Nvidia reveals Shield, a $199 console for 4K TV and gaming

Nvidia has revealed an Android-based smart TV console and gaming system that pairs high-resolution video with an accessible interface for $199, plus a game streaming service that will offer games playable within a minute.

“All of us have been working toward this day for many years,” Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said.

Huang characterized the modern living room as a “smorgasbord” of dedicated devices that he believes will consolidate in smart TVs, much like they did in smartphones. Many of the possible applications have not yet been dreamt up, and won’t be until “a lot of clever people in the world” have access to new platforms, he said.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang  holds up the new Shield console at an event in San Francisco March 3.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang holds up the new Shield console at an event in San Francisco March 3.

Shield TV

The Shield console is about the size of a large book and faceted, giving it the appearance of chiseled stone. It’s a funky look for a home console, which Huang said is meant to make it look good from any angle. It’s thin, and capable of being placed on its side for a small profile. Its side has ports for USB, HDMI and more.

The TV console runs on Android, which means it relies on a Google movie viewing experience. Huang demonstrated pausing a movie and the software pulling out the faces of the actors and offering up information on them (in this case, Scarlett Johansson). The viewer can quickly pull up other movies featuring the actor, information about them and more.

The Shield remote and video browser.

The Shield remote and video browser.

“I believe that someday everybody is going to want a smart television experience,” Huang said. “This is likely a multibillion unit market. I believe we can make a unique contribution here.”

The console is controlled with a popsicle-shaped remote that can quickly bring the viewer into voice control or allow them to plug in headphones.

Shield gaming

Doom 3, as played on Shield.

Doom 3, as played on Shield.

Shield also runs games with Nvidia’s Tegra X1 processor. Its 512 gflops GPU and 3 GB of memory put it in the middle of the XBOX 360 and One. Nvidia demoed Doom 3, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and The Talos Principle running on the console. Even on the massive screen, all of them looked awesome. At launch, there will be more than 50 games available on Android.

“We can expand the reach of gaming, 10 times, 100 times, if we can simply make it more accessible,” Huang said. “We can do for gaming what Nexflix did for videos, what Spotify did for music.”

A gaming controller will come bundled with the Shield console. The TV remote will be sold separately.

Grid game streaming

The new Nvidia game streaming store.

The new Nvidia game streaming store.

Nvidia will also debut a game streaming service that will allow games to be delivered from the cloud at 1080p and 60 frames per second for what Huang characterized as “click and play in a minute.” If your internet is good enough, that is.

The Grid service will have at least 50 games at launch and more titles are planned for release each week. The library showed games ranging in price from $20 to $60. Free games will also be available; some to anyone and some to those who buy a subscription. Huang said studios can upload games very quickly, and gamers can begin playing in less than a minute. Nvidia streamed Resident Evil 2: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on stage.

“There’s binge watching on TV because of Netflix,” Huang said. “Now there might be binge playing.”

I think people already do that, Mr. Huang.

Parks and Recreation takes on Silicon Valley in final season

It’s not new for Silicon Valley to be the subject for Hollywood. From the actual TV series Silicon Valley, to one off episodes in series like Veep, to the eery Black Mirror, the growing power of technology and the maturation of the industry make for good comic and dramatic fodder.

The latest is perennial NBC favorite Parks and Recreation. The feel-good show — starring Amy Poehler as Pawnee, Indiana Parks employee Leslie Knope — is going after Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google in a multiepisode storyline stretching across its final season. The tech quartet is represented symbolically as one in a company called Gryzzl, which bids for a giant chunk of land near Pawnee that Leslie wants to turn into a national park.

The year is 2017 and Gryzzl’s fingerprint is everywhere. The characters scroll through their collapsible, transparent tablets, surf free Gryzzl Wi-Fi, and communicate through Gryzzl’s social network. Gryzzl’s casually dressed, young execs pop up throughout the episodes, determined to win their $90 million bid to turn the Pawnee park into their next tech campus.

But Leslie, in her frantic attempt to defeat them, comes across that classic consumer tech Achilles Heel: Data privacy issues. Pawnee residents start freaking out when Gryzzl delivers creepily personalized, free gifts to each of them by drone.

Pawnee, Indiana, is supposed to represent the ultimate vision of Middle America. Despite being written in Hollywood, it gives us some satirical insight in how the rest of America views tech companies and data privacy issues in particular; far more so than the actual show Silicon Valley.

Without further ado, the funniest tech jokes in Parks and Rec’s last season:

1) Gryzzl’s motto

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2) When the Siri-like AI on Gryzzl’s tablet malfunctions

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Robot: “Thank you Jessica. I love you too. I love your skin. Give me your skin!!!!”
Gryzzl exec: “There’s still a couple bugs with the AI software. Maybe just turn it off before you go to sleep.”

3) The treadmill desk, beanbag chair, and cereal dispenser adorned office of Gryzzl’s “VP of Cool New Shiz”

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I’ve seen my share of cereal dispensers at startups. And tech companies do love their standing desks, with Facebook testing out a treadmill desk lab.

4) Gryzzl’s press conference, featuring rave lights, trance music, and booth babe-esque dancers. Kinda reminded me of TechCrunch Disrupt. A local celebrity spouted nonsense buzz words that resembled The Verge SuperBowl trailer.

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Local celeb repping Gryzzl: “Fresh, innovative, place making, disposable duvets, growth hacking, super moon, Gryzzl. Now come with me as we binge watch the future.”

5) The talking Gryzzl drone delivering creepily personalized presents to the residents of Pawnee. Basically Amazon and its drone delivery plans.

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Leslie: “Oh my god Ben! We’re about to die! The robots have come for us!”

6) The Pawnee residents complaining about their invasion of privacy at a Town Hall meeting. The man who collects toy pigs dressed like movie stars stole the show.

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Pawnee resident: “This is Hamuel L. Jackson from the move Pork Fiction. They have no right to give me something I will treasure the rest of my life!”

7) Gryzzl’s new facial recognition software that tracks your expressions and knows your mood, reminiscent of Facebook’s newsfeed emotions testing.

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Gryzzl exec: “If the camera senses that you’re in a bad mood then we could geomatch you to say the nearest cup of sweet pick me up java. If you’re in a good mood then we could geonudge you to a sweet coffee shop and you could keep the good times going.”

Ben: “So it’s really just a coffee sales app?”

Gryzzl exec: “Yeah! We’re partnering with Starbucks.”

8) And this about sums up the mainstream view of tech:

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Gryzzl exec: “I hope you can see now theres nothing scary about Gryzzl. we just want to learn everything about everyone and track them everywhere they go and anticipate what they’re about to do.”

3D Printing: hype, hope or threat?

Anyone who reads the new Gigaom Research report, 3D Printing: hype, hope or threat?,  will be taken through a deflation of the hype to the hope of the technology, likely wondering:

  • Is the technology and the market really that problematic?
  • Is the impact really that far off, if so many industries have already found practical application?

But after he awakens his readers to the scope of the disruptive threat with actual examples across industries (after general prototyping, he sees logistics, toys, apparel, autos and electronics among the sectors being hit first), analyst Adam Sinnreich ultimately rewards them with insightful concluding recommendations, including the following:

  • Embrace the makers. That is, be like Nokia and offer the early 3-D geeks in on the potential to include your products when possible in the 3-D hackers’ world. Further, if possible, try to hire such a geek internally, as part of your technical team.
  • Give consumers the best of both worlds. That is, look to use the technology to enhance and augment your traditionally-supplied products.
  • Don’t just sell. Look to the experience in the entertainment sector to realize that you will likely no longer be selling products as much as services and experiences, with a transformation of what business you are in.
  • Protect (and grow) your assets. 3D printing creates all sorts of opportunities to lose–or gain–control over your branding and image.