Videoconferencing, podcasts and webinars grew in popularity during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 as remote working became part of the new normal. With the pandemic now in the rearview mirror, video communication technologies have shown no sign of slowing down.

What has been amusing to me is that despite the prevalence of video communication, very little attention has been paid to how ineffective we appear on camera, often using weak, low-resolution webcams. Bad lighting is undoubtedly a big problem when using video calls mainly from home. The sub-HD resolution webcams built into most, even high-end laptops, don’t help.

Without the professional assets available in a professional television studio, politicians, celebrities and industry experts often look sinister when interviewed remotely from their homes.

Regular videoconferencing calls from home are especially vulnerable to an “amateur hour” look and feel, especially during a formal presentation where wandering eyes (eg, not looking directly into the webcam) can distract the viewer. Huh.

The location of the webcam is responsible for this unwanted effect as the camera is usually integrated on top of the laptop panel or on a separate stand which is difficult to place in front of a desktop display.

Because typical videoconferencing using a desktop or laptop PC does not have proper teleprompter functionality, which is complex, bulky, and expensive, it is nearly impossible to read speaker notes without avoiding the annoying phenomenon of a terrible webcam angle that obscures your Looks up or down the nose. ,

Is there any quick way to cure eye sight problem?

There are a few ways to mitigate this problem in a typical desktop or laptop home setup. However, these approaches are entirely artificial and do not eliminate the problem.

Some companies offer small external webcams, often equipped without an integrated microphone, to reduce the size of the device and allow placement in the center of your screen, in front of any text content or text you may be using. In front of the viewing window of the going video app.

These cameras use a thin wire wrapped and clipped on top of the display. This way, you look directly into the webcam and can see most, though not all, of the presentation or text you’re presenting.

Yet, another method is using a clear piece of acrylic plastic that allows you to mount almost any webcam and hook it over the top of the display so that the webcam suspends itself in front of the center point of the display. Do it

The advantage of this approach is that it frees you up to use your preferred webcam. The downside is that the webcam’s size and acrylic plastic device often obscure a good portion of the screen, making it less useful as a teleprompter alternative.

Down the road, we may see laptop and PC displays with integrated webcams behind LCD panels, which are invisible to the user. While this is an ideal solution to the problem I described above, the downside is that these specialized displays will cost a lot, which most manufacturers will hesitate to offer due to the price elasticity implications.

AI can fix eye contact issues easily and cost-effectively.

The idea of ​​using artificial intelligence to reduce or eliminate eye contact during videoconferencing calls is not new. When done correctly, AI can eliminate the need to purchase expensive teleprompting equipment that television studios use or resort to some of the gimmicky methods mentioned above.

The challenge with employing AI to perform eye contact correction on the fly (live) or even in a recorded scenario is that it requires processor horsepower to do the heavy lifting.

Apple Silicon has had this integrated capability with its iPhone chips for a few years now. Many users don’t know that Apple’s FaceTime app has eye contact correction (which can be turned off), which ensures that your eyes are centered in the middle of the screen regardless of the iPhone’s orientation.

Eye Contact Settings for Apple's FaceTime App

Contact settings in Apple’s FaceTime app

Microsoft has also joined the AI ​​party to fix problems with eye contact. Last year, it announced that it would add Eye Contact Solution capability to Windows 11 by leveraging the power of Qualcomm’s Arm Solutions and Neural Processing Unit (NPU) silicon to enhance video and audio in meetings — including subject framing, Background noise suppression is included. , and background blur.

Many of these features are already available on Microsoft’s Surface Pro X device, which uses an Arm chip. Nevertheless, Microsoft will be deploying this functionality more widely this year on compatible models from major PC OEMs.

nvidia broadcast with eye contact

Nvidia’s Broadcast app, which works on a wide range of Nvidia external graphics cards, is a robust AI tool that improves video calls and communications on x86-based PCs. Last week, Nvidia enhanced the utility in version 1.4 to support its implementation of Eye Contact, which makes it appear as though the subject within a video is looking directly at the camera.

The new eye contact effect adjusts the speaker’s eyes to recreate eye contact with the camera. This capability is achieved by harnessing the AI ​​horsepower in Nvidia’s GPUs to accurately capture and align the gaze.

nvidia broadcast eye contact feature

The new Eye Contact effect in Nvidia Broadcast 1.4 moves the speaker’s eyes to simulate eye contact with the camera. , Image credit: Nvidia

The advantage of Nvidia’s approach is that the capability isn’t limited to a single videoconferencing platform or app. Apple only supports its eye contact correction capability using the iPhone’s FaceTime app. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple expands this capability to macOS users later this year with its Continuity Camera capability.

In addition, Nvidia provides Broadcast Vignette functionality that is on par with what many Instagram app users experience. In this way, Nvidia Broadcast can generate a brief background blur to get an AI-simulated blurred view on your webcam, instantly boosting visual quality.

Replacing background images on videoconferencing calls is nothing new. Still, Nvidia’s approach will likely deliver better quality as it harnesses the power of its graphics cards, which are optimized for video content creation and gaming.

closing thoughts

The Eye Contact feature in Nvidia’s Broadcast app is currently in beta form and not yet ready for deployment. Like any beta feature, it will suffer from the inevitable glitches, and we should delay a formal judgment of its quality until a production version is made available.

Furthermore, Nvidia Broadcast isn’t just a run-of-the-mill app, but an open SDK with features that can be integrated into third-party apps. This opens up interesting new capabilities for third-party applications to directly take advantage of the functionality in Nvidia Broadcast.

Despite this, I am baffled by some of the adverse reactions that have appeared over the past few years around the prospect of using AI to correct eye contact. Some technical analysts use phrases such as “creepness factor” to categorize this feature in the most attractive way possible.

In fact, the potential would inspire many, perhaps deserved, jokes if the latter effect seemed unnatural and artificial. However, the creepy designation sounds over the top and pretentious. The same objection can be made about using makeup or deploying advanced equipment that corrects audio deficiencies during video calls. Apps like TikTok or Instagram wouldn’t exist without filters, which create far from creepy images in my opinion.

Like it or not, videoconferencing has survived as one of the positive outcomes of the post-pandemic world. Using technology that facilitates more productive, compelling and impactful video calls is something we should welcome, not scorn.

As someone who produces a weekly video podcast and recognizes the potential to eliminate or even reduce eyestrain, which in turn can offer teleprompter-like advantages, I’m coming up next. I look forward to testing this much needed capability in the weeks to come.

Advances in education technology, or edtech, come from a change in approach in the face of shortcomings. Innovative educational technology can adapt existing tools or create new tools to help people overcome barriers to learning.

King of the Curve (KOTC) is a disruptive edtech startup that is all set to help address the growing shortage of doctors. KOTC combines sports and social strategies to help science students score better on medical school entrance exams and related challenges. The company is also developing productivity-style apps to help health care workers in the field better manage the challenges of medical treatment.

Heather Rutledge-Jukes founded the company to pursue a career in psychology before focusing on becoming a surgeon. He is now a medical student at Washington University School of Medicine.

Before entering medical school, however, he took an unlikely detour to put his science skills to use as a software developer. Rutledge-Jucks transitioned from designing instructional strategies for people with dyslexia to creating a series of exam preparation apps for medical school applicants.

KOTC does not copy other self-learning products and is not based on typical learning app thinking.

“People have their own learning paths. Education should be based on that. It’s not just cookie-cutter templates for everyone,” Rutledge-Jukes told TechNewsWorld.

The app is optimized for user performance

That philosophy is evident in his educational path. As a psychology major, Rutledge-Jukes researched various teaching methods. His research focused primarily on using video games to learn valid skills such as eye-hand coordination, strategic thinking, critical thinking, and more.

After graduating from college, he designed learning tools for children with dyslexia. That effort included the creation of tactile devices for young students to better understand and retain information.

Unlike other learning tools, KOTC does not become routine or less useful to users due to over-familiarity. Instead, the app adapts to the user’s performance so that they can improvise, not just memorize predetermined answers.

King of the Curve's gamification app for MCAT study

The King of the Curve app uses game-based elements to help students study for the Medical School Entrance Exam. Its features include Adaptive Question Bank, Review Mode, Endless Mode, Timed Mode and Multiplayer Mode. (Photos courtesy of King of the Curve)

Educational apps may remain without updates for extended periods. Or they rely on rote learning strategies, which limit progress to the test of learning. “It makes users more desperate to try something else,” Rutledge-Jukes said.

make a better mousetrap

Rutledge-Jucks launched KOTC in 2020 with a focus on preparing students for the Medical School Admissions Test, known as the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT. Test prep for admission to medical schools was a logical starting point for his company’s first educational app. The developer was already well aware of its contents.

“That’s how we started. That was the seed to put together this app to help people qualify for various tests,” he said.

KOTC’s mission, as its founders see it, is simple: to turn student stress into success. In this way the student of today becomes the professional of tomorrow.

Solving a National Medical Crisis

KOTC’s unique strategy for preparing students for the MCAT is helping it accept more applicants in its own way. It could take up to 10 years to train competent physicians, according to 2022 AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, in a Leadership Viewpoint column.

In its report released in June 2021, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected that the US faces a shortfall of 37,800 physicians – and 124,000 within 12 years. Preventing “game over” for Doctor Optimistic.

Routledge-Jukes said that 60% of people who apply to medical school are not accepted. Applicants are three times more likely to attend medical school if they score above 510 on the MCAT, and it is the only part of the med school application that is standardized.

KOTC has an impressive success rate in helping applicants score high marks. The score range for the MCAT is 472 to 528 for the four-part written test. The scores of the four sections are added to form the total score. The midpoint is 500.

The KOTC development team is staffed by people who are intimately familiar with the MCAT testing process. To be hired, they must score in the 99th percentile.

expansion plans

The app developer also meets that standard, which makes sense from the app user’s point of view. Rutledge-Jucks took the MCAT and scored well “above the curve,” so she’s well-versed in its content. To start with, he handled most of the query silo and app building tasks himself.

Heather Rutledge-Jucks is the founder of King of the Curve
Heather Routledge-Jukes, Founder
king of curves

“I consider myself a tech founder in that sense as well. Not just tech on the content side, but tech on the development side,” he offered.

He built most of the early apps and taught himself app programming when the pandemic shut down. He started the KOTC project with the help of two co-founders and an angel investor. One of his primary jobs now, while still attending medical school, is leading the team.

Since earning more revenue by adding in-app features, he has been able to engage more workers. Once users are in the app, they can purchase customizations and additional upgrades.

His company’s staff fluctuates between two to 10 full-time and part-time employees, who either excel in the testing content areas or app building. This includes four interns, two content specialists and two developers.

“We are definitely expanding the team as we grow. Right now, we are about to open an investment round to expand the team even further,” said Rutledge-Jukes.

Test Prep Course Inventory

KOTC’s learning lineup now offers test prep apps for a range of professional entrance exams, with more updates to come. Staff includes students and researchers in each test preparation area. They maintain high level content.

The primary course list includes the Medical School Entrance Examination for Nursing Examination (NCLEX), the Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT) and the Registered Dietitian Examination (RDE) for the Master’s Examination.

According to Rutledge-Jukes, the company plans to expand into two other high-pressure academic test preparation areas: the LSAT for law school candidates and the Bachelor of Accounting (BACC) entrance exam.

To provide a more all-inclusive option for future users, the company plans to expand its existing website as a home base for online learning, apart from offering Test Prep through a mobile app. Yes, Rutledge-Jukes agreed.

Apps are now available for Android, iPhone and iPad devices. However, some are not available on all three platforms.

for established medical professionals

The ongoing purpose of KOTC is to help students and entry-level health care professionals enhance their knowledge. It is now also catering to the needs of already established practitioners. These other app categories address a much broader range of content and target specific business areas that are mostly medical-related.

For example, current procedural terminology (CPT) aims to improve the patient experience with medical providers at the bedside. A team of pre-medical students devised their intuitive technique to limit barriers for patients in discussing the finances involved in important medical decisions.

One of the latest is the Rutledge-Jukes Telecatalyst, due to be introduced in March 2022. This app specifically caters to the needs of medical personnel in Tanzania who require a data collection and telehealth app.

Regenerative Pain and Spine App is also under development for medical support. Anesthetists will use it to generate reports about their patients to record blood pressure, machine checks and patient information during surgery.

Simplify the process with deep learning

According to the developer, med school candidates have few options besides taking industry-standard tests or paying the higher tuition associated with hiring tutors.

“We have designed our app to promote a sports and social element as all these students are going through the same process. As soon as they move on, they should be in the same team,” Rutledge-Juks said.

Some 7,000 questions built into this all-in-one MCAT study game are divided into six categories: biology, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and behavioral science.

“We basically leave all the questions up to the user in the beginning. We’re able to provide people with the product if they can’t subscribe at all. They can still use it and still prepare effectively.” Huh.’

But the add-on lets students maximize their effectiveness by zeroing in on specific parts of the test, he said. The app recommends videos to watch and points students to particular parts of the study guide based on the accuracy of the answers.

Another benefit of KOTC is the comment section on individual questions where people can explain their rationale. Test Prep challenges students to compare section-by-section scores to other users as they go through the program.

“This is an oversimplification, but we also have monthly competitions between schools. For example, every March, we mimic March Madness, but we do it with schools across the United States, and their users compete with theirs. Will improve,” the developer explained.

covering all bases

KOTC is built on a holistic picture of edtech, including elements from adaptive learning fields. Competency based education is also an important element.

“I think competency-based learning is the future of education,” Rutledge-Jucks said. “Once you have the foundation, it hits these checkboxes.”

King of the Curve is available on Google Play and the App Store.

MediaTek’s brand is often associated with affordable, budget, Android phones. However, the company has made incremental inroads into more premium, high-performance models. The launch of the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 chipset is a powerful step in that direction.

Like all smartphone chips, the Dimensity 9200 is a system on a chip (SoC), meaning it has integrated functionality in a single solution for wireless and cellular connectivity, graphics and system performance, among other capabilities.

Similar to Apple silicon or Qualcomm’s Snapdragon offerings, this integrated approach facilitates the smaller form factor designs that have always been important in mobile devices, longer battery life and increased power efficiency without compromising speed.

MediaTek is promoting this mobile chip to be the first in the industry to use the Armv9 Gen 2 architecture, which requires new cores. A so-called “big” Cortex-X3 core handles the toughest tasks with the help of three Cortex-A715 performance cores.

In addition, the 9200 includes four Cortex-A510 “low-power” cores to optimize battery life. This combination facilitates performance improvements of up to 10% to 12% compared to the legacy Dimension 9000, but is believed to reduce power consumption by a meaningful 25%.

I spoke with MediaTek GM/Corporate Marketing Finbar Moynihan about the Dimensity 9200 at its launch last week. The following video clip highlights that conversation.

better graphics performance

The attractive element of the Dimensity 9200 is the improvement in graphics performance. The solution is one of the first chips in the industry to take advantage of Arm’s new Immortalis-G715 GPU, which provides hardware raytability, one of the most popular gaming technologies in the PC and laptop arena. According to MediaTek, the Dimensity 9200’s implementation is 32% faster than the Dimensity 9200’s CPU while using a remarkable 41% less power.

Given MediaTek’s legacy strengths in Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, it’s not surprising that the Dimensity 9200 shows improvements in those areas. Unlike previous generations of its mobile chips, the Dimensity 9200 includes both millimeter wave 5G and sub-6GHz connectivity, which will benefit consumers who look for faster cellular data in more parts of the world.

The Dimensity 9200 also offers Wi-Fi 7 support. With Wi-Fi 6 and 6e still trending in routers, smart home devices, and smartphones, MediaTek should be commended for future-proofing the Dimensity 9200 with Wi-Fi 7 capability as it delivers potentially game-changing latency and performance. Provides wireless speed advantages.

Another interesting feature of the Dimensity 9200 is that the chip’s Image 890 signal processor is the first to fully support RGBW camera sensors. These sensors not only provide more brightness and detail in images than native RGB, but they can also blur background images in real-time video. A demo showing this capability was one of the highlights of the announcement event.

analyst comments

During its recent analyst event in Sonoma, California, where it launched the Dimensity 9200 among other announcements, the company took great pains to underline that MediaTek is “more than mobile”. This claim isn’t surprising, as the smartphone market has slowed down dramatically over the past few years. After all, the company has a strong presence in the router, smart TV, IoT, and other device categories.

MediaTek isn’t usually a company to talk about in the US smartphone market, given that Apple and Qualcomm dominate the space with their respective silicon and Snapdragon solutions. But this may change soon as MediaTek is increasing its presence in mid and low-end handsets.

Furthermore, if the US economy slips into a recession in 2023, as many economists predict, the high-end segment of the market is likely to come under tremendous pressure. MediaTek’s strategy to push bleeding-edge technology into the more affordable mid-range segment of the market could pay big dividends as consumers find it challenging to pay $1,500 or more for the highest-end Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. looks like.

Leader in Smartphone Chip Shipments

There are definite signs that this strategy is working. MediaTek has been the No. 1 global smartphone chip shipment provider for the past two years. Industry reports indicate that MediaTek accounts for 37% of global smartphone chips, compared to Qualcomm’s 28%.

Of course, MediaTek’s chips don’t appear in the sexier mobile devices people are used to. Nevertheless, they offer the right mix of performance, innovation, and affordability that increasingly appeals to “mainstream” consumers.

To be clear, MediaTek doesn’t want to walk away from the mobile phone space – and shouldn’t. The “More than mobile” moniker is an effective marketing slogan because it correctly suggests that the company is into more products than casual users beyond smartphones. However, it also allows the company to remind people that it is focusing on future markets, such as VR, automotive, Wi-Fi 7 and 5G.

Apple and Qualcomm get much of the media attention when they release a new chip, but with its Dimensity 9200, MediaTek shows it can play with the big boys. Even if it doesn’t grab all the industry headlines, MediaTek appears to be successful – and the company’s leadership team likes it.

It’s been 15 years since Amazon introduced the first Kindle, introducing many readers to the benefits of electronic paper (e-ink) technology, including long battery life and excellent sunlight readability.

Displays have improved over the years but still exhibit drawbacks such as screen ghosting, where a lighter version of the previous screen image can be seen in lighter parts of the display, and disruptive refresh, which involves removing an image from showing. At first the screen flashes shadow. Technology also took the hard way for coloring.

Two recently released e-paper tablets address these issues, managing contrast versus screen refresh speed, out-of-the-box Google Play compatibility, stylus support, and the latest in E Ink’s color technology called the Kaleido Plus. Offers multiple modes.

Nova Air C: Ultimate Digital Notepad

The Nova Air C comes from Onyx Boox, which offers the industry’s widest range of e-readers and e-paper tablets – even if one excludes only its China-based products.

The Onyx Boox portfolio ranges in size from 6″ to 13.3″ and includes two E Ink-based monitors under its Mira brand. Its products consistently showcase thoughtful designs, attractive packaging and smartly designed accessories.

For example, Onyx Books offers a keyboard folio for its 10.3″ devices that makes it the closest thing to a true E Ink laptop today (a product the company released at a 2017 trade fair but canceled). It also offers a cover that adds page-turning buttons for e-reading apps. Indeed, one of the advantages of Android-based e-paper tablets is that they offer the Kindle’s screen aesthetic, allowing you to choose from a wider range of digital bookstores.

While most companies in the e-paper tablet space have yet to ship a color product, the Nova Air Sea is another entrant from the Onyx Books that includes improved color and grayscale uniformity.

Nova Air Sea E-Reader by Onyx Books

Nova Air Sea E-Reader (Image Credit: Onyx Books)

Like other Onyx Books products, the Nova Air C interface is marked by a “function tab” that appears on the left side of the display by default. These launch a less-than-useful store full of public domain tasks and a library to organize them, a basic file manager, and an exceptionally full-featured note-taking app.

Working with the product’s comprehensive, button-free stylus, the app supports multiple page sizes, adding and deleting pages and layers, inserting images, shapes, and recordings, up to 5GB of free cloud syncing, and handwriting support. In two ways- text. You can also set up multiple pens and brushes and choose from three different erasing modes.

The Apps section includes an App Store that provides some of the basics, taken from the Internet. However, the device supports the full breadth of Google Play and Android-style navigation including settings and notification access from the swipe-down notification shade; The Back, Home, and App Switch functions can be accessed by swiping up from the left, middle, and right sides of the bottom of the screen, respectively.

Alternatively, a circle floating over other app interfaces — similar to those used by Android screen-recording applications — pops out controls for features like switching apps, taking screenshots, and powering off.

All told, the Nova Air Sea is a mix of the best that E Ink has to offer: an excellent note-taking app for those looking for an alternative to Android apps like Nebo or Noteshelf, and a wide range of Google apps. have access to. Via Google Play—all in one lightweight, well-accessorized package.

Bigme Inknote Color: E-Paper Power

Onyx Books isn’t the only vendor to bring color to earlier monochrome slates using E Ink and similar technologies such as Digital Electronic Slurry (DES). The latter has been used so far in outright crowdfunded products from Rinkstone and mini-laptop seller Topjoy; Both have faced lengthy shipping delays from their original November 2021 target.

While more established vendor BigMe has used the crowdfunding route for its Inknote color device, it has used the same Kaleido Plus color technology used for the Nova Air C. In fact, the interface of the product is very similar to Onyx Books and others. e-paper tablet, even including an optional floating navigational control and lock screen illustration in the same style.

Upon launch, you are presented with a shelf similar to icons on the left that includes Meeting Records, Offline Books, and Storage. However, Bigme offers more customization options, including being able to dock Android apps there. This is especially useful because the company hasn’t (yet) implemented alphabetical ordering for Android apps as on Onyx Books.

BigMe partnered with Good eReader – a provider of news and reviews about e-paper devices and an online store on product designs that are hard to find in the US.

As Good e-reader’s impressive review notes, the Inknote Color is the first color E Ink product with an A5-sized display. The larger size makes it better suited for reading and annotating PDFs, as well as content like web pages, magazines, sheet music, and comics.

Similar to other larger E Ink-based devices, such as Kobo’s Ellipsa, the Inknote Color has a relatively thin bezel except for a notably wide bezel on the left margin.

Bigme Inknote Color E-Ink Tablet

Bigme Inknote Color E-Ink Tablet (Image Credit: Bigme)

Beyond color, the tablet offers hardware features that have rarely, ever, been seen before in such a product. This includes:

  • 5MP front and 8MP rear cameras that can be used to take a quick profile photo or scan a document with integrated OCR which works well;
  • A large (but inadvertently very easy to detach) active stylus with three buttons, unlike the button-free version on the Onyx Books;
  • Miracast-based screen-casting — a great feature for when you want to take some video that will overwhelm the E Ink display; And
  • A fingerprint reader – although this requires a Bigme Cloud account to set up.

Inknote Color also revives that microSD slot, which has been seen to lack vendor support, and supports 4G internet access, but not in the US

A technical tour de force for the category, the BigMe InkNote Color caters to those who want the biggest Color E Ink tablet available, specifically for consuming and annotating content transferred through a range of Android apps. And the device’s image and audio is recognized by text recognition applications.

E-paper tablets have made great strides in areas such as refresh rate and color support. However, their more mainstream competitors from companies such as Apple, Lenovo and Samsung have progressed into e-paper sweet spots, such as daylight readability and longer battery life, while offering great advantages in color reproduction.

E-paper tablets, then, are better optimized for prolonged reading, note-taking or annotation versus popular media-focused tablet activities such as playing games and watching videos. Products like the Inknote Color and Nova Air C don’t come close to challenging the iPad for those tasks.

However, with Google Play support and an improved color story, these devices allow more penetration into applications like email, web browsing, and messaging—that is, if you want to defy their promise of a less-distracting experience.

Rubin’s Review: Sherpa 100 Series Power Bank

Goal Zero was a pioneer in high capacity portable power products with AC outlets sold under the Yeti brand. These were useful for applications ranging from camping to emergency power. However, its smaller products, sold under the Sherpa brand, underperformed to stand out in the USB-based charging crowd.

Since the first Sherpa products, we’ve seen a flood of unnamed brands in the portable power space. Additionally, USB-C has offered a more versatile and popular charging standard, with its higher-wattage power delivery option.

In response, Goal Zero’s latest 95 kWh Sherpa power banks, the 100PD, which delivers up to 100 watts via USB-C power delivery, and the 100AC which offers the same in addition to a 100-watt AC outlet, while also standing out Covering each base and providing exceptional control over their features.

Target Zero Power Bank, 100PD and 100AC

The Sherpa 100PD (pictured left) and Sherpa 100AC power banks offer 95 watt-hours of portable, airline-approved charging. (image credits: Target Zero)

While both the products are large to accommodate their high capacity, the AC-based product is smaller for its category. Both include informative displays tracking charge level, incoming and outgoing wattage, and other details.

More power banks are now smartly taking advantage of USB-C PDs to charge themselves as well as other products, reducing the need for a separate AC adapter. Sherpas implement this very well, with switches on the back specifying input, output, or port for automatic detection; A subtle colored light ring around the port glows blue or green to reflect this.

The Sherpa 100 family of products support Qi-based charging, and, in keeping with the company’s heritage, they are sturdily built—though not water-resistant; The 100AC includes a ventilation hole on its side. Nevertheless, the products represent how a company can reclaim premium status, even in a category that has seen widespread commoditization.

Currently, the Sherpa 100PD is priced at $199.99 and the Sherpa 100AC is $299.99 at Goal Zero.

The video game market is segmented into five segments: legacy PCs and consoles, evolving mobile devices – mostly phones but some tablets and the emerging cloud. It’s four, I’ll get to the fifth section in a minute.

Looking at these segments, Qualcomm is present mostly in the developed mobile devices. Plus, it has an interesting connection to the emerging cloud segment, as you can’t play games in the cloud unless you have a client device – at least not now. The preferred client device is a smartphone because it is almost always with you.

Now for the fifth segment: VR gaming, which is mostly surrounded by Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 which also uses Qualcomm technology.

Let’s talk about Qualcomm, gaming growth and the roadblocks that currently prevent the expansion from consoles and PCs to more mobile devices and the cloud — and video game trends.

Then we’ll close with our product of the week, which is arguably the best gaming smartphone on the market.

console gaming

It is the oldest form of mass market video game. I say “broad market” because there were video games you could play on a mainframe, but only a small number of people knew how to play them and had access to a mainframe to do so. Console gaming has many enduring advantages, but there are also some significant disadvantages.

On the benefit side, the hardware is dedicated, and all patching and updates are handled by the console manufacturer as long as that version of the console is supported. If you use approved games (which are often downloaded today), you don’t have to worry about malware, and you can be almost certain that any existing title will run well on current consoles. Hardware costs are affordable—typically less than $500 to start—and you can use a good TV screen, so you don’t need an expensive monitor.

The downside is that the game console only plays games. Chances are it doesn’t belong to you unless you’re at home because it’s a bit of a pain to take it on vacation, and it’s a good luck playing games on a console in a car or plane while in transit. This is offset by consoles like the Nintendo Switch that allow for mobile gaming but are aimed at a younger audience.

So, consoles are great for gaming, but not the flexible or portable one most want for today’s games. But gaming on TV at home is good if you have room and no one else wants to use TV while gaming.

pc gaming

The PC gaming market really took off after Windows 95, as that operating system came with the game. This segment has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages.

Benefits include being able to play and work at the same time, and PCs come in both desktop and laptop forms, allowing for both greater hardware diversity and greater mobility than most consoles. Games that use keyboards and mice work better with PCs, but you can often also use gaming controllers if needed. You can build a custom desktop PC that, in itself, is a status symbol for other gamers, and buy your way to a strong competitive edge.

The disadvantage of PCs is that gaming rigs tend to be expensive. You can easily drop over $5,000 in a top-notch desktop gaming rig. Gaming on a laptop can result in using a smaller display and reduce battery life. A gaming laptop can cost as much as a gaming desktop when fully equipped. While we carry our PCs with us more often than most consoles, we still can’t have them with us when we want to play games. They are large, which makes them difficult to use in a plane or car.

I find laptop gaming performance too restrictive on the size I want to use frequently. I play mostly on a custom gaming desktop rig with a large Dell 49-inch display.

mobile gaming

This is where Qualcomm performs, and it is the fastest growing segment. Also it has advantages and disadvantages as well.

There are advantages with availability and flexibility. Like PC gaming, you can use a smartphone for more than just gaming, and you can multitask. The smartphone is always connected, which can lead to a better connected experience. People carry their smartphones with them so they can play anywhere and often where a PC or console isn’t viable, such as standing in a line. Titles are constantly improving over time, and the richness of mobile games can reach what you see on consoles or even some PC games.

The disadvantages are that smartphones are typically designed for connectivity, not gaming, and a non-gaming smartphone, even if it has Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful Snapdragon processor, will probably be very quick when used for gaming. Will start throttling because the phone cannot dump sufficient amount of heat being generated from it. Performance is usually traded against dynamics. The screen size is much smaller (but can be offset with a head-mounted display) and the smaller screen is also a control surface (but can become a dedicated controller with a head-mounted display).

Overall, smartphones are closing in on the usability and capabilities of PC and console games, but are still limited by the lack of head-mounted displays that force people to play on less capable displays than those typically used on phones. Qualcomm is leading this effort hard, funding gaming tournaments with decent rewards and toughening its flagship Snapdragon 8 and 8+ platforms to meet gamer needs.

cloud gaming

This is highlighted by services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now which provides cloud instances of high-performance gaming PCs for remote gamers.

The advantage is that you get good PC-level performance with any device you can use as a client. These services favor games designed for PCs, but can be played on set top boxes such as Nvidia’s own Shield or on a smartphone based on the controller interface. These services offer the most flexibility in terms of hardware and the lowest cost of entry for top-tier games.

The disadvantage is that they are very network dependent, which means you probably can’t access the service on a plane or cruise ship where network bandwidth is low, and latency is very high. You have to pay a monthly fee; You do not own the Service, and the Service may not contain the game you want to play.

However, it is likely that cloud gaming represents the ultimate future of gaming. We do not yet have the network infrastructure to make it effective.

we are. gaming

While there is VR gaming on a PC, the need for a PC and the limitations of having a cable connected to it have limited the popularity of that approach. Right now, the most popular VR gaming platform is Meta’s Oculus Quest 2.

The advantage is that it is portable and does not require a tether. Games, especially those tied to movement, are fun and very playable. You can play it in the car or plane, and you can watch movies on it in private, just like you would on your PC or smartphone with a head-mounted display. Like game consoles, you have dedicated controllers and the cost is less than $400 to get started.

The disadvantage is that the expectations of VR gaming are ahead of the hardware. Resolutions are lower than people expected, and game content is limited. People are often mocked for using the technology, which creates resistance to adoption. There isn’t much in the way of Cloud Games anymore and Meta is experiencing a shaky $1 billion a month and if Meta fails, there’s no one in the wings to take on Slack.

There’s also AR gaming, highlighted by games like Pokémon Go, but it’s still very limited and the promise of this type of game, as highlighted by the old HP video Roku’s Reward, has never been achieved in production.

wrapping up

Console and PC gaming continues to thrive, but the real growth appears to be in mobile gaming, considering how fast it’s growing and how relatively convenient it is. However, this is constrained by the size of the mobile screen and the need for a gaming phone to truly experience robust mobile gaming. With head-mounted displays, mobile gaming has far greater potential, but these displays are not in widespread use yet which lessens their impact.

VR gaming has immense potential and I expect gaming’s long-term future to be in the virtual space, but we won’t be there for a decade or so because we still need better human-machine interfaces to meet consumer expectations. be able to reach Something like a holodeck.

As a result, gaming is in flux. Console and PC gaming are still viable markets, but mobile gaming is growing rapidly and has the potential to overtake both by the end of the decade. For now, Qualcomm is in a good position on both mobile and VR gaming, which puts it in a good position to help define the future of gaming.

We’ll see soon how it all goes.

Technical Product of the Week

Xiaomi’s Black Shark 5 Pro Gaming Smartphone

The best gaming smartphone in the market right now is the Black Shark 5 Pro.

It uses the latest Snapdragon 8 processor, has a massive 4550mAh battery with over 1,200 charge cycles, offers a 144Hz refresh rate, has liquid cooling and a 108MP triple camera system. Its starting price of $799 makes it a good value, though personally I’d pay $100 more and get the better equipped 12GB + 256GB model.

Black Shark 5 Series Gaming Smartphone

Black Shark 5 Series Gaming Smartphone / Image Credit: Black Shark

Another difference is that it has physical game triggers making it far quicker than screen-based triggers which is important for competitive first-person shooter (FPS) games. I’ve had a Xiaomi phone before and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the firm.

This phone comes in two colors white and black. I like the black version. But what makes this device stand out is the extreme cooling, mechanical triggers, top Qualcomm processor and bigger battery to prevent processor from throttling.

Other features include a 6.7-inch OLED display, HDR 10+, 5 million to 1 contrast ratio, and a dual zone pressure-sensitive display. The Black Shark 5 Pro is a beast of a gaming phone – and my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.