The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If you are a video gamer eagerly awaiting the next generation of platform technology, an executive at Cary-based Epic Games has disclosed that new boxes are apparently on the way.

So too is a new version of Epic’s Unreal game development engine, which is one of the most popular in the world.

The disclosures from Mark Rein, a vice president at Epic, came at the DICE (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit in Las Vegas on Thursday where the company’s founder and tech guru Tim Sweeney was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. Epic also celebrated its 20th birthday as a company at the show – and what a party it must have been, given the technology being developed at the company’s headquarters.

“People are going to be shocked later this year when they see the Unreal Engine 4 and how much more profound an effect it will have,” Rein told G4TV.

Rein later said the new engine was already running on so-called “next gen” hardware.

“Systems we can’t name yet,” Rein added, according to ThisIsXbox.com.

Rumors are that Microsoft will unveil a new Xbox this summer. 

Sweeney Highlights Kinect, Siri in Speech

In an address to the DICE conference, Sweeny spelled out his predictions for the future of video games and the hardware on which they will be played. An accepted visionary in the field, Sweeney perhaps was alluding to Unreal 4 and next gen capabilities.

“Within our lifetimes, we will be able to push out enough computational power to simulate reality,” Sweeney said, according to VentureBeat.

Among technology advances he cited were Kinect motion sensing, which is an Xbox tool, Apple’s “Siri” voice recognition technology for new iPhones, as well as 4G broadband wireless networks and more.

Interestingly, Sweeney referred to Microsoft’s Xbox and Kinect since Microsoft is the publisher of Epic’s multi-million selling “Gears of War” franchise.

Plus, the mention of Siri can’t go uncommented on. Epic worked closely with Apple to take its Unreal technology to the mobile iOS platform and produced two critically acclaim, big-selling, graphically sharp and very fast games – Infinity Blade and its sequel.

In October, Unreal embraced the latest version of Flash from Adobe, adding further capabilities for creating more visually striking graphics and enhancing online video.

What about a voice-controlled game utilizing Siri on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch?

“Kinect carried the technology for sensors to its amazing completion,” Venture Beat quoted Sweeney as saying. “We are going to see some of the possibilities of what will happen over the next decade or two.”

Maybe sooner than that.

Read more from VentureBeat here.

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