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An exclusive look at Samsung Ballie – Engadget



The first thing I notice when I pick up Ballie is how light it is — it’s about the size of a hefty grapefruit, but much less dense. And Ballie’s plastic, scalloped frame gives this otherwise nondescript ball a sense of playfulness, one that might not have been possible if Samsung had gone with the cloth finish it first considered.


I’m told I’m the only non-Samsung staffer to hold Ballie at CES apart from the mayor of Seoul, though I’m not quite sure if that’s true or just PR bluster. Anyway, it doesn’t matter: Ballie may well represent the future of Samsung’s home robot strategy, and it’s only here because a dozen members of the company’s Think Tank Team (TTT) carefully crafted the prototype you might have seen rolling around on-stage during a keynote address.

As I noted in an earlier story, Samsung has been pretty reticent to offer specific details. We still don’t know whether Samsung is making concrete plans to bring Ballie to market, or how much it could cost if and when that happens, but TTT director Leo Jun filled in a few of the gaps for us.

“This is our first step into personal home robots,” Jun told me. “It’s not just a social robot. It’s actually designed to be a companion, and it’s a little bit different in its interpretation but we think this is very believable.”

Crafting a companion

Samsung is no stranger to trotting out robots at big trade shows — just last year, it revealed a trio of service-oriented Bots at CES designed to help manage people’s health care routines, guide customers through stores and, uh, purify air. Those were among Samsung’s first attempts at truly “personal” robots, and you can see how the company tried to give them personalities through human-like characteristics — they have big, blinking eyes rendered on round screens, and two of them had “heads” that swiveled around to look at people and objects. Think Eve from Wall-E, and you’re on the right track.

Ballie is different. It is no way human-like, and for Samsung, devising a way to make a robot ball look and feel like something you’d want to talk to was no small feat. As I mentioned, the original plan was to use a cloth-covered body; that idea was shelved at least partially because realized it might not hold up to certain members of the family.

“You should train your dog not to bite into it all the time,” Jun said. Still, the scalloped design TTT landed on should “withstand some of those scrapes and bumps.”

Since TTT couldn’t very well squeeze a face onto a ball running around at ground level, it also agonized over what Ballie should sound like. In Samsung’s CES keynote demo video, it can be heard making adorable chirpy sounds as it zips around a magnificently expensive-looking home and interacts with its inhabitants. Jun couldn’t confirm that those were the exact cutesy sounds a final Ballie would make, but the team landed on a philosophy it’s pleased with.

“We were very, very specific not to make it robot-y,” Jun said. “Even the sound UI we designed were from very acoustic, round instruments like a hang drum. We layered that with a little processing and included a little robot-y sound at the end to remind people this is a robot, but not the kind of robot you were expecting.”

It’s decisions like this, rather than practical ones about locomotion or power management, that could have the most impact on how this robot is received. And to some extent, Jun concedes that functionality in a product like this is less important than feel.

“It’s not about the physical object being there to trigger IoT devices. It doesn’t need to be there. It doesn’t even need to turn and make sounds and stuff, but it’s for the user. It’s a very natural interface in front of you, and there’s an important immediacy to that.”

The way forward

For a concept prototype, Ballie physically feels nearly ready for production. It rolls around with surprising surety on those two rim-like wheels, and honestly, I’ve handled full, commercial Samsung products that didn’t feel as convincing. Obviously though, but a lot of work needs to happen between the end of CES and a potential launch.

For one, Samsung has to finalize Ballie’s hardware. The company is understandably hesitant to talk details, but we know a few things, like that fact that Ballie doesn’t use one of Samsung’s home-made Exynos chipsets as a brain. It uses a single camera for object and person detection, but it handles all of the image processing directly on-device and apparently lacks the ability to record and store footage of its surroundings entirely. (Whether that’s enough to assuage people’s privacy concerns remains to be seen.)

Perhaps the bigger issue here is that Samsung needs to sort out Ballie’s software. Jun confirmed that just about all of things Ballie could be seen doing in Samsung’s keynote video — rolling around stably, interacting with smart home gadgetry, recognizing the human form, recognizing some voice commands — is more or less possible right now, “but not at the level you’re thinking from a commercial perspective.” What it doesn’t do, for now anyway, is interact with existing Samsung AI efforts like Bixby at all.

“We were thinking, it needs to be flexible. It could be modular, it could come in different combinations. Maybe it’s Bixby. Maybe it’s something else.”

Considering how little a role Bixby played when Samsung CEO H.S. Kim laid out his vision for the Age of Experience, I can’t say I was surprised that it’s currently absent from Ballie. (For those keeping count, the Bixby logo appeared on-screen for just a few moments during the keynote, and was barely mentioned by name.)

For now though, jumping to conclusions about… well, anything related to Ballie would be short-sighted. Samsung seems pretty enthusiastic about the concept, and its approach here — even in these early days — feels easier to embrace than what we say last year. It might take years for Ballie to become a real product, but even if it doesn’t, Samsung deserves some credit for making a machine that people have started to swoon over.

Follow all the latest news from CES 2020 here!

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Apple prepares for game-changing WWDC 2023: Mixed reality headset and new features in the spotlight – HT Tech



It is anticipated that the next Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) would be one of Apple’s greatest events yet. Apple may eventually unveil its mixed reality headset after years of rumours and leaks, launching the company into a new product category and giving people a first glimpse at its effort to convince investors that virtual reality is worth investing in.

There will also undoubtedly be a lot more: operating system updates, new features and apps, and perhaps even new hardware. Details on how and when to watch the main WWDC keynote as well as some of the announcements we anticipate from Apple are gathered here.

As per The Verge, Apple has confirmed that this year’s main WWDC keynote is slated for Monday, June 5, at 1PM ET / 10AM PT. It will take place as a digital and in-person event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, with Apple CEO Tim Cook expected to kick things off. You can view the full WWDC lineup here.


Apple will stream the WWDC keynote live from its website and YouTube channel. If you can’t watch the keynote live, you can always tune in to the prerecorded version Apple will post on YouTube after it airs.

With that said, let’s get into some of the biggest announcements that we expect Apple to make during WWDC.

Undoubtedly, Apple’s mixed reality headset is one of the most interesting new offerings in recent memory. Apple has yet to even confirm its existence, but rumours indicate that it will be able to deliver both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Seemingly called the “Reality Pro,” the developer-focused headset is expected to take on a “ski goggle” look that comes with a physical dial that lets you tune in and out of virtual reality, according to The Verge

The headset will probably be a stand-alone unit with a battery pack that is connected to it by a special wire. It is said to have an M2 chip with 16GB of RAM as far as technical specifications go. According to supply chain analyst Ross Young, the gadget may include two 1.41-inch Micro OLED panels with 4,000 (ppi) each.

Young adds that the displays are capable of delivering over 5,000 nits of brightness and that users should be able to see 4K resolution in each eye, as per The Verge.

Apple has reportedly been working hard on creating VR versions of some of its native apps, including Safari, FaceTime, Apple TV, Apple Books, Freeform, and more, according to reports. Additionally, it can have a feature that let the headset work as an external display for your Mac. Apple’s headset is projected to cost roughly $3,000, so it won’t be cheap. We probably won’t see cheaper variants of the device at this year’s presentation, despite the fact that Apple is allegedly also working on them.

There have already been signs that Apple might be planning to reveal its “Reality Pro” headset at WWDC, as the company has sent out an invite to an editor at the VR-focused outlet UploadVR. Apple has also posted an AR teaser on its site, which shows a thin, film-like Apple logo with the date of WWDC wherever you point your iPhone or iPad’s camera.

According to The Verge, WWDC is an event for developers, which means we’re bound to see some updates to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and more.

Premium products like an Apple whole new operating system, a new MacBook Air, and a mixed reality (MR) headset will be unveiled during the five-day developers’ event.

The keynote address by Apple CEO Tim Cook is the event’s high point for developers.

The event will begin on June 5 (Monday) at 10:30 p.m. (IST) for the Indian audience. June 9 marks the conclusion of the developer event. (ANI)

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Apple expected to unveil mixed-reality headset – DW (English)



Apple Inc. is widely expected to announce on Monday a new mixed-reality headgear at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in California. 

It would mark the tech giant’s most significant product launch since the 2015 Apple Watch release. 

The iPhone maker has so far limited augmented-reality efforts to technology that works on its existing devices. But it seems set to tap into the new generation of technology where real and digital worlds converge.


The highly anticipated headset will put Apple in competition with Facebook’s parent Meta, which has been working for years to push its parallel digital universe, or the “metaverse.” 

What we know about Apple’s ‘Reality Pro’ headset

According to media reports citing analysts, Apple is expected to spotlight a “Reality Pro” headset, with a price tag of around $3,000 and custom-made software for the gear that could resemble a pair of ski goggles. 

The goggles are expected to have a slick Apple-family design, paired with the capability of toggling between virtual or augmented reality, which is referred to as mixed reality or external reality (XR).

Is Apple’s mixed-reality headset coming soon?

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While hopes are high for Apple to boast surprising technology, the goggle’s high price could leave many eager fans disappointed. 

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives estimated that Apple could sell just 150,000 units during the headset’s first year on the market — a low figure for a company that sells annually more than 200 million of its marquee product, the iPhone.

fb/sri (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Where’s the VR party at?

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‘Diablo 4’ Patch Notes Bring Fast Barbarian, Druid, Rogue Nerfs, Necro Buffs



It has been only a few days since the launch of Diablo 4, and while I knew that Blizzard was doing fast, reactive patches for the game, this is…a whole lot of balance changes to the game like 72 hours after launch. So much so that yeah, I’m thinking maybe they slow down a bit? It’s a lot.

My guess is some of this was sparked by the “world’s first” races to get to max level in the game, especially the hardcore race, and Blizzard believed some outlier skills were too strong. They also advertise some buffs in here, but it is overwhelmingly a good amount of nerfs. Here’s the list of changes to all classes:

BARBARIAN – Some pretty huge hits to Whirlwind Barbs, especially Gohr’s, which was creating a zillion explosions with activation and de-activation

  • Challenging Shout (Skill) – Damage Reduction gained from Skill Ranks reduced from 4% to 2%
  • Bold Chieftain’s Aspect – Cooldown reduction per Nearby enemy reduced from 2.7-5.4 seconds to 1.0-1.9 seconds. Maximum Cooldown reduction from 12 to 6 seconds.
  • Aspect of the Dire Whirlwind – Increased Critical Strike Chance per second reduced from 5-10% to 3-8%. Maximum Critical Strike Chance bonus reduced from 20-40% to 9-24%.
  • Gohr’s Devastating Grips (Unique Legendary) – Explosion damage gained from Whirlwind reduced from 50-70% to 16-26%. Damage against wreckable objects no longer increases explosion damage. Explosion damage is only increased by the first 100 hits of Whirlwind.

DRUID – This one is a mix of nerfs and buffs. Lightning-based builds in particular got a little bit of a buff, but there are definitely a lot of nerfs in here as well, which I’ve already seen some Druid players complaining about.

  • Pulverize (Skill) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 33% to 25%.
  • Lightning Storm (Skill) – Damage increased from 32% to 40%.
  • Grizzly Rage (Skill) – Damage bonus increased from 5/10/15% to 6/12/18%.
  • Obsidian Slam (Specialization) – Kills required for bonus increased from 10 to 20.
  • Calm Before the Storm (Specialization) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 15% to 10%.
  • Electric Shock (Passive) – Damage bonus increased from 5/10/15% to 6/12/18%.
  • Shockwave Aspect – Damage reduced from 90-130% to 60-100%.
  • Crashstone Aspect – Critical Strike Damage reduced from 40-50% to 30-40%.
  • Lightning Dancer’s Aspect – Flat damage increased from .5-.6 to .7-.8.

NECROMANCER – Out of all the classes, Necro actually got the most buffs by far. Most of these are focused on minion buffs including damage buffs to both skeletons and Golems, including a huge swing on an Iron Golem skill. I guess they were underperforming compared to the other classes a bit.

  • Blood Lance (Skill) – Damage increased from 67.5% to 80%.
  • Army of the Dead (Skill) – Damage increased from 30% to 45%. Cooldown reduced from 90 to 70 seconds.
  • Blood Wave (Skill) – Damage increased from 90% to 120%.
  • Shadowblight (Passive) – Damage increased from 20% to 22%.
  • Grim Harvest (Passive) – Essence gained reduced from 3/6/9 to 2/4/6.
  • Serration (Passive) – Critical Strike Chance reduced from .5/1/1.5% to .3/.6/.9%.
  • Death’s Defense (Passive) – Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.
  • Raise Skeleton (Specialization) – Skeleton Warrior attack damage increased by 10%.
  • Golem (Specialization) – Golem attack damage increased by 10%.
  • Blood Golem (Specialization) – Blood Golem Life drain damage increased from 40% to 90%. Blood Golem Life drain healing from enemies hit increased from 4% to 5%.
  • Iron Golem (Specialization) – Iron Golem slam damage increased from 25% to 175%. Iron Golem shockwave damage increased from 30% to 40%.
  • Hulking Monstrosity (Paragon Board) – Golem Life and damage bonus increased from 30% to 40% Life.
  • Cult Leader (Paragon Board) – Golem Life and damage bonus increased from 30% to 40% Life.

ROGUE – A couple buffs here, but the main thing is the decimation of the extremely popular Twisting Blades build, which was already emerging as a strong favorite. Too strong for Blizzard’s taste, and it’s getting hammered pretty hard here.

  • Twisting Blades (Skill) – Advanced Twisting Blades Cooldown reduction per enemy hit reduced from .25 to .1 seconds. Advanced Twisting Blades maximum Cooldown reduction reduced from 3 to 2 seconds.
  • Rapid Fire (Skill) – Damage increased from 24% to 30%.
  • Dark Shroud (Skill) – Damage Reduction per shadow gained from Skill Ranks reduced from .8% to .4%.
  • Dash (Skill) – Enhanced Dash Critical Strike Damage bonus from 20% to 15%.
  • Caltrops (Skill) – Damage increased from 30% to 40%.
  • Concussive (Passive) – Critical Strike Chance reduced from 5/10/15% to 4/8/12%.
  • Repeating (Affix) – Maximum Minion Life lost in a single damage instance reduced from 75/60/45% to 60/45/30%.

SORCERER – Sorcerer was barely touched. Either they think it’s pretty balanced or they haven’t had much time to dig into its potential issues yet. But no destroyed builds via nerfs here.

  • Arc Lash (Skill) – Lucky Hit Chance reduced from 30% to 14%. Glinting Arc Lash Cooldown reduction reduced from .25 to .15 seconds.
  • Teleport (Skill) – Shimmering Teleport’s Damage Reduction duration reduced from 5 to 3 seconds.
  • Aspect of Control – Bonus damage reduced from 30-40% to 25-35%.

PARAGON BOARDS – There are some huge, overall changes to Paragon Boards, where Blizzard thought that Glyphs were way, way too strong so they are getting somewhat slaughtered:

  • Rare Nodes – Player Attack Speed nodes reduced by 50%.


  • All Glyph Bonus scaling has been reduced by ~34%, except for the following:
  • Critical Strike Damage Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Vulnerable Glyphs’ Bonus reduced by ~66%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Rare nodes reduced by ~50%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Magic nodes reduced by ~40%.
  • Glyphs’ Bonus to Cold/Fire/Lightning/Non-Physical/Physical nodes reduced by ~62.5%.

Most players are probably not even touching the Glyph system yet, so this is super hardcore speed levelers and their super builds, but I know many are not happy.

So, too many nerfs too soon? I guess we’ll find out.



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