6 Most Interesting Tech Announcements from E3

From glasses-less 3D to seriously compact hardware, even non-gamers can get excited about some of the technology announced this week at the video game industry's flagship conference.

The last couple weeks brought us both Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference and Microsoft's Tech-Ed, giving the chance for the two companies to show off new hardware, software and updates for the overall computer industry. This week, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), currently taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, changes the focus to the video game market. With gaming often pushing the limits of what hardware and software can do, and with Microsoft continuing to make major plays with its gaming division, don't be surprised if some of these advances have an impact in one way or another outside of gaming over the next few years.

1) Nintendo Puts 3D in Your Hands (Without the Glasses)

Just like Hollywood, the gaming industry is also throwing their cap in the 3D field. While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 has plans for 3D gaming (with the use of a 3D TVs), Nintendo unveiled its 3D-enabled portable system -- the Nintendo 3DS.

What sets it apart is that its immersive visual technology will not require users to wear specially-designed glasses. The two-screen handheld will employ three cameras and a side-slider to calculate the distance of the users' eyes from the screen to adjust the image accordingly. It will also allow users to take 3D photographs and view 3D movies. Similar to Nintendo DS, it will come with a 3.5 inch top screen and a 3.02 bottom touchscreen. Seeing as this is Nintendo's second attempt at a 3D console, let's see if they've learned from the mistakes of the failed (and headache-inducing) Virtual Boy.

2) Microsoft Gets You off the Couch

While Microsoft and Sony's current-generation console offerings (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) have previously tried to focus on the core group of video game players, Nintendo has found a new and broader audience with its motion-based Wii. Trying to capitalize on the emergence of the "casual" gamer, Microsoft is set to release its own motion capturing peripheral at the end of the year.

Titled the Xbox Kinect, the plugin device for the Xbox 360 will give users full motion control thanks to an infrared camera that can detect and track 48 points on an individual without the use of any controller. (Caution: downstairs neighbors may not be too happy.) Microsoft promises the device will be able to distinguish multiple individuals to provide video feedback with little to no lag. A standard camera and microphone will also allow for video chat and voice control.

3) Sony Will Move You

Not to be left out of the motion-control game, Sony will also be releasing its own entry this October. However, they are sticking much closer to Nintendo's motion control setup than the Microsoft offering (If it ain't broke, why fix it?).

The PlayStation Move uses a wand-like controller that will mimic users' thrusts, swings and hand movements. How it sets it apart from Nintendo's controller is a glowing ball at the end of the wand that will be tracked with a camera. Sony promises this will help it to be more accurate than the Wii's motion control and be able to register even the slightest of movement. A controller must be purchased for each user.

4) ESPN's Partnership with Xbox

The sports network will be providing users of the subscription-based Xbox Gold service over 3,500 on-demand and live sporting events, all presented in HD. So far, the MLB, NBA, soccer, college basketball and college football games will be available at launch. Also, on-screen stats and trivia can be accessed at any time, with no interruption to the video. The down side: Fans of the NFL and NHL (all three of you) are currently out of luck with concern to content.

5) Sony Goes Subscription

Sony has seen that millions of gamers are willing to pay for Microsoft's online gaming service (Xbox Live Gold) and wants to get into revenue stream with the announcement a new annual subscription-based service that will provide users with additional content not offered in its free online service. Subscribers will be given access to free games every month from Sony's downloadable store, retail game add-ons, invitations to game betas, exclusive demos and the ability to try downloadable games before purchasing. The subscription price will be $49.99 a year.

6) Xbox 360 Slims Down

At Microsoft's press conference on Monday, the company announced a redesign of their Xbox 360 that was available to consumers that day. The drastically smaller model uses an improved DVD drive that is uses less energy than the previous models. (It also should sound less like a Boeing 747 taking off every time a disk is inserted.) In the past, the Xbox 360 has had a 42 percent failure rate due to overheating and drive problems, commonly known as the "red ring of death." The thinner, black new model looks to solve many of the technical issues of the past. It comes loaded with a 250-gigabyte hard drive and retails for $299.

What advances would you like to see in gaming technology? And what impact can you see gaming technologies have on IT in general? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.


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