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Powermat Releasing Updated, Stronger Wireless Charging Pad

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Powermat plans to roll out an upgrade to its wireless charging technology in January  that will enable 15-watt power transfers through a 1.5-in. thick solid surface and provide support for new Apple iPhones and other Qi-enabled devices.

The wireless charging company also plans to release an under-tabletop product that allows users to simply place enabled mobile devices atop a desk, for example, to begin receiving a charge.

By moving from 5 watts to 15 watts with the upcoming software upgrade, Powermat chargers will transfer power to a mobile device at the same rate as a traditional charging cable, according to Powermat CTO Itay Sherman.

The upgrade, to be formally unveiled at CES in January, will also open the door for future software improvements, including power transfer rates of up to 65 watts; that would cover everything from tablets to laptops, Sherman said.

Currently, only Dell’s Latitude 7285 2-in-1 laptop features wireless charging based on technology from WiTricity.

The software upgrade is particularly significant in that it natively supports charging for Qi-enabled devices, such as the iPhone 8 and X series, Apple’s first smartphones to get wireless charging. A software upgrade earlier this year did enable compatibility with the Qi specification, but it only offered 5W power transfer.

Powermat’s upcoming software upgrade will support 7.5W so called “fast charging” for the new iPhone line as well as most Android smart phones.

Powermat’s inductive wireless charging is widely used today and has been adopted by Duracell, General Motors, Starbucks and AT&T. Among airports, coffee shops, malls, restaurants and arenas, Powermat claims to have 12,000 charging spots in the U.S. and Europe, and is being embedded in millions of cars and smartphones.

While the technology is inductive as opposed to resonant, which allows for greater distances between a charger and enabled device, Powermat added a larger charging coil and a booster to its newest chargers. That allows for power transfers of up to 1.5 inches in distance.

“With this charging technology there are no more wires on top of the desk or table,” Sherman said. “In the past, there has been a reluctance on the part of enterprise customers to use wireless charging because of all the wires on the top side of a desk, but with this technology they no longer need to do that.”

The new charger can attach to the bottom of a desk or conference table with just two screws; a sticker atop the surface then directs users were to place their smart phones for charging. The charger’s firmware also contains an algorithm that detects how far power needs to be projected to an enabled device.

Pricing for the new charger has yet to be released.

Powermat is part of the Airfuel Alliance consortium, which was founded when two of the three major wireless charging standard bodies — the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP)­ — merged in 2015. The Airfuel Alliance competes against the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), a standards groups backing the Qi specification.

Because the WPC’s specification is open, Powermat’s latest upgrade will offer compatibility, Sherman said.

“Charging devices we have today are upgradable to support the WPC’s [Qi] specification, but the new design will be compatible day one,” Sherman said. “To be very honest, the difference between these two technologies have been minute. The whole market is consolidating now.”

Are AMD’s Ryzen 2 Processors Arriving Next Month

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD must be tired of the success it enjoyed with the Ryzen CPUs as its second-gen processors are set to launch early 2018.

The Ryzen 2 lineup, according to WCCTech, will be made up of the Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 2000 chips, and are set to bring in better performance with jacked-up clockspeeds and overclocking capabilities. Bet Intel’s happy about that….

Core specifications for chip fans include the Ryzen 2 family being the first chips AMD will have built using the 12 nanometre fabrication processes to pack in more transistors into small squares of silicone.

The Ryzen 2 familiy will feature AMD’s Zen+ CPU architecture, which is set to offer more power efficiency alongside beefier speeds and support for DDR4 memory running at higher frequencies.

Dubbed Pinnacle Ridge, the wave of second-gen Ryzen chips will start predictably with the flagship Ryzen 7 in February, followed by its less gutsy siblings in March.

With up to eight cores and clock-speeds reckoned to hit up to 4.4GHz, the Ryzen 2 CPUs are not only set to butt heads with Intel’s eighth-generation processors, but also take on Intel’s 9000 series CPUs set to make a splash mid next year.

The first bout of Ryzen CPUs made their debut earlier this year and offered enough performance on tap to give people an alternative to Intel chips, which had for some time offered better performance than AMD’s CPUs.

But the Ryze 2 family demonstrates there’s still more to be had out of AMD’s Zen architecture and that the chip maker wants to build upon its CPU rise with Ryzen.

There’s not a vast amount of extra information about what we can expect from Ryzen 2, but we reckon the chipset will be more of an evolution in performance rather than a massive power hike to annoy people who bought a Ryzen CPU earlier this year.

That being said, later down the line we’d not be surprised to see a new ‘Threadripper’ chip built on the same Zen+ architecture but rocking a serious number or cores, or perhaps a 2000x series chip with 12 cores and 24 threads to really stick two fingers up at Intel. But as ever time will tell.

Courtesy-TheInq

Toshiba AND Western Digital Settle

December 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Toshiba and Western Digital have agreed in principle to settle a dispute over the Japanese firm’s plans to sell its $18 billion chip unit and aim to have a final agreement in place next week.

Word on the street is that the Toshiba board has approved a framework for a settlement.

Western Digital had been able to block a deal to selling the unit to a Bain Capital-led consortium.

The settlement under discussion calls for Western Digital to drop arbitration claims seeking to stop the sale in exchange for Toshiba allowing it to invest in a new production line for advanced flash memory chips that will start next year.

A Toshiba spokesman said that while the company was open to a settlement, it would not disclose discussion specifics or details of board of directors meetings. “It is not a fact that we have reached an agreement with Western Digital,” he said.

Western Digital is not saying anything.

Toshiba was forced to put the unit – the world’s no. 2 producer of NAND chips – on the block to cover billions of dollars in liabilities arising from its now bankrupt US nuclear power unit Westinghouse.

The deal with the Bain-led consortium will, however, see it reinvest in the unit and together with Hoya a maker of parts for chip devices, Japanese firms will hold more than 50 percent of the business – a keen wish of the Japanese government.

As part of the planned settlement, Toshiba and Western Digital would extend existing agreements for their chip joint ventures in Yokkaichi, central Japan, one of the sources said. The current agreements are set to start expiring from 2021.

Western Digital would also invest in a completely new chip plant that Toshiba will start building next year in northern Japan, the source said.

Western Digital, one of world’s leading makers of hard disk drives, paid some $16 billion last year to acquire SanDisk, Toshiba’s chip joint venture partner since 2000.

With data storage key to most next-generation technologies from artificial intelligence and autonomous driving to the Internet of Things, NAND chips have only grown in importance and Western Digital has been desperate to keep the business out of the hands of rival chipmakers.

The sale still needs to clear the snarling mauls of the regulatory watchdogs but they are not expected to rip the trousers of the deal.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Beef Up Iris Scanner In Next Galaxy Phones

December 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung is said to be bringing several upgrades to the iris scanner on its next Galaxy S phone, presumably called the Galaxy S9. Some of these possible changes include a shorter response time, better recognition in dark or bright environments or when the user is wearing glasses, and a slightly higher resolution, 3-megapixel lens (up from 2MP in the Galaxy S8) according to The Korea Herald.

More secure biometric authentication — like fingerprint sensing, iris scanning and facial recognition — is always a good thing, but the update may seem especially necessary after hackers were able to fool the iris scanner on the Galaxy S8 using a photo and contact lenses. After the hack Samsung was quick to defend the security of its iris-scanning tech, but an improved scanner may help those concerned rest more easily.

Currently, fingerprint and iris scanning are the only biometric methods Samsung deems secure enough to use as authentication for Samsung Pay (sorry, facial recognition). According to the report, Samsung is working to get more mobile banking apps to be compatible with the iris scanner as an authentication method. Since we’re dealing with monetary transactions, security is a top priority.

A Samsung spokesperson told The Korea Herald that an “Iris scanner is the safest biometric authentication (among iris, fingerprint and face recognition) and we will continue to improve the system for upcoming smartphones for safer banking transactions,” but did not reveal any specific plans for the Galaxy S9.

But the Galaxy S9 may not be alone. The report’s source also claimed that Samsung is on target to expand the iris scanner to its budget phones by late 2018 or early 2019. Right now the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 are the only Samsung phones with iris scanning — excluding the recalled Note 7.

We’ve already heard rumors that the Galaxy S9 may get a fingerprint scanner similar to the Galaxy S8’s. When you consider that the fingerprint scanner’s proximity to the camera was one of our biggest gripes about the S8, an updated iris scanner may be a better alternative.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Can EA Learn From Rainbow Six Siege With 25 Million Players

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Ubisoft has announced that two years after launch, Rainbow Six Siege has over 25 million registered players.

Now entering its third year, Ubisoft has lined-up more content to prolong the life of the game for another season, proving that games-as-a-service can be done properly in the AAA space.

When Siege launched at the tail end of 2015, critics took the game to task over its threadbare offerings, which featured a single PvP mode, no campaign, and only a handful of maps, not to mention a litany of bugs.

Since then, however, many of the criticisms have been dealt with and Siege has held a regular spot in the UK top 20.

What’s especially interesting about the success of Siege is how quiet it’s been. With each competitor that shambles onto the market, whether that be Star Wars Battlefront II or the latest addition to the monolithic Call of Duty franchise, Siege has rarely attracted the same level of controversy, despite employing the most common games-as-as-service monetization techniques.

With games-as-a-service reportedly having tripled the value of the industry, and EA looking to replace annual sports games with live services, has Ubisoft laid out the framework for how to do it right?

“Player investment has been core to the success of the game with longevity being always very important to us. As the game progressed, we continued to develop it with the community in mind,” said Alexandre Remy, Rainbow Six Siege brand director in a statement.

A community-centric approach is the obvious answer to increasing the longevity of any game. Over recent months, we’ve seen a great deal of discussion around finding the “sweet spot” for monetization techniques, and we’ve also seen the fallout of what happens when communities feel disrespected. Loot boxes and season pass DLC can work, Siege has demonstrated that, but striking that delicate balance is something publishers have long struggled with, and continue to do so.

That said, it’s important to consider the particular niche that Siege operates in. Yes, it’s a competitive online shooter, but unlike many of its contemporaries, it’s a much more strategic and team-focused affair. While there is definitely a crossover between Call of Duty players and Siege players, the latter has a niche appeal the former cannot possibly hope to replicate without disenfranchising its mainstream audience.

The likes of Activision and EA can certainly learn from Ubisoft’s approach to games-as-a-service. With no immediate Siege sequel on the horizon, a further cash investment into the game is a relatively easy thing for consumers to justify.

However, when players know that the life of a game will be artificially shortened by an annual release, rather than extended by DLC, it becomes difficult to rationalize spending anything above the $60 entry price, especially when the monetization techniques are perceived to be so aggressive.

Ubisoft is not the only publisher to have successfully implemented these techniques with minimal backlash. Blizzard, for example, kept its hands relatively clean with Overwatch and only recently got caught-up in the Belgian Gambling Commission’s investigation which mainly cast its attention towards Star Wars Battlefront II.

But with Siege, Ubisoft has employed the delicate and reasoned approach that’s been missing from the industry’s clumsy, heavy-handed adoption of the games-as-a-service model. As a result, the two-year-old game boasts a large, dedicated community that numbers in the millions and is willing to spend.

Courtesy-GI.biz

YouTube Rumored To Unveil Paid Music Streaming Service

December 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

YouTube is gearing up to launch a new music subscription service in March, according to Bloomberg, a move that would be Google-parent Alphabet’s third attempt to challenge rivals Apple and Spotify.

The new streaming service, tentatively called Remix, will feature on-demand streaming and incorporate video clips from YouTube, sources described as familiar with the company’s plans told the news outlet. Major recording label Warner Music Group has already signed on, but YouTube is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, Bloomberg reported.

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

YouTube would be taking its third swing at the music-streaming business. Google introduced an audio-only streaming service called Google Play Music in 2011. Three years later, Google launched YouTube Music Key, a subscription service that offered music videos and ad-free songs on YouTube for $10 a month. Google changed the name to YouTube Red in 2015 and expanded it to all kinds of YouTube videos.

YouTube has a long way to catch up with Apple and Spotify, though. Spotify has more than 60 million paying users as of July, while Apples Music has about 27 million subscribers.

Amazon Prime Video Makes It Apple TV

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc teamed up to offer the Amazon Prime Video app to Apple TV in more than 100 countries, the companies announced.

The news came a day after Alphabet Inc’s Google said it would block its YouTube video streaming application from two of Amazon’s devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook had said in June that Amazon’s streaming service would be available on Apple devices later this year.

Apple TV, a device for watching movies and television over the internet, will also start featuring live sports from its own Apple TV app this week, Apple said in a blog post on Wednesday.

While live sports were previously available on Apple TV in apps from ESPN and the National Basketball Association, the new additions to Apple’s own app enable features like sending alerts to connected iPhones and iPads when a big game is about to start or when a user’s favorite teams are locked in a close game.

Wednesday’s announcement followed a negotiation stretching back at least to 2015 when Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs on its retail site.

Will Quantum Dot Displays Explode Onto The Market In 2018

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nanosys and DIC today announced a breakthrough in inkjet-printed Quantum Dot color conversion devices for LCD and emissive displays which they claim will pave the way to the $12.6 billion anticipated market for low cost, ultra-thin and flexible displays.

Inkjet printing of Quantum Dot colour conversion layers could breathe life into the LCD technology, and accelerate the development of emerging emissive display technologies such as microLEDs.

Microscope image of ink jet printed red and green Cadmium-free Quantum Dot colour conversion layer. Printed Quantum Dots can improve LCD efficiency by as much as 300 percent and could solve key manufacturing challenges for next generation microLED displays.

This device will be demonstrated by Nanosys and DIC Global at the IDW Conference in Sendai, Japan.

The benefits of Quantum Dot color conversion layers include a power efficiency or brightness improvement of as much as 300 percent , perfect 180 degree viewing angles and lifelike colour accuracy with much wider colour gamut.

Kiyotaka Kawashima, Executive Officer and General Manager Corporate R&D Division, DIC Corporation said: “Nanosys is focused on providing best-in-class Quantum Dot materials and technology to help printed Quantum Dot displays achieve mass commercialization.”

“We expect that our collaboration with Nanosys will enable display makers to successfully manufacture printed Quantum Dot displays, at scale, sooner.”

Delivering a true mass production-ready ink jet printing solution for large area UltraHD Quantum Dot displays required technical breakthroughs in several key areas.

Nanosys Cadmium-free quantum dots have been designed to be compatible with DIC’s materials and processes used for inkjet printing. Inks have been created for jettability across a wide range of print heads and tuned for both UV and thermal curing, giving display makers flexibility to deploy the materials in different manufacturing lines.

Nanosys Vice President of Sales and Marketing Russell Kempt said with DIC and Nanosys combining their considerable expertise in inkjet printing and Quantum Dot materials, the industry is poised to take a significant step forward in achieving low cost mass production of Quantum Dot displays.

Courtesy-Fud

Is EA Screwing Up The Planned Move To Games As A Service

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Every now and then, a major publisher goes through a bit of a rough patch in PR terms; the hits just seem to keep on coming, with company execs and representatives seemingly incapable of opening their mouths without shoving their feet right inside, and every decision being either poorly communicated or simply wrongheaded to begin with. At present it’s EA that can’t seem to put a foot right, from Battlefront 2’s microtransactions to lingering bad feeling over the closure of Visceral; every major company in the industry, though, has had its fair share of turns in the barrel.

These cycles come around for a couple of reasons. Part of it is just down to narrative; once something goes wrong for a company, they are scrutinised more closely for a while, and statements that might have slipped under the radar usually are blown up by the attention. Another part of it, though, is genuinely down to phases that companies go through; common enough periods in which the balance between the two audiences a major company must serve, its consumers and its investors, is not being managed and maintained expertly enough.

Most companies encounter this difficulty from time to time, because the demands and desires of shareholders are often damned near diametrically opposed to those of customers. The biggest problems arise, however, when a firm ends up having to take a Janus-faced approach, presenting a different picture in financial calls and investor conferences to the one it tries to convey in its customer-facing PR and marketing efforts.

That’s broadly speaking the situation EA has found itself in once again; forced to be conciliatory and diplomatic in talking to customers about everything from loot boxes to its commitment (or lack of same) to single-player experiences, while simultaneously being bullish with investors who want to see clear signs of progress in the shift towards a set of business paradigms core consumers volubly dislike.

CFO Blake Jorgensen’s comments at Credit Suisse’s conference earlier this week are archetypal of this genre of corporate communication; from a blunt denial that the company’s microtransaction strategy on Battlefront 2 is changing overall to a throwaway comment about Visceral’s closure being related to declining popularity (by which, being a CFO, he meant revenue) of linear game experiences, Jorgensen spoke to investors in a way that was quite markedly different from how the rest of the company has addressed its actual customers on these issues.

You can argue quite reasonably that this approach is dishonest in spirit if not in substance; even if the words of each statement are chosen carefully so the investor messages don’t technically contradict the consumer messages, the intent is so clearly tangential that consumers have every right to feel rather miffed. I think it’s worthwhile, however, to look beyond that to the motivation and strategy behind this – not just in terms of EA’s month of bad PR, but looking beyond that to the industry as a whole, because pretty much every major publisher is undertaking a similar strategic shift in a direction they know perfectly well is going to annoy many of their core customers, and they’re all going to have their own turn in the barrel as a consequence.

At the heart of this issue lies the fact that for many investors and executives, the business model that has sustained the games industry for decades has started to look frustratingly quaint and backwards. “Games as a Product”, whereby a game is made and sold, perhaps followed up by a handful of add-ons that are also made and sold (essentially smaller add-on products in their own right), is a model beloved of core consumers – but business people point out, not entirely unfairly, that it has many glaring flaws.

Some of those flaws are very real – the product model creates a high barrier to entry (you can’t attract new customers without convincing them through expensive marketing to spend $50 to $60 on trying out your game), hence limiting audience growth, and has not scaled effectively with the rising costs of AAA development. More controversially, they dislike the fact that the product model creates a relatively low cap on spending – after buying a game, there’s only so much money a consumer can spend on DLC packs (each of which has its own associated development costs) before they hit a hard limit on their purchases.

Hence the pressure to move to a “Games as a Service” model, which neatly – if not uncontroversially – solves each of these issues. The service model can be priced as low as zero to create a minimal barrier to entry, though for major titles with a big brand attached publishers still show a preference for having their cake and eating it, charging full AAA pricing for entry to an essentially freemium-style experience. An individual player’s spending may be theoretically limitless, as purchases of cosmetic or consumable items could run to many thousands of dollars in some cases – hence also allowing the game’s revenue to scale up to match the huge AAA development and marketing budgets that went into its creation.

You can “blame” mobile games for this if you wish, but in a sense they were merely the canary in the coalmine; the speed with which the mobile gaming market converged on the F2P model and the aggression with which it was pursued was a clear sign that the rest of the industry would eventually try to move in a similar direction. The reality is that mobile games shone a light on something a few industry types had been saying for years; that there was a massive, largely untapped audience for games out there, who would never climb over the barriers to entry to the traditional market but who could potentially be immensely valuable customers of games with lower barriers to entry.

The correct height for those barriers turned out to be “free games for devices you already own”, and yet this market did turn out to be enormously valuable; and now much of the industry is eyeing up the model that works on smartphones, looking at their own rising costs and shrinking slice of the pie, and wondering how to get from over here to over there.

The problem is that making that crossing – from being a successful creator or publisher of core games to being a successful company in a smartphone-style paradigm – is damned tricky to do when the business model you (and your investors!) want to have is anathema to many of the customers you actually have right now. Not all of them, by any means – plenty of core gamers are actually pretty relaxed about these models, for the most part – but enough of them to make a lot of noise and to potentially put a major dent in the bottom line of a company that genuinely manages to drive them away.

Hence, much of the approach we’ve seen in 2017 (and prior) has really been akin to the parable about putting a frog in cold water and gradually raising the heat; companies have slowly, softly been adding service-style features and approaches to their games, hoping that the slowly warming water won’t startle its occupants too much.

When things spill over as they have done for EA in the past month, it tends to indicate that someone got impatient; that investors were too demanding or executives pushed too hard, and the water started to heat up too rapidly. The course will be corrected, but the destination remains the same. Short of a really major pushback and some serious revenue damage across the board from these approaches – which bluntly seems unlikely to materialise – the move towards games as a service is inexorable, and 2018 will bring far, far more of the same. Whether you view that as the industry’s salvation or its ruin is really a matter of personal perspective, but it’s a new reality for AAA titles that we’re all going to have to make some kind of peace with.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Google Blocks YouTube On Amazon Devices

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A growing public spat in the technology industry escalated even further when Google said it would block its video streaming application YouTube from two Amazon.com Inc devices and criticized the online retailer for not selling Google hardware.

The feud is the latest in Silicon Valley to put customers in the crossfire of major competitors. Amazon and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc, square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Google Home and Amazon Echo Show.

 The stakes are high: many in the technology industry expect that interacting with computers by voice will become widespread, and it is unclear if Amazon, Google or another company will dominate the space. Amazon’s suite of voice-controlled devices has outsold Google’s so far, according to a study by research firm eMarketer from earlier this year.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV,” Google said. “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon said in a statement, “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

It said it hoped to resolve the issue with Google as soon as possible but customers could access YouTube through the internet – not an app – on the devices in the meantime.

The break has been a long time coming. Amazon kicked the Chromecast, Google’s television player, off its retail website in 2015, along with Apple Inc’s TV player. Amazon had explained the move by saying it wanted to avoid confusing customers who might expect its Prime Video service to be available on devices sold by Amazon.

Amazon and Apple mended ties earlier this year when it was announced Prime Video would come to Apple TV. Not so with Google.

 In September, Google cut off YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show, which had displayed videos on its touchscreen without video recommendations, channel subscriptions and other features. Amazon later reintroduced YouTube to the device, but the voice commands it added violated the use terms and on Tuesday Google again removed the service.

The Fire TV loses access to its YouTube app on Jan. 1, Google said. Amazon has sold that device for longer than the Echo Show, meaning more customers may now be affected.

Will Apple Sell A Cheaper iPad

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A report said that Apple will introduce a 9.7-inch iPad next year, with a comparatively low-price tag.

According to Digitimes, which quotes unnamed Apple suppliers, the unit will sell for around $250 or so.

The tablet market is somewhat flat because people don’t have to replace them for quite some time, and those that want tablets generally have one, unless they’re tempted like a magpie for more bright shiny things.

The iPad is slated for the second quarter of next year and the wire said that Compal is likely to make the unit with other firms like Compeq and Unitech contributing to the components. Apple also wants to shift iPad into the industrial sector too.

If the reports are true, it is likely to spur Apple competitors to cut their prices too.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung’s Galaxy Phones May Have New Password Technology

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A recently uncovered Samsung patent application proposes the use of palm scanning as a method of identification on Samsung phones. The example given in the patent shows a person taking a picture of a hand to retrieve their forgotten password. But instead of the password just popping up on the screen, the phone hides the letters in the distinct patterns in your hand. The incomplete characters should then give the user enough of a hint to guess the password without making the answer too obvious.

If this palm-scanning method ever makes its way onto future Galaxy phones, it would join a long list of biometric identification techniques. Current Samsung phones like the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 already use fingerprint scanning, iris scanning and facial recognition on top of PIN and pattern-based passwords. Even though the palm-scanning patent would use the instance of a forgotten password there’s always the possibility it could be adopted for other purposes, like unlocking the phone or authenticating Samsung Pay.

Samsung’s chief rival, Apple, introduced facial recognition as the main form of authentication on the iPhone X. In order to do so, Apple designed a entire camera system that uses 3D sensors, infrared cameras and a dot projector to make the method — called Face ID — even more secure. If Samsung is to introduce palm scanning as a new method of authentication, we don’t know if it’ll use current Samsung tech or commission brand-new hardware. This could make a big difference in making the process more secure.

In bringing facial recognition to the iPhone X, Apple also took away fingerprint scanning — its main method of identification for years. So this brings up two schools of thought. Samsung’s approach is to explore as many methods of authentication as possible to give you more choice, versus Apple’s focus on one method to make it as secure as possible. Which would you rather have for Samsung’s next phone?

Samsung Commits To A Mergers, Acquisitions Strategy

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics’ $8 billion purchase of automotive and audio electronics company Harman has given the technology giant confidence to pursue additional big deals, its strategy chief said.

Young Sohn, the South Korean company’s Silicon Valley-based president and chief strategy officer, said he was keen for world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions to expand in automotive markets, digital health and industrial automation.

 Samsung, which this year surpassed Intel to become the world’s biggest semiconductors manufacturer, has signaled its appetite for dealmaking over the past year, saying it was seeking businesses to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

However, it has provided few details on sectors it is targeting in its push for mergers and acquisitions.

“I believe we can do lot more going forward.”

Sohn appeared to dismiss the potential for Samsung to take part in further consolidation in semiconductors or the smartphone markets, where it is also a leading player, suggesting the company is focused on organic growth strategies in these areas.

In September Sohn said Samsung aimed to become a major player in autonomous driving, building on its acquisition of auto parts supplier Harman and its pole position in mobile communications markets.

Asked to spell out Samsung’s potential dealmaking priorities for 2018, he said the company would continue to invest in expanding its automotive business.

Another category he singled out as “an area of opportunity” was digital health, specifically preventive health and related technologies.

 Finally, in business software, he said Samsung is looking at companies in the areas of industrial internet, automation, networking, data transmission and security.

“We are a very careful and conservative company, so we will do it where it makes sense,” Sohn said, adding that it would also look for smaller bolt-on technology deals.

HDMI v2.1 Standards Finally Set

December 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The HDMI Forum has officially published the latest HDMI v2.1 specification, paving the way for up to 10K resolutions, dynamic HDR, and support for variable refresh rate.

According to details provided by the HDMI Forum, the new HDMI v2.1 specification will be backward compatible with all previous HDMI standards but will also need the new ultra high-speed HDMI cable for those new upgrades.

As for those upgrades, the HDMI v2.1 standard will offer 48Gbps of bandwidth, which is a significant improvement over 18Gbps of bandwidth on the HDMI 2.0. It will also bring higher resolution reaching 8K@60Hz without the Display Stream Compression (DSC) and 10K@120Hz with DSC. It also features the new Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM).

Another big novelty for HDMI is support for Dynamic HDR as well as the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) technology, which should reduce lag, frame stutter, skipping and freezing as well as deal with that pesky frame tearing. Unfortunately, HDMI Forum did not provide a lot of details regarding the VRR technology and we are not sure how different it is from AMD FreeSync.

In addition, the HDMI v2.1 standard will also include eARC, as well as Quick Media Switching (QMS), which eliminates the delay that can result in a blank screen before content is displayed and the Quick Frame Transport (QFT) feature which also aims to reduce latency in gaming and real-time interactive virtual reality content.

According to the press release, the HDMI v2.1 Compliance Test Specification (CTS) will be published in stages from Q1 to Q3 2018 and will notify the HDMI adopters as it becomes available.

Courtesy-Fud

Disney Very Protective Of IP and Brand

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A decade or two ago, a common topic of speculation in the games business was which of its giant publishers would be the one to topple Disney from its position as the world’s most important warehouse of intellectual property. EA, then the industry’s big beast, was comfortably the favorite, especially as it seemed set on weaning itself off its reliance on licensed sports titles in favor of building new IP. Activision was on the radar for some; Nintendo, though the industry’s most obviously ‘Disney-like’ company, seemed slow to produce and capitalize on new IP at the time.

History didn’t play out that way. EA became embroiled in a decade long turnaround and restructuring effort; Activision, though boosted massively by its merger with Blizzard and the success of games like Call of Duty and Destiny, has fumbled in its management of properties outside the high-spending core. Nintendo’s library of IP has grown and thrived, of course – but none of these companies can come close to matching what’s happened at Disney. Since the time when we speculated over when EA might overtake them, Disney has absorbed first Pixar, then Marvel, then Lucasfilm, placing itself beyond any reasonable challenge. It is the world’s most valuable IP holder, and will be for years to come.

Along the way, Disney has largely given up its ambitions of being a game developer or publisher – at least for now. It shuttered studios. It shut down internal projects in favor of licensing its properties to other developers and publishers. There is a slight twist of irony to the fact that, in the process, Disney has gone from being a second- or third-tier publisher to being arguably the most powerful company in the games business; a licensor absolutely aware of the value of its IP, and willing to protect that IP and its development regardless of the cost to any partner company.

This month we’ve seen two examples of Disney flexing that muscle. The company severed ties with Gazillion Entertainment, developer of licensed Diablo-esque RPG Marvel Heroes; what happened behind the scenes to precipitate this is unclear as yet, but there were signs that Disney was dissatisfied with the developer or with its relationship for some time, and the company ultimately pulled the plug on the game. Just a few weeks later, a much bigger firm, Electronic Arts, also got a taste of Disney’s willingness to exercise its power; the controversy over pay-to-win loot box mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront 2 took an abrupt turn when pressure from Disney forced EA to remove premium currency from the game before its launch, pending a re-engineering of the game’s monetization systems.

For Gazillion, the consequences are stark; the firm has shut down, with staff claiming on social media that they are not receiving severance pay or PTO. The chances of refunds for players who bought expensive items in the free-to-play game seem slim. EA, of course, won’t face anything remotely that drastic as a consequence of the changes to Battlefront, but that’s more to do with the scale of EA and its capacity to absorb losses than anything else.

The company’s financial projections for Star Wars Battlefront 2 were based on the assumption of a premium currency and loot box system that worked in a certain way and attracted a certain amount of revenue. It set its development budget based on those projections, spent money on marketing based on those projections; Disney has now unceremoniously dumped those projections in the bin.

Entirely independent of the conversation over whether EA’s monetization model was ill-conceived or not, there can be little doubt that the company’s bottom line for this project will be hit by the removal of premium currency, even temporarily. Without seeing the company’s internal figures it’s hard to say, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that, given high enough costs for licensing, development and marketing, this change could even leave EA struggling to stay in the black on what should have been one of its most profitable titles of the quarter.

For Disney, these decisions no doubt make absolute sense. To a large extent, Disney’s choices about games are based on the same rationale as Nintendo’s have been; an understanding that preservation of the value of the IP needs to come ahead of short-term profitability of any one product based on that IP. Just as Nintendo will severely delay games and leave its release schedule looking anaemic at times in order to ensure quality of its finished products and preserve the value of the IP, Disney will shut down, delay or change games that look like they pose a threat to that value – even at risk of damaging business relationships and thoroughly screwing over partners.

Disney has a dual objective with every licensing deal it signs for a major property, such as a game or a TV show. It wants to make money, of course, but it also wants to support the IP it’s licensing; keeping it relevant and in the public eye, preferably boosting its appeal, and whatever else, no matter what, absolutely not damaging or devaluing it.

This makes working with Disney – even for a company as big and powerful in its own right as EA – into something of a risky and challenging business. It’s natural that any developer or publisher would jump at the chance to work on Star Wars, a property tied in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or something related to a major Pixar movie, but these deals are not the license to print money they may look like at first glance.

Disney’s willingness to aggressively protect its IP and flex its muscle in these arrangements makes it vital to bear in mind that Disney and the companies that license its IP to make games have different objectives; of course both parties want to make money, but for Disney that comes with a powerful and often overruling caveat. It will sacrifice profit for long-term health, and a developer or publisher, with no financial interest in that long-term health, may be hung out to dry as decisions made in service of profitability are reversed.

In a sense, Disney’s position in the games industry has become similar to Apple’s in the hardware business. Apple makes some of the best-selling high-end products in the world, but for a manufacturing firm to join that supply chain is actually a double-edged sword, because the company is famous for micro-managing the processes of its suppliers and shaving their margins down to the knuckle. Working with Apple can mean enormous contracts to supply high-end parts for globally famous products; it can also mean paper-thin margins, constant supervision and tough contract terms from a company whose business objectives do not always align neatly with those of its suppliers.

Of course, the lure of working on Disney IP will not diminish. These are among the world’s most valuable brands, and for game creators they’re a treasure chest. But before diving into those waters, even the biggest of companies would do well to think about whether their intentions actually align with what Disney will permit. This is a company at the peak of its power; the rewards for working with it may be great, but no publisher should fool itself that Disney will ever put a business relationship ahead of its own central interest in the protection of its IP.

Courtesy-GI.biz

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