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The Year was so Bright You Gotta Wear Shades - Wainhouse Research Revisits their 2014 Collaboration and Conferencing Predictions
The crew at Wainhouse Research, Andrew Davis, Andy Nilssen, Alan Greenburg, Bill Haskins, Steve Vonder Haar and Ira Weinstein take a look back at their predictions for 2014 and see how they did. I don't want to steal their thunder but surprisingly prescient and interesting.
Story and images by Julian Horsey / Geeky Gadgets
If you are in the market for an affordable personal robot you might be interested in Luna, a first human size personal robot designed for everyday practical use.
Luna includes a wealth of features that can be enhanced using applications and even has a personality, check out the video below created by Fred Nikgohar to learn more about Luna.
A movie that flopped at the box office inspired a potentially blockbuster idea for Blue Jeans Network, the cloud-based video collaboration service. When Monuments Men came out in February, Harvard University held a round table discussion with academics and one of the movie's stars, Matt Damon, who participated remotely with Blue Jean's help. The live-streamed event went off without a hitch, the sort of routine operation Blue Jeans of Mountain View, California had pulled off on countless occasions. But this time around, the company's executives started to wonder how they could make the experience better for people watching the live stream.
"People physically in the auditorium were able to raise hands and engage in banter with the panel, but people watching the stream could only send in one question through Twitter," recalls Stu Aaron, CCO of Blue Jeans. "People on the remote end of the one-way stream were second-class citizens."
At first glance - and even second or third or fourth - Omnipresenz sounds like it belongs in a sci-fi movie, not on a crowdfunding site.
The Spanish start-up, quickly dubbed "The Sims for real life" by many a skeptical media outlet, claims to be working toward a world in which experiencing life in Barcelona or Seoul or Timbuktu is as easy as going online and hooking up with a human "avatar".
UNC Chapel Hill Professor Henry Fuchs runs one of the few university programs focused on telepresence and virtual reality. In this talk to the Samsung Developer Conference Professor Fuchs gives a background on where VR was, where it is now, and the "Big Rocks" that the industry needs to move to create compelling virtualizations. Here is the complete synopsis of his remarks:
VR may be at a historic inflection point not unlike the personal computer just before the IBM PC's introduction, about to transition from a niche product to widespread adoption. What's worrisome is that this transition was also predicted at least once before, in the early 1990s, when VR systems first became commercially available. What is different this time? This talk will review the history of VR, the development of the component technologies and several representative applications. We'll review the key technical problems to be solved, assess their current state of effectiveness, and note how the situation is different now than during the last promising era two decades ago. We'll conclude with a tour of remaining technical challenges (such as merging real and virtual worlds), a look at some new application areas, and speculate on why a VR startup company might be worth $ 2 Billion.
All aboard for another trip down the Uncanny Valley!
At the CEATEC Japan electronics trade show in October, Toshiba trotted out what it calls a "lifelike communication android," though perhaps the term lifelike is a bit generous. The android, named Aiko Chihiro, is similar to others we've seen at labs and trade events. While certain parts of the robot look quite good, such as the hair, I found that, as I watched Aiko move, it didn't take long for my Uncanny Valley instincts to kick in.
Technology has changed rapidly over the last few years with touch feedback, known as haptics, being used in entertainment, rehabilitation and even surgical training. New research, using ultrasound, has developed an invisible 3D haptic shape that can be seen and felt.
The research paper, published in the current issue of ACM Transactions on Graphics and which will be presented at this week's SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 conference [3-6 December], demonstrates how a method has been created to produce 3D shapes that can be felt in mid-air.
There's a new trend emerging in computing that could breathe new life and some badly needed excitement back to the Desktop once again. The trend involves integrating advanced 3D scanners and projectors into the desktop so that artists of every stripe could unleash their creativity in ways once thought unimaginable. HP just released a next-gen desktop computer that incorporates these technologies and they call it Sprout. This week we discovered a Sony patent filing at the U.S. Patent Office that takes this HP-like concept but applies it to a next-generation video conferencing system experience. It uses a similar tower camera/scanner approach as HP's Sprout does to allow users to share documents, graphics and more in real time with a colleague having a similar system. Sony's system also differs from the HP system in that it utilizes large transparent desktop displays that add a measure of realism to the whole conferencing experience so that you'll swear that the person you're conferencing with is in the same room as you. While today's report covers the basics of Sony's patent, it's really about seeing the bigger picture of where this new trend may be going. Some really refreshing ideas are beginning to surface about the future of the desktop - and it's certainly about time.
As shown in Sony's patent FIGS. 4 and 5 above, "caller A" may use a digital stylus #200 to write on a substrate #202 to share documents with "caller B" as follows. As best shown in FIG. 5, an articulating movable desk lamp armature #204 can hold a device #206 that includes an imaging device to image writing on the substrate as well as a projector to project images onto the desk on which the substrate is placed or onto the substrate itself.
At this month's IETF meetings in Honolulu, the RTCWeb working group again took up the issue of how to deliver interoperable video conferencing within the WebRTC specification -- and finally made a decision that should satisfy, at least temporarily, developers.
It's been a long haul. Past discussions have largely stalled due to debate between those who favored H.264 for its ability to integrate with existing video conferencing equipment and those who favored Google's VP8 because it is a royalty free codec. Last year Cisco even attempted to swing momentum behind H.264 by offering to pay all royalties for those wishing to use a binary it would make available. But this gesture fell flat in the open source community where developers wanted the freedom to modify and recompile the binary to meet their individual application needs.
Cisco on Monday launched a new three-screen telepresence system designed to cut costs on bandwidth and deployment as well as a mobile collaboration effort dubbed Project Squared.
The moves, announced at its Collaboration Summit 2014, come as Cisco is resetting its collaboration portfolio with the aim of connecting screens of all sizes and power them on its cloud.
Blackberry has announced a new cross platform voice and video teleconferencing app that the company claims allows on-the-go professionals to schedule, host, and participate in meetings easily. Dubbed BBM Meetings, the app is currently available on Android, BB10, Windows PC, and Mac, although the company says an iOS version is in the works.
BBM Meetings allows you to start or schedule a virtual meeting on the fly from any BBM chat, multi person chat, group chat, or BBM Voice call. Attendees can be invited from your local or company address book over BBM or email, and when the meeting is getting underway, they'll receive an inbound call which they have to answer just like a voice call to join the meeting, hence eliminating the need for conference IDs, passcodes, and PINs.
Microsoft is preparing to combine its business-focused Lync video conferencing and instant messaging app with Skype to create a new package called Skype for Business.
The package, set to be released in the first half of 2015, will see the creation of a new Skype-like client app, an upgrade of the Lync server software and updates to the service in Office 365.
Max Cohen, head of mobile at Oculus VR, the virtual reality startup bought by Facebook this year for $2 billion, is unequivocal: the dominant way most consumers will experience virtual reality will be on mobile devices.
"PCs and dedicated machines will always have more power, but at some point, graphics become 'good enough' on a mobile device and none of that matters anymore," Cohen says. "Will it be in two years' time? Five years? Ten? I don't know. But it will happen. You can't surpass the beauty of being untethered."
Controlled by a user's voice, Amazon boasts the device's ability to answer questions, provide weather updates, and play music.
"Amazon Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on--just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more," Amazon states. "Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, 'Alexa.' It's also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound."
Using "far-field voice recognition," the Echo can detect and analyze voices even when other loud noises are prevalent.
University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team's initial demonstration a year ago, reported on KurzweilAI.
In the newly published study, which involved six people (instead of two), researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person's brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.
I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new "smart" TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.
It's hard to find the words to describe the funky but creative HP Sprout system, but let's give it a go: it's a desktop computer with a projector that scans physical items, turns them digital in a few seconds and allows you to manipulate the images using your fingers.
Boiled down: It's a blend of what we already know -- the standard computer, letting you check email, surf the web, write documents and so on -- with a touch of the future, particularly in the form of having a "touch mat" instead of a traditional keyboard and the ability to instantly make 3D objects into scans.
The focus with Oculus Rift may currently be on virtual reality gaming but, as we learnt at last week's Interstellar VR experience, there's room for the headset in Hollywood too. Now Oculus Rift has its first ever feature-length movie, The Banshee Chapter, a horror movie just in time for an immersive Halloween scare.
A modernised Lovecraftian tale, The Banshee Chapter (produced by Star Trek's Zachary Quinto) was first given a standard video-on-demand release back in 2013. Now its makers have teamed up with virtual-reality experts Jamwix to give the film a VR overhaul, retroactively adding headset support that "creates the sensation you're inside the movie itself," according to engineer Bill Booth.
Santa Cruz, Calif. - October 22, 2014 - Motrr, bringing high design robotics to everyday life, and Rango have partnered to launch a fully interactive video calling experience you can't find anywhere else. Rango is an app designed from the ground up to utilize the Galileo motorized dock to turn your iOS device into a 360 degree remote control video camera perfect for travel, business and personal use.