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North acquired by Google – BetaKit

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Kitchener-Waterloo based North has been acquired by Google.

North, formerly Thalmic Labs, revealed the deal on Tuesday calling the acquisition “a terrific fit” for the smart glasses developer.

The close of the deal comes after reports in recent weeks that North was set to be acquired by Google parent company Alphabet. In a blog post on Tuesday, the startup’s co-founders – Stephen Lake (CEO), Matthew Bailey (CTO), and Aaron Grant – confirmed that North has been acquired by Google.

As part of the deal, North and its team are set to remain in Kitchener-Waterloo. The company added in the email that it will not be shipping Focals 2.0 as previously planned.

“Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision,” said the North co-founders. “We’re proud to have grown our company in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and are thankful for the tremendous support we’ve received from the community. We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google.”

“We are winding down Focals 1.0 and we will not be shipping Focals 2.0, but we hope you will continue the journey with us as we start this next chapter,” they added.

A blog post from Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, noted that Google plans to use North’s technical expertise to help the tech giant invest in its own “hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”

“[North will] join the Google team based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada—North’s hometown and an area with impressive tech talent,” said Osterloh.

Google has had its own struggles with smart glasses over the years. Google developed and released its pair of smart glasses (Google Glass) in 2013, and put the product on the market before the announcing it would stop production of the prototype in 2015.

North, founded in 2012, first launched under Thalmic Labs, creating the Myo armband. In 2016, North raised $120 million USD. In September 2018, BetaKit was first to report that North was set to launch the smart glasses in October of that year.

This past year saw North opening showrooms and shipping its Focal smart glasses, but also brought difficulties. The startup began shipping its smart glasses in late January 2019 and less than a month later dropped the price of the Focals significantly. Shortly after, North laid off 150 employees, close to a third of its then-workforce, which reportedly was higher than 400.

In December, North announced that it had ended the production and sale of the first generation of its Focals smart glasses and was shifting its focus to Focals 2.0.

It is unclear at this point how many people from North’s team, which according to LinkedIn is more than 200 employees, will be staying on through the acquisition.

The approximately 200-person workforce comes as Google committed earlier this year to hire an additional 1,500 employees, on top of the existing 1,000, at its Kitchener-Waterloo office. The Google commitment was part of its plan to build the three new Canadian offices, which would collectively house up to 5,000 employees.

The terms of Google’s acquisition of North were not disclosed. According to The Globe and Mail, which was first to report that North was set to be acquired, the deal was expected to be worth around $180 million USD, close to the amount of capital that North had raised over its eight-year span. According to Crunchbase data, North had raised around $199.6 million in equity and debt financing. The Globe pointed to potential high cash burn through the years, within North.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to join Google, and to take an exciting next step towards the future we’ve been focused on for the past eight years,” said North’s co-founders in their statement.

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Sony Uses Many Robots To Make A New PS4 Every 30 Seconds – GameSpot

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A new report from Nikkei’s Asian Review offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sony’s PlayStation manufacturing plant in Japan. One of the most notable takeaways is that the process of making a PlayStation console is now largely automated–that’s right, robots are building game consoles.

The report says this advanced automation allows the PlayStation manufacturing plant in Kisarazu to assemble one PlayStation 4 console every 30 seconds.

There are humans involved in the process in a limited capacity–two humans put bare motherboards on the assembly line, and two others package the final consoles once they’re made.

Sony uses Mitsubishi Electric’s robots for the actual assembly of the PS4 consoles. A total of 26 robots are assigned to making PlayStation consoles at the plant, and some processes involve two robots working together to complete tasks. One example is that one robot will hold a cable, while another will twist it.

The new, robot-heavy assembly line in Kisarazu was completed in 2018. This will presumably be the same manufacturing line that creates the PlayStation 5 consoles that are due for release later this year.

In addition to the new PS5, Sony will continue to manufacture PS4 and PS4 Pro models, along with the digital-only PS5 edition. Robots will make this process faster and more efficient. No one quoted in the story is worried that the robots will become sentient and overtake the factory despite outnumbering their human production counterparts by a significant margin.

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Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild 2 Release Date & Gameplay Details – Screen Rant

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At E3’s 2019 Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo announced a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and while there are many unknowns surrounding the title, there are still plenty of things players do already know about Breath of the Wild 2. Although a creepy (albeit short) trailer revealed that the game is in active development, much of the specifics of the game has been kept in the dark.

Breath of the Wild launched on the Nintendo Switch in 2017 to massive praise and success. Fans of the series applauded the game for its massive open world environment coupled with an array of interwoven game mechanics which kept players entertained for hours. Due to the non-linear fashion that the game presented, many returned to Breath of the Wild over and over again in order to hone their skills and uncover all the secrets that the Kingdom of Hyrule had to offer. With such a dedicated fan base still going strong, many hope that the upcoming sequel will be just as enjoyable, if not even better than its predecessor.

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Related: Breath of the Wild 2 Theory: Why Zelda Will Be Playable

According to IGN, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was developed because the team had too many DLC ideas they couldn’t fit into the original. The series producer Eiji Aonuma revealed that there was just too much content everyone wanted to include and, ultimately, this led to the creation of an entirely new game.

Breath of The Wild 2’s Gameplay

Breath of the Wild 2 Ganondorf and Hand Shadow

These hints about “too much content for DLC” have led to a lot of fan speculation surrounding what features might be included, ranging from possible co-op to a return to the classic dungeon systems previous The Legend of Zelda games had. At this time, there has been no comment made by Nintendo about the legitimacy of these claims, but given the amount of new technical and world aspects the team want to include, it’s possible some of these rumors could be true.

Given the trailer’s overall dark tones, many speculated that the Breath of the Wild sequel will have ties to The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. However, Aonuma has confirmed that these speculations are false. While Breath of the Wild 2 is going to be darker in nature to its predecessor, there will be no direct relationship between it and Majora’s Mask. However, this does not discredit the blatantly creepy aspects that Breath of the Wild 2 is setting up. With the latest trailer depicting a mangled zombified corpse suddenly awaking, it’s clear that Link and Zelda will be facing something much more grisly than Calamity Ganon.

Breath of The Wild 2’s Setting

However, fans can expect to return to Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s sequel. Eiji Aonuma spoke to how he has wanted to create a direct continuation from the first game in order to explore the world further through the introduction of new gameplay mechanics and story. While its unknown exactly how much of Breath of the Wild 2 will be taking place in Hyrule, it’s clear that at least a portion of the game will be taking place in this setting. The trailer itself does depict Hyrule Castle, which further solidifies Hyrule as one of the central locations in Breath of the Wild 2.

Breath of The Wild 2’s Release Date

At this time, it’s unknown when Breath of the Wild 2 will be released. Since Nintendo did not include the sequel in their 2019 and 2020 lineup, fans may need to wait until at least 2021 before jumping back into the world of Hyrule once again. Very little can be glimpsed about the specifics surrounding what players can expect in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 beyond what Nintendo has teased out so far. However, with Hidemaro Fujibayashi returning to direct the sequel, it is likely that the team which worked on the first game in the series will be returning as well. It will be exciting to see what new mechanics the team has in store for the upcoming sequel and how they plan to reimagine Hyrule to further expand upon the story they were developing in the first Breath of the Wild game.

Next: Zelda Theory: How The Switch’s Aging Tech Could Limit BOTW2

Source: IGN

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Aniplex USA to Release Persona 5 the Animation Complete Set on Blu-ray Disc – Anime News Network

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Set includes English dub with cast reprising roles from game

Aniplex of America announced at the digital Aniplex Online Fest event on Saturday that it will release PERSONA 5 the Animation on Blu-ray Disc as a “Complete Blu-ray Set” on September 29.

The English dub of the anime series will debut in the Blu-ray Disc set, with the following cast, reprising their roles from the game:

The PERSONA 5 the Animation‘s “Complete Blu-ray Set” will include six discs with 26 episodes of the anime series as well as two anime specials PERSONA 5 the Animation: Dark Sun and PERSONA 5 the Animation: Stars and Ours. Extras include an illustration card set, commercials, trailers, and textless versions of the series’ opening and ending sequences.

Aniplex of America describes the anime’s story:

Ren Amamiya is about to enter his second year of high school after transferring to Shujin
Academy in Tokyo. A strange incident triggers the awakening of his Persona, and alongside
his friends, he forms the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” to change the hearts of corrupt
adults by stealing the source of their distorted desires. Meanwhile, cases of psychotic
breakdowns have been popping up one after another… Living their ordinary high school
lives in Tokyo during the day, the group stalks the bustling metropolis of Tokyo as the
Phantom Thieves by night.

It’s time for the curtains to rise on this grand, picaresque story!

Aniplex of America first announced that it had licensed the anime adaptation of AtlusPersona 5 game on February 2018. The anime premiered in Japan in April 2018. Aniplex of America streamed the series on Crunchyroll and Hulu as it aired. Crunchyroll began streaming the 50-minute PERSONA 5 the Animation: Stars and Ours anime special in March 2019. The first anime special, PERSONA 5 the Animation: Dark Sun, aired on December 30. Crunchyroll is streaming the first special.

Masashi Ishihama (From the New World, Kamichu!) directed PERSONA 5 the Animation, and the game franchise‘s producer Katsura Hashino is credited with the original story concept. Satomi Ishikawa (Convenience Store Boy Friends) adapted Shigenori Soejima‘s original game character designs for animation. Kazuma Kaneko is credited for having drawn the original demon designs from the game. Shinichi Inotsume (Persona 5 the Animation -The Day Breakers-, Hayate the Combat Butler, Sket Dance) was in charge of the series scripts. Shōji Meguro returned from the game to compose the anime’s music.

Sources: Email correspondence, press release


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