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Skylanders gets Switched

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Activision Publishing has announced that Skylanders Imaginators will be ready to meet the next wave of gamers when the Nintendo Switch launches in March 2017. 

This March also marks the debut of some of Skylanders Imaginators’ most anticipated characters, as well as a brand-new expansion pack. Now Portal Masters all over the world can engage in new content, toys and experiences with the award-winning Skylanders Imaginators this spring!

No Portal of Power? No problem with Nintendo Switch. Skylanders Imaginators for Nintendo Switch provides gamers unique ways to play, including the introduction of a vast digital library that allows players to easily load and store 300+ toys from the Skylanders franchise directly to the new home gaming system.  The arrival of the digital library empowers players to take their Skylanders Imaginators adventure on-the-go whenever and however they want.

“Since the launch of the Skylanders Imaginators and Skylanders Creator, fans have made more than 25 million Imaginators using the expansive creation tools in the game and app. We couldn’t be more excited to extend that experience to Nintendo Switch players,” said Paul Reiche, co-founder and studio head, Toys for Bob. “We’ve seen some amazing Skylanders created, and as kids’ collections continue to grow, we’re proud to offer more depth and variety to fans in ways never before possible with this new system.”

“Skylanders Imaginators has ignited the imaginations of fans everywhere, and we’re looking forward to continuing to support their gameplay experiences with Nintendo Switch, along with new toys and content coming this year,” said Josh Taub, senior vice president of Skylanders Product Management, Activision. “There are now more than 300 million Skylanders toys in the hands of fans², which equates to nearly two toys sold every second since Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure launched.  And with the new season of the animated series Skylanders Academy slated for Netflix this fall, we are thrilled that fans can enjoy playing, watching and creating Skylanders no matter where they are.”

Building on the franchise’s signature gameplay and collectible toy experience, Skylanders Imaginators pushes the boundaries of innovation and imagination with the upcoming release of the Cursed Tiki Temple level pack. The Cursed Tiki Temple level pack takes kids on an all-new adventure as they unlock more than 100 new offerings for their Skylanders Imaginators – a first in franchise history! The pack comes with Sensei character Wild Storm who will unleash a new level to players; a life Creation Crystal; and an Imaginite Mystery Chest all for the suggested retail price of $29.99 on March 12 at participating retailers nationwide.

Skylanders Imaginators gives kids an unprecedented level of choice — including appearance, powers, abilities, names, catchphrases, musical themes and much more — to create the most unique Skylanders characters they can imagine.  This spring, fans can also be on the lookout for the arrival of new heroes in the world of Skylanders Imaginators, including Skylanders Sensei Grave Clobber. Once a great pharaoh who ruled the Golden Desert long ago, Grave Clobber was buried by his seven jealous brothers in an underwater tomb while he was sleeping.  He eventually rose from his watery grave, clobbered each of his brothers and became the perfect choice to be a Sensei trainer for the Brawler Class. This mummy may surprise you with his range of powers, packing a serious punch as well as telekinetic powers!

The game is rated 6+ by the PEGI system. The Cursed Tiki Temple level pack and new Skylanders Senseis will support all major gaming platforms including Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U system; Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft; and PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 computer entertainment systems. Skylanders Creator is a free app that players can download from iOS and Android app stores for select mobile devices. For more Skylanders information, visit: www.skylanders.com.

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Queues and cash-only frustrate SA’s commuters

A new study by Visa reveals the success factors for improving travel and creating smarter cities

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The use of cash-only payments was a frustration for 38% of Johannesburg commuters and 37% of Cape Town-based commuters, according to a new global study by Visa. Another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters.

Visa, in collaboration with Stanford University, came up with these findings in one of the largest global studies examining the growing demand for public and private transportation, and the important role digital commerce plays in driving sustainable growth.

According to the UN[i], by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centres – and the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period. South Africa is no different, with the majority of the country relying heavily on the public transport system. In fact, according to the General Household Survey (GHS) for 2018, a total of 54 209 000 minibus/taxi trips take place in South African per month. 

Building on Visa’s experience working with transit operators, automotive companies and technology start-ups, Visa commissioned a global study, “The Future of Transportation: Mobility in the Age of the Megacity” to better understand the challenges commuters face today and in the future. The key findings were combined with a view of existing and near horizon innovations provided by experts at Stanford University, to better understand the technology gaps in addressing their pain points.

The South African Perspective

Payments lie at the heart of every form of travel, and will continue to become more integral as more cities move to contactless public transportation, digital payments for parking and rental services such as bikes or scooters.  Malijeng Ngqaleni, Deputy Director-General of the South African Inter-governmental Relations, states that a high as 60% of South African households spend on average of 20% of their monthly income on transport, while in rural areas this number can be as high as 31%.

Aside from cash-only payments, another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters. Over the last few years, a number of mobile-driven taxi-hailing apps have been launched in the South African market to counteract these concerns and commuters are open to the possibilities presented by mobile apps. The Visa study echoed this by showing that 77% of Johannesburg commuters and 76% of Cape Town commuters would be willing to try a consolidated app to make payments for public transport.

 Mike Lemberger, SVP, Product Solutions Europe, Visa says: “The future success of our cities is intertwined with – and reliant on – the future of transportation and mobility. Visa and our partners have an important role to play, both in streamlining the payment experience for millions of commuters around the globe, and supporting public transportation authorities in their quest to build sustainable and convenient transportation solutions that improve the lives of the people who use it.”

Herman Donner, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher from Stanford University co-authored the report and summarised: “When looking across the technology landscape, there already exist many products that could easily address people’s daily frustrations with travel.  However, none of these solutions should be developed in isolation. A major challenge therefore lies in first identifying relevant technologies that provide suitable products for the market then managing implementation in conjunction with  a broad set of stakeholder including  mobility providers, technology companies, infrastructure owners and public transport agencies.  From our research, we think that many of these small, incremental changes have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s daily travel,  whether it’s to help find parking, get the best price to refuel their car or plan their journey on public transportation.”

Click here for the detailed global findings.

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Women take to tech, but more needed

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By HAIDI NOSSAIR, Marketing Director META, Dell Technologies

$12 trillion – that is the value in additional global GDP that remains locked behind the gender gap. This is according to the latest Women Matter report from McKinsey, which also reveals startling disparities in the workplace. Even though women make up more than half of the human population, only 37% contribute to GDP on average – and in some countries that proportion is significantly lower.

The reasons for this can be put in three areas. Fewer women – 650 million fewer than men – participate in the global labour force. Women are also more likely to be in part-time employment and thus work fewer hours. Finally, female employees are more common in lower-productivity sectors than in higher-productivity areas.  Are women not being offered the opportunity or are they holding themselves back?

Among STEM careers this ratio is particularly dismal: only 24% of engineering professionals are women, and as few as 19% of careers in ICT are filled by women.

What is the cause of this? Studies have found that women pursuing STEM careers are higher in countries with more oppressive policies towards women, because those careers hold the promise for financial freedom and more social autonomy. In contrast, countries with progressive attitudes towards women tend to produce fewer female STEM graduates. Then how can we encourage women from early ages to take the path of STEM education?  And how can organizations ensure women have equal opportunity at the hiring stages.

Certainly addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop.. Where women are increasingly more part of the workforce, there are often still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles. Female entrepreneurs often struggle more to gain investment capital. Corporate cultures are rarely aligned with the pressures of balancing work and family obligations. Decision makers may simply lack exposure to the potential of female candidates. Female pioneers have also argued that women are too risk-averse when compared to men. 

Whether these assertions are true is a matter for debate – and that’s exactly why every professional man and woman should be talking about them and identify action to change the status-quo. This is not just about female rights, but about social upliftment: companies with a mixture of male and female leaders perform better across the board and companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

The digital economy we live in today represent a golden opportunity for increased women contribution to the workforce as technology breaks the boundaries of location and time for the workplace and where labor intensive jobs may today be performed by data scientists. 

For two days in March, top professionals will gather to talk and exchange ideas around creating more roles for women, larger appreciation for female professionals, as well as counter the attitudes among women holding them back from greater career success and autonomy.

If you want to be part of this conversation, join the Women in Tech Africa summit today at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town – learn more at https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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