Tag Archives: gaming

TWT Audio makes durable headphones for music and gaming @ CES 2023



TWT Audio Durable HeadphonesWhen you work with audio hardware, you know that it can be fragile. This is especially the case when you take something like headphones and put them into a public space, like a school, library, or gaming center. When people don’t have to pay for something, they don’t have a lot of respect for it. This is known as the tragedy of the commons. However, sometimes a company comes along to tackle these common issues, like TWT Audio.

Who is TWT Audio?

TWT Audio is a brand that designs and produces headphones. The brand started out in the educational space producing headphones for schools. The top challenge that they experienced in schools was the durability of the headphones. Kids didn’t have any interest in maintaining headphones that weren’t theirs, especially in an environment they might not want to be in. So, the company took on this challenge to help reduce costs for schools.

Today, the company has taken what it learned in the educational sphere and has applied it to the consumer market. By bringing the concept of durability to consumer headphones, they have entered into an interesting space that has been sorely lacking for years. In addition, the company also focuses on keeping the cost of the products down while also making them visually unique.

TWT Audio’s focus on design

The initial products from the product line are focused on standard headphone use – music and speech. These headphones are comfortable and durable, while also sounding great. But the company has another differentiator – modular design. Many of the products have the ability to replace the pieces that take the most damage through usual use. For example, if your ear cups wear out or start to shred, which they will, you can unclip them and replace them.

Another aspect of modular design is in the cabling. The cable itself can be removed, allowing you to replace it in the event the cable wears out. We know that these cables, no matter what you do to prepare, are going to wear out, so this is a nice option. However, it also gives the ability to change the type of cable. Want to hook up to a headphone jack? No problem. Connecting to a computer? That’s an option. Looking to connect to a Hi-Fi system? That cable exists, too. So, one headset to rule them all.

In addition to the standard audio headphones, the company is also releasing their Victory series – a line of gaming focused headphones. They feature the same focus on quality and durability, but with different tuning. Rather than tuning the headphones for speech and music, the Victory series is tuned for foley. Foley is an term for the physical sound effects in media, such as snapping celery to create the sound of a punch.

In this case, the tuning allows a gamer to hear things like gunfire and footsteps in more detail than other sounds. With that focus, a player can get a better feel for where another player is in relationship to themselves.

Summary

TWT Audio products are available for purchase now. Headphones range in price from around $20 to $180. To learn more about the company, you can go to its website. To purchase one for yourself, you can find them on Amazon.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Skyted is a noise isolation mask for calls and streaming @ CES 2023



Skyted Noise Isolation MaskToo often these days, we are forced into places that are not conducive to conversation. This is exacerbated when you’re on the phone or computer. This happens because microphones, in general, do not discriminate between sounds. These microphones pick up whatever sound they hear and push it to the other side of the call. In a loud area, this means it’s nearly impossible for the person on the other side of the call to hear anything you say. This is the problem that Skyted is hoping to solve.

What is Skyted?

Skyted is a headset, of sorts, intended to improve sound quality while in a loud environment. At first sight, it might appear to be a little odd. However, the design is well-tested for years. That’s because the device is modeled after the systems used on fighter jets. The device fits over the mouth as a full mask, allowing for sound to be isolated and directed toward the microphone.

Skyted is different than other headsets because it is designed to block out background noise. This means that when you are in a loud environment, such as a game center, or simply talking on the phone in public, your sound will be isolated and clear for the people you’re speaking with.

Other headsets may attempt to filter out environmental sounds, but they are limited in what they can do. With the Skyted headset, you can be sure that your sound is clear and crisp even in a loud environment.

Who is Skyted for?

One of the great strengths of Skyted is its versatility. Because the mask microphone is designed to work with Bluetooth, it can be used for a variety of purposes. The original purpose is to allow for public phone calls – limiting the background noise, but also preventing people around you from having to listen.

In the past few years, however, other types of public calls have become commonplace. in particular, Teams and Zoom calls have become a regular part of doing business, especially while traveling. But, working in public has become a normal situation, even for those not traveling.

In addition, gaming in public has become more common. Gaming centers, like our friends at STRYKE eSports in Tampa, are popping up in more places. Online gaming is enhanced by live chat, which is equally difficult in public. But, with the Skyted system, you can chat with other players without having to hide in a pod and without disrupting the gamers around you.

Another aspect of public speech where the Skyted can really be a benefit is streaming. Obviously, if you’re streaming a game in a game center, the benefits are clear. However, there’s a lot of In Real Life (IRL) streaming, where people stream their experiences with games outside of a studio. This applies to games like Pokémon GO, where you have to be in the wild to play. Once again, this device will help you isolate yourself from the people around you while streaming.

Summary

Skyted is planning to be made available through pre-orders starting in March 2023. To learn more about Skyted or to pre-order one for yourself, you can go to the company’s website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Skinetic adds haptic feedback to virtual reality and more @ CES 2023



Skinetic Haptic Feedback VestPlaying a videogame is intended to extend the experience of entertainment into a more personal connection. With a movie or TV show or even a play, you watch what is happening and pretend to put yourself into the action. With a videogame, however, you are in control over the experience – sometimes in small ways and others in large ways. However, we’re still generally separated from the game in a variety of ways, but Actronika wants to bring you directly into the game experience with Skinetic.

Who is Actronika?

Actronika is a company specializing in haptic technology. While we all think of haptics as the phone vibrating when we touch it, there’s much more to the technology. In this case, the company focuses on a more high-definition version of haptics. The more focused technology allows for the creation of different haptic zones as well as different textures.

This technology has come together to form Skinetic – a haptic vest that can provide feedback during an entertainment session. The vest is able to replicate the sensation experienced by the character on the screen while not intentionally hurting the one experiencing it. The best part is that this is not limited to gaming. In fact, it can be used across nearly any type of entertainment.

Skinetic in gaming

The Skinetic vest is a perfect companion for gaming. When you’re playing a game and a grenade goes off nearby, being able to feel that explosion makes the game a more immersive experience. But, because of the detail of the vest, you can also have a smaller experience, such as being tapped on the shoulder.

While this seems like a perfect companion for traditional gaming, it’s even better for virtual reality. VR glasses are specifically designed to place you in a first person perspective for your entertainment experience. By adding Skinetic into the mix, the experience truly does become more personal as well as more immersive. The game can bring you into the action and leave you with more of a consequence for failure.

Skinetic in movies and television

While interactive entertainment is the most obvious place for Skinetic, it can also work well for passive entertainment. The inclusion of haptic feedback into movie and television can help to pull you more into the entertainment. In gaming, you’ll have consequences for your own actions, while in this example you’ll have consequences for the actions of the characters on screen.

How does Skinetic work?

Skinetic has to be integrated into the development of the entertainment experience. For example ,a videogame developer must know about Skinetic and build for it. Fortunately, we’ve already seen some big titles get on-board, including the VR experience Half-Life: Alyx, which many consider to be one of the definitive VR games.

Development is made easy, though. Unlike many gaming tools, Skinetic support can be built outside of the game.development tools, you can create and test the individual textures and feelings.ect and quicker development. Once you have your texture, you can import it into your game.

The vest is incredibly detailed in design. There are 20 action zones, meaning that if someone taps you on the left shoulder, you can feel it only on the left shoulder. This is something that sets it apart from other VR vests, in that the experience can be tailered to the game environment.

Summary

The Skinetic is still under development, but developers can get ahold of a prototyping kit or evaluation kit. For consumers, you’ll have to wait only a little while, as the pricut is intended to hit the market in May 2023. To learn more about Skinetic and Actronika, head over to the company’s website.


Picoo: World’s first game console designed for outdoor play @ CES 2022



Picoo game consoleIn a world where technology is constantly pulling us indoors, Picoo has created a game console designed to get kids outdoors and active again. The system is a portable, screenless console that requires no access to Wi-Fi or mobile networks during playtime. This makes it perfect for outdoor use, as it eliminates the need for any connectivity. It is also Bluetooth enabled, so parents can use the accompanying app to control gameplay.

How does Picoo work?

Picoo is comprised of two main parts: the console and the controller. The console attaches to a belt worn by the child, while the controller can be used either in hand or attached to a stick for further reach. Both are water-resistant, making them perfect for outdoor play in any weather condition.

Games on the console are designed for gross motor skills development, social and communication skill-building, creativity stimulation, and imaginative play. The style of gameplay helps to foster something that traditional videogames cannot: discovery. Because the kids are outside, they are exploring and discovering new aspects of their world. This exploration encourages and improves imagination, which is the key to personal development.

Being outside and moving around is also great exercise, something that can be lacking in kids’ routines. This has been even more evident in the past few years with things shut down in parts of the world. Exercise will help with physical development as well as building strength.

With over 25 games currently available (and more being developed all the time), Picoo has something for everyone.

Who is Picoo for?

Picoo is for kids aged three and up. It’s a great way to get younger children active and engaged in outdoor play, helping them work on essential skills and have some fun along the way. By eliminating the screens, the game becomes more about playing rather than focusing on something external. This helps to foster social interactions that get lost in traditional video games.

Because of the wide range of games that come with the console, plus the additional games that are available, Picoo really can be enjoyed by everyone. While asking most adults to go outside and ply tag results will result in confusion and answers of no, this product can provide the perfect way to break down that barrier and get adults running around like children having fun outside.

Summary

Picoo is available now in a variety of options. The primary kit is the Starter Set, which includes 4 Picoo controllers, 5 games, 4 helper cards, and 2 USB-C charging cables. The included games are Lightning Bolt, Whack-a-mole, Zombierun, Hide-and-Seek, and Kaleidoscope. Many more games are available to extend the fun.

For educational and group settings, Picoo can be purchased in larger sets. Rather than 4 controllers, the educational set comes with 12 controllers, plus the accessories to make them work, including games and chargers.

All of these options are available now. To learn more about the product, the games that are available, and purchase one for yourself, you can go to their website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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Stern Pinball launches new titles for iconic pinball fun @ CES 2021



Stern Pinball Led ZeppelinZach Sharpe, Director of Marketing at Stern Pinball, joined us at CES 2021 to tell us about some of their newest machines and what makes them stand out in the arcade market. Stern Pinball, Inc. (“SPI”) is the oldest and largest designer and manufacturer of arcade-quality pinball games on the planet, churning out eye-catching pinball machines for more than 30 years.

Pinball is the universal language of fun, says Sharpe, bridging generations and cultures across decades. For 2021, Stern Pinball released some iconic titles including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stranger Things, Avengers, and their amazing Led Zeppelin, complete with Immigrant Song and 9 other songs, which took years to acquire the rights to use in the game.

SPI offers a full line of commercial and consumer pinball games, merchandise, parts, and accessories that are sold to pinball operators, enthusiasts, and fans around the globe. Each of their cornerstone titles is available in Pro, Premium, and Limited Edition models. Pro is the coin-operated machines players will typically find in bars and arcades. Premium and Limited Edition models are found more commonly in private collections and typically feature a few more moving parts, such as the Electric Magic Device found in the Led-Zeppelin machine. The device rises from the floor of the machine and features a spinner and ball capture that literally changes the whole trajectory of a game.

The Premium and LE models also incorporate an Expression Lighting System with nearly 100 intelligent LEDs that simulate a graphic equalizer choreographed to the music. With their new Spike 2 technology, the machines are also easier to maintain and repair, with less complexity, fewer components to break and easy serviceability.

Visit the company’s website to see the full collection of SPI machines, as well as to access their Pinball Locator so you can find Stern Pinball machines out in the wild to play.

Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.

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Blacknut has a huge catalog of cloud streaming games @ CES 2021



Blacknut cloud gaming platformThere is no doubt that the future of gaming has a big place for cloud streaming services. There have been a number of companies, including Microsoft and Google, who have gotten in on the game. However, there seems to be a lot of question over the stability of and the commitment to these platforms. One company that is showing both stability and commitment is Blacknut.

The company has taken a very similar approach to Microsoft, in that the service is a monthly fee and includes all of the games in the catalog. The games in the catalog have no ads and no in-game purchases. Your game state is stored in the cloud, meaning that you can start your game on your phone and continue it on the computer, or vice versa. But, how many games are available? Currently, the service offers over 400 games with n ew games added weekly.

The catalog is also very diverse. There is a large collection of Japanese games with anime styling, such as BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. There are a lot of racing games, from big name franchises like Asphalt, Gravel, and MotoGP. And, there are weird games, like Overcooked and Farming Simulator 19. There is definitely something for everyone.

The service also has a strong focus on families. On your single subscription, you can create up to 5 profiles, so everyone has their progress separately. There are also parental controls, disabling access during certain times and limiting access to games with certain ratings.

Blacknut is available now for $15.99 per month, with a 50% discount for your first three months with discount code WELCOME3M21. You can play games on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, Fire TV, and Google TV. To learn more about the platform, browse the catalog of games, and start your subscription, head over to the Blacknut website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Impulse Neuro-Controller makes you faster when gaming @ CES 2021



Impulse Neuro-ControllerFor gamers, one of the most important things is controlling your timing. Every fraction of a second in response time can be the difference between getting the shot or getting shot. Gamers go out of their way to find just the right mouse and keyboard to be able to speed up their reaction times ever so slightly. But, as Avram always says, you can also speed up the slowest part of your computer – you. One way to accomplish this is with Impulse Neuro-Controller from Brink Bionics.

The Impulse is a fingerless glove that works with your existing gaming mouse to improve reaction times. Rather than waiting for you to click, it literally reads your mind and acts early. It is able to read your impulses (hence the name) from your hand using biosignals. Using an AI algorithm, the glove is able to learn your behaviors and act on them ahead of time.

Just like any bio-feedback device, it takes some time to train. Everyone reacts differently to different stimuli. For example, if you are training a brain control headband, you need to determine certain things to think about and map those thought patterns to specific actions. With the Impulse, you simply set it up for training and plan like normal. The system is able to read your biosignals and connect them with your actions on the computer. Once the connections are made, it is able to work ahead of you to produce results before you are able to click.

The Impulse Neuro-Controller is ideal for players of first-person shooters, real-time strategies, multiplayer online battle arenas, and more. To learn more about Impulse and Brink Bionics, you can head over to their website, which currently takes you to their Indiegogo page, which has a lot of additional information.

Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.

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Tovertafel brings joyful play to late-stage dementia patients @ CES 2021



Tovertafel interactive gamesSjoerd Wennekes is the co-founder of Tover, a Dutch company that specializes in interactive games for people with severe cognitive disabilities, and he joined us at CES 2021 to tell us about their signature product, Tovertafel.

Tovertafel, or Magic Table, is an interactive gaming system for people with late-stage dementia or other cognitive impairments. Using a ceiling-mounted projector equipped with computer hardware and sensors, the device projects images onto any existing table in a care facility, creating simple interactive games for life enrichment. The games are played by touching the projected images, for instance, the action of swiping away projected autumn leaves or bouncing the image of beach ball back and forth between one another.

Tovertafel is a care home-friendly system, requiring no connections to external computers, or any sophisticated installation process. The ceiling-mounted device has a wide-angle lens with an adjustable projection field that can be used on any size table. Family members or staff can easily use the remote and get right to playing together without the need for special instructions.

While the projection technology is not new, how Tover utilizes it is unique. The company focuses on late-stage dementia patients who lack the ability to activate themselves, those typically living in long term care facilities who are often subject to apathy – the total lack of feeling and emotions which is the primary cause of death in dementia patients. Tovertafel games are designed to stimulate the portions of the brain that are not damaged by diseases like Alzheimer’s so that even people in the last stages of dementia can experience some joyful quality of life.

Care professionals utilizing the system have noted that patients playing Tovertafel games are more physically active, engage in more social activity, and seem to experience more joy and less sadness while playing with the Magic Table. They’ve also found the system improves the relationship between caregivers and residents and increases happiness for care professionals, family members, and friends alike.

Tovertafel is used in over 5000 cognitive care facilities in 12 countries. The company is launching in North America this spring.

Visit the company’s website to learn more.

Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.

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Future Seating wants to improve the way you spend your time @ CES 2021



X-Chair and Mavix Gaming chairsThe quality of the desk chair you use is incredibly important. We use them for work, for gaming, and even for downtime. However, too often, the chairs we use are really poor quality, or have been around too long (just ask Pam on The Office). But, now that many of us are working from home, we have the ability to choose our own chairs, and Future Seating has two lines designed to improve your life – X-Chair and Mavix Gaming.

X-Chair is a brand that has been around for a while and is focused on the office. The X-HMT is the model we were introduced to in the conversation. This chair sports a number of features designed to make the experience better. This desk chair offers massage capabilities, which are intended to maintain proper blood flow. You can use two levels of intensity, depending on how you feel. You can also choose between constant and variable modes. It also has therapeutic heating technologies, intended to relax muscles.

Mavix is a new brand and aimed at the gaming market. The company has taken all of its learnings from X-Chair and applied them to the Mavix line. It’s important because there are some capabilities that gamers might need that an office worker won’t. For example, Mavix chairs have the ability to lock the wheels. This is because physical reactions to in-game actions can cause problems in games. In addition, all models feature adjustable back, lumbar, seat depth, head and neck support, and tension recline, plus a cooling seating surface.

Chairs from both of the Future Seating brands, X-Chair and Mavix, are available now, with models ranging in price, depending on additional features. You can also get a variety of styles and colors. The company sells through its X-Chair and Mavix Gaming websites, and tries to ship product immediately upon order.

Interview by Christopher Jordan of The Talking Sound.

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Hero Trainer brings the only fitness reward app for gamers @ CES 2021



Hero Trainer exercise rewardsA lot of people hear the word “gamer” and picture of a certain kind of person in their mind. But contrary to popular belief, the world of gaming is actually quite vast and getting more diverse all the time. There are so many different types of video games that there truly is something for everyone. Games for kids that expand their creativity and problem-solving abilities, games for sports lovers that immerses them right in with their favorite teams, first-person shooter games that let you get your Rambo on, and yes… even character-based games that the grown-ups enjoy way more than they ever imagined that they would. Hero Trainer wants to help change that misconception.

As a gamer himself, Yash Jain wanted to find a way to bring the elements of fitness, community, and rewards to the world of gaming. The result is truly invigorating. Yash founded Hero Trainer, a free mobile app where users can earn rewards in their favorite video games by simply exercising. That’s right, earn in-game rewards and even gift cards for use in dozens of video games (on your PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo) just for walking. He came up with the idea after realizing that even when he had a decent fitness streak going, he would end up losing motivation for various reasons and ultimately fall short of his own fitness goals. Like so many others, video games ranked higher on his list of interests than fitness, so he came up with the idea of merging the two. And what better incentive than offering gaming currency for steps taken.

Cool concept, right? But how does it work? It’s actually so EZ! Simply download the app from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store and let your wearables and smartphone do the rest. Steps are counted and transferred into Hero Trainer from both the Apple Health and Google Fit apps. The currency that you accrue for spending is called Aura and you earn 1 Aura for every 1,000 steps you take. Rack up that Aura and redeem rewards in the Marketplace. Vendors include Riot Games, the Steam Store, Blizzard Entertainment, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo eShop, Google Play, and Apple. We can’t think of a better reason to stop camping and go AFK for a nice long walk.

As an added layer of motivation, Hero Trainer goes a step further by adding that gaming element to the app itself. Each user has their own character in the app that grows stronger as they walk. If that weren’t exciting enough, you can also team up with friends, in Guilds, and compete in seasons that are about 8 weeks long. Depending upon where your Guild ranks, you can earn even more points to spend in the marketplace. As you can imagine, this concept is quite intriguing for us here at PLUGHITZ Live, as we have been known to dabble in a game or two from time to time. And, not to brag, but we’re quite the team, especially when we’re on the road at tech conventions.

So, whether you’re badass in Call of Duty, a tank in League of Legends, or reached the Koopa Troopa Cup in Mario Kart Tour, you can only benefit from using the Hero Trainer app. To get more information and download the app, click here and use our Referral Code – BAO8. Our PLUGHITZ Live Guild looks forward to seeing you there.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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