This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about Halo, which got me into game journalism, Twitter’s new engineering hub in Toronto, news of a “real” lightsaber, smart thermometers helping to identify and control illness outbreaks, and the winners of the Canadian Game Awards.
Technological World for April 14: Twitter hiring in Toronto, Optimus Prime for real, smart thermometers in Canadian schools, Canadian Game Awards winners
This week, a real Transformer, smart thermometers helping with illness outbreaks in schools, and Canadian Game Awards winners. But first, Twitter is establishing an engineering hub in Toronto.
Twitter hiring for a new engineering hub in Toronto
In a round table with Canadian media last week, Twitter Canada revealed that the Toronto office is building out its cohort of software developers.
The new hub will support the company’s work in the “Discovery & Connection”, “Health”, and “Content” teams. Twitter Canada managing director Paul Burns said that Toronto was selected because of the “density and diversity” of talent in the area.
Some of the work being done in Canada will impact, at least peripherally, some of the new Twitter features, including the live audio conversations that are Spaces and the Topics that you’re now seeing on your timeline which help people identify subjects and issues that are interesting to them.
Upcoming Twitter features that were announced at Twitter’s 2021 Analyst Day include Communities, which will enable people to create groups, and Super Follows, which will give Twitter users the opportunity to charge followers.
Another new program from Twitter aims to connect businesses advertising on Twitter with influencers and creatives. The initiative is called Twitter Arthouse.
This Optimus Prime is a real Autobot that transforms by itself
A new design from robotics manufacturer Robosen promises to bring Optimus Prime to life.
The auto-converting Autobot is 19-inches tall when bipedal, and with the help of 27 servo motors and 60 microchips, it transforms into the semi-truck form.
The limited collector edition is priced at $700 USD and appears to already be sold out, but I’m sure units will show up for resale online.
Disney executive teases fandom with what may be a real lightsabre
Last Thursday, as he was wrapping up an online press event showcasing the new Avengers Campus that is part of Disneyland, Josh D’Amaro, who runs Disney parks, reportedly took a replica lightsaber out of a box.
I just attended a virtual press conference and Josh D’Amaro had a lightsaber and it worked like a LIGHTSABER not a "im carrying around this long stick" lightsaber like a FUCKING LIGHTSABER LIGHTSABER— carlye wisel hosts Very Amusing! (@carlyewisel) April 8, 2021
The internet is pointing out that the company filed a patent for a retractable internally-illuminated lightsaber back in 2018.
We’ll likely have to wait until May 4 to learn more and get video evidence.
Smart thermometers being trialed in Canadian schools to help with illness outbreaks
An initiative by Kinsa, a public health company, is distributing smart thermometers to Canadian families as a way of trying to track outbreaks of illness and control the spread of infection.
More than 100 elementary schools across Canada, in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario are part of the program.
The thermometer is used to take the temperature of kids who may be sick and links to a smartphone app, which prompts parents to identify any other symptoms of illness, and then provides advice on what families should do.
The thermometers can also be used whether a child is feeling ill or not, especially as often kids may have a fever with no other symptoms of being sick.
The information is also sent – anonymously – to the child’s school, so public health officials can see trends as they happen and make decisions to control outbreaks.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla wins big at Canadian Game Awards
The latest Assassin’s Creed game, with development led by Ubisoft’s studio in Montreal, picked up five awards on Friday, as the Canadian game development community came together to celebrate their own at the 2021 Canadian Game Awards.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla won for best narrative, best PC game, best console game, and game of the year, and actor Cecilie Stenspil won best performance for her turn as the female version of Eivor, the protagonist in the game.
Spiritfarer, created by indie studio Thunder Lotus Games (Montreal), won for best art direction, best soundtrack, and best indie game.
Hardspace: Shipbreaker, developed in Vancouver by Blackbird Interactive, picked up the award for best game design and was named by fans as their favourite of the year.
Montreal’s Motive Studios also won twice, for best audio design and best virtual reality or augmented reality game.
The Toronto shop for Certain Affinity, nabbed the award for studio of the year. Certain Affinity is an outsource developer known for work on franchises including Call of Duty and Halo.
The full list of winners includes categories for esports as well as personalities.
Technological World for April 7: LG exits smartphone biz, Alienware goes back to AMD, robot lawn mowers from Husqvarna, MLB The Show 21 goes cross-platform, Outriders pushes aggressive combat
This week, new gaming laptops from Dell, robot lawn mowers from Husqvarna, MLB The Show 21 debuts on Xbox, and Outriders pushes players into combat. But first, LG is exiting the smartphone business.
LG is getting out of the mobile phone business
LG revealed on Monday that it’s closing its mobile phone business.
In a release, the South Korean tech company said the move would enable it to “focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services.”
The company will honour all warranties and support Android upgrades through Android OS 12, and security and software updates for “at least” two years.
In 2013, LG was only behind Apple and Samsung, Reuters reported.
Dell’s updating its gaming laptops, including a new look Alienware
Today, Dell unveiled two new gaming laptops that are both built with AMD Ryzen processors and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards.
The Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 is a 15-inch delight that has more going on than the new paint job (although it’s a nice paint job). The new m15 sports a new cooling technology to keep the system running smooth, and it’s available with an optional mechanical keyboard.
Specific Canadian pricing is not yet known, but the laptop will likely start around $2,400 CAN. It becomes available here on May 4.
The Dell G15 Ryzen Edition is inspired by the Alienware cousin, but with a few changes to keep the price down a bit (expect it to be about $1,200 CAN). It also ships to Canada on May 4.
Dell’s also releasing four new gaming monitors with fast refresh rates, support for variable refresh rate (VRR) output, and ranging in size from 25- to 34-inches. The Dell 34 curved gaming monitor is a stunner.
Let a robot mow your lawn this summer
We’ve got robots vacuuming and mopping our floors, and now you can have a robot mow your lawn.
Power tools manufacturer Husqvarna has seven different models of residential automowers that are capable of covering more than an acre of turf.
And with the Husqvarna Connect app for iPhones, you can start your robot mower, adjust settings, and park it when it’s all done.
MLB The Show 21 will be playable on Xbox consoles for the first time ever
The singular baseball simulation is coming to Xbox for the first time.
MLB The Show 21, which releases on April 20, will be available on PS4 and PS5, as well as Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S as part of the Xbox Game Pass.
The franchise, which is developed by San Diego Studio, a Sony subsidiary, has been exclusive to the Playstation platform since the first games in 1997. San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr is the cover athlete this year.
MLB The Show 21 will also support cross-platform play and progress, so Playstation gamers can play against Xbox owners, and if you’ve got both systems you can pick up on either system at any time.
Outriders forces players into the combat they love
Outriders, a new third-person shooter published by Square Enix, has the makings of something interesting.
It was developed by People Can Fly and the game shows the influence of earlier titles including Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgment.
Outriders is a mission- and arena-based game, where your particular Outrider goes into a combat situation that is always against-all-odds. You can set the difficulty of the missions before you start and you’re rewarded with better rewards for taking greater risks.
You can play solo or in three-person squads that you can form with friends or with matchmaking. Outriders is available for PS4, PS5, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S and it supports cross-platform play.
There are four classes to choose from and you have control over the gender and appearance of your Outrider, and while outwardly the game looks like it’s designed for cover as is Gears of War, that’s not really how you’re meant to play.
Whether you’re playing a Devastator, a Pyromancer, a Technomancer, or a Trickster, your health regenerates when you damage and kill enemies. It’s a mechanic that forces players to be aggressive, which is exactly the kind of rambunctious chaos the People Can Fly want in its game.
Unfortunately, the surrounding elements of the game, from the excruciating long and pedantic cut scenes to the stuttering character movement to the banal characters and narrative, sink the experience.
Some may find the arena battles with friends to be fun for a time, but there’s not really enough in Outriders to make it last.
The Shift, March 31: #CDProjektRed-Vancouver, #LastOfUs-Calgary, #Dyson, #Purifier, #Formaldehyde, #DavidByrne, #Steam, #RemotePlayTogether
This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about the new Dyson Purifier Hot+Cool Formaldehyde, David Byrne’s Social Distance Dance Club, news that Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red is acquiring a studio in Vancouver, and The Last of Us television series is filming in Calgary. Plus, Steam’s Remote Play Together feature.