Plus the omni-directional treadmill that combines with the Oculus Rift.
By Jason Imms on April 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is a weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of reality TV on Mars, a 360 degree treadmill, and a mech for kids.
Fitness comes at a price – Virtuix Omni Treadmill: the immersive way to get fit while gaming
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with the sedentary lifestyle that gaming more often than not produces in its subscribers. A number of games and peripherals have been released to try to combat this, but they come with their own problems. Some of them just aren’t much fun, some require a level of full-body dexterity that many players find intimidating, and a lot of them try to map completely extraneous body movements to inputs that are much more suited to buttons on a mouse, keyboard, or controller. These apparent concessions to movement-based controls take us out of the game, and ultimately lead us to prefer our normal, relatively lazy control methods. Well, Virtuix, a company that specialises in omni-directional treadmills, has come up with a method that they hope will finally pair immersion with physical control inputs.
By using their Virtuix Omni treadmill in conjunction with an Oculus Rift and a hand-held weapon-like controller, they believe that players can fully immerse themselves into first-person shooters, without the need for incredibly complicated and expensive display methods. The Verge reports that the Omni treadmill uses a slick, sloped surface that the user slides down as they step rather than more traditional rollers or belts, and that the device also supports jumping. Virtuix are planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign soon, and are aiming for a price of $400-$600 USD.
Hard disk price-per-gigabyte has finally returned to pre-Thailand flood levels
After floods in 2011 caused hard disk manufacturers to slow production and increase prices in order to stay afloat (ahem), it was predicted that prices wouldn’t return to pre-flood per-gigabyte levels until 2014.
Well, a detailed report over at ExtremeTech shows that not only have hard disk prices per-gigabyte already declined and stabilised, but the same is almost true for SSD prices as well. The report also notes that the price-per-gigabyte sweet spot for SSD capacity has shifted from 64GB to the far more tenable 256GB, and that shipments of 512GB+ SSDs have almost doubled since September. We can infer from this that manufacturers are finally “adding capacity and driving up storage volume after a prolonged price decrease,” which is only good news for those looking to finally, affordably upgrade to an SSD after putting up with the sluggishness involved in using HDDs for primary storage.
The Cyclops: the pilotable mech to help your children crush their enemies
Almost a year after Suidobashi Heavy Industries announced their $1.35 million Kuratas mech, an unlikely competitor, food processing machinery manufacturer Sakakibara Kikai, has released a mobile, pilotable faux-death machine designed for kids! The Cyclops is a battery-powered mech, with two moveable arms, a steel claw, and a drill-like spinning cone, clearly designed to make make-believe mincemeat out of kindergarten nemeses.
It’s difficult to understand why a parent would want to spend $20,000 on a kid’s toy that could cause damage severe enough to warrant nasty phone calls from friends’ parents, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is the coolest thing in the world.
Also produced by Sakakibara Kikai, the LANDWALKER.
Reality television meets space travel – Mars One to send human settlers to Mars
Ever wanted to just get away? Hop a midnight train to anywhere? How does a one-way ticket to Mars strike you? Mars One is a private space project which plans to send a group of intrepid humans to live out the rest of their natural lives on the surface of Mars by the year 2023. The Mars One project was put together by Bas Lansdorp, an entrepreneur from the Netherlands, who earnestly believes that the goal of human settlement of Mars is not only possible, but is possible using technology that already exists today. It seems that at least some portion of the project is centred around reality television, which will be used to partially fund the mission. “This is not ‘Big Brother Goes to Mars.’
It’s important this is treated as a very serious project,” Lansdorp told the New York Times in March. “Mars One will enable people to watch and be involved… the stories we tell around it will make it financially possible,” he said. The tentative schedule for the project would see supplies reaching Mars in 2016, and settlers in 2023. A second group of settlers would be due to arrive in 2025.
Your money is at your fingertips: Biometric payments via fingerprint
One of the primary problems that alternative payment systems like near field scanning or Commonwealth Bank’s Kaching system, is that in order for them to become a widely accepted method of payment, they require enough of their customers to have access to phones with near field chips in them, or one of those big fat and expensive Kaching iCarte iPhone cases. Barcelona-based commerce company Paytouch have developed a system to make fast purchasing ubiquitous with their fingerprint-based biometric payment terminal.
Users simply tie their credit card details to their fingerprints via a Paytouch account, and benefits are obvious: consumers no longer need to carry around cards that can be lost or stolen, businesses encourage impulse buying by reducing the time necessary in processing transactions, and Paytouch receive a commission for each purchase made via their system. Making biometrics an option for two-factor authentication is a really great idea, as long as fingerprints are the only ID needed to use the system. At some stage, someone will find a way to defeat the system’s security. When a credit card is compromised, you cancel it and order another. Replacing fingers isn’t quite as simple a task. Paytouch plan to expand their service further throughout Europe and into the US within the next year or so.
Header image courtesy The Verge.