Microsoft this morning pushed Avatar Kinect out to Xbox 360 users with its $150 Kinect motion camera accessory.
The software, which was publicly unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES in January, tracks facial movements and applies them to the user's virtual representation onscreen. That means if your head is cocked, or your eyebrows are raised, those same motions get translated onscreen. The technology is bundled into the Avatar Kinect software, which serves as a casual chat room for up to eight people in one of 24 virtual scenes.
The new chat tool joins a handful of other … Read more
CNET descends on San Diego for Comic-Con, the massive annual show that has become the epicenter of geek culture, bringing together sci-fi and fantasy movies, TV shows, games, toys, and--oh yeah--comic books.
Videos Uproar over Wonder Woman DC changed Wonder Woman's costume in June of last year, switching from the tried and true short-shorts to--gasp!--pants. Fans went ballistic. Is Wonder Woman as wonderful if you can't see her butt-kickin' legs?
Brian Tong's Top 5 favorite things from Comic-Con As hard as it was to narrow down to just 5, Brian Tong goes over the best … Read more
There is an afterlife--for electronics, anyway. Ever wonder what it's like? Researchers at MIT tracked used computers to find out. The project gives you a glimpse of where cast-off laptops and smartphones end up.
Rather than simply providing statistics about the global flows of secondhand electronics and e-waste, the MIT Senseable City Lab researchers produced a series of images of the gadgets' new owners and their surroundings. The images hail from Indonesia, South Asia, and Africa.
For the project, dubbed Backtalk, researchers sent refurbished Netbooks to developing countries via nonprofit organizations. They set up the computers to record location and pictures, and send the data home to MIT--with their new owners' consent. The Netbooks carried stickers explaining the project in the local language.
The researchers captured the data using the open-source antitheft software Prey, which records a computer's GPS coordinates and takes a picture with the computer's camera every 20 minutes.… Read more
I've seen my fair share of obsessive fans. Walter Denlinger should be in the high priesthood of modeling fanatics.
I'm talking about Warhammer 40,000, a sci-fi tabletop-miniatures war game that Denlinger has been playing for about 25 years.
"Scratch-building your own tanks and vehicles back in the day was a matter of necessity," says Denlinger. "Nowadays, players are spoiled for choice when it comes to models, but I'm still 'old school' and prefer to convert and build my own."
Based in San Francisco, Denlinger produces terrifying little models for Warhammer (aka 40K) out of his workshop Irondog Studios. His modeling has become a full-time job, allowing him to spend more time at home with his daughters.
"My materials of choice are plastic sheets and tubing, and whatever found objects I come across. I'm one of those trash-to-treasure guys who can find a use for almost anything and will sometimes even center an entire project based on found objects. Many of the models I build are for my personal collection for use in 40K games.
"I also build and paint models on commission for clients who hire me through my Web site. Most of my customers generally want to play the game with nicely painted models but don't have the time or inclination to mess with the 'hobby' end of things. Other clients like to paint their own models, but hire me to do the modeling for them." … Read more
If you've ever watched stereo 3D on your smartphone and found yourself rubbing your temples, you're not alone.
New research out of U.C. Berkeley suggests that eyestrain and the ensuing discomfort is the result of a phenomenon called the vergence-accommodation conflict, by which the eyes have to manage both watching a screen at a certain distance and simultaneously making sense of images that are either in front of or behind that screen.
"When watching stereo 3D displays, the eyes must focus--that is, accommodate--to the distance of the screen because that's where the light comes from; and at the same time, the eyes must converge to the distance of the stereo content, which may be in front of or behind the screen," says Martin S. Banks, the professor of optometry and vision science at Berkeley who published the report in today's Journal of Vision.
Though his series of experiments was conducted on just 24 adults, a sort of discomfort trend emerged: Watching stereo content in front of the screen (which appears to jump into the viewer's space) was less comfortable from a shorter distance more typical with cell phones and laptops, while stereo content placed behind the screen (appearing as though the viewer is peering through a window) was less comfortable when viewed at greater distances more common in movie theaters.
Banks suggests that more studies be conducted across larger sample sizes that include children, and that those pave the way for actual guidelines on appropriate viewing distances.
"This is an area of research where basic science meets application, and we hope that the science can proceed quickly enough to keep up with the increasingly wide use of the technology," he says.… Read more
A slight disturbance in the Force was felt this morning after BioWare, LucasArts, and EA announced that Jedi and Sith everywhere can now preorder Star Wars: The Old Republic for a limited time.
Three versions of the highly anticipated MMORPG are available: Standard ($59), Digital Deluxe ($79), and the whopping Collector's Edition ($149). A preorder FAQ answers some common questions for curious padawans. Those who order soon get access to the virtual world early and obtain special items to make questing easier.
Star Wars fans have clamored for the title since its reveal in late 2008, with an expected release date later this year. According to the official preorder site, here is a breakdown of the three editions: … Read more
Hungry for more details about Battlefield 3? DICE revealed a few details about Battlelog, an upcoming free social-networking site that will roll out in conjunction with BF3 on October 25.
While there's no shortage of statistical sites for Battlefield games, the Battlelog service aims to be different with an infusion of social features. In an official blog update posted today, DICE describes Battlelog as a service where "players will be able to build a network of friends, communicate with other gamers, and compare their Battlefield stats with friends and foes alike."
The main area of Battlelog will be Battlefeed and it will be similar to a Facebook feed. It's a real-time area that displays your friends' activities, such as ranking up, unlocking guns, or awards achieved. For example, instead of pressing "Like," you would press "Hooah!" under a status update. Comments can be left on any action posted in the feed. DICE also mentions in the blog post that the service will offer a detailed stat-tracking system that features a "soldier progression section, bringing full stats tracking for every shot fired and every action performed in your Battlefield career."… Read more
IRVINE, Calif.--Hidden away on an arid stretch of Orange Country land that once housed a Marine base, a wonderland for gearheads exists--complete with super cars, a test track, and custom automobiles lined side-by-side halfway to the mountains. It's the set where the History Channel produces the U.S. version of "Top Gear," the BBC's hit car show.
"Top Gear" returns on July 24, and BBC Worldwide Productions and History Channel invited CNET to visit the set earlier this week on the final day of shooting for the second season.
While show hosts Adam Ferrera, Rutledge Wood, and Tanner Foust shot segments and recorded voiceovers for upcoming episodes, I explored the set and wandered blissfully through the fleet of elite, custom, and wrecked vehicles sprinkled around the studio grounds. I even got to set foot on the esteemed track where The Stig (the show's anonymous racing driver) power-tests some of the world's elite cars. … Read more
Electronic Arts believes the end is near for in-store game buying.
Speaking to Eurogamer in an interview published yesterday, EA Sports Vice President Andrew Wilson said there will be a time when gamers decide against heading to a local game retailer, and get all their titles digitally instead.
"There will come a day where I think that people will stop going into [U.K. game retailer] Game and GameStop," Wilson told Eurogamer. "And I use those purely as examples of retail. It's important for retailers and us to understand what the consumer wants in the future.&… Read more