Showing posts from 2014

Enter VR - The podcast for virtual reality news

It has been great to see the influx of fresh faces and new energy into the web3D space thanks to the popularity of virtual reality. In the Bay Area alone there are several meetup groups around the topic of VR and it was at the San Francisco VR Meetup that I met Cris Miranda.

 Cris is the host of Enter VR, a podcast with some pretty amazing interviews with industry leaders about virtual reality at the intersection of gaming, technology, business and society. I recently sat down with Cris to chat about VR in an interview he named, 'Discussing the Internet of Things, Connected Cities, and Virtual Reality with Damon Hernandez'.

 Thanks again to Cris for the fun opportunity and make sure to check out the Enter VR blog with his other podcast interviews. I am off now to listen to 'Rehabilitating the Mind with Virtual Reality, Using Big Data in VR and more with Dr. Mike Aratow'. Like the name says, Enter VR is a great resource for those that want to know the latest and gre…

A Weekend of Making Virtual Reality Very Real

It was only a matter of time before it happened but October 17-19, 2014 was the first SF/Bay area Virtual Reality Hackathon held at the Gray Area Theater in San Francisco's Mission District.

Initiated by those from the SF/Bay Area Virtual Reality community and with big help from the Web3D Consortium and LEAP Motion, the hackathon brought together developers, designers, and other enthusiasts for a weekend of collaboration on various virtual reality projects.
It started Friday night with a VR Mega-mixer and a couple presentations before diving into hackathon logistics. with plenty of demos for visitors to try out including my favorite from Sixense who brought their Star Wars Jedi trainer app that uses their new Stem controllers.

NASA's JPL team presented on a collaboration they did with Sony on a prototype VR system using their Morpheus headset to control robots for mining asteroids, and CTO David Holz from Leap Motion gave an interesting view with his presentation 'A Quick…

AEC Hackathon 1.2

It's a wrap, the AEC Hackathon 1.2 just concluded! Held in Seattle, Washington at University of Washington's Pacific Northwest Center for Construction Research and Education, it was a fun weekend of hacking to improve the built environment with plenty of high-tech and innovative solutions in the house.

As always, I was amazed at what the AEC Hackers made over the course of the weekend. In addition to the projects created, some of my more memorable highlights from the event include:

1. Drones for architecture and climbing a tree to get the drone for team Revit My Drone.

2. An awesome smart table touch screen device thanks to SmartUse.

3. Plenty of Virtual Reality for AEC represented including a full immersive VR setup thanks to the team at VRcade.

4. Multiple Web3D applications that used WebGL and more.
5. FTW (For The Win): seeing alumni that have started companies from projects started at past AEC Hackathons.
Video of the team presentations & award ceremony

Check the AEC H…

Leaping ahead with gesture recognition for VR head sets

Leap Motion CTO David Holz recently announced on their blog the launch of a Virtual Reality Headset Mount for their hand-tracking controller that works with Oculus VR's Developer Kit 2. For those not familiar with the Leap Motion controller, see one of my earlier posts about it or visit the Leap Motion website.

As one sees in the video, the controller mounted to the front of the Oculus will allow immersive applications and games to track the hands and fingers.

Now I have seen this setup before where a developer took a Leap Motion controller, an Oculus Rift Dev Kit, and some 'Arkansas chrome' aka duct tape to create this same type of experience, but it is great to see Leap Motion give some design to the mount and software support in their V2 SDK for head units.

This is a huge win for bumping up the levels of immersion for a relatively low cost. The VR mount costs $19.99, requires Leap Motion’s $80 controller, and of course a $350 Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 (DK2) to be of a…

Virtual reality in your pocket

The recent boom in popularity for virtual reality headsets has brought about a variety of both professionally designed and DIY (Do It Yourself) Head Mounted Displays (HMDs). I personally have seen casings of all different shapes and sizes that turn the standard smartphone into a virtual reality HMD and these made from a variety of materials like wood, plastic, and even cardboard.
While I give credit to engineers and makers from the SVVR and SFVR meet ups for doing it before it was cool, it was Google that really pushed the cardboard HMD into the blogosphere during their Google I/O 2014 Keynote. Google Cardboard, as it is appropriately named, is the firm's attempt at a do-it-yourself VR headset.
Literally made of cardboard, the remarkably low-cost virtual reality goggles combine a split-screen image from a smartphone, delivering impressive graphics for the low price of almost free. Combined with positional sensor data from the phone, it's possible to look around an environment …

Motorcycle riding in the 21st Century

For me there are very few things more enjoyable than riding a motorcycle. My then new '96 Honda CBR 600 F3 brought me the closest to flying I have ever achieved and introduced me to a 'road family' made up of other riders that look after each other. Riders come from all backgrounds so it was only a matter of time that

 In the past year, I have been exposed to some pretty cool innovations for motorcycle riders and helmets that not only provide the protection you need, but add in some seriously cool features.

Skully Systems
Skully Systems is a West Coast company that is the maker of the AR-1. The AR-1 includes a full Heads Up Display (HUD) that gives directions, a GPS display that gives you turn-by-turn directions, and there will be more functionality added as the Skully Systems team works on the device. The helmet even has a rearview camera built-in, making it easier and safer than ever to see what’s happening behind you when you change lanes or back up. The AR-1 will also h…

How a Hackathon Hacked Me

If you read my blog, I am sure you are very familiar with a hackathon and have probably even participated in a few. For those that have not (hi mom), this post is going to share what a hackathon is and the experience I have had with the ones I have recently organized and been involved with. It won't cover the events themselves, but more how it has affected me and my view on how to help facilitate the innovation I want to see in the world.

What is a hackathon?
Hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Occasionally, there is a hardware component as well. Hackathons typically last between a day and a week. 

Some hackathons are intended simply for educational or social purposes, although in many cases the goal is to create usable software. Hackathons tend to have a spec…

Augmented Reality startup Blippar acquires Layar

From Techcrunch: Augmented reality startup Blippar has confirmed it has acquired Layar, an AR pioneer that launched in 2009. Terms were undisclosed in a blog post on the company’s site today. We broke the news of the acquisition last week, but this announcement confirms our previous story. The acquisition makes Blippar one of the largest AR players globally, giving it a powerful positioning in the AR and visual browsing space, which may help its adoption in the mass consumer space where AR has tended to languish. Only Oculus VR, which was acquired by Facebook, has reignited interest in the AR space, so Blippar now looks very interesting when looked at from that perspective.

An internal memo, obtained by TechCrunch writer Ingrid Lunden, referring to Blippar’s CEO and co-founder, Ambarish Mitra, previously confirmed the deal, which was due to be announced officially on June 19. The memo detailed how Layar CEO Quintin Schevernels visited Blippar’s offices to discuss “how we could wor…

Gravity tablet - 3D sketching with Augmented Reality

A group of students from the Royal College of Art have designed an augmented reality tool that allows designers to sketch in three dimensions. Gravity consists of a stylus and a tablet, familiar tools used for digital drawing, that have been adapted specifically for sketching in 3D. It was started in London in October 2013 as a group project between four Innovation Design Engineering students of the Royal College of Art.

 As the user draws above the clear acrylic sketchpad, radio signals are used to track the movements of the stylus from coordinates on the pad. These are sent to an Arduino board which is contained in a black panel that forms one edge of the pad. Controls on the pad can change the planes on which pen is sketching, meaning the drawing can be given volume. The drawings can be rotated and approached from any angle and other people can view the drawing using their own headset, and even add to it.

 From its video, it looks like the tool connects to a variety of augmented …

Facebook to acquire Oculus VR

Facebook has announced plans to purchase Oculus VR, the company behind the Rift headset, for around $2B in cash and stock. This includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock. This is what Mark Zuckerberg had to share via the Facebook blog:

"I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology. Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences. This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scen…