Windows mobile: pocketable PC takes your desktop on the move

A tiny but fully functional desktop computer that allows you to carry all your documents and software in your pocket has been developed by a team in San Diego, California.

The Tango Super PC is about the size of a mobile phone, weighs 200g (7oz), and is designed to plug into a custom docking station that can be connected to up to two monitors or a television.

The idea is that owners will have a docking station hooked up to each location they use the PC, such as at their office, at their desk at home and in their lounge.

With this, they will be able to carry their computer with them and continue working on projects or playing games quickly and easily, without the need for multiple computers.

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As many of us have rejected traditional TV in favour of online content, Tango could be particularly popular for its ease of use with a TV; existing solutions are often cumbersome, poorly designed or involve a mess of cables.

The technology could also be of significant interest to people who split their time between work and a home office, as it would do away with the need for continual transfer of files between systems.

Most beneficial of all is the cost savings involved. By only having the one system, users can save the cost of multiple desktops, and will also avoid the potentially eye-watering expense of getting multiple licences for their software.

Tango is currently on Kickstarter to raise enough funds for mass production, having previously completed a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign that saw the company generate more than three times its target.

The system starts at $349 for a version with a 32GB solid state drive (SSD) and 4GB of RAM, with a premium version featuring 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD available for $473.

Tango comes with one docking station, and additional ports are available for $89 a pop.

The company is also offering a serious sweetener for backing the project; once it sells 100,000 units outside the campaign it will give a free, additional Tango to every backer.

The company is pushing the system for gaming, and provides demos of the machine running Call of Duty 4 and Battlefield 4 as part of its campaign.

However, hardcore gamers are unlikely to see Tango as a rig-replacement.

The system has an AMD A6-5200 processor with integrated HD8400 graphics, which the company says is equivalent to Intel’s i3, the lowest specced processor in the company’s desktop range.

This should be absolutely fine for those looking to run older games or newer games running at low settings, but won’t be nearly powerful enough to run games such as Crysis 3 on ultra.

Nonetheless, the system should suffice for most people’s multimedia needs, and with the size and price could prove immensely popular.


Images courtesy of Tango PC.


Future of gaming: The controller that can change the game if you get bored

If you’ve ever exhausted all the difficulty levels of a video game then you’ll know the familiar feeling of boredom – but this could end with the development of a new controller.

Engineers have created a controller that measures what you’re feeling while playing and could change the game to make it harder.

The controller gauges your brain activity and can add more enemies to a game if the gamer gets bored.

The technology could be used by developers to improve the quality of the games they make.

For example, when testing games prior to sale, sections that do not score highly with those playing could be changed to be more stimulating. Or games could be made harder if the controller detects that you’re feeling bored.

The prototype is made using an adapted Xbox 360 controller that has small metal pads attached.

These measure the user’s heart rate, blood flow, and both the rate of breath and how deeply the user is breathing.

Combined with another light-operated sensor that measures heart rate and an accelerometer that measures the movements of the controller, a clear picture of how the gamer is feeling is presented to the researchers.

A custom-built game has been created to work with the controller that sees users playing a racing game where they must drive over coloured tiles in a particular order.

Corey McCall, who was the leader on the game controller project undertaken by Stanford University, said: “If a player wants maximum engagement and excitement, we can measure when they are getting bored and, for example, introduce more zombies into the level.

“We can also control the game for children. If parents are concerned that their children are getting too wrapped up in the game, we can tone it down or remind them that it’s time for a healthy break.”

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It works by measuring changes in the autonomic nervous system – which deals with he brain’s emotions.

Brain activity influences the heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and other bodily processes. When these signs are measured it’s possible to tell what is going on in the brain.

Measuring the activity can be conducted in an non-invasive way and other work by the group involves monitoring the skin temperature of epilepsy patients in an attempt to predict when a seizure will occur.

“You can see the expression of a person’s autonomic nervous system in their heart rate and skin temperature and respiration rate, and by measuring those outputs, we can understand what’s happening in the brain almost instantaneously,” said McCall.


Video and images courtesy of Stanford University