An energy technology incubator, ClarianLabs in Seattle, has published a patent for a device called the Rotary Piston Generator (RPG) which the company hopes will challenge the idea of what batteries are, and how they’re used, especially in vehicles.
The RPG is a mechanical rather than chemical approach to portable energy storage. Its energy capacity is potentially ten times greater than a typical battery, company representatives wrote in an email exchange with TechCrunch. That depends on the kind of fuel it uses— the invention is essentially a very tiny, highly efficient engine.
ClarianLabs’ published patent shows the RPG contains: “induction armature that rotates around a fixed shaft inside a rotary piston.” As they rotate relative to one another, the parts generate electricity (kind of like a diesel engine).
The RPG doesn’t require a separate generator, starter or gearbox. It can ostensibly run on a variety of fuels, including: gasoline, kerosene, propane, natural gas, ethanol, methanol or hydrogen.
ClarianLabs is pre-revenue, with 5 employees. The company previously won GE’s Consumer Innovation Award in the 2010 Ecomagination Challenge, for its SmartBox Solar module design, which is a “plug-n-play” solar concept for the home. Basically, it’s a small solar panel you can plug your appliances into directly.
According to Chad Maglaque, president of ClarianLabs (and ClarianPower):
“We’re a technology developer and licensor, akin to a Dolby or a Dyson for cleantech. This is a very early stage technology. We are now looking for a partner to develop [it] — like the Department of Defense or the Department of Energy, an automobile or aerospace manufacturer. We think a natural for this would be in electric vehicles as a lightweight, compact range extender, something akin to a bike rack that you clip on or put in your trunk for a weekend trip.”
There isn’t any data that demonstrates this thing works, yet.
[Ed's note: It's always exciting to see new ideas to deliver more efficient portable power. While we can't highlight every patent published, I selected this one because the company has a track record of winning awards and recognition on the cleantech competition circuit from judges in the field who know what's commercially viable, better than I do.]
On Wednesday we discussed news of an impressive-looking mod for StarCraft II that transformed the game into a WoW lookalike, which quickly drew a copyright infringement warning from Activision Blizzard. The company has now released an official statement green-lighting the mod for continued development. “‘It was never our intention to stop development on the mod or discourage the community from expressing their creativity through the StarCraft II editor,’ Blizzard said in a statement. ‘As always, we actively encourage development of custom maps and mods for StarCraft II, as we’ve done with our strategy games in the past.’ Blizzard went on the say that it’s looking forward to seeing development of the mod continue, and that it has invited Winzen to the company’s campus to meet the game’s development team.”
eldavojohn writes “If you’ve been following the team who created World of StarCraft (an amazing mod of StarCraft II to be more like World of Warcraft), their YouTube video of what they’ve done so far has already resulted in a cease and desist from Activision/Blizzard. Evidently when you are given tools to make custom mods to games you should be careful about making something too good. The author of the mod is hopeful that it’s just a trademark problem with the name of his mod, but few reasons for the C&D were given.” In other StarCraft news, reader glwtta recommends an article about how a Berkeley team won the world’s first StarCraft AI competition with code that can beat even pro-level human players.
An anonymous reader writes “Square-Enix has announced Final Fantasy XIII-2 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. According to Gamespot, ‘The newly christened Final Fantasy XIII-2 continues the adventures of Lightning and her team of RPG vagabonds in a brand new adventure, utilizing the long-in-development engine (and, probably, some of the art assets) that powered the original game. And because Square doesn’t have to spend all of that extra time developing the engine, players won’t have to wait nearly as long to get their hands on this newest iteration of the game. According to Square Enix, Final Fantasy XIII-2 (which, in case you haven’t guessed, is a game title that is just as terrible to type out as it is to say with your mouth) is on track for release in Japan this year. [The game] should be available in English-speaking territories by “next winter.”‘”
Source: Final Fantasy XIII-2 Announced
Last June, Turbine made the decision to switch Lord of the Rings Online from a subscription-based business model to a free-to-play model supported by microtransactions. In a podcast interview with Ten Ton Hammer, Turbine executives revealed that the switch has gone well for the company, with game revenues roughly tripling. The active player base has also grown significantly in that time. Executive Producer Kate Paiz said, “This really echoes a lot of what we’ve seen throughout the entertainment industry in general. It’s really about letting players make their choices about how they play.”
eldavojohn writes “Thinking about developing a game involving a ‘database driven online distributed tournament system?’ Well, you had better talk to Walker Digital or risk a lawsuit, because Walker Digital claims to have patented that ‘invention’ back in 2002. The patent in question has resulted in some legal matters for the makers of ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others.’ Walker Digital (parent company of Priceline.com) said it’s not sure how much damages are going to be, and requested that through discovery in the court. If you think Walker Digital is not a patent troll, check out their lawsuit from two months ago against Facebook for using privacy controls Walker Digital claims to have patented. It would seem that any online competitive game that uses a database to select and reward contestants in a tournament could potentially fall under this patent — of course, those with the deepest coffers will be cherrypicked first.”
Since the announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic, many gamers have been hopeful that its high budget, respected development team and rich universe will be enough to provide a real challenge to the WoW juggernaut. An opinion piece at 1Up makes the case that BioWare’s opportunity to do so may have already passed. Quoting: “While EA and BioWare Austin have the horsepower needed to at least draw even with World of Warcraft though, what we’ve seen so far has been worryingly conventional — even generic — given the millions being poured into development. Take the opening areas around Tython, which Mike Nelson describes in his most recent preview as being ‘rudimentary,’ owing to their somewhat generic, grind-driven quest design. Running around killing a set number of ‘Flesh Raiders’ in a relatively quiet village doesn’t seem particularly epic, but that’s the route BioWare Austin seems to be taking with the opening areas for the Jedi — what will surely be the most popular classes when The Old Republic is released. … the real concern, though, is not so much in the quest design as in BioWare Austin’s apparent willingness to play follow the leader. Whenever something becomes a big hit — be it a movie, game or book — there’s always a mad scramble to replicate the formula; in World of Warcraft’s case, that mad scramble has been going for six years now. “
Bethesda took advantage of the Video Game Awards this weekend to announce the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series, titled Skyrim. The game is planned for November 2011, and a teaser trailer has been posted on the Elder Scrolls website. Details are sparse, though the game will apparently run on an “all-new” engine.
After Final Fantasy XIV’s troubled launch and subsequent attempt to placate angry fans, Square Enix has decided that the game’s leadership needs to be replaced. They’ve asked players to patiently stick around until they’re ready to unveil their new plans for the game, extending the free trial period to compensate. Square also announced bad news for PS3 owners who were still somehow interested in the game: “Regarding the PlayStation 3, it is not our wish to release a simple conversion of the Windows version in its current state, but rather an update that includes all the improvements we have planned. For that reason, we have made the difficult decision to delay the release of the PlayStation 3 version beyond the originally announced date of March 2011.”