If all you can remember getting with your baseball cards is a stick of hardened bubble gum, then maybe you were born into the wrong generation. Or the right one, depending on your outlook. Today's baseball card collectors know nothing of the chewy goodness that came with the hobby years ago, and instead are being encouraged to sit in front of their webcam to bring their cards to life.
It's all part of Topps' new 3D Live series. Place one of the special cards in front of a webcam and a three-dimensional avatar of the player appears on the computer screen. As you rotate the card, so too does the avatar. By going to ToppsTown.com, you can play a catching or batting game with the cards you acquire. There's a term for this meshing of real-world and computer generated data, and it's called "augmented reality."
"This is the 'Beam me up, Scotty' version of a baseball card that will get kids to buy more," said Steve Grimes, chief digital officer at Topps. "We see this baseball season as a redefining moment for us."
And not a moment too soon, either. The sports trading card business has plummeted from a $1 billion per year business to a comparatively small $200 million per year. Technology is seen as hurting the industry, as collectors can easily and quickly look up sports facts online for any player.
On a related note, if you happen to score a 3D Live card of Manny Ramirez and find that his avatar refuses to play on your PC, nothing is amiss - it's just Manny being Manny.
Four-monitor support in a single-slot, low-profile, half-length videocard? You betcha. That's exactly what AMD's offering up with the release of its professional ATI FirePro 2450 multi-view graphics card.
"The ATI FirePro 2450 offers the reliability professionals expect and the efficiency IT departments require. IT managers want a card they can test once, deploy virtually anywhere, and count on to run reliably,” said Janet Matsuda, senior director, AMD Professional Graphics. “The low power consumption enables cool, energy-efficient operation, as well as superior reliability and longevity. The compact form factor can be deployed in nearly any system. This accelerator is perfect for customers who need more than two displays, such as in financial services and process control."
The FirePro 2450 comes equipped with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, variable speed fan sink, maximum resolution of 1920 x 1200, DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 2.1 support, native PCI-E x16 and x1, and support for up to four independent DVI or VGA monitors.
According to AMD, the new card consumes less than 18W on average for 2D business usage, and no more than 32W when fully stressed.
The ATI FirePro 2450 is available now with an MSRP of $499.
Dell has announced a new 24-inch LED widescreen display the company says will help cut energy costs and environmental impact. In addition to LED technology, energy saving features of Dell's new green G2410 display include the use of "recycled materials and other environmentally preferable components," less than 0.15W of power consumption when in sleep mode, manufacturing free of PVC, BFR, CFR, arsenic, and mercury, and reduced waste due to up to 20 percent slimmer panel than comparable models.
The G2410 sports a 1920x1080 screen resolution, which might be disappointing for some gamers hoping for 1920x1200, however it's enough for movie buffs to get full 1080p content. Other specs include a 1000:1 contrast ratio, 16.7 million color support, a 5ms response time, and 250 cd/m2 brightness. Connectivity options are limited to VGA and DVI-D.
The fruits of a 10-year funded agreement with the U.S. Army that began in 2004 has paid off for Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC), who has just created the first ever flexible touchscreen display. The display is based on active-matrix electrophoretic technology from E-Ink Corp out of Cambridge, MA, and will find initial application as a military device.
"Our displays have always been flexible, but so far the touchscreens have been glass, which are not rugged enough for many applications," said Sri Peruvemba, E-Ink's VP of marketing. "Now we have a partner that can build a flexible touchscreen to match our flexible display."
That partner is DuPont Teijin films, who manufacturers the plastic used in place of glass in conventional touchscreens. In this case, amorphous silicon thin-film transistors were fabricated on DuPont's flexible Teonex polyethylene napthalate substrate. The end result is a rugged, light-weight device suitable for battlefield scenarios.
Beyond military use, Peruvemba said the technology could become commercially available in as little as 18 months.
MSI plans to give HP a run in the touchscreen desktop market, as evidenced by a trio of Wind Top all-in-one PCs the company had on display during CeBIT. The models included the 19-inch AE1900, 20-inch AE2010, and 22-inch AE2200.
Specs remain pretty sparse, but it looks as though the AE2010 will come with an AMD 1.5GHz processor nestled into an AMD 780G chipset, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a DVD burner, and a 1600 x 900 touchscreen display. Engadget said it also spied an Intel logo on the AE1900 with Windows XP on its screen, which suggests at least one of the nettops will be powered by Intel's Atom processor.
No other details, including price points or projected release date, are yet known, but you can bet we'll let you know as soon as we find out more.
Take two emerging fads -- 3D displays and gesture controls -- mix them together and serve at CeBIT. Fraunofer-Gessellschaft hopes this recipe will cook up interest from consumers, which, incidentally, the company says can even be used for cooking. "Someone kneading pastry in the kitchen, whose hands are covered in dough, can turn down the boiling potatoes by waving a finger without leaving sticky marks on the stove," the company wrote in a press release.
The iPoint 3D doesn't require any 3D glasses or special data gloves, instead utilizing a recognition device Franofer-Gessellschaft says is not much bigger than a keyboard. Two built in cameras detect movement from hands and fingers and transmits the gestures in real-time so that the "system responds instantly."
Beyond gaming and cooking, the company sees its iPoint 3D being used in hospitals, offices, or anywhere else that would benefit from hands-free controls.
Fraunofer-Gessellschaft plans to show off the iPoint 3D at CeBIT, which runs from March 3 through 8.
It appears as though the mobile sector is gearing up for a dual-screen revolution, or at the very least, we expect to see the concept start to become more readily available. Last month Lenovo introduced its two-screen W700ds Thinkpad, and now gScreen is seeing double.
Unlike Lenevo's W700ds, gScreen's G400 sports two full sized 15-inch LED-backlit displays. Graphics chores are handled with either an Nvidia Quadro FX 2700M or GeForce 9800M GT, both with 512MB of video memory. Other specs include an Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 (2.8Ghz) or P8400 (2.26GHz), up to 8GB of RAM, up 500GB of hard drive space, and the usual assortment of ports.
The company says it is also working on a ruggedized version called the TITAN M-1, which is "being built specifically to specs requested by the U.S. Navy for extreme environments." The internal hardware will be a bit different, not all of which gScreen is wiling to comment on, but did say it will come equipped with an Intel Core 2 Quad QX9300 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive and built to MIL-STD810F standards.
No word yet on price or ship date, but gScreen says customers can reserve the G400 starting February 25th through Amazon.com.
If all you want a secondary display for is to keep track of your IM conversations, stock quotes, emails, and other tasks of that nature, Buffalo may have just what you're looking for with its new 7-inch display.
As the model number suggests, the FTD-W71USB LCD display plugs into a USB port and offers an 800x480 resolution, 300 nits brightness, a 500:1 contrast ratio, 25ms response time, and a wide viewing angle (vertical: 120 degrees, left and right: 140 degrees). Buffalo says you can rotate the display for either vertical or horizontal viewing, and can also be attached to a tripod stand for use with digital cameras by removing the stand.
If you really want to go hog-wild, Buffalo says you can use up to six units at the same time, making it possible to devote an entire display to every Skype conversation you might have going or, well, whatever else you might require six pint-sized displays.
With CES being known for showcasing 100+ inch displays, a 50-inch screen seems hardly worth a mention. Throw a multitouch interface into the mix, however, and suddenly that same 50-inch display starts to tickle our geek fancy.
Engadget posted a video showing attendees playing with the swank display, which looks as though someone hung a Microsoft Surface tabletop on the wall. Not a whole lot is known about the display, other than it belongs to Samsung, but we imagine it will cost a pretty penny should it ever see the light of day.
Three years ago, SED televisions were thought to be on the verge of competing with LCD HDTVs and plasma displays. By utilizing thousands of tiny electron guns for each phosphor pixel, SED looked poised to offer a compelling high definition solution with wide viewing angles and deep colors in a display as thin as LCD. But any plans to storm the market were quickly squashed when Applied Nanotech took Canon to court for illegally sublicensing its patents.
Fast forward to today and Canon is finally in the clear to launch SED-based televisions after having won the patent suit. Douglas Baker, Applied Nanotech's chief financial officer, admitted "it would probably be a futile effort" to try and appeal the case in the U.S. Supreme Court, so the only thing stopping Canon at this point is, well, the fear of being laughed at.
"At times like this, new display products are not introduced much because would laugh at them," Tsuneji Uchida, Canon's president, told Financial Times.
Uchida did say that Canon has been working on a cost competitive SED production process, so perhaps SED TVs might finally one day materialize. But first, Canon will need to set aside any fears it has of criticizers laughing at them. We hear picturing them in their underwear helps.