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Oculas

The recent acquisition of Oculus by Facebook sparked many debates on the future of both companies and the intentions of the Social Media network, who only a month ago was announcing the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp messenger.

Outraged gamers and developers voiced concerns about the future of the Oculus and it’s innovative virtual reality headgear, questioning what Zuckerberg’s enterprise could bring to the platform and why the market leader didn’t carry on riding the wave of growth without external intervention.

Although the technology behind the flagship Oculus Rift has proven exciting for the future of virtual reality devices, the history of the concept has a history of failure, stretching decades, perhaps this is the reason the California-based tech visionaries (excuse the pun) took the decision to look up the food chain for a helping hand.

Check out this wonderful, not exactly timeless 1985 feature on the development of the VR headset. When three decades later the market remains small, is a money-splashing tech giant going to be the push that VR needs to finally make this ageing dream a reality?

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

1 Notes

Google unveils Android Wear and Motorola the Moto 360
Motorola Mobility is trying to bring the sexy back to wearables with the Moto 360. And you know what? It looks pretty cool.
Motorola confirmed in a blog post Tuesday that it will join the ranks of hardware partners who have lined up to use Google’s Android Wear, a modified operating system designed for wearables. The company had previously disclosed at a press conference in Mobile World Congress that it had plans to build a smartwatch.
That watch is the Moto 360, which the company said would launch in the summer, starting in the US. Motorola only offered a small glimpse, but the device looks like an actual timepiece. The company bragged that it would use a round face and premium materials.

"The wristwatch has been through several evolutions since it first became a popular fashion accessory more than a 100 years ago," the company said in the post. "Our vision for Moto 360 was to celebrate that history as we re-imagined the wristwatch for the future."

Motorola said that you would be able to get alerts on emails, missed calls, and calendar appointments with the twist of the wrist. Like other devices running on Android Wear, it responds to the “Ok Google” command.
Check it -

More on Motorola.

Google unveils Android Wear and Motorola the Moto 360

Motorola Mobility is trying to bring the sexy back to wearables with the Moto 360. And you know what? It looks pretty cool.

Motorola confirmed in a blog post Tuesday that it will join the ranks of hardware partners who have lined up to use Google’s Android Wear, a modified operating system designed for wearables. The company had previously disclosed at a press conference in Mobile World Congress that it had plans to build a smartwatch.

That watch is the Moto 360, which the company said would launch in the summer, starting in the US. Motorola only offered a small glimpse, but the device looks like an actual timepiece. The company bragged that it would use a round face and premium materials.

"The wristwatch has been through several evolutions since it first became a popular fashion accessory more than a 100 years ago," the company said in the post. "Our vision for Moto 360 was to celebrate that history as we re-imagined the wristwatch for the future."

Motorola said that you would be able to get alerts on emails, missed calls, and calendar appointments with the twist of the wrist. Like other devices running on Android Wear, it responds to the “Ok Google” command.

Check it -

More on Motorola.

2 Notes

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta
Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.
From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.
"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.
"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.
“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee
How has the rise of the web affected your life?

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta

Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.

From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.

"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.

"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.

“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee

How has the rise of the web affected your life?

2 Notes

Up, up and down: the ephemerality and reality of the jetpack

Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet.

In the late 1950s, the US Army’s Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD).

Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.

The most viable design at Bell’s Buffalo, NY, facility was a hydrogen peroxide rocket-propulsion system, which offered a relatively stable fuel with no combustion. It was dubbed the Rocket Belt and was essentially a three-tank system mounted onto a fiberglass corset molded to fit the operator.

Full article on Engadget.

Notes

Ray Kurzweil on Google’s big plans for artificial intelligence
Ray Kurzweil, the technologist who’s spent his career advocating the Singularity, recently discussed his current work as a Director of Engineering at Google with The Guardian.
Google has big plans in the artificial-intelligence arena and recently acquired DeepMind, self-billed ‘cutting edge artificial intelligence company’ for $400 million. That’s in addition to snatching up all sorts of startups and research scientists devoted to everything from robotics to machine learning.
Thanks to the massive datasets generated by the world’s largest online search engine (and the infrastructure allowing that engine to run), those scientists could have enough information and computing power at their disposal to create networked devices capable of human-like thought.

"IBM’s Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I’m doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages."

Science fiction? Kurzweil’s predictions go much further still. He believes, for example, that a significant portion of people alive today could end up living forever, thanks to the ministrations of ultra-intelligent computers and beyond-cutting-edge medical technology.
Full article on The Guardian.

Ray Kurzweil on Google’s big plans for artificial intelligence

Ray Kurzweil, the technologist who’s spent his career advocating the Singularity, recently discussed his current work as a Director of Engineering at Google with The Guardian.

Google has big plans in the artificial-intelligence arena and recently acquired DeepMind, self-billed ‘cutting edge artificial intelligence company’ for $400 million. That’s in addition to snatching up all sorts of startups and research scientists devoted to everything from robotics to machine learning.

Thanks to the massive datasets generated by the world’s largest online search engine (and the infrastructure allowing that engine to run), those scientists could have enough information and computing power at their disposal to create networked devices capable of human-like thought.

"IBM’s Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I’m doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages."

Science fiction? Kurzweil’s predictions go much further still. He believes, for example, that a significant portion of people alive today could end up living forever, thanks to the ministrations of ultra-intelligent computers and beyond-cutting-edge medical technology.

Full article on The Guardian.

Notes

Zero Point: the first 360-degree movie made for the Oculus Rift
The Oculus Rift has carved out a sizable reputation for itself among gamers, but virtual reality has many applications beyond playing video games. Now one production studio is preparing to release the first movie shot specifically to be watched through the VR headset.
The upcoming film, called Zero Point, will focus on the history and development of virtual reality technology, while allowing viewers the freedom to look around each scene as the movie progresses.
Produced by Condition One, a start-up company devoted to innovative visual technology, Zero Point will be watchable in 3D and with a complete 360-degree viewpoint. The full movie will immerse players in a variety of locations, including a military training camp, the bustling E3 conference, a research lab at Stanford, and the workshops of different VR developers.
Full article on gizmag.

Zero Point: the first 360-degree movie made for the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift has carved out a sizable reputation for itself among gamers, but virtual reality has many applications beyond playing video games. Now one production studio is preparing to release the first movie shot specifically to be watched through the VR headset.

The upcoming film, called Zero Point, will focus on the history and development of virtual reality technology, while allowing viewers the freedom to look around each scene as the movie progresses.

Produced by Condition One, a start-up company devoted to innovative visual technology, Zero Point will be watchable in 3D and with a complete 360-degree viewpoint. The full movie will immerse players in a variety of locations, including a military training camp, the bustling E3 conference, a research lab at Stanford, and the workshops of different VR developers.

Full article on gizmag.

Notes

3D print show, 2014

In a decade that has seen 3D printing go from the pastime of rich hobbyists to a technology that sparked debate about ethics behind home printed weaponry, what better time to showcase some of the more beautiful examples of what can be achieved when artist meets innovative technology.

Last week the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York played host to the 2014 3D print show, hosted by Adobe and Shapeways where 18 artists from around the world displayed sculptures and installations created entirely with 3D printers.

From the intricate architecture of Serge Ecker to the intriguing forms of Joshua Harker, the exhibition showcases some of the most fascinating media artefacts to come out of this young, fresh art form.

We may not be at the point of affordable accessible home printing, but these thought provoking pieces may just inspire you to break the bank and get creating.

You can check out all of the artists here.

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

Can this app make you a better driver?

The Dash app connects your phone to your car and translates data about your driving habits. But the most interesting thing may be what it could do to the future of driving.

The app, which rolled out on Google Play for Android at the end of January (and is coming soon for iOS), connects your phone to your car and relays detailed, real-time data about your driving habits back to you. It is a Techstars New York-backed startup, and its investors include Foursquare cofounder and CEO Dennis Crowley and Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis.

Inspired by existing smart data technology like the Jawbone Up wristband and the Nest thermostat, Jamyn Edis and his cofounder, Brian Langel, saw an opportunity to bring data analysis to cars.

"We were viewing cars as a platform, and we really hadn’t seen anything in the market in summer of 2012 that was really creating interesting new experiences based off the data around driving"

- Jamyn Edis

The idea is that, by making people aware of their driving habits, they will take the necessary steps to improve those habits, leaving us with safer roads and lower fuel emissions.

You can read much more on Fast Company.

4 Notes

Build an Open Source, road legal electric car in about an hour

Like what Elon Musk has done and want to go all Etsy and build your own electric car?

Well, it’s apparently now possible now thanks to the OSVehicle Tabby - dubbed the first “Open source vehicle” (it’s not), the OSV guys are taking pre-orders for the Tabby starter kit, with both the two-seater or four-seater configurations available.

The lack of frivolous luxuries like a windshield makes the Tabby very cheap. The basic chassis is available for £415. Add in the battery pack, electric motor, associated hardware, seats and wheels, and you can be on the road for £2,600.

OSV sends the parts to your home, you download the plans and start building.

The Urban Tabby is apparently road legal. How very awesome.

3 Notes

Russia bans Bitcoin outright
Russia has banned digital currency Bitcoin under existing laws and has dubbed the use of the crypto-currency as ‘suspicious’.
The Central Bank of Russia considers Bitcoin as a form of ‘money substitute’ or ‘money surrogate’ (here’s statement, in Russian) which is restricted under Russian law.
However, unlike the use of restricted foreign currencies, Bitcoin has been banned outright.
Surprised? No. After all, this is the country that believes homosexuality and pedophilia to be interchangeable.

Russia bans Bitcoin outright

Russia has banned digital currency Bitcoin under existing laws and has dubbed the use of the crypto-currency as ‘suspicious’.

The Central Bank of Russia considers Bitcoin as a form of ‘money substitute’ or ‘money surrogate’ (here’s statement, in Russian) which is restricted under Russian law.

However, unlike the use of restricted foreign currencies, Bitcoin has been banned outright.

Surprised? No. After all, this is the country that believes homosexuality and pedophilia to be interchangeable.

1 Notes

Can you imagine not wanting one of these?
3D printing without the printer. Well, actually… you are the printer.
The 3Doodler is a new kind of pen that doodles in three dimensions instead of two. It works like a 3-D printer, melting and cooling colored plastic to create rigid, freestanding structures in any shape imaginable (sort of like a hot-glue gun, but better, obviously).

Invented by Maxwell Bogue, Peter Dilworth and Daniel Cowen at the Boston-based toy company WobbleWorks, the 3Doodler raised over $2 million on Kickstarter. They were shooting for $30,000.
You can preorder online for $99.
Stuff magazine has a great hands on review.

Can you imagine not wanting one of these?

3D printing without the printer. Well, actually… you are the printer.

The 3Doodler is a new kind of pen that doodles in three dimensions instead of two. It works like a 3-D printer, melting and cooling colored plastic to create rigid, freestanding structures in any shape imaginable (sort of like a hot-glue gun, but better, obviously).

Invented by Maxwell Bogue, Peter Dilworth and Daniel Cowen at the Boston-based toy company WobbleWorks, the 3Doodler raised over $2 million on Kickstarter. They were shooting for $30,000.

You can preorder online for $99.

Stuff magazine has a great hands on review.

1 Notes

Got to see it to believe it: interacting with a dynamic shape display

This just blew my mind -

MIT’s Daniel Leithinger sits in front of a screen displaying video of a red ball on a table. Leithinger raises up his hands and a field of columns erupts from the table, forming a pixellated physical model of his hands in real time.

Leithinger’s hands have been digitally transported from one room to another and physically re-manifested using a “tangible user interface.”

He can pass the ball from one hand to the other or manipulate objects without being physically present.

And that’s all my tiny little mind can handle for today!

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

Mercedes-Benz’s Prediction Engine will learn your life – and it’ll be in cars by 2016

Following on from the revelations about Amazon’s plans to send you goods before you know you want to order them, Mercedes-Benz is developing a prediction engine that will know where you want to go as soon as you start up your car.

The car uses an array of sensors to work out who’s driving it – everything from seats that measure your weight to sensors that track how heavy you are on the accelerator. It’ll even monitor which smartphones are in the car to build up a picture of who’s driving and their passengers.

Armed with that information, the car’s Prediction Engine will monitor your driving habits and work out where you want to go, based on who’s in the car, the time of day and the weather.

So if a parent and two children are in the vehicle on a weekday morning, it’s a fairly safe bet that they’re on the school run – and that the parent will be going to work after they drop the kids off. If it’s a rainy weekend evening and there are two adults in the car, they’re likely to be going to the cinema or one of their favourite after-work haunts.

Mercedes reckons that the Prediction Engine will take around two to three weeks to work out where you habitually drive to – and will draw on information from satellites and other connected cars to help you avoid traffic and find the fastest route.

You can get the full story on Stuff.

@paulrgn is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

In flight: see the planes in the sky right now - interactive

"Here’s an extraordinary fact: right now, as you watch this, half a million human beings are in the sky."

To mark 100 years of passenger air travel, The Guardian has a stunning interactive tool that uses live data to show every one of the thousands of commercial planes currently in the air. The tool also charts the history of aviation since 1914, and asks what will come next for the industry.
Check it out.

In flight: see the planes in the sky right now - interactive

"Here’s an extraordinary fact: right now, as you watch this, half a million human beings are in the sky."

To mark 100 years of passenger air travel, The Guardian has a stunning interactive tool that uses live data to show every one of the thousands of commercial planes currently in the air. The tool also charts the history of aviation since 1914, and asks what will come next for the industry.

Check it out.

5 Notes

Amazon: we can ship items before customers order
The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has obtained a patent for ‘anticipatory shipping’, and claims it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed.
The technique could cut delivery time and further discourage consumers from visiting physical stores.
In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants”.
Of course, Amazon’s algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift.

“Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill”

Considering the problems that can arise when shipping something a customer did not order, anticipatory shipping has the potential to backfire faster than an Amazon drone can deliver.
But I still love the idea.

Amazon: we can ship items before customers order

The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has obtained a patent for ‘anticipatory shipping’, and claims it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed.

The technique could cut delivery time and further discourage consumers from visiting physical stores.

In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants”.

Of course, Amazon’s algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift.

Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill

Considering the problems that can arise when shipping something a customer did not order, anticipatory shipping has the potential to backfire faster than an Amazon drone can deliver.

But I still love the idea.