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Project Shield's origins and rapid prototyping detailed by NVIDIA

Ben Gilbert, @RealBenGilbert
January 30, 2013
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We got our first look at Project Shield -- the NVIDIA-built gaming handheld -- during CES 2013, where the company surprised everyone with the previously unheard of device. It's essentially the marriage of an Xbox 360-style GamePad to a 5-inch screen, all powered by NVIDIA's brand new Tegra 4 mobile CPU. But the device's origins aren't quite as glamorous as its form, even in prototype stage. "The first prototype, assembled in early 2012, was little more than a game controller fastened to a smartphone with wood," reads NVIDIA's boldly worded blog post detailing the history of Project Shield. That initial prototype saw heavy iteration across 2012, eventually culminating in the device unveiled last month.

However, just 10 days prior, the device was still locked away in NVIDIA's Silicon Valley development offices, shrouded in secrecy. Even the models we eventually tried out were what NVIDIA reps repeatedly referred to as, "a project, not a product." To take the device from prototype to production, NVIDIA's modeling assembly on work its lead engineers did by hand just before CES. "Over the holiday break, NVIDIA's engineers took over a small piece of floor space at a Silicon Valley contract manufacturer to assemble the units that would be shown off at CES," the piece says. Of course, NVIDIA's engineers won't be hand-building the "tens of thousands more units" that arrive later this year -- a team of "quick-turn manufacturing specialists" at NVIDIA is handling that. We assume the former group will be catching up on much needed sleep.

[Photo credit: NVIDIA]

In this article: android, nvidia, projectshield, prototype
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