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Atari returns to hardware with smart home gadgets

Engadget Engadget 31/05/2016 James Trew
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Classic video game brand Atari has announced it's making new hardware, but sadly it's not a new console. Instead, it's making connected home and smart devices. There aren't many details about exactly what new gadgets they'll make, but they will range from "simple" to "highly sophisticated," and will be in the home, pets, lifestyle and safety categories. The company also says the new gear is a result of a partnership with Sigfox -- the same company behind the connected Antarctic research base. Sigfox's IoT technology will provide instant the connectivity and the promise of extra long battery life.

Atari says it's focusing on the mass market, as well as the charity sector, and that the IoT connectivity will provide various functionality, such as GPS tracking, provide status and temperature info and other basic functionality such as a panic button, or alerting family that you've run out of gas. Atari mentioned to Engadget a wide range of potential markets including kids (trackers), sports, travel and collars for pets.

This isn't the first time Atari has tried to reinvent itself. Over the company's 40-year history, it has made arcade games, traditional consoles, home computers, handhelds and, of course, amassed a healthy library of game franchises. Titles that have been reimagined (several times) for modern platforms. More recent ventures include an LGBT-themed social game, and a move into online gambling.

Of course, the Atari from the 70s is not the same company we see today. The original firm, as founded by Nolan Bushnell, changed hands in the 80s after the video game crash in 1983. The Tramiel family, of Commodore and Amiga fame then led Atari's consumer electronics division into the 90s before a a series of deals would ultimately see the Atari brand and catalog become a licensing operation.

No doubt it'll be interesting to see what any new hardware will look like and whether Atari can continue to trade on the good will and nostalgia of people who love its games. Even the company's biggest mistakes have a habit of working out well in the end.

Atari

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