Showing posts from 2012

A Leap into the holidays

So the developer kits for the Leap Motion gesture control device shipped a few months back and now we are starting to see a variety of Leap developer videos make it on the web.


Block 54

Leap Motion and Unity3D experiment

Build with Chrome brings Legos to WebGL

The Chrome Experiments site is packed with WebGL goodies like this one that came across my radar and it is too much fun not to share. This summer Google Australia announced the release of the Build with Chrome online tool. Build with Chrome lets you explore and build a new world of LEGO creations online.

Just select on the map where you want to build and zoom in to get a grid.

Once your creation is published it is viewable by all and may be featured in promotional material by Google and the LEGO Group.

City in a Browser

Esri, a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System (GIS) software and geodatabase management applications, announced the availability of CityEngine Web Viewer in their ArcGIS Online product this week. For the double bonus, the viewer leverages WebGL. Yes, this means anyone with a WebGL-enabled browser (Chrome, Safari, Opera, FireFox) can navigate and explore uploaded 3D cities and environments created in CityEngine 2012.

CityEngine is the software Esri acquired when they bought Switzerland based Procedural last year. CityEngine allows for rapid creation of 3D city models and is used in everything from movies and games (I first met the Procedural team at GDC) to architectural and proposed development visualizations. I have watched people create rather detailed cities in a matter of minutes with this powerful tool. Since CityEngine is a desktop solution, these models were only able to be viewed within the software until now with the release of this …

Oculus Rift - changing how we see the digital world

At the beginning of this month Long Beach, California based Oculus announced their Kickstarter project to create a next gen VR HMD (Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display) called the Rift.

Since putting this project on Kickstarter, Oculus has shot past their goal of $250,000 and raised over $2 million for creating the device. The Rift will work on PC and mobile (no mention of Mac), offer 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal field of view, 6 degrees of freedom head tracking, 1280x800 resolution (640x800 per eye), with a weight of only 0.22 kilograms.

What makes the Rift so exciting is that there has yet to be another HMD out there that has great specs that is even close to affordable. HMDs that offer this resolution and field of vision are thousands of dollars. Rift will retail around $300. Check out their Kickstarter video with some big names in the gaming world giving their support.

So I pledged my $300 to get the EARLY RIFT DEVELOPER KIT + DOOM 3 BFG. The developer units are…

Build the Home of Your Dreams Touch Free

So a few days ago I posted the following about an online hands free home configurator developed from a partnership between IDEAbuilder Homes and SpiralConcepts. Here is the original post and the repost by sci-fi author Bruce Sterling on the Wired Blog.

When out in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley tech scene it is not the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) industry I hear about leading the charge in technical innovation. It is the chatter of the millions given and insane evaluations of those either in the cloud, selling user data, social, gaming, or insert buzz word here. Yet more and more construction companies are incorporating technology to improve various areas of the building process.

I observe all around SOMA how construction companies like Swinerton and Webcor are using data from the BIM (Building Information Modeling) process to build better. I applaud Skanska's use of tablets and experiments with augmented reality. I attend and follow the building/tech events su…

Sphero - a new type of game experience

Last night during a WWDC party I got a first hand look at Sphero and one of its augmented reality applications. Sphero, made by Colorado based Orbotix, is a little plastic LED-lit orb that can be controlled using a number of smart phone applications. Users can control this $129 dollar 'smart toy' either via a phone's touchscreen or with gestures, using the handset's accelerometer.

Although there are not many applications for Sphero yet, a little less than a dozen, more will be released over the next month (thanks Chuck). I can quickly imagine a variety of fun uses for such a toy. It is currently only available on iOS with Android coming soon. Seems I now have a new thing I need to hack on.

Qumarion mannequin input device

Here is one for manga artists and character animators, a posable mannequin input device for intuitive 3D manipulation called Qumarion

The model uses 32 sensors across 16 body joints to translate the statue's pose to the computer screen simply by bending limbs, and a 120 frames per second sample rate over USB means that poses are mirrored instantly. 

Each Qumarion comes with a variety of interchangeable hands, a stand, suite of software for capturing mannequin data (with mention of a plug-in for Autodesk 3D Studio Max and Maya modeling tools in the future), and more. All this can be yours for only $850 USD.

T(ether) your digital collaboration

This is a cool project I came across from MIT's Media Lab. T(ether) is an experimental app that combines gestural interfaces, computer vision, and collaboration into an experience straight our of a sci-fi movie. 

Creators Matthew Blackshaw, Dávid Lakatos, Hiroshi Ishii, and Ken Perlin call T(ether) "a tool for spatial expression" that "acts as a window affording users a perspective view of three-dimensional data through tracking of head position and orientation."

So what this means is you can use the iPad to view a shared virtual space where you can manipulate objects with the other hand using a special glove. You can draw 3D shapes, rotate, pinch, zoom, and examine them in a multi-user environment. Two people looking through their iPads at a grid of virtual cubes can both reach in independently and manipulate them at the same time.

 A cool concept that illustrates another way to do collaborative design in a virtual space.

Leaping ahead with Hands Free Interfaces

So earlier this week San Francisco based Leap Motion, formally Ocuspec, released their Leap hands free controller. I got a personal demo of the device last week at their office in SOMA district and "Wow"! Developed over the past 4 years, Leap Motion moves far beyond the current technologies designed for hands free control. Leap is an entirely new way to interact with computers that lets you control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements. It's more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard, and more sensitive than a touchscreen.

The Leap is a small iPod sized USB peripheral that creates a 3D interaction space of 8 cubic feet to precisely interact with and control software on your laptop or desktop computer. It senses your individual hand and finger movements independently, as well as items like a pen. The Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.

The company states i…

Augmented Reality Event - A.R.E. 2012

Reality became augmented this week in Silicon Valley at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The third annual Augmented Reality Event, aka A.R.E.2012, brought the best and brightest around the world to the Bay area for a two day conference. Companies, research institutes, artists, and more once again got a chance to show off and experience the latest in computer vision, head & eye displays, motion sensor, mobile, and related augmented reality technologies.

"ARE is where the people working on and using Augmented Reality technologies come together to explore best practices and innovations in software development, tools, business strategies, design and marketing. Developers, technologists, marketers, hardware manufacturers, mobile operators, researchers, designers, startups, business developers, and entrepreneurs gather to share their experiences and learn from their peers" -website

Event organizer Ori Inbar (CEO Ogmento) interviewed by ARnewsTV before the event.

A quick look…

TexAR - Texas's first Augmented Reality Event

In Dallas this past March was the first ever augmented reality event in Texas. Scheduled over two days, the event looked to help Texas augmented reality enthusiasts understand the latest in AR technology and the current state of the industry.

The purpose of the Friday March 16 workshop was to introduce AR to decision makers and owners of digital content, including 3D models and geospatial data, explaining the business cases and the new ways their assets can be utilized and visualized in real time. The purpose of the Saturday March 17 workshop was to share with developers how they can use the latest tools and techniques for developing high quality AR "experiences" for their audiences.

It was a great event with a rather intimate turnout at Cohabitat, a co-working developer space in the Uptown area of Dallas. Many thanks to Christine Perey, of Perey Research & Consulting and founder/chair of the International AR Standards Community, who helped organize the event and took t…

theBlu - an ocean full of fun

Last year I got the opportunity to meet the team working on an online experience called theBlu. According to Wemo Media, the Venice Beach based makers of theBlu, "Inspired by the Oceans, theBlu is a socially-connected, global interactive screen saver. Each time you participate, your interactions and connections impact the flow of life in theBlu and every one's experience of it."

Take a quick dive in the digital ocean with the video below.

Now theBlu is in public beta and 'WOW', what a cool experience. It is fun to explore, educational (clicking on a fish pulls up information about the species), and the graphics are beautiful. More fish and scenes can be unlocked using credits that can be purchased like any other type of virtual good. Bonus that every time a user makes a purchase of an item, they support oceanic conservation.

The content of theBlu is created by its Makers. With theBlu's Maker Program, digital artists can showcase their work to a global audien…

Mural ARt in San Francisco

So one of the organizations close to my heart is Architecture For Humanity (AFH), a non-profit that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings professional design services to communities in need. While I am not an architect or designer, I do volunteer my time to the COLLAB (AFH office) and local SF Chapter projects to help where I can.

With that being said, I am excited to announce an augmented reality mural that I am working on with the local SF Chapter. The SOMA Mural Project looks to be an interactive piece that combines the beauty of city art with San Francisco's tech nature. Viewers of the mural will be able to use an augmented reality app to access additional storytelling information.

I haven't selected the initial augmented reality platform yet, and in efforts to help my friends in the industry, the mural will be the marker for a variety of AR browser platforms that will share the chapter's message over time.

Will this be the first AR mural in …

Google's AR Glasses

Today Google went public with its plans to offer augmented-reality glasses, which it’s calling Project Glass.In the concept video they released, the glasses interacts with what you're seeing and saying, provides many features of a smartphone including a planner, navigation system, camera and more.

They made a previous announcement that these glasses would be available by the end of the year, but now say that these will not ship in 2012. I am very skeptical about the first release of these glasses living up to the concept video. Even though the Google[x] team states, "We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do", I know that if it doesn't do exactly what they showed, there will be some upset people in the blogosphere. I hope that Google delivers or I feel that the…

Assassin's Creed for Kinect!

Assassin's Creed has to be one of the better game series I have played in a while. On March 31 was the official announcement for the first Assassin's Creed game with full motion control! I am happy to see this as I feel that most games don't take full advantage of the Kinect's capabilities for interactive gameplay.

Welcome to April! :)

Microsoft demonstrates transparent 3D Display

Came across this video from Microsoft Applied Sciences Group of a transparent 3D desktop. A nice write up describing the project by the Microsoft intern, Jinha Lee, that initiated and developed the project.

The future of the Minority Report interface. Well done Jinha!

Artificial Intelligence & Robots

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it.
Released during the Game Developers Conference, the now viral “Kara” concept video made by the Paris-based Quantic Dream, developers of the Heavy Rain game, is a look at the future of gaming, using full-body motion capture and a new computer-graphics engine. It is running in real time on Sony’s PlayStation 3 platform. The video is thought provoking as a robot comes to life and is quickly scared by the idea of how precious that can be.

What I find interesting is that this type of artificial intelligence is not too far in the future thanks to friends like David Hanson of Hanson Robotics. I got the chance to hang out with David for several days during a trip last year to New Zealand and I was amazed by his work and the state of the A.I. industry.
While I have some reservations about 'smart machines' thanks to Hollywood (Terminator, Matrix), David assures me that h…

I spy with my computer eye....

A quick look at some cool developments in the world of computer vision and augmented reality.

UK-based Harmony Park has released Obvious Engine, a vision-based AR technology and SDK for indie games companies, developers and brands.

AR company Metaio recently announced plans to add 3D Object Tracking and Visual Search to its free mobile Augmented Reality (AR) Software Development Kit, part of the Augmented City platform. Metaio Mobile SDK v3.1 will assemble core technologies necessary for creating the most interactive and immersive AR experiences, such as the overlay of virtual information on building facades, city streets and almost any 3D real world object or device.

The World is Our Playground

Charting unknown territory is definitely nothing new for the Danes. Danish companies such as Vestas, Lego, and Unity3D are conquering their industries in a way that would make their viking ancestors proud. Now entering this group is Playingmondo, a platform for creating and interacting with location based experiences.

For those not familiar with location-based services, the Playingmondo app, available for iPhone and Android, uses the built-in GPS in the mobile phones to allow users to interact with digital content created around real world locations. This content can be viewed in a variety of ways including augmented reality.
Already there are numerous Playingmondo playgrounds all over Denmark and in other countries, and even though a majority of the experiences are games, there are also experiences focused on health, education, tourism, and cultural heritage.

The Playingmondo website is where you can join a community to find virtual playgrounds near you, meet up with your team mates,…

2012 - End of the known....

So much has happened since my last post. The end of 2011 saw many tech developments, announcements, events, passing of giants, IPOs, and the list goes on. Definitely I owe back coverage to the many wonderful things I have seen in recent travels that took me from the land of the vikings, to the mountains of Mordor (New Zealand), and parts in between.
But now, happy 2012. It is year of the Dragon, apocalypse, alien contact, revelations, a cycle change on the .obj calendar (okay only certain people will get that, Maya for everyone else), and many other scenarios. *maniacal laugh
I don't know about the world ending this year, but I feel very comfortable saying it will be the end of the world as I've known it. Beyond weak economies, revolutions, international movements, nature (weather, earthquakes, floods, etc.), and a growing number of other variables that are causing a global evolution, I get to experience firsthand how certain technologies are augmenting our reality and enhanc…