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The new Zelda ‘Breath of the Wild’ trailers are the best yet

We’re hours away from Nintendo’s (brief) reveal of the NX, and if there’s one game we’re excited for, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new adventure, which is coming out on both the Wii U and NX next year, was a highlight at E3 2016, giving fans their first exposure to the more open, dynamic world. Now, Nintendo has released two new trailers, which show off its exploration and combat in equal measure. They’re beautiful snippets of the full game, underpinned by a sweeping orchestral score. I don’t need to say much more — just go watch them, you won’t regret it.

Source: Nintendo (YouTube)


‘Switch’ is Nintendo’s next game console

It’s been almost a year and a half since Nintendo announced the NX, and now the gaming giant has finally dropped the codename and secrecy in favor of something more official: Switch. Like the countless rumors previously asserted, it’s indeed a hybrid mobile and home console with a tablet element and detachable controllers.

The tablet itself (which Nintendo calls “the Switch Console” is thin and pretty attractive. It looks to have a screen measuring around 7 inches, of unspecified resolution. At home, it’ll plug into the “Switch Dock,” which in turn plugs into your TV, while out and about you can either hold it or use the built-in kickstand to prop it up. In the trailer, a gamer plugs in what looks to be an SD Card-style cartridge, meaning games are likely to distributed both digitally and physically.

It’s powered by an unspecified custom Nvidia Tegra processor, which is “based on the same architecture as the world’s top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards.” Whether that means Pascal — the architecture underpinning the 1000 series of GeForce cards and the yet-to-be-announced Tegra X2 — or just that Tegra chips in general are based on the GeForce architecture, is not clear. But the question of which SoC is powering the Switch — and whether it’s based on newer or older architecture — is important to answer if we’re to work out what exactly it’s capable of.

The controllers are just as we expected. Nintendo is calling them “Joy-Con.” They can be attached to a central unit called the “Joy-Con Grip” to behave like a single game controller, but also slide onto the side of the tablet for a more Wii U-like experience. Oh and, as rumored, they can also be used independently like two miniature gamepads.

If none of this sounds like your thing, Nintendo will once again offer a “Pro Controller” option laid out more traditionally. The trailer shows off lots of multiplayer gaming, either with multiple controllers connected to one system, or many Switch consoles connecting together wirelessly. We assume it’ll have online play as well.

So what will you be able to play on it? As well as the usual first-party suspects, Nintendo says it has the support of many developers and publishers, including Activision, Atlus, Bethesda, Capcom, EA, Epic Games, Konami, PlatinumGames, Square Enix, Take-Two and Ubisoft. In the trailer you can see third-party games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and NBA 2K alongside what look to be a new Mario and Mario Kart games and Splatoon. In Nintendo’s bold future, Splatoon will be an e-sport watched live by tens of thousands of people.

“Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said, “it gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”

The Switch will be released worldwide in March 2017.

Timothy J. Seppala contributed to this report.


Kanye: Apple and Tidal ‘bullshit’ caused Drake rift

Kanye West says that he and Jay Z didn’t appear on the final “Pop Style” track of Drake’s Apple Music exclusive Views album because of Apple’s rivalry with Tidal. “Y’all didn’t get, what y’all were supposed to get with me and Drake on this song because of some Tidal/Apple bullshit,” he said in a Saint Pablo tour video spotted by The Fader (below). He added that Jay Z pulled his own vocal “out of respect to Meek Mill,” presumably over the infamous Mill and Drake Twitter tiff.

Kanye performed the song, which he co-wrote, explaining to the crowd that his vocal was supposed to be the only one on the track. “I start freestyling to it. Jay thought of a couple of lines. I said, ‘Just go ahead, throw that on there. [Drake will] be so surprised, he probably won’t expect you to be on there.’”

ye talking about Watch The Throne 2 & Apple/Tidal problems @TeamKanyeDaily #SAINTPABLO

— ike®☄ (@IkerLopez27) October 20, 2016

The track initially came out with Jay Z and Kanye (aka The Throne), but West said that Drake later balked. “We sent it back to him and he was like, ‘Oh shit, The Throne is on this shit.’ Then Jay thought about it, and out of respect to Meek Mill he didn’t want to be on the track,” said Kanye. He added that he wanted to “let people have this song” with all three artists, “but then it went into some political shit, some shit about percentages about a song.”

Kanye bears some of the blame for driving a wedge between Apple and Tidal, as he launched his Life of Pablo album as a Tidal exclusive. Lately, however, he’s been calling the race for exclusives a”dick-swinging contest,” and suggested a sit-down between the factions. Ideally Yeezy wants Apple to buy Tidal, but Apple Music head Jimmy Iovine recently said that’s not going to happen.

Via: The Fader

Source: @IkerLopez27 (Twitter)


What is Spotify and how does it work?

Spotify is a digital music streaming service that gives you access to millions of songs, podcasts and videos from artists all over the world.

Spotify is immediately appealing because you can access content for free by simply signing up using an email address or by connecting with Facebook. If you’re not keen on monthly subscription fees for Spotify Premium, or just want to dip your toe in and test it out, it’s easy to get started and there’s no commitment.

You can find out the main differences between Spotify Free and Premium in our separate feature but as a quick summary, the free version is ad-supported much like radio stations. The free version of Spotify can be accessed on PC, laptop and mobile phone, but the full service needs a Spotify Premium subscription.

How does Spotify work?

Getting started with listening to music on Spotify is easy:

Visit the Spotify website and sign-up. We’d recommend signing up with Facebook if you have an account as it’ll make it easier to find and follow friends, see what they’re listening to and share songs with them.
Choose a subscription level. We’d recommend going for Spotify Premium as it gives you access to more features, is more flexible and will connect with more devices.
Download and install the free Spotify application. There are versions for desktop and iPhone/iPad and Android phones.
Sign into your account on those devices and get listening.

The basic setup is pretty straightforward but there’s much more to Spotify once you delve in and it gets smarter the more you listen.


Can you download music from Spotify?

Yes and no. With Spotify Premium you can set music to be available “offline” but it’s not the same as downloading music in the traditional sense. For example, you can’t try to game the system by downloading an album then cancelling your subscription at a later date. And you can’t download the tracks to burn them to a CD or copy them to other devices.

The idea of Spotify’s offline mode is to allow you to have access to your favourite music when you’re trying to save mobile data or travelling somewhere where access to the internet might not be easy.

With Spotify Premium you can have up to 3,333 songs available to listen to offline on up to three different devices. Downloading songs, albums or playlists on Spotify is simple too, which is great. Just click “save” on the album you’d like to download to listen to it offline. Alternatively, click the three dots next to a song and click “Save to Your Music”.

How much data does Spotify use?

The amount of data that Spotify burns through will depend on the streaming quality you choose – more on this in a minute. This is a rough guide for how much data Spotify will get through:

  • One hour of music playback will use around 50MB of data when the quality is set to “normal”.
  • At normal quality you can play around 24 hours of music for around 1GB of data usage.
  • At high quality 1GB will be used in less than 15 hours.
  • At extreme quality you’ll use 1GB of data in 7 hours.
  • You’ll use a lot more data with video playback.

You can check and change the quality of streaming and download of songs using mobile data in the settings on your device.

Spotify: High quality streaming and audio quality

There are three different levels of streaming quality for Spotify. Streaming is all done in the Ogg Vorbis format and uses the following bitrates for each of the quality levels:

  • Normal streams at 96kbps
  • High quality streams at 160kbps
  • Extreme quality streams at 320kbps

The quality level you use will depend on your preference and choices around data usage but it’s worth noting that extreme is only available to Spotify Premium subscribers.


How to find people and friends on Spotify

Signing up to Spotify with Facebook or connecting your Facebook account at a later date will allow you to easily find and follow friends and see what they’re listening to. The activity feed is displayed on the right-hand side of the desktop software and is a great way to pick up on friends who listen to the same music as you or poke fun at them for their latest Abba session.

You can also use the search function within the app to find friends. At the very bottom of the activity feed there’s also a “find friends” button which will allow you to find and follow more friends or artists.

If you’re not on Facebook or don’t want to connect your Facebook account to Spotify you can still find and follow friends, it just might be a bit more difficult in some cases.

According to Spotify, the best way to find and follow a friend is to use the search box on the desktop client and use this format:

Copy this and replace USERNAME with the name of your friend. If this doesn’t work, ask your friend to either copy their profile link directly from their profile page and send it to you. Alternatively, ask if they can share one of their public playlists with you. If they created the playlist, then their username is contained within the URL as a number:

You can either use that number to find them or click on their name in the playlist to follow them. For more detailed guidance on finding friends on Spotify, see Spotify’s official tutorial.


Spotify playlists, radio and discovering new music

Creating a playlist is as easy as right clicking a song and clicking “Add to Playlist” or clicking the three dots next to a song on the app. Grab your favourite songs and stick them in a playlist for your personal listening pleasure. Once you get started you’ll soon find you’re following playlists made by friends or curated by artists.

Spotify is smart too, the more you listen, the more it learns the sort of music you like and that has an impact on the music it will present to you in future. When you delve into the “Discover” section of the app you’ll find a number of recommendations based on your recent listening choices. This includes artists similar to those you’ve already been listening to. as well as your “Discover Weekly” and “Release Radar” playlists.

“Discover Weekly” is a playlist that’s automatically updated by Spotify each Monday and includes a number of different songs based upon what you’ve been listening to recently.

“Release Radar” is a selection of new tracks from artists you follow. It’s worth noting here that if you follow your favourite musicians you’ll get notifications and updates when they release new content too.

When listening on mobile, there’s also a selection of other playlists in your music library called “your daily mixes”. These daily mix playlists contain more of the same goodness you’ll usually find in Discover Weekly but there’s more of them and a bit more variety.

To discover new music, click on the three dots menu and select “Go to Playlist Radio” and you’ll be taken to an automatically generated “radio” station that’ll play a selection of music based on the contents of the original playlist. You can also use this logic with specific songs or artists by choosing to listen to ‘artist radio’ or ‘song radio’. These are great ways to discover new music that’s similar to your current taste but ones that you might not have otherwise listened to.

Spotify Bluetooth connectivity

One of the obvious benefits of Spotify is if you’re using it on your phone then you can connect to a wealth of different Bluetooth devices and stream your content that way. Whether that means a home audio receiver, head unit in your car, Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth connected speaker – there’s plenty of possibility. With Spotify Premium you can also take advantage of Spotify Connect.


What is Spotify Connect

Spotify Connect allows you to play your music through a variety of different Wi-Fi connected devices including everything from Wi-Fi speakers to your television, Amazon Echo, Chromecast, PC and much more.

This is great because it means you can listen to your music in more places and with more devices. It also offers you a choice in how you control the music playing on your Spotify account. For example, if you’re streaming to speakers in your lounge using your phone then you can use it as a remote control to adjust the volume, change tracks or create a party playlist while listening.

  • What is Spotify Connect, and why does it matter?

How much is Spotify?

Spotify comes in two main forms – free and Premium. Spotify Premium is currently £9.99 a month, which includes access to features such as ad free streaming, unlimited skips, extreme quality streaming and Spotify Connect.

If multiple people in your house use Spotify, you might consider Premium for Family which gives up to six people access to their own unique Spotify account under one bill. All users have to live at the same address so it’s not a package to include your friends on, but it’s a good way to split the cost.

At £14.99, Premium for Family isn’t too much extra over a standard Premium plan price, so it’s a worthy investment.

How to delete your Spotify account

If you decide you no longer want your Spotify account, you can delete it. It is worth noting though, that you can downgrade from Premium to a free account, so if cost is the issue then we’d recommend considering that first.

If you’re still keen on deleting your Spotify account, then follow these steps:

Visit Spotify’s Support page on how to close your account.
Login to your Spotify account.

Click this link to delete your account.

If this doesn’t work, then you can also try this method:

Login and go directly to Spotify’s Contact Support page.
Choose ‘account’ as the category.
Select ‘I want to close my Spotify account permanently’.
Then click to close your account or cancel your subscription

  • Spotify free vs Spotify premium: What’s the difference?
  • What is Spotify Connect, and why does it matter?
  • Spotify’s Family Plan is much cheaper now: Here’s what you need to know

Sky Mobile will open signups on October 31st

It’s taken more than two years, but Sky is finally ready to launch its own mobile service. At its annual Investor Day, the company confirmed it will open registrations for Sky Mobile, its O2-powered network, from October 31st. The move will ultimately allow Sky to sit alongside BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk as a true “quad-play” provider.
Sky has yet to confirm pricing or an official launch date for Sky Mobile but did say that existing customers will be invited to sign up first ahead of a wider expansion in 2017. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland CEO, told investors that the company had “long had its eyes on the prize” when it came to entering the mobile phone market.

“There are literally millions of customers for us to go after,” he added. “We know that our customers are not only interested in Sky Mobile, but once they have been shown the proposition, they would consider switching to Sky.”

Like its rivals, Sky is expected to offer sweeter deals to customers who choose to go all in with the company’s TV, phone, broadband and mobile services. With 22 million customers across Europe, over half of which are in the UK, it surprised many that Sky would come so late in the game.

While it’s spent the past two years finalising its plans, broadband providers have begun adding their own TV services, ensuring that Sky now has increased competition on all four quad-play fronts.

#SkyInvestorDay: No details on #SkyMobile pricing but pre registration from 31 October

— Paolo Pescatore (@paolopescatore) October 20, 2016


NSA’s hacking tools found among data stolen by contractor

The feds quietly arrested NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III back in August for stealing an enormous number of documents from the agency. Now, the investigators sifting through the documents found in his computers discovered what they were probably looking for from the start. According to the New York Times, the documents he stole included the NSA’s top secret hacking tools posted online by a group called Shadow Brokers earlier this year. Federal agents had to pore over terabytes upon terabytes of data to find those tools, since the classified materials found in Martin’s possession make the Panama Papers (2.6 terabytes) and Edward Snowden’s documents look insignificant in comparison.

The Navy vet has been working on intelligence and has held a high-level clearance for a long time. In fact, he was part of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations, the very same team responsible for making the stolen hacking tools. Former NSA employee Dave Aitel told the NYT that the leak caused a huge damage to the country’s ability to defend against enemy nations. They can be used to identify rival countries’ hacking capabilities, after all, giving the agency the info needed to conjure up the best way to block incoming cyber attacks.

While investigators can now link Martin to the leaked tools, they’re still struggling to find out whether he released them on purpose or whether someone stole them from him. Back in September, the feds’ investigation focused on the scenario that one careless NSA contractor used the tools on an unprotected machine. Now that they’ve found forensic evidence in his computers, they’ve begun looking at it from all angles.

One possibility they’re considering is that the tools were physically stolen from his garage, though it’s more likely that he was hacked. The investigators are also looking into whether Martin deliberately sold the tools, because while he was earning six figures, he also seemed to be struggling financially due to his penchant for luxury goods. Then there’s the possibility that he leaked the tools to make a mark, so to speak. Someone who allegedly knows him well told the NYT: “He always thought of himself like a James Bond-type person, wanting to save the world from computer evil.”

Source: The New York Times


Did Trump pilot a TV service during the debate?

Just ahead of last night’s debate, Donald Trump launched his own Facebook Live video stream featuring coverage and analysis before, during and after the event. The feed, which featured analysis and slick graphics, could be a preview of a Trump TV network rumored to be in the works. “If you’re tired of biased, mainstream media reporting (otherwise known as Crooked Hillary’s super PAC), tune into my Facebook Live broadcast,” Trump said in a Facebook post

The idea that Trump was using his presidential bid as a way to drum up interest in a new media empire was first floated by Vanity Fair, which based the report on sources “briefed on the discussions.” More recent reports pointed to an online channel that could be a cable TV launchpad. He reportedly consulted New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, along with his own media-savvy daughter, Ivanka, on the project. Trump has denied the rumors, however.

There’s a a little issue of advertising [on Trump TV]. Most big brand advertisers would avoid it like the plague. The last thing anyone is looking for is controversy for fear of being boycotted.

The livestream featured Ivanka , Eric and Lara Trump, along with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. It ran under the “TrumpTV” section and had anti-Clinton ads interspersed throughout. While the production looked reasonably professional, there was the odd stumble and “hot mic” glitch. Around 200,000 viewers tuned into the broadcast at its peak during the debate, trailing only the ABC News feed on Facebook. By contrast, 124 million folks around the world watched the second tete-a-tete between the candidates on YouTube, dwarfing Facebook’s numbers.

While the ratings were decent, former Fox TV CEO Sandy Grushow told CNBC that the idea of a Trump TV network is implausible. “There’s a a little issue of advertising,” he said. “Most big brand advertisers would avoid it like the plague. The last thing anyone is looking for is controversy for fear of being boycotted.”

Via: Buzzfeed

Source: Donald Trump (Facebook)


The first Cybathlon pushed the limits of bionic technology

Andre van Rüschen slowly climbed a five-step ramp at the end of his race. With a black processor strapped to his back and leg supports on either side of his lower limbs, he stayed focused on the body-machine coordination that was keeping him upright. He had walked over a wooden slope, criss-crossed bright yellow bars and tried to step on gray discs that were placed irregularly on the floor. Now, standing atop the last obstacle in the exoskeleton race, he took a moment to pause and look up at his opponent on the adjacent track. They were both on the ramp, going head-to-head at the world’s first Cybathlon, a sporting competition designed for people with severe disabilities.

The crowd inside the Swiss Arena in Zürich cheered them on. Van Rüschen, the German pilot who was using a ReWalk exoskeleton, quickly regained his focus and prepared to walk down the next five steps to complete the race. He hit a button on the remote around his wrist to change the settings from “walk” to “climb” and quickly adjusted his upper body to balance his weight on the crutches in his hands. With his competitor, Mark Daniel, right on his heels, he leaned forward to pick up the pace.

Moments later, the crowd roared as van Rüschen walked over the finish line, seconds ahead of Daniel. He became the first pilot in a powered-exoskeleton suit to win the gold medal at the Cybathlon. Daniel, who presented the exoskeleton technology from Florida-based Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, went home with the silver.


Mark Daniel competing in the powered exoskeleton race. Photo: Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters

Through the day, on Oct. 8th, there were many moments of triumph and tears. Of the 66 competing teams, most machines carried the pilots through the obstacles without a glitch, while some struggled to get past the first leg of the race. Spectators in the soldout stadium leapt out of their seats to support the pilots who won and cheered for those who failed to conquer their obstacles.

“It showed that it’s possible to use technology at an event to bring people without disabilities closer [to] people with disabilities,” said Robert Riener, the principal organizer of the competition. “It was about starting a conversation, to have awareness about disabilities, to include all people.”

The Cybathlon created a space for people to support each other irrespective of their abilities. But the impact went beyond the ambiance in the arena. The purpose of the competition was to push the field of bionic-assistive technology to do more for the people who need it. Each obstacle was carefully planned not only to put existing technologies to the test, but to encourage novel ideas.

Powered-wheelchair prototypes were built to roll up a flight of stairs or move across uneven surfaces without getting stuck. Arm prosthetics that can rotate and grip were tested for smaller gestures, such as screwing in a lightbulb or spreading jam on a slice of bread. And a unique brain-computer interface race had teams engineer a way for paraplegic pilots to control an avatar in a computer game through their thoughts alone.


A pilot from South Korea in the brain-computer interface race. Photo: Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters

The event, organized by ETH Zurich, was the first of its kind to invite engineers and developers to bring their technologies to a global stage. In order to host an accident-free competition, the Swiss university planned for thorough tech checks and medical evaluations. While most teams made it past preliminary testing, a few machines failed to meet the technical safety requirements and were disqualified. A handful of pilots also had to be turned away for medical discrepancies.

Michael McClellan, the American pilot slated to represent Team Cleveland’s unique implanted-sensor technology in the Functional Electrical Stimulation bike race, had spent the last year training for the Cybathlon. Paralyzed from the waist down, he was eager to compete for the clinical-research team that had enabled him to get back on his feet and ride a bike again. But the medical check in Zurich revealed that he still had some muscle activity in his leg. Minimal as the movement was, it kept him out of the race. Mark Muhn, the team’s reserve pilot and McClellan’s close friend, who showed no signs of voluntary muscle activity in his lower body during the test was asked to get in the bike for the final race.

The moment was as unexpected for Muhn as it was bittersweet. He had to take his friend’s spot, but he had also spent months training for the remote possibility of racing. The next day at the arena, two rounds and 20 laps later, Muhn went on to the win the gold, with his wife and McClellan cheering in the crowd. None of the other 10 teams came close to his time in the race.

“It was about starting a conversation, to have awareness about disabilities, to include all people.” – Robert Riener

Throughout the day, unexpected wins rolled in with predictable results. The group from Ossur, a leading Icelandic company that manufactures lower-limb prostheses, entered the leg race with four pilots who were favored to win. Three participants used a variation of the company’s commercially available knee technologies, while the fourth, Lukas Kalemba, piloted a prototype of a powered leg built specifically for the event.

Kalemba stumbled on his last obstacle as he carried a bunch of objects up the stairs on a ramp and didn’t make it to the finals. But the remaining three Ossur pilots outraced the competition to win all three medals in the powered-leg discipline.

The event showcased the power of commercially established devices, but it was some of the simpler technologies that took a surprising lead. In the arm-prosthetics race, 10 teams covered the spectrum of assistive devices available to amputees today. Powered arms from Touch Bionics, a leading Scottish company that manufactures upper-limb prostheses, and the more experimental implanted prosthesis from Swedish team OPRA were front-runners in the race. But the Dutch pilot from DIPO Power won the gold with a body-powered prostheses that harnesses the physical strength of the wearer instead of relying fully on a machine.

“What we saw is that it doesn’t need to be the most complex technology to do the best performance,” says Riener. “We had teams do extremely well with passive devices. It didn’t need to be high-tech. It can be more robust and reliable.”

The juxtaposition of experimental prototypes from research labs and commercially successful devices from large companies made the Cybathlon a showcase of what’s available and what’s possible in the field of bionic technologies. The event also pushed both sides to do more for people with disabilities. Exoskeleton companies adjusted their software to make stepping easier for paraplegics and novel sensors were implanted in some of the pilots to create direct communication between their bodies and the machines.

The differences between teams that dominated and those that struggled to make it through also sparked collaborative possibilities.

“A big take-away is that there will be opportunities to develop and create platforms or tools that can support universities in pursuing research in powered prosthetics,” said David Langlois, the technical lead from Ossur. “A lot of the other guys we saw don’t have corporate support, their resources are limited and development is slow. They’re spending a lot of time doing what we already do. I would like to consider how we can share resources so everyone can be more efficient at contributing and moving the field of prosthetics forward.”

The state of prosthetic devices already stood apart through the competition. While exoskeletons still looked too bulky and pilots in the FES bike race were visibly exhausted, most of the participants in the leg-prosthetics discipline ran over the obstacles in less than a couple of minutes. “It’s a much more mature technology,” says Langlois. “It’s been available for a long time, a lot of research has been dedicated to it. Other events are more about newer technologies that haven’t reached the same level of maturity. It leads to a very different execution of the challenge.”


Billy Costello, one of four pilots representing Icelandic team Ossur, competing in the powered leg prosthetics race. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

The selection of obstacles also contributed to the pace of the leg race. The available prostheses, according to Langlois, already enable amputees to walk across different surfaces or carry out everyday tasks like carrying objects across a room. But it’s particularly challenging for them to get through a regular work day on the prosthetic leg. Long stretches create a lot of discomfort and even pain for most users.

“Real life is not a one-minute race,” says Langlois. “It’s a 12-hour day for normal living. It was hard to see the daily life challenges of amputees [on the obstacle course],” he says. “Not that this track was easy or had no value but to level the field to have events that have the same level of difficulty, some adjustments would help bring out the challenges of being a lower leg amputee.”

The need for adjustments, however, is not lost on the organizers as they assess the impact of their event. Riener plans to make changes to the tasks — making some less intensive, others more challenging — for the next Cybathlon in four years.

“We’ll continue to speak with the community to improve the racetracks for daily life challenges,” he says. “It’s our responsibility to keep this movement going now. We can improve inclusion and have better technologies for people with disabilities. We have the momentum now.”

This is the final episode in a five-part video series called Superhumans, which follows the Cybathlon from start to finish.


NBA will livestream weekly games in VR this season

As far as professional sports leagues go, the NBA may be the most tech-forward of the bunch. Last year, for example, it teamed up with NextVR to stream the first game of its 2015-2016 season in virtual reality. Today, both parties are taking that partnership one step further. The NBA and NextVR have announced that, starting this season (which tips off October 25th), they will be livestreaming one game per week to Gear VR headsets. It is the first deal of its kind, according to NextVR, something that bodes well for virtual reality as an entertainment medium.

There is one caveat, however: You’ll need a $200 yearly subscription to NBA League Pass, a streaming service that lets you watch live and on-demand games on smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes and the web. You can now add Samsung’s VR headsets to that list. Similar to when the league worked with NextVR last season, the live action in the upcoming VR streams is limited to a 180-degree field of view, though there will be some 360-degree content, NextVR tells Engadget.

For Laguna Beach-based NextVR, this is a huge step in its goal to make virtual reality mainstream. Most recently, the company also worked with Live Nation to stream concerts in VR to fans all over the world. Danny Keens, VP of Content and Partnerships at NextVR, says that the multi-year partnership with the NBA is only the beginning, noting that his team is in active conversations with “many of the world’s top sports leagues” to create similar experiences.

While the plan right now is to only stream one game every week in VR, Keens says that the idea is to produce more games weekly as the partnership matures. Of course, there is the question of “do NBA fans really want or need this?” After all, as a basketball fan myself, I’m perfectly fine watching hoops the way I do now, sitting on the couch across from my 65-inch high-definition TV. And, when the San Antonio Spurs come to New York City, I’d rather be at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center.

Keens says one of the most important things was to make sure fans have easy access to important features and information as they’re watching a game in VR. That includes live commentary, score, real-time stats, shot-clock and surround sound, similar to what you get with more traditional platforms.”We’re not talking incremental change,” he adds about watching NBA content in virtual reality. “It’s more a transformational change.”

The NBA, for its part, seems to be excited about what virtual reality can offer its fans. Just last month, the league released a VR documentary based on the 2016 NBA Finals, a 360-degree film that’s free to download on Gear VR. The NBA has been exploring virtual reality for several years now,” says Jeff Marsilio, NBA Vice President of Global Media Distribution. “And while we’ve learned a lot from our experiments with live VR so far, we felt we needed to make a bigger commitment to really drive innovation forward.”

If you want to give it a try before spending $200 on League Pass, the NBA will be offering a trial on October 27th, during the game between Spurs and Kings. All you’ll need is a Gear VR headset with a compatible smartphone.


UK ‘Turing Law’ will posthumously pardon convicted gay men

Under new legislation, thousands of gay and bisexual men will receive posthumous pardons from the UK government. Dubbed the “Alan Turing Law,” an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill will rectify old convictions for consensual same-sex relationships, which were decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967. The policy builds on the case of Alan Turing, a brilliant cryptographer who helped Britain and the Allied Powers decode messages during World War II. Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts and died in 1954 from cyanide poisoning. In 2009, the British government officially apologised for his treatment, before a posthumous pardon was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.

The new amendment was first proposed by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Sharkey. He called the government’s decision today “a momentous day” for “thousands of families up and down the UK who have been campaigning on this issue for decades.” In addition to the posthumous pardons, the Home Office has announced a new statutory pardon for the living. It will affect individuals who have successfully applied to the Home Office to have their criminal record cleared through the disregard process.

“It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today,” Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said. “Through pardons and the existing disregard process we will meet our manifesto commitment to put right these wrongs.” Not everyone is happy with the decision, however. George Montague, who was convicted in 1974 of gross indecency with another man, told the BBC he wants an apology, not a pardon. A pardon, he argues, would cement the idea that he was once guilty. “If I get an apology, I will not need a pardon,” he said.

Via: Ars Technica UK

Source: GOV.UK, BBC

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