How many times did you think “ah, if only I had teleportation!”? Many, isn’t it true? And now, even if it isn’t exactly what you were asking for, in a certain manner the world of augmented reality and avant-garde technology are here to help: yes, because during last days we started to hear talking about “holoportation”.
Do you remember the holographic messages from Star Wars? Well, the result is similar to that: thanks to Microsoft HoloLens, in fact, it will be possible to chat with someone as if he was physically in the same room with us thanks to this kind of messages. If this isn’t enough, the messages can be seen again, exactly how we can read again a e-mail.
The demonstration of this new technology is showed in a video, in which we can see the Microsoft Research developer Shahram Izadi recorded during a live conversation at distance with a colleague and his 4 years old daughter: since Izadi is wearing a HoloLens headset, the two are right in front of his eyes, as they were in the same room.
The conversation is recorded and, as we said earlier, can be then played again, moving forward, changing in the while the size of the interlocutors.
How does this work? Both Izadi and his interlocutors are surrounded by a system of special cameras using 3D recording technology; then the data coming from the different cameras are fused together creating a perfect 3D hologram, that is paired with a HoloLens tracking system, which enables the ‘holoportation.’
‘Imagine being able to virtually teleport from one space to another in real time,’ Izadi says in the video. And, even knowing all this is not physically happening, to see these images is surprising anyway. This technology will be a great step ahead to bring back together families or friends who are apart: if we won’t be able to hold them, it will be nice to have them at least in the same room.
Augmented reality is the next big thing: all the important hi-tech companies are already running around planning projects related to this new technology. Intel is the next one, it seems: last week Wall Street Journal published a news, related to an information leak, that gives for granted that the company is working on a new headset.
It seems in fact that, during last times, Intel purchased at least five companies working in the augmented reality field and invested in three other. They spent no less than half a billion dollars in this operation.
Following the rumours, it looks like Intel wants to enter the world of augmented reality headsets creating its own, taking also advantage of their famous 3D RealSense technology, presented at CES in Las Vegas only last January. This possibility would make the project even more interesting, surpassing as well some competitors as HoloLens and HTC Vive: RealSense, in fact, is a system of sensors that permit to scan objects and spaces in three dimensions, transmitting to the device a map of the surrounding complete of depth. This would be an exclusive feature of the headset by Intel and it would help creating a highly enhanced augmented reality vision: the surroundings’ mapping would help the user moving more easily inside the space around him, without the worry of hitting objects and furnitures.
However, don’t expect an headset signed by Intel: the company seems to be interested in creating the project but not in producing it; other companies will do this, of course using RealSense technology. We can also imagine that the new headset will be more robust than a pair of smart glasses: therefore closer to HoloLens than to Google Glass.
Would you like to see a member of ISS in front of your eyes? Or maybe you’d prefer to walk in the middle of a landscape completely different from the one you are used to.
Sci-fi? Not really: all this is pretty near being made possible thanks to Microsoft HoloLens; actually, to be fair, for the lucky ones that got the Developer version of the headset this is already reality. We, mere mortals, can just watch the presentations of this Microsoft’s product all around the world and be amazed.
Last speech was the last week’s one at TED Conference 2016 where Alex Kipman, the creator of Kinect, decided to make an incredible entrance: wearing a HoloLens headset and projecting on a screen what he was seeing through his own eyes, showed to the people the potentiality of augmented reality and, consequently, of Microsoft’s new product.
Kipman, among other things, brought the viewers with him inside an enchanted landscape, then made it rain and finally made appear the hologram of a NASA scientist to have a chat. Furthermore, he called his family live from a virtual screen, and this made us all think about the future of TV and displays. All this, of course, happened virtually inside the headset and not in reality.
The emotion wasn’t just only in the visual factor, but also in the speech: Kipman commented his demonstration with words that made all of us think. Augmented reality is just at its start, and only a little part of its application is known and studied: “We are like cave people in computer terms; we barely discovered charcoal and started drawing the first stick figures in our cave.”
His advice, as well as an anticipation of the future, is to free ourselves from the bidimensional space to embrace the digital space, in which we have the “superpower” of displace space and time.
We wait for the HoloLens’ consumer version: even if there isn’t an official date yet, we are sure that it’ becoming closer, speech after speech.
Would you like to have more control on what happens while you ski or snowboard? You should try augmented reality, and GogglePal is the tech gadget perfect for you!
No, we are not talking about another pair of glasses or bulky headset: the creators, fans of snowsports themselves, thought about this too; GogglePal is an insert adaptable to any kind of ski or snowboard goggles that permits you to have right in front of your eyes a Head Up Display (HUD), a display that let you see information without moving your eyes from the track. The device, that was protagonist of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, has been launched in four different models: Sport, Connect, Play and Play Gold (this last one is just different in the color), all lightweight and highly portable.
GogglePal’s features are similar to other wearable devices created for sports or driving that we saw earlier (e.g. BMW Digilens and Skully, presented at CES 2016): attaching the insert to the lens, and doing so implementing augmented in your ski goggles, it will be possible to access some important information as speed, vertical, calories burned, acceleration, time and direction, and see it all in real time from a small heads up display right in the corner of your eye.
There is a gamification part too: GogglePal’s app connects you with your friends through a message service while keeping track of their position as well, but also activates games and challenges that you can race with them to gain points as you travel distances and find chests on a special, virtual map.
The device has been created with snowsports in mind, but the creators are thinking also of future models for other sports in need of a HUD.
No more available on Kickstarter, GogglePal can be pre-ordered on their official site; for now there is only a iPhone version of the app, we don’t know if in the future will be made available also an Android one.
You can see more in the video below:
After the emission crisis Volkswagen is back in the news, but this time for other (and luckily better) motivations: the German automotive colossus, in fact, reached the first pages of online and offline press in the hi-tech field thanks to the introduction of new augmented reality smart glasses in its Wolfsburg factory.
The benefits of the headsets’ use in production chains aren’t a mystery anymore: the amount of important information that this system can give to the workers, added to the comfort of leaving their hands free, is transforming the use of new devices in a trend.
These are among the motivations that drove Volkswagen too in considering smart glasses as a solution; consequently they started tests (at the moment active on a limited group of 30 workers) related to their benefits and appreciation, preliminary to the potential adoption in the rest of the plants.
As we can read on the article published on the company’s official site, the benefits of 3D smart glasses are evident: the workers automatically receive all the information they need, such as storage locations or part numbers directly in their field of vision, and a camera in the glasses is also a barcode reader, showing the right and wrong ones, avoiding in advance a great number of mistakes. Thanks to the voice and touch controls, also, the workers’ hands are free.
“Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in production. The 3D smart glasses take cooperation between humans and systems to a new level”, said Reinhard de Vries, Head of Plant Logistics at Wolfsburg.
For now the use of smart glasses (that, judging from the first pictures, remind closely Google Glass) is voluntary: the interested workers receive the device and are gradually being introduced to the new technology. Volkswagen declared also that, since of the current positive experiences, other departments, plants and brands also plan to use the glasses.
Today we want to talk about one of the most mysterious companies on the international high tech market: Google invested no less than $542 million and, right in the last days, another global colossus as Alibaba (for those not knowing it, it’s the leader company in the world of Chinese e-commerce) declared to be ready to write a cheque for $200 million. Did you understand who we are talking about? Of Magic Leap, of course.
All we know about this company is that they are working on a big augmented reality-related project, about which from time to time we receive some little updates that are leaving us with a true wow. During last days they released another video, shoot inside the company’s offices as the previous ones, that shows a live demonstration of the product they are working on:
Doesn’t it remind you of anything? If you already tried our demo, surely you will feel some kind of deja vu 😉
But the news related to the mysterious company are not ended! Again during last days, Magic Leap’s CEO Rony Abovitz said: “We’re actually gearing up to build millions of things; we’re not ready to announce when we’re shipping, but it gives you a signal that we’re not fa.”
The announcement adds mystery to mystery: so Magic Leap is preparing to the production of headsets? It seems the answer is yes: Abovitz gave some sporadic hint saying that it will be a little device, that people will feel comfortable to take around.
If all this was not enough already, an additional declaration left everyone surprised and curious; the company’s chief content officer, Rio Caraeff, said that the ultimate vision for Magic Leap is to create a broad-based platform for visual computing: “Anything you can do on a smartphone, you can do with Magic Leap, where the world is your screen.”
Useless to say that the world of augmented reality fans is once more pretty excited.
The next brand entering the market of augmented reality headsets? It could be no less than Amazon!
It seems that, after Facebook, Microsoft and Google, the e-commerce American colossus will make its entrance in the world of augmented reality, or that at least they are thinking on it. The update comes from the US Patent and Trademark Office, that about a week ago published the news of a patent application by Amazon related to a pair of glasses that seem perfect to be used for augmented reality. From the project it seems that these glasses will be connecting, we still don’t know if wireless or not, to a smart device (a tablet or a smartphone?) and they will be able to superimpose images to what we see through the lenses in front of our eyes. Also there will be a functionality that, with a simple tap of the device screen, would make the augmented images transparent again, so we don’t have to take the glasses off of our face when we don’t need them.
“On the one hand, a large screen is beneficial for watching movies, playing games and even reading email comfortably,” reads the patent, which was originally filed more than two years ago. “On the other hand, the larger the screen, the bigger the device, which may be less desirable for a light and portable product. Another problem consumers experience with portable devices, like tablet devices, is the lack of ability to immerse themselves in a tablet experience, such as watching a movie on an airplane.”
This explains the importance of having a device that can make us live an experience but that is also light and portable. And which one better than a pair of glasses?
Imagine the potentiality of a device like this in the case of Amazon and their service Prime Instant Video: it’s easy to understand why, after the flop of the Fire smartphone, the company decided to continue anyway its research in the hardware field, isn’t it? 😉
Augmented reality, for its own nature, can easily become an upgrade of the human body; among the many avant-garde projects, this is confirmed also by the new headset created by University College London’s Interactive Architecture Lab, that will make possible to see what we have around without moving our heads.
Its name is PolyEyes 2.0 and, in its bizarre shape, it reminds of an hammerhead shark but lets you see as a chameleon: this headset features a Raspberry Pi camera module on each side, able to rotate close to 180-degrees, so the wearer can have a wider view than the normal one. The view field inside the helmet is separated in two half, and every of the two parts shows the projections of what the two cameras are shooting around us: this is how the wider vision is made possible.
PolyEyes 2.0 is part of a bigger and more ambitious project, that aims to the creation of a complete suit that will make possible for a person to feel what another person is experiencing. This suit is called “Polymelia Suit” and it’s made of many prosthesis: the idea is that, once wore all this, it will send to another person what we are feeling, doing or seeing; the other person will experience the emotion of being us.
Saying it with Interactive Architecture Lab’ words: “We think of the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate, so that any replacement or extension becomes part of a continuing process of upgrading the human entity.”
The possible applications of augmented reality are growing, extending day after day to new, important fields, and it’s not really difficult to believe the previsions of an exponential advancement of this new technology (together with virtual reality) during the next years. Today we enter the military field and we talk about Marines, who started to test augmented reality live during their training.
The first tests related to AR started in August for the Infantry Officer Course: the Marines who took part to this course were able to try the augmented reality headsets developed by ONR, the Office of Naval Research, during a live-fire training. This system is called AITT, Augmented Immersive Team Trainer, and, as easily understood by the name, uses augmented reality to immerse the soldier inside a battle environment.
The AITT system works thanks to a laptop, a software and a battery pack, and of course a display mounted on the helmet of the soldier, who will see images and objects superimposed to reality to virtually recreate any kind of environment and scenario.
Brig. Gen. Julian Alford, vice chief of naval research and commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, said: “This affordable lightweight system can be taken anywhere—turning any environment into a training ground—and could be used to prepare Marines for real-world situations and environments they will face.”
Some benefits of this system are practicality, lightness and live training assistance, but, as Brig. Gen. Julian Alford highlighted, a big advantage is also convenience, both economical and time related: soldiers’ training is generally pretty expensive since it uses munitions, virtual ground vehicles and aircrafts, and also it is often interrupted by bad weather conditions; thanks to augmented reality this won’t happen anymore: “The system makes the training easier and eliminates the maintenance issues or weather-related restrictions that can pare down or cancel training,” confirmed Maj. George Flynn, director of the Infantry Officer Course.