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Microsoft developing a new controller for the less able gamer: Meet the Xbox Adaptive Controller

As a gaming-orientated radio station whose listener and staffing base incorporates many people with disabilities both physical and mental, we at Sanitarium.FM champion any attempt by a major corporation to create technology that caters for the less able user. For that reason, when we heard that Microsoft have unveiled an Xbox One controller designed with the differently-abled in mind, we knew this was something we had to take a look at.

 

A picture of the XBox Adaptive Controller

Officially named the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Microsoft’s latest creation – which will actually support both XBox and Windows PCs – is billed as ‘the most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company’. As Microsoft tells it, When a customised controller from non-profit veterans’ organisation Warfighter Engaged caught the eye of a Microsoft engineer back in 2014, Microsoft decided to create its own disability-friendly controller for the following year’s Hackathon, which is where this project began. Refinements followed a year later; but it was the release of the Copilot function – which allows two Xbox One controllers to be treated as a single controller – that led Microsoft to declare their new controller concept ready for launch.

 

In fact, Copilot is actually the key to how this new controller becomes adaptable for a wide range of disabilities. Designed to be used on a desktop surface, the Xbox Adaptive Controller features all number of ports to allow additional controllers, headsets, switches and other assistive devices to expand on its base capabilities, allowing a user to create a custom gaming solution whereby a user can combine many different controls into a workable solution for their own body. The ports are labelled such that the user doesn’t need to turn or pick up the device to see what goes where; and each controller can function as one or more physical buttons according to the user’s needs. The Adaptive Controller itself sports two giant buttons, mapped to the A and B of a standard Xbox controller and with enough spacing to allow a hand to rest in between; along with a D-Pad and other smaller control buttons to the left side.

 

Microsoft have explained the full story behind the controller on their Story Labs, which also gives further details about the upcoming product. The Xbox Adaptive Controller will launch later this year, and will retail for $100 in the US, which is likely to translate to around £100 in the UK after the inclusion of VAT.


May 17th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Technology, Xbox |

Microsoft announce Surface Hub 2

Two years ago, Microsoft raised eyebrows when it unveiled the Surface Hub, a digital whiteboard that could handle anything from video conferences, to a shared workspace for working on documents. Despite being plagued with numerous delays to launch and being ridiculously expensive (exceeding $11,000 for even the smaller model plus stand), Microsoft now claims that there are 5,000 companies using Surface Hubs, including half of Fortune 100 companies – and apparently, sales have been good enough for Microsoft to announce a second version is in the works.

 

 

Details are currently scarce regarding the Surface Hub 2, which isn’t planned to retail until 2019; although “selected customers” will be able to test the device later this year. At it’s heart, however, the new Hub is still a gigantic touchscreen-enabled display, which will run Windows 10 and support the Surface Pen. It also has thinner bezels, making it look more like a modern flatscreen TV, albeit one with a wider-than-average 3:2 aspect ratio. Surprisingly, it appears the built-in webcam is also out, meaning you’ll now need to plug in your own to start video conferences – which strikes us an odd move.

 

Microsoft appear to be targeting the new Surface Hub as having more potential uses, with the thinner form factor making it easier to create a wall of surface hubs for wide digital displays. To that end, the company has released a Youtube video introducing the Hub 2, which shows off a number of interesting use concepts:

 

 

The device also contains a fingerprint sensor, so each user can protect their documents and data behind their own accounts and login with just a touch.

 

No information is currently available on pricing or technical specifications. We’ll have more news when we get it!


May 16th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in General, Technology |

Cross Platform Gaming

The controllers for the PS4, XBox One and Switch are all partially depicted. The PS4 controller is marked with a "no" sign.

Social gaming. Once believed to be the antithesis of what gaming should be. In the early days gaming was seen to be something solitary and cut off from both reality and society; however, in the following years we have seen a huge shift in this mentality, with video games becoming commonplace, the rise of the MMO genre, and the recent dominance of games such as Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite.

 

However as much as the industry has shifted to getting people to play together, there are still holdouts, with the recent announcement that Fortnite will be implementing cross play between PC, Xbox, Mobile and working toward compatibility with Nintendo’s Switch console, the question has once again been posed, why are Xbox and PS4 not crossing over?

 

With a handful of options for gaming growing, the recent announcement that Xbox, PC, Mobile and Nintendo will be allowing cross platform experiences has been well received, similarly Sony has enabled cross play with PC and mobile, but we are still yet to see a proper Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo cross platform experience so no matter your preference it is currently not possible to team up with or take on players from Microsoft or Sony’s premier consoles from their competitor.

 

This question is not a new one, with other popular multi platform games having been made available for cross play between PC and console and Fortnite itself accidentally allowing cross play between the Xbox and Playstation versions of the games for a short time.

 

So that leads to the question, why is cross platform play between the two consoles not enabled? Well if it was up to Microsoft, it would be.

 

Microsoft representative Phil Spencer has made a recent effort to express his interest in cross platform gameplay, even tweeting that he wished the accidental Fortnite crossplay enabled by Epic games would remain, Sony’s representatives have been far less vocal on the matter, with smaller statements on the subject such as when the issue was brought up with Minecraft cross play, advising their refusal to allow cross play was “for the children” because they cannot control what their players are exposed to outside of their network.

 

One interesting thing to note is that Microsoft have been openly against cross network play in the past, citing the same concerns that Sony mentioned, but since the PS4 started outselling the Xbox One their concerns seem to have cleared up and they are all for cross platform gaming.

 

An episode of the show South park also tackled the subject a few years ago (cleverly weaving in a storyline very heavily lampooning Game of Thrones) in which Xbox and Playstation are opposing factions in the gaming war and a choice must be made, a side must be chosen, unfortunately with the lack of cross platform connection currently available the episode is still all too real a concern for gaming fans.

 

Will we ever see a world in which Microsoft and Sony both allow cross play? At this stage no, but with Nintendo joining, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until we can all play together happily.


April 26th, 2018 by TGB_SirhcAndAr0n
Posted in Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Technology |

3D Print Your Ships From Star Trek Online!

Remember when it was announced a year or two ago, that soon you’d be able to 3D print your Star Trek Online, and literally within a month of this announcement the company that were going to do it, went under?

 

Guess what? Second time lucky maybe?!

 

That’s right, officially announced on February 20th via the Facebook Page for STO, you will (again) be able to 3D print your ships directly from Star Trek Online and recieve them as a model directly to your mailbox!

 

 

Perfect World & Cryptic have teamed up with the team at Mixed Dimensions with the goal of introducing the custom Star Trek ships into the community of STO fans. The end result will be a 12’ model made of resin which will come in three different tiers. A single colour version, a primed model ready for your painting at home, and a hand painted version, painted by the talented artists at Mixed Dimensions.

 

 

Players will be able to design their own ships in the game, and upload their design to the Mixed Dimensions website for printing. Fans will also be able to order from 20 of the most popular ships in Star Trek Online.

 

At time of writing, there has been no pricing announced, for custom or pre-made ships. And the planned launch is sometime in March 2018.

 

Below are just a few pictures of the Pathfinder Long Range Science Vessel model primed and painted.

 

 

Remember, Star Trek Online is Free To Play and is playable via ARC or Steam game clients, XBox 1 and PS4.

 

 

Register for an account now at http://www.arcgames.com/en/games/star-trek-online and join in the fun Boldly Going Where Some Men Have Gone Before!!


February 23rd, 2018 by HeavyMetlBrian
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Technology, Xbox |

Apple’s HomePod Speaker is Discolouring Wooden Surfaces

While Apple Inc may be gaining plaudits for the audio quality of its new HomePod speakers, some users with wooden furniture are finding themselves less than thrilled with their new purchase, due to a surprising issue that has cropped up.

 

Numerous reports have surfaced online from disgruntled Apple customers that the HomePod's silicone base is leaving pale rings when placed on wooden surfaces. Though tests by Bloomberg News failed to replicate the issue, nor does it seem to be replicable with other materials such as glass, several other websites have backed up the wood discolouration claims.

 

Although Apple did not originally respond to requests for comment on the issue, it later informed Wirecutter that the company believes the issue is temporary and removing the speaker from the surface should restore the wood colour "within several days". In the event the marks remain, Apple suggested customers “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method.”

 

This article first appeared on Technically Motivated


February 14th, 2018 by CrimsonShade
Posted in General, Technology |

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