Microsoft Minecraft, Space and Semantic Paint

It is interesting looking, spotting, patterns and trends and extrapolating the future. Sometimes things come in and get focus because they are mentioned a lot on multiple channels and sometimes those things converge. Right at the moment it seems that Microsoft are doing all the right things in the emerging tech space, game technology and general interest space.
Firstly has been the move my Microsoft to make Minecraft even easier to use in schools.

They are of course following on and officially backing the sort of approach the community has already taken. However a major endorsement and drive to use things like Minecraft in education is fantastic news. The site is
And just to resort to type again, this is, as the video says, not about goofing around in a video game. This is about learning maths, history, how to communicate online. These are real metaverse tools that enable rich immersive opportunities, on a platform that kids already know and love. Why provide them with a not very exciting online maths test when they can use multiple skills in an online environment together?
Microsoft have also supported the high end sciences. Announcing teaming up with NASA to use the blended/mixed/augmented reality headset Hololens to help in the exploration of Mars. This is using shared experience telepresence. Bringing mars to the room, desk, wall that several people are sharing in a physical space. The Hololens and the next wave of AR are looking very exciting and very importantly they have an inclusion approach to the content. Admittedly each person needs a headset, but using the physical space each person can see the same relative view of the data and experience as the rest of the people. The don’t have to of course :), there is not reason for screens not to show different things in context for each user. However standard VR is in immersed experience without much awareness of others. A very important point I feel.
Microsoft have also published a paper and video about using depth scanning and live understanding and labelling of real world objects. Something that things like Google Tango will be approaching.
Slightly better than my 2008 attempt (had to re-use this picture again of the Nokia N95)
Hackday5 Augmented Reality step 2

The real and virtual are becoming completely linked now. Showing how the physical universe is actually another plane alongside all the other virtual and contextual metaverses.
It is all linked and not about isolation, but understanding and sharing of information, stories and facts.

Mars – Curiosity – inspiring a generation too?

This morning amidst the amazing sporting achievement of the Olympics we had the great news that the Curiosity Martian rover had arrived and landed safely on the planet Mars. It may not seem quite real, but it has taken 8 months to get to 350+ million miles and then descend and land safely in a complex “7 minutes of terror” as the scientist called it.
The project cost a mere $2.5 billion according to reports. That is a mere drop in the ocean when you consider the money spent on things like banking bailouts and alike.
NASA has always been good at sharing what is going on online, but this time this project is tweeting to the world too. So to follow @MarsCuriosity is a must. The web exists to share information, that was the original intent. So when lots of others are still locking away their information NASA is giving theirs to the world.
We were even tweeted to a picture being twitpic’ed
It takes 14 minutes for a signal to get back from Mars, and to get from earth back to the Rover. It is how ever not doing it on its own. Two other orbiting spacecraft are acting as relays in orbit for it, Odyssey and MRO.
So that’s 3 objects 350 million miles away on another planet interacting with mission control back here on Earth ! It is still just amazing isn’t it!!!!!
The official website has a stack of information, e.g. the batteries on this laser firing, sample collecting and analysing, self driving collision avoiding marvel will last over 600 days! Take that iPhone/3ds/laptop !
London 2012 is set to inspire a generation of athletes and achievers, I hope that Curiosity, now and during the next 2 years of analysis inspires a generation of scientists and explorers. That has to be worth a few billion $?