The Future is Here: Holovision and PointGrab!

holovisionNothing spells future quite like a life-size hologram in your living room, does it? And much like flying cars and personal jetpacks (though these too are in development), holographics has been one promise that appears to be slow in materializing. However, thanks to the work of California-based company known as Provision, this promise is approaching reality.

Their invention is known as the  Holovision, a life-size holographic projector that uses what is called aerial or volumetric imaging – a way of producing 3D images without special glasses, lenses or slits. It uses a digital LCD screen and a concave mirror to produce the illusion of a 3D image floating outside the projector, and can produce clearer images without generating multiple views or causing dizziness or nausea.

holovision-0For some time now, Provision has been making 3D projectors as marketing tools, but is now running a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising US$950,000 to fund the development of new technology for the projector, with hopes of unveiling it next year. Currently, the company’s largest projector can only produce an 18-in (45.7-cm) image, but the goal is to create one 6 feet (1.8 m) tall that projects 7 ft (2.1 m) from the screen and is visible within a 100-degree arc.

This will require developing new optics and a new light source. But once this is achieved, Provision plans to miniaturize the system to the size of a toaster for the game console market before expanding to applications in education, medicine, video conferencing and other fields. Just imagine, phone conversations or Skyping where you get to talk to a life-size representation of the person! I know one person who would be thrilled about this, though I imagine he’d want a bigger projector for himself…

ESB_emperorThe Kickstarter campaign runs through August 14 and the public debut of the system is scheduled for March, 2014. So far, the project has collected $13,112, a mere 1% of its total goal. However, they are just getting started, and have seven months to go. So if you’ve got money and want holographics to become a permanent part of gaming, teleconferencing and social media, invest now!

In a similar vein, gesture control, something that has also been explored heavily in science fiction, appears to be getting a boost as well. For those who do not own an Xbox Kinect or are unfamiliar with the technology (or just haven’t seen Minority Report), gesture control is essentially a motion capture technology that monitors a person’s movements and gestures as an interface.

minority-reportAnd it is companies like PointGrab that are looking to make this type of interface the norm for computing, relying on a technology known as Hybrid Action Recognition (HAR). Unlike previous gesture recognitions software, the company claims that the updated version that they recently launched is 98% accurate and takes advantage of numerous advances that will make the technology mainstream.

The biggest advance comes in the form of being able to tell the difference between intentional movement, such as putting your fingers to your lips to mute a TV or computer, and unintentional gestures, such as scratching your lip. In addition, PointGrab has updated its machine learning algorithms to accommodate more environmental factors, such as different lighting conditions and hand sizes, to improve accuracy.

gesture-controlAccording to Assaf Gad, vice president of marketing and product for PointGrab, its all about accommodation. And this is really just the beginning:

We don’t want to teach people how to interact with devices. The devices have to be smart enough to analyze the body language of user and act accordingly.

Based in Israel, PointGrab has been working on gesture recognition interfaces since 2008. Two other Israeli companies, Eyesight and Extreme Reality, are also developing gesture and body movement recognition software platforms that work with a variety of devices equipped with standard 2D cameras. In addition, Leap Motion just introduced a hardware controller for enabling gesture control, and Microsoft’s Xbox One will enable control of more than games with its updated Kinect technology.

eyeSight-3D-Gesture-ControlAnd according to Gad, this is really just the beginning. Soon gesture control will be integrated with other emerging technologies to create much more intelligent interfaces:

I see it as good sign that we are in the right place to change way people interact. In the near future, we’ll see more solutions that combine voice and gesture, as well as 3D.

An exciting prospect, and very futuristic! Now if only someone would get on those damn flying cars already. It’s the 21st century, we were promised flying cars! And be sure to enjoy this video of the PointGrab software in action:


Sources: dvice.com, news.cnet, kickstarter.com

The Future is Here: Jetpack Rentals!

jetlevIt’s official, commercial jetpacks are here! And while they might not use rockets, or be available for general purchase, they are still a pretty amazing joyride from the looks of it. Basically, the packs use pumped water from a backpack through a hose connected to a small, unmanned boat. Users are then hurled into the air, and with the adjustment of attitude controls, are able to fly around in circles.

So far, there are two models that are showing up in major vacation destinations like San Diego, Key West, Florida, Myrtle Beach, and Cancun, Mexico. There’s the Jetlev, which can lift a person 9 metres in the air, and the Flyboard, which looks like a small snowboard attached to a hose and can propel riders 14 metres in the air. To give you some perspective, that’s about the height of a three and four storey building, respectively.

jetlev2Promotional videos have been turning up by the hundreds on Youtube, Hulu, Dailymotion, and other video-sharing websites, and the hits are reaching into the millions. Clearly, these jetpacks are the newest thing when it comes to water sports and adventure reaction, but they are raising their fair share of environmental concerns as well.

In Hawaii for example, where the jetpacks are expected to make an appearance very soon, the concerns of fishermen and ocean enthusiasts prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to call a public meeting about the devices last month. The department’s top enforcement officer, Randy Awo, expressed alarm about unsafe maneuvers, such as riders diving into the water next to moving boats.

????????In addition, fishermen are concerned that the noise will disrupt their livelihood. In this, they are joined by University of Hawaii coral scientist Bob Richmond, who told officials that the noise the devices make could cause fish to avoid areas that are too loud. He’s also worried that fish and coral larvae could get pumped through some of the equipment and die.

But of course, solutions and regulations are being proposed, such as setting aside areas for recreational use that are far removed from fishing waters and coral habitats. The same is likely to be the case in other parts of the world where conservation and fishing are major concerns, but tourist dollars are heavily sought after.

hawaii-coral-reef-600x404In the meantime though, adventure enthusiasts and futurists can draw some encouragement from this, since it demonstrates that we are clearly living in a time when devices that seem like they are right out of the annals of science fiction are becoming a reality!

And be sure to check out the video of Myrtle Beach jetpack adventures, showing a Jetlev R200 in action:


Sources:
cbc.ca, myrtlebeachjetpackadventures.com

Future Timeline

This has been sitting in my box of ideas for quite some time, a website that produces videos dedicated to predicting future trends. Awhile back, I came across it while searching on the subject of the Technological Singularity, and was pretty intrigued by what I saw. Not only was this website dedicated to predicting major technological developments in the near future, the ones that would culminate in the Singularity, but was even considering humanity’s prospects as a species in the far, far future. After taking a look around I thought to myself: “truly, this is the stuff of speculative science-fiction.”

To get a breakdown of what the makers of this site predict, check out the videos posted below, as compiled by HayenMill at Youtube. A self-professed amateur historian and futurist, HayenMill took the liberty of combining the Future Timeline predictions, year by year, covering the three decades that will take us from the beginning of 2010 to 2040, by which time all the current trends of the world will reach a full, fevered pitch. These include the problems of overpopulation, climate change, the shift of economic power from the US to Asia, and the growth of information, medical, and bio technology, as well as the development of AI and commercial spaceflight.

Check them out, and for a more detailed breakdown of future events, go to futuretimeline.net. Trust me when I say that the group’s predictions range far and wide, but which are also highly detailed, at least when pertaining to this century! You can take me at my word when I say that I will be doing my best to incorporate as many of these ideas as possible into my own writing!