Nintendo Switch Online gets three special version Kirby games

Nintendo has been boosting its Switch Online retro library at a fast pace, recently adding Congo’s Caper, Rival Turf and Kirby 64. Now with version 3.3.0, it’s adding three more Kirby titles, all special SP versions with secret modes unlocked: Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Dream Land 3 and Kirby’s Dream Course.

Kirby Super Star originally launched on Super NES with eight side-scrolling platform games, including two minigames. Secret modes available include Meta Knight, Milky Way Wishes and the Arena. SNES platformer Kirby’s Dream Land 3, meanwhile, includes extra options like Play Extra Course and the Dance Select option. Finally, with the miniature golf game Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES), you automatically get 100 percent completion and access to all stages if you choose.

A Nintendo Switch Online subscription unlocks online play, cloud saves and access to a library of NES and SNES games on the Switch. To gain access to N64 and Sega Genesis titles, you’ll need an additional paid tier called the Expansion Pack. Switch Online costs $20 annually, while the Expansion Pack is $50 per year.

NHTSA deepens its probe into Tesla collisions with stationary emergency vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has deepened (PDF) its investigation into a series of Tesla crashes involving first responders to an engineering analysis. As The Washington Post explains, that’s the last stage of an investigation, and the agency typically decides within a year if a vehicle should be recalled or if the probe should be closed. In addition to upgrading the probe’s status, the investigation now covers 830,000 units, or almost all the Tesla Model Y, Model X, Model S and Model 3 vehicles the company has sold since 2014.

This development expands upon the investigation the NHTSA initiated back in 2021 following 11 collisions of Tesla vehicles with parked emergency responders and trucks. Since then, the agency has identified and added six more incidents that occurred over the past couple of years. In most of those crashes, Autopilot gave up vehicle control less than one second before impact, though Automatic Emergency Braking intervened in at least half of them. 

The NHTSA also found that the first responders on the road would’ve been visible to the drivers at an average of eight seconds before impact. Plus, forensic data showed no driver took evasive action between 2 to 5 seconds prior to impact even though they all had their hands on the wheel. Apparently, nine of the 11 vehicles originally involved in the investigation exhibited no driver engagement visual or chime alerts until the last minute before the collision. Four of them didn’t exhibit any engagement visual or chime alert at all. 

The NHTSA also looked into 191 crashes not limited to incidents involving first responders. In 53 of those collisions, the agency found that the driver was “insufficiently responsive” as evidenced by them not intervening when needed. All these suggest that while drivers are complying with Tesla’s instructions to make sure they have their hands on the wheel at all times, they’re not necessarily paying attention to their environment. 

That said, the NHTSA noted in its report that “a driver’s use or misuse of vehicle components, or operation of a vehicle in an unintended manner does not necessarily preclude a system defect.” As University of South Carolina law professor Bryant Walker Smith told The Post, monitoring the position of a driver’s hands isn’t effective enough, because it doesn’t ensure a driver’s capability to respond to what they encounter on the road. 

In addition, the NHTSA noted that the ways a driver may interact with the system is an important design consideration for Level 2 autonomous driving technologies. These systems still aren’t full autonomous and still mostly depend on the human driver, after all. “As such, ensuring the system facilitates the driver’s effective performance of this supervisory driving task presents an important safety consideration,” the agency wrote.

HTC teases a potential ‘Viverse’ phone launch for June 28th

Earlier this year HTC outlined its answer to Facebook’s metaverse with Viverse, allowing you socialize, hold meetings and more in VR. Later on at Mobile World Congress, the company said it would launch a high-end smartphone with some kind of metaverse feature. Now, HTC has teased a launch date for that device on Twitter with an image showing a phone shape and HTC’s Viverse logo. 

It’s likely to offer an AR/VR experience via HTC’s open-source Viverse. That metaverse platform lets you chat with others via VRChat, hold business meetings in Engage, collaborate in Vive Sync, watch “holographic” VR concerts and more. It’s also expected to offer integration with the Vive Flow VR headset.

It may also have some blockchain features like HTC’s Exodus phone from several years back, though it’s not clear if there’s much overlap with crypto and VR fans. It’ll reportedly partner in Taiwan with Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone, according an earlier report from Focus Taiwan. HTC will reveal more details about the device on June 28th. 

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Meta is reportedly discontinuing Portal devices for consumers

Meta will no longer release any more Portal devices for consumers, according to The Information and Variety. The company is reportedly repositioning the smart display and home video line as a business product and discontinuing current consumer versions. Variety says Meta will sell all the remaining inventory of previously released models and will continue providing support for existing customers, but it will focus on business applications for future releases. Portal never quite sold as well as Amazon’s and Google smart display devices, but it enjoyed an uptick in sales after pandemic lockdowns forced companies to let their employees work from home. 

According to the IDC research firm, Meta sold 600,000 Portal devices in 2020 and 800,000 in 2021, as businesses looked for solutions to make communicating with remote workers easier. Perhaps it was the knowledge that it was business customers that gave the devices’ sales a boost these past two years that compelled Meta to change the product line’s focus. We’ll just have to wait and see how Portals for businesses differ from their consumer counterparts. Meta released several versions of Portal in the past, including the Portal TV, which turns televisions into big smart displays, and the Portal Go that can be taken out of its charging dock and moved around. 

In addition to killing off consumer Portals, Meta has also reportedly shelved plans for its long-rumored dual-camera smartwatch. Previous reports suggested that it was going to be an Apple competitor, but Meta has apparently decided to focus on developing other wearables for now.