augmentedreality


Flying virtually to a real virtual place

We don’t get to travel much at the moment so being able to virtual visit places is fun. Of course visiting places that exist, but don’t exist, yet do are even more fun 🙂

Today is a slightly odd day as Predlet 1.0 is heading back to a face to face class at 6th form college for the first time since february and the 2020 lockdown. To avoid cramming into a train I need to drive here the 20 mins to college so I am up bright and early, so a good time to share this post which I put both on facebook and twitter yesterday, but is something more memorable (for me anyway).

Microsoft FlightSimulator2020 came out in mid August and I have always been a fan of flight sims in general, but this one lets you fly anywhere in the World because it uses Microsoft’s Bing photographic maps of the globe and combined that with a bunch of other data sources to create buildings, trees, traffic and even realtime weather for anywhere you choose to head to. The standard thing to do is jump in a plane and fly over your own house, we have all done it. You can pause the flight and jump off in a camera drone to explore the view and it is quite fascinating. You can of course do this with things like google maps and street view, I have played with that in VR too, where I actually found myself walking out of the train station. However the live digital twin of the world and the fun of actually flying different types of plane really give flight sim something else. Hence, I thought I would visit somewhere that is real, but also fictitious or virtual in one of my little planes.

When I wrote the first novel Reconfigure I set Roisin’s adventure in a very british style edge of town/city environment with lots of access to countryside and some rural locations. Whilst the science of the coordinate system was consistent with itself, the entire place was a mix of images in my head of places near me or that I have visited. When it came to the follow up Cont3xt I challenged myself to find a more exotic and remote location. As I wrote back then I found an actual island for sale and used Google Earth to scout the location off the Brazilian coast. I used Street View to head to the local mainland town and wander around to get the feel of the place. Lots of the things in the book, despite it being scifi, are based on real things. It is worth noting Roisin has a real Twitter account (key in the original story), Marmite is almost a second character, she builds systems using Unity and even uses protocols like MQTT sole some things. OK the quantum computing part is a bit more off the chart but its all based on real theories extended a little to tell a good yarn.

Along come Flightsim2020 with the ability to fly anywhere in the world. The navigation map to select where to fly lets you click anywhere but it works best if you have an airfield to start from, it feels more like a real journey. Whilst the main town in Cont3xt has an aiport there is also a grass landing strip on another island about 1 mile east of Roisin’s island. I headed there.

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
Landing strip

I took off, avoiding the trees at the end of the runway and as I banked and levelled on the right course, there it was.

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
heading to the island

I got quick a shiver down my neck and back as it took me back to the buzz of writing the books and the fun of the story and adventure, the anticipation of the fun others might have reading it.

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
Overview with the plane

The island in context has a slightly larger building and a helipad, plus a large “container” but of course they were the artefacts I added in the story.

I also then headed North, a trip that used boats in the book, toward the main town.

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
Heading to town

And there it was the jetty and the market shops that Roisin tries to stay out of trouble in while gathering supplies (including more Marmite)

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
Town

I then flew back, over the island again and landed (yes actually landed not crashed) the plane one the grass strip nearby.

Flying over my books island http://cont3xtbook.co.uk
Heading back

The whole flight was awe-inspiring. I realise that its more of an incredible personal experience for me as a writer but it made me consider the sort of images and film like sequences I saw in my head that I then wrote in the words. It made me smile doing it and writing this 🙂 I hope you get a kick out of this too.

Video trickery – lockdown fun

Lots more people are playing with/using video now with the lockdown. Every conference is a video conference. We are communicating with friends, family, customers and colleagues in a variety of ways and a stack of different contexts.

I sparked up Faceapp on my phone, something I had tinkered with a while back and found that it now not only does mad crazy things with great accuracy to photos but can also do video for some of those effects. With still images like this before and after example, or they they the other way around 🙂 you decide.

Before/after face app
Before/after faceapp
Before/after faceapp
Before/after faceapp ?

The video though…. mind blowing stuff.

There is also lots of fun to be had with the snapchat virtual camera on PC and Mac able to feed into any of the video conference tools you use by diverting your main camera to it first then selecting the snap camera as your webcam.

Lots can be done in foreground and background replacement. I mean who would turn up at a meeting in a predator costume? (like its 2006)

Snap predator

Like my Second Life avatar (below) I cant claim to have created this one. But it was great to see it on the list of snap chat lenses. My SL avatar has a custom jacket (my original RL one) and a feeding edge T-shirt so there are always tweaks to be made. Yes SL is still there, yes I still have 2 islands, yes you should sign up/re-login.

Visiting Hursley and IQ

Back in the UGC world of SL in 2006 we had lots of interesting uses for logos and brands, like the Wimbledon Tennis flying towel and Wimbledon contact lenses (Official sanctioned I should add). I dived into the Snapchat Lens Studio to see what I could quickly create. This was knowing full well there was a very rich 3d animation and code/no-code environment that could be a career for some talented artists. I used one of the base models and tweaked it a bit and gave myself some shades with a subtle mention of 451 Research (now part of S&P Global Market Intelligence). Obviously that would all not fit on the glasses, but you get the idea.

Snapchat lens - lenses
451 snap camera lenses for video conferencing

I have always talked about putting logos and our own designs into game environments like my reconfigure car to advertise my novels. Before that back in 2006 putting eightbar into games too ( in the link above too). Now I have a feeding edge logo in Animal Crossing New Horizons. I am planning on doing a reconfigure one too. Only a few pixels to work but its fun to try. Our entire family is obsessed with this game at the moment, on top of all the other various games we play its a unifying experience as we tend to our islands, or live on one another’s. (Hmmm another SL like reference)

Animal crossing
Animal Crossing merch

Of course this lockdown is driving us all crazy, but having a bit of fun is essential. Back to snapchat it was good to see the Trolls movie had some official snapchat lenses. When I tweeted this I was told I looked like Eddie Izzard 🙂

How’s your day going ?
Troll lens

The family joined in too, but not posting them without permission 🙂

Having said that all this tech is great, but I also felt the need to try a real life filter and broke out this costume left over from The Cool Stuff Collective TV show (I didn’t wear it on the show, but at the wrap party). It was certainly a shock for my colleagues on video. The neighbours probably thought I had lost it too as I ran around the garden in it, doing a real life animal crossing manoeuvre.

Best snapchat filter ever, but it seems to have transitioned into the physical world.
Squawk

Stay safe everyone, have some fun with the tech and lark around a bit!

Blaming MWC for missed anniversary! 9th Year of Feeding Edge

Somehow we have ended up in March, almost as if February with its short number of days decided to sneak past us all. February is an important month for Feeding Edge as that is the birthday month. This 9th year I managed to not find the time to post and celebrate like every other year In part this is because of all the preparation for heading to Mobile World Congress this year in Barcelona. I had not had the chance to attend this show before, but this time my 451 Research and IoT and AR/VR analyst work took me there, along with a lot of my colleagues.
The scale of the event and the major venue the Fira Gran in Barcelona was pretty amazing, 8 very large halls with a good 30 min walk from end to end if you didn’t stop or go into any halls. A major surprise was that it was very cold and snowed for the first time. Not ideal !

Warm sunny Barcelona #mwc2018

The analyst life is not one of joyfully hopping from stand to stand enjoying the great shows, but one of 30 min meetings every 30 mins usually 30 mins away from one another. All the big shows suffer from this, but equally we get to hear a lot of great stuff. There are the odd times when meetings move or there is a gap but in general every day is like this. Also I started the show off with moderating a presentation set on stage, so had to hold off on the dashing and do more of the imparting of information to a large crowd in an auditorium all looking to hear about IoT Security and Blockchain

A lot of walking and half that time talking #mwc2018

The best way to get from hall to hall is on the top corridor

MWC 2018

You may think of MWC as a mobile phone selling show but it is getting much more like CES with lots of huge stands and gadgets and of course cars.

MWC 2018

F1 had a significant presence too.

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

Including an esports racing challenge

MWC 2018

There was an awful lot of AR and VR on stands across the board, lots of 360 video such as Intel showing Shaun White’s gold winning winter olympic run.
Elsewhere I saw this AR based race track demo

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

A few hololens made an appearance too

MWC 2018

Make of this poster what you will

MWC 2018

Our robot masters made an appearance in a number of shapes and sizes, though AI was big news to go along with IoT and Blockchain at the event. i.e. my day job 🙂

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

It was great to see the Kickstarter smartwatch with real hands that I backed have a presence at the show too – MyKronoz

MWC 2018

MWC 2018

Makes one feel a little space out!

MWC 2018

I nearly did not get home, and I know some other UK people actually didn’t so I think myself luck as we had snow. Lots of it for us. It meant driving the Nissan Leaf around to help Predlet 1.0 do her paper round, and one other round too for several hours on Basingstoke estate roads.

White stuff

Predlet 1.0 got her round and one other today so we drove around in this delivering papers.

So I think that makes a memorable belated 9th birthday. I will have to pay close attention to the decade of Feeding Edge next year, a bit more travel to do first though, Vegas, Japan, Hannover, Santa Clara takes me to June. Now if I can get everyone I meet to also just take a look at Reconfigure and Cont3xt and post a nice review that would be most useful. It may even help book 3 making its way from the back of my brain to the page.

Happy New Ye#AR – Welcome 2018

These years just tick away don’t they? Last year finished in a big rush of work with reports to get out before I took the rest of my holiday that was sitting there ready to expire. I was really please that I got my AR and VR long form report out for 415 customers. These a 6k or words and pictures but I was not expecting to be in a position to share Augmented and Virtual reality insights quite as much as I have this past year. It is what I know, and what I feel or course, but there are a lot more things in IoT especially in Industrial to try and stay on top of. However, AR is the UI for IoT, so there it is. It was over 18 years ago trying to get a shared avatar space of our offices working with presence of people, at the turn of the century! The along came Second Life, which made things a lot easier in 2006.
2017 was supposed to be the VR year, and it sort of was, but also AR is hot on its tail and finally Magic leap, on the 20th December unveiled their AR goggles.Yes, that was just a few days AFTER I managed to ship to AR/VR report with the words, “we shall have to wait and see what they do” in it. Though the shut down of Tango, which I did get in as an amendment waved the flag that would happen.

No prices, not dates, other than 2018, but its a jump in technology with light field (hopefully)

We are also very close to Ready Player One hitting the screen, which will be the main point of reference for escapist VR with Spielberg directing. So it seems all the future thinking stuff we have all been doing is going mainstream to some degree or other.

Apple ARKit and Google ARCore put AR tracking into the hands of everyone with every mainstream device too.

Maybe a few more people will spot my novels and enjoy them with all the AR and VR, IoT and Quantum theory in them 🙂

So it looks like being a good year.
Enjoy !

Sci-fi coming true with AR and Quantum communication – Wake up World

Recently the fledgling AR industry got a bit of a boost with the announcement of Apple’s AR kit. This bit of software layering is supported by Unity3d and Unreal, to name a few, and puts some AR elements directly into the OS of the Iphone and iPad. That of course is a bit of a problem for the many other AR toolkits that have been around for some time, but these things happen. Developers are already diving in an making interesting things, such as this Minecraft style tech demo

The ability to position and accurately keep track of objects in the the camera view of the World is a core part of what happens in my novels, including the “how to build stuff in unity3d” parts of Roisin’s inner dialogue. Of course the bits of how she gets to instrument the world if is a bit further off, but as Quantum communication is getting closer and, well that leaves just a little sliver of fiction left that powers the stories 🙂

These things add to the amazing amount of tech out there to keep track off and understand, something my IoT analyst day job keeps me very busy doing. Luckily (well by design really) my research agenda incorporates AR and VR and whatever XR comes along so I am still able to build on all these many years of being in the business of virtual. It is surprising how many companies are deep into it, but still keep it a little quiet, probably out of the same embarrassment or resistance we back in 2006 showing Second Life as an integration platform with both people and real World data, but oh…. it had colourful graphics and game like features, how could that be “serious”. It still makes me laugh to think of the resistance to it, as with the web, e-commerce and social media. The same is happening with blockchain, AI, IoT, autonomous vehicles. Lots of stuck in the mud attitudes, it will never catch on…(a few years pass) oh look my entire business has been disrupted…. why didn’t I listen…
Anyway, keep an open mind on tech and its interaction with society, it’s not all version numbers and installations, people are in the mix and very much part of whatever ecosystem is forming. Why not read the sci fi adventures whilst they are still fiction, look back in a few years and it will like a documentary. (That’s by design not accident BTW)
Reconfigure is the place to start there are some links on the right 🙂 Enjoy the future.

CES 2017 – Bucket list, tick

For many years I have seen the CES show appear in magazines, then TV and then of course all over social media. As a long time tech geek and early adopter I have always wanted to attend, but never been able to. In my corporate days getting approval for a train to London was a chore. As a startup I never had the time or money either, preferring to invest in the gadgets like the Oculus rift or paying for a Unity license so I could build things. On the TV show we talked about CES, and if we had gone to a 4th series it was on the cards.
This year, with my industry analyst role in IoT I was able to go. Of course as a work trip it was a bit different to just being able to take the show in.
CES 17
I had briefing after briefing with a bit of travel time in between for the 2 main days I was there. Once thing that is not always obvious is just how big the show is. Firstly there is the Vegas convention centre with North and South Halls that is bigger than most airports. It was so big that I only got to really visit the south halls, the north hall of cars, a motor show in its own right alluded me. All the first days meeting were around the south halls. Day 2 was at the other areas of the show, the hotels have their own convention centres and also floors and suites get rented out. The Venetian Sands, Bellagio and Aria all had lots going on, each as big as any UK show it seemed.
Walking around 9-10 miles a day, still not seeing everything, at a trade show gives you an indication of the size.
#ces2017 steps
Again I pretty much missed most of the expo floor with meetings but the day I felt out I had an hour to pop back to the Sands main hall and see some things.
The split across the entire show of giant corporate powerhouses to tiny startups with a single table was amazing. I had assumed it was all the former, but the latter is heavily supported and with kickstarters and maker culture now mainstream it will continue to be really important.
One thing I was there to see was how much Augmented Reality was taking off running parallel with the VR wave, there were a lot of glasses and of course the Hololens and the industrial focussed Daqri smart helmet. Still not there as a consumer focus really yet, though the Asus Zenfone AR powered by Tango and Qualcomm was announced but not on sale until later in the year (no date given) which may put true AR into people’s hands.
#ces2017 day 1
HoloLens
#ces2017 day 1
DAQRI Smart Helmet

It was CES’s 50th anniversary, and that was fitting given I turn 50 this year too. It may not be the most exiting bucket list tick but I have already done lots of mine, and need to refresh the list anyway. I am not sure that will include riding in this human size quad copter that you fly with a smart phone though!
#ces2017 day 1

I guess we best experience everything before these guys and their bretheren take over.

#ces2017

Still at least we can 3d print new parts for ourselves

#ces2017

As you will see in this album the whole place just becomes a blur of everything looking the same, lights, sound, people, attract loops etc. All very fitting to be in Vegas.

CES 17

@xianrenaud and I wrote a spotlight piece for 451 Research as a show roundup which may end up outside the paywall CES 2017: connected, autonomous and virtual in case you do have access.

So that made a whirlwind start to this year. This time last year I was published Cont3xt and wondering what the next steps were going to be. This year I have stacks of IoT research and writing work to get on with, a 50th birthday to not get worried about, imminent wisdom tooth removal (yuk) and all being well a 2nd Degree/Il Dan black belt text in Choi Kwang Do. So onwards and upwards. Pil Seung!

Life in IoT, Pokemon, AR, Micro:bit, reports and scifi

I has been a few months since I wrote anything here. My new role at 451 Research has kept me doing a lot of writing about a lot of interesting subjects related to IoT. It is an interesting change to be on the receiving end of briefings where people tell me why their implementation or product direction is of interest, yes that’s bit poacher turned game keeper, but it is good to be able to share and build upon all my previous experience. The Internet of Things is huge and diverse, because like the internet it underpins everything. The great thing is it also include how we as people understand what is going on in a system, which lends itself to being able to discuss virtual and augmented reality. I had started to cover some VR and just posted a longer report spotlight on AR when Pokemon Go hit. It was only a matter of time before a mass market awareness thing happened, but few of us knew the form it would actually take. Most of what I write is behind the paywall for our customers, but somethings make their way outside. Firstly our AR report (as this was with @xianrenaud 451 Research IoT research director) made the home page and some free access to all. I was not in a position to write a whole report on Pokemon Go or its lack of real AR, but I did write an analyst note (our briefest piece of content). Which now is also on the homepage and free (linking back to the AR report). The VR report is still locked away but you can sign up for a trial account.
AR and VR also featured in at the end of a recent IoT Webinar on Brightalk that Christian and Brian did. I provided a couple of pictures for that. I take the position that VR is great but it is an extension of current screen technology at its heart. A screen for each eye. AR is a new departure, sensing the world and projection/translucent displays is a whole different ball game and one that had many more industrial and enterprise uses.
VR and AR diverge
Interestingly lots of AR tech is being retro fitted to VR. Nothing is ever clear cut, but its good to spot a trend or find a theory to explore.
Of course my IoT VR and AR experiences blend into the books Reconfigure and even more so the follow up Cont3xt and the adventures are still selling and being downloaded at $0.99 around the World. A few more reviews would be great. In some of my briefings some of the elements I have used start to get a little closer to reality, but it was always supposed to be near real sci-fi.
I have not thrown away my tech hands on approach to things though. Yes there is a lot of writing but the predlets still need to get the opportunity to learn their craft and this morning my/their BBC Micro:bit arrived. A fascinating Arduino like controller but loaded with LED’s, compass, bluetooth and gyroscopes. It will be great to see what they get up to with it. It is a full IoT endpoint when it comes to it.
At last BBC micro:bit #iot
Its not all work, though a lot of my play is work related too. However, we invested in a Wheel for the Xbox One, having had one on the 360. It was part present for predlet 2.0 getting a great school report and a pen licence. This time I also got a proper stand for it the Wheel Stand Pro V2. It makes a huge difference to all the driving games, particularly the rock hard Dirt 2 and Forza 6. Of course there is a prime example of where VR works, and I believe the PC version of Dirt now has headset support. If they sort it out for the Xbox, well I am in 🙂
Just keeps getting better #forza6 #thrustmaster #wheelstandpro
Another addition and a rather fantastic one was my Father’s day present of next generation slot(less) racing with Anki Overdrive. These fascinating cars read the track as they race on it, making any layout they will autonomously drive around mapping the reach first they you get to race using you phone/tablet. Switching lanes and controlling speed and virtual weapons and defences. They are fast and frenetic, and when they go off track they razz around trying to find it again. Watching the robot cars drive is pretty magical too. I know how they work, I know what they are doing, but…. wow. Once again another IoT style twist in the tail. Alluding to where the World is going, first liberating the ideas from play, just like Pokemon Go has.
If you want to see the diverse list of 451 Research reports I have been doing look here, thats not including all the press articles and conferences presenting I have been up to in just a few short months.
If you have anything industrial, enterprise or just plain quirky you would like to talk about please get in touch I am @epredator and do take a look at the books for some summer reading 🙂

Jersey Hackathon – Phone Breakathon

I had a trip to Jersey this weekend, sponsored by Jersey BCS so that I could be an out of town judge at the #hackjsy game development event. The focus here was for teams to build something in 36 hours, game related. With my BCS Animation and Games specialist group hat/badge on it made a lot of sense to to and see what was going on.
I also treated the trip as a re-aquanting myself with travelling on business, the family getting a chance to see I am now there all the time, but just for a short first stint. I also thought I would test out the new clothes for travel comfort. That test worked, but in a way I was not expecting. I usually have been wearing combat trousers and my phone sits nicely in the leg pocket. Instead it was inside my new jacket/ waistcoat arrangement. As i parked the car at the airport and hoofed my overcoat on with a hunch of the shoulders, my iPhone 6s plus felt the urge to slide upwards out of the shiny new pocket and propel itself face down onto the floor. I knew it was not going to be too well but I was surprised at just how smashed it made itself.
So much for not having a screen protector
It was completely unhappy with any sort of interaction. I couldn’t power it off with a slide either. I tried the power and home button together for a few seconds and it shutdown. The Jersey flight is inly 40 minutes in a turbo prop but they don’t like phones being on. It is not so bad these days to be without a phone as if you have a laptop/pad etc wi-fi is readily available, so I let home know I was not going to be texting and Jersey know I was not going to be ignoring them if they called.
The hackathon was great though. 9 teams building stuff in all sorts of ways. javascript, node.js, python, unity3d, ruby, stencyl and a raspberry pi all featured across the projects and we had a hard time judging down to 1, 2, 3 and the special WTF award.
Whilst there I got to talk to a lot of people from all over the island in different industries. It was great to catch up with the guys from vizuality as they are making huge strides in the areas of installation experiences using VR. Tracking users in a 10x10m space and providing headset visuals as they wander around.
I spent the Saturday hacking too. I looked a little in IBM Bluemix and its Unity api for text to speech, using my own book quotes to see if it could cope. They all still have trouble pronouncing Roisin though 🙂 I also then spent a bit more time on my Vuforia AR covers for the books. I decided that Reconfigure should have the variant of the block world view that Roisin sees and builds in her own Unity application.
Joining in with the spirit of #hackjsy
Then on Cont3xt I explored writing a scene changer, so at certain intervals the models and view would swap. Initially I did that by toggling the image targets, but that did not trigger the re-viewing of them, as it expected the same target to have the same stuff on it. However, swapping the game objects attached in the tree, turning them on and off worked, just as the animation works. So I now have a little bit of authoring infrastructure that makes it easier to add multiple scenes and play through them.
I was going to do something with the leap motion sensor too, but that fitted more with having an AR headset to interact with the book covers, with a broken phone and other judging work to do I parked that one.
I also had a lot of conversations around IoT in various forms, and a bit of a chat about blockchain too. Jersey may only have 100,000 people on it, but there is a vibrant tech community there. It was a great trip, and the phone is now repaired (the Jersey shop wasn’t able to do 6s plus so Apple Basingstoke did it in 1 hour) It also now has a proper case. I had avoided that for ages, not having broken the phone before. Rather than take a picture of the phone in a mirror to show the case, I sparked up the AR unity, put the Reconfigure picture on the phone and then the mac did its thing and rendered Roisin, holding her phone with a view of the world that she sees.
AR reaching out of the fixed phone + cover
Just to re-interate the loops within loops here. I am rendering an AR representation using Unity3d and an Iphone onto a digital version of the cover of the e-book that contains a story about Roisin discovering a way to see the World in terms of position and labels that she expands on by writing an application in Unity that tuns on her iPhone. I will share this post on Twitter. The same Twitter (happy 10th birthday) that she uses to accidentally discover her new found abilities when she accidentally types into the wrong window. Meta enough ? 🙂
Anyway, well done everyone at #hackjsy, great organization, great participation, great fellow judges and a great island. See you all again soon I hope.

Wearable Tech show London with added serendipity

Yesterday I popped along on just an expo pass to London’s Excel centre for the Wearable Technology show. Despite its name it is not all about wrist watches that check your heart rate. The organisers have recognised the wider implications of things getting more instrumented, more data flowing and more business opportunities in the Internet of Things industry pattern. I had several reasons to pop along, the main one there will be a little more on later. I alluded to some big changes in a tweet. I don’t mean to tease but I am going to anyway.
One of the reasons I went to the show was to see some of the sports tracking wearables though. This was more in keeping with the title of the show. I was interested in both the physical monitoring, taking it past heart rate, and how the coaching software was shaping up to make sense of the data. I was also interested in anything that helped track the type of movement. Both these are from my training and teaching in Choi Kwang Do. A lot of the newer body monitoring kit was being built into skin tight performance clothing. That seems a good idea in general, and for a martial art, not having things on our wrists, yet getting some great training and tuning feedback during cardio and PACE training is going to be useful. There was only really one body movement tracker, related to boxing. It was based on the accelerometer principle, combined with an app that told you how many punches you were doing and at what rate and also showed the speed of the punch. It is not out for a while but it will be interesting to try this version with our more unusual martial arts moves. It is called Corner
Another reason to go, just in general because it’s what I have worked with for years is the VR and AR aspects of the show. There were a lot of headsets, both full immersive Rifts, Gear VR and also lots of peppers ghost, not really a hologram, heads up displays. There were some interesting uses to track warehouse goods in a HUD and also using projection onto a surface to avoid the need for glasses at all.
One company I spent a bit of time talking to and taking the demo was vTime
Wearable tech show
The preamble was good, and the demo was great and I wish them all the best of luck. It is a 3d chat room, avatar based where the users choose lovely rendered scene to sit in and converse, soon to share pictures etc. It is claiming to be a sociable not social network application. It is targeted at mobile first. I kept hearing the zuckerburg quote about one day people will just sit around a virtual campfire. Of course I was taken back to 2006, but tried not to get all grumpy and remind them everything old is new again. The campfire was a key part of the imagery and the experience we had online back then. Though then we could get up and walk about in the free form environment. In fact we still can, and SL had VR support. i.e. two cameras one for each eye. I still liked this new application, and if people connect and enjoy it, then so be it 🙂 I would dive in but it was focussed onto Gear VR and I only have my iPhone (and a load of things to drop that into to get stereo vision)
virtual campfire
The full post this was in to date it is here
Also Rita J. King was our embedded story teller/journalist and wrote tales from the fire pit to explain the rise of the virtual community powered by people, avatars and Second Life. The PDF of the story is here, and should be useful reading for the next wave of virtual environments. Headset or otherwise. I would say it is essential reading in fact 🙂
The economist had a stand showing a great use of virtual worlds. They have a reconstruction, from photos and other data, of the Mosul artefacts that have been destroyed due to the conflicts in the middle east. The VR was a little old fashioned, but the principle and content was good.
It was fun talking to the marker based AR developers, as they showed me things like book covers coming alive. Once again, I had to let them know I new a little about it and of course I tried to sell the idea in my books to people. If I had though about it I would have had a stand to show sci-fi novels about VR and AR and IoT with Reconfigure and Contxt 🙂
I mentioned serendipity in the title. I had tweeted my location as I got to excel, but then not checked twitter as I was going around the exhibits. As I tweeted I was leaving I saw that my colleague from way back Martin Gale was at the show, speaking and presenting. It was fantastic to catch up and see how well he is doing, quote the Fast Show, ‘Ah Ted” multiple times. Thank you for the coffee :). It made a great end to a fantastic day out. A day in which I got to practice a little of what I will be doing in the very near future, around the subjects that I will be immersed in. I guess in startup terms someone would call it is pivot. There I go teasing again. Watch this space, if you are interested 🙂

Augmented Reality about Augmented Reality

I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the Augmented Reality tools that have Unity3d packages for them. The first I headed for was Vuforia, now owned by PTC. I am using the free version. It all worked straight from the install, though there are a lot of features to tinker with.
I wanted to use an image marker of my own, so naturally I used the book cover. There is a lot of AR and VR in the story so it all makes sense.
For the 3d models I used the current trial of Fuse/Mixamo now part of the Adobe. It lets you build a model and export it in a nice friendly Unity3d fix format. You would be suprised how these various formats for models and animations hide so much complexity and weird tech problems though. Eventually I found a couple of animations that fitted the mood. This is not a full action sequence from the book, but it could be. I have some more vignettes in mind to experiment with. I am just upgrading my windows machine so I can use the Kinect 2.0 for some of my own motion capture again. Finding the right animation, and then trying to edit it is really hard work. The addition of motion, especially in humans, hits a different part of the brain I think. It makes lots of things look not quite right.
Augmented Reality on Augmented Reality
So here is the video of augmented reality on a cover of a physical copy of an ebook novel telling the story with lots of augmented reality in it, if thats not too meta. Roisin rather sassily taps her for while the Commander lays down the law to her.

Reconfigure and Cont3xt are available right now to enjoy, and if at all possible, PLEASE write a review on Amazon, it makes a massive difference to the take up of the books.