Showing posts from 2013

AEC Hackathon - Taking the Architecture, Engineering,& Construction Industry into a new future

November 8-10, 2013 was the very first AEC Hacktahon held at Facebook's Menlo Park campus. A first for the Architecture, Engineering, Construction Industry, the AEC Hackathon is a non-profit event that creates on-the-spot teams of technologists and industry stakeholders to shape the future of our built environment. My goal of the event was to help the Architecture, Engineering, & Construction Industry go 'Tony Stark' for a weekend and the attendees of the event did just that. For my motives and thoughts pre-hackathon, see these earlier posts titled  AEC Hackathon – Where Techies and Builders Change the World  and  Hacking a Building a Techies way . The event turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. The 130+ people that attended came from all over the U.S. and represented firms of all sizes with a few coming from as far as Asia and Europe. I was blown away by the caliber of attendee, tech gadgets (Oculus Rifts, 3D printers, scanners, Google Glass),

castAR - augmented reality glasses

The interest in wearable computing thanks to products like Google Glass and the Pebble smart watch has created a boom of Kickstarter projects for augmented reality hardware. Joining the crowdsource club is castAR  from Technical Illusions. Technical Illusions was founded by chip wizard Jeri Ellsworth and game programmer vet Rick Johnson. Jeri Ellsworth is best known for creating a Commodore 64 emulator within a joystick. It ran 30 video games from the early 1980s, and was very popular during the 2004 Christmas season, at peak selling over 70,000 units in a single day. Johnson most recent work was at Valve working on hit games like Left 4 Dead , Portal 2, and DOTA. The experienced duo combined forces upon leaving Valve to focus on developing the new augmented reality technology. “We believe that augmented reality is the future not only in gaming, but ultimately the new user interface in computer technology.” Information from their Kickstarter page: How does it work?  castAR&

Hacking a building a Techie's way

 Have you seen the game trailers for Watch Dogs ? In the game, the player is a cyber-vigilante that explores a connected 'smart' city and accesses its 2D and 3D information like a high tech Batman. As an example of this, the game even has a website called We Are Data that shows real geo-located information about Paris, Berlin, and London from social media sites and public government datasets. The game seems like a glimpse into a distant future but believe it or not, we have the technology to make this notion of a 'smart' city happen now.   Unfortunately the building industry is currently very change-resistant and far behind almost every other industry in adopting new technologies, despite the fact that it has potentially the most to gain from interactive data visualization technologies and the  Internet of Things . The technologies also already exist to model our buildings and communities in extremely high levels of detail, including fabrication-level data that

AEC Hackathon - Improving the Built Environment

I feel it right to be upfront and say we are about to go on a journey. The matter at hand is something that has become very close to me and it directly affects anyone that lives and works in a house or building. In a few weeks there is going to be a first of its kind event called the AEC Hackathon . This event will break new ground in how we think about design, construction and communication about our built environment. But before we talk about this, lets step back and see how I got here. It all begins seven years back to when I was working in downtown San Francisco with one of the legends in my field. On a day like any other, I see our boss come into the office chatting with another guy that introduces himself as a home builder. This builder goes on to share how he is using game-like technology and robotic manufacturing to improve the home building process. Wait, did he say video games and robots to build houses? Before SF, I spent 15 years in Dallas, Texas. Here is where I got bomb

Wearables: Meta's SpaceGlasses

Here is a cool concept video from Meta , makers of SpaceGlasses. Meta comes out of research at Columbia University. The super klunky glasses you see in the video are the combination of Epson's Moverio glasses  and a 3D depth camera mounted on the top. While the glasses are real, the applications are just concepts. I saw there booth and setup at the AWE event a few months back and they had no application this polished. Meta does have a growing number of developers and a lot of potential given the overlaid display and interface to be really cool augmented reality glasses. I look forward to getting a pair of the streamlined version shipping next year.

ESRI User Conference 2013 - When the World's Digital Information met Digital Fabrication

So I just got back from the ESRI User Conference 2013  in San Diego and wow, what a trip. Founded by Jack Dangermond, ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) is an industry leader and international supplier of Geographic Information System ( GIS ) software and geodatabase management applications. The company has an installed base of more than one million users in more than 350,000 organizations, including most US federal agencies and national mapping agencies, all 50 US state health departments, transportation agencies, forestry companies, utilities, state and local government, schools and universities, NGOs, and commercial business. The user conference brought 15,000+ ESRI users from over 130 countries. Keynote presentations included Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information, Infrastructure, and Innovations Sam Pitroda  and an inspiring discussion with pop culture icon For the record I am a B.E.P. fan but this interview was something else.

OculAR - Displaying Oculus Rift Dev Kit Info in Augmented Reality

So I had some time on my hands with Qualcomm's new SDK for their Vuforia augmented reality platform and thought this would be a good app to build since I am asked about the Oculus Rift headset when I show it around.

AWE 2013 - Augmented World Event

On June 4-5 in Santa Cara was the Augmented World Event, formerly known as the Augmented Reality Event. As before, the event featured engaging keynotes, great speakers, and plenty of tech to augment anyone's world. This year the fourth annual event opened up to feature other technologies complimentary to augmented reality. In the past the event has been a majority about vision based AR so this was a nice and much needed change. There were several vendors showing off various forms of wearable displays, 3D printers, and more. The event also had a mini-museum of wearable computing glasses that have been made over the years. This year I was chair of the technical and design track so I really didn't get much of a chance to see the expo floor or attend any of the sessions outside my room. I am catching up on what I missed in the other sessions on the event's Youtube channel  and the AR news site  AR Dirt . Here are some of my favorites I had a chance to see, but I highly

Digital Fabrication and Smart 3D City Models in Virtual Reality

  Here I show an application developed by the IDEAbuilder Tech Tools team. The team created an application using actual digital fabrication models (the same 3D computer aided manufacturing models that drive our CNC machines) combined with a 3D city model created with ESRI's City Engine tool  and viewed using the Oculus Rift head mounted display for an immersive virtual reality AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) experience.

Getting all up in your Z space

This past week I experienced zCon, the conference for Infinite Z's zSpace device. zSpace is an immersive, interactive hardware and software platform for developers and users allowing interaction in a true 3D holographic-like environment. zSpace works with most standard and off-the-shelf computers so that anyone can transform a PC into a virtual-holographic computing system. Users working in zSpace wear lightweight passive polarized eyewear and use the zSpace stylus — which feels like a normal ballpoint pen. When examining an object in zSpace, users get a realistic sense of its depth and volume. One can rotate the object or move their head around the object to see it from multiple angles. It is a cool sensation when pulling something 'out of the screen', but I noticed most people at the conference had to be informed that this was possible. zSpace even includes a virtual camera that users can move to visualize objects from different perspectives or even place inside ob

Fashion Technology is the New Black

 One thing I thoroughly enjoy is seeing the many ways that technology is changing the industries of the world. I often venture to various industry meetups in SF and abroad to see how early adopters and innovators use tech to evolve what they do. Over the years, I have become a spectator of how tech is evolving the fashion industry. Sure I can use any fashion tips I can get, a guilty pleasure is watching Project Runway (I am a fan of Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn), and let's not forget this is a global trillion dollar industry.  The fashion industry consists of four levels: the production of raw materials, principally fibres and textiles but also leather and fur; the production of fashion goods by designers, manufacturers, contractors, and others; retail sales; and various forms of advertising and promotion. These levels consist of many separate but interdependent sectors, all of which are devoted to the goal of satisfying consumer demand for apparel under conditions that enable pa

First Choice Cola’s Free Ride – Augmented Reality Facebook game

So I am visiting the Netherlands and got a chance to check out this augmented reality Facebook application called Free Ride . It launched a couple weeks ago and was developed for YoungWorks by my friends at The Young Generation  (TYG). I applaud TYG for their clever use of augmented reality here. This Flash-based snowboard game uses a custom beanie that has an embroidered fiducial marker to control the snowboarder. Moving side to side controls the direction of the snowboarder and leaning forward or back controls the speed. My Dutch isn’t the greatest, actually I don’t know any, so expect a follow up interview explaining more about the application from a member at The Young Generation soon. The Young Generation is a full service digital agency that specializes in concept, design, strategy, and production of interactive campaigns. I look forward to seeing what killer games and interactive campaigns they come out with next.

SimLibrary - When Danish Libraries Go Digital

Over the past few years I have been engaging a lot more with various entities in Denmark. One such group that has recently caught my attention is the Danish library system. Now I do remember coming across this report years back about the city of Aarhus Main Library's Transformation Lab and being impressed. Recently Dave Arendash, CTO at SpiralConcepts, and I were invited to present at SimLibrary, an event highlighting mixed reality technologies for libraries, held in Odense, Denmark. From the SimLibrary Website (translated from Danish):  SimLibrary is a cooperation between Odense Central Library, Aalborg, and Herning libraries with Euman A / S, and Educational Media Centers in the project cities. The SimLibrary project aims to develop libraries to a prominent place in the digital experience community with young people as drivers in a user-driven innovation process. To create virtual and physical environments that encourage young people to form relationships. The goal i