Pokemon Go NEWS – Halloween 2017 event, Legendary update, Niantic reveals future of AR | Gaming | Entertainment

Pokemon Go fans can expect another Halloween event for 2017.

The Pokemon Go Halloween celebration was one of the first in-game events to be introduced to the Niantic app last year.

And according to Slashgear sources, the Halloween event will return in October 2017.

Last year’s Halloween event saw an increase in Ghost Type Pokemon like Ghastly, Haunter, and Gengar.

As the report points out, these three Pokemon are likely to be joined by Gen 2 Pokemon Misdreavus.

The site also suggests that Dark Pokemon will see increased spawn rates during the event, but why stop there?

Multiple Ghost Type Pokemon made their debut in Gen 3 (see the gallery below), which makes Halloween the perfect time to introduce a selection of brand new Pokemon to the game.

Pokemon Go is about to be transformed thanks to new technology available in the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus.

The cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are said to have been custom tuned for AR.

But despite the improvements to AR, Niantic boss and Pokemon Go creator John Hanke still thinks the technology is limited.

In fact, Hanke thinks that AR glasses are the future of augmented reality.

Hanke thinks that while devices like Google Glass were massively flawed, AR glasses are the way forward.

“Glasses are coming,” he said. “They are hard and it will take a while but we will get them and once we do, we won’t go back.”

Hanke said that once the social implications of such a device are ironed out, AR glasses will transform the way we interact with the world.

“Imagine buildings, offices, homes, cities and transportation with live, dynamic interfaces customized to you and what you want to do.

“The billions of dollars a year that we spend on physical signs, directories, schedules, and all of the other ‘UI’ that we need to navigate the physical world won’t be needed and will be replaced with digital overlays with far greater functionality.

“And yes, colorful animated creatures can inhabit our backyards and parks, waiting to be discovered.

“Games beyond anything we can imagine today will be played out. Not by humans wired into Matrix-style pods, but by human beings walking, running, exploring, talking and connecting in the real world.”

Pokemon Go has received a handy new update that makes it easier to search for Legendary Pokemon.

In addition to various big fixes and performance updates, the new update lets you search for defender and Legendary Pokemon.

This could save Trainers a lot of time when searching for the right Pokemon for the job.

Pokemon Go news patch notes in full:

  • Items received from spinning Gym PokéStops and completing Raid Battles are now displayed in the Journal.
  • Improved Pokemon Collection screen search functionality by allowing Trainers to search using “defender” and “legendary”.
  • Resolved a bug which caused Pikachu hats to disappear from the in-game model and icon.
  • Resolved a bug which caused some icons to disappear when scrolling through the Pokédex.
  • Various bug fixes and performance updates

Fnatic Make Huge Announcement on Future of Their Call of Duty Team | Esports News & Videos

The return to competitive Call of Responsibility scene for the Fnatic business could be viewed as both of those a results and failure, based on how you look at the condition.

Veteran participant Tom ‘Tommey’ Trewren was dependable with the planet well-known manufacturer just after they stepped back again into the CoD scene just after a lengthy hiatus. He picked up the youthful trio of Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall, Bradley ‘Wuskin’ Marshall and Gurdip ‘SunnyB’ Bains.

The all-British squad was introduced on with the premise of remaining a crew who would boost as time went on, and just after anything of a sluggish begin, the crew commenced to decide up rate as they certified for the CWL Worldwide Pro League, including creating the playoffs during Stage Two, finishing 5th/6th.

Even though many would consider that a results, with the Fnatic manufacturer known for their championship winning squads, it seems they’ve made a decision to give up on this existing task with the crew heading their separate means heading into Call of Responsibility WWII.

It was announced on Monday September 18th that all four players would be released with speedy impact, with Fnatic reassessing their choices heading into the new recreation that will be introduced in November.

Press launch through the Fnatic web-site:

“The Call of Responsibility Infinite Warfare season has been an absolute blast! To be welcomed back again amongst these kinds of a staple crowd has been immense to say the the very least, and looking back again we’re proud of what the crew managed to accomplish.

Starting up the task back again in January, veteran Thomas ‘Tommey’ Trewren brought collectively a youthful and hungry team new team in the hopes of igniting a run into the 2017 CoD Championships. Gurdip ‘SunnyB’ Bains along with the twins Matthew ‘Skrapz’ Marshall and Bradley ‘Wuskin’ Marshall completed a roster that represented a meteoric increase.

The boys ended up viewed as underdogs at pretty much every party, but just after all the fist bumps about the yr characters within just the crew blossomed to not only impress in Season 2, but also confirm how competitive each and every participant was on the planet phase.

Following all these a long time, the scene is nevertheless as enjoyable as ever and as the recreation moves to back again into boots-to-floor participate in for WW2 it’s only heading to boost. Now though, Fnatic are having the choice to reassess our put within just Call of Responsibility, stepping back again from the competitive at the very least for now even though we consider potential choices.

Tommey, SunnyB, Skrapz and Wuskin will shift on from the organisation on to no question enjoyable new problems. It’s been a genuinely brilliant time, and we want to thank each and every participant for the how substantially work they poured into the crew. We’ll usually be enthusiasts of these four and their commitment is anything we’ll usually be grateful for.

We must as effectively lengthen our sincere thanks to our superb enthusiasts about the final 9 months. With out the dedicated crowd assistance the experience just wouldn’t have been the identical.

We’ll be looking to deliver an update on our status within just CoD as soon as furthers developments are made.”

This Fnatic alter is just one component of a much larger roster transfer period in Europe and North The united states that has taken put because the conclude of Infinite Warfare.

Following OpTic Gaming gained their to start with CWL Championship title at the Amway Centre in Orlando, Florida, large-profile teams on both of those sides of the Atlantic commenced to make adjustments.

Fnatic is amongst other lineups that incorporate Evil Geniuses, Team EnVyUs, Splyce and Epsilon who’ve switched matters up for boots on the floor.

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Big Interview: Symantec on Norton products and future plans | The latest news from the Computer and IT Industry

Norton by Symantec is a household name synonymous with security software, but now the company is making the leap into the physical realm. Jonathan Easton speaks to Gareth Lockwood, EMEA consumer product specialist, Homayoun Sarkechik, senior manager of Partner Activation and Neil Smith, partner sales manager about the company’s evolving strategy – both in products and Channel services


 

Talk us through the thinking behind Norton Core

Gareth: We’d been thinking about the Norton Core product and how it fits into our strategy for a number of years. We decided that we needed to develop protection for the consumer as smart devices are starting to proliferate among our homes. We needed a wireless router to protect our homes at the point of contact with the outside world and with the internet. 

We effectively said that we want to allow Norton to further secure our consumers’ digital lives while still delivering the high level of performance you expect from a router today. Our consumers are familiar with Norton’s software that protects your PC and smartphone from hackers, but when you look at today’s connected homes it requires something more. You can’t just go and install endpoint protection on a baby monitor for instance. 

All it takes is one compromised device for bad guys to infiltrate your home network and reach all your data. Core discovers all your smart devices, identifies any vulnerabilities and helps to secure all the smart devices within your home network. If it does detect a breach it can quarantine that threat at a network level. 

There’s a lot of enterprise-grade technology under the hood such as deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention and a lot of other things as well that allow us to defend your home network. 

Do you think that there’s more the vendors can do to ensure that connected products are secure?

G: With the smart connected device industry it’s a race to get products out there as quickly as possible. What we’re often seeing is that security is second, third or even lower down the priority list when it comes to releasing an innovative product. 

There are some basic things that should be done. Not having the same default password on every device, for example. When you go to an onboarding process with a user when they first put it in their home is another. Make sure that they’re changing the password and allowing that to be done in an easy manner. 

We did some tests a little while ago where we put an IoT device out on the internet and it took about two minutes for it to be attacked. As we know from the recent botnets for things like Mirai, all it takes is a vulnerable IoT device to have a significant impact 

From a business perspective, have there been any surprises or strategy changes when it comes to hardware vs software?

G: It’s fitted fairly well into our strategy. The hardware is one component of this. We’ve partnered with some very key hardware component manufacturers to create the best hardware platform that allows us to run our security stack and deliver our expertise in software to end consumers. 

It’s about partnerships, but along the way we think it’s a great design as well and that’s something we’ve noticed from other routers on the market. They’re not necessarily the most attractive looking devices with all the antennas poking out, so we decided that we had to look at this from the ground up and ask what can we design and develop that not only protects the consumer using our expertise in software, but also looks fantastic and delivers what you’d expect from a high-performance router at the same time.

Performance was a key factor that we took on board. At the time of hardware specification we said that it needs to be a performance powerhouse. We looked at the 830.11ac Wi-Fi spec, it’s 4×4 MIMO. All the latest Wi-Fi technology is in there. We designed it to not only secure the devices on the network, but also achieve what we think are pretty impressive throughput speeds and unbelievable coverage and range not only for your average user.

Another aspect of the product that is at the fore is the Security Score. Talk us through that

G: Security Score is the cornerstone to the UI. What we wanted to do with this was give the user a very easy to understand guide to the health of their network. The level of security, any vulnerabilities that are known when you add a new smart device. It gives you instant knowledge that wherever you are in the world you can log on to your mobile app and see the current health of your network at home. It’s a very simple scoring system and it all wraps it in a simple interface. 

Your interactions with Norton Core are wholly driven through this mobile interface so no longer will you have to go through the process of opening a web browser, typing in an awkward IP address and going through what is not necessarily the most intuitive of interfaces. We tied it all to a mobile app that allows you to not only on board and configure the router itself but also look at some of the more advanced features as well. 

A key component of Norton Core as well is for parents to manage their kids’ time on the internet. We’re taking the expertise from our Norton family products and we’ve integrated that into Norton Core itself. Rather than installing Norton Family on each individual end-point, when they’re in the house you can monitor your kids’ time on the internet from within this mobile interface. It’s a pretty powerful tool to allow parents to monitor and manage screen time and find the right balance between family and screen time. 

Speaking of childen; we inherently think that viruses are brought into the house by children, but a lot of the time it’s mum or dad clicking on a link in their emails without about knowing the consequences

G: Absolutely, Wannacry and Petya have both raised some big concerns. It leads into having an understanding of what the best practices are when it’s specific to things like ransomware or phishing attacks. 

We know certainly that ransomware has increased significantly. In 2016 we saw just over 463,000 attacks. More than 70 per cent of attacks on healthcare, for example, are ransomware. It’s not necessarily the home user, it’s anybody who is online. It’s having the understanding that not everything you see in an email is necessarily true. 

Anything that is posted as a Microsoft Office attachment that advises you to enable macros should make you very wary. When it comes to a lot of these threats we’ve seen recently it’s very basic things that you need to be aware of. Keeping your security software up to date is a key thing. Keeping your operating system updated as well. 

There are a lot of relatively simple things that you can do and as we look more closely into ransomware it’s things like backing up data. Having a backup is probably the single most effective way of combatting ransomware. Attackers have leverage over their victims because they’ve taken their files and encrypted their data so if you as a victim have a backup then you can go and restore your system. It’s relatively basic stuff, but things that everyone needs to think about.  

How big an impact did the Wannacry ransomware have on Norton customers?

G:  It was significant, but we didn’t really see many infections at all from a Norton perspective. Both Norton and Symantec customers effectively had 0-day protection against Wannacry, Petya and anything else using the EternalBlue exploit. 

It’s not just about having this ‘anti-virus’ definition anymore. We have this multi-layered approach to protection with things like intrusion prevention – where we’re looking at this from a network level and using our sonar behavioural detection technology that prevents Wannacry and Petya from getting onto the system itself.

As of May, we’ve blocked something like 47 million infection attempts across over a million and a half endpoints this year.

Norton recently launched Norton Wi-Fi Privacy. What does it do and who is it catering to?

G: We launched Wi-Fi Privacy a few months back and the rationale behind that was pretty simple. What we saw was that there is a huge gap between what people perceive to be ‘risky’ and the reality when using public Wi-Fi. We think consumers still lack awareness when it comes to the risk of using public Wi-Fi. 

We did a Wi-Fi risk report recently and it was quite a revelation to us. It showed that nearly nine in 10 consumers are putting their data and privacy at risk when using public Wi-Fi. In the UK it was something like 65 per cent of consumers who think that their personal information is safe when on public Wi-Fi, yet more than half of them can’t tell actually whether the network that they’re on is secure. 

So as a result we developed Norton Wi-Fi Privacy as a VPN that protects the data that you’re sending and receiving when you’re on public Wi-Fi, though it works just as well on whatever network technology you’re using. Your location is shielded from view from advertisers and from the bad guys snooping on your traffic so you can’t be tracked. 

What we’re saying to our consumers is that you can now go online without thinking twice about privacy or security. What the product offers is bank-grade encryption that makes the information that you send and receive completely unreadable and offers you true anonymity, to mask your online activities and location. 

Tell us a bit about PartnerNet and the POS kits

Homayoun: Reaching out to partners in all markets we have specific teams, but we see that it’s important to offer a platform to our partners so they can go there and learn more and know more about our products. 

And also preparing and proposing specific programmes to them and giving them the possibility to get support on products and services that we offer. Once a product is sold to a customer and they might have some problems the first thing they do is to go back to the shop where they bought the product. Giving special support to our partners via the PartnerNet platform, FAQs case studies, hotline and web chat means that they have the facility to help their customers. We help to give our partners a lot of the security knowledge that they will need to be a successful business. 

We really want partners to be supported with the product and services. We want to help them to be successful with Norton because their success is our success as well.  

How can interested resellers get involved?

H: Anyone interested can go to PartnerNet.Norton.com and easily apply for partnership. We encourage them to do that! Especially in the UK where our partners are very active which makes us very happy. 

That’s important because these days it’s easy for vendors to sell software directly to consumers that partners and retailers and resellers need to have that unique service that they can provide as well

H: Absolutely. We have seen this with Norton partners for a long time. Special support for partners is absolutely key for mutual success.

Neil: I think the key thing that has been beneficial with PartnerNet is that it’s a great tool for covering everything that Norton is doing as standard. So like how Gareth mentioned with the launch of Wi-Fi Privacy, we were able to offer an introduction to that product and its benefits to our partners. 

Homayoun and the team will enable us to add details of promotions monthly and quarterly so our partners can hear about anything happening and take advantage of them as soon as possible. What we also offer are these bespoke POS kits which are, certainly for resellers looking to work with Norton, the best tools they can possibly get. 

We have these kits available at UK distributors that allow retailers and resellers to put them into their shops or showrooms to showcase that they sell Norton. 

Roughly, how many partners do you have in the UK?

H: It depends on how you’re looking at it. On the PartnerNet portal it’s growing. We are at about 400 for the UK, but the guys who do business with Norton are much, much more. We are really encouraging our partners to come to Norton PartnerNet and they are very active in the UK. We only launched it a few months ago so it’s quite new and it is growing. 

We also have a programme called NFR for partners to get the product, install it on their system, try it and play with it. We want our partners to really know the product and it’s very important. The more they know the product then the more they will be able to advise their customers. That’s our objective. That they really keep their customers loyal because they give good service and have good knowledge about security in general. 

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Security – in association with BullGuard – is running throughout September 2017 – click here for more articles

 

We need small players to help shape the future of AI

Google, Alibaba, Facebook, Baidu, and other tech giants are leading the charge in developing and acquiring AI companies and talent. Many observers have expressed concern that the big players are dominating what will be one of the most important fields in technology. Unlike past waves of technological development, the AI boom could shut out startups and entrepreneurs. I’ve written about the potential for AI to create a stratified society, but I am optimistic about the ability of smart, savvy visionaries to build leading AI technologies without backing from major tech companies.

AI startup ecosystem

AI is a buzzword right now. If you take a 10,000-foot view of the startup world, you will see a lot of “AI” companies. Many of these are truly building or using AI tools across one or multiple verticals. Other, more traditional companies are just trying to jump on the AI bandwagon. There are currently 3,119 companies listed under AI on AngelList. This is just one data point that shows how prevalent AI is in the innovation ecosystem. But this stat only scratches the surface. Let’s dig into what it takes to build an AI startup. We’ll then explore whether it is possible to grow into an independent, next-generation tech giant, or if being acquired by deep-pocketed tech incumbents is the only play.

Having or building the right tools

The first step in building an AI startup is creating an AI. A company can build its own AI from the ground up or utilize open source tools that it builds on top of. This process is similar to past generations of tech development. However, the path taken has a strong impact on a startup’s potential value and the likelihood it will remain independent over time. For companies that opt to build their own AI from the ground up, the process can be painstaking and slow. One of the biggest challenges is getting enough smart AI programmers to build it.

Companies like Google, Baidu, and Tesla have snatched up many of the best minds in AI. So what is a startup to do? Many emerging groups are founded the old-fashioned way. They’re built with smart, savvy tech leaders who aim to create their own enterprise. Iris AI is doing this for scientific research, Dataminr is doing this for news, Deep Genomics is focused on genetic impacts at the cellular level, and a host of other companies are creating interesting homegrown AI-related tech.

One noteworthy venture is Deeplearning.ai, which Stanford professor Andrew Ng launched on Coursera. While not directly an AI company, Deeplearning.ai seeks to train “blue collar coders” in a similar vein as Fast.ai. The idea is to take the best of the academic and commercial worlds in deep learning and train as many people as possible to build the skills required for AI-related jobs. You can expect more AI startups to be launched as matriculation begins in earnest.

Companies that want to ramp up quickly or do not have the brainpower to build AI from the ground up can leverage open source tools. The best AI is clearly not open sourced right now, but Google’s Tensorflow and Berkeley’s Caffe are examples of available open source libraries. Other companies — like Intel with its Nirvana initiative — are taking a more holistic approach (of course hoping you will use their hardware).

So which way do you go if you are a startup? Simply put, if you build your own AI, you likely have a higher potential value and ability to remain independent than if you leverage open source tools provided by a major tech giant.

Training the machine

Building the right tools is only the first step. Next, you will have to train them. Some open source tools include access to sample datasets, but this is a requirement for the startup itself. There really is no substitute. The larger the dataset to which a machine learning or neural network has access, the better you can train it and the more accurate it becomes. This virtuous circle is important. Startups need to have a strategy for data access, whether it be proprietary or open source, if they are going to build useful AI.

Raising capital

Now that you have a plan to build your tech and train it on a dataset, how do you fund yourself? AI is one of the hottest sectors to deploy capital in right now. Traditional incubators such as 500 Startups, Techstars, and others are either directly investing in AI or partnering with tech players to invest in AI. Google and Mark Zuckerberg are backing the Vector Institute in Toronto, Paul Allen is in the game in Seattle, and Nvidia has its Inception program, to name just a few.

For the more traditional VC investment model, AI luminaries such as Kai Fu Lee are driving forward with AI-focused funds (in this case through Sinovation Ventures). Corporations like Toyota (with its $100 million Silicon Valley-focused fund) are also backing the sector.

It is never easy to bootstrap a business and get it to actually take off, but If you are an AI company, the odds are in your favor. AI technology is trending and there are many pockets of capital available to innovators within the space.

Going it alone versus going in-house

This brings us to back to our main topic. You’ve built your tech, trained your AI, and established funding, but can you grow your startup into the next Google or Tencent? Is an acquisition your best option? The AI startup space is extremely active in terms of aquisitions. Most quality companies are quickly snapped up by one of the tech giants to prevent others from getting access to their tech and brainpower. Thus far, no pure play AI companies have gone public. But this is not necessarily a failure of the AI space to produce viable companies. Many of the companies that could be game-changers are only in the early stages of their development. Over the next few years, almost every company will become an AI company. This means there will be many public companies with AI at their core.

How long will it last?

You can build a successful AI startup in your garage (or your local coworking space), but how long will it remain independent? In the current environment, there are plenty of independent AI startups. There are also plenty being snatched up by the big tech players. Whether new AI-driven tech giants will emerge remains to be seen. My gut tells me that smart and savvy entrepreneurs will find a way to overcome talent availability issues and data access issues to build their tech and train up their AIs. I believe this will enable a few of them to successfully take their place as new global leaders. Tech giants of the world beware.

Ed Sappin is CEO of Sappin Global Strategies (SGS), a strategy and investment firm dedicated to the innovation economy.

Electric Concept Cars from the Frankfurt Motor Show Reveal the Auto Industry’s Future

Ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz bossman Dieter Zetsche said the automaker will offer an electric version of every car it makes by 2022. The Concept EQA previews the inevitable compact SUV that will carry a battery and the three-pointed star. The four-seater comes packed with touch screens, can recharge its 60-kWh battery wirelessly, and offers a range of nearly 250 miles.

If Jaguar’s i-Pace doesn’t look much like a concept, that’s because it’s meant to preview the production version of the all-electric baby SUV that will hit dealer lots in 2018. Jaguar’s first fully electric drivetrain will deliver more than 500 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower from a 90-kWh battery pack.

It may look like the cheapo ride your parents drove in the 80s, but the Urban EV Concept highlights Honda’s push toward an electric future. The Japanese automaker has announced it will offer electrified versions of every model it launches in Europe, including the production version of this concept, set to debut in the next two years. Only time will tell if the suicide doors and the unusual bench seats (meant to give the car the feel of a lounge) make it all the way to production.

Mini’s bid for the future is its simply named Electric concept, which pays tribute to the Mini E, an early, small-scale experiment in electric driving. If you’re into the 1960s style and don’t care for gasoline, you can pick this one up in 2019.

Of course, the future’s about more than electricity. Audi talked up the age of autonomous driving with the Aicon, a fantastic, definitely-not-going-into-production concept. The sleek four-door looks almost normal from the outside, but inside you’ll find nary a steering wheel or pedal. This being the future, Audi promises a range of nearly 500 miles per charge.

For five years, Tesla has had sole ownership of the all-electric luxury sedan market. Now, BMW is among the automakers elbowing its way in. That’s why it built the i Vision Dynamics concept, previewing a soon-to-arrive production car with 373 miles of range and a top speed of 120 mph. Elon, you’ve been warned.

Despite their tiny nature, Smart’s cars have never been all that fuel efficient, at least not when compared to the many hybrids on the market. That’s all in the past: The Daimler-owned brand has announced it won’t offer cars with internal combustion engines after 2020. Thinking even further ahead is the fully autonomous Smart Vision EQ Fortwo concept, which has two seats but no steering wheel or pedals. And for those into this sort of thing Smart says the car, meant for ridesharing, will pair you with travelers who match your interests. Cool?

Reported SpaceX investor’s talk is light on details, heavy on love for its future

AUSTIN, Texas—The September 13 keynote at this year’s Data Center Austin conference seemed like a bit of an oddity: an angel investor, appearing at an IT/data center industry event, reportedly talking about aerospace funding.

Luke Nosek likely doesn’t have any issue with things that appear unusual to outsiders, though. This summer, he made news with what seemed like an odd career decision. Formerly a founding exec at PayPal, Nosek would also become a former founding exec at Founders Fund, the organization he created (along with Silicon Valley figures such as Peter Thiel) to fund “disruptive” endeavors like SpaceX and Facebook within the last decade. Nosek’s new project? According to Axios and The Los Angeles Times, the investor would instead be creating an entirely new firm, Gigafund, whose initial focus would be fundraising for SpaceX and SpaceX alone.

So at this datacenter conference held in a music venue, Nosek happily revealed his fondness for the aerospace company as he discussed what makes SpaceX such a unique and special investment opportunity.

“I don’t know as much about data centers as those of you in this room, but I do know how to look into the future regarding technology,” Nosek began. “And the most important thing in the deployment of future tech is to have an incredibly talented entrepreneurial leader driving the adoption of the tech—it’s about the person, not as much the tech, to determine what happens in the future.”

Nosek didn’t look towards the future much, if at all, when it came to detailing how exactly SpaceX will sell itself further to investors. But around the time of Nosek’s summer career announcement, SpaceX was valued at $21 billion after a recent $350 million round of fundraising. That more than doubled its valuation from 2015, when Google and Fidelity invested $1 billion in SpaceX and rocketed the aerospace company’s value to $12 billion. Suddenly, SpaceX became one of only six venture-backed companies worldwide valued at $20 billion or more. (Others include Airbnb and Palantir, two Founding Fund portfolio companies.) Clearly, something has gone well to attract all the financial interest.

Nosek indicated that, in his eyes, founder Elon Musk has largely been responsible for this confidence. “His gift was the ability to think independently starting from the first principles [physics, engineering] even when everyone is saying that ‘it can’t be done this way, you have to do it another way,’” Nosek said. “People are going to tell you, ‘No, it has to be done this way’—even the government was telling him about the old way.”

Describing it for this datacenter audience, Nosek categorized the aerospace industry as stale for decades. He pointed to entrenched supply chains, overwhelming costs, and only a handful of companies being allowed to operate in space. He even repeated Musk’s favorite mantra about what truly kept things from progressing.

“The old companies were so entrenched that there was no innovation—maybe even negative innovation—for years and years,” he said. “A number of things caused this, but it was mostly how the US government did its contracting—it worked on a cost-plus. Imagine if data centers worked this way: ‘go build it, we’ll pay you whatever you spend plus give you more money.’ That’s how the aerospace industry worked, and then comes Elon. He knows it’s important for humanity to get to space, sees that technology is moving backwards, and knew it had to be for human reasons.”

Nosek had followed SpaceX from its humble beginnings, ever since Musk left PayPal in 2002. “It seemed amazing what he was doing,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the business, I just knew the updates he put on the Internet: a rocket made it up to space, they were building this new technology called the Falcon 9 and it was going to the International Space Station. But at Founders, we got to look under the hood and see the space business—he wasn’t just building technology, he was turning around the way business was done in the space industry.”

On the horizon

Luke Nosek speaks at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in 2013. His conference t-shirt game spoke to his fondness for a then-new partnership with SpaceX.
Enlarge / Luke Nosek speaks at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in 2013. His conference t-shirt game spoke to his fondness for a then-new partnership with SpaceX.

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Founders Fund formally invested in SpaceX in July 2008 to the tune of $20 million, and Nosek joined the SpaceX board to assist in fundraising. Up to that point, SpaceX had witnessed its skinny, single-engine Falcon 1 rocket lift off from an atoll in the center of the Pacific Ocean only to fail to reach orbit on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until September of that year when SpaceX completed the first orbital launch of a privately funded and developed rocket, though Nosek acknowledges even that milestone pales in comparison to the company’s May 2017 achievement.

“The ultimate mission of the company, as he told me in his cubicle back in 2008, was he wanted to reduce cost by a factor of ten,” Nosek said. “And it wasn’t until we took that same vehicle and flew it again—that it could be like an airplane and fly again and again—that’s when the cost started to come down. We had two flights this year, but it took years of perseverance. Rockets were crashing, and Elon started to literally make a blooper reel.”

Nosek’s enthusiasm for Musk’s company came across clearly throughout, making it easy to see why he choose to take on new initiative reportedly focused solely on SpaceX. But until now, very little information has been available about Gigafund. Nosek only mentioned it in passing on stage, and neither SpaceX nor Gigafund’s website details any concrete information about a relationship. In fact, at the time of Nosek’s Founding Fund departure, SpaceX statements explicitly avoided mentioning any formal partnership. “While we wish Luke well in his new endeavors, there is no guarantee of future investment allocations in SpaceX or any other companies associated with Elon,” spokesperson John Taylor told The Los Angeles Times.

Nosek’s comments at this conference clearly displayed a fondness for and confidence in SpaceX, though he just as clearly avoided discussing what happens from here in any detail. Perhaps the best clues of some kind of to-be-announced arrangement came when Nosek compared and contrasted his past investments in Facebook (and Mark Zuckerberg) to SpaceX and Musk.

“From the point of view of an investor, you’ve got a lot of chances with a situation like this [aerospace]. Social networking moves so fast, you can miss the entire industry, but it was six years into SpaceX that I invested—and then they got a contract with NASA, so I invested again,” Nosek said. “It proved out to be everything I hoped for, so I doubled-down. With Facebook, it was too hard to, the price moved so quickly you couldn’t get the shares. But with an industry that’s very slow and an entrepreneur pushing like this, you get another chance. They have many more decades and many more things to do ahead of them.”

But even after all that careful chatter, an event press release for Nosek’s talk may have hinted at a future announcement anyway: “PayPal co-founder Luke Nosek (along with Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin and Ken Howery) will be delivering an exciting keynote speech discussing his next endeavor with SpaceX as director of the space exploration company. He’s also launching an investment firm called Gigafund that will help Musk’s SpaceX raise capital.”

Listing image by Trevor Mahlmann

What Does the Future Hold For GTA Online?

GTA Online

To say that Grand Theft Auto V and its online component have been a runaway success for Rockstar Games may read as a colossal understatement, but even now, four whole years after its initial launch, the open-world blockbuster continues to pull in the big bucks for Take-Two Interactive.

As a matter of fact, just last month Rockstar’s parent company posted better-than-expected figures for the first quarter of fiscal 2018, and that historic feat can largely be traced back to Grand Theft Auto Online, which enjoyed its best quarter ever. Yes, ever.

Year-over-year revenue grew 34 percent, with Take-Two pointing to a spike in digitally-delivered content (up 27% over the same period last year) for the overly successful quarter. The industry giant didn’t disclose any specific sales figures, but it did allude to GTA Online leading the pack for “recurrent consumer spending.”

A Bona Fide Juggernaut

Virtual currency, downloadable content, microtransactions—this is the fuel that has kept Grand Theft Auto Online ticking over since release. And it all looked to have gone pete tong when Rockstar initially flipped the switch and opened its persistent multiplayer arena to the masses back in 2013. Widespread technical issues and a lack of content meant GTA Online’s launch was ostensibly rendered disastrous, leading to all kinds of year-end accolades ranging from Best Multiplayer all the way down to Biggest Disappointment. Talk about divisive.

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Those teething problems continued into the next 12 months, during which time Rockstar slowly padded its online juggernaut with different types of vehicles, clothes and weapons, along with timely themed content such as the Valentine’s Day Massacre Special. Heists weren’t added to the experience until March of 2015 and even then, the long-anticipated feature endured a shaky launch no thanks to the pent-up demand.

It’s been a rocky road, then, but Grand Theft Auto Online has aged like a fine wine. To their credit, the creative minds at Rockstar Games have always kept one ear to the ground, dolling out scores of free updates to fine-tune the at-times hectic multiplayer experience. Hectic in the best possible way, of course.

Humble Beginnings

From content creation tools to those elaborate, wildly entertaining Heist missions, the GTA Online of 2017 is a far cry from the unstable base game that touched down four years prior. And that gradual transformation from bust to boom—from rags to riches—can be seen in Grand Theft Auto V’s lifetime sales.

It’s unprecedented, frankly. 80 million units sold places Grand Theft Auto V among the best-selling games of all time—only Wii Sports, Tetris and Minecraft rank higher in the charts—and the only other GTA title to come close is San Andreas, which tapped out at 27.5m in 2014. For the record, other mainline entries include Grand Theft Auto IV (25m), Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (17.5m), and Grand Theft Auto III (14.5m).

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For all its meteoric success, Rockstar have considered winding down Grand Theft Auto Online as we know it, lest they risk over-saturation. Last summer, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick even mulled over the possibility of placing GTA on ice, believing that the Powers That Be must “rest the franchise at some point.”

A Hiatus On the Cards?

Said he: “We do expect GTA Online’s results to moderate because October will be three years since we released it. Not only was it not our intention that GTA Online was permanent, but it’s important that it not be permanent.”

Wise words. But in light of 2018’s first fiscal report, this more recent statement from Zelnick is telling: “Due to the continued success of Grand Theft Auto Online and other factors, [Take-Two] has determined that it is necessary to extend the life of Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online.”

Read between the lines, though, and you’ll realise that GTA V’s continued success is something of a double-edged sword. Because the creative minds at Rockstar have been so focused on introducing new content (see: the Smuggler’s Run and Gunrunning updates), other projects are at risk of slipping onto the back-burner. And there is perhaps no better example of that bittersweet dilemma than the fabled single-player DLC for Grand Theft Auto V.

Four years ago, Rockstar hinted that “substantial additions” were coming to the game’s single-player mode, and presumably planned to incorporate some form of expansion in the vein of The Ballad of Gay Tony or Lost and the Damned. But those plans quietly fell by the wayside as GTA Online grew into a lucrative behemoth. It’s also worth pointing out that Microsoft purportedly shelled out $50 million so that GTA IV‘s single-player add-ons remained exclusive to Xbox 360 for a period of 12 months.

The finer details of that arrangement have always been kept under lock and key, but it presents some interesting food for thought. After all, the creative minds at Rockstar initially considered single-player DLC to be an exercise in risk-taking, as digital downloads were still rather sluggish in 2008, not to mention the fact that the company wasn’t able to gauge how many players could access online content in the first place.

The Rise and Rise of GTA Online

Thankfully, online infrastructure has come on in leaps and bounds ever since, but it’s really the continued success of GTA Online that has forced said expansion down the pecking order–if it hasn’t been outright scrapped. Not only that, but Grand Theft Auto Online has survived a console transition, too, with Rockstar releasing a comprehensive version of GTA V–replete with improved frame-rates and a first-person mode–to expand its audience onto current-gen systems and, later, PC platforms.

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Now available on five different platforms, it’s no wonder Grand Theft Auto V and its online component, in particular, have grown to become Rockstar’s bankable cash cows. But as alluded to before, maintaining that success requires resources–resources that could otherwise be put toward launching new games.

Indeed, it could be argued that the newly-unveiled L.A. Noire remaster is an example of that predicament, as the studio looks to fill its slate with content, particularly now that Red Dead Redemption 2 has slipped into 2018. A sparse lineup is something Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick touched on while speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, claiming that Q1 2018 was really the exception to the rule.

“We don’t want a light release schedule to become a common matter. To the contrary, we’re trying to build up our frontline release schedule, and we’ve successfully done so in the past few years. Sometimes though, the vagaries of the development process will lead to a year that happens to have a limited release schedule. As we continue to increase our development capacity, the goal is to have more frontline titles reflecting these powerful franchises we own, and in any given year, bringing enough of them to market that we have a phenomenal year.”

Perhaps the defining moment for GTA Online will be when Rockstar Games lifts the curtain on the inevitable Grand Theft Auto 6. For instance, will the studio consolidate its sixth numerical entry—you know, assuming it doesn’t opt for a spinoff in the vein of Vice City or San Andreas—and a revamped version of GTA Online into a single package? Or will both products be placed on two separate tracks?

The Future is Bright?

Grand Theft Auto Online isn’t going anywhere—not yet, at least. Four years on from its original release and GTA V, arguably Rockstar’s magnum opus, continues to rule over sales charts and sustain a thriving online community, and that’s something the studio will look to future-proof going forward. Nothing lasts forever, of course, and given Red Dead Redemption 2 will come packing its own online component on day one, it’ll be intriguing to find out how the creative minds at Rockstar keep both plates spinning come 2018.

But for the game that was once described as Rockstar’s lasting legacy, Grand Theft Auto Online has been the lifeblood that has cemented GTA V‘s place in the sales charts for the past four years, nudging its total tally north of 80 million. And that’s a feat worth celebrating; even if GTA Online‘s best days are behind it.

GPU Mining ‘Important Driver’ for Future AMD/Nvidia Growth: Market Analysts

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The 2017 cryptocurrency market rally and subsequent GPU mining boom have created near-insatiable demand for graphics cards, leading many to question whether Nvidia and ADM should be concerned if the market takes a bearish turn. However, market analysts say that these GPU manufacturing giants have little to worry about because blockchain mining will be an “important driver” for growth moving forward.

Just last month, a new line of graphics cards–the AMD Vega 56–sold out in 5 minutes on almost every major online marketplace, forcing computer gamers to pay far over MSRP for access to the latest hardware. At the height of ethereum’s price rally earlier this year, demand for GPUs was so great that ethereum miners began leasing Boeing 747s to ship the processors directly from the manufacturers.

This rapacious thirst for graphics processors has led to a surge in Nvidia and AMD stock prices. Although both companies maintain that their primary focus is the gaming market, each has taken steps to cater to the mining community. Both are developing stripped-down GPUs designed specifically for mining applications, and AMD has released drivers for cryptocurrency miners.

The proliferation of cryptocurrency mining has raised concerns that a crypto market correction could lead miners to disassemble their rigs and flood the secondary market with graphics cards, greatly diminishing demand for new GPUs. This happened in 2014 and caused manufacturer stock prices to deflate.

However, according to a new report from MarketWatch, the graphics card manufacturing duopoly has nothing to worry about this time around.

The report cites Jeffries analyst Mark Lipacis, who says that the risk of a “crypto-driven inventory correction…is low in the near term.” The reason for this is that the stripped-down, mining specific GPUs are not likely to attract attention from gamers on the secondary market.

Moreover, Lipacis anticipates that GPU mining will be an important driver of graphics processing innovation moving forward:

We actually believe that the technology they are based on, called Blockchain, which supports secure accounting of distributed ledgers, has applications in financial services beyond cryptocurrencies. We expect demand for Blockchain GPUs (including for cryptocurrencies) to continue to grow and become an important driver for GPU growth, even if with some degree of volatility.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Pokemon Go update TRANSFORMS app, but Niantic believes THIS is the real future of AR | Gaming | Entertainment

Pokemon Go is about to be transformed thanks to new technology available in the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus.

The cameras on the iPhone 8 Plus are said to have been custom tuned for AR.

“Each camera is individually calibrated, with new gyroscopes and accelerometers for accurate motion tracking,” reads an Apple iPhone 8 statement.

“The A11 Bionic CPU handles world tracking, scene recognition and the GPU enables incredible graphics at 60fps, while the image signal processor does real-time lighting estimation.

“With ARKit, iOS developers can take advantage of the TrueDepth camera and the rear cameras to create games and apps offering fantastically immersive and fluid experiences that go far beyond the screen.”

But despite the improvements to AR, Niantic boss and Pokemon Go creator John Hanke still thinks the technology is limited.

In fact, Hanke thinks that AR glasses are the future of augmented reality.

Check out the gallery below for a look at Gen 1, Gen 2 and Gen 3 Pokemon that could be included in the Pokemon Go Halloween 2017 event.

“AR on phones is a very important step on the path to full AR,” Hanke told Medium.

“But it’s a step that should be understood as one with limitations in its current form factor and level of development.”

After explaining that AR is more than just a digital overlay on your phone, Hanke added: “The point is that the AR camera view is a cool step forward, but it’s only part of what is going to make AR so important and powerful.

“Holding a phone in front of you to align an AR view is, honestly, a little awkward. Based on experiences with apps that are mostly focused on this visual aspect of AR, some will conclude that AR is a gimmick that lacks real utility.

“That’s a bummer, because it really is the first step to something that is going to transform the world as we know it.”

Hanke thinks that while devices like Google Glass were massively flawed, AR glasses are the way forward.

“Glasses are coming,” he continued. “They are hard and it will take a while but we will get them and once we do, we won’t go back.”

Hanke said that once the social implications of such a device are ironed out, AR glasses will transform the way we interact with the world.

“Imagine buildings, offices, homes, cities and transportation with live, dynamic interfaces customized to you and what you want to do.

“The billions of dollars a year that we spend on physical signs, directories, schedules, and all of the other ‘UI’ that we need to navigate the physical world won’t be needed and will be replaced with digital overlays with far greater functionality.

“And yes, colorful animated creatures can inhabit our backyards and parks, waiting to be discovered.

“Games beyond anything we can imagine today will be played out. Not by humans wired into Matrix-style pods, but by human beings walking, running, exploring, talking and connecting in the real world.”

Future Mobility brings connected car age – Business

Future Mobility brings connected car age

Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of Future Mobility Corp, introduces the Byton SUV’s innovative user interface. [Photo provided to China Daily]

FMC launches Byton brand, a next-generation smart device

Chinese electric car startup Future Mobility Corp said it is now ready to charge ahead into an increasingly digitalized era with its brand Byton, an ambition made public last week in Shanghai.

“Byton is inspired by ‘bytes on wheels’. Byte stands for the internet and wheel stands for the auto industry. We want to build Byton into the next-generation smart device,” said Daniel Kirchert, president of the 1-year-old startup when he addressed the audience.

Kirchert believes that a pleasant onboard experience is becoming increasingly important as the auto industry evolves and traffic is becoming heavier in cities.

“We are not made to wait in traffic. We are made to live our life to the full, to enjoy the moment we have. So for mobility engineers for the next 100 years, it’s no longer about refining cars, it’s about refining life.

“We are here to turn driving into living, we are here to provide enjoyable time for people on the move,” he said.

Carsten Breitfeld, former head of BMW’s i8 program and now CEO of FMC, said Byton models are a combination of three things: a smart internet communicator, a spacious luxury living room and a fully electric car.

One highlight is the large display. Measuring 125 centimeters long and 25 cm tall, it will provide everything drivers need and is also designed to share the experience with passengers sitting in the front and second rows.

Steering wheels on Byton models are installed with a touch-screen tablet that will allow the driver to interact with the shared experience display, offering the car’s most important information and control functions at the driver’s fingertips.

Byton’s first model, a midsized SUV, is to make its debut at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in early 2018. It will start production in 2019.

Breitfeld said it has the size of an Audi Q5 but boasts the space of a Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan.

The model will have different versions, running 350 kilometers or 500 km on one charge. Within 10 minutes of charging, it can drive as far as 120 km.

The first Byton is “prepared for autonomy”, according to Breitfeld.

“It will have the hardware – the sensors and computing power – that enable it to achieve up to level five autonomous driving, whereas the actual autonomous capability can be flexibly enabled and upgraded by software and over the air.”

Besides the SUV, a sedan is scheduled to hit the market in 2021 and a seven-seat MPV, 2022.

FMC’s plant in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, which has a designed annual capacity of 300,000 units, has been under construction for some time. When phase one of the plant is finished in 2019, it will be able to produce 100,000 cars a year.

“I believe our startup is founded just at the right time – the coming age of connected cars. Just as Tesla being the pioneer of electric cars, we want to be the pioneer of connected cars,” said Breitfeld.