Friday Tech Roundup (31 May 2013): Xbox One unconfirmed hyperbole edition

Xbox One

By on May 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

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 mirror-image Internet data transfers, Motorola’s prototype physical augmentations, and a whole bunch of Xbox One heehawing.

This week in Xbox One: Scandals, rumours, unverifiable sources, and a whole lot of hyperbole

Xbox One will be region locked, “Similar to the movie and music industry, games must meet country-specific regulatory guidelines before they are cleared for sale,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with our partners to follow these guidelines with Xbox One.” It is unclear whether or not the PS4 will be region locked.

The Federal Data Protection Commissioner in Germany Peter Schaar has publically stated that he personally considers the Xbox One a “monitoring device,” which “continuously records all sorts of personal information…[including] reaction rates, my learning or emotional states. They are then processed on an external server, and possible even passed on to third parties. Whether they will ever be deleted, the person can not influence.” While it is hoped that this is merely a hyperbolic overreaction, there is currently very little factual information available. (Translation provided by Google Translate)

Microsoft have added 30,000 servers to Xbox Live, which will be used to improve graphical and gameplay performance for Xbox One titles. GPU- and CPU-heavy tasks that aren’t bound by latency (such as cloth or water rendering) can be sent off to the server farm, pre-calculated, and then applied to the scene by the console. According to GM of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms at Microsoft, Matt Booty, the Xbox One server cloud will provide three virtual devices for “every Xbox One available in your living room.” Developers will need to manage how their titles make use of this remote grunt. This means that games may look better when the console is online, though Booty notes that if the Internet drops out mid-session, “the game is going to have to intelligently handle that.”

TweakTown has posted a specs comparison between the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and just for kicks, the Xbox 360. It seems that the PS4 has the lead when it comes to pure theoretical performance, but if the mere fact of the current console generation’s continued performance—eight years after its inception—is anything to go by, what really matters is the dedication to each platform shown by the developers. The Xbox 360 is far less capable than the PS3 on paper, and yet still performs admirably despite its aged and inferior interior.

Microsoft may well get a little more than a taste of pre-owned Xbox One game sales. According to a report over at MCV, retailers that wish to sell pre-owned Xbox One games will need to agree to certain terms and conditions, and hand over almost the entire trade-in price to Microsoft. Unconfirmed reports from claim that retailers will get to keep less than 10% of the trade-in price, which is apparently £35. It should be noted that since this report was published, Microsoft’s Major Nelson has officially, albeit unsatisfyingly responded, “The ability to trade in and resell games is important to gamers and to Xbox. Xbox One is designed to support the trade in and resale of games. Reports about our policies for trade in and resale are inaccurate and incomplete. We will disclose more information in the near future.”

Microsoft have filed for a patent to use Kinect 2 to enable ‘visual DRM’, or “content distribution regulation by viewing user.” After reports from unverified “industry sources,” Microsoft have officially responded, “Microsoft regularly applies for and receives patents as part of its business practice; not all patents applied for or received will be incorporated into a Microsoft product.”

Speaking of patents, Microsoft have also filed for a patent covering the ability to mete out sweet, sweet achievements and Gamerscore points for watching television.

(Thanks Stefan!)

Motorola show off prototype physical augmentations at D11

Motorola have developed two “wearable” technologies which may stretch the definition of the term, somewhat. The closest product to the definition is a prototype electronic tattoo which includes “an antenna and a couple of circuits,” that the Google-owned electronics manufacturer hopes to use as a proximity-based authenticator. Former DARPA head, and now SVP for advanced technology and projects at Motorola, Regina Dugan, was sporting the tattoo on her arm during her presentation at the D11 conference. The second, and slightly crazier prototype is a pill that includes a chip which, when swallowed, is powered by your stomach acid and transmits an 18-bit signal, effectively turning your entire person into an “authentication token.” Dugan called the technology “vitamin authentication.” According to Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, the pill has been approved by the FDA.

Noise-cancelling the Internet could be the key to higher speeds and greater reliability

Noise-cancelling headphones work by using a microphone to capture external low-frequency sound waves, such as the low rumble of a plane’s engines, and playing those sound waves exactly as they’re heard through the headphones. The trick is in inverting the noise to its phase conjugate, putting the sound waves 180 degrees out of phase with the intruding waves, thus effectively cancelling out the noise altogether. Researchers have discovered that a similar method could be used to reduce noise in fibre optic communications, thus increasing the speed of those transmissions, and making them more reliable. Lead researcher Xiang Liu and his associates found that sending original data along with its phase conjugate made filtering out noise a simple matter, without having to add expensive and complicated monitoring systems to the existing Internet infrastructure. The team was able to reliably send data at 400Gbps over a distance of 12,800 kilometres. The reduction in errors increases bandwidth by reducing the need to resent failed packets.

Google rolling out new Gmail Inbox, introduces tabs

Before tabbed browsing was a thing, the Internet was a much darker place. Whether you were a casual or advanced user, the introduction of tabs to our web browsing experience changed it for the better. Well, now Google hope to do the same thing to Gmail with the new Gmail Inbox. The new Gmail Inbox utilises five tabs which essentially ‘pre-sort’ your email into their respective categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, and Updates. Users can drag and drop messages into tabs to move them around, and manually set specific senders to always appear in a certain tab. Starred messages from any tab will also appear in the Primary tab. Users can choose which of the tabs they wish to use with their inbox, or opt to turn them all off and continue unabated. The new paradigm is set to gradually roll out to desktop, Gmail for Android 4.0+, and Gmail for iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks, as is Google’s wont for the release of new features.

27 comments (Leave your own)

In other words, there is still little to no concrete information on the Xbox One. Both Sony and Microsoft have managed to announce and “reveal” their new consoles without really revealing anything. But the hype articles and predictions of doom will continue.


Seriously, will anyone out there be insane enough to buy a device which even theoretically:

1. “might” constantly spy on you using a camera and microphone IN YOUR ****ING HOUSE to send data to some unspecified location for some unspecified purpose

2. “might” prevent you from trading, loaning or selling games

3. “might” use a camera to allow corporate control over what you can look at (seriously, what you can ****ING LOOK AT) in your own living room

As someone who cares about privacy issues I despair that there will be people stupid enough to actually give a company money in exchange for these ‘features’.


Also today, Nvidia GTX 770 launch

The GTX 770 is reportedly 10% faster than a GTX 680, its also due to retail at the $400 price point. GTX 600 series to go end of life as a result.

Also rumor is that Microsoft has spent ~$1bn to ensure 15 exclusive titles within the first year of the XBOX ONE. Dev’s Remedy and Rare has stepped forward with titles, here hoping for Quantic Break and perhaps a reboot of Killer Instinct…

Also Asus has revealed its first 4k monitor the PQ321. Featuring a 31.5″ screen and a resolution of 3840×2160



caitsith01: 1. “might” constantly spy on you using a camera and microphone IN YOUR ****ING HOUSE to send data to some unspecified location for some unspecified purpose

I worry about … “intimate” moments somehow ending up on the internet honestly, every one has had their moment with the other half on the couch … directly infront of the T.V.

your Xbox gets hacked and that ends up on the internet … that could be VERY bad.

I worry more about the security of the device as much as I worry about its “features”


we know it plays tv….

it “might” play games


spooler: I worry about … “intimate” moments somehow ending up on the internet honestly, every one has had their moment with the other half on the couch … directly infront of the T.V.

your Xbox gets hacked and that ends up on the internet … that could be VERY bad.

I worry more about the security of the device as much as I worry about its “features”

Hacking is a worry, but I’m more concerned with Microsoft and its “partners”. Maybe they’d like to watch me and my family watching TV and playing games to gather “market data”. Maybe they’ll check out what other products we have in our house, or discuss, and sell that info.

And of course law enforcement will be only too happy to get warrants to use these things to spy on people.

I just find it bewildering that anyone would willingly install an electronic surveillance system in their home which is 100% under the control of someone else.



The ignorant / uninformed will likely flock to it, not to mention the marketing and positive spin they put on it. “The Xbox One sees what you like, and brings your attention to similar products! Simply can’t live without your daily dose of Linkin Park? Xbox One will be sure to inform you of all albums / tour dates as they become available!”. Some how I don’t foresee the packaging coming with “The Xbox One monitors EVERYTHING that you or your family does in front of the system, sends the information off to undisclosed data banks, and is released to third parties to bring you advertising”.

While you have more mature and rational individuals that are likely to steer away, you’ll still have the reckless individuals that will downplay the issue, or straight up not care. A 14 year old kid could scream murder until he gets one thinking only about himself, then keeps it in the lounge where his parents and 3 other siblings spend a lot of time and are exposed to big brother’s eye. I don’t see privacy being an issue for that demographic, not to mention thanks to facebook (and others), everyone seems to downplay and completely ignore the importance of privacy.


That tattoo and pill stuff is giving me the creeps. I don’t like where this is headed?



Confirmed source please, Or are you just speculating?


this new tech, and im not being ironic or sarcastic, is quite scary. If i have to buy a new console… and thats “IF”, itll be a PS4 at this rate. and that new xbox controller looked awesome too… think ill buy one for the pc.



Actually yes, that got to me more than the XBone news tbh. That’s real Big Brother stuff right there.



Confirmed source please, Or are you just speculating?

You can do your own googling – combination of the things they’ve said to date (e.g. “it will always be listening”) and their failure/refusal to provide specifics is sinister enough.


this new tech, and im not being ironic or sarcastic, is quite scary. If i have to buy a new console… and thats “IF”, itll be a PS4 at this rate. and that new xbox controller looked awesome too… think ill buy one for the pc.

Ditto. I like my PS3 as a media centre as it is, so at the moment the PS4 is hopefully a better version of that, plus allegedly faster than the xbone, plus no sinister spying capabilities that we’re aware of so far, plus the primary focus is on games.


Sorry about the Xbox ambush guys, just wanted to give GON the summary of the Xbone reveal (and how horrid it has been)!


The PS4 is apparently already the king of the next gen consoles. Microsoft have practically handed them the crown.


Here’s to a future with Organic Circuitry Tattoos!


The PS4 is apparently already the king of the next gen consoles. Microsoft have practically handed them the crown.

Don’t worry, Sony will price it at $3000, make it impossible to program, install stupid DRM but no useful codecs, and then get hacked 19 times in order to ensure failure.


More news on Win 8.1. Microsoft listening to its customers, except they ignore people asking for an optional Start menu.

Not only will Windows 8.1 respond to customer feedback, but it will add new features and functionality that advance the touch experience and mobile computing’s potential. Windows 8.1 will deliver improvements and enhancements in key areas like personalization, search, the built-in apps, Windows Store experience, and cloud connectivity.

Windows 8.1 offers more colors and backgrounds for the Start screen – including ones with motion.

We will be improving all our built in apps that come with Windows 8 for Windows 8.1.

In Windows 8.1 your files can be saved directly to SkyDrive, so you can always have your files with you.

Windows 8 has been a bold, necessary move towards mobility for the PC industry – pushing ourselves and our industry ahead with a touch-first approach that is redefining the PC as we know it, while offering the best of all worlds across any device at any time.


here’s my worry even if it doesn’t spy on you at launch they can add it in down the line with updates to the console.
I don’t trust microsoft enough to give them that power in my living room



Here’s the thing: law enforcement in which country? Where would the data collected be going to? Would M$ give the info to US authorities like the MPAA, and would they then be audacious enough to send people in Australia things like lawsuits for perceived or real infringements? There’s the issue of sovereignty here too, unless I’m over-reacting, and that is possible.
There’s also the chance that foreign agencies could tap into this Kinect and use it to monitor people…you know, illegally. All in all, how the hell is this possible video-stalking thing a selling point?

Just to be clear, I’m sort of freaking out about not just who is collecting this data, (Microsoft), but where the data is stored, and who has access to it. Also the possibility of video devices (the Kinect) being compromised by all sorts of interesting people. Really scary.

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