Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Augmented Reality for the PS3

Here comes some decently impressive augmented reality for the PS3:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mattel Releasing Augmented Reality Toy Line to Support Cameron's Upcoming AVATAR Movie

Virtual Worlds News reports that toy manufacturer Mattel has teamed up with AR company Total Immersion to add an augmented reality component to AVATAR action figures.
Each figure in the new line will come with a 3D web tag, or i-TAG, which consumers scan using a home computer's webcam. Scanning will reveal additional content on-screen such as biographical information or animated models which corresponds to the purchased product.
Here what it'll resemble, as seen through your computer screen while being captured by your webcam:

Go here for some cool product example vids, including their AR Topps Baseball Cards, by Total Immersion.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Google Adds Moon to Its Simulation Core

After adding the ocean, the sky, Mars, Google Earth now has imagery from the Moon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Augmented Reality iPhone Apps

The first of the augmented reality apps hit the iPhone:

Though these may be light-weight, they clearly demonstrate a changing relationship with the world around us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Twitter House

As we continue down the yellow brick road to the internet of things, intelligent infrastructure and, ultimately, total systems quantification, we're bound to see more examples such as The House that Tweets. And, of course, IBM technology will play a big role as we develop this Smarter Planet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Facebook Will Do "Billions in Revenue" Annually by 2014 Predicts Marc Andreessen

Core Facebook investor Marc Andreessen believes that Facebook will easily clear $500 million in revenue in 2009 and "billions" annually in 2014, reports Reuters.

"This calendar year they'll do over $500 million," Andreessen said in an interview, noting that Facebook has more than 225 million users, so revenue per user is still small.

"If they pushed the throttle forward on monetization they would be doing more than a billion this year," said Andreessen, who made the cover of Time Magazine as founder of the world's first Web browser company, Netscape.

"There's every reason to expect in my view that the thing can be doing billions in revenue five years from now," Andreessen said.

Barring sudden cataclysmic disruption or legal action, Andreessen's forecast seems pretty reasonable to me considering that 1) upwards of 1 billion more humans may well be online by then, 2) server costs will continue shrink, and 3) CPM rates will continue to climb (perhaps offset by deluge of new users online).

And of course, I further believe that empowering Facebook's prosumer community will be absolutely critical to increased monetization -- via ads (more views), Facebook-as-market conduit (similar to Adsense), social graph data (for search or other uses, more targeted advertising) and a perhaps by claiming a cut of the ballooning Facebook app market.

The Rise of Community Genomics

My dad, a Latvian World War II vet, liked to compare human behavior to that of insects.

"We're all just ants," he would often say.

I didn't really grasp his full meaning until I swung into the social psychology kick of my early twenties. But then, when I did, I realized that this metaphor extended further into all biological systems. My current position is that we're not just humans, or ants, we're a biological mesh of knowledge generating organisms.

So it's interesting and a little bit validating to read that scientists are now (at last - due to reduced technological limitations) exploring community approaches to genomics, in this instance the "genomes of 17 different ants, fungi and bacteria that eat through hundreds of pounds of leaf matter a year could ultimately lead to new techniques for making biofuels."

Over time, the findings will help to paint a more accurate picture of how interdependent life systems cooperate and how exactly we humans (genetically, behaviorally, non-consciously) fit into the equation. Such research will be critical as we seek to either confirm, reformat or discard our simulation(s) of intelligence and the self.

Simulating How Incompetence Flows Through Hierarchical Organizations

The bulk of the world has long understood that large organizations = bureaucracy = inefficiency. Social historians Strauss and Howe have amassed evidence demonstrating how this occurs cyclically in national systems. But, still, it's been awfully difficult to quantify how and why this entropy consistently builds up over time... until now.

New research by Alessandro Pluchino and team at the University of Catania (talk about a flattening world), reported in Technology Review, confirms the conventional wisdom that incompetence can spread through a business as "individuals [are] promoted until they reach their level of maximum incompetence."

In other words, social climbers that can best navigate a system that fails to understand the diversity of human competency in different areas gradually, but steadily contribute to inefficiency in large organizations that can no longer rely on direct performance oversight.

Pluchino's research is based on a simulated agent-based model that models this spread of incompetency due to bad fit at certain roles.

So how then might we counter this steady entropy without having to rely on tried and true creative destruction / punctuated equilibrium?
Technology Review: [Pluchino's] model shows that two other strategies outperform the conventional method of promotion. The first is to alternately promote first the most competent and then the least competent individuals. And the second is to promote individuals at random. Both of these methods improve, or at least do not diminish, the efficiency of an organization.
Of course, it'll be much easier to counter agent-based entropy once we put in place simulations that everyone can agree upon. Once that happens, I suspect that even the well-entrenched executives will breathe a sigh of relief as they are brought into positions that better suit their personalities.

Here Come Floating Prosumer Probes... Or Not...

Remember the floating Imperial probe droid (images) sent to the surface of the ice planet Hoth to systematically check for Rebel activity? Like many other speculative sci-fi concepts, it is proving to be a harbinger of things to come, especially now that steady hovering humming-bird-inspired flight has been prototyped and is actively being developed:

AeroVironment video showing progress with testing of a tiny flapping-wing "nano air vehicle" (NAV) designed to fly indoors. Testing culminated in a 20sec flight of an interim test vehicle, called Mercury, which demonstrated controlled hovering flight using a pair of flapping wings for propulsion and control. AeroVironment is now building a prototype for DARPA that will be samller, lighter and will closley resemble a hummingbird.

As such devices drop in cost they will dramatically expand the physical phase space for sensing devices (video, thermal, radar, sonar, networked, etc - all also quickly dropping in cost). No doubt people will seek to use them to film movies & reality shows, lifelog their behavior/environment, probe quantification-resistant environments, bolster security systems, and so forth. Together with many new technologies, floating hummingbird platforms will help to further catalyze prosumer opportunities and the increased input of information into the web and distributed human brains.

At the same time, the technology will represent a defensive security nightmare (recall the Hunter Seeker in Frank Herbert's Dune), further contributing to asymmetric concerns.

The question is: Will these devices proliferate or be thwarted by strict regulation?

Will I have 20 networked hummingbirds at my disposal in 2020 - all kept in check by security protocols and swarms of govt/public/safety counter-bots? Or will their use be restricted to the select few? Might technological and informational zoning be part of the solution? Or will it turn into a distributed free-for-all?

How on Earth will our distributed social systems cope with the steady, simultaneous emergence of amazing micro-techologies? Will we implement top-down technology freezes, trust to bottom-up evolution and self-regulation or turn to immune systems for guidance?

The quest for answers will require a great deal of social processing power.