than any game could achieve, but it was an open world game that offered something different.

It even stands up to scrunity today, we feel.

That’s why we were thrilled when we heard, through the rumour mill, that a sequel was on the way and that it would make its debut at E3 2016 next week.

Because of which, we weren’t exactly surprised to be invited to a revelation event immediately prior to the show in Los Angeles. What has surprised us though is the release date. Not only is Watch Dogs 2 coming, it’s coming soon; 15 November, in fact.

That means the development team has been beavering away on it ever since the original was finished. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that leaks didn’t occur sooner.

The team must have been working on it for a while because, from what we’ve seen so far, it looks utterly beautiful.

Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 2: Streets of San Francisco

Action has switched from the grey, drab streets of Chicago to sunny California and the US home of tech, San Francisco. The entire Bay Area has been lovingly recreated and while we didn’t get to see the game in action as such – rather a long screening of exclusive documentary and gameplay footage – at first we thought we were looking at real footage of the city, its denizens and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Much thought has gone into making this location even more vibrant and realistic than last time. You remember how you felt when you first saw footage of GTA 5? This evokes the same, but with bells on. This could well be the best looking game for this generation of consoles. Full stop.

The plot has somewhat shifted too. A new hero is born in Marcus Holloway, a young, streetwise hacker who has been mistreated by the legal system and has a bone to pick with authority. He therefore joins hacktivist group Dedsec in order to exact revenge and have fun in the process.

Much of the game is therefore focused more on the hacking elements of the first – expanding on them greatly in fact. Hacking now underpins the entire game, with every single person, car and most electronics in the city able to be hacked, snooped upon or controlled to further your aims.

The ctOS system is back, with San Fran hooked into a centralised computer and therefore open for manipulation, but the fact that cars can be remotely controlled adds to the fun enormously, it seems.

Holloway also has additional gadgets at his disposal. There’s a quadcopter drone that you can fly around the city or even use in drone racing events. And there’s an RC jumper, that also has a robotic arm to perform functions where its owner cannot tread.

Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 2: Combat and movement

We’ve also seen that Holloway is a very different character to Aiden Pearce from the first game. His parkour skills are much better, and he can leap and climb in a more fluid fashion. His combat abilities are more raw too, more pronounced. His favourite weapon, as we saw at the preview event, is a billiard ball on a guide rope, which is both brutal and elegant in equal measure.

He’s similar to Pearce in that he can once again hack normal bystanders in order to provide distractions and more, but this time around multiple people can be hacked at once – setting off all their phones, for example. The possibilities are greater and therefore so is the potential for mission structure and the way you play.

These were areas criticised first time out, but we were told that missions can be played in many different ways. You can blast your way through, just use stealth or just employ the help of the electronic environment. In short, it should prevent the game becoming repetitive – a trait of almost all open-world games, not just the first Watch Dogs.

We’ll wait to see if this works when we actually get to play a bit, but it certainly has potential.

Ubisoft

Watch Dogs 2: Multiplayer

Another element touched upon was multiplayer. Co-operative play is important in games these days, and in Watch Dogs 2 it will be integrated into the main campaign. Not much has been detailed on how it works, but it seems that servers will host many players during their single-player games, so friends can be found on the same streets of SF. Find a friend and you can decide to take on co-op missions.

We’ll find out more about multiplayer over the coming months, we were told, but that seamless online play is something the developer, and Ubisoft in general, is keen on.

First Impressions

There are also plenty of other features to discover as the release date approaches. What we’ve seen so far though has whetted our appetite enough to suggest that Watch Dogs 2 will be one to watch this year – pun entirely intended.

The San Franciscan landscapes alone hold the wow factor. But perhaps we’d better keep a rein on the hype this time though, eh?

8
Jun

Adidas will release shoes made from ocean plastic this year


Adidas is committing to integrating recycled ocean waste into a general-release shoe this year. The sportswear company showed off a shoe with a 3D-printed midsole made from up-cycled ocean plastic late last year, as part of a collaboration with Parley, an anti-ocean-pollution organization. That was a one-off concept shoe, but off the back of that the company is now showing off a product titled Adidas x Parley.

The new limited-edition shoe’s upper is made from Parley Ocean Plastic and illegal deep-sea gillnets retrieved by the non-profit Sea Shepherd during a mission to protect sea life in the Southern Ocean. Announced to coincide with World Oceans Day, only fifty pairs will be made available, and they’ll be given away through an Instagram contest.

A video posted by Parley for the Oceans (@parley.tv) on Jun 7, 2016 at 7:30am PDT

More exciting than the limited-edition shoe is the promise of a bonafide commercial product coming soon. Adidas says it’ll be a world’s first, integrating Parley Ocean Plastic into one of its “top footwear franchises” in the second half of this year. That release is apparently possible due to the inroads Adidas and Parley have made in turning ocean plastics into “technical yarn fibres” that can easily be integrated into products.

The new shoe will be one of an ongoing series of changes Adidas has made in an attempt to be friendlier to the environment. It’s already announced it’ll stop handing out plastic bags in its stores and end the use of microbeads in products like shower gels.

If you’re interested in trying to snag a pair of Adidas x Parleys, the competition will run through to July 31st on Parley and Adidas’ various social media channels, where the rules will be shared in due course.

Via: The Verge

Source: Adidas

8
Jun

‘The Beano’ is being reimagined for the YouTube age


The world’s longest-running weekly comic, The Beano, is to become the latest brand to get an online reinvention. According to The Guardian, parent company DC Thomson has set up Beano Studios, a new digital arm which will see the comic’s biggest stars — including Dennis the Menace and Bananaman — find new homes on YouTube and popular children’s website PopJam.

Beano Studios is already plotting an autumn launch for the new Beano.com website, but there are also discussions over the possibility of making a new Dennis the Menace TV series that will forego traditional animation for CGI. “We are taking the Beano spirit, we aren’t simply trying to transfer the comic online,” says Beano Studios’ Emma Scott. “We will marry it with the best of the web, commissions from independent producers, YouTube, user-generated content — whatever fits with the Beano ethos.”

The Beano is the latest in a long line of older-generation brands that are getting a modern facelift. The BBC brought back popular 80s cartoon Dangermouse last year and ITV ditched puppets in bringing Thunderbirds back to screens. While Beano Studios’ new “digital entertainment hub” may lure in new audience, bringing the characters to YouTube may help breathe new life into Minnie the Minx, Billy Whizz and Rodger the Dodger.

Source: The Guardian

8
Jun

Magic Leap offers a glimpse into its headset design process


Magic Leap is an enigmatic augmented reality firm that’s worth $4.5 billion on the basis of some very limited demonstrations. Now the firm has been awarded a design patent for a “virtual reality headset” that offers us some idea of what it’s thinking. The company’s Andy Fouché has already shot down the idea that this is what the finished device will look like, but there’s plenty to glean. In a distinct contrast to Microsoft’s slender Hololens, the sketch features a shell that covers the top half of the user’s face. Robocop comparisons aside, the headset is then held on with a solid strap running over the top of their head.

As you can see from the internal view, two eyepieces protrude forward, although it’s not clear if the shell is transparent or not. If not, then the shell will need some sort of aperture, since CEO Rony Abovitz says that the technology uses “wafer-like” components that manages “the flow of photons” to create a “digital light-field signal” in your eyes. Which sounds exactly like the sort of buzzfeed-filled jargon you use when you don’t want to tell people how your device works. Given how much money respected investors, such as Google, Qualcomm, Warner Bros. and Alibaba, have put in to the business, presumably there’s something very real behind all the fluff.

Via: The Verge, Quartz

Source: USPTO

8
Jun

Slack finally opens up work calls to everyone


After testing voice calls for the past few months, Slack is now opening up the feature to all of its workaholic users. It works as you’d expect: you can initiate calls with a new telephone icon in Slack’s desktop offerings, or by clicking through a dropdown menu on its iOS and Android apps. Then you can chat with coworkers using your voice, just like olden times. Any Slack user will be able to make individual calls, and teams who pay for the service can also initiate group calls for any Slack channel or group chat.
Sure, it’s a feature Slack competitors like Hipchat have had for years, but it’s still nice to see it finally showing up. You’ll also be able to throw up emojis during work chats, which is surely something someone, somewhere, has wanted for a while.

8
Jun

Registration for EU referendum vote extended after site meltdown


The window for online registration to vote in the upcoming EU referendum has been extended after the portal crashed late last night. Many tens of thousands of visitors hit the site shortly after David Cameron and Nigel Farage were finished airing their respective views on the referendum live on ITV. The huge influx brought the website down around 10.15PM, and normal service did not resume until after the registration deadline of midnight. However, thanks to emergency legislation, registration remains open and the Prime Minister is encouraging people to keep signing up. The extension will last until midnight tomorrow (June 9th), so head over to the site when you get a chance if you want your say in the referendum on June 23rd.

If you aren’t registered & you want to vote in this EU referendum you should continue to register at https://t.co/9e1gQX5vGM

— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) June 8, 2016

Source: Electoral Commission, David Cameron (Twitter)

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