Working as a technology journalist is a privilege that allows me to play with hardware that I could never afford to own. Last week, while I was in Montreal for the opening of Sennheiser's new Canadian office, for example, I was able to spend some quality time with the company's crazy $50,000 made-to-order HE 1 headphones. For a guy that reviews audio hardware for a living, it was a ridiculous treat.
There are times that the privilege of doing what I do extends beyond all of the gear that I get to play with. Among the Sennheiser employees, audio nerds like me, and other folks attending the company's opening day bash was Dr. Andreas Sennheiser. Andreas, an electrical engineer by trade, has been co-CEO along with his brother Daniel of their family's 70-year-old audio company for the past five years.
Here in North America, Sennheiser is mostly known for their professional audio products -- microphones and reference headphones for the rich and musically famous, and conference-call hardware for high falootin' boardrooms. In Europe, Asia and Africa, the German company's footprint in consumer audio is massive. They’re one of the oldest names in audiophile-grade headphones and an early, much-respected maker of audio hardware designed to augment virtual and augmented reality experiences.
They make cool shit.
Once the celebration was over and the caterers had absconded with the all of leftovers, Andreas was good enough to spend a few minutes with me, talking about his company, his family and the notion of legacy. Read the rest
Geographic information systems used to be 2-D maps, but new AR technologies are letting users see where pipes and other underground infrastructure is through augmented reality .
Brief video showcasing a few features of the vGIS Utilities system (http://www.vgis.io/). vGIS Utilities is the most advanced augmented reality solution for GIS designed specifically with utilities, municipalities and GIS service providers in mind. The system connects to Esri ArcGIS to seamlessly convert traditional 2D GIS data into powerful, accurate and stable 3D visuals.
vGIS is the only system that supports the full spectrum of technologies - augmented reality (Android and iOS), mixed reality (HoloLens) and virtual reality.
The system is deployed in at over 40 sites across the world to bring real-life benefits to municipalities, utilities, locate service providers and multiple other organizations.
• The most advanced AR system for GIS - vGIS Utilities (YouTube / Meemim vGIS) Read the rest
The fine folks at MTG Manager have one of the favorite apps for fans of the game. Now they are toying around with an AR option that could display information about each card and possibly animate the images. This concept video of what it might look like live is pretty neat! Read the rest
Chinese transit cops are wearing glasses with heads-up displays and cameras tied into the country's facial recognition to spot criminals, people smugglers, and riders who are using high-speed trains in defiance of rules that prohibit indebted people and people from ethnic and religious minorities from traveling.
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Dynamicland is a new nonprofit based in Oakland, where they are building a collaborative computing space, kitted out with cameras and projectors that allow people to work together to compose computer programs by scribbling on ordinary paper, have those doodles parsed by an interpreter, and then have the programs run as projections on the flat surfaces of the rooms.
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Judith Amores Fernandez, Anna Fusté Lleixà, and Jam3 created the Invisible Highway at Google Creative Lab using Unity, Tango, and the AdaBox maker kit from Adafruit.
From the YouTube description:
Invisible Highway is an experiment in controlling physical things in the real world by drawing in Augmented Reality. Simply make a pathway along the floor on your phone and the robot car will follow that path on the actual floor in your room. A custom highway with scenery is generated along the path to make the robots a little more scenic on your phone screen. Read the rest
Writing science fiction can get you amazing access to thinkers, founders, and scientists whose work touches on the stories you tell. It’s one of the great things about my job. Sure, writing cover stories for Wired would get my calls returned faster! But countless science and tech leaders trace their interests back to tales they read as youngsters -- which has lent me great success in requesting research interviews for my stories.
Rob Reid's After On is available from Amazon.
Setting my books in the present-ish day, I try to keep things consistent with current technology and knowledge, so I conduct lots of these interviews. And I learn troves from them. But as I get excited about a new field, I become prone to giddy tangents about how it all works, or why it matters. Giddy tangents have a place in fiction – but a limited one, and they should be used sparingly.
I conducted dozens of interviews while writing my new novel After On (which came out out on Tuesday). Focusing on the storytelling meant leaving out huge amounts of newfound learning that just didn’t fit. Which was the right decision! But it also felt like a lost opportunity. And so I’ve created eight podcast episodes that deeply explore areas that fascinated me during my research. I’ll be posting them to Boing Boing on a weekly basis, starting with Episode One, which is all about augmented reality:
A quick word on how these episodes are structured. My co-host is grizzled podcasting veteran Tom Merritt, who has been presenting tech news and culture to the world for over fifteen years. Read the rest
I lived through the eighties and I approve of Trixi Studios’ "Take On Me" iOS (proof-of-concept only) app which turns your surroundings into a pencil-sketched, a-ha-style music video using augmented reality. The Chicago-based team created it with Apple's ARKit, which is a suite of developer tools launched in June that adds AR to apps.
Here's a-Ha's original music video, in case you're feeling as nostalgic as I am:
Thanks, Robert Scoble! Read the rest
Magali Barbé's short film Strange Beasts depicts a futuristic augmented reality product for kids and parents -- a piece of design fiction with a serious sting it its tail. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest
Adam Debreczeni stitched together Unity + ARKit + Mapbox + Strava to make a 3D topographic map of a bike ride he took. Read the rest
The most reliably impressive technology I've played with this decade is projection-mapping: using powerful LCD projectors to paint 3D surfaces with images tailored to map exactly over those surfaces, turning plaster and paint into stone, wood, or animated surfaces. Read the rest
Here's a sandbox with a topographical map projected onto it. Move sand about, and the map moves with it, like an insane tech demo of some augmented-reality version of classic God-game Populous.
Your very own AR sandbox costs $7,050 and it comes with the laptop, projector and camera rig. The software, though, is free of charge. Here's a detailed project report on the prototype if you fancy shaving a few grand off that tag. [via r/interestingasfuck]
Correction: this post originally likened the shaping of land to the activities of God. Slartibartfast is the correct object of comparison. Boing Boing regrets the error. Read the rest
Nearly 250 million people in the world have impaired vision. Oxsight is developing augmented reality glasses that could supplement or even replace canes and seeing eye dogs for many. Read the rest
I just got through dropping off several bags of groceries and wrapped presents for my daughter's school's annual, very successful charitable drive that benefits local families living in poverty as well as our local, excellent food bank. Read the rest
DCA has been presenting their concept for Optic, an AR bike helmet at conferences and competitions this year. It includes cameras, sensors, and a clear visor that displays alerts about obstacles, directions, and other data.
Optic gives cyclists the visual information to make safer decisions on the road by integrating front and rear cameras with 360-degree proximity and collision detection. The visor doubles as a heads-up display where Optic live-streams the rear camera and highlights potential risks. This allows the user to focus on the road ahead with full awareness of their surroundings. The visor display can also show navigation and journey statistic interfaces, putting information directly in front of the cyclists without them having to take their eyes off the road.
• DCA Optic website Read the rest
A new report from Axiom Capital Management suggests that Pokémon Go is on a downward trend in daily active users and engagement of those users. The data comes from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia.
Additionally, "The Google Trends data is already showing declining interest in augmented reality, whereas interest in virtual reality remains high," says senior analyst Victor Anthony.
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Augmented reality, where stuff is visually superimposed on the real world using special glasses or whatever, is often touted as a more convincing and likely future than, say, everyone ending up in some kind of VR entertainment matrix hooked up to nutrition and shitting tubes. Sadly, AR will be even worse, at least if it resemble Keiichi Matsuda's hellish Hyper-Reality. Read the rest