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Microsoft Acquires 3D Data Modeling Firm Simplygon

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is taking a chance that less is more in 3D design, with the purchase of the Swedish developer of a 3D data optimization system, Simplygon.

Simplygon takes 3D models in a number of formats, and reduces the volume of data used to describe them by taking out some of the detail — somewhat like reducing the size of a JPEG image file by increasing the level of compression while leaving the resolution unchanged.

That means the models can be rendered more rapidly or with less powerful hardware, something that will help Microsoft with the “3D for everyone” vision it outlined last October at the launch of Windows 10 Creators Update.

The company is pushing hard into the markets for virtual reality, with a U.S.$300 consumer VR headset for PCs due out as early as March, and augmented reality, where it is seeking to build an ecosystem around Hololens, its enterprise-oriented stand-alone AR headset.

3D models, whether for video games, architectural rendering, or viewing in augmented or virtual reality, are typically composed of many adjoining flat surfaces, or polygons. The more polygons that are used, the better the model is able to represent complex curved surfaces — but the more memory and processing power it takes to render, or draw on the screen.

Simplygon works best with rendering engines that use a similar density of polygons throughout, simplifying the model to describe flatter parts with fewer polygons, while retaining more polygons in more complex areas, so that they don’t look blocky.

Using this technique, the company says it can reduce the number of polygons used in a model by up to 90 percent, while still retaining the essential details and shape.

For Kudo Tsunoda, corporate vice president for next-gen experiences in Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, the acquisition will make it easier for Windows users to capture, create, and share 3D models.

“It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com,” he said in a post on Microsoft’s blog announcing the deal.

Simplygon was developed by 10-year-old Donya Labs, based in Linköping, Sweden. CEO Matt Connors, founder and CTO Ulrik Lindahl and co-founder Koshi Hamedi will join Microsoft following the acquisition, according to the companies’ websites. They did not provide information about the terms of the deal.

The biggest market for Simplygon is in 3D game design, where it was used by the developer of the game Submerge to reduce the size of models designed for PCs and consoles when the game was ported to iOS.

Will Apple Release Three New Tablets This Year?

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has decided that the reason that people are not buying its tablets is because they don’t have enough over-priced versions available.

To fix this problem Apple is planning to release three more tablets which contain all the same features you can find in cheaper Chinese Tablets at half the price.

According to Digitimes Apple will release three new tablets for 2017, a 9.7-inch iPad, a 10.5-inch iPad, and an upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The 9.7-inch model expected to enter mass production in the first quarter followed by the other two in the second.

It is odd really as Apple was thought to want to kill off the 9.7 inch pad and replace it with the 10.5-inch iPad. However not it seems that it wants to make the 9.7-inch iPad become an entry-level device. It can then flog these to corrupt or stupid school managers who don’t know that they can save their schools cash by going elsewhere .

There will be a few supply changes too. Apple will also procure components from its secondary suppliers for its new 9.7-inch iPad and Korea-based Seoul Semiconductor will supply LED for the device instead of the existing 9.7-inch iPad’s supplier Nichia.

The 10.5-inch iPad and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will get an A10X processor, but that is pretty much anyone knows for now. Our guess is that it will look pretty much like a tablet, have a similar price tag and be even more ignored than the current batch.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Acquires Simplygon For 3D Technology

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft and tools firm Simplygon have today announced that Simplygon is joining the Redmond, Washington-based software giant. Kudo Tsunoda, Corporate Vice President, Next Gen Experiences, Windows and Devices Group, announced the purchase today on the official Microsoft blog.

“Simplygon’s technology and talent will strengthen our position in 3D creation, making it easier to capture, create and share in 3D. It builds on and extends our aspirations to empower a new wave of creativity with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Paint 3D and our online creator community at Remix3D.com,” Tsunoda said.

Simplygon CEO Matt Connors, Founder & CTO Ulrik Lindahl, and Co-Founder Koshi Hamedi added in a statement: “Throughout our journey, we’ve been laser focused on helping developers push the boundaries of 3D. From our early days delivering advanced level-of-detail solutions, to the adoption of Simplygon SDK by most leading AAA game development studios, and our more recent expansion into enterprise AR/VR, Simplygon has made automatic 3D data-optimization

“Our next challenge is 3D For Everyone, the ultimate accessibility! We’re thrilled to join forces with Microsoft to make this happen.”

Simplygon was founded in 2006 by Swedish firm Donya Labs AB and its tools have been used to streamline assets and scene optimization in numerous AAA titles, including The Witcher 3, Forza Horizon, Hellblade, Paragon, Everest VR, Eve Valkyrie, Conan Exiles and PlayStation VR experiences as well.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by Microsoft.

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will Windows 10 Redstone 2 Debut In April?

January 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

It is looking fairly certain that Windows 10’s second major update will be released in April.

The update codenamed Redstone 2 “The Empire Strikes Back” release date has been leaked by Microsoft’s chums Dell and Fitbit. Dell and Fitbit both posted the update news on their forums. Vole has yet to confirm them itself.

Dell made the announcement earlier, and effectively squashed rumors that the new update would be happening in March.

Fitbit said: “We’re excited to announce that Fitbit will be introducing support for tracker notifications (Call, SMS, Calendar and third party apps) and Connected GPS for all Windows users on the Windows 10 Creators Update coming in April.”

It looks like the final version could be 1704, which also tells us the release date. The first two digits representing the year and the other two pointing to the month and in this case the fourth month of 2017. Insiders will be the first to receive the Creators Update.

It is possible that the launch will coincide with the release of the Surface Pro 5 and the Surface Book 2 which are both expected around that time.

Courtesy-Fud

China Introduces New Rules For Mobile App Stores

January 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

China had mandated that all app stores operating in the country register with its Cyberspace Administration in an effort to combat malware but also to tighten control over uncensored content.

The rules took effect Monday, in a country where domestic third-party app stores — not from Apple or Google — are serving billions of downloads to Android smartphones. Chinese internet companies such as Baidu, Tencent and a host of smaller, shadier local app stores have been feeding the demand, at a time when Google has largely pulled out of the market.

The government, however, has problems with the proliferation of app stores and the lack of industry oversight, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on Friday. Some app stores have been offering products that violate users’ rights, contain security vulnerabilities or spread “illegal information,” it said.

The new rules intend to force the stores to better audit their products. Cyberspace Administration officials will keep records on the app stores and investigate those that fail to register or which are found falsifying information.

 The new rules are hardly a surprise. China has been heavily censoring the internet for years. Foreign websites such as Facebook and Twitter have been blocked from the country, and local internet services are often required to delete comments or shut down user accounts found posting antigovernment content.

However, in some cases, apps have provided one way for users to circumvent the strict controls. That happened with The New York Times, whose main website was blocked in the country in 2012.

Despite the censorship, the company’s news app was offered on Apple’s app store until China ordered its takedown earlier this month.

Third-party app stores in China have also been known to spread malware. Last year, a mobile Trojan likely sourced from the country managed to infect millions of devices across China, India and Indonesia by imitating Android apps.

The country has over 650 million mobile internet users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. The huge user base has made its app stores some of the biggest in the world.

Is TSMC Coming To The U.S.?

January 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company held its most recent investors conference on January 12th, during which company officials said that it has not ruled out the possibility of building a facility in the US as a response to recent nationalistic pleas to restore American manufacturing jobs.

During the investors conference, company chairman Morris Chang said that fabricating chips in the US “may not necessarily be a good thing,” though the option is still under preliminary consideration. He indicated that the foundry is already helping to create jobs in the US by allowing integrated device manufacturers to succeed on a global scale and expand their operations.

TSMC also disclosed that revenues from customers based in North America accounted for 65 percent of its total wafer revenues in 2016. It projects revenues to stay about 60 percent this year, says Chang.

A shift back to US manufacturing

In late November, US president-elect Donald Trump stated that one of his biggest achievements would be to restore the decades-long decline in US manufacturing employment by relocating jobs from the self-reinforcing “supply chain cluster” of Asian manufacturing firms back to US shores. During his campaign, he declared the promise of a 35 percent tariff levied against products including the iPhone that are manufactured overseas, signaling an incentive for moving jobs back into the hands of blue collar American service occupations.

According to the most recent December 2016 jobs report from Glassdoor.com, TSMC pays its principal engineers a monthly salary of about NT$65,833 ($2,084), while senior engineers get NT$57,783 ($1,829), process engineers get NT$45,014 ($1,425), regular engineers get NT$44,517 ($1,408), and interns get NT$26,250 ($831).

TSMC is not the only foundry considering a facility in the US. Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Company) released a statement to IBTimes in December confirming its exploration of expanding in the US. Back in November 2012, Foxconn had previously gone on record and denied reports considering plans to establish a plant in the US near Detroit or Los Angeles. The manufacturer of an estimated 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronic devices said it had already established several facilities in the US and did not have plans to expand at the time.

Then there are companies such as Pegatron, which have declined to formulate such a migration plan due to cost concerns. A 35 percent tariff increase would likely be passed on to consumers, raising the $649 base price of an iPhone to around $876.

Courtesy-Fud

Rovio Seeks New Gaming Path, Opening Studio In London

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile games and animation developer Rovio Entertainment is intensifying its search for new hit games by opening a studio in London to focus on multiplayer games that would not rely on the company’s Angry Birds brand.

Privately-held Rovio has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped, prompting deep job cuts and divestments.

But last year Rovio launched an animated Angry Birds 3D Hollywood film that it said did well at the box office and yielded new licensing deals.

 Rovio is now looking to build a team of about 20 people in London to create “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) games that support a large number of players simultaneously, with a focus on new characters.

“MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game,” Wilhelm Taht, head of games, told Reuters.

The original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs, was launched in 2009 and it remains the top paid mobile app of all time.

Rovio exploited the brand early on by licensing its use on a string of consumer products. But the company’s failure to bring out new hit games resulted in falling profit, prompting Rovio to cut more than 300 jobs in 2014 and 2015.

“In the long term, our new characters may generate intellectual property and even a brand,” Taht said.

Rovio has a series of smartphone games based on Angry Birds characters. In 2015 it published a puzzle game called Nibblers and it will soon put out Battle Bay, a real-time multiplayer game.

Rovio is not looking to launch a large number of games this year, Taht added.

“Perhaps there’s been some change in our thinking here,” he said. “The market is favorable for games that will live long and that are operated with a service mindset.”

Asked about Nintendo’s hit smartphone game Pokemon GO, Taht said the game truly put augmented reality (AR) on the gaming map.

“We will, of course, be following AR as a technology and a tool,” he said.

In the first half of 2016 Rovio booked a small operating profit, compared with a loss a year earlier, help by growth in game sales.

Rovio has around 200 employees spread between its four game studios in Finland and Sweden and about 400 in total.

Can AMD Launch Ryzen This Quarter?

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD indicated that the official Ryzen launch date will be sometime before March.

While they haven’t specifically given an exact date, a talk to be given by AMD at the annual Game Developer Conference (GDC) says the following: “Join AMD Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU followed by advanced optimisation topics.”

Obviously for this to be the subject of the talk Ryzen would have had to be recently launched which means that it is probably timed for that week.

GDC event runs from 27 February to 3 March and has not been put on the schedule yet and it could appear any day during the event.

AMD has not disclosed an exact date either, launching the new set of Ryzen CPUs right in the middle of both GDC and Mobile World Congress would be insane as the news would end up being buried under other GDC and smartphone announcements.

It would make sense to do it the week before all that, if not two.

Courtesy-Fud

MediaTek Has A Strong Quarter

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek, the fabless semiconductor company from Taiwan that provides SoCs for HDTVs, Blu-ray players and wireless products, saw its revenues jump by 29.2 percent year-over-year to a record high of $8.6 billion (¥$275.51 billion), according to the latest industry reports.

Deemed one of the fastest growing chip companies in 2016, MediaTek’s upswing in performance last year is attributed to a larger share of the worldwide smartphone SoC market, along with higher sales in local China and Taiwan markets. In Q4 2016, revenues totaled $2.18 billion (¥68.68 billion) which is down 12.4 percent over the previous quarter, but still falls within the company’s projection of $2.11 and $2.31 billion (¥66.6 to 72.9 billion).

In Q3 2016, revenues totaled $2.49 billion (¥78.4 billion), an increase of 8.1 percent over Q2 and a 37.6 percent increase over the previous year. Net profits also rose to $248.4 million (¥7.83 billion) in Q3, an increase of 18.8 percent over the previous quarter but down 1.6 percent over the previous year.

Going forward into 2017, company officials now want to shift its focus from increasing market share to improving gross margins and profitability. This will include an effort to market its high-end Helio X30 and X35 mobile processors more effectively to compete against the likes of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 and 835 and Samsung’s Exynos 8895, as all three companies are now using ARM cores with 10-nanometer designs.

MediaTek MT5597 supports Dolby Vision and HLG

The Taiwanese chip designer was the first to develop an 4K Ultra HD-capable SoC for Android TVs with the introduction of the MT5595 for Android TV 5.0 back at CES 2015. It followed up a year later with the MT5996 for Android TV 6.0, another world’s first featuring four 64-bit CPU cores based on the Cortex A53 design.

Now in 2017, the company is releasing its third-generation Ultra HD SoC for Android TV 7.0, the MT5597. This chip also features a quad-core Cortex A53 design but now includes support for Dolby Vision HDR and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), the standard expected to be used in UHD television broadcasts when providers are ready to roll out HDR terrestrial and satellite services.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Notebooks Making Gains Against Tablets?

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebooks, which had been written off by the Tame Apple Press after Steve Jobs showed off his tablets, are now back.

Beancounters working for Deloitte have found that the sales of slates are expected to be down 10 per cent in 2017 compared to last year and there will probably be 165 million units leaving the shops.

This is a third less than the total number of slates shifted in 2014 when 230 million tablets were sold.

PC and laptops however are expected to stay at the same level as last year, and Deloitte has observed that the kids of today don’t want tablets any more. They either want a phablet, or a notebook.

Phablets were the thing that Steve Jobs told the world they did not want and yet it turned out they did. It might have been the reason he was telling us that was because he knew that they would kill off his tablet dream.

Paul Lee, head of TMT research at Deloitte, commented: “There are three consumer devices that are leading tablets by a large margin: TVs, smartphones, and computers. It seems unlikely that the tablet will ever displace these devices.”

IDC’s figures from last summer showed a big slump in tablet shipments, but also found that detachable sales were improving. Most analysts think that hybrid 2-in-1s will represent a fifth of all PCs by the year 2020.

Courtesy-Fud

Should Virtual Reality Become More Of A Open Platform?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Tim Sweeney has urged virtual reality platform holders to ensure their devices and marketplaces are open to other providers in order to avoid the same monopoly that affects a significant portion of the smartphone market.

Speaking to Glixel, the co-founder of Epic Games said he say “a lot going on that’s wrong” in other tech sectors, and points to Apple as a prime example. While he thinks its fine for the firm to be the only distributor of its hardware, he disagrees with their monopoly on distributing software and collecting in-app revenue.

His added that virtual reality pioneer Oculus seems to be operating in a similar way to Apple, adding that this is “the wrong model” for virtual reality and something Sweeney “argued passionately against”.

“When you install the Oculus drivers, by default you can only use the Oculus store,” he said. “You have to rummage through the menu and turn that off if you want to run Steam. Which everybody does. It’s just alienating and sends the wrong message to developers. It’s telling developers: ‘You’re on notice here. We’re going to dominate this thing. And your freedom is going to expire at some point.’ It’s a terrible precedent to set.”

Sweeney believes that ultimately the open platforms will win as they will have a better selection of software. He praised HTC Vive for being such a platform and noted that the device is currently outselling Oculus two-to-one around the world, a trend he expects to continue.

The Epic Games founder acknowledged that his firm is making a closed-platform game for Oculus in the form of Robo Recall, a title that stemmed from Unreal Engine’s Bullet Train VR demo. However, he attributed this to the fact that the game is funded by Oculus and could never have been built on a budget based purely on sales.

“The Oculus store… is an awesome store [but] should run on all PC and VR devices,” he said. “Oculus would do best if they tried to bring users into their store by supporting HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and any other PC hardware that comes out. I think if they don’t do that, they’re going to pretty quickly fail, because you’re not going to want to buy a multiplayer game that you can’t play with half of your VR friends.”

Sweeney previously spoke out about the need for open virtual reality platforms during his keynote at the latest Steam Dev Day, saying: “It would be really tragic if we let the future metaverse, that binds all humanity together into shared online environments, were a closed platform controlled by a giant corporation.

“As always, they’d use it to spam you with advertising, they’d use it to gather information about your private life and sell it to the highest bidder, and they’d act as the universal intermediary between all users, content creators, and transactions, ensuring that everything has to be approved by them.”

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Apple PC Division Faltering?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

While the Tame Apple Press is doing its best to claim that Apple will replace Microsoft as the world’s leading OS, it appears to be covering a story which shows that the fruity cargo cult is losing ground in in PCs.

According to web analytics vendor Net Applications,  it has found that Apple’s desktop and notebook operating system — formerly OS X, now macOS — powered just 6.1 percent of all personal computers last month.

This is a significant fall from the seven percent it held this time last year and down from seven percent and the unlikely peak of 9.6 percent in the middle of the year. In fact, last year, the Tame Apple Press was telling us that Apple now had control over the notebook market.

The Mac’s 6.1 percent user share in December was the lowest mark recorded by Net Applications since August 2011 – more than five years ago.

In October, the company reported sales of 4.9 million Macs for the September quarter, a 14 percent year-over-year decline and the fourth straight quarterly downturn. In other words, Apple’s sales slide during the past year has been steeper than for the personal computer industry.

So why did Apple do so well last year and now it appears to be falling spectacularly this year? It looks like Apple clawed ahead after Microsoft made a huge stuff up with Windows 8 and OEMs were putting out cheap junk. Even Linux was doing comparatively well in the same time reaching 2.3 percent, causing some to announce 2017 to be the year of the Linux desktop. While this is a New Ritual along with bringing coal into the house, both OSx and Linux were basically doing well on Vole’s cock-up. The fact that neither could capitalise on Microsoft’s failure shows the sad state of both movements.

As Microsoft started to claw back users with Windows 10, Apple thought it would be a wizard move to put out products which were years out-of-date and aimed at its consumer users rather than the business users.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD Unlock RYZEN ?

January 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

A set of new AMD Ryzen slides that have surfaced recently has confirmed that the entire Ryzen CPU lineup will have an unlocked multiplier and be ready for launch by the end of Q1 2017.

Although AMD has mostly been talking about its high-end 8-core/16-thread Ryzen SKU, there will be a full line of Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, including the rumored 6-core/12-thread and 4-core/8-thread version, probably coming with different clock speeds.

The newest set of slides confirms that every AMD Ryzen CPU will actually be unlocked, which means an unlocked multiplier, which should also make them quite overclocking friendly. Of course, the actual overclocking potential is still unknown but we hope there will be plenty of it.

The slide also reveals that AMD will actually have all-new lineups of both system integrators and OEM systems as well as an extensive lineup of 3rd party cooling solutions.

As mentioned by Robert Hallock, AMD is not targeting the very last day of Q1 2017 as the launch date so hopefully, these will come pretty soon.

As we wrote earlier, AMD’s CTO, Mark Papermaster, has confirmed that the company expects Ryzen to have a four-year lifespan, which is quite common for a new architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon’s Alexa Takes On Rival Google’s Android OS

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc’s digital assistant popped up just about everywhere at the CES technology show this week in Las Vegas, even making an unexpected appearance on rival Google’s Android system.

Companies ranging from appliance maker Whirlpool Corp to Ford Motor Co unveiled products featuring Alexa, the digital assistant from Amazon that responds to voice commands.

Most strikingly, Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co, which manufactures smartphones running on the Android operating system produced by Alphabet Inc’s Google, announced that its flagship handset will come with an app that gives users access to Alexa in the United States.

 The adoption of Alexa by a prominent Android manufacturer indicates that Amazon may have opened up an early lead over Google as the companies race to present their digital assistants to as many people as possible, analysts said.

Many in the technology industry believe that such voice-powered digital assistants will supplant keyboards and touch screens as a primary way consumers interact with devices.

While the shift is only in the early stages, Google must establish a strong presence quickly, particularly on Android devices, to maintain its dominance in internet search, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

“To the extent that voice becomes more important and something other than Google’s voice assistant becomes the most popular voice interface on Android phones, that’s a huge loss for Google in terms of data gathering, training its AI (artificial intelligence), and ultimately the ability to drive advertising revenue,” he said.

Alexa debuted on the Amazon Echo smart speaker, and Amazon is establishing a broad array of hardware and software partnerships around it. The competing Google Assistant launched last year on the company’s Pixel smartphone, after appearing on Google’s messaging app, and has begun to roll out to third-party devices as well. Graphics processor maker Nvidia Corp announced at CES that its Shield television will feature the assistant.

While Google has expressed an interest in bringing its assistant to other Android smartphones, the decision to debut the feature on its own hardware may have strained relations with manufacturers, Dawson said.

“It highlights just what a strategic mistake it can be for services companies to make their own hardware and give it preferential access to new services,” he said.

HMD Global Debuts The New Nokia Smartphone

January 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

HMD Global, the Finnish company that owns the rights to market Nokia’s brand on mobile phones, debuted on Sunday its first smartphone, targeted for Chinese users with a price of 1,699 yuan ($246).

The launch marks the first new smartphone carrying the iconic handset name since 2014 when Nokia Oyj chose to sell its entire handset unit to Microsoft.

The new device, Nokia 6, runs on Google’s Android platform and is manufactured by Foxconn. It will be sold exclusively in China through online retailer JD.com, HMD said.

 “The decision by HMD to launch its first Android smartphone into China is a reflection of the desire to meet the real world needs of consumers in different markets around the world… it is a strategically important market,” HMD said in a statement.

Nokia was once the world’s dominant cellphone maker but missed the shift to smartphones, and then chose Microsoft’s Windows operating system for its “Lumia” range.

After the 2014 deal, Microsoft continued selling cheaper basic phones under Nokia’s name and Lumia smartphones under its own name, but last year, it largely abandoned both businesses.

HMD in December took over the Nokia feature phones business and struck a licensing deal that gave it sole use of the Nokia brand on all phones and tablets for the next decade.

It will pay Nokia royalties for the brand and patents, but Nokia has no direct investment in HMD. Nokia Oyj is currently focused on telecom network equipment business and technology patents.

HMD CEO Arto Nummela, who was once responsible for Nokia’s sales and product development, told Reuters last month that HMD aims to be one of the key competitive players in the smartphone business where it faces tough competition from Apple, Samsung and dozens of other players.

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