When playing video games becomes a full-time job

The digital economy has created a new market that can turn a love of online gaming into a profitable occupation through titles such as Axie Infinity and The Sandbox

By JORGE G. GARCÍA

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the transformation of many sectors and video games is one of them. For some players, spending a few hours playing for fun is a thing of the past. Some people may think the rise of e-sports has already changed the face of gaming from a pastime to a career, but what has been happening over the past few months goes even further. Games such as Axie Infinity, CrytpoKitiies and The Sandbox have created a new digital market that has transformed entertainment into cash. And not because they sell millions of copies, but because blockchain has allowed cryptocurrencies to become the focal point of these games, known as crypto games.

Axie Infinity, the main driver of this revolution, is the easiest example to understand how this new economic activity works. It is similar to Pokémon, with players collecting, training, feeding, buying and trading “axies,” which are loosely inspired by the axolotl. The idea of the game is to obtain these characters with small love potions, which are used to feed them. Via blockchain technology, these potions have been turned into a cryptocurrency known as Smooth Love Potion (SLP), which can be used to trade on the digital market. The best players can earn up to 1,500 SLP (around $470, €400) a day.5.4KDIRECTO | PEDRO SÁNCHEZ se reúne con los LÍDERES EUROPEOS en GRECIA

But this explanation is incomplete without mentioning NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which have already revolutionized the world of art and collectors. The first-ever tweet recently sold for $2.5 million (€2.13 million) and practically anything collectable can be obtained with NFT, which makes perfect sense if the project to create metaverses becomes reality. A metaverse is a universe built in cyberspace that can be accessed via virtual reality and in which, in an ideal world, people can travel through different shared experiences with millions of other users.

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Radically New Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology to Transform Aviation, Backed by USAF

by Otilia Drăgan

As exciting as green air mobility sounds, it’s largely dependent on the development of battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology. Without the continuous improvement of these technologies, innovative types of aircraft, such as vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (VTOLs), won’t be able to operate on a large scale. 6 photos

According to research cited by HyPoint, a company that’s developing hydrogen fuel cell systems for aeronautics, the global hydrogen aircraft market is estimated to grow rapidly within the next decades, getting from $27 billion in 2030 to $174 billion by 2040. On the other hand, studies also show that the eVTOL market is growing just as fast, so it makes sense to predict that developing hydrogen fuel cells for eVTOLs is becoming increasingly important.

HyPoint has just taken an important step in this direction, by partnering with Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, a rotorcraft and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) platforms manufacturer, for the development of a certified hydrogen fuel cell system for eVTOLs. The $6.5 million agreement is focused on Piasecki’s PA-890 compound helicopter, which is set to become the world’s first hydrogen-powered manned helicopter.

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Researchers develop a prototype of electronic nose

By University of Notre Dame 

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

But how does one measure that smell?

There’s no energy in a smell to help estimate how potent the coffee might be. Instead, it’s the gases emitted from brewed coffee that contribute to the invigorating scent.

The human nose captures those gases in a way that Nosang Vincent Myung, the Bernard Keating Crawford Professor of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, is working to duplicate in a device with sensors.

He and his team have developed a prototype of an electronic nose, using nanoengineered materials to tune the sensitivity and selectivity to mimic the performance and capabilities of a human nose.

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Audi’s Grandsphere concept EV is a self-driving living room on wheels

The less you drive this luxury sedan, the more you’ll enjoy it.

By J. Fingas

If Audi’s Skysphere concept is a driver’s car with an autonomous option, the company’s follow-up is the polar opposite. The automaker has introduced a Grandsphere concept electric sedan that uses Level 4 self-driving (full autonomy in limited conditions) to help you avoid driving “whenever possible” — this is a luxurious living room that just happens to let you take the wheel.

Invoke the driverless mode and the Grandsphere will ‘reduce’ the wheel and pedals to make it clear you’re supposed to relax. The displays are really projections on wooden surfaces that adapt based on whether or not you’re driving — you can watch media or participate in video conferences. While Audi’s familiar MMI controls are available in an upright seating position, you can use eye tracking and gestures to navigate the infotainment system while you’re reclining. VR glasses in the armrests help you immerse yourself in entertainment during your commute.

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Headless, Two-Legged Robot Digit Is Now Ready to Take Over Your Duties

by Cristina Mircea

It was “born” in 2019 when its creator, Agility Robotics, first introduced it as a highly-capable robot with legs and arms, suited for both indoor and outdoor use. Now Digit is available for purchase and ready to take over your tedious duties. 7 photos

Digit is a strange-looking humanoid. It is headless, but it has fully functional arms, legs, and a somewhat athletic body. As well it should since Agility Robotics aims to create a fleet of robots that can free humans of their tedious and exhausting tasks, so they can focus on the creativity and decision-making side of things.

The company claims it built Digit as a machine that can work in environments designed for humans. It is why it can climb stairs, navigate autonomously, and perform a variety of tasks with its strong arms.

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Inside NASA’s vision to control space stations with autonomous robots

Our future in space may see ISAAC control space stations, as well as space colonies on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

“What would happen if an astronaut were to lose a sock inside an air vent?” you may wonder. Well wonder no further, as an Astrobee robot named Bumble solved that very test aboard the International Space Station in April 2021.

Engineers provided the small, cube-shaped robotic attendant with a (fictional) warning of a buildup of carbon dioxide aboard the station. (Such an event in real life could quickly prove dangerous for humans aboard the orbiting outpost).

Bumble quickly traveled to an air recirculation vent, identifying the “blockage” — a picture of a sock, standing in for the real thing. The electronic aide-de-camp then called for human assistance in removing the blockage.

The second test for Bumble involved creating a high-resolution map of Bay 6 of the space station’s Japanese Exploration Module. While doing so, the fluttering cyborg encountered cables around which it had to navigate, while encountering “interruptions” in its communications with ground controllers.

Bumble performed its tasks successfully, along with a little help from humans back on Earth.

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Hydrogen-powered truck set for launch in Australia

Australian hydrogen vehicle manufacturer H2X will unveil the Warrego, a fuel cell electric hybrid pickup truck, in November.

By  BELLA PEACOCK

H2X Global plans to launch its new Warrego pickup truck in Australia’s Gold Coast region, and is already taking orders for the vehicle.

The company says the vehicle features a 200 kW motor system, 66 kW and optional 90 kW fuel cell systems, and 60 kW to 100 kW energy storage systems between its battery and super capacitor units. The Warrego has a 500 km driving range and a refueling time of between three and five minutes. 

With its hybrid system, H2X says the vehicle can on pure hydrogen, “drastically” reducing refueling time, while increasing driving range and hydrogen efficiency.

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Engineering CAR T Cells to Deliver Endogenous RNA Wakes Solid Tumors to Respond to Therapy

PHILADELPHIA—Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which uses engineered T cells to treat certain types of cancers, has often been a challenging approach to treating solid tumors. CAR T cells need to recognize a specific target on cancer cells to kill them. However, cancer cells do not always have the target, or they find ways to hide the target and stay invisible to CAR T cell attack. A new study from Penn Medicine, published online in Cell, demonstrates that RN7SL1, a naturally occurring RNA, can activate the body’s own natural T cells to seek out the cancer cells that have escaped recognition by CAR T cells. This may help improve efforts to treat solid tumors, which represent most human cancers.

“CAR T cells typically are like lone soldiers without backup. However, if given the right tools, they can kickstart the body’s own immune system and give them help against the cancer cells missed with CAR T cells alone,” said co-lead author Andy J. Minn, MD, PhD, a professor of Radiation Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Mark Foundation Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation at Penn.

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US-based Space Travel Company Space Perspective Raises US$ 7M

By Komal Pattanayak

Florida, US-based company Space Perspective, a space travel company that was established so that humans would explore space for the betterment of all, raised US$ 7 million in seed financing on 3rdDecember 2020.

The financing round was led by Prime Movers Lab and Base Ventures who is a leading Silicon Valley tech fund. Other participants in the round include world-renowned entrepreneur, author and business strategist Tony Robbins and venture capital firms Kirenaga Partners’ Central Florida Tech Fund, 1517 Fund, Schox, E2MC Ventures and SpaceFund Venture Capital. Anton Brevde of Prime Movers and Kirby Harris of Base Ventures will join the Space Perspective Board of Directors.

The funds raised will be used for the development and early flights of Spaceship Neptune, a space balloon capable of carrying passengers to the edge of space. The infusion of capital advances the human space flight company another step closer to fundamentally changing the way people have access to space for research and tourism.

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How blockchain can drive video games into the Web 3.0 future

NFTs, metaverses and ‘play-to-earn’ are upending gaming’s traditional revenue model. Shreyansh Singh of Polygon explains blockchain gaming’s business potential.

In recent years, various forms of in-game purchases and microtransactions have become the norm for many games. Free-to-play games that generate income from these revenue sources have also grown in popularity, but many gamers remain unconvinced. Now, thanks to developments in blockchain and novel software development kits (SDKs), developers can bring NFT-powered items and transactions into their games — even existing ones — for the first time. This stands to bring in a new era of gaming that benefits both developers and players alike.  

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Hobot Technology unveils new window-cleaning robot

BY DAVID EDWARDS 

Hobot Technology has officially launched its new window-cleaning robot, the Hobot-2S. The US launch date is scheduled for October 1, 2021.

Hobot says its window cleaning robots “have been recognized as the world’s standard in robotic technology”, adding that it’s the “most trusted brand of US consumers” due to quality, reliability, and customer support. 

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NASA Is Looking for the Next-Gen Lunar Vehicle, Won’t Be Your Grandpa’s Moon Buggy

by Florina Spînu

NASA is asking American companies for ideas and solutions to transport Artemis astronauts around the lunar South Pole later this decade. And it says that its next lunar vehicle will not be your grandpa’s old Moon Buggy, but a modern space vehicle ready to conquer our natural satellite. 6 photos

As part of Artemis, NASA will put the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface and establish a long-term presence on the Moon. Once they arrive, the astronauts will need a lunar terrain vehicle (LTV) to navigate the rugged surface. 

The first Moon Buggy was introduced on the Apollo 15 mission. With the LRV, astronauts were able to explore 17.25 miles (27.76 km) of various geological features, improving the scientific return of each mission. They were also capable of gathering more than ten times the amount of samples that they would’ve collected on foot.

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