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Augmented Reality and the Future

Overview of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is a very important technological application that can be applied to different mediated interfaces e.g. cell phone, video game, television, etc.  As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.  We are beginning to see more developments in a variety of different media platforms where augmented reality technology is being introduced.  The relevancy and importance of this topic to new/digital media pushes the envelope and current paradigms of how we interact with our current models of media and technology.  In the following articles, several people help to explain this growing phenomenon and its possible impact on our future.

How Augmented Reality Works by Kevin Bonsor

In this article Bonsor outlines five key points to augmented reality of its role in different interfaces like cell phones, video games, and the military as well as its limitations and its future.  He mentions, “Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists. Both video games and cell phones are driving the development of augmented reality…Augmented reality is changing the way we view the world — or at least the way its users see the world.”  A rather simplistic definition is to superimpose audio-visual and other sensory graphics over our real-world environment in real time he exclaims.

One example that he references is called “Sixth Sense” utilizing some basic components like: a camera, small projector, smart phone, and a mirror tied around a lanyard that hangs from the users neck.  The user than has the ability to manipulate his reality with the help of this device.  “If he wants to know more about that can of soup than is projected on it, he can use his fingers to interact with the projected image and learn about, say, competing brands. SixthSense can also recognize complex gestures — draw a circle on your wrist and SixthSense projects a watch with the current time.” Bonsor goes on to offer some amazing examples of how cell phone apps which can be downloaded on the iPhone or Android can perform amazing functions.  One example, Layar, uses the phone’s camera and GPS capabilities to gather information about the surrounding area.  Another, Yelp’s Monocle will provide the user with information about the surrounding restaurants.  Next, Bonsor discusses the uses of AR in military technology and video games.

Total Immersion is AR software that allows baseball cards to interact in a very unique way by making the player on the card a 3D model that performs a specific action like throwing the ball.  Even with military technology, a squad in enemy territory doing reconnaissance can wear a “AR-enabled head-mounted display that could overlay blueprints or a view from a satellite or overheard drone directly onto the soldiers’ field of vision“.

Lastly, Bonsor concludes with some of AR’s limitations and challenges that must be overcome like GPS’ accuracy, the reliance on using cell phones, the concern for too much/an overload of information, and of course, issues dealing with privacy and security are mentioned.  He states, “The future of augmented reality is clearly bright, even as it already has found its way into our cell phones and video game systems.

Video: Bruce Sterling’s Keynote – At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry

Bruce Sterling is as excited as a ‘kid in a candy store’ as he goes through some tips, predictions, and advice for the industry.  He describes three features to augmented reality 1) it combines the real and the virtual 2) it’s interactive in real time 3) and it registers in 3D.  People think they know what it is.  There’s too many companies, games, ads, applications, webcam, projected video technology, head mounted displays, and so much more that’s developing.  Along with these, there’s so much designing and skill sets that are required.  It’s a profitable business and AR looks “cool”.  It’s not too hard to understand, it’s not too geeky or remote.  It’s the most exciting thing happening in the tech industry.

  1. There’s a lot of hype that’s happening and awaiting.
  2. You are insulting the term’s pioneers when you try to change or neglect the term.
  3. It’s a tag.  A hashtag that you can look up on Google.  Where are people interested 1) Seoul, South Korea 2) Singapore 3) Munich 4) Kaula, Lam pour 5) Auckland… etc.  Augmented Reality is magic.  It works like magic. Yet, magic can be ‘cheezy’ and deceitful.
  4. It’s sleazy and is involved in pop.  It’s involved in porn, sells tampoons, sci-fi, comic books, politics, medicine, museum culture.
  5. Security advice – criminals are going to come.  Security is important to build first.  You are going to have trouble.  You are also going to get publicity of panics.  You are going to the ‘four horse men of infopocalypse’.  How do you deal with the political implications of AR?  You’re going to need an industry journal and code of ethics to help.
  6. Be prepared that the other guy will buy you out.  The major companies will buy you out.
  7. Host of problems: batteries will fail, screens are too small, environmental problems, roaming fees, walled gardens, opacity in pricing, etc.
  8. You need to have a look, an image.
  9. Everything changes for the better or everything becomes abandon for the worse.  Either case, you are in for a wild ride.

Can Augmented Reality be a Commercial Success for E-Commerce by James Gurd

Despite it’s buzzword appeal and social media’s increasing relationship with commercial planning, Gurd boldly asks the question of whether or not there is a commercial model that could make AR a practical tool in the e-commerce armoury?

Gurd answers his own question with a quaint YES.

He begins by briefly and simplistically explaining what augmented reality is.   Then, Gurd examines the current landscapes of different businesses and interface applications that are using AR in some examples of retail, publishing, and automotive.  Again, Gurd asks another question, “What will drive the uptake of AR?” and then adds that the increased usage of smart mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Blackberry, Android, etc.  will be driving forces for uptaking AR technology.

Lastly, he proposes some plans where AR can be applied to in retail and asks if it can add value to consumers and drive commercial value.  Here are some of his suggestions:

“The savvy marketers will deliver content and solutions that people didn’t even know they wanted but subconsciously always desired. I think retail can tap into this latent demand in several ways:

  • High street retailers can develop a Store Finder mobile app that overlays local store information on interactive maps – perhaps an aggregation of all major brands would provide cost efficiency.
  • Dynamic contextual advertising that displays offers and promotions based on the location and profile of the mobile user (e.g. iPhone user gets different message than Blackberry user) – next step on from voucher code sites.
  • Serving customer reviews to mobile devices to facilitate decision making on the move.
  • Dynamically generating cross and up-sell recommendations based on scanning a barcode in-store on your mobile phone.
  • For the fashion industry, improving modelling of clothes from home to help make purchase decisions – increased accuracy should also help reduce returns.

If You’re Not Seeing Data, You’re Not Seeing by Brian X. Chen

Quotes taken from this article >

  • “Augmented reality is the ultimate interface to a computer because our lives are becoming more mobile,” said Tobias Höllerer, an associate professor of computer science at UC Santa Barbara, who is leading the university’s augmented reality program. “We’re getting more and more away from a desktop, but the information the computer possesses is applicable in the physical world.”
  • “Augmented reality is stifled by limitations in software and hardware” Examples are batter life, prices in hardware,
  • “The smartphone is bringing AR into the masses right now,” Selzer said. “In 2010 every blockbuster movie is going to have a mobile AR campaign tied to it.”
  • “This is the first time media, internet and digital information is being combined with reality,” said Martin Lens-FitzGerald, co-founder of Layar. “You know more, you find more, or you see something you haven’t seen before. Some people are even saying that it might be even bigger than the web.”
  • “This industry is just getting started, and as processing speeds speed up, and as more creative individuals get involved, our belief is this is going to become a platform that becomes massively adopted and immersed in the next few years.”

New Media and the Future of Journalism

Topic Overview: If this topic were assigned its own week, the readings would focus on the question surrounding the future of journalism and the reality that this may be one of the most pressing problems this country faces. The media landscape is changing dramatically; we see shifts in terms of how people access information, how information is produced and reported, and how it is distributed. Some observers point to the rapid decline in readers of the print-based news and the lack of quality TV journalism as evidence that the commercial media is dying. Many look to emerging and growing numbers of nonprofit organizations focused on investigative reporting, hyper-local blogging, and the use of citizen journalism and see a new golden era. The current discussion on the future of journalism extends beyond debating what the substance and funding of journalism should entail and also includes a discussion about what it will take to make the transition.

“How to Save Journalism” by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney

In addressing potential solutions to the journalism crisis, McChesney and Nichols argue that in order to have an educated and informed public, we must firmly advocate for a functioning and independent press. They advocate the importance of advocating journalism subsidies and increasing support for public media, and they show that these efforts do not lead to censorship or threaten private and commercial media and that this country actually has a strong history in supporting these kinds of efforts.

The two also discuss more potential solutions to the crisis of journalism, including potential tax vouchers for independent and community oriented media, an AmeriCorps type program which would put thousands of young people to work, perhaps as journalists on start-up digital “publications” covering underserved communities nationwide, and the LC3 model (LC3 stands for low-profit limited liability model – a sort of hybrid for profit and non-profit model for newspapers). Shifting newspapers away from a high-profit commercially driven structure to low-profit or nonprofit ownership would potentially allow them to keep publishing as they complete the transit from old media to new.

The two don’t undermine the importance of digital technologies and do believe that the digital revolution “has the capacity to radically democratize and improve journalism”, but they do advocate for paid staff that interact with and provide material for the blogosphere, and argue for the continued professionalization of the press. The overarching theme of the book and this article is that the journalism crisis is solvable; there are solutions and they have mapped out a clear road of what it takes to get us there. McChesney and Nichols have turned their ideas into a book called “The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again” which was published in early 2010, where they discuss this issues more in-depth.

“Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable” by Clay Shirky

Shirky’s piece, written in March of 2009 discusses the nature of changes happening to society, newspapers and journalism. He argues that society doesn’t need newspapers, but it needs journalism. In that way, the crisis is more than just about the demise of newspapers or magazines etc, it’s more about the institution of journalism itself. He really argues to say that nothing will necessarily save old media, it’s dying and its business model is failing and nothing (pay walls etc) will “save it”.

His underlying point is that because basis for the conventional newspaper model has gone away, we need to experiment a lot more in order to understand what is going to replace it.
Shirky also explains that print media does a very important job, or as he calls it, “society’s heavy journalistic lifting” and that this kind of coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers (mostly because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers). And while he may not have the answer as to who or what is going to replace it, he also points out like McChesney and Nichols that journalism has a long history of being subsidized.

This may not be so surprising to many people who have studied what is going on with respect to journalism, but in this piece Shirky articulates the crisis and what may come next very well, and puts the entire debate into some historical context. He concludes by arguing that we need to shift our attention away from “saving newspapers” into “saving society” and that by doing so, the imperative will change from preserving institutions that no longer are viable into doing whatever it takes to make sure journalism will survive.

“Saving the News: Towards a National Journalism Strategy”

This report, which can be downloaded in its entirety from http://www.freepress.net/media_issues/journalism is written by Victor Pickard, Josh Stearns and Craig Aaron, for the national media reform organization Free Press. In it, the authors lay out several ideas for saving the news, and address the crisis from a policy standpoint. The ideas include:

- nonprofit, low-profit and cooperative models
- community and municipal models for future journalism
- foundation and endowment support
- public and government models
- news commercial models
- public subsidies and policy intervention

In this paper they also discuss several short-term and long-term strategies that are necessary to move towards a national journalism strategy. Some of the short-term strategies include new ownership structures, incentives for divestiture, and a journalism jobs program. Longer-term strategies include research and development for journalistic innovation and exploring options for new public media.

It also includes several figures which detail the decline in newsroom employment by year (there’s a huge drop for 57,000 in 2007 to 46,700 in 2009; the 2009 figure is the lowest in history). They also illustrate the percent decline in daily and Sunday Newspaper circulations (it’s like a walking down a steep cliff) and the numbers of US Daily Newspapers.

“Old and New Media Go to Washington”, On the Media, hosted by Brooke Gladstone

In this piece from May 2009, Gladstone discusses recent hearings that a Senate committee held on the Future of Journalism, which illustrates that this issue has received national attention. John Kerry (who is the Committee Chariman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation which held the hearing says that the purpose of the hearing was to examine and figure out from people in the field where new media is going and what to do to help existing media), Jim Moroney publisher of The Dallas Morning News, and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who introduced the Newspaper Revitalization Act, and Arianna Huffington.

There are several issues mention in this piece that are of importance to the debate around journalism, including whether it’s possible and/or realistic to monetize online content (for example the now defunct New York Times “Times Select” option), the idea of the Kindle and other electronic readers as the “solution” that publisher’s should be going for (but really that’s not actually viable because of the split revenues they come down somewhere on the in of Amazon receiving 70%and publishers receiving 30%). There is relevance from that debate to the iPad as well, even though the iPad hadn’t been invented yet! The piece also discusses the emergence of new non-profit investigative journalism websites, like Voices of San Diego, which Huffington argues is having real impact investigative journalism.

New Media in (Outer) Space: Additional Reading Summary

A Better Network for Outer Space – By Brittany Sauser

Astronauts & robotic spacecraft presently stay connected to Earth via point-to-point radio links, specifically made for each new mission. Google’s vice president Vint Cerf designed the networking protocols that launched the Internet is looking to change this, though; he wants to put this same type of network in outer space. In hopes of making this a reality, he is currently working with NASA and MITRE Corporation on the Interplanetary Internet project. The project was set to be tested in 2009 aboard the International Space Station.

In an interview with Technology Review, Cerf further explains the project, where he notes that it began 10 years ago at the time of the interview (10/27/2008). He notes that one problem with space communication has been the “limited use of standards.” New communication software tends to have to be written every time a new spacecraft is launched, making it inefficient. Thus, the project was created to help develop a set of communication standards in space, much like ones already being used on the Internet.

One of the main challenges Cerf found in building this network is the delay time. Because of the vast distance in space between planets, it can take long periods of time for information to travel. Another major problem he found is that planets are constantly moving and rotating. Because of this, communication can not only be delayed, but also disrupted. Because of these dilemmas, part of the project involved designing a “delay- and disruption-tolerant networking system (DTN).” So far, no new equipment has had to be launched into space in order to facilitate this new network; only new software has had to be uploaded to already existing spacecraft.

These new standardized protocols could enable better communication between spacecraft launched by all nations in space. Over time, as new missions are launched, a better backbone for the system will start to be created. Cerf notes that, “every time you put up a new mission, you basically are putting up another potential node in the network.”

The Origins and basics of the Interplanetary Internet Project – By Vint Cerf

1. Node

If this video, Cerf notes that the Internet’s utility is in part a consequence of the standardization of communication protocols, making it easy for anyone from anywhere to instantly connect to the Internet. Because of this, Cerf and his team asked theirselves what type of standardization would be beneficial within the context of space? He explains that in 1964, the Deep Space Network was built, which consist of 3 antennas (one in California, one in Australia, and one in Spain) in varying locations. As the Earth rotates, at any one time, one of the antennas should be able to see a large amount of the solar system & interact with spacecraft. But, each time a new space craft is launched, the communications system must be tailored to this new space craft. Thus, Cerf and his team is looking for a more efficient way of communicating with spacecraft.

2. Frequency

The data rate that information can be moved at from spacecrafts to antennas on Earth is currently very low, as a result of the spacecrafts having little power and little antennas. To help boost power for new spacecraft, the project is looking into whether or not current spacecraft already launched can be used to help facilitate communication between Earth and space. The common answer has been “no,” since there is no standard set of communication protocols between the spacecrafts. But, over the past 20 years, there have been small attempts at standardizing certain parts of the spacecraft communication systems. There are many different levels this can be done at, with the 3 typical levels being: the bottom level of  “actual transmission over radio length,” 2nd layer being “link management,” and the 3rd level up being the network level, consisting of routing traffic. The 1st layer of radio transmission has been standardized. Furthermore they are also beginning to standardize the 2nd layer of link management. But, they have not been able to standardize too much above this 2nd level.

3. Standardization

Here, he talks about the theory that with more standardization comes the ability to more easily use previous spacecraft within the scopes of the new space mission. He uses an example of 2 rovers that were sent to Mars, which has radios attached in order to send information between the rovers and the Deep Space Networks antennas. But, these radios had to be shut down after 20 minutes of use, otherwise they would overheat. Three orbiters were surrounding Mars, though, that, because of standardization, allowed the Mars rovers to send information to the orbiters, which could then be sent to the DSN antennas at higher speeds & longer periods of time.

Vint Cerf Mods Android for Interplanetary Interwebs – By Cade Metz

This article discusses Cerf’s work in trying to bring his Interplanetary Interwebs protocol to mobile networks on Earth. At first, Cerf and his team had tried to make his Interplanetary Interwebs protocol work using the Internet TCP/IP protocol, noting that it did not work because of, “a little problem called the speed of light” and the rotation of planets. Instead, the created and launched the Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol. A main difference between TCP/IP and DTN is that, “unlike TCP/IP, DTN does not assume a continuous connection.” With DTN, if there are delays in transmission, nodes will not send out information until there is a safe connection.

Now, Cerf and his team is looking to bring DTN to earth. It has been tested in Sweden through using laptops in moving vehicles. Furthermore, the protocol has already been added to, “Google’s Android open source mobile stack as an application platform – ie it sits on top of the OS.” Cerf sees DTN helping out with mobile connections, since it is a “dense and hostile environment,” as a way to increase coverage.

NASA Launches Astronaut Internet in Space – By Tariq Malik

As of January 22, 2010, astronauts on the International Space Station have a live Internet connection, and have even been using Twitter.

While astronauts have used Twitter during space missions before, the tweets were dispached through Mission Control and posted by a third party.

The space Internet uses the station’s high-speed Ku-band antenna, making the Internet functioning whenever the station is connected through this. “To surf the Web, astronauts can use a station laptop to control a desktop computer on Earth. It is that ground computer that has the physical connection to the Internet.”

NSSA Applauds Presidents Commitment to the Mission of NASA and the Role of Space in Providing for the Future

In this article, the “National Space Society applauds President Obama for his expression of firm commitment for human spaceflight, and for moving forward in refining the administration’s plan for space exploration” during his speech on April 15, 2010.

Within his plans, Obama mentioned the importance of extending the life of the International Space Station. He also explained the importance of the, “critical role of breakthrough technologies in enabling NASA and our nation to create the future we wish to see come to pass.”

New Media in (Outer) Space

New Media is certainly aiding man in its search for new frontiers. Beyond are some introductory readings/viewings to where are these efforts leading:

Required Reading/Viewing:

  • Vint Cerf explains the origins and basics of the Interplanetary Internet Project (3 very short videos)
  1. Node
  2. Frequency
  3. Standarization

Recommended Reading:

Optional:

Surveillance Society & the Increasing Scarcity of Privacy

Below are some readings that dig into the increasing surveillance of today’s society. In many instances, these new surveillance methods are first being tested in Las Vegas & prisons, and then brought into every day life, most notably through companies searching for the next best way to track consumers.

Required Reading:

Recommended Reading:

Optional:

Ice Cream Spy’s Conclusion…For Now…

This certainly isn’t the conclusion for the NYC Ice Cream Spy, but just of me formally keeping the class updated on its whereabouts. I definitely intend to keep carrying out this project and seeing how far I can take it throughout the Spring and into the Summer.

I’ve moved my “How-To” section on how I made the bot/website back to the WordPress blog, as to not clutter  the Blogger site, containing the map that I am hoping NYCers will use. Sorry for all the changing up!

Here’s my post on how the promotion of Ice Cream Spy has been going over this past week: http://icecreamspy.wordpress.com/

A quick look at the stats:

  • @IceCreamSpy – Following: 413 | Followers: 82 | Listed: 6
  • 7 ice cream trucks displaying sticker (Honieh & Ryan- thank you for the wonderful idea of making stickers/talking to ice cream truck owners; it seems to be working well!)
  • 24 geotagged ice cream trucks on map (on Blogger site)

Ice cream truck displaying sticker

Mobile Donations – Concluding Post

1. Please text MONKEY to 89183 for a brief summary via 3 Text Messages to your mobile phone!

OR

2. Listen to the podcast and view the accompanied slides.



References:

Mobile Active Org

American Red Cross – Mobile Giving Program

US Mobile Carriers

Mobile Giving Foundation

Electronic Waste: A Conclusion

Here’s my concluding podcast on E-Waste. Enjoy!



Electronic Waste: How Do We Stop It?

Hi everyone, super early with the posting since I’m traveling for work until right before class next week. Here’s my podcast/slideshow on the problem of electronic waste. Also, SlideShare has been giving me some problems, so please let me know if you can’t access this (there are slides and sound). Enjoy!



Electronic Waste: An Intro

Thanks to everyone who responded. It seemed like there was some interest in electronic waste, so here goes!