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Inside iPhone 4: Gyro spins Apple ahead in gaming

post #1 of 94
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Apple appears to have inadvertently discovered mobile gaming as a killer app for the iPod touch last year, but iOS 4's Game Center and the new iPhone 4's new gyroscope indicate the company is ready to lead mobile gaming as a competitive opportunity.

On stage at WWDC, chief executive Steve Jobs was expected to have little new to show about iPhone 4, given that a prototype version had been stolen and publicly dissected weeks before the event. Fortunately for Apple, most of its key details weren't grasped by the prototype's leakers.

Nothing about the new Retina Display was leaked apart from the fact that the new phone appeared to have a much higher resolution display, something everyone expected anyway. Leaks only assumed the presence of an A4 brain and faster 802.11n WiFi. Additionally, nobody guessed that the stainless steel shell would double as an antenna system for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G. The leak also didn't anticipate any details of Apple's standards-based FaceTime video calling.

The biggest secret however might have been the new phone's gyroscope, a feature that beat to market the fancy phones from Nokia's Symbian and Google's Android. Few who bought into Android phones from Verizon and Sprint over the past six months will be ready to pay up to $350 in early termination fees just to grab the next gyro-equipped models one they eventually come out. Microsoft has also admitted that it won't be ready to support gyros or digital compasses in Windows Phone 7 at its end of the year launch.

That makes Apple's gyro introduction, tied to the mega-launch of the new iPhone 4, a big deal in terms of differentiating Apple's platform. Jobs' announcement of the new gyroscope feature generated an enthusiastic, instantaneous whoop from a few developers at the WWDC keynote who understood what it meant. For everyone else, Jobs had a demonstration planned involving a 3D Jenga-style game that allowed for an entirely new type of motion feedback.



On page 2 of 4: What's a gyroscope?

What's a gyroscope?

Apple's original iPhone popularized the accelerometer, a type of sensor that can detect a device's acceleration, shake, vibration shock, or fall by detecting linear acceleration along one of three x, y and z axes: up/down; right/left and front/back. The company had earlier used accelerometers in its notebooks as "Sudden Motion Sensors" in order to park the hard drive in anticipation of hitting the floor, to avoid hard drive damage related to a drop.

On the iPhone and iPod touch (and recent iPod nanos), 3-axis accelerometers enable landscape/portrait orientation switching, tilt control for games, and shake features such as undo and song shuffle. Because they only measure linear motion, they can't sense compass direction or subtle twisting motions or rotation about gravity.

In the iPhone 3GS, Apple added a digital compass (magnetometer), which can additionally sense magnetic direction relative to the Earth's poles. The iPhone 4 gyroscope adds an additional new electronic sensor for detecting 3-axis angular acceleration around the X, Y and Z axes, enabling precise calculation of pitch, yaw and roll.

While conventional accelerometers measure linear acceleration as a change in velocity (speed increasing or decreasing over time) apart a change of direction, a gyro measures angular acceleration: a change in both velocity and direction at the same time. In iPhone 4, the gyro enables the device to sense slight degrees of rotation while rejecting linear movements and hand jitters, while its accelerometer senses those linear movements.

Combined with data from the accelerometer and compass, the gyro provides detailed, precise information about the device's six-axis movement in space: the 3 axes of the gyro, combined with the 3 axes of the accelerometer enable the device to recognize how far, fast, and in which direction it has moved in space. Apple makes this information available to developers through new CoreMotion APIs, sparing them the need to be experts in physics just to add gyro support to their apps.



On page 3 of 4: Video game commotion about motion

Video game commotion about motion

Apple's new gyro not only beat other smartphone makers to market, but also premiered ahead of motion-based controls on dedicated gaming devices. Nintendo won't bring accelerometer and gyro support to its new Nintendo 3DS until March 2011. Sony's PSP Go, released last fall, has neither type of motion sensor built in and has announced no plans to add any (while it can theoretically be used with Sony's SIXAXIS controller for the PS3, nobody is supporting that sort of thing today, nor does it make much sense for a handheld device to use a separate controller).

The iPhone 4's gyro introduction resonated with new announcements at E3 related to the leading video game console vendors, each of whom were demonstrating their own new motion-based gaming technologies for their gaming consoles.

In video game consoles, accelerometer-based motion control was pioneered by Nintendo, which around 2001 bought up patents from Gyration pertaining to that company's motion sensing PC mice. Five years later, the company had completed an innovative design for a one-handed controller using a 3-axis accelerometer paired with an IR camera designed to locate itself in space using a stationary "sensor bar," which enables the Wii Remote to determine where it is being pointed.

The company first planned to use the new controller to extend the lifespan of the GameCube, but after that console largely failed as a product due to being branded as a toy for children, the new controller was used to launch the Revolution console, later renamed Wii. Motion-based controls have defined the Wii gaming experience.

Just months after the announcement of Nintendo's Wii motion-based "Wii Remote," Sony rushed its own SIXAXIS controller to market for the PS3, although fewer PS3 titles have made much use of its motion-sensing controller; most PS3 games have been more conventional button-oriented titles as opposed to the Wii where motion-based control is a major feature of the platform. Additionally, while the SIXAXIS controller detects changes on "more axes," it can't be used to point at the screen like the Wii Remote can.

Last summer, Nintendo released the Wii MotionPlus, an add-on device that plugs into the Wii Remote and adds a 3-axis gyroscope to enable much greater positioning accuracy to the controller. While the Wii Remote could sense up/down, right/left and back/forth movements, these require flicking or jabbing the controller and don't really respond to different degrees of motion. Adding the MotionPlus gyro provides sensitivity for slight degrees of motion along six axes for determining precisely where the controller is in space.

In the last week, Microsoft and Sony both demonstrated new camera-based motion detection features, the Xbox Kinect and and Playstation Move. Kinect is entirely camera and mic based, scanning the user's full body motions, while Move uses motion based controllers like the Wii Remote with MotionPlus in addition to a magnetometer and camera sensing LED sphere that are all combined to determine the location and movement of the controllers in the user's hands. Clearly, the whole industry thinks that motion-based gaming is a big deal.



On page 4 of 4: Gyro motion extends Apple's lead mobile games.

Gyro motion extends Apple's lead mobile games

By being first to incorporate motion controls in a mobile device for gaming and other uses, Apple is signaling its intention to not just make its iOS platform a suitable performer for casual games, but to instead increase its vast gaming lead over other smartphone platforms while also outpacing the interactivity of dedicated game devices, essentially beating Nintendo at its own game in the mobile realm.

The problem with adding advanced features to a gaming platform is that historically it's appeared difficult to sell consumers those additional add-on devices. By building gyro support into iPhone 4 (and almost certainly the iPod touch 4 this fall) Apple will rapidly create a large installed base of tens of millions of gyro-ready iOS devices for developers to target. Many games designed to take advantage of gyro data in CoreMotion will be able to degrade gracefully to support less accurate 3-axis control on earlier iPhone and iPod touch devices, just as iOS' Core Location bridges the hardware gap between devices that have GPS and those that can only use WiFi triangulation for positioning.

The new gyro is also an example of how Apple can outpace rival platforms that advertise "openness" as a feature over integration; Google won't be able to move its Android partners to add gyros to all their phones immediately, nor will the company be very interested in developing a sophisticated new motion API in Android, given that such a feature won't do much to help the company sell more ads. Microsoft won't be adding gyro support to Windows Phone 7 from the start, and Symbian's installed base is so large that adding gyros to new phones won't really result in an addressable market for gyro-based games, given the already limited potential for sophisticated Symbian titles right now.

Along with RIM and HP, all of these vendors have plenty of far more serious problems to address first, starting with basic user interface upgrades that make them comparable to the iOS platform; basic support for new tablet devices; and a business model that can sustain app development in the first place. That leaves Apple positioned well ahead in attracting mobile gamers from both conventional handheld devices, while also promoting its lead as the top smartphone platform in terms of sophisticated games and other apps.
post #2 of 94
Wonderful article, I fear the competition is falling even more years behind Apple and its innovative market lead.
post #3 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

Wonderful article, I fear the competition is falling even more years behind Apple and its innovative market lead.

Yeah, like with dual-microphone for noise cancellation and with a decent high-resolution screen?
Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
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Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
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post #4 of 94
Maybe finally my iPhone won't get lost in transition when I move my phone from portrait to landscape.
post #5 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Yeah, like with dual-microphone for noise cancellation and with a decent high-resolution screen?

"Decent"? Rofl. Find me a phone with a better resolution and pixel density as the iPhone.





Well, spare yourself the work really. There is none.
post #6 of 94
Thanks for a GREAT analysis. Very persuasive. Upon reading, it all seemed so obvious. It is quite amazing that no one else has picked up on this feature as a major differentiator.

My only concern would be whether the rest of the world is ready for this, and whether Apple is a couple of years ahead of its time.
post #7 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Yeah, like with dual-microphone for noise cancellation and with a decent high-resolution screen?

Why have you been here since 1998? Low self-esteem?
post #8 of 94
Great article! This is why I read AppleInsider. I'm a fan boy all the way, and I really enjoy your lengthy articles about how Apple is better than everyone. Keep up the good work, and I'll keep reading.
post #9 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... nobody guessed that the aluminum shell would double as an antenna system ...

Steel shell, not "aluminum" (sic).
post #10 of 94
Quote:
Additionally, nobody guessed that the aluminum shell would double as an antenna system for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G.

The reason why no one guessed that the ALUMINUM shell would double, is that it's NOT Aluminum. It's STAINLESS STEEL.

Sheesh! I really don't mind his nutty opinions, but when he gets the simplest, basic facts wrong...
post #11 of 94
^^ Yeah, like those people who said the rest of the world have been making voice calls since dinosaur years, tell me how's that been like, seriously? Why does the rest of the world need Apple to change and lead all the time? The answer lies in the culture. Approach. Liberty. And passion. Of Apple.

Oh, not to mention the fanboi....

(sorry, a bit slow in writing. Meant to quote post#7)
post #12 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Steel shell, not "aluminum" (sic).

Geeze! If you took a bit more time with your post, I would have gotten there first!
post #13 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

The reason why no one guessed that the ALUMINUM shell would double, is that it's NOT Aluminum. It's STAINLESS STEEL.

Sheesh! I really don't mind his nutty opinions, but when he gets the simplest, basic facts wrong...



That made my day.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #14 of 94
"Gyro spins Apple ahead in gaming" - No... Not Really
"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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"Why iPhone"... Hmmm?
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post #15 of 94
The most interesting part of the gyro to me is combining it with the AV Apis and wireless networking to do some really interesting computer vision applications. Once you have a six axis motion-tracked camera you can do some pretty advanced recognition algorithms.
post #16 of 94
I remember hearing someone float an idea where a new TV would be able to use iOS apps (games), and the iPhone could become the six-axis controller for such games. I think that that would be the most awesome use for the gyro. Spinning with the iphone while on the train or in the car would not be as easy as it might seem.

Hopefully the gyro is added to the touch as well.
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--SHEFFmachine out
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post #17 of 94
That actually looks awesome.

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others.
15" Matte MacBook Pro: 2.66Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, GT330m 512MB, 512GB SSD

iPhone 5 Black 32GB

iPad 3rd Generation, 32GB

Mac Mini Core2Duo 2.26ghz,...

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Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others.
15" Matte MacBook Pro: 2.66Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, GT330m 512MB, 512GB SSD

iPhone 5 Black 32GB

iPad 3rd Generation, 32GB

Mac Mini Core2Duo 2.26ghz,...

Reply
post #18 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

I remember hearing someone float an idea where a new TV would be able to use iOS apps (games), and the iPhone could become the six-axis controller for such games. I think that that would be the most awesome use for the gyro. Spinning with the iphone while on the train or in the car would not be as easy as it might seem.

Hopefully the gyro is added to the touch as well.

It's an electronic gyro not mechanical, either way they would have to add the components into the next itouch
post #19 of 94
Damn. I'm now regretting my decision to wait until 2012 for a new iPhone. I want that gyroscope
post #20 of 94
If the gyroscope is like the Wii add-on, its a pair of vibrating tuning forks rather than spinning axles, and variations on the vibrations are what gets measured. A tuning-fork gyroscope.

Either way, its a little moving part inside your phone, so tiny that even thieves with screwdrivers didnt find it! (And evidently so tiny that it doesnt kill the battery. I had no idea mobile-friendly gyroscopes even existed.) Pretty cool.
post #21 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuisDias View Post

"Decent"? Rofl. Find me a phone with a better resolution and pixel density as the iPhone.





Well, spare yourself the work really. There is none.

Just because it isn't as high a resolution and pixel density doesn't mean it is necessarily bad. Many people might prefer an AMOLED screen to an LCD screen. And the higher resolution phones out there right now are nothing to turn your nose up at. For example, my brother has a Droid Incredible, and its display really looks awesome.

Also, I don't really want our species to turn into beings that spin around on one spot to play a game. It just looks silly.
post #22 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

If the gyroscope is like the Wii add-on, its a pair of vibrating tuning forks rather than spinning axles, and variations on the vibrations are what gets measured. A tuning-fork gyroscope.

Either way, its a little moving part inside your phone, so tiny that even thieves with screwdrivers didnt find it! (And evidently so tiny that it doesnt kill the battery. I had no idea mobile-friendly gyroscopes even existed.) Pretty cool.

Look up 'MEMS accelerometer' and become amazed...
post #23 of 94
" Microsoft has also admitted that it won't be ready to support gyros or digital compasses in Windows Phone 7 at its end of the year launch. "

You gotta be kiddin' me MS?.... it's 2010 (2011 by the time WinMo7 gets on board).

When are you ever going to catch up?

It's not all your fault, is it Ballmer? \
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May the Blue Bird of Happiness leave a deposit with you and yours.
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post #24 of 94
Good article again, DEG.

I assume that the new API will work with old technology with just less accuracy, as you suggest.

I wonder if we will need to wait a full year for iPad 2 to come out with camera and gyro.
post #25 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

In video game consoles, accelerometer-based motion control was pioneered by Nintendo, which around 2001 bought up patents from Gyration pertaining to that company's motion sensing PC mice. Five years later, the company had completed an innovative design for a one-handed controller using a 3-axis accelerometer paired with an IR camera designed to locate itself in space using a stationary "sensor bar," which enables the Wii Remote to determine where it is being pointed.

This is what so scary about Apple, the Cupertino-based company is so keen to develop which technologies are going to be widely accepted and popular, and Apple was able to grasp them rather quickly than other competitors in the industry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new gyro is also an example of how Apple can outpace rival platforms that advertise "openness" as a feature over integration; Google won't be able to move its Android partners to add gyros to all their phones immediately, nor will the company be very interested in developing a sophisticated new motion API in Android, given that such a feature won't do much to help the company sell more ads. Microsoft won't be adding gyro support to Windows Phone 7 from the start, and Symbian's installed base is so large that adding gyros to new phones won't really result in an addressable market for gyro-based games, given the already limited potential for sophisticated Symbian titles right now.

Another good reasons why Apple always excel in the mobile market competition; iron grip on its iOS and App Store policy, and hopefully this will answer many complains on why Apple has been considered as a "d!ck" when it comes to apps in App Store. One particular remark was made by Android VP of engineering Vic Gundotra during Google I/O event: Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.

Vic forgot to mentioned something important though.. that's what he (and Google) don't want, but perhaps that's what we actually want..
Well, except for the part: "one carrier", we don't want that too.. LOL
post #26 of 94
post #27 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross;

The reason why no one guessed that the ALUMINUM shell would double, is that it's NOT Aluminum. It's STAINLESS STEEL.

Sheesh! I really don't mind his nutty opinions, but when he gets the simplest, basic facts wrong...

The shell was originally reported as being aluminum. Even the Gizmodo teardown of the stolen phone said it was aluminum.

Which is, as the article states, no one guessed...
post #28 of 94
No one seems to have thought about the benefit this will bring to Sat Nav apps. My Tomtom doesn't always do a great job of tracking satellite signals in major cities where tall buildings temporarily get in the way or I have to go through a tunnel. In this situation it tries to guess where/how I'm moving to keep me at the right point on the map, but usually does a poor job of it. Adding gyro data to the mix on an iPhone should improve accuracy enormously.
post #29 of 94
Awesome, now I can finally play roll-the-ball-through-the-maze with pin point accuracy!

Unfortunately I've already finished the three and a half thousand variations of the game, so I hope developers release a few thousand more clones specifically designed for the iPhone4!
post #30 of 94
The gyroscope measures the variation of what is called the angular momentum. It can also complement the GPS when the reception is poor, or between two sample points, because it is basically an analog process, thus continuous, whereas the GPS works digitally and thus by bursts. So it is useful at high speeds, when the sample period between two GPS points correspond to a significant displacement. Maybe will be able to take aerial photography with just an iPhone (camera + IMS)?

I wonder what is the sensitivity of this gyro and how it is done. I heard about MEMs gyro, maybe this is one?
Predictions are perilous, especially about future. Niels Bohr
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Predictions are perilous, especially about future. Niels Bohr
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post #31 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Yeah, like with dual-microphone for noise cancellation and with a decent high-resolution screen?

I take it by decent, you mean those AMOLED (awful in daylight) screens where

RG BG = two pixels (one red-green and one blue-green)

versus the correct

RGB RGB = two pixels.

AMOLED isn't really the resolution they profess it to.

A pixel (when made up of subpixels) has to be capable of showing ALL THREE primary colours, otherwise what's the point.
post #32 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

Awesome, now I can finally play roll-the-ball-through-the-maze with pin point accuracy!

Unfortunately I've already finished the three and a half thousand variations of the game, so I hope developers release a few thousand more clones specifically designed for the iPhone4!

Kudos, very clever and to the point.

Well put, however, you obviously don't have a job?
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post #33 of 94
I honestly couldn't care less about "motion games".

All I want is a true turn-based AD&D style RPG a la Might and Magic World of Xeen (best game ever made for the Mac). Something with a party of 6 with all the classes, races and genders, leveling up to lvl. 100 reaching "God" mode... etc. etc. etc... None of this 3D crawler shit or single player RPG like Diablo or Real-time battles like Baldur's Gate... I want a turn-based party-based AD&D RPG, damnit!!!! Does any exist, for iPhone or for iPad? For Mac? Do I have to buy a legacy Mac to play something like Xeen again? Isn't there a market for these oldskool RPGs?
post #34 of 94
A modern version of Gauntlet II™ maybe? "Green elf shot the food!"
Predictions are perilous, especially about future. Niels Bohr
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Predictions are perilous, especially about future. Niels Bohr
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post #35 of 94
no question Apple is pushing the state of the art in mobile games today. the contrast with the new DSI 3D is interesting. reportedly it works and is impressive, but you are still looking at a picture in a fixed screen and frame of reference, albeit a 3D one. whereas the iPhone can immerse you within that game in real 360 degree "sphere" space. how that actually works out we will have to see ...

(and as to the Wii, Kinect, and Move, what happens to your game if you ever turn your back to the TV screen? well ... you don't know, do you?)

but that said, the real consumer breakthrough of iPhone gaming is the low prices. at $5 or so a pop - the price of a pint of beer these days - you don't mind buying games to see if you will like them. if not, no big deal. you didn't waste $25 or more - the price of a dinner. so you are willing to experiment more. which is great for both consumers (especially parents) and developers. this is also what is killing Nintendo and Sony profits, because selling those overpriced games was how they made lots of money. now, that's over.
post #36 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post

but that said, the real consumer breakthrough of iPhone gaming is the low prices. at $5 or so a pop - the price of a pint of beer these days - you don't mind buying games to see if you will like them. if not, no big deal. you didn't waste $25 or more - the price of a dinner. so you are willing to experiment more. which is great for both consumers (especially parents) and developers. this is also what is killing Nintendo and Sony profits, because selling those overpriced games was how they made lots of money. now, that's over.

If you have purchased that game for you Wii, or XBox, or PS3 on disc, and you don't like, or once you have finished it, you can sell it. Now with digital distributed games how do you do that?
post #37 of 94
You know the 3DS has one don't you?
post #38 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

The shell was originally reported as being aluminum. Even the Gizmodo teardown of the stolen phone said it was aluminum.

Which is, as the article states, no one guessed...

However, this article was written after the presentation that corrected it, I'm not seeing where the mistake should stand and also be repeated. I didn't know the Giz were trying to call it aluminum, I was trying to avoid it for the most part. I might have corrected it, the luster is not right for aluminum anyway, and it's too thin to be durable if it were aluminum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neondiet View Post

No one seems to have thought about the benefit this will bring to Sat Nav apps. My Tomtom doesn't always do a great job of tracking satellite signals in major cities where tall buildings temporarily get in the way or I have to go through a tunnel. In this situation it tries to guess where/how I'm moving to keep me at the right point on the map, but usually does a poor job of it. Adding gyro data to the mix on an iPhone should improve accuracy enormously.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. I wasn't sure there was a common non-game use for the gyro, I thought of a few niche uses. Even then, I don't like playing games where I have to turn the display.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tawilson View Post

I take it by decent, you mean those AMOLED (awful in daylight) screens where

RG BG = two pixels (one red-green and one blue-green)

versus the correct

RGB RGB = two pixels.

AMOLED isn't really the resolution they profess it to.

A pixel (when made up of subpixels) has to be capable of showing ALL THREE primary colours, otherwise what's the point.

I wouldn't go so far as that. What you call "incorrect" is probably a Bayer pattern, at least it sounds similar. It follows the human vision profile more closely, our eyes see green in better detail than any other color. Many, if not most of our non-computer video and photo standards drop half the blue and half the red detail, and most people don't notice. Green is close to luminance so it's better information for the image encoder. This is why most cameras use the Bayer pattern, which, incidentally, cameras are even worse about pixel counting, each "pixel" is usually just one photo site with one color sensor cell, not three. If you want to detect a different color, you go to the next pixel.
post #39 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

If you have purchased that game for you Wii, or XBox, or PS3 on disc, and you don't like, or once you have finished it, you can sell it. Now with digital distributed games how do you do that?

more than likely you'll be at least $5 out of pocket even after that.
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post #40 of 94
I have been hearing alot about the Apple 4. But which mobile is better iPhone4, google android or HTC? Which mobile phone has the best games for it?
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