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— Virtual Reality

The inside story of Job Simulator, the absurdly fun VR sandbox for Oculus Touch, PS VR and Vive

Sometimes all virtual reality needs to do to blow your mind is put you in a well-polished sandbox and let you screw around. Owlchemy Labs has mastered this art, with the upcoming title Job Simulator that will launch later this year alongside the Oculus Touch controllers, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. We sat down with CEO Alex Schwartz and CTO Devin Reimer to chat about the game's origins and striking a balance between progression and free-for-all mayhem.

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— Energy

Sodium battery contains solution to water desalination

Much scientific effort goes into shoring up both our energy and water supplies for the future, but what if both problems could be addressed by the same technology? Researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with a new battery design that not only relies on salt water to store and release electricity, but removes the salt ions from the water in the process.

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— Robotics

suitX announces "world's most affordable" powered exoskeleton – the Phoenix

When it comes to the price of most products, US$40,000 is pretty high. In the case of powered exoskeletons, however, it's cheap – at least half the typical price. Nonetheless, that's approximately what suitX's Phoenix modular exoskeleton should sell for, bringing the technology to a whole new income class. And at 27 lb (12.25 kg), it's also one of the lightest models ever made.

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— Computers

"Social AI" lets Mario and Luigi learn how to save the princess on their own

Old-school gamers will fondly remember the effort it took them to master a new Super Mario level, but thanks to a new development in artificial intelligence the pixelated Italian plumber and his friends are now teaming up to do the job themselves. Researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany have developed an algorithm that allows videogame characters to learn from each other in human-like ways through observation and imitation, letting agents collaborate to reach a common goal. Future applications could include intelligent social support systems and swarms of modular robots that learn to perform complex actions on little human instruction.

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— Automotive

Samsung's transparent Safety Truck hits the road en route to global rollout

Craning your neck to check for oncoming traffic can be a futile exercise when you're trailing a mammoth semi-trailer on a single lane highway. If only you could see through that huge mass of moving steel, right? After a trial last year, Samsung has again taken a "transparent" Safety Truck to the roads of Argentina for further testing, with a view to expanding the technology globally later in the year.

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— Automotive

Nanoflowcell flow tech cars nearing production

The first time we heard about Nanoflowcell, it was at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, where it revealed the Quant E. The startup followed that appearance up with a double debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, showing the Quant F and smaller, simpler Quantino. Now its flow cell-powered cars are nearly ready for production, and the latest versions will be featured at this year's Geneva event.

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— Energy

Germany's Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

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