“Internet of things in a box” hoping to make developers’ lives a whole lot easier

Developers looking to capitalise on the booming internet of things market are about to be given a helping hand by Imagination Technologies’ new Creator Ci40 development kit, dubbed: “the easiest way to build an IoT device.”

The Creator Ci40 IoT kit includes the hardware building blocks needed to quickly prototype a wireless IoT system from scratch, and the open source software, network and cloud connectivity capability required to securely connect and authenticate devices to the cloud.

Paul Evans, director of business development for Creator, explains that the motivation behind developing Creator lay in the fact that they couldn’t find this kind of product on the market when they were looking to develop IoT devices. “Every time we did an IoT project we couldn’t quite find the hardware or software,” he said.

Creator-Ci40-Step-3

Imagination Technologies imagines the possible uses for the development board to include many different sectors and industries.

In fields such as healthcare, agriculture and transport, the Creator Ci40 IoT kit will allow developers to build a huge range of connected products. Developers who want to quickly prototype an IoT platform and then ramp it up for volume production will also be well served by “IoT in a box” nature of the package.

Estimates indicate that 6.4 billion connected things will be used across the globe in 2016. That represents a 30% increase from 2015, according to IT research firm Gartner, Inc. The development board will be aimed at anyone looking to capitalise on this emerging market.

To create a functional working prototype from the Creator Ci40 IoT development board, the IoT kit comes complete with Click expansion and companion boards.

These can be added to further with additional Click boards from supplier MikroElectronica, which offers development tools in areas such as heart rate monitoring, fire detection and detecting alcohol consumption.

Images courtesy of Imagination Technologies

Images courtesy of Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies has chosen to launch the Creator development kit as part of a Kickstarter campaign that launches today. Similar to many Kickstarter projects, the company still has a number of important challenges that they need to solve before the final version of the Creator Ci40 IoT kit is ready to ship to backers.

“One of the things we’re looking for on the Kickstarter is feedback,” said Evans.

The kit is expected to be available in March or April 2016, while the Creator Ci40 developer board is due to be ready in January 2016.

Valve’s ‘Knuckles’ controller brings individual finger control to VR

With a prototype first revealed at the company’s Steam Dev Days conference last October, Valve’s new ‘Knuckles’ controller is now being shipped to developers as a prototype, while a blog post unveils a few more of the specs.

What’s important about the new controller is that it on only utilises an ‘open hand’ design that will mean you don’t have to spend your entire time gripping the controller like a weapon, but  it also features basic tracking for individual fingers.

The device is similar to the current HTC Vive motion controller, positioning in 3D space via Steam’s Lighthouse tracking system, but looks to build to the next stage of what can be done with motion control in VR. Specifically, Valve is looking to bring a much greater presence of your virtual hand into the market.

Moreover, they’re looking to make that virtual hand feel far more natural. With the controller able to grip onto your hand – think somewhat similar to securing your Wiimotes to your wrist – you’ll be able to operate in the virtual space with an open hand. While it may seem a small thing, it brings a whole new realism to any kind of grabbing or catching motion.

In addition, the ability of the Knuckles to track the movement of individual fingers could prove a real game-changer to virtual reality experiences.  Using a number of capacitive sensors to detect the state of your hands when your finger is on a button, or particular part of a controller, the controller will, according to the dev post, “return a curl value between zero and one, where zero indicates that the finger is pointing straight out and one indicates that the finger is fully curled around the controller”.

In essence, this means that the controller will be able to sense fine gradations of movement in each of your fingers, rather than relying on a binary “open” or “closed” status. Beyond lending a more organic feel to the use of your virtual hand, this will also allow users to make use of a range of hand gestures currently unavailable with VR controllers. A screenshot from a new version of SteamVR Home displays the possibilities with a Knuckles user’s avatar throwing up devil horns.

Images courtesy of Valve

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a perfect tracking system. While farther along than, for example, the Oculus Touch controllers, which allow you to slightly open your fingers while tracking the three non-index fingers together via an analog trigger, the Knuckles aren’t exactly ‘full’ finger tracking. Ideally, controllers will reach the point of knowing where your fingers are at all times with pinpoint precision. Until then however, the Knuckles are no small step forward.

The current Knuckles controller dev kit reportedly has a battery life of three hours and requires an hour of USB Micro charging to fill up (if accurate, these numbers put it roughly in the same realm as Vive controllers in regards to battery). We’ll have to wait on confirmation of this and other details,

Elon Musk speaks to LA's mayor about his Boring Company

Elon Musk said this week that he has held “promising conversations” with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, regarding the potential of bringing his recently formed Boring Company to the city. One of the ideas reportedly under consideration would see an express line to LAX airport from LA’s Union Station being built.

Source: Tech Crunch

Atari is back with a new console

Last week, Atari began teasing a new product called the Ataribox. Now, in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat Atari CEO Fred Chesnais has confirmed that the pioneering video game company is working on a new game console. “We’re back in the hardware business,” said Chesnais.

Source: Venture Beat

Nasa find 10 planets that could potentially host life

Nasa has added a further 219 candidates to the list of planets beyond our solar system, 10 of which may be about the same size and temperature as Earth, and may host life. Scientists found the candidates in a final batch of Nasa’s Kepler Space Telescope observations of 200,000 sample stars in the constellation Cygnus.

Source: The Guardian

Tesla Model S told driver to put his hands on the wheel before fatal crash

Federal regulators said on Monday, the driver of a Tesla Model S, who was killed in a collision while the car was in autopilot mode, did not have his hands on the steering wheel for a prolonged period of time despite being repeatedly warned by the vehicle that having his hands on the wheel was necessary.

Source: Ars Technica

Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns

Having last week said that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence, Uber boss Travis Kalanick resigned as chief executive of the company this week after pressure from shareholders. His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Source: BBC

Facebook defends against injunction to remove Oculus Rift from sale

Facebook and Oculus want a federal judge to let them continue selling Rifts despite a jury deciding Oculus stole another company’s computer code. Lawyers for Facebook said halting the sale of Oculus Rifts “would serve no one but ZeniMax, who would use it only as leverage to try to extract money from Oculus”.

Source: Bloomberg