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Microsoft finally kills off the Kinect, but the tech will live on in other devices

Comments are closed Microsoft finally kills off the Kinect, but the tech will live on in other devices Comments are closed

Microsoft’s Kinect had a rapid ascent and slow, sputtering demise — it was an inelegant end, as the company couldn’t find a permanent spot for the once revolutionary accessory. Now Microsoft is finally ready to put the final nail in that coffin.

Kinect creator Alex Kipman and Xbox GM Matthew Lapsen told Fast Co. that the company is finally end-of-lifing the peripheral, after a few years of taking the pedal off the gas. We’ve since  confirmed the move with Microsoft.

It’s not for lack of trying, of course. After a debuting the 3D camera for the Xbox 360, the company started shipping the Kinect with its new Xbox One — but ultimately backed down making it mandatory part of the purchase. Ultimately, gamers seemed to prefer a more traditional game pad experience. As Nintendo can tell you, these sorts of activity-based gaming trends tend to regress back to the mean after a while.

Of course, that’s not to say the Kinect wasn’t a rousing success in its time. The device was truly revolutionary when it debuted in 2010, and all told, the company managed to move around 35 million units. The product’s depth sensing and voice recognition ushered in a new era of interactive gaming, going well beyond what Nintendo had managed with its Wiimotes, four years prior.

The power of the Kinect also extended well beyond the console. It was a relatively cheap and accessible and became a favorite of the DIY community, spawning a sub-genre of Kinect hacks. For a while, the things were popping up in the most unexpected places. Over the years I’ve visited a number of universities that have used them for everything from 3D scanning to robotic vision. In 2012, I took a trip the set of Laika’s stop motion film, ParaNorman, where one was being used for production.

So, pour one out for the bygone peripheral, but don’t mourn it too much. The Kinect was just too good to kill off completely. Depth sensing has made its way onto a number of devices in the meantime, from Project Tango to the iPhone X, and Microsoft is also utilizing the tech it built for current and future products.

“Manufacturing for Kinect for Xbox One has ended but it is not the end of the journey for the technology,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Kinect continues to delight tens of millions of Xbox owners and Kinect innovations live on in Xbox One, Windows 10, Cortana, Windows Holographic and future technologies.”

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Watch brand Nomos thinks only men are ‘at work’

Comments are closed Watch brand Nomos thinks only men are ‘at work’ Comments are closed

As TechCrunch’s resident watch lover I enjoy a view on markets outside of the typical consumer electronics dreck. I get to see beautiful pieces hand-built by true artisans, historical pieces that pay homage to past glory, and sexist watch companies who suggest, in no uncertain terms, that dudes are the only ones who do any work.

Bear with me.

A reader of my other blog, WristWatchReview, pointed me to a storm brewing in the watch world regarding German brand Nomos. The storm is focused on their At Work series. Described by a spokesperson as “inspired in part by repeated requests from male customers to product larger…watches” the online advertising is primarily focused on men and the good they do as engineers, scientists and programmers. It makes no mention of women at work, even though the watches are essentially unisex discs and squares of brushed metal.

The spokesperson went on to note that certain sizes do tend to be worn by certain genders and cited their 33mm models as an all-girl favorite. The company said that there was no reason a woman couldn’t wear a piece from the At Work series, although they make no mention of this in their advertising.

Who wears the At Work series? There’s Michael Martin, 33, of Code and Theory! There’s Eric Kuhn, a social media marketer who “swears by more old fashion [sic] business practices: coffee, phone calls, and handshakes.” These lads love watches and they seem very capable. However, there are plenty of women who wear watches and are capable and, I would presume, work at Code and Theory and are social media marketers. Why not throw them a Nomos spotlight?

In short, wrote one complainer, “NOMOS marketing is reinforcing outdated harmful gender stereotypes.”

The real problem is that watches, for the most part, are unisex and the industry has discovered that even smaller models sell well to both men and women. The days of pie-plate-sized Panerais are coming to an end and, even if they weren’t, many women prefer a big watch. The Omega Speedmaster, for example, is popular for both sexes and the Rolex Submariner has become a piece beloved by both male and female vacationers. Even Apple offers an egalitarian vision of male skin divers and female runs, living in horological harmony.

As for watch websites it’s a mixed bag. Rolex doesn’t mention gender, just size. Tudor, a lower cost cousin to Rolex, doesn’t mention gender and has embraced Lady Gaga as a brand ambassador. Swatch and Tag Heuer also avoid binary genders.

Other companies – Tissot, Omega, and Cartier – offer men and women’s watches and a few offer “women-only” watches like the Mido Romantique but none of them quite drive the point of male vs. female like Nomos.

Nomos is a nerd darling these days with their minimalist designs and affordable (for the watch world) pricing. What Nomos can’t afford to do is alienate an entire segment of the population by suggesting only men are “at work.”

I don’t envy watchmakers. They have to straddle multiple cultural rifts, from planning global advertising campaigns that will go over as well in Dubai as in San Francisco to building and selling analog tech in a digital world. But, as I’ve said before, the industry shoots itself in the foot, if not the gut, on a weekly basis. An insularity that stems from disconnection from the wider world and a focus on fashion creates a frustrating amalgam of ham-handedness and ignorance that makes missteps look even more ridiculous. It’s absolutely Nomos’ right to advertise their watches any way they want. It is not, however, in their best interest.

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Apple lowers Face ID specifications to ramp up iPhone X production, report says

Comments are closed Apple lowers Face ID specifications to ramp up iPhone X production, report says Comments are closed

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple is changing its strategy when it comes to manufacturing the Face ID sensor in the upcoming iPhone X. Requirements have been lowered so that suppliers can produce those sensors much more quickly.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo shared a concerning report a few days ago. According to him, Apple won’t be able to produce enough iPhone X units for first weekend sales alone. Apple should have around 2 to 3 million units on launch day. The company could suffer from chronicle shortages over multiple months.

The iPhone X packs many cutting-edge components and producing tens of millions of those components have been hard. One of them is the dot projector in the Face ID sensor. This component projects a network of infrared dots to create a 3D map of your face based on the reflection of those dots. It’s essentially like a Kinect in a phone.

Apple usually sets some strict rules when it comes to quality assurance. Components that don’t meet the specifications can’t be used in a device. And suppliers have to rigorously test all parts.

And yet, the company might have been too aggressive when it comes to the iPhone X release plan. Factories could have used more time to plan and improve their production facilities in order to ramp up production.

Apple now requires less testing of the completed modules. It means that some modules will be as good, but some modules might not be as accurate. But it also means that production should be faster.

There’s a one in 50,000 chance that someone else can unlock an iPhone with a Touch ID sensor. By switching to face recognition, Apple originally claimed it would be more secure — the chances of someone else unlocking your phone should have been one in a million with Face ID. It’s unclear if today’s change is going to affect this number.

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