starting off the Tuesday with the best invention since sliced bread. OK, maybe not, but it is still pretty cool
Introducing the Popinator, a popcorn distribution machine that is voice activated. Simply say Pop and it will shoot a single popped corn in your direction and you can “easily” catch it with your mouth.
A binaural microphone array on the machine’s front listens for a clear “pop” voice command, determines where the command came from and shoots.
See it in action in the video below
There is no word on if this machine will ever see the day of light for all of us to acquire, but this is what the creating company (Popcorn, Indiana) had to say:
“All we have to say is: it is a work in progress right now. We certainly hope that one day it will become a commercial project, but as of now there is no shipping date and no price tag. It is purely a fun internal project we are toying with here at Popcorn Indiana. Based on the very positive responses we are getting online, we think this is well worth looking into as a commercial product.”
I really hope it does and I will install one in the office next to my desk.
NFC or Near Field Communication is the big buzz word at the moment and everybody is talking about it. The truth is that the technology is nothing new and it has been around for a long time. Nokia had an NFC enabled phone in 2007, it was called the Nokia 6131.
Google has made the term mainstream with their announcement of Google Wallet and most people think of NFC as a way to pay with their mobile device. But that is not all.
We actually have a wall of NFC to showcase all kinds of uses for the technology right in our office.
So what else can you do with NFC apart from using it for payments?
There are already plenty of examples out there.
Below you can find 6 examples on how NFC can be used right now.
1. Use your NFC enabled phone as the key to your hotel room
For the recent Olympics in London a Holiday Inn Hotel gave their VIP customers a Samsung Galaxy S3 as part of their 40 VIP rooms. The guests were able to check in and out of the hotel, as well as change the AC, control the TV, and unlock their rooms with the phone.
Using NFC in your phone as a key to open doors has been used in the Enterprise world as well. The phones were used to enable physical access systems in buildings and track employee time-clock check-ins and attendance, access staff parking areas or cafeterias and pay for services.
NFC tags could be placed inside meeting or conference rooms, and attendees could tap their compatible devices to silence them or to turn on Wi-Fi, for example.
Easy – you use infrared controlled Mickey Mouse ears.
The ears communicate with IR controllers and can react to certain parts of Disneyland. According to the video(s) below they have only scratched the surface and the ears will be able to interact with each other as well (they kind of do already as you can sync their lights with each other if you get them close enough).
The main attraction is the World of Colour experience where the ears are grouped into zones so the technicians can use all the “participants” to incorporate the ears into the show, think sweeping changes of colour running through the crowd.
Check out the 2 videos below
Now I just have to find the time and money to go to Disneyland myself
A 3D printer melds thin layers together from plastic thread, which are spooled from a reel to form sold plastic objects into any shape you specify.
What is exciting is the drop in price of these printers, making it more accessible to the home user. An example of this is the new UP mini 3D available for pre-order from 3D Printing Systems for $995+GST.
Has an enclosed chamber to reduce warping
Double linear bearings on each axis – ensures consistent build quality
Have you ever been in the situation where you were cooking up a storm in the kitchen following your grandmothers 100 year recipe, your hands were covered in ingredients and you didn’t want to touch the recipe because you didn’t want to get it dirty.
Qualcomm comes to the rescue by showing off the power of their new Snapdragon processor and there practical integration of gesture and head tracking technology that hopefully soon will make it into your tablet.
The technology is not new, but as the videos below show, using the device’s front-facing camera, we will be able to control onscreen avatars, page forward and back through recipes, setup profiles and even wake their slates all with simple hand or head movements.
Check out the videos below
I for one wouldn’t mind having this little add-on on my tablet.
NFC is the big buzz word everywhere now and most people don’t even know what it is, what it does or that they already have it in their phone.
Will the new iPhone have it? Nobody knows until it is revealed, but that shouldn’t stop us from exploring it.
And that is exactly what Razorfish in Germany did with this 2 day project, coming up with the best idea on NFC usage I have seen so far.
The idea is simple, just like you used to get your candy from a machine you can now get all kinds of digital goodies: Apps, movies, songs, ebooks, as well as other exclusive and location-based content that can be pushed to a phone. Simply enter a coin and turn the lever – then follow the animation and tap your smartphone next to the release chute.
In terms of hardware, we used a Samsung Galaxy Tab, an NFC shield, a simple reed switch and two Arduino microcontrollers – all nicely fitted into an original Gum Machine metal base.
Super awesome indeed. Nicely done Razorfish. You can read more about it here.
We have been playing around with new ways of interaction for a while and touch and Natural user interfaces always played a big role in it.
Some of the work we can done can be found on our blog here and here, on the razorfish emerging experiences blog here and there is plenty more as well.
So we are always interested when this kind of technology and innovation makes it into the real world. Yesterday the Audi City in London opened up and is showing off how you will buy your next Audi by using touch, Kinect and RDID.
Audi at the moment sells 36 different new cars and with all of the customization you can do there are something like 200 million possible iterations of those and obviously you can’t have that many cars in the show room.
So what if you could customize your new car the way you want and then see if life size drive past you on a 210 inch screen – awesome, yes!
Audi City has multiple levels, with the upstairs level having 4 of those floor to ceiling screens. Check out their vision in the video below:
2 of the screens have kinect sensors connected to them so you can interact with it with gestures, a directional sound system makes sure you are not disturbed by other potential buyers on the other screen (or vice versa) and it lets you experience the engine sound and the sounds of closing doors.
A touch screen then takes over where you can easily customize every single aspect of your new car, down to the colour of your gear stick. Spin it, turn it, zoom it – all of that is possible with high resolution imagery and the touch panel.
Paint, leather and cloth samples on RFID-enabled swatches can be grabbed from the wall and placed next to the 32in touch screen, automatically updating your vehicle with the choice you’ve made.
Once you’re happy with your choices it generates a mood board with hi-res snaps and videos of your chosen car, which can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, emailed to a friend, or stored on a USB key.
Audi plans to roll the 3M multitouch screens out to dealerships all over the world, and to create 20 Audi Cities by 2015. I for one can’t wait for the one in Australia to be opened.
Google had a nice little get together today where they talked about their mapping solutions, Google Maps, Google Earth, Navigation, Streetview etc. etc.
Google has been obsessed with maps for at least a decade now and they made the below video to tell you about their history:
So what is it that Google is envisioning for the future?
First of all there is StreetView wherever there wasn’t before. Google developed the StreetTrecker, a portable device to map out areas that can’t be reached by car, bike or bicycle.
It is about 20kg and it has batteries that will last all day.
Think about exploring every little aspect of the Grand Canyon simple within Google Earth. It can also be used to map your favourite shopping mall.
Take it offline
The next big thing is offline Google Maps, yes you have read correctly. I am most excited about this one as I am overseas at the moment and constantly trying to find my way around, but don’t want to use roaming data so i always have to find a free wifi connection, thank you Starbucks.
Offline Google Maps for Android are coming in the next few weeks. Users will be able to take maps offline from more than 100 countries.
The next dimension
Google has had 3D models in Google Earth since 2006 and today they announced that they will begin adding 3D model to entire metropolitan areas to mobile devices.
This is possible thanks to a combination of a new imagery rendering techniques and computer vision that lets Google automatically create 3D cityscapes, complete with buildings, terrain and even landscaping, from 45-degree aerial imagery.
By the end of the year the aim is to have 3D coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people.
That is the basic model behind the wearable camera that blinds a user until he is touched by someone else.
The project was created by Artist Eric Siu and is called Touchy.
With Touchy, Siu wants to highlight social anxiety, which he believes is caused by the increased reliance on communication mediums like Facebook and Twitter. He says that the helmet emulates the isolating experience of over-reliance on social networks, and turns the wearer into a social device.
Touchy has two giant shutters that remain closed without human contact. Once the helmet’s sensors detect touch, the shutters open and illuminate the wearers eyes, the blindness is temporarily lifted until the connection is broken. If someone maintains contact for ten seconds, a photo is taken by the camera mounted on the front of Touchy, which is then displayed on a screen round the back.
Disney Research is always working on some cool stuff and now they are showing off a pretty cool and quite sophisticated touch-sensing technology called touché.
Compared to capacitive touch screens that measure 1 frequency this new technology is measuring a range of them which means it not only can detect multi touch and gestures, but also distinguish between different objects or parts of the body.
It will also add touch to non-traditional surfaces, like liquid.
Check out the video below and see some of the examples on how Disney sees this technology being implemented in the future.
Heiko, our German development guru found a passion for the birds in Sydney and he wasn’t alone. Here is the story of Wingtags told in his own words:
“Ever since my fiancée and I arrived in Sydney two years ago, there was something we particularly liked about this city. It’s probably because we both grew up in Germany, not a place exactly famous for abundance of wildlife, but we were always delighted to see these large, noisy, sulphur-crested cockatoos flying low across our heads, chasing tourists in parks and stirring up the CBD area with their distinctive raucous calls. Having had the chance to live close to the botanic garden for almost our entire stay, we started to study and eventually grow fond of these remarkable birds that turned out to be surprisingly intelligent.
Earlier this year we started to collaborate with the University of Sydney & the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust to monitor their movements, breeding and habitat preferences with the aim to better live alongside urban wildlife. Even the SMH talked about it already here. Being both experienced mobile app developers, we couldn’t ignore the crowdsourcing potential and started to design a little iPhone app that comes with a simplified interface to report sightings of tagged birds. The App is called Wingtags and you can download it from the link here and below. Just spot the number on the wingtag, enter it into the app and feel free to attach a photo of your encounter if you get close enough for a nice shot.
Download the app from the App Store
We hope this project gets one or two Sydneysiders a little more curious about the feathery inhabitants of this extraordinary city. Once the database starts filling up, we’ll also be able to visualize the movements of birds right within the app. Spot a bird in Potts Point in the evening just to find out that it had breakfast in Manly – that may pretty much coincide with your own commute.
Special thanks goes out to Robbie Tapping (Amnesiafish in Melbourne) for building the API for the database and to Amnesia Razorfish for sponsoring hosting and bandwidth. The birds do very much appreciate it.”
Yes you read that correctly, our beloved furniture maker from the days when we didn’t have money and we were all about DYI has announced that their TV storage units now come with build-in TVs – called Uppleva.
The LED backlit TVs will be available in 24 – 46 inches and will be build into the furniture together with a Blu-ray / DVD player and a 2.1 (2.1? really? what kind of surround sound is that?) surround sound setup.
The TVs are Full HD, SMART Vs that are Wifi ready and play DivX files which is something that all TVs should do.
One of their selling points is that all the cables are hidden to reduce the clutter, but at the same time the TV offers multiple USB and HDMI ports on the side – so luckily you can add all your other gadgets to it and bring back the cluttered cables
Mind you as a student with no money, just moved out of home and your parents offered to buy you some furniture, why not have the TV build into it. Prices seem to be starting at around $1000 and it should be available later this year in selected European countries.
Will I buy one? probably not. I think IKEA needs to stick to what they are good at and that is furniture.
The rumours have been around for a while but Google finally unveiled Project glass.
Google X – the secret Google lab that focuses on technology that should reach the masses. They worked on this project to deliver a technology that should work for you, to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t. Augmented reality puts information in your field of view with information about your surroundings, answers to questions you asked and waypoints on maps if you want directions. It can also take picture that you can instantly share with your Google+ circles.
check out the video below to get an idea of what it is capable off.
The glasses are in Beta testing at the moment and Google hasn’t released and dates or prices for it yet.
It is fair to assume that Google will release the technology and glasses manufacturers will be able to implement it into their creations.
The smart peeps at MIT have created a camera that can look around the corner.
To do this, the system uses a so-called femtosecond laser to send out extremely short light pulses that are aimed at a nearby wall, then bounce around, hit the object hiding and then bounce back to the camera.
Then smart software figures out what is lurking behind the wall by determining how long it took those pulses to return to the camera.
This happens over and over again at different angles, meaning that the system will ultimately be able to get a general idea of the object hidden.
is still ugly and it reminds me of those VR systems in gaming arcades that somehow died out.
Forth Dimension Displays, a company that produces high resolution near-to-eye microdisplays that are used in microscopes, film cameras erc., want to take their displays to get to the next milestone of gaming.
Last week they demonstrated Half-Life 2 with their head-mounted, motion-sensing, high-definition displays, a vest loaded down with two large drive electronics kits and a modded PlayStation Move gun.
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