Video Games

GPD Win palmtop offers modern PC games and apps to go

Many people rely on PCs to get important work done wherever they are, but don’t necessarily want to drag around a laptop everywhere they go. After all, a laptop can’t fit in anybody’s pocket. Many PC gamers, meanwhile, would also like to carry around their computers to play games wherever they are, but face the same issue.

GPD Win is a 5.5-inch Windows 10 PC that includes a keyboard and traditional game controls, along with a 1280 x 720 HD display. The pocket-sized device also touts an Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5-Z8550 quad-core processor. It can be connected to a TV using a Mini HDMI cable and wireless controller (both not included).

Input Video Games Virtual Reality

Get a jump on your virtual foes with the PAO omni-directional treadmill

At the moment, virtual reality is in a weird place. As refined as the technology currently is, virtual reality goers are still likely to experience motion sickness. Additionally, the illusion of virtual reality quick dissipates when users are forced to stay still and use some sort of controller to facilitate the experience.

Like many others before it, PAO aims to solve this immersion problem with a multi-directional treadmill. Not only is it designed to translate a person’s movement in any direction, it can also translate squats and jumps. What’s more, the product can be used with virtual reality headsets, traditional gaming consoles, and even Android devices. A PAO can be purchased for $300, with an expected ship date of December 2015. The Kickstarter campaign is looking to secure $10,000 in funding by May 20.

PAO is extremely similar to its predecessor, the Virtuix Omni, save for its current pre-production status. As a result, the Omni is a much more refined product, something reflected in its $699 price tag, not to mention its 160lb product weight and the large list of accessories it can be used with.  In comparison, the PAO is more than half of the Virtuix Omni’s size and costs less than half. Notably, the PAO doesn’t require users to wear specialized shoes like the Omni does. If PAO can ensure that these benefits remain in place when the final production unit ships, it will prove a worthy and compelling purchase for gamers looking for a full and immersive virtual reality experience.

Connected Objects Displays

Immersis provides immersive gaming without the bulky headset

editors-choiceOne huge knock against virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift is that they require users to wear bulky headsets to experience their immersive effects. The Immersis projector provides a similar kind of immersive experience for interactive gaming and other video viewing, but doesn’t require any headsets.

The device instead projects panoramic video images onto the user’s wall, enabling multiple players or movie watchers to get the same kind of effect as a virtual reality headset. The first version of Immersis uses technology based on real-time adaptation of an image to fit the shape and size of whatever room the user is in. The device is easy to set up and use. The projection technology is compatible with all existing display technologies currently on the market, either with conventional lamps, LEDs or lasers. The image format will be at least full HD (1920×1080).

Connected to a computer, Immersis can project any kind of video content at 180 degrees. If the content is two-dimensional, the projection is flat. If the content is panoramic, 180 degrees, videogames or 3D applications, the projection will be at 180 degrees. A TV, monitor or tablet can be integrated into the projection, either to benefit from the higher resolution or for a specific interaction on one of the screens. Existing game controllers can be used with the device. Backers who pledge $1,000 as part of an early bird offer will get the system when it ships in October. Immersis is looking to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter.

The system is certainly unique and holds some promise. While its degree of immersion is likely not quite in the same ballpark as what is provided by the Oculus Rift, it may be good enough for some people. But it will likely only appeal to a very niche consumer base–namely hardcore gamers. The required configuration could further turn off some other consumers.

Fitness Video Games

TreadGaming works you out without cheat codes

Video gaming is a fantastic way to spend a day off, but pretty a pretty terrible thing for the body. As much fun as it may be, a sedentary lifestyle is nothing but bad news. Although virtual reality is eventually promising a future where people will be able to move around with their favorite virtual worlds, that future is a considerably long way off.

Enter TreadGaming, a tiny, USB-enabled device that attaches a treadmill or an ergometer bike and transforms it into a giant video game controller powered by nothing but physical activity. The Mountain Dew and Doritos won’t be at arm’s length anymore but, in exchange, users will be able to sneak, walk, and run throughout whatever world they popped into the DVD tray.

What’s more, any action can be mapped to the exercise device or the two Wii Nunchuks that are able to plugged into the TreadGaming devices along with free I/O pins offer a ton of versatility when it comes to interacting with the game itself and expanding the device’s capabilities. Early birds can grab the device for kr380 (~$47) before it goes up to kr456 (~$57). The kr22,500 (~$2,800) campaign is looking to get people off their couches by March 2015.

The TreadGaming device is fairly limited at the moment in its execution, working out only with the PS3. Further revision and a deal with another company will be required to bring the rest of the current generation consoles up to speed. In addition, other types of exercise tools won’t work, like ellipticals and rowing machines. A similar device that combines exercise and gaming is the STABALLIZER, but works only with smartphones and tablets. Omni-directional treadmills that work with VR headsets have been teased, but are a ways off. Until then, something like TreadGaming can fill that niche.

Input Video Games

3DRudder sets new course for game control from head to toe

Controlling interactive games by hand has long been the industry standard. Kinect and other motion-sensing systems have come along in recent years to enable players to control games by using their entire bodies. The makers of a small number of recent devices, however, are looking to take game control down another route, sticking with traditional hand-controlled keyboards and joysticks, but adding hardware that adds the user’s feet to the mix.

An example of the latter is 3DRudder. Created by created by a team of French designers, the device is a foot-controlled navigation and motion controller that works in conjunction with existing PC games. The controller can emulate keyboard keys or a joystick and is intended to be a companion device for virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift The 3DRudder is used while seated and users just rest their feet on it while playing a game. To move forward, the user tilts the device forward; to move to the right, the user tilts the device to the right, and so on. The pedal enables users to also move up or down.

The device supports a maximum user weight of 286 pounds. To use the controller, the user must have a computer featuring an AMD Phenom or Intel Core i3, I5 or i7 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a USB 2.0 port and an Internet connection. Backers can get a 3DRudder for $110 as part of an early bird special and the device will ship in May. Its makers are looking to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo.

The controller is similar in concept to the somewhat more primitive-looking, Kickstarter-funded Stinky the Gaming Footboard. But both devices seem targeted at only a niche segment of the gamer market. The lack of current support for the Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony game consoles only underscores that. The 3DRudder’s makers are targeting 3D professionals including designers as one core audience for its device, and it seems best-suited for that crowd–unless Facebook’s ultra-bullish prediction for virtual reality headsets comes true.

Television Video Games

G-Pack packs a gaming PC into a TV

As SteamOS makes the move for PC gaming into the living room possible, it also allows manufacturers the freedom to do unheard of things with gaming PCs. The living room follows more aesthetic guidelines than the boxy, gaudy features that many computers tend to obey, so those interested in making Steam Machines have an extra challenge to meet.

The G-Pack is an incredibly well-designed gaming PC designed to offer access to Steam and all the latest PC games without cluttering the living room. The thin box comes with a universal mount and is meant to be affixed to the back of flat screen displays no matter their size or how they’ve been mounted. In order to keep wires and cables easy to access, the G-Pack can even be stretched out to more comfortably hug wider displays.

More than just a pretty face, the standard G-Pack is as easy to upgrade as any PC and comes with some powerful hardware. With the latest Nvidia GeForce video cards, a minimum of 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a mixture of 1TB or larger hard drives and solid state drives, these machines are built to handle hardcore, graphically intense gaming. G-Pack creator PiixL is asking for $150,000 to bring G-Pack to production. Backers can get their game on for $1,645 for the base system.

The Steam Machines platform is already facing an identity crisis, trying to figure out what sets them apart from any decent gaming PC. A hardware design like G-Pack is a great response that keeps living rooms clean and sharp while opening the door to a whole platform of popular and fun games. Its smart aesthetic design will bring fun to the room without cluttering the walls and floors with cables.

Cell Phone Accessories Video Games

Game Cover lets smartphone game controls slide

gamecoverMobile games have become an unignorable aspect of the gaming landscape. Players have access to thousands of games wherever they are, but the one complaint most people will always have is control. Game Cover is a thin Android gamepad that slides out from the side the way keyboards slide out on certain phones. Only 8mm thick, Game Cover fits any phone and provides plenty of buttons for precision control. Game Cover also works as a remote for media or camera controls. The thinness is great for compatibility, but long-term use may cause hand strain without something larger to grip onto while playing. Gamers can power up their phones with a Game Cover for €25.

Input Video Games

Trinity Magnum lets you virtually bring a gun to a keyboard and mouse fight

The Premise. Since video games became a cultural phenomenon, gamers and developers alike have craved ways to become a part of the game. After 20 years of stalling and failing to launch, virtual reality headsets are on the brink of becoming the next big thing in gaming. Now it’s time to gear up with the weapons to survive the games.

The Product. The Trinity Magnum is a motion controller designed to handle and feel like a gun, the kind of which one would find in any first-person shooter. With one- or two-handed grips, a trigger, two joysticks, and four buttons, the Magnum is intuitively compatible with a number of titles regardless of genre. With a 9-axis IMU and optical tracking using a compatible camera, 1:1 motion is offered with no drift and maximum accuracy.

The Pitch. The launch video for Trinity Magnum is exactly what those who follow the gaming industry should expect. With hands-on footage from Game Developer’s Conference and testimonials from developers and users alike, it’s easy to get excited by what’s on display. The campaign itself goes into more detail regarding compatibility and functionality, as well as existing partnerships for the device. TrinityVR are shooting for a goal of $60,000 to assemble and test the prototype before finalizing and shipping the Magnum.

The Perks. A Magnum Developer Kit can be scored for $80 and will be out by the end of the year complete with SDK and the gun itself, though a compatible camera will need to be picked up elsewhere. Higher tiers simply offer multiple Trinity Magnums.

The Potential. As is pointed out in the pitch video, virtual reality gaming is all about immersion, and a VR headset is just half the battle. The technology behind the Trinity Magnum should make it an incredibly powerful tool in bringing games to life. Unfortunately, some of that realism might be lost through the current prototype design, which looks a bit like a Wii Zapper and a PlayStation Move controller had a baby as opposed to resembling a gun. The other issue this campaign might run into is focusing only on backers receiving development kits: which is great news for designers, but more than the average gamer needs. Add to this that an OpenCV camera is required, and there’s something that’s a really great piece of technology, but maybe a little too rough around the edges to really sell VR equipment.

Video Games

Voluntarily feel the pain of simulated combat with KOR-FX

kor-fxEver since the birth of video games, it has been the fantasy of many to be fully immersed in a virtual experience, seeing every sight and feeling every event. KOR-FX is an adjustable, flexible vest that offers haptic vibrating feedback to the player in response to sound within the game. It isn’t the first time that a vibrating gaming vest has hit the market, but KOR-FX believes its precision vibration will help gamers take the next step to being inside the game. They boast that players will “feel every bullet,” but on closer consideration that sounds like a bad, painful experience. Adrenaline junkies can throw caution to the wind and pick up a KOR-FX in September 2014 for $135.

Video Games Wearables

ANTVR seeks to make gamer attention undergo an Oculus drift

The Premise. Virtual reality headsets have been on the cusp of being widespread technology for decades, but now it seems like all of the pieces are finally here and this long-promised device will be in homes across the world in a matter of months. Everyone knows about the Oculus Rift, but one company wants to make people forget that name already.

The Product. ANTVR is an all-in-one virtual reality headset designed for movies and of course, video games. The product has a number of refinements to it that make it a step above the competition, from a fully wireless model to an aspherical lens designed to reduce distortion and eye strain. Packaged with ANTVR is a gun controller that is perfect for first-person shooters, providing unparalleled control, but for those that prefer other genres, ANTVR has them covered. The gun can disassemble down to a grip designed to function as a joystick or sword, and can itself unfold into a traditional-style controller that doubles as a racing wheel.

The Pitch. The ANTVR team is excited about VR and its passion for the medium shows in the countless features that it shows off in the launch video. With so many options and styles of use in mind, there’s a lot of ground to cover and the Kickstarter campaign page has a lot of information, all of it exciting. ANTVR needs $200,000 to bring their virtual dream into reality.

The Perks. The beta ANTVR setup, complete with the transformable bag/vest, controller, headset, and all the other necessary hookups and goodies will ship out in September of this year to those that pledge $300 or more. To take things a step farther and provide more freedom of movement, the wireless ANTVR is available for $500, while developers that want ANTVR early to have a game or app ready at launch can get their equipment in July for $1,500.

The Potential. VR headsets are primed to be the next big thing in media, not just in gaming. Anyone with a device ready to go around the same time that the Oculus Rift launches stands to achieve a great deal of attention. That being said, the ANTVR system looks like a fantastic alternative to the Oculus because of its built-in compatibility, application flexibility, wireless setup, and jaw-droppingly transformable controller. As an all-in-one system with no need to get anything else, the ANTVR looks like something that will be a must buy for anyone who wants the best immersive experience right out of the box.