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JUST for Geeks

Microsoft Ends Kinect Production

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Microsoft Ends Kinect Production

A Co. Design feature confirms what many were suspecting-- Microsoft has stopped production of the Kinect, the arguably revolutionary Xbox camera accessory and former device sales dark horse.

The news via interview with Kinect creator Alex Kipman and Xbox Devices Marketing GM Matthew Lapsen. The two tell Microsoft has be de-emphasising the Kinect for a while, even if the technology continues to exist in other products. The core sensor is now inside the Hololens augmented reality headset, while Kinect team members are working on the Cortana voice assistant, the Windows Hello biometric system and a future UI Microsoft calls Gaze, Gesture and Voice (GGV).

Kinect launched in 2010 as an accessory for the Xbox 360. Formerly known as "Project Natal," it essentially maps a space in invisible infrared dots in order to track the human movements. It was a surprising success, selling 8 million units in its first 60 days on the market, earning it a Guinness World Record for "fastest selling consumer electronics device."

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Twelve South Candle Promises to "Inspire"

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Twelve South Candle Promises to

Twelve South follows on last year's "New Mac" candle with a more inspirational "Mac Candle No. 2"-- the "Inspire" candle promises to, well, inspire with "strong notes of bergamot, lemon and tarragon."

The iDevice accessory maker claims the collection of scents will "clear your mind of clutter and stimulate creativity," which might make it ideal for customers using their Macs for creative tasks such as graphic design.

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An Analogue Super Nt for Playing SNES Carts

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An Analogue Super Nt for Playing SNES Carts

Nintendo might already offer an official miniature Super Nintendo console, but more serious retro gaming fans get a second option from Analogue-- the Super Nt, a recreation able to play game cartridges of old.

The Super Nt promises to be superior to the SNES Mini, since it does not use emulation to play retro games. Instead it uses a complete FPGA (field-programmable gate array) promising to "preserve videogame history, with the respect it deserves" while pushing 1080p 60Hz visuals compatible with modern HDTVs. In addition fans also get features such as scanlines and aspect ratio preservation, as well as 48kHz 16-bit stereo audio.

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The Standalone Oculus Go Headset

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The Standalone Oculus Go Headset

Oculus presents what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims is "the most accessible VR headset yet"-- the Oculus Go, a lower-cost headset positioned somewhere between the Rift and Gear VR.

The Go is a standalone VR device, meaning it does not require a smartphone or tethering to a PC. It is built out of a lightweight mesh fabric, held together with a soft elastic fabric and carries a next-generation version of the optics found in the Rift.

The lenses feature the same wide field of view as the Rift, while the display is a "fast-switch LCD" with 2560 x 1440 resolution. Oculus claims the display has a higher pixel fill factor than OLEDs, with a "dramatic effect on visual clarity." Audio is also improved, with built-in drivers promising an integrated spatial audio experience with no headphones required.

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Sony Bringing Aibo Back?

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Sony Bringing Aibo Back?

Sony plans to return to household robots, Nikkei reports-- specifically through what sounds like a sequel to Aibo, the much loved robot dog first launched back in 1999.

The Japanese giant abandoned robot development in 2005, but unnamed sources tell Nikkei the company is bringing together a number of former Aibo team members, such as AI expert Masahiro Fujita. Interestingly, while the robot will act like a dog it will also take the role of an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, allowing users to control smart home appliances through voice commands.

Behind the robot dog is a proprietary OS based on an open platform allowing developers to work additional features, as well as "advanced technologies" ensuring the robot can, well, act like a dog.

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C64 Gets Mini Version

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C64 Gets Mini Version

Older customer with nostalgia for non-Japanese gaming hardware might get a retro kick with the C64 Mini, a "reimagined" miniature version of the 1982 Commodore 64 computer.

Clearly inspired by the NES Mini, the C64 Mini is around 50% the size of the original. It ships 64 preinstalled licensed games, with titles including California Games, Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, Paradroid and Impossible Mission, and connects to TVs via HDMI. Games are played via joystick plugged into one of two USB ports.

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The Golf Ball-Size Sphero Mini

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The Golf Ball-Size Sphero Mini

Sphero announces the smallest version of its app-enabled robotic ball-- the Sphero Mini, a golf ball-sized device users can control using a companion iOS/Android app.

The Mini pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, and carries a gyroscope, acclerometer and LED light. The app features 4 control options, namely Tilt, Slingshot, Joystick and Face Drive, which uses facial recognition to determine controls based on different expressions and head movements.

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Amazon Echo Show Heads to Europe

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Amazon Echo Show Heads to Europe

The Echo Show-- the touchscreen-equipped Echo device-- heads to Europe, as the online retailer turned device maker Amazon opens preorders in Germany and the UK.

The Echo Show does everything regular Echo devices do, only with the addition of a 7-inch touchscreen and a camera. Thus it allows for video calls, fullscreen cards for answers to queries and online video viewing (but not YouTube videos, since Google blocked access on the Amazon device for some reason).

Finally the device also pairs with home automation products via Alexa Skills, including baby monitors from Ring and Arlo, Philips Hue smart lights, and thermostats from the likes of ecobee and WeMo.

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Bosch Analyses Stains at IFA 2017

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Bosch Analyses Stains at IFA 2017

IFA is traditionally the home of weird and wonderful gadgets, but the winner for the 2017 award for weirdest and most wonderful might be no other than German conglomerate Bosch and its prototype clothing stain analyser.

Dubbed the X-Spect, the handheld device looks like a TV remote and comes complete with a small screen and capacitive touch buttons. It essentially scans fabrics and stains before suggesting how to best wash the garment in question. An IFA demonstration even had the X-Spect paired via wifi with a Bosch washing machine, allowing it to send optimal washing instructions.

That said, the current model can only determine two component materials in a fabric, and is able to read four different types of stains, including chocolate and lipstick. However Bosch plains to increase the number to 16 to match with Bosch washing machine stain-cleaning presets.

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