Apple Gets Moving, Kinect-Style

With its iTV and other iGadgets rumored to be gathering speed for the 2014 electronics season, Apple could be looking to key companies to make said technology happen.

An Israeli financial news site named Calcalist has reported that Apple has purchased PrimeSense, the Tel Aviv-based company that made the motion tracking technology for Microsoft’s Kinect device for the Xbox 360. The deal is reportedly worth around $345 million. Apple may be seeking to add Kinect-like capability to Apple TV or the rumored iTV.

PrimeSense responded by stating the rumor wasn’t true. “We do not relate to rumors about our customers and partners,” said executive vice president of sales and marketing, Yaniv Vakrat.

However, another PrimeSense rep had a more passive statement. “PrimeSense is the leading 3D technology in the market. We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and Natural Interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interacting living room and mobile devices. We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or recycled rumors.”

Despite these early denials, you can probably expect an official confirmation sooner rather than later.

Source: Venturebeat

Xbox One’s Massive Fan

While the Xbox 360 is certainly a popular game console in today’s market, it hasn’t been without its problems. Many users have experienced the “red ring of death” over the years, which has resulted in the failure of their system when it comes to operations. This was usually attributed to cooling problems.

However, the Xbox One will avoid this problem. In disassembling of the system, iFixit located a “beefy cooling system” inside the hardware, which will allow it to keep the Xbox One at moderate temperatures so it doesn’t overheat and cause a system shutdown. In addition, if the heat-sink or fan ever do go bad on the console, replacing them is “easy-breezy” with simple amateur mechanics.

That said, it’s still advised you don’t take the system apart on your own, as it may void your warranty. iFixit learned that the Xbox One’s hard drive is a 500 GB 2.5 inch Samsung Spinpoint M8 SATA II model, and could be replaced with a larger one — but that will definitely void your warranty, and it’s not known if the Xbox One can deal with an unformatted hard drive in any case. Better to plug in a USB hard drive if you need more space, though that feature is not supported at launch (it’s planned for later).

Source: iFixit

Next-Gen Kid’s Play

Fingerprint is “dedicated to creating the next big kid’s company” as their mission statement says, and the San Francisco-based company is making significant progress towards that goal. Software for kids seems like a natural for tablets and smartphones, seeing the strong affinity kids have for a touch-based interface. The [a]list daily spoke with Fingerprint CEO and co-founder Nancy Macintyre about the company’s deal with Sylvan Learning, the evolution of the company’s platform strategy and the reinvention of kid’s software.

Fingerprint CEO Nancy Macintyre

Educational software for kids was once a major category, reaching nearly $500 million in annual sales in 2000 before collapsing to $152 million by 2004, according to NPD. The decline was driven by free web sites offering educational games and the rise of devices like the LeapPad from LeapFrog Enterprises. Now, the incredible growth of smartphones and tablets has created fertile ground for the regrowth of software aimed at kids.

“We started the company thinking we were going to be a consumer business, with a focus on kids” said Macintyre. “In February of this year we launched a new version of our platform that supported safe social, multiplayer games. What started getting calls from big media companies, cable companies and well-known brands, who said ‘we have subscription businesses, wouldn’t it be interesting if we were operating a gaming network with you ‘ We recognized that an enterprise solution where we were powering networks for third parties would be interesting for us.”

Fingerprint’s first partner in this strategy is Astro, the largest pay TV company in Southeast Asia. “We’ve built them a learning and play focused network that will be bundled with their mobile TV-to-go app,” said Macintyre. “We’re putting a game network in front of TV subscribers, and we’re very excited about that.”

“There are many companies out there like a cable MSO or a content creator, and everybody has the same objective ““ to leverage the incredible growth in usage of mobile devices, particularly tablets, aimed towards kids,” said Macintyre. “If you’re a TV company you want to have as many eyeballs as possible on your brand and on your content, and you want to monetize that content as well as possible. If you’re a developer you want to get discovered. By partnering with big organizations that have a large subscriber base already buying content, it’s a logical step that games would also be made available to them.”

Fingerprint is creating apps for kids, but now is also helping other developers find an audience for their kid-friendly games with their platform Fingerprint Play. This allows Fingerprint to find a steady stream of content for its network, and is part of their expansion plans. “Our objective is to scale our user base geographically by partnering with lead partners in a variety of territories, then expanding beyond learning and play to entertainment as well,” said Macintyre. “There’s no reason why we can’t go into various vertical markets.”

The company has started with younger kids, but it doesn’t plan to stop there. “We’re primarily focused on ages 3-8, but there are no technical reasons why the platform that would keep us from expanding to other types of content like ebooks and video, which we’re already doing,” noted Macintyre. “Second, we can expand to other kinds of content. For instance, our partner Astro in Asia might decide they want to do a custom platform experience around the World Cup. There are no barriers to creating a custom sports network that would be targeted to older kids.”

The strategy for Fingerprint is to optimize for each market.”We go into any particular market and try to recruit the best app developers the best content in that market that’s customized and localized for that particular market,” said Macintyre. “In Southeast Asia in particular there is significant focus on education; you must have them to make any education platform work. As well, we like to go beyond ABCs and 123s and offer passion topics that keep kids engaged, that could be science, it could be geography, astronomy, space, or cooking even.


Beyond global expansion, Fingerprint is also using its expertise in the North American market by joining forces with Sylvan Learning. “We’re launching before the end of the year a new network with the Sylvan Learning Center,which is the largest private tutoring company in North America,” said Macintyre. “We’re creating a proprietary learning network for them that will be targeted at kids in K-4. We think it’s the first of its kind custom network, and we’re working directly with their curriculum specialists to develop the apps. We’ll also be hand-picking a variety of third-party apps targeted at this audience. We’re super excited about this because it lets Sylvan kids play games at home that expand on what they get in the Learning Centers.” SylvanPlay will launch on iOS and Android with a suite of four apps created by Fingerprint and its developer network.

The kid’s marketplace is ripe for expansion, Macintyre believes. “I think there are more kids playing educational software than ever before,” said Macintyre. “They’re just not paying for it. Parents are willing to pay for quality educational content — you just have to get the content in front of them and be able to show them the value. That’s one of the things we think Sylvan will be super successful in doing.”

GoldieBlox Makes A ‘Princess Machine’

Girl’s toys have long been focused on homemaking simulations and pink dolls, but GoldieBlox wants to change that. This creative ad, featuring a variant on the Beastie Boys classic “Girls”, advertises the engineering-focused toys.

Fight for Rome!

Ryse: Son of Rome is finally releasing for all to consume, and the launch trailer looks like a movie trailer by all appearances. Check out snippets of the gameplay and story in this launch trailer.

EA’s Original ‘Star Wars’ Games

In the past, publishers who had a hold of the Star Wars franchise managed to produce games that were based on films or television properties, such as Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars. Electronic Arts, however, wants to take a different approach.

The company has announced that, as part of its ten-year deal for the franchise through LucasFilm, that it intends to produce original efforts, instead of games tying in to forthcoming films, like Episode VII, due in late 2015.

“We’ve done movie games over the years and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t doing a movie game, i.e., game based on the movie,” EA’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen told attendees at the UBS Global Technology Conference on Tuesday. “The beauty of the Star Wars franchise is that it’s so broad and so deep, you don’t have to do a movie game, you can do a game that’s very focused on the world that’s been created around Star Wars.”

“We struck what we believe is a fantastic deal which allows us to be able to build games in many different genres across multiple types of platforms over ten years and we’ll leverage the strength of the Disney marketing associated with the ‘Star Wars’ properties both in movies and other things that they may do over the timeframe,” he added.

The first of these new games, the DICE-produced multiplayer affair Battlefront, should make its debut on next-generation consoles in 2015.

Source: Variety

Gaming Consoles Top Shopper Survey

A survey conducted by RetailMeNot revealed some interesting shopping desires among US consumers, based on a sample of over 1,000 consumers aged 18 and older taken in early October. If you were wondering whether consoles are still a desired consumer item, this survey should set your mind at ease. Gaming consoles topped the list as the most popular electronic item being considered by 62 percent of parents for their kids. Next in popularity was handheld educational devices (58 percent), portable music players (54 percent) and handheld gaming devices (54 percent). As you might expect, fathers are more likely than mothers (68 percent vs. 57 percent) to consider buying a gaming console for their child.

Tablets and smartphones are also figuring prominently in shopping plans. Nearly half of the consumers surveyed feel that children should have their own cell phone (46 percent) or tablet (44 percent) at age 13 or younger. Additionally, nearly half of parents (48 percent) are willing to consider purchasing a tablet for their child.

Source: RetailMeNot

SmartGlass For Xbox One

Microsoft has released an updated SmartGlass app for mobile devices, enabling users to utilize it with the Xbox One system when it releases this Friday.

Not to be confused with the previously released app, this new program has similar functionality in terms of keeping track of what friends are playing and sending messages to them. In addition, though it also provides more detailed information on games, and allows you to customize your dashboard while you’re on-the-go.

The app, which is free, is now available for iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Source: Xbox