Monthly Archives: November 2010

3d Gadgetfest for Cool Stuff Collective Xmas show

We are all here recording the final 3 shows of The Cool Stuff Collective for this season. Episode 13 features christmas and I will be, tech willing, covering some other ways to deal with 3D in the home.
3d Cool Stuff Collective kit
I have some Vuzix 3d wrap glasses, where the screens are in the glasses and give the impression of a 67″ screen floating in front of you.
Vuzix glasses
A fuji 3d stills and video camera with a lenticular lens screen on it to allow you to see 3d without any glasses.
Fuji 3d camera
Finally there is a Toshiba laptop with an Nvidia 3d/glasses combination video card.
It is a good chance for me to experiment with all these before they get sent back and see what works with what, how it feels to use these.
So far I am very impressed all round.

Kinect in the wild

Like many of my fellow Xbox 360 owners we now have a Kinect at home. The good news is it just works. The bad news is that it makes you do things like this.
I was interested to see how the predlets took to it. They really wanted to play the raft game as that is what they has seen Sy and I play on The Cool Stuff Collective so they did have some advance notice about how it should work.
It worked well setting up their accounts and it also coped well with the relative size differences between us all.
Kinect adventures was an instant hit and playable by everyone. Dance Central though is the killer app IMHO. When elemming came home from work she ended up spending a few hours grooving away, and unlike me was a natural at it.
The Fighters Uncaged game seems the weakest of the bunch we had, it felt it should be better, it is still fun hitting and kicking but you have to be a bit more careful with your form and what registers. Also the side effect of no controller is of course no force feedback or rumble that you tend to get in a fight game. This is not an issue in a dance game as, well, you are dancing. Obviously also the fight game needs to cope with any move any time but the dance can have a rough idea about where you should be and adjust its tolerances accordingly.
A quick demo of Joyride proved to me that I do not want to spend hours not holding a fake steering wheel, though there is a request from predlet 2.0 to have a go at that so I will see how he gets on.
Kinectimals has only just arrived in the post so I will hold fire on commenting, though I think it will be brilliant 🙂
Andy Piper was online on kinect last night but as we were exploring the games and bouncing around we did not get to try the video kinect, but the usual thing on xbox of getting a message, finishing what you are doing and then routing around to find the request or message which by that time the person has gone to do something else. So apologies Andy 🙂
If you have an xbox 360 there really is no reason to not have a Kinect, if you have kids all the better. It will be interesting to see the control methods get used in interesting ways over the next few years too, and maybe it evolve to the desktop and let us control many other devices.

Virus, Rock and Roll and Brain Control

A strange combination of words in the title, but then that is what happens when you get (happily) dragged into the developing madness of The Cool Stuff Collective.
Episode 9 aired this evening though is the one that will be on the mainstream ITV1 channel on saturday 13th November.
I was watching it whilst at the BCS where I was about to run a session on Virtual Worlds in Healthcare for the Animation and Games Development SG. So there was some surprise I was sitting in that open office watching CITV streaming and crying with laughter at the whole show. Or was it a way to deal with the mild embarrassment or the “I can’t believe its all turned out this awesome”.
Brain control
In this show the future tech piece is about mind control devices, the NeuroSky headset and Mindflex toy. This is amazing enough and it was an interesting piece to make work. The devices prefer to be fitted properly and given a little time to calibrate in a quiet environment. So obviously a TV studio and throwing 2 headsets Sy’s way may not have been ideal, but it actually worked.
However from a more personal viewpoint it was an honour to be able to play Rockband 3 with the new MadKatz guitar on screen. Sy was in Spandex, Monkey on the drums with elvis glasses and me in a wig and shades and yes…. my leather jacket finally made it on screen.
Rockband 3
We were playing for real too, “I Love Rock and Roll”.
Rockband 3
Monkey’s drum solo was hilarious too!
This show had yet more, and probably something that I will get a certain degree of stick about, but as far I am concerned it is what this show has been all about. People trying funny things and they generally work 🙂
We had been infected with a virus in the studio and my diagnosis of it see’s me over the course of the show get more and more wrapped up until Monkey fixes it by rebooting the show. This works great but leaves me with the School Choir virus, and yes…. I sing in a daft voice on the TV.
More cables
So those years of playing Rockband/Guitar Hero came in useful, likewise the trying to sing (which I can’t) on Singstar things like “The Final Countdown” also came into play.
Of course this just adds to the complication when people ask “so what do you do now then?”

Star Wars AR – StAR wARs I guess?

This video is doing the rounds of using the world around you as a backdrop for playing a tie fighter shooting turret game on the iphone.

There have been some great advances in using the iphone tilt and touch to control Star Wars related games and I am sure the Kinect game will be equally evocative with motion control for force and lightsaber.
It is probably that 1977 and Star Wars in general has been the grounding for many of the gamers and inventors of today that it is so obvious to replicate the things we saw back then into games tech in out hand today.
Likewise these advances in holography quickly get on to referencing the holograms seen in Star Wars.

All very amazing tech indeed and closer than we think.

Unity3d growing – lets get schools in on this

A recent press release from Unity3d gave some impressive figures “Unity Technologies Surpasses 250K Developers Milestone and 35M Installs of Free Unity Web Player
I am a big fan of Unity3d as you will have seen over the years and it is great to see the company doing so well. I do not think this success is purely technical, Unity3d is a great product but it has been the positive and open attitude of the company which if you ever talk to the CEO David Helgasson you will see why. It is a true startup come good.
The figures are impressive for the web plugin but the figures not shown, that are in fact even bigger is the fact that every iphone and droid can run Unity3d apps. Many of you will have even played or used some and possibly not even noticed.
Unity3d 3 editor
I expect to see Unity3d appear in more and more schools as part of both art and science lessons, that was partly my intention in showcasing it on The Cool Stuff Collective. This is a tool and an environment that has both great simplicity and the ability to get as complex as you want. Programming and graphic/sound integration is the ultimate UGC. We also have lots of ways to deploy and share that content.
It seems that a set of simple course material prefabs would make a great module in both infant and secondary education to help find the story tellers, game developers, artists and programmers of the future by letting kids just get on with it and create. There may be some real gems of ideas bubbling away out there don’t you think?
Having seen the willingness to create with my own kids, watching a 3 year old choose to paint the Kart in Mario Kart on the DS and decorate away, or seeing a 7 year old revel in 3d modelling with the haptic device we really should be pushing this future tech (not just Unity3d BTW) into schools, helping teachers understand the creative and learning potential.
I know lots of people are, I know there is lots of resistance to change too. However some of this is not massive capital expenditure (most schools seem to have computers). In just the same way as many of us solo entrepreneurs are able to punch above our human resources weight with access to amazingly accessible technology, so should the classroom.
It is then not a lesson about computing or tech but about creativity, expression as well as STEM.
Fingers crossed we can ride this wave. It is certainly one I want to pursue.
Anyone out there have good Unity3d educational related prefabs?

Kinect – Yes its fantastic

The current Cool Stuff Collective show airing or Tx8 (of 13) as they call it in the trade 🙂 features yet more great and cool gadgets and games. For me though the true star of the show was the Xbox Kinect. Having it set up in the studio and having had a little bit of time to look at it, seeing other peoples reactions to it it truly is one awesome piece of kit.
The show aired on Monday 1st November on CITV but you can see it on ITV this Saturday 6th on ITV1 9:25.
Cool stuff kinect
Being able to stand up and present this and explain it to Sy let me do my usual arm waving, what was great was that the avatar on the screen was obviously mirroring me as I occasionally stopped steering the boat with Sy in the and gesticulated to get the points across about how revolutionary this really is for commercial in the home technology.
Cool stuff kinect
Seeing the debug console earlier and all the points of the body and various cameras at work is a very surreal experience too. Obviously the games are about controlling an environment and immersion but the avatars responding to you is more about self reflection. You know its not you, its not really a video of you but a fully rigged puppet responding to you. This is much more engaging and emotive that I expected it to be.
Of course being The Cool Stuff Collective it cant all be serious philosophical points about the nature of self and existence.
So here is a picture of Monkey, Me and the Pop Crash Grannies Janice and Victoria as we have a joke sleepover party at the end of the show.
Monkey, g33k and popcrash grannies
Yes that is a seagull flying past on the end of a fishing rod… oh I gave the secret away….
Yes we also had the introduction of Donkey to the show this week and the return of Cave Girl
Cool stuff collective sleepover
Of course the irony/serendipity of working with Cave Girl who arrived on the show due to Monkey inventing a time machine that I helped him with, when my main presentations on the direction of virtual worlds and gaming technology is called washing away cave paintings really cant be ignored either. Its all linked you see 🙂
As is the whole Chicken suit in fable3 that I mentioned here
Cavegirl attacks

Here is to next week with yet more bizarreness.