First I’d like to start with musings from a visit to wonderland…
I visited a show this week where first year students at an advanced technology lab demonstrate their best work. Many of the presentations used the newest consumer technology for interaction. While I wanted to be excited, I was also a little sad. You see ten years ago, that technology, the cutting edge, was rare and just being invented so it was very expensive. Places like MIT’s Media Lab, were the only places you could go to and experiment with these new media. The world seemed so full of promise and the students were inventing new ways of using the technology, and new technologies every week. Hmm, why sad then? Seems like now you can get this stuff at Best Buy and everyone has a chance to play and invent. Yes, true. That part does make me excited. What made me sad was the university setting. The MIT Media Labs of the world are fast becoming anachronisms (or run the risk of becoming vestigial). The shock of “the new” being so cheap has stopped them from exploring the true cutting edge. It is like they are currently having a sugar high from a surplus of cotton candy and will have a headache when they awake. The future is catching up with the future they used to invent.
Like most generations we can’t help feeling like we are living in a time where just about everything that could be invented has been. It is really now just a matter of cleaning up loose ends, making gadgets smaller or displays bigger and thinner, making things more connected and social, adding game-like behaviors to the mundane, and finally getting to those flying cars (err, ok, this link has shamed me).#! Yet if history is any guide, we haven’t seen anything yet. Some program, somewhere, has to still look into the deep future. I didn’t see that program this week. I saw a new kind of blue collar trade school in the making. Something by the way that I think is incredibly valuable. But not what it once promised to be.
A graceful transition to something else entirely…
This week I got a letter in the mail asking if I’d like to order a plaque of my newest patent. There is something magical about this cottage industry that has been built on the US Patent system. I realized I’m up to ten patents now (all of them part of a shared team of inventors from MAYA and our client organizations), I wonder if that unlocks some sort of “Junior Inventor” level? I have about fifty more years to go at this rate if I’m going to catch up to Kamen and who knows how long to catch up to Edison! I think this patent and $4 will get me a Starbucks coffee.
The patent is the second augmented reality patent I’ve gotten.
It is based on the notion that we have an incredibly developed sense of three dimensional sound. When things are coming towards us the sound is doppler shifted and it sounds higher pitched, when it is moving away from us it sounds lower pitched (the sound waves all bunch up or stretch out). When something is above us or moving around us we hear it and use that three dimensional sense to help us focus in on a particular noise or conversation. Without it, we’d all live in a world that sounds like a bad movie soundtrack of a cocktail party all the time. Our client, Panasonic, makes amazingly tuned surround systems for automotive interiors that can simulate all sorts of feelings. A push of a button makes the space feel vast, another push makes it feel cozy and intimate. So we thought, what if you could navigate a vast array of media without taking your eyes off the road? What if you could just fly down a corridor with many doorways? Each one opening into the sounds of a band playing or a conversation, or an interview. Sorta spinning the radio dial but in three dimensions. Or like roaming through a vast auditorium filled with amazing performers. But all created in your mind from the sounds around you. Augmented Audio Reality.
This patent and the previous one both came from work we did around the emerging world of pervasive computing and the idea that everything will become an accessory to everything else.
Ok, onward to the links!
1. A sonic adventure game?
A little something to build with your kids during the holidays!
Ok, yes some Obi-Wan reference goes here, but really I just like the fact that every frame of animation is also igniting the very air around us and punching small black holes into one of the other universes (where these silly dolphins and spinny things are now worshiped as gods…
The complete set of Apple spaceship campus designs are now live! complete set of Apple space ship plans are now live! Look very closely and you can see where the fusion drives go http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=1107
What Facebook knows about you, visualized. When I see this I think, nice, but really this sort of thing should be the way we “see” facebook all the time. Transparency design for user interfaces is really only in its infancy.