Xbox One Data Kept Secure

While some people are excited about picking up the Xbox One console when it arrives in a few weeks, others are skeptical about the kind of security it will provide, making sure their data doesn’t leak into the wrong hands.

In a privacy statement issued before the weekend, Microsoft explained how its new Kinect device will use the data it gathers. In a nutshell, face and body details that the device manages to pick up will be kept private. Xbox Live conversations may not be completely secure, however.

Regarding the facial scanning the Kinect utilizes, the statement reads, “The camera can be used to sign you into the Services on the console using facial recognition technology if you choose. To do this it measures distances between key points on your face to create a numeric value that represents only you. This value is stored as a very long set of numbers.”

The information is not shared, it insists, stating, “No one could look at the numbers and know they represent you.” It continued, “The numeric values sent to Microsoft are destroyed after analysis is complete. The stick figure representation cannot be used to identify you.”

Microsoft also states that the option to share data is up to the user. “With user consent, samples of voice commands occurring while using Kinect will be collected and periodically sent to Microsoft for product improvement. We also collect voice samples to provide the voice search service and, with user consent, for product improvement.”

Source: Microsoft

Oculus Rift On Sale Next Year

Ever since its successful funding on Kickstarter, the Oculus Rift virtual headset has been building up steam in production, even though some were wondering when it would eventually release. Relax . . . it’s not too far off now.

The company has confirmed that the consumer-ready device will be launching sometime in 2014, and will be compatible with PC and Android, as well as Mac and Linux.

“We will be delivering a single Oculus Rift which is a tether to multiple different devices,” said Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe, speaking with Engadget.

As far as the Android unit goes, it won’t be any lesser in quality than the others, nor “bleed” out any significant details. “I don’t think it’s going to require that full Kepler capability. I think we’ll be able to deliver on an even earlier chipset than that,” said Iribe, regarding the technical details.

People will also be “surprised” at how well the mobile version works. “We’re testing the latest Android phones, tablets and gaming devices to see what delivers the best VR experience,” he concluded.

Source: Engadget

Nintendo Halts Swapnote

When people log in to a Nintendo 3DS system to chat with one another, they have only a few options to do so. One was SwapNote, a feature where they could pass along messages to one another, through their virtual Mii characters. However, they’ll need to find another option.

Before the weekend, Nintendo put a halt to the service, stating that it “has learned that some consumers, including minors, have been exchanging their friend codes on Internet bulletin boards and then using Swapnote to exchange offensive material.”

In the meantime, messages can still be sent via StreetPass, provided they’re in the same physical location. Otherwise, they’ll be out of luck.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience to the many consumers who have been using this service responsibly; however, this decision was made considering the point that many minors also use this feature of Swapnote,” the company said in a statement. “Thank you for your understanding.”

No word yet what service Nintendo will introduce to replace Swapnote, or how the problems will be avoided in the future.

Source: Ars Technica

Netflix Testing 4K Video

Netflix, always interested in gaining new viewers to its streaming service, has begun rolling out a series of test videos that work in compliance with 4K televisions, such as the new Sony 4K Bravia line. These videos have been recorded at a number of speeds, ranging from 24 to 59.95 frames per second, and can be viewed on standard high-definition televisions as well.

The move is to help the company ease in to possible 4K streaming video programming for the service, though obviously it would keep regular standard and high-definition feeds for most audiences. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has indicated that he wants the company to become “one of the big suppliers of 4K” content during the next coming year.

In order for viewers to get the most out of the content, they’ll need a premium bandwidth package through their Internet provider to get the highest streaming speed possible, without any sort of buffering issues. Super HD 1080p content, for example, requires a minimum of 5 Mbps of bandwidth to stream properly. Netflix recommends even higher, running around 7 Mbps to 12 Mbps.

No word yet on what new programming will utilize the service yet. Currently, 4K TVs are just beginning to hit the market at relatively high prices (Sony’s line starts at $3500), though Seiki has introduced a 4K TV for less than $1200.

Source: Digital Trends

Sony PocketStation Returns

It may be obscure to most folks, but some game players are familiar with Sony’s PocketStation. It’s a 1999 memory card that worked with the company’s original PlayStation console, with a 32 X 32 pixel monochrome LCD display that played games and worked with certain game titles. It was built following a similar reveal by Sega for the VMU, or Virtual Memory Unit device, for the Dreamcast console.

So why mention it now, in 2013 Simple – Sony may be bringing it back. The company revealed a surprise new teaser video, viewable below, that hints it could be back in production very soon. This would mark the first time it would be in circulation since its discontinuing in 2002. The video is a fake news story: “There’s something going to be announced! I think it’s in that truck! Let’s follow it!” The reporter follows the truck to Tokyo, where a sign tells you that the PocketStation will be revealed on November 5. You do glimpse the PocketStation mascot, though there’s no explanation.

No word yet if it’s a device, or an app, or if it will work with any of Sony’s current systems, like the forthcoming PlayStation 4, but we should know more soon.

Source: Computer and Video Games


Nintendo 3DS Sales Decline

While the Nintendo 3DS will no doubt see huge sales during this holiday season, that’s coming after a decline in sales for the current year..

Nintendo’s latest financial report indicates that sales for the system for the current half of the year, running from April through September 2013, reached 3.89 million worldwide. While impressive, it’s a drop from the 5.06 million sales in the previous year.

Not all the news is bad, however. Out of those sales, the enlarged 3DS XL model has seen a boost in sales, going from last year’s 2.1 million to 2.9 this year. Software sales increased from 19 million units in the first six months of last fiscal year to 27 million units this fiscal year, and impressive increase.

In addition, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the company’s latest release in the adventurous simulation series, has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide in the last six months. Throwing in pre-April sales on top of that, the game has sold an impressive 6 million copies to date.

To date, 34.98 million 3DS systems have been sold globally, while software sales sit at 122 million.

With such games as Mario Party: Island Tour and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds still set to release before the holidays, the numbers should be on the rise again.

Source: Computer and Video Games

Be A Secret Agent Man with ‘Ingress’

Beginning today, Android users will receive an invite to join Google’s Niantic Labs game, Ingress. The game is a spy-warfare augmented reality game that makes use of virtual overlays. Players are referred to as “Agents” and defend and overtake portals by collaborating with other players in teams. The game strives to be playable on mobile and wearable devices with desktops being used as data centers of sorts for players to communicate location information to others on the playing field.

“It’s almost like an e-sport gamer event, where people strongly identify with their teams. After that part is over, it becomes very social at the live events,” said John Hanke, vice president of Niantic Labs in an interview with GamesBeat. “We see ourselves as a platform company. The idea behind Ingress is to understand the space of mobile social-location games and what it means for the future of Android, Google Glass, and game developers.”

Niantic Labs was initially started with individuals who worked on Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View. They have spent the past year smoothing out the game’s technical infrastructure to handle a large volume of players without a hitch.

Currently, Ingress is being played in a 39 city global event called Operation #13MAGNUS. Players who join today will have an opportunity to receive a Founder Medal if they reach Level 5 by December 14, when the game formally launches.

Ingress has already inspired two e-books and a comic series. Hanke has discussed the wide appeal of the game due to its augmented reality nature and as a good way to make friends.

“Gaming and real-life meetups are really coming together. I can’t say we predicted how popular the live meetups would be. We didn’t anticipate the degree to which people would go to live events to meet people they didn’t already know. The game is a social icebreaker.”

Source: VentureBeat