3d Printing multiple materials with Objet

I just received a sample from Objet of the results of their new PolyJet Matrix(tm) 3d printing technology. Why is this important? This particular technology means that in one pass an object can be constructed of several types and forms of material. In the example sent through, a rendering of Zebedee from the magic roundabout the various components all feel very different. Given my original 3d print sample was a small ABS plastic box from a few year ago things have really come on.
Objet 3d print sample
The hat and nose are actually made of a rubbery substance and soft to the touch, the spring flexes when you push on the sides of it and the body and head have some intricate detail and colour to them (such as the tiny buttons on his front).
It was an Object printer that was used by the creators of the Coraline movie in a very interesting way too.

Objet.com 3d printer sample

There is a whole stack of information in particular on the entry level 350 printer here and you can follow @3d_printers on twitter.
I am even more convinced than ever of the impact of this sort of technology when combined with the digital design and distribution channels we have. It will continue to get cheaper, better and faster and as in my previous post about some uses of the printers we have a whole host of new business and entertainment uses to consider over and above pure manufacturing of products. This is akin to the differences in virtual world technology usage of mirror worlds and mirror builds compared to more expressive and unusual environments. Mix that all up with Augmented Reality applications and we have one very interesting leap and trends forming.
As experts in the field of design in this space also warn such as csven on ReBang there are responsibilities in learning to design these sorts of products. Making people aware of the opportunities in their product design profession will bring along safe usuable products.
Either way, like virtual worlds and Augmented Reality, 3d printing is not going away, in fact they are on a march together it would seem. So join the march I say 🙂

John Bull printing set for digital natives – gives me an AR idea

I just saw a great link from Shapeways about using the 3d printer to create a stamp of a QR code. Using ink on the stamp and pressing it on a surface leaving a valid QR code impression.

This of course works as an idea on so many levels. It did remind me of the conversation we have round the invention of the printing press and the liberation of thought through that. It also took me back to my childhood with the John Bull printing set. We had small rubber and wooden letters that we lined up in a holder to print sentences.
Metaltype.co.uk image of John Bull printing set
(Image from http://www.metaltype.co.uk/ )
It also struck me that this is a great way to place Augmented reality tags too. QR codes are great in that they encode URL information, they can even be updated live as in Andy Sc’s QR code clock. However placing the markers and tags means they need to be physically rendered somehow if your are doing AR.
The marker here from this old demo was printed via a regular printer and pasted on a board. How cool would it be to be able to place those markers using a 3d printing stamp?

That then got me thinking……
The problem with an AR code marker is that on its own there is not an indication of what it was intended to relate to. It is just a token marker. So stamping AR tags all over the place are meaningless without context. QR codes on the other hand are more detailed versions of a bar code containing things like urls and other indicators.
So without having to reinvent any standards the AR marker could also include context with a QR marker indicating the context and even where to get the model or the rendering for the AR tag. That combined stamp could then be applied. Just as with any URL then the value of what the QR code points to could be adjusted as needed, updating what the AR does with the tag. An ARRI Augmented Reality Resource indicator.

Happy 6th Birthday Second Life

Second Life is turning 6 years old, and as per usual there is a party going on. I popped in to have a quick look (just missing the preview party) but the first thing I saw I loved.
sl6b
This build is animated too. It is a blend of Pac Man, Pong, Star Wars and Tron. I will give it a proper credit when I go back but had to share this picture as I found it instantly fascinating.
It was also interesting that within minutes I bumped into a Wordle banner in there too on a Linden build. Wordle being something that seems to have swept into all sorts of places and created by Jonathan Feinberg from my old firm.
wordle in SL
There is a lot to see with a huge number of resident built exhibits. See you in there!

Its not all Android and iphone AR you know?

To keep the rolling theme of Augmented Reality going and highlight interesting applications Ron Edwards from Ambient Performance has recently posted this tagged AR demonstration but running on a Nokia N95.
So that means there have been good AR demonstrations live on Android, Iphone, S60 and a quick youtube shows some on windows mobile too. 😉

There is a definite technology way rolling based on the mass adoption of relatively powerful smartphones (probably powered by the user friendly nature of the Apple Iphone) with cameras and internet connectivity, combined with opensource development components to help build on these too.
I would say watch this space, but the space will get filled with something rendered in realtime!

Lie to me, avatars and actors

I have recently got into watching Lie to me, running on Sky 1 at the moment. It is an intriguing programme that has Tim Roth as an expert of human behavior and in particular body and facial language when they lie (apparently based on the work of Paul Elkman) . If nothing else it is worth watching for Tim Roth’s performance with his typical style of flipping intensities and focus as he talks. I do find it interested how the various elements of betraying ones true feelings are portrayed in the programme though. I have said to people that I think the show is designed to make us all feel clever. Much of what happens is made fairly obvious at the time, highlighting a crooked smile, touching an ear etc, and as humans we do many of those things and know via instinct what they mean.
There is of course an interesting loop here in that we are in fact watching actors, all of whom have a job which involves convincing us that they are something or someone else, yet at the same time they are convincing us that they are lying as part of that role.
It got me to consider the things I often say to people about engaging in virtual worlds and online and how different people have a different Neuro-linguistic Programming balance. i.e. some people refer to things with visual metaphors even in speech “I see your point of view”, or with aural references, “I here what you are saying” etc. These basics of human communication need to be considered in having the right experience for the right people online, and show why some people don’t take to some platforms.
In all this we have the overhanging spectre of people lying online. The accusation that people hide who they are online getting mixed up with people simply proxying who they are online via an avatar. It is these things that then remove our usual human facial detection systems to pick up on lies and truth. I believe the reason video conferencing in a social setting seems to be less popular that you might expect is because of the disconnect of these gestures and the direct feedback with the others on the call. However, when in avatar mediated space does the fact we have to decide on various ways to explicitly engage with people, gestures, sounds, words, position, pace, timing etc provide us with a different set of human detectors for deciding who to trust?
I know there is not an easy answer to any of this and the spectrum of usage is huge, from method acting role play, to fast talking business deals. Though I do think each of us finds a way to blend what we instictively know in a physical meeting about who we are talking too to how we interact online and give out the right signals and react to the right signals. Some people, as in physical interactions are going to be better at it than others.
I am not sure if the Lie to me script writers are going to delve into online interaction in a future show, but it would be interesting to see their take on the science applied to a very entertaining show and interesting subject.

The future is arriving even faster than we thought

Having very recently watched terminator:salvation and thought about the various permutations of the technology implications that science fiction shows us it is always even more interesting to then compare and contrast with what we actually have available today.
One such example is in augmented reality, of which I have a lot of recent blog posts. This is not about sentient machines and skynet working out we are the problem (though expect a post related to that in the near future).

(Thanks andypiper for sharing this one)
This mobile browser seems to do many of the things we need in order to be able to see the information all around us and about our world that we can’t normal see when we are actually there.
Why tie this to Terminator? Well part of the machine vision elements we see in all the films is clearly augmenting the view of the world, more precise ways to mix digital models with our location, we may well turn out to be the augmented ones rather than a technological race of robots?
Whilst on the subject there are still lots of stories about the data contact lenses.

Tweetups, random combinations, overland2oz

Last night was the second running of the Southampton Tuesday Tweetup and it was interesting to pop along to somewhere relatively local to meet a set of people who happen to use twitter and happen to be near Southampton.
Unlike most other gathering and conferences what actually happens is that the collection of people there are inevitably very diverse. It is not one industry, one hobby or one subject. So whilst I point out that online “everywhere is local” that means it is easy to reach like minded people, on your chosen subject.
The tweetup brings people with a certain attitude to life together, and hence they are an affinity group, but also it collides worlds. I met a lot of great people last night and we talked about lots of things but one example to highlight in particular occurred just as I was heading for the train home.
I view myself as a bit of an explorer, finding new things and new technology, boldly going….. etc. However I had to ask one person last night why they had a map in their hand. Which led to hearing about something worth sharing here.
It turns out that Fiona Easterby is going to drive overland to Australia in a VW Beetle/Baja Bug in a few weeks time. This meant I could not dash for the train after all I had to hear the story. In particular because at some point on my wish list of ambition I would love to do a rally raid, like the Dakar through remote parts of the world. I had hit many of my mini ambitions, patents, Guinness book of world records, moderately famous for doing something to name a few.
Here though at a random gathering of people was someone who had already done two significant drives and was about to do another.
Fiona is using this to also raise money for charity and her website has the links for the donations
We also got to see Fiona’s Sebring SX and hear the wonderful engine note as she pulled away
Sebring SX

So I know that everyone who talked to @Overland2Oz will be wishing her the best of luck in her journey. Who knows the next journey might end up with a Feeding Edge logo on the side as sponsorship.

Virtual Worlds provide green shoots of recovery?

There has been a lot of speculation about the “green shoots of recovery” in the press around business and finance and how the world is going to pick itself up and move on. In all of this of course it highlights how money itself and valuation of assets, skills, resources is all really non existent, dare I say virtual? As the saying goes “something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”.
In dealing with many people who do not yet understand the “value” of “virtual” interaction it is unfortunate that a world economic collapse occurred by some of those same people to highly “valuing” things that did not really exist.
On a positive note though, as reported on Virtual World News another report, by Strategy Analytics has come out showing that many of the green shoots of recovery may be generated by the virtual worlds.
Cress Head
The main growth area indicated is the kids market. That makes sense in that they are not encumbered with thinking any of this stuff is cool or different, it just is what it is to them. Clearly that has the evolutionary drive through that as the 5-9 year olds grow up then these ways of communicating become natural and expected for them.
In addition as Virtual World news reports
“microtransactions expected to grow from slightly over $1 billion in 2008 to $17.3 billion in 2015. Microtransactions will account for approximately 86 percent of all revenue generated by virtual worlds.”
Now the is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the various bank bail outs. However microtransactions clearly make sense in the way people start to spend again. Recession is not a time for most people to make large capital expenditures, yet human behaviour is goal and reward driven. People need to give themselves little treats. (One reason that the chocolate industry is not in decline). Admist all the billions of pounds of debt, doom and gloom, buying yourself a 50 pence virtual tshirt before going to a free online event can have a positive mental impact.
If the 638 million people/accounts predicted by 2015 in this report all spend £2 a month, well thats £1,271,000,000 a month flowing in the global economy. Asset production costs are relatively cheap, distribution and replication is cheap and there is not a great deal of packaging or waste so its also good for the planet. It is also (potentially) a truly global marketplace and if we can keep the territorial lockouts away (that the games industry suffers from) then a whole host of new ideas and business models will evolve. That’s without even mentioning 3d printing to redistribute manufacture.