Technology Video Games

The PGS portable gaming system goes way beyond catching Pokemon

Hardcore PC gamers are in a tough spot. They can either choose to stay indoors and play the most popular AAA titles on powerful, custom-built rigs designed to bring for the very best performance, or relegate themselves to handhelds and tablets that offer comparatively sub-par gaming experiences. For the PC master race, that’s not much of an option.

Despite its uninspired name, the team behind the PGS — short for Portable Gaming System — is looking give PC gamers an actual choice when it comes to moving and gaming. Luckily, it sports a sleek, 1.4cm thick design that looks like a PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS had a child — a scarily intelligent, capable child. The dual-screen, foldable device comes in two variants. The PGS Hardcore has a QHD IPS 2560×1440 display, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Both use the Intel Atom Z8750 designed for high-performance portable devices, allowing both to run games like Dark Souls II and Batman: Arkham City on medium settings, satisfying the most ardent gamer’s urges to take on that next boss no matter where they may be.

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 Virtual Reality

You want to sit while you navigate virtual reality, Ergo, VRGO

editors-choiceMovement is the biggest obstacle yet to be solved for true virtual reality experiences. While there are locomotion setups on the market that attempt to address the issue, not many people have the money nor the space to install and maintain them as they’re usually larger.

Inventor Joe Ryan’s VRGO is a VR controller in the form of a self-righting, egg-shaped seat. Made of aircraft composite for strength and weighing at only four kilograms, the wireless motion controller seat connects with the touch of a button using Bluetooth to PCs, Macs and headsets like Oculus Rift to facilitate more involved VR experiences.

Connected Objects Kids/Babies Video Games

Playbrush uses interactive gaming to get kids to brush their teeth

Many parents with small kids know how hard it can be to convince some children to brush their teeth regularly, and to do it well.

Playbrush is a device that attaches to the end of any conventional toothbrush, transforming the brush into an interactive game controller that can be used in conjunction with iOS (and later Android) mobile devices. When the user starts the app on their smartphone or tablet, the gadget will automatically connect to it via Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart) technology. Playbrush costs $72 and will ship in December. Its maker is hoping to raise $51,887 by May 9.

Playbursh is a device with potential, especially for parents of young kids who either try and avoid brushing altogether or race through the process in just a few seconds. Turning brushing into a fun activity might very well be the trick to get at least some of them to change their ways. That said, it’s impossible to tell from the Kickstarter campaign video just how strong the initial game itself is. If it’s just one weak repetitive game, those kids may very well get bored after a week or two and parents will be left with the same problem they started with. To address this potential problem, the device’s maker plans to add multiple worlds, levels and characters.


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.

Input Video Games

Bliss-Box 4-Play could create bliss for gamers

The ability to use a controller from any old videogame console to play a game on a computer is something quite a few gamers would undoubtedly enjoy. Being able to achieve that with multiple controllers without having to buy a USB adapter for each and every console port would be equally helpful.

Solving the problem is exactly what the Bliss-Box 4 Play achieves. The device is a universal console-to-USB controller adapter with four ports, thereby allowing up to four players to play at the same time with almost any controller of their choosing. Bliss-Box 4 Play uses low cost adapter cables that allow a variety of console controllers to plug into the 4-Play’s universal controller port. The product allows most videogame controllers to be used on any computer and does not require the installation of software drivers. A planned retail SKU is expected to cost $79.99 and is slated to ship in November. Its maker is hoping to raise $75,000 by May 4.

The Bliss-Box 4 Play adapter will likely appeal to a niche segment of gamers, though it remains to be seen how big that segment actually is. The device seems uniquely designed for console and computer gamers, or at the very least, gamers who used to love console games and now prefer to play on a computer.


Video Games

ZRRO Android console supersizes your favorite mobile games on your HDTV

Google’s Android platform is an absolute powerhouse, especially when it comes to gaming. With over one million games to choose from, a lack of choice is never a problem. Even so, the small screen sizes of both smartphones and tablets can’t compete with the gaming experience offered by a full sized HDTV.

patent-claimedThe ZRRO Android 4.4-based gaming console connects to any television and incorporates a proprietary, capacitive touch enabled controller capable of directly translating finger positioning onto the big screen. The controller’s zTouch technology detects fingers from up to 1.2 inches away from the screen, reflecting that positioning with circular cursors on the television itself to better guide users. This eliminates the problem of using a smartphone as a controller and inevitably having the user’s eyes glued to the wrong screen.

ZRRO is powerful machine, sporting a quad core processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and 16GB of storage that can run the full gamut of Android apps with ease. Having access to the entirety of the Android app store from the outset makes it a far superior product to something like the Ouya, even if that access comes at a premium. Android enthusiasts looking to take their mobile gaming up a notich will certainly find ZRRO a compelling product. The $199 ZRRO is expected to ship in September of 2015 provided its campaign reaches its $200,000 goal by March 31, 2015.



Video Games

Hybrid Play brings digital games into the real world

One of the biggest critiques of video games is that they doesn’t promote enough physical and social activity, leading many to shun the medium entirely without considering their many positive benefits. The inventors behind Hybrid Play have a love for both video games and outdoor physical activity, leading them to create a product that bridges both worlds.

Hybrid Play comes in the form of a Bluetooth-equipped sensor that clamps onto any sort of rotational or static playground element, like swings or slides. Once attached, with the help on the onboard accelerometer, that element can be used as input for a game on a smartphone connected nearby. This leads to a group of children shouting instructions to another group of children on a slide or wherever else to successfully control the game, encouraging activity, verbal communication, and teamwork. And if the two exclusive games for Hybrid Play get stale, the iOS/Android companion app allows users access to the rest of the both exclusive and classic games like Pac-Man for the platform, along with the ability to create your very own. Hopefully, all this together will actually keep a child’s notoriously fickle attention span occupied over the long run.

Hybrid Play is not only about bridging this divide, but also teaching as well. Gamesonomy support means that users without any programming knowledge will be able to create their own games for use with Hybrid Play, and one of the campaign’s stretch goals includes Scratch Jr. integration, an introductory language that teaches five to seven year olds how to code. The campaign is looking to raise $140,0000 by November 28th, 2014. A Hybrid Play kit is going for $124 with an April 2015 delivery window.

Cell Phone Accessories Video Games

GenX Cardtroller flattens the controller, possibly mobile game opponents

Smartphones are packed with enough power to tackle a ton of applications or functions, including games. For those that grew up on the classics, however, gaming just doesn’t feel right without a controller to hold on to.

There have been plenty of peripherals released for phones that better simulate the controller-holding console game experience, but the major issue with them is that they require owners to carry one more thing around with them, or increase the size of their phone with a bulky case. Genx Cardtroller is a controller the size of a credit card that gamers can use to play on their phones without carrying around extra weight. When the power switch is slid into the on position, retractable shoulder buttons emerge from the top of the Genx, providing a place for fingers to rest and more ways to enjoy the action.

Genx also has internal memory inside, which the phone will treat as an external storage device for games, emulators, or save files. The Genx charges through micro-USB and can run wirelessly for two hours on a single charge. Inventor Joseph Nathan Cohorst is asking backers to pitch in $30,000 of funding for Genx. Backers can press start on this product for $35 in January 2015.

One of the issues that the campaign video brings up is that not being able to feel the buttons is a big part of why touch screen controls fail for many gamers. At the same time, the compact design of Genx means that the surface appears either flat or near flat, not addressing this problem. It’s a neat little accessory, especially when it comes to size, but ask anyone who’s played with a tiny controller, and they’ll tell you all about the hand cramps.


Connected Objects Tech Accessories

EzeeCube stacks up to rule the digital living room

The Premise. In the beginning, there was the TV, and it was good. Add to that computers, smartphones, game consoles, DVD and Blu-ray players, and suddenly there’s a giant stack of devices all trying to work with each other. Now, one product is ready to network, share files between devices, and do everything that a living room needs in a small, sleek, modular device.

The Product. EzeeCube is an unassuming media sharing center that has much larger aspirations. By installing the device’s app on a phone, with a simple tap of the screen, all of the photos, music, and video files from phones and tablets can be stored on its 1TB hard drive and accessed on any mobile device or TV. If that’s not enough storage for some people, EzeeCube has expansions that can be stacked on top of it to linkup more power, functions, or storage space.

The Pitch. EzeeCube’s promotional video is a little understated, but the concept enough is all that needs to be communicated. When viewers see the small chassis of the device combined with the power that it provides and can be supplemented with, it’s easy to start planning a garage sale for all the devices that can be disconnected from the TV. EzeeCube needs $75,000 to get through the mass production process and enhance local cloud-based file sharing everywhere.

The Perks. Being a modular device, EzeeCube offers a lot of add-ons at various tiers. The base EzeeCube is available for $199 and should be available in time for thanksgiving. EzeeTuner allows for live TV recording and playback for $39, EzeeGame supports popular 8-bit and 16-bit games for $49, and EzeePlay plays and rips Blu-ray, DVD, and music CDs for $99. Each of these products will launch between October 2014 and April 2015. The stackable EzeeDisk 2Tb expansion is $149, and backers can also add a stronger processor and more RAM for $99.

The Potential. EzeeCube on its own doesn’t do much more than other products on the market save for the simple, one-touch syncing of files between devices. Once the modular components start coming out, the wireless stacking and various functions of the devices can turn EzeeCube into a replacement for pretty much the entire living room home entertainment system. This is the all-in-one device that’s been promised for decades, and now’s the time to get one before the retail price makes it more of a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.