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GMC’s all-electric Hummer will be the first car with software built using Epic’s Unreal Engine

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Fortnite creator Epic Games is partnering with carmakers, starting with General Motors, to use its Unreal Engine game development platform to build in-car software in what Epic is calling its “human-machine interface” (HMI) initiative. The first car to use Unreal Engine, which is the primary software toolset with which developers make Fortnite and countless other big-budget video games, will be GMC’s upcoming Hummer EV, set to be unveiled on October 20th.

The logic is simple: modern cars are primarily designed using software, and assembled cars carry scores of onboard computers and rely on touchscreens and digital interfaces to power infotainment centers and other sources of information displayed to drivers. And Unreal Engine is a great platform for building software, which Epic thinks makes it a great platform for building the software that goes into cars.

“When you sit in the driver’s seat of a modern car today, the way you interact with the vehicle is different from a few years ago. Buttons and screens dominate the dashboard, steering wheel, and instrument pane, providing features that may be new to you. Electrification is at the root of many of these advances, with digital hardware such as cameras, sensors, and displays, combined with cutting-edge technology like Unreal Engine, forming a framework on which to build new experiences,” the company explains in a blog post. “At Epic Games, we’ve long been interested in the way the requirements for HMI development overlap with those of game development. Much of the functionality required to create HMI systems has been available in Unreal Engine for some time.”

Image: Epic Games

Epic says carmakers like GMC and the user interface and user experience designers tasked with crafting the software that car owners will interact with in the finished product can do more and do it faster using tools like Unreal Engine. Epic says this should empower designers to have a more active role in the development of the software.

“In traditional HMI workflows, UI/ UX designers produce ‘hero screens’ or reference images that outline how the UI is supposed to look. They rarely get to see their designs in action soon enough to iterate on them, because it’s up to engineers to implement the design and the functionality into the vehicle,” Epic explains. Unreal Engine is also a cross-platform game engine, which means designers could easily preview new builds in prototype vehicles on iOS or Android tablets without needing to duplicate efforts by rebuilding the software to work on mobile devices.

Image: Epic Games

What will this actually mean for consumers using next-generation car software designed using Unreal Engine? Epic says it’s already enabling some pretty impressive advancements. For instance, infotainment screens built using the game engine can get up and running much faster, as Epic’s toolset allows developers to fire up various portions of the software in sequential order instead of all at once. “Content that is not needed at startup can be loaded after the initial boot, reducing boot time even further,” the company says.

Because Unreal Engine is designed to enable photorealistic computer-generated graphics, car software can also display full, high-resolution renders of the vehicle as well as its various internal and underside parts and mechanical and software mechanisms, on central screens and other displays.

“Unreal Engine provides best-in-class visuals for production HMI, with car paint materials and reflections that bring the highest quality real-time graphics to the vehicle,” Epic says. “A comprehensive set of visual effects features that have been hardened by game development give automotive designers a robust set of tools to express creativity in their HMI designs.”

Epic says its work on in-car software and partnership with General Motors is based on a prediction that autonomous vehicles will one day make the act of driving less important than the activities you can do in the car when software is driving it for you. Whether that’s streaming video, playing games, or using communication features for voice and video calls, Epic is interested in positioning the Unreal Engine as a core pillar of how all those features and functions get built.

“What if an automotive brand had their own games that only their vehicle users can access? Or drivers could customize their HMI visuals and voice assistant with the personality of their favorite video game character?” the company writes. “With Unreal Engine as the HMI platform, opportunities such as this become possible.”

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Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 arrive on PS5 and Xbox Series X on December 4th

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The next-gen versions of Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 will skip the launch dates for PS5 and Xbox Series X / S and arrive on both platforms on December 4th, EA announced today. PS4 and Xbox One owners who buy either or both games will get a digital next-gen copy for free.

As EA mentions on its website, those who purchased a physical copy of either game will have to go through an EA website to redeem their upgrade. The free next-gen upgrade promotion for both games will expire once Madden NFL 22 and FIFA 22 release, presumably sometime in late 2021. Initially, EA told players back in May they had until December 31st, 2020 to claim their free upgrades for both titles until consumer outcry led them to extend the offer.

As you’d expect from the next-gen versions of the game, both Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 will take advantage of the more powerful hardware, such as faster loading times, while the PS5 version will take advantage of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback technology. EA also confirmed that players will be able to carry over their progress and collected items across both generations, including Ultimate Team mode progress for both games, Madden’s Franchise and The Yard game modes, and FIFA’s Volta Football mode.

EA is offering a different approach to its sports series this year compared to competitor 2K Sports’ NBA 2K series. Players are unable to get a next-gen version of NBA 2K21 for free if they own the current-gen version, and if consumers want to own both versions of the game, they need to buy the “Mamba Forever” special edition, which costs $100. 2K parent company Take-Two Interactive was also the first publisher to raise the price for a next-gen version of one its titles, with NBA 2K21 costing $70 on its own.

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Next-gen skincare, silk without spiders and pollution for lunch: Meet the biotech startups pitching at IndieBio’s Demo Day

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Biotech can often, and sometimes literally, fly over our heads. However, the pandemic has shown an increased need for investment and focus on solutions that work on human and planetary health. For IndieBio, a science and biotech accelerator run by VC firm SOSV, this unprecedented year offered high stakes and new challenges.

Today and tomorrow, the biotech accelerator is hosting its twice-annual demo day.

Starting in 2015, IndieBio has provided resources to founders solving complex challenges with biotech, from fake meat to sustainability. Over the years, the accelerator has created a portfolio of biotech companies valued at over $3.2 billion, including companies like Memphis Meats, which develops cultured meat from animal cells; NotCo, a plant-based food brand; and Catalog, which uses organisms for data storage.

As part of the accelerator, each participating company receives $250,000 in capital, numerous other services and access to lab space. In July, the founder and head of IndieBio, Arvind Gupta, left his position to pursue a role at Mayfield. While Gupta remains an adviser, Po Bronson took the role as the new managing director.

Bronson was immediately put to the test. This year, the program expanded from operating solely in San Francisco to also create a cohort based in New York. It also doubled the amount of companies it invested in, bringing this cohort to 20 companies.

As you can imagine, lockdowns ultimately forced founders to delay key lab work in the beginning of the pandemic. Eventually, founders were able to partner with universities, contract research organizations or other biotech accelerators to begin their research, says Maya Lockwood, the head of investor relations at SOSV. The NYC class received a “golden ticket” for free lab space come November.

And these dynamics make this cohort all the more fascinating to dive into.

Watch the New York Stream here, which will happen on Tuesday October 27 from 1:00-3:00pm ET.

Watch the San Francisco stream here, which will happen on Wednesday October 28 from 10:00-12:00pm PT.

For those who can’t tune in, here’s a list of all the companies presenting in New York and San Francisco over the next two days.

San Francisco cohort

Reazent: Founded by Sumit Verma, Reazent has discovered and patented a way to manipulate soil bacteria into triggering crops to grow more. It works with 116 strains, from kale to potatoes, and wants to dig into the market of organic agricultural land.

seedlings sprouts plants

Image Credits: Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Images

Kraken Sense: Founded by Nisha Sarveswaran, Kraken Sense has created an in-line autonomous device to measure the concentration of pathogens in large-scale food and water systems. The product can be deployed in farms and kitchens and uses refillable single-use cartridges.

Advanced Microbubbles: The startup, led by Jameel Feshitan, has created a platform that helps practitioners deliver drugs to complex and difficult tumors. The company collaborated with NIH NIDA and uses proprietary bubbles to deliver chemotherapeutics. Currently, Microbubbles is working to solve two types of cancers: neuroblastoma and pancreatic cancer.

Cybele Microbiome: CEO Nicole Scott has created a direct-to-consumer skincare line with a focus on prebiotics. The line uses ingredients that work in tandem with the skin microbiome, even triggering it to express natural scents.

Ivy Natal: Ivy Natal is developing a process to harvest healthy human egg cells from skin cells. CEO Colin Bortner is working on a treatment for infertility and plans to enable families to have genetic children who can’t otherwise with current solutions.

Microgenesis: Led by Gabriela Gutierrez, Microgenesis has created a proprietary test and nutraceutical regiment (including probiotics) to help women who struggle with infertility get pregnant. The company worked with a cohort of 287 mothers, and with its product over 75% of patients became pregnant.

Image Credits: Westend61 / Getty Images

AsimicA: Led by Nikolai Mushnikov, Asmicia has created a new way to bring stem cells to microbes. The company could lengthen and grow the yields of bio-manufacturing, and is currently working to select the right fermentation partner.

Liberum: CEO Aiden Tinafar is working to disrupt what they think could be a $400 billion market opportunity: recombinant proteins. Liberum has created a protein printer that could cut down the creation of custom recombinant proteins from weeks to a few hours.

Khepra: Led by Julie Kring, Khepra is leveraging fuel production as a way to store extra renewable energy. The company is building a series of reactors that could take your old plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, extract chemicals and fuels, and sell that fuel to refineries.

Carbix: Carbix, led by Quincy Sammy, takes enriched CO2 and converts it into raw material that can then be repurposed into industrial products.

Spintext: CEO Alex Greenhalgh is creating a new, scalable way of making silk. The company mimics spider spinning and uses a natural protein, with an end product that they see as better than premium silk.

New York cohort

Biomage: CEO Adam Kurkiewicz wants to make single-cell sequencing data more accessible for research biologistics. The technology could help scientists explore human cells to enhance medicine and drug discovery.

Diptera.ai: Vic Levitin is creating a scalable, affordable and sustainable way to fight mosquitoes and their diseases.

Cayuga Biotech: Damien Kudela, CEO of Cayuga Biotech, has created a drug that could induce clots and stop severe bleeding situations.

Brightcure: Chiara Heide, CEO of Brightcure, has created a bioactive cream that uses natural bacterium to restore a woman’s natural microbiome.

Multus Media: CEO Cai Linton is producing an ingredient that hopes to make cultivated meat production affordable and accessible.

Image Credits: Getty Images

BioFeyn: The company uses nanotechnologies based on human medicine to deliver nutrients and disease prevention to fish. CEO Timothy Bouley is working to make eating healthy fish a sustainable practice.

Halomine: Ted Eveleth, CEO, wants to turn every surface into an antimicrobial surface. Halomine’s product, Halofilm, can be used in tandem with any household bleach cleaner to enhance disinfection techniques.

Allied Microbiota: Lauralynn Kourtz, CEO of Allied Microbiota, wants to use natural microbes to eliminate toxic waste. The company uses bacteria to clean contaminated soils.

Scindo: Scindo, led by Gustaf Hemberg, uses enzymes to make plastic biodegradable.

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Fall Guys’ adorable new Godzilla skin will let you become an actual bean-grappling monster

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Fall Guys is getting a Godzilla skin soon, and it’s adorable. Just look at it! I want to give it a big hug.

But I also have to admit that I want to use the Godzilla skin to channel my inner monster and annoy other players without regret. I am never that person who grapples players just inches from the finish line of a Fall Guys stage — that’s just rude. But dressed as Godzilla? Well, all bets are off.

Fall Guys has been one of the biggest hits of the year, and a number of brands have made their pitches for a themed skin in the game, including Konami, KFC, and even Chuck E. Cheese.

Developer Mediatonic has already added many video game-themed crossover skins, including Gordon Freeman (with a headcrab!), a Scout from Team Fortress 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog. And there’s a branded skin on the way from G2 Esports, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Aim Lab, and Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, who teamed up to win a charity bidding war for the opportunity to get a skin added to the game.

The Godzilla skin will be out on November 3rd to celebrate Godzilla’s birthday, but it will only be available for a limited time. It will cost 10 crowns, which you can earn through winning games or by leveling up the season pass.

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