The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

The Insomniacs

Can a team of scrappy game programmers save Sony's monster chip?

13 min read
The Insomniacs
Up All Night: Insomniac Games hopes it has created an addictive addition to PlayStation 3’s launch lineup. (Clockwise from top) P.J. McNerny, Alex Hastings, Ted Price, and Eric Ellis.
Photo: Gregg Segal

Last month saw the introduction of the PlayStation 3, Sony’s first new game console in five years. Loaded with new hardware, including a Blu-ray optical disc player, a blazing-fast graphics card, and the nine-core Cell microprocessor, the PS3 has the horsepower to run the most complex and photo-realistic console games ever conceived. But despite all the careful engineering that goes into the hardware of a new game ­console, its fate really rests on whether the games it runs can draw an audience. To a great degree, maintaining Sony’s top spot in the US $30 billion game industry rests with a small company called Insomniac Games, a star among the groups that have churned out a game in time for the launch of the PS3.

When IEEE Spectrum visited Insomniac’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters, it was a stellar blue day in July, but the creators of the best-selling atchet & Clank franchise were thrilled to be inside and hard at work on Resistance: Fall of Man. As the Insomniacs worked, Sony clung to its position ahead of both Microsoft and third-place Nintendo Co., which was to release its new Wii system within days of the PS3 launch. Sony’s original plan was to beat Nintendo to market by several months, but the PS3 launch has been plagued by delays, the most recent due to problems with the Blu-ray optical disc drive. This past September, Sony unveiled scaled-down plans to dole out only 2 million units in the United States and Japan by Christmas, down from an expected 4 million. The company also said it would not have enough stock to roll out the PS3 in Europe until March.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

GPT Protein Models Speak Fluent Biology

Deep learning language models design artificial proteins for tricky chemical reactions

3 min read
Two protein structures labelled ProGen Generated and 25% Mutation.

By learning the "language" of functional proteins, the AI learned to prioritize its most structurally important segments.

SalesForce

Artificial intelligence has already shaved years off research into protein engineering. Now, for the first time, scientists have synthesized proteins predicted by an AI model in the lab, and found them to work just as well as their natural counterparts.

The research used a deep learning language model for protein engineering called ProGen, which was developed by the company Salesforce AI Research in 2020. ProGen was trained, on 280 million raw protein sequences from publicly available databases of sequenced natural proteins, to generate artificial protein sequences from scratch.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Building the Future of Smart Home Security

Engineers must invent new technology to enhance security products’ abilities

4 min read
One engineer peers into a microscope to work on a small circuit while another engineer looks on

In this article, SimpliSafe’s VP of Software Engineering discusses his team’s focus on creating a safer future through enhanced technology.

SimpliSafe

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SimpliSafe.

It’s nearly impossible to find a household today that doesn’t have at least one connected smart home device installed. From video doorbells to robot vacuums, automated lighting, and voice assistants, smart home technology has invaded consumers’ homes and shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. Indeed, according to a study conducted by consulting firm Parks Associates, smart home device adoption has increased by more than 64 percent in the past two years, with 23 percent of households owning three or more smart home devices. This is particularly true for devices that provide security with 38 percent of Americans owning a home security product. This percentage is likely to increase as 7 in 10 homebuyers claimed that safety and security was the primary reason, after convenience, that they would be seeking out smart homes, according to a report published by Security.org last year.

As the demand for smart home security grows, it’s pertinent that the engineers who build the products and services that keep millions of customers safe continue to experiment with new technologies that could enhance overall security and accessibility. At SimpliSafe, an award-winning home security company based in Boston, Mass., it is the pursuit of industry-leading protection that drives the entire organization to continue innovating.

In this article, Nate Wilfert, VP of Software Engineering at SimpliSafe, discusses the complex puzzles his team is solving on a daily basis—such as applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology into cameras and building load-balancing solutions to handle server traffic—to push forward the company’s mission to make every home secure and advance the home security industry as a whole.

Keep Reading ↓Show less