Oculus Rift Has My Attention

Oculus Rift

This picture is an older version of Oculus Rift–larger, heavier, more clunky than the streamlined version coming out this April for $599.


Zuckerberg’s Facebook announced the purchase of Oculus virtual reality (VR) in March 2014.


I can’t think of another piece of consumer technology that I want to try out more than this. 


Initially for immersive 3-D experiences in all sorts of entertainment, including gaming, movies, television, and more. 


But soon to follow are use cases for virtual meetings, classrooms, doctor’s appointments, and anything requiring our interaction and communication. 


Hush-hush is the more intimate use for things like virtual sex. 


Also, there are opportunities for augmented reality where physical reality is supplemented with computer sensory input making your real-experience that much richer and informed.


With the Oculus Rift, I imagine myself immersed on a safari in Africa, flying into the reaches of space, relaxing at the most beautiful beaches, praying at the Western Wall, fighting my way through first person shooter and action adventures, and reliving biblical and other major historical events.


I don’t see VR for myself as an escape from reality, so much as being able to experience many more of life’s realities and possibilities out there. 


My only fear is that as VR gets better and better, it becomes easier and easier to fall away from our challenges in the real world, and just live inside a mask with a controlled environment where our virtual choices and experiences seem all too convenient and real. 😉 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Weston High School Library)

King Kong Puzzle

King Kong

I took this photo in the local hobby store. 


It’s a 3-D puzzle of the Empire State Building and at the top, King Kong holding onto the antenna!


Looks like a few pieces fell out of the building about 3/4 of the way up.


Or is that where ISIS terrorists blow their next hole in our skyscrapers again (G-d Forbid). 


With our retrenchment from the front lines all over the world–with the exception of some targeted drone strikes (actually very well done)–we are again at risk of letting the terrorists get the upper hand. 


We need strength and resolve–not lifting of sanctions, closing of Guantanamo, and withdrawal from the fight. 


Take them down, before they come to our shores–this is a fight that is multigenerational and there is no retreat from the top of the world when fighting for freedom and human rights. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hey, Lady On The Shirt

Lady On Shirt
This was just a really cool shirt that I saw.



It’s has an image of a lady standing out front with what looks like a volcano in the background. 



The volcano is shooting up its hothead steam, and looks like it’s blowing the cloud on the left sideways, off-kilter. 



What’s nice about the lady on the shirt is that it’s not just drawn on, but has materials sewn in to make it 3-D.



The black and pink fabric for the dress, the green and red beads for the shirt, the pink and silver over the black patches for the sunglasses, and the yellow for the hat. 



Also, like the way she’s standing all confident wth her hands on her hips and her elbows out–like “Hey, that volcano is nothing (compared to me)!”



The shirt is so simple, yet very smart. 



That’s the way most things should be. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Magic Computer Displays

This is some awesome technology from Tactus Technology.

It is called a dynamic tactile touchscreen.

Here’s how it works:

When you want to type with a tablet or other touchscreen display, not only do you see a QWERTY keyboard, but also the buttons actually rise out of of the flatscreen display–for a tactile typing experience.

Using microfluidics, the fluids in the screen actually change shape–and form buttons.

When your done typing, the keyboard buttons melt away back down into the screen.

It all happens in a split second and has negligible impact on power consumption (i.e. less than 1%).

This type of tactile experience with computer displays can be used for tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, and I would imagine even SCADA devices (e.g. for turning a dial, pulling a level, etc. all virtually on a monitor).

Goodbye physical controls and hello magic touchscreen–presto chango. 😉

From Holocaust To Holograms

From Holocaust To Holograms

My father told me last week how my mom had awoken in the middle of night full of fearful, vivid memories of the Holocaust.

In particular, she remembers when she was just a six year-old little girl, walking down the street in Germany, and suddenly the Nazi S.S. came up behind them and dragged her father off to the concentration camp, Buchenwald–leaving her alone, afraid, and crying on the street. And so started their personal tale of oppression, survival, and escape.

Unfortunately, with an aging generation of Holocaust survivors–soon there won’t be anyone to tell the stories of persecution and genocide for others to learn from.

In light of this, as you can imagine, I was very pleased to see the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the USC Shoah Foundation collaborating on a project called “New Dimensions In Testimony” to use technology to maintain the enduring lessons of the Holocaust into the future.

The project involves developing holograms of Holocaust survivors giving testimony about what happened to them and their families during this awful period of discrimination, oppression, torture, and mass murder.

ICT is using a technology called Light Stage that uses multiple high-fidelity cameras and lighting from more than 150 directions to capture 3-D holograms.

There are some interesting videos about Light Stage (which has been used for many familiar movies from Superman to Spiderman, Avatar, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) at their Stage 5 and Stage 6 facilities.

To make the holograms into a full exhibit, the survivors are interviewed and their testimony is combined with natural language processing, so people can come and learn in a conversational manner with the Holocaust survivor holograms.

Mashable reports that these holograms may be used at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. where visitors will talk “face-to-face” with the survivors about their personal experiences–and we will be fortunate to hear it directly from them. 😉

(Photo from USC ICT New Dimensions In Technology)

Hey, Gesture Like This!

This new gesture-recognition technology from Leap Motionis amazing.”For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimension with your natural hand and finger movements.”

The closest yet to get us to the vision in the movie, Minority Report.

“Leap is more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard, and more sensitive than a touchscreen.”

Scroll, pinpoint, pan, play, shoot, design, compose, fly–just about everything you do onscreen, but more in sync with how we generally interact with our environment and each other.

I like when the guy in the video reaches forward and the hands on the screen reach right back at him!

I’d be interested to see how this can be used to replace a keyboard for typing or will it be augmented by a really good voice recognition and natural language processing capability–then we would have an integration of the verbal and non-verbal communications cues.

In the future, add in the ability to read our facial expressions like from a robot and then we may have some real interaction going on mentally and perhaps dare I say it, even emotionally.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (24 May 2012), the Leap is just the size of a “cigarette lighter that contains three tiny cameras inside” and costs just $70–“about half the price of a Kinect.”

The Leap is so sophisticated that it can “track all 10 of a user’s fingers and detect movements of less than one-hundredth of a millimeter.”

At their site, I see you can even preorder these now for estimated shipping at the end of the year.

I think I’ll put this on my holiday gift list. 😉

Display It Everywhere


We are getting closer to the day when mobile computing will truly be just a computer interaction anywhere–on any surface or even on no surface.
In this video we see the OmniTouch, developed by Microsoft in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, display your computer interface on everyday objects–yourself, a table, wall, and so on.
This takes the Kinect gaming technology to a whole new level in that the OmniTouch doesn’t just detect and sense your motions and gestures, but it meshes it with the way people typically interact with computers.
Using a wearable pico projector and a depth camera,the OmniTouch creates a human-computer interface with full QWERTY keyboard and touch pan, zoom, scroll capabilities.
It’s amazing to see the person demonstrating theinteraction with the computer practically in thin air–oh boy, Minority Report here we come. 😉
Of course, to become a viable consumer solution, theshoulder-mounted contraption has got to go really small–no bigger than a quarter maybe, and able to be mounted, with processors and connectivity, unobtrusively in clothing, furniture, or right into building construction in your home or office.
At that point, and it hurts to say it given how much I love my iPhone, computers will no longer be device-driven, but rather the application takes center stage.

And the ability to project and click anywhere, anytime helps us reach a new level of mobility and convenience that almost boggles the senses.