Bytes: What’s new in tech
Chinese mega-hit coming to U.S.
“Look out, America: Here comes Honor of Kings,” said Alyssa Abkowitz in The Wall Street Journal. Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings is developing an English-language version of its smash-hit smartphone game, which is “so addictive,” the company has imposed a curfew on its youngest players. The fantasy role-playing game, which is based on Chinese history, has more than 50 million daily users, many of whom play for hours on end. Tencent cut off play at 9 p.m. for children under 12 after Chinese media reported students were falling asleep in class after allnight marathons. Players under 18 are limited to two hours a day, though a black market has emerged for fake or manipulated data that enables underage players to get around the restrictions. Honor of Kings could be released in the U.S. “as early as this fall.”
Bridging the digital divide
Microsoft is hoping that unused television channels could connect rural America to the internet, said Cecilia Kang in The New York Times. The company plans to harness empty bands of spectrum, known as white spaces, to deliver broadband service to parts of the country with limited or nonexistent internet access. The technology “behaves like regular Wi-Fi but uses low-powered television channels to cover far greater distances than wireless hot spots.” White-spaces technology could help the 24.3 million people in rural America without internet, while providing Microsoft with a huge pool of new customers. Significant obstacles remain, however. Few devices are compatible with the technology, and those that are tend to be expensive.
The Department of Defense is funding research to connect our brains to computers, said Adam Piore in TechnologyReview.com. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded $65 million to six teams working on technologies that could one day be used to restore senses, read thoughts, or “even create consciousness itself.” In the short term, researchers have been charged with creating an implant that can record activity from 1 million neurons at once while sending basic signals back into the brain. The human brain contains about 80 billion neurons, but so far researchers have only been able to monitor a handful at a time. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has also invested in a company working on a brain-machine interface.