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Lucky 13th for Nintendo fans

This Friday the 13th, Nintendo is aiming on overturning the superstition and misfortune that comes with it by announcing a range of new hardware and software releases.

While Friday 13th is considered by many to be a day shrouded in superstition and misfortune, Nintendo is aiming to overturn this notion and bring good fortune to South Africa’s handheld gaming fans this coming Friday. It has named the day #Nintendo3DSDay, and is marking it with a slew of new hardware and software releases.

At a time when the Nintendo 3DS family of systems has now sold over 50 million hardware units globally, the latest additions to the family, New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, make their South African debut on Friday 13th alongside two major software releases: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Capcom‘s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Both titles are playable on all Nintendo 3DS systems, but feature added functionality when experienced on New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, such as more stable 3D and enhanced camera controls using the C Stick. Two limited edition hardware bundles, New Nintendo 3DS XL Majora’s Mask 3D Edition and New Nintendo 3DS XL Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition will also launch on Friday to celebrate these highly-anticipated titles.

Meanwhile, exclusively on Nintendo eShop, IronFall: Invasion, an intense single-player and six-person local & online multiplayer action-shooter from three talented developers, launches alongside familiar faces in Kirby Fighters Deluxe and Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe. In addition, a free video-on-demand streaming service named Nintendo Anime Channel becomes available for download from Nintendo eShop, with anime series from the likes of Kirby, Pokémon, and Inazuma Eleven.

“We are delighted to be releasing such an extensive Nintendo 3DS hardware and software line-up, and hope this offering demonstrates our commitment to providing the best and most varied gameplay experiences possible for handheld gaming fans,” said Laurent Fischer, Managing Director, European Marketing & PR at Nintendo of Europe.

Nintendo’s releases for #Nintendo3DSDay, Friday 13th February, in full:

New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL: The latest additions to the Nintendo 3DS family feature new control options, face-tracking 3D technology, built-in amiibo functionality, and enhanced processing power. New Nintendo 3DS is compact and light, with a screen 1.2 times bigger than the original Nintendo 3DS and has the option of extra customisation using replaceable cover plates. New Nintendo 3DS XL boasts a luxury look and a 4.88 inch screen for even more dynamic and immersive gameplay. A free update will also be released on 10th February for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS  that will enable amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. Collection to be used with the new systems.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D: The handheld remake of the beloved, dark and twisted Nintendo 64 game launches exclusively for Nintendo 3DS family of systems.

New Nintendo 3DS XL Majora’s Mask 3D Edition: A limited edition hardware bundle that includes a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and a New Nintendo 3DS XL system covered in artwork inspired by the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Special Edition:  A limited edition software offering which includes a copy of the game in its standalone packaging, a specially-designed SteelBook, a pin badge and a double-sided poster.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: As players explore the world of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, they will face off against many ferocious enemies with up to three other friends locally or, for the first time on Nintendo 3DS, online using a wireless broadband Internet connection. Ahead of launch day fans should check out Nintendo eShop and get their hands on the demo, to brush up their skills ready for the battle ahead.

New Nintendo 3DS XL Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition: A limited edition hardware bundle that includes a copy of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and a New Nintendo 3DS XL system with an iconic emblem from the game on its cover.

IronFall: Invasion: A three-year project by independent developers VD-DEV, IronFall: Invasion brings fast-paced single-player and six-person local & online multiplayer shooting action, with the gameplay perfectly suited for using the C Stick of New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL.

Kirby Fighters Deluxe: Based on the popular battle mode in Kirby: Triple Deluxe, this standalone 4-player battle action game contains expanded gameplay, new arenas and the ability to play as a team.

Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe: Bounce to the beat of catchy Kirby tunes playing as Kirby’s long-time rival King Dedede. This standalone rhythm action game includes content not found in Kirby: Triple Deluxe including all-new stages and new obstacles.

Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy +: Play as the legendary pilot Phoenix and control fighter jets that exist in real-life. The game includes compatibility with the New Nintendo 3DS system’s C Stick and ZR/ZL buttons for total control, while certain amiibo unlock aircraft skins themed after characters like Captain Falcon, Samus, Bowser and more.

Nintendo Anime Channel: A new video-on-demand service offering fans the chance to stream anime series from the likes of Pokémon, Kirby, and Inazuma Eleven, with new content being added regularly. Access to the service is granted simply by downloading a free application from Nintendo eShop.

New Themes for Nintendo 3DS HOME Menu: Fans looking to spruce up their HOME Menu with a new theme are in luck! New Basic and Simple Colour Set themes can be downloaded for free from the Theme Shop which can be accessed through the HOME Menu settings on your Nintendo 3DS system. Those purchasing either The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+  will receive a free bonus theme download if purchased from Nintendo eShop, with additional themes available for purchase.

The fun doesn’t end on when the sun sets on Friday 13th #Nintendo3DSDay though. More high-profile handheld games for Nintendo 3DS family of systems are scheduled for release in the coming weeks and months. These include: Pokémon Shuffle (launching in February), Cooking Mama: Bon Appétit! (6th March), Gardening Mama: Forest Friends(6th March), Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (20th March), Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Wildfire and Inazuma Eleven GO Chrono Stones: Thunderflash, (27th March) Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, (2nd April) Code Name S.T.E.A.M. (15th May), and Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition (May).

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture

Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production

IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land [1]. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.” 

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 [2]. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

[1] The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”

[2] Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10


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What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?

By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing

Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.

At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.

If Amazon did factories

If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.

Manufacturing with knowledge

Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.

In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.

As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.

Knowledge for manufacturing

For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.

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