Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if you're in the electronics business it also makes good business sense.
While the Xbox 360 may be the favourite console of hardcore gamers, it still trails the Nintendo Wii by almost 20 million units worldwide. Casual games are also immensely popular these days, even among hardcore gamers that occasionally look for something else besides a first person shooter to entertain themselves.
Rather than be seen copying the Wii, Xbox 360 will jump on the motion control bandwagon with the help of a third party company called Performance Designed Products. They recently showed off their Gametrak Freedom motion controller. It's similar in design to the Wii-mote controller, but with far more precision to pitch, roll and yaw, and something called ultrasonic 3D positioning that allows accurate 1:1 motions.
Apparently the new controller will hit stores this fall, with at least one game from the manufacturer called Squeeballs. Other developers are also reportedly eager to use the technology, developing games that are compatible with the controller.
It's believed the company will release a similar controller for the PS3 in 2010, which will be the second motion control attempt for Sony after their Sixaxis controllers flopped because of the lack of rumble and poor utilization in games. One game that was supposed to showcase the awesome potential of the Sixaxis, the flying dragon epic Lair, was universally panned.
Now at least the industry is in agreement that the Wii-mote - which is getting 1:1 motion through a MotionPlus attachment due out this year - is the best design scheme for motion control.
There is no mention of a "Nun-chuk" add-on for the Gametrak Freedom, which adds crucial movement capability to the Wii Mote, but it's apparently part of the package. You can't move and target without it.
What will be interesting to see is how much choice the consumer will have when it comes to Games, and what control scheme is superior if you can use either controller for online play.
The Volt gets closer
General Motors is preparing to debut its first prototypes of the Volt electric car by June, and have demo vehicles in showrooms by the end of 2009. Sales will begin in late 2010, slightly earlier than expected.
The new vehicle is being hailed as a saviour of the environment, as well as the U.S. auto industry.
While hybrids have been on the road for about five years now, and are in their third generation - the new Honda Insight will reportedly sell for under $20,000 - the electric car concept has stalled since GM recalled their first electric car, the EV1, which was introduced in 2006. The conspiracy theory put forward in the film, Who Killed the Electric Car? was that the Bush government and oil industry killed the electric cars, which were introduced after California imposed stricter tailpipe regulations. GM is also rumoured to have released the car in all its ugliness to prove that there wasn't any demand for the vehicles, but weren't prepared for how popular they would become. For whatever reason, GM took back all the EV1's - which were leased instead of sold - and crushed them into cubes.
Enter the Chevy Volt, which is unique in that all the power going to the wheels comes from the battery banks, which can be charged overnight by plugging your vehicle into a wall socket, or charged while driving by an efficient gas powered generator.
Up to 80 Volt prototypes could be on the road by the fall, and with GM sponsoring the 2010 Games it's a good bet that one or more of the vehicles will show up at Olympic venues, shortly before GM starts taking pre-orders.
More information on the Volt is at www.gm-volt.com.
Conficker a dud, sort of
Conficker, a worm virus that was supposed to take over millions of computers on April 1 was more of a dud than a global threat, but there's no denying that it caused massive confusion and service disruptions in the days leading up to its activation as people and programmers rushed to patch their systems.
As of press time there was no attack, but experts reported that the worm "has begun to all home for instructions," according to PC World. It's estimated that Conficker has infected about 10 million computers around the world, checking in at various websites for instructions. Nobody is sure who started it, what it does, or what the end objective is of the worm. One day it could open the door to a botnet that could place millions of computers under the control of the hackers. They could then use their network to attack government or corporate websites, steal identities, or deliver spam and spyware.
For information how to protect yourself, visit www.pcworld