The magical future of virtual reality

ff_magic_leap-eric_browy-929x697

In Wired, BB pal Kevin Kelly wrote a definitive feature about the current (and future?) state of virtual reality, technology that many of us first tried in the late 1980s but took nearly thirty years to be ready for prime time.

I first put my head into virtual reality in 1989. Before even the web existed, I visited an office in Northern California whose walls were covered with neoprene surfing suits embroidered with wires, large gloves festooned with electronic components, and rows of modified swimming goggles. My host, Jaron Lanier, sporting shoulder-length blond dreadlocks, handed me a black glove and placed a set of homemade goggles secured by a web of straps onto my head. The next moment I was in an entirely different place. It was an airy, cartoony block world, not unlike the Minecraft universe. There was another avatar sharing this small world (the size of a large room) with me—Lanier.

We explored this magical artificial landscape together, which Lanier had created just hours before. Our gloved hands could pick up and move virtual objects. It was Lanier who named this new experience “virtual reality.” It felt unbelievably real. In that short visit I knew I had seen the future. The following year I organized the first public hands-on exhibit (called Cyberthon), which premiered two dozen experimental VR systems from the US military, universities, and Silicon Valley. For 24 hours in 1990, anyone who bought a ticket could try virtual reality. The quality of the VR experience at that time was primitive but still pretty good.

Read the rest

See this bionic dog from 1959

doggad_thumb

In 1959, physicians at New York's Maimonides Hospital implanted this dog with a radio receiver in its chest, part of an "auxiliary heart" system that would support a failing ticker. From the March 9, 1959 issue of LIFE:

The booster heart, developed by Drs. Adrian Kantrowitz and William McKinnon (of New York's Maimonides Hospital) is made by lifting up half of the diaphragm muscle and wrap it around the aorta, the body's main artery. Inside the chest a small radio receiver, part of an electronic system that detects and transmits the actual heart's beat, picks up the heart's rhythm and sends it by electric signals down a nerve to the diaphragm flap, making it squeeze the aorta rhythmically. This action, like a heartbeat, pumps the blood.

Kantrowitz, a pioneer in heart transplants, died in 2008.

(via Weird Universe) Read the rest

Associated Press Style: No more capitalizing internet and web

internetswitch
On Saturday, the Associated Press announced that in the 2016 edition of their widely-used AP Stylebook guide to English grammar and usage, the words "internet" and "web" will no longer be capitalized.

"The changes reflect a growing trend toward lowercasing both words, which have become generic terms," AP Standards Editor Thomas Kent told Poynter.

Please note that Boing Boing will continue to capitalize Information Superhighway. Read the rest

How likely is a future without paper?

FF9_ANIMATED

Today we travel to a fully digital world, a world where paper is a thing of the past.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In this episode we talk about how likely it is that we might get rid of paper (not very) and what might happen to our reading habits, memories, and environment if we do.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

See this drone that draws

2_0

The MIT Media Lab's "Flying Pantograph" is a pen-wielding tele-robot controlled by a drawing interface. From MIT's Fluid Interfaces research group:

A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

Read the rest

Screw optimism, we need hope instead

giphy

I wrote an essay called "Fuck Optimism" for a print project from F-Secure, about how we'll make the Internet a 21st century electronic nervous system that serves humanity and stop it from being a tool to oppress, surveil and displace humans. Read the rest

Watch this team of tiny micro-robots pull a car

Stanford engineers demonstrated how six tiny microTug robots -- with gripping, adhesive feet inspired by geckos -- can work together to pull a 4,000 pound car on polished concrete, albeit very very slowly.

The researchers from Stanford's Biomimetics & Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory published their work on the microTug bots in the current issue of the journal IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

Read the rest

Extensive list of space opera cliches

10815943416_3a9f1bf5e8_b

Charlie Stross is on a tear: he's catalogued 22 screens' worth of space opera cliches, grouped by themes: Planetary civilizations, space and cosmology, biology, economics, politics, culture, technology - space travel, technology - pew! pew! pew!, aliens... His readers have added 300 comments' worth of omissions. Read the rest

From cancer to body odor, the future uses of the microbiome

biome

Today we travel to a future where your microbiome becomes a key part of your identity. From health to your child’s kindergarten, here are all the ways knowing about your microbiome might impact your life.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In this episode we talk about the possibilities and limitations of the microbiome — the trillions of bacterial cells that live in and on your body. There’s a lot of money going towards microbiome research right now, and a whole lot of claims about what the microbiome can do. We break down what we actually know, and where we’re probably going.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

Timothy Leary on youth culture and Japan (c. 1990)

leary71

In the early 1990s, BB pal Joi Ito (now director of the MIT Media Lab) hosted bOING bOING patron saint Timothy Leary on a trip to Japan. At the time, Tim was energized by the intersection of youth culture and digital technology to empower the individual. Above, video that Joi and friends shot of Tim in fine form. Man, I miss him, and those cyberdelic days. Bonus shout-out at 8:25 to Anarchic Adjustment, Nick Philip's surreal and inspiring clothing line that evolved into today's Imaginary Foundation!

Read the rest

Lithium batteries should be banned as cargo on passenger planes, says UN aviation watchdog

lithium_batteries
Planes that carry passengers should be prohibited from carrying large quantities of lithium batteries in cargo, a United Nations aviation watchdog says.

Read the rest

Voice and gesture interface from 1979!

In 1979, MIT professor Christopher Schmandt and colleagues developed "Put That There," a voice and gesture interactive system, in the Architecture Machine Group (that later evolved into the famed MIT Media Lab). In this video, a researcher demonstrates the system while sitting comfortably in a stylish Eames Lounge Chair. From a 1982 paper about the project (PDF):

(Put That There) allows a user to build and modify a graphical database on a large format video dis- play. The goal of the research is a simple, conversational interface to sophisticated computer interaction. Natural language and gestures are used, while speech output allows the system to query the user on ambiguous input.

This project starts from the assumption that speech recognition hardware will never be 100% accurate, and explores other techniques to increase the use- fulness (i.e., the "effective accuracy") of such a system. These include: redundant input channels, syntactic and semantic analysis, and context- sensitive interpretation. In addition, we argue that recognition errors will be more tolerable if they are evident sooner through feedback and easily corrected by voice.

(Thanks, Dustin Hostetler!)

Read the rest

What would it be like if we all wore accurate lie detectors around all the time?

lie-button

Today we travel to a future without lies. What would it be like if we all wore accurate lie detectors around all the time?

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In this episode of Flash Forward we talk about when children learn to lie, the different social functions of lying, and what might happen if we couldn’t ever fib. How would negotiations be different? How would we make small talk? Could we create art or music? All that and more in this week’s future. (Illustration by Matt Lubchansky)

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

California assemblyman joins NY legislator in proposing ban on crypto for phones

001

California assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-9th) has copy-pasted New York assemblyman Matthew Titone's (D-61st) insane, reality-denying bill that bans companies from selling smartphones with working crypto on them, introducing nearly identical measures in the California legislature. Read the rest

Trumpscript: a programming language based on the rhetorical tactics of Donald Trump

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x926

Trumpscript -- a python variant -- only allows numbers over 1,000,000; has no import statements (all declarations must be homegrown); only has integers because floating-point numbers are un-American (America never does anything halfway); only allows popular words and the names of politicians as variable names; limits error messages to direct Trump quotes; and requires that all programs end with "America is great." Read the rest

Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical

1654x2551sr
"Radical ecology" has come to mean a kind of left-wing back-to-the-landism that throws off consumer culture and mass production for a pastoral low-tech lifestyle. But as the brilliant science journalist and Marxist Leigh Phillips writes in Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff, if the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress.

Code for America's year in civic tech

22510033851_aab10ea24d_k

Gmoke writes, "Code for America organizes a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective, and easy to use by building open source computer and communications technologies. They have 133 chapters and more than 40,000 members." Read the rest

More posts