Microsoft has announced that Kinect for Windows will be arriving in South Africa in June, and according to CAREN CROUS of Xbox 360 South Africa, this will change the way we interact with computers.
Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor changed the way people play video games by recognising movement and speech. Now the company aims to redefine the way we interact with computers with the release of Kinect for Windows in South Africa later this year.
This is according to Caren Crous, product and marketing manager: Xbox 360 South Africa, who has confirmed that, along with Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Russia and Austria to name a few, South Africa will be welcoming the technology by as soon as June this year.
‚This is a game-changer for Microsoft and the industry,‚ said Caren Crous, Kinect product and marketing manager in South Africa. ‚This isn’t about video games or Windows. This is about the future of computing, and will create entirely new ways of working with computers.‚
The Kinect for Windows device is already being used in a variety of work settings. Car manufacturers are using the technology to enable virtual tours for customers. Hospitals are using its gesture-recognition ability to view CT scans without touching a keyboard or mouse. A clothing store in Los Angeles has created a pod that houses eight Kinect devices in a circle, which will scan a customer’s physique, take measurements, and recommend a pair of jeans.
Crous says there are numerous applications for the device in the education field as well, including helping people with special needs. Kinect for Windows includes the ability to track the head, neck and arms of either a seated or standing user, which broadens its functionality significantly.
‚The Xbox team is also hard at work on the 1.5 release, which will be available at the end of May,‚ she says. ‚New to this version is Kinect Studio, an application that allows developers to record, playback and debug clips of users engaging with their applications.
‚Also coming is what we call ‚seated’ or ’10-joint’ skeletal tracking which provides the capability to track the head, neck and arms of either a seated or standing user working in both default and near mode. There will be four new languages for speech recognition ‚ French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, and Xbox will be release new language packs that enable speech recognition for the way a language in spoken in different regions.‚
The sky’s the limit for local developers too. Microsoft has already released the Kinect for Windows sensor and software development kit (SDK) for commercial applications. The latest release of the technology will include Kinect Studio, an application that allows developers to record, playback and debug clips of users engaging with their applications.
Regional availability and purchasing information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/kinectforwindows/purchase
Google Home and Amazon Echo come to South Africa
The devices are directly imported from the USA by Cellucity, but are ICASA-approved and carry a local warranty
The Cellucity retail chain has announced that it will bring a wide range of Google and Amazon gadgets into South Africa for the festive season. It will be launching the Google home range of smart speakers, as well as Google’s Chromecast smart TV device and a range of Amazon products.
The company said in a statement: “Smart home speakers are all the rage right now – not only fun and entertaining; they are also useful at helping you plan your day. Set the alarm – no problem, check the weather – no problem. Check the traffic; yes, you probably guessed it – no problem! And, with the festive period around the corner, they make the ideal gift whether you are tech-savvy or a newbie to the world of IoT.
“We are not ones to shy away from trends and are excited to be able to offer a range of smart speakers. For our Google lovers, we are happy to be launching the Google Home range.”
The Google Home Mini is a stylish compact speaker with all the functionality of Google Assistant. Users can ask it questions or give it commands, hands-free. Although the Google Mini offers exceptional clarity of sound, those looking for a bit of oomph will probably look to the Google Home Assistant Smart Speaker. As with the Google Mini, the Google Home offers Google Assistant but offers enhanced sound, bass and far-field voice recognition.
“If you are looking for more than just a smart speaker, check out the Smart Home Hub,” advises Cellucity. “With all the functionality of the Google Smart Mini and Home, the Home Hub doubles as a digital photo frame and offers the advantage of video playback.
The following Google Home products can be purchased either upfront or added on to selected Vodacom contracts at Cellucity:
- Google Home Mini at R899, or from R40 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.
- Google Home Smart at R2499
- Google Home Hub from R2499, or R90 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.
For TV viewers, Cellucity has launched Google Chromecast, which connects to any smart TV. It’s compact and mobile so can br taken with on holiday. The Chromecast, which is ideal for bringing Netflix or Showmax to a smart TV, will be available from R849.
For those looking to Amazon products, Cellucity is launching the Amazon Echo speakers 2nd and 3rd Gen at R999 and R1499 respectively. It is also offering the Amazon Firestick 4K, allowing users to stream shows and content in 4K. The Firestick will be available from R1299.
All the Google Home and Amazon products are easy to pair with both Android and iOS.
It is important to note that all features may not yet be available in South Africa, particularly with Amazon products, but Cellucity says it is working on it. The devices have been imported directly from the USA, but have been ICASA approved and will carry a local warranty.
Fitbit Pay moves into 7 transit systems globally
Wristband’s payments will now be accepted in New York, Chicago, Singapore, Sydney, and Taiwan.
Fitbit has announced that Fitbit Pay is available for consumers to use at seven major transit systems around the world.
Fitbit also announced it will be part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) One Metro New York (OMNY) contactless fare payment pilot program. Any user in New York with Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition, Fitbit Versa Special Edition and Fitbit Ionic devices will be able to securely and easily tap and pay-per-ride directly from their wrist on select MTA busses and subway lines, providing the convenience to keep their smartphones and wallets tucked away.
Starting May 31, Fitbit users with Fitbit Pay-enabled smartwatches and trackers can tap and pay to board all Staten Island buses, and all stops on the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines between Grand Central and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. This pilot program marks the beginning of a long-term relationship with the MTA, with plans to extend the organization’s OMNY program to the entire subway and bus system by 2021.
“We’re excited to work with Fitbit and others to help us provide added value and everyday convenience to our customers,” said Al Putre, OMNY Executive Director at the MTA. “We are always looking for ways to enhance the transit experience and help New Yorkers and visitors alike get to their destination faster and make payment more convenient, and now they can do so with any Fitbit wearable that supports Fitbit Pay with a simple tap of the wrist.”
In addition to bringing Fitbit Pay to one of the largest and busiest public transit systems in the world with the MTA, Fitbit continues to expand its global transit system capabilities to serve commuters and travelers from all over. Fitbit Pay can now be used across seven open and closed loop transit systems, including Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA), Sydney transport for New South Wales (NSW) train, ferry and light rail services, Taiwan iPASS, TransLink in Vancouver and Transport for London (TfL), with plans to bring Fitbit Pay to more global transit systems in the future.
“In addition to helping our users get healthier and more active, we’re committed to delivering holistic experiences on our trackers and smartwatches that help keep our 27 million active users engaged,” said James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit. “As we expand the use of Fitbit Pay to work with the MTA and other major transit systems around the globe, we are enabling our on-the-go customers to safely and easily pay for transit with devices that are broadly compatible and have long battery life – all making it easier to go about their day.”
In less than two years, Fitbit Pay is now available in 42 countries and supported by more than 300 of the world’s leading banks and credit unions through American Express,1Mastercard and Visa networks. Through a few quick and easy steps, Fitbit users can add up to six credit or debit cards to their Fitbit Wallet in the Fitbit app on Android or iOS mobile devices. Using the NFC chip built-into select Fitbit smartwatches and trackers, Fitbit Pay users can easily pay for items at millions of stores worldwide wherever contactless payments are accepted.
All Fitbit Pay transactions use an industry standard tokenization platform, ensuring users’ card information is never revealed or shared with merchants or Fitbit. For added security, a protected PIN is chosen by the user during device set-up. Users are also covered by their bank’s fraud protection and continue to enjoy the advantages conferred by their bank or credit card, including guarantees, insurance coverage, points and miles, without having to take out their wallets. For more information about Fitbit Pay, supported banks and transit systems, visit Fitbit.com/Fitbit-Pay.