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JUST for Geeks

The Acer Windows Mixed Reality VR Headset

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The Acer Windows Mixed Reality VR Headset

The 2017 Microsoft Build conference sees Acer announce a Windows Mixed Reality VR headset-- one available on the holiday season in a bundle including the new Microsoft motion controllers.

Also unveiled at the conference, the Microsoft motion controllers are reminiscent to the upcoming Touch controllers designed for the Oculus headset. The Microsoft controllers are wireless, and like the Touch controllers feature multiple buttons and triggers allowing users to "grasp" items within a virtual space.

However, unlike the Touch controllers, the Microsoft take on the accessories does not require an external sensors or markers-- instead, the controllers use vertically-placed glowing ring in conjunction with sensors built into the headset.

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Amazon Shows Things With Echo Show

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Amazon Shows Things With Echo Show

Amazon confirms the existence of a long rumoured touchscreen-equipped Echo device-- the Echo Show, a connected home hub featuring a 7-inch touchscreen together with voice recognition capability.

“Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things," the online retailer turned cloud giant-slash-hardware maker says. "Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.”

Another feature found in the Echo show is a camera, allowing for video calls, and Alexa skills are included for integration with smart home devices. This includes baby monitors from Ring and Arlo, Philips Hue smart lights, and thermostats from the likes of ecobee and WeMo.

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Hover Camera Passport Drone Zooms to Apple Stores

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Hover Camera Passport Drone Zooms to Apple Stores

Apple retail outlets get a new drone option in the shape of the Hover Camera Passport-- an ultra-portable number able to follow users around and take hands-free photos.

Developed by Zero Zero Robots, the Hover Camera Passport is a foldable drone built from carbon fibre material. It weighs just 242g and carries a 13MP camera with 4K video support and the ability to capture 360-degree panoramic video. Battery life clocks at around 10 minutes per charge, and the makers promise the Passport is very easy to use, with artificial intelligence allowing anyone to operate both indoors and outdoors.

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A Stream Deck for Streamers

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A Stream Deck for Streamers

Elgato announces a controller for streamers of all kinds-- the Stream Deck is a hardware device with 15 keys for users to access shortcuts to programs or features.

The Stream Deck connects to PCs via USB 2.0 and essentially is a miniature TV studio control board. Each of the 15 buttons has a tiny LCD display, allowing customisation with different icons for different functions. In total the Stream Deck handles up to 210 actions per configuration, since one can organise shortcuts into folders with the companion Stream Deck app.

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A Mini Heater to Heat PC User Hands

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A Mini Heater to Heat PC User Hands

"No more cold hands," the Kickstarter for the Heatbuff promises-- and just as well, since the crowdfunded device in question is a small heater designed to warm the hands of keyboard and mouse users.

The Heatbuff uses infrared as a "no-burn technology" in order to keep fingers toasty, all while not melting keyboards or mice down. The actual device is around 38cm wide, and features twin heaters one can adjust and angle from the centre to customise the amount of heat provided.

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Acer Monitors the Air at MWC

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Acer Monitors the Air at MWC

Mobile World Congress 2017 sees Acer announce the Air Monitor-- a connected device providing real-time air quality analysis through companion app and a colour-changing LED embedded in the chassis.

Part of the company's "Internet of Beings" (IoB), the Air Monitor tracks 6 air quality indicators, namely TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds), carbon dioxide, PM2.5, PM10, temperature and humidity. The smartphone app allows users to easily access the measured data, and it can also send warnings via push notifications when indicators exceed predefined thresholds.

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Disney Shows Room-Scale Wireless Power

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Disney Shows Room-Scale Wireless Power

Scientists at Disney Research present what one can describe as room-scale wireless power delivery-- a prototype living room housing 10 objects, all powered without need for cables.

Dubbed "Quasistatic Cavity Resonance for Ubiquitous Wireless Power Transfer," the technology is free roaming, meaning one can move around the room and their smartphone will immediately start charging, with no need to be close to a wireless charging pad. It is also very efficient (around 40-95%, depending on the receiver's position in the room) and can deliver 1900W of power before the specific absorption rate (SAR) becomes dangerous for human beings.

However, like all things sounding too good to be true, the technology comes with a caveat-- it requires a purpose-built room, with walls, ceilings and floor built out of aluminium panels. A long copper pole runs in the middle of the room, and half-way down the pipe is a small section housing a ring of 15 capacitors. Outside the room are a signal generator and a power amplifier linked to the capacitors, which together with the copper pipe produce quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), the process behind the wireless power transfer technology.

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A Smartwatch for Games

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A Smartwatch for Games

Do your customers want to play games on their wrists? The Gameband offers a dedicated solution, since it is described as a "powerful smartwatch" built for "people who love to game."

The Gameband comes in two versions-- an Atari version featuring classic games such as Pong, Crystal Casltes and Asteroids, and a Terraria version with an exclusive minigame based on the titular game. Whichever version of the Gameband one chooses they get to play games on a 1.63-inch AMOLED display, with a microSD card slot allowing the addition of more titles.

The smartwatch runs on a custom version of Android and pairs with a PC app named PixelFurnace for the transfer of software. One can even store an entire PC game on the Gameband and play it on another PC by plugging the watch in and launching the game on PixelFurnace on that computer.

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What Does the Future Hold for the Switch?

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What Does the Future Hold for the Switch?

March 2017 sees the next Nintendo games machine hit the market-- the strange tablet-console hybrid known as the Switch. Will the 127-year old Japanese company find success with the machine, or will it break it? Analysts are weighing in, and the predictions are, inevitably, varied.

First presented to the world through a slick announcement video on October 2016, the Switch is a machine of many parts. One can play it as one does a tablet or handheld console, but it can also be connected to a dock for home console gameplay on an HDTV. It has two controllers users can either connect to the tablet portion of the machine, use separately as Wii-style motion controllers or even use as single gamepads for 2-player action.

Whichever way one plays with it, the Switch is crucial for a Nintendo reeling from the commercial failure of the Wii U, whose global sales clock at just 13 million units during a 4-year lifespan. Will the Switch buck the trend? Analyst DFC Intelligence predicts Switch sales will reach 40m in 3 years-- behind Playstation 4 sales reaching 50m during the same timeframe, but ahead of the XBox One's 26m units sold.

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