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PlayStation digital sales grew nearly 83 percent year-on-year in this past lockdown-hit quarter, bringing in over JPY 394 billion (roughly Rs. 27,960 crores) in total revenue, Sony revealed in its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday in Tokyo. That also helped its subscription service PlayStation Plus rack up nearly 45 million members — as of June end — and 113 monthly active users on the PlayStation Network. Of course, with the world shut down, PS4 hardware sales suffered 40 percent year-on-year. Still, Sony has now sold more than 112 million PS4 consoles in its history globally.

The total quarterly revenue [PDF] of JPY 599 billion (about Rs. 42,430 crores) — up over 35 percent year-on-year — was the best April–June performance for PlayStation of all time, showing how gaming has benefited during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Last of Us Part II was PS4’s biggest performer. But at the same time, other forms of entertainment including film and music have suffered. That’s true for Sony too, with revenue down for Sony Music and Sony Pictures, despite a boost in TV revenue from streaming service sales.

Looking ahead, Sony said it has addressed issues in the PS4 hardware component supply chain and the PS5 remains on track to be launched in late 2020. And despite everyone working from home, it has yet to face any “major problems” in terms of development with upcoming first-party (those produced by Sony) or third-party games (those made by other studios) for the PS5. The likes of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Cyberpunk 2077, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla are all launching in late 2020.

For the financial year ending March 2021, Sony is forecasting [PDF] a “significant” 26 percent year-on-year increase in revenue from game and hardware sales thanks to the aforementioned launch of the PS5. Some of that will naturally be offset by an increase in expenses too owing to the PS5, with Sony noting a higher “cost of sales ratio” for the PS5 that will ensure that operating income stays more or less flat year-on-year.

Sony is aiming to manufacture 10 million PS5 units by the end of 2020, up 50 percent from its initial estimate, according to reports from Nikkei and Bloomberg.

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PS4 Digital Sales Grew 83 Percent in Lockdown Hit Quarter

Sony Beats Estimates on Gaming, Entertainment Amid Lockdown

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Amazon Prime Day 2020 starts Oct. 13: How to get the best deals

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Get details and tips about one of Amazon’s biggest sales of the year.

Image: Ray Pawulich/CNET

Amazon Prime Day is a two-day sale on Amazon’s website, exclusively for its Prime members (an Amazon Prime membership is $119/year). The event usually takes place in July, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the date for the 2020 Amazon Prime Day will take place “later than usual,” according to the company. 

When is Amazon Prime Day 2020?

This year, Amazon Prime Day took place in India on August 6-7, but the online event has been postponed in the US three times. Sister site CNET is now independently reporting that Prime Day will start on October 13; Amazon has not confirmed the date of the event. 

A spokesperson for Amazon stated, “Stay tuned for more details on Prime Day. Customers can also say, ‘Alexa, keep me posted on Prime Day.’ If customers make this Alexa request, they will be notified when [Amazon] announces the dates and when Prime Day begins.” 

SEE: IT hardware procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What are the best tech deals on Amazon Prime Day 2020?

Amazon Prime Day usually offers massive discounts on hardware, software, TVs, gaming consoles, Amazon’s own hardware (Echos, Kindles, Fire Sticks, tablets, etc.), and much more. When the Amazon Prime 2020 deals are available, we’ll update this article with details.

As of September 9, 2020, Amazon has begun offering deals on the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Plus in the US and UK. Below are some of the current deals:

Amazon device deals in the US

On September 24, 2020, Amazon announced several new products, features, and services, some of which may be available on Prime Day. Be sure to look for discounts on the Amazon Echo smart speakersEero 6 Mesh routers, Ring security products, and Fire TV.

What are shopping tips for Amazon Prime Day 2020?

According to GameSpot, Amazon typically features different types of deals during Prime Day, including: 

  • Early Access or Countdown Deals: These deals will appear on Amazon prior to the Prime Day event.

  • Spotlight Deals: These deals last for 24 hours and may happen in the lead-up to or during the Prime Day event. 

  • Prime Day Exclusive Deals: These deals run for the duration of Prime Day but selected products may run out of stock. 

  • Lightning Deals: These are limited-time, limited-stock deals and typically run out of stock quickly. In order to stay up-to-date with the deals, GameSpot recommends that you “keep up with them through the Amazon app on your iOS or Android phone. You can get a sneak peek at the day’s Lighting Deals by pressing ‘Today’s Deal’ in the top left app menu, then the ‘Upcoming’ tab. Find a deal that you want and tap ‘Watch This Deal’ to get notified when it starts.”

More about Amazon Prime Day 2020

This article will be updated as more information becomes available about Amazon Prime Day 2020. Also, check out the Amazon Prime Day 2020 coverage on sister sites CNET and Chowhound.

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Adaptive Meta-Learning for Identification of Rover-Terrain Dynamics

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The dynamics of extraterrestrial rovers is dependent on the terrain. The high-level terrain classification used in most current rovers is often not enough to ensure safe path selection, as the experience with NASA’s Curiosity and Spirit shows.

Adaptive Meta Learning for Identification of Rover Terrain Dynamics

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A recent paper suggests a model of the terrain parameters that govern wheel-terrain interaction. Knowing the terrain may help to predict whether the neighboring regions are traversable, plan the safest route, and prevent damage.

A linear model, which relates terrain parameters (namely cohesion and internal friction angle) and rover dynamics is supplemented by a meta-learned neural network. The interpretability of the model is enhanced by the orthogonality of nominal and meta-learned features. The model is capable of rapid adaptation and provides low estimation errors (the largest error is less than 5%).

Rovers require knowledge of terrain to plan trajectories that maximize safety and efficiency. Terrain type classification relies on input from human operators or machine learning-based image classification algorithms. However, high level terrain classification is typically not sufficient to prevent incidents such as rovers becoming unexpectedly stuck in a sand trap; in these situations, online rover-terrain interaction data can be leveraged to accurately predict future dynamics and prevent further damage to the rover. This paper presents a meta-learning-based approach to adapt probabilistic predictions of rover dynamics by augmenting a nominal model affine in parameters with a Bayesian regression algorithm (P-ALPaCA). A regularization scheme is introduced to encourage orthogonality of nominal and learned features, leading to interpretable probabilistic estimates of terrain parameters in varying terrain conditions.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.10191