Xbox announces VR-focused console Project Scorpio

Xbox has announced a console that it claims will be the most powerful ever built, putting virtual reality support alongside 4K gaming at the core of its capabilities.

Project Scorpio, which was announced as Xbox’s ‘and finally’ product at the end of its E3 keynote presentation today, will be released in mid 2017 offering full backwards compatability.

“When it ships next year we believe it will be the most powerful console ever built,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, adding that Scorpio would offer over six teraflops of power..

”This is the console to lead gaming into true 4k and high-fidelity VR.”

A VR version of Fallout 4 has also been announced for the console.

Xbox is continuing support for the Xbox One and its newly announced compact variant, the Xbox One S, making Project Scorpio the premium offering in its line-up.

The company is also pushing a more integrated approach with Windows 10, announcing Xbox Play Anywhere, where games can be purchased once and played across PC and Xbox.

project-scorpio-3

Despite saying that the console will offer “true 4k gaming and high fidelity VR”, Spencer did not make any mention of headsets. Last year Xbox heavily pushed its partnership with Oculus, so it is possible that Xbox will primarily support the Rift, however it may be that Scorpio will support a Microsoft-designed model.

The tech heavyweight has announced an AR headset, Hololens, but currently remains silent on VR. It may be that Microsoft is planning its own rival to the Rift, which will be supported across Windows 10 and Xbox to encourage wider adoption.

However, while less present, Oculus did make an appearance at Xbox’s conference, in the form of CTO John Carmack. The legendary developer had a brief but bizarre cameo during the Minecraft segment, wearing a Gear VR and hobbling around the stage apparently marvelling at the game’s Gear VR edition.

Owners of the regular Xbox One will be pleased to hear that cross-platform and backwards compatibility is fully supported.

“All Xbox games and accessories will play on all three – no one gets left behind,” said Spencer. “Today makes the beginning of gaming for the generations.”

This approach has already drawn approval from industry figures.

“I think it’s good for the industry where there’s new hardware and you can do new things, but the games you played before aren’t forgotten,” said Todd Howard, director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, in an interview on YouTube’s Live at E3 stream.

DJI’s First Drone Arena in Tokyo to Open This Saturday

Consumer drone giant DJI will open its first Japanese drone arena in the city of Tokyo this Saturday, providing a space for both hardened professionals and curious newcomers to hone their flying skills.

The arena, which covers an area of 535 square metres, will not only include a large flying area complete with obstacles, but also offer a store where visitors can purchase the latest DJI drones and a technical support area where drone owners can get help with quadcopter issues.

The hope is that the arena will allow those who are curious about the technology but currently lack the space to try it out to get involved.

“As interest around our aerial technology continues to grow, the DJI Arena concept is a new way for us to engage not just hobbyists but also those considering this technology for their work or just for the thrill of flying,” said Moon Tae-Hyun, DJI’s director of brand management and operations.

“Having the opportunity to get behind the remote controller and trying out the technology first hand can enrich the customer experience. When people understand how it works or how easy it is to fly, they will discover what this technology can do for them and see a whole new world of possibilities.”

Images courtesy of DJI

In addition to its general sessions, which will allow members of the public to drop by and try their hand at flying drones, the arena will also offer private hire, including corporate events. For some companies, then, drone flying could become the new golf.

There will also be regular events, allowing pros to compete against one another, and drone training, in the form of DJI’s New Pilot Experience Program, for newcomers.

The arena has been launched in partnership with Japan Circuit, a developer of connected technologies, including drones.

“We are extremely excited to partner with DJI to launch the first DJI Arena in Japan,” said Tetsuhiro Sakai, CEO of Japan Circuit.

“Whether you are a skilled drone pilot or someone looking for their first drone, we welcome everyone to come and learn, experience it for themselves, and have fun. The new DJI Arena will not only serve as a gathering place for drone enthusiasts but also help us reach new customers and anyone interested in learning about this incredible technology.”

The arena is the second of its kind to be launched by DJI, with the first located in Yongin, South Korea, and detailed in the video above. .

Having opened in 2016, the area has attracted visitors from around the world, demonstrating serious demand for this type of entertainment space.

If the Tokyo launch goes well, it’s likely DJI will look at rolling out its arena concept to other cities, perhaps even bringing the model to the US and Europe.

For now, however, those who are interested can book time at the Tokyo arena here.

Commercial Human Spaceflight Advances Prompt Calls for Space Safety Institute

Commercial human spaceflight has been a long-held dream, but now it is finally poised to become a reality. Companies including Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are inching ever closer to taking private citizens into space, and there are serious plans for spaceports in several parts of the world, including Hawaii, the US, and Scotland, the UK.

But while the industry is advancing, the legal side of this fledgling commercial space industry remains underdeveloped, leading to calls for the development of an organisation to establish a framework for the safe operation of spaceports for human commercial spaceflights.

Writing in the journal New Space, Mclee Kerolle, from the United States International Institute of Space Law in Paris, France, has proposed the establishment of a Space Safety Institute recognised by the US congress and the United Nations.

This institute would “develop, enforce and adopt standards of excellence”, allowing the industry to develop while protecting it from liability and insurance risks.

“Currently, no international regulatory body exists to regulate the operation of spaceports,” he wrote. “This is unfortunate because while the advent of commercial human spaceflight industry is imminent, a majority of the focus from the legal community will be on regulating spaceflights and space access vehicles.

“However, the regulation of spaceports should be viewed in the same light as the rest of the commercial human spaceflight industry.”

The article focuses particularly on the establishment of a spaceport at the Kona International Airport in Keahole, Hawaii. At present, the spaceport’s development is subject to regulation by the Federal Aviation Authority, however there are aspects to spaceport development that do not apply to conventional aviation operations.

A spacesuit design for commercial flights developed by SpaceX. Featured image: SpaceX’s proposed spaceport for its conceptual interplanetary transport system. All images courtesy of SpaceX

The institute would be designed to first and foremost ensure safety within the industry, so it would be important, according to Kerolle, to ensure it was made up of individuals with expertise in the field, rather than bureaucrats.

“To make sure that this flexibility is inherent in a Space Safety Institute, the organization should be composed of individuals within the industry as opposed to government officials who are not familiar with the commercial human spaceflight industry,” he wrote.

“As a result, this should protect the commercial human spaceflight industry to some liability exposure, as well as promote growth in the industry to ensure the industry’s survival.”