Posts Tagged ‘project’
At the end of October, Motorola made a surprising announcement: it was working on an open-source initiative called Project Ara that would allow for the creation of modular, customizable smartphone hardware. It’s an ambitious and seemingly unlikely project, but Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside says it’s all part of a plan to make consumers more involved with building their smartphones. “Moto Maker was the beginning of a much more exciting and longer-term story,” Woodside says in an interview with YouTube personality Marques Brownlee. “Ara is much further out, but you can see how those two things tie together, and how as we introduce new materials into Moto Maker we’re gonna pursue that theme across our product line going forward.”
Microsoft has recognized that people appreciate the chance to make their own stuff, possibly due to the success of PlayStation exclusive LittleBigPlanet, and that’s why it created Project Spark, previewed back in June at E3. Spark is an even more free-form game creation engine with a focus on simultaneous game playing and building, which also encourages sharing among friends and family.
The beta for Project Spark kicks off today on Windows 8.1, which means if you’re one of the still quite small crowd on that latest desktop OS, you can take part – so long as you’ve also signed up for the beta over at the Project Spark website. The closed beta will extend to Xbox One users beginning in the new year, however, and that’s where I expect the software to really start to shine, given Microsoft’s sizeable user pool based on early sales numbers of the next-gen console. Microsoft also says cross-platform support is coming eventually, too.
Microsoft is touting Spark as a way to create collaborative, effectively unending games with your friends and connections, which is an interesting take on gaming as a social medium. Games have always had social aspects, to be sure: alternating turns or watching your friend who was lucky enough to own a PS1 play through Final Fantasy is no doubt an experience common to many of my particular vintage. Then of course came split-screen gaming, culminating the pure joy that was Goldeneye 007 for the N64, and the modern era of shooting and tea-bagging that is the Call of Duty series.
Now, Microsoft wants you to do something even more participatory, creating worlds as you explore them. At its most basic, Spark does most of the heavy lifting for you, with you specifying simply a scenario, setting and character before being thrown into a randomly generated game provided by the engine. But you can get much more granular, building different genres of games, using various different inputs including Kinect and the Xbox One controller, and even incorporating motion capture and voiceover using the Kinect for custom animations and dialogue. The Spark engine seems insanely flexible, so it’ll very interesting to see what a legion of brand new amateur game devs can do with this in their hands.
Grab the Spark beta app from the Windows Store, but you might have to wait a little while to use it if you haven’t yet got a beta key, and it’s not going to be available in all regions immediately. This is potentially the most interesting thing Microsoft has done for a long time, so it’ll be great to watch how this progresses, even if you’re not that interested in becoming an auteur yourself.
The PUC by Zivix is a clever little device that converts older MIDI systems into wireless powerhouses, allowing you to connect to iPads and the like with one small disc of electronics. Zivix, the maker of the Jamstik, is closing their crowdfunding campaign with $ 28,000 in the bank.
The company has been working on unique musical devices for the iPad for most of the year and are very close to production with both their products. The Jamstik, for example, is nearing production and should begin shipping in a month. The PUC will ship to backers in January.
I saw both products today and I’m impressed with how diligently the team has reduced latency in these experiences. As a semi-competent musician I’m well aware of the problems raised by messy wireless connections and Zivix has done their darnedest to work around the new limitations in MIDI connections imposed by iOS 7.
Square Enix knows a thing or two about building exquisite CG movies. The company has produced two feature films, and its Final Fantasy games have featured cinematic cutscenes for years. But soon, Square Enix believes it will be able to let you play games as epic and gorgeous as those pre-rendered videos. This week, the firm announced Project Flare, a so-called “technological breakthrough in cloud gaming,” which it claims will offer the power of a virtual supercomputer to build video game worlds.
It’s been a little over two years since Google announced that it would acquire Motorola Mobility for $ 12.5 billion, and these days Motorola has basically become the most interesting smartphone player in the business.
To wit: the Google subsidiary confirmed earlier this morning that it’s been on what it calls Project Ara, an open hardware platform centered about building modular smartphones and the parts that snap onto them.
This, in short, is amazing.
The initiative has apparently been in development for over a year now, and Motorola has outlined some of the basics in a blog post here. Long story short, the design calls for a base unit (or endoskeleton) that makes up the frame of the device, along with a slew of additional modules that snap onto the thing to extend its functionality.
Are you a fan of physical keyboards? Attach one and start pecking out your emails. Need your phone to last a little longer? Swap out that battery module for a bigger one. The list goes on and on. If the timetable works out the way Motorola wants it to, it’ll release an alpha version of its Module Development Kit sometime this winter.
I’ve heard that Motorola is cooking up some interesting things in terms of sensors behind closed doors, too, and it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to think about how they could be compartmentalized for use with a modular smartphone. In fact, Motorola already outed one of them – Associate VP Paul Eremenko alluded the blog post to the existence of a pulse oximeter module that can measure the oxygen saturation of a user’s blood.
Granted, neither Motorola nor the fellow behind the viral Phonebloks concept (who the company tips its hat to) were the first to ponder out loud about the possibility of a modular cellphone.
Remember Bug Labs? They gained plenty of notoriety back in 2008 for its modular hardware – users could snap on LCD screens, GPS transmitters, digital cameras, and 3G radio modules to a chunky base unit to turn it into a device that approached the sort of functionality one would expect from an early smartphone. And if we’re being honest, the Phonebloks concept that went blew up had little chance of ever becoming an actual product, no matter how slickly creator Dave Hakkens presented it. It seems the timing was just right though, and Motorola plans to tap into that growing Phonebloks fan community to help it figure out where to take the concept.
For now, Motorola is inviting would-be users (sorry, “Ara Scouts”) to participate in missions that will aid in the company’s research. The first mission? Users are being asked to download an app and use it to share their thoughts and visions for what they’d want to see Project Ara become, and they’ve got exactly three days to get it done. Seems like a pretty harried pace, but that only bodes well for the rest of us – with any luck that may just mean the first prototype Ara devices get pushed out the door even quicker.
On Day Two, things started to get a little weirder. The lone editor’s vision grew hazy, his palms clammy. Perhaps this is something more than a typical bug. I mean, the cough is getting a little….worse. He does seem to be losing some weight. Maybe he just needs to get more fruit and vegetables in his system. Hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow.
You might say the week is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workweek, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Weekly Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past seven days — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click …
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on …
Yes, it shares the same codename as NVIDIA’s portable Android console, but Google’s Project Shield has nothing to do with gaming — it’s all about helping the little guy. Created in response to a Google Ideas request — a think tank that provides tech solutions for social issues — made by Middle …
Google has done an admirable job of demystifying Project Loon (that ambitious broadband-via-atmospheric-balloon initiative), but its latest video takes it a step further: tearing apart one of its blimp-tracking antennas and explaining how it works. Every unit houses a radio, what Google is calling …