Awesome almost portable Reality to Internet Interface.

These guys at MIT have hacked together a device that acts as a multitouchtouch interface screen on anything - and its almost wearable. You can go into a bookstore an have a camera scan the face of the book and display amazon star rating on the real life book. Then you can have it read stuff to you. Or you can make temporary graffity in the UBahn while you are bored. Or see how green a product is in the supermarket. Reality to virtual interfaces in all forms are the next big thing - the wii was just the tiny beginning.
Full article on wired.


E-Paper at last

epaper-taiwan-24-inch-wow-rm-eng.jpegThe thing you see in Sci Fi movies - moving wallpapers and newspapers that update as the news happen. It has been a long time coming with first time mention of a working e-paper technology was like 10 years ago at least. While there have been ebook readers in first generation and magic ones with unicorn hairs embedded the real first epaper that really knocks me of my feet is the one shown here at a Taiwanese Book show. Impressive big clear crisp paper like and even the cmyk colors are there. Now just holographic storage quantum computing and some solution to the pesky energy problem and we are all set for a sciFi future…

via Engadget


Fluid Tunes - forget multitouch, mouse and anything else.

fluidtunes.pngSometimes you come across an idea that is so intriguing that it changes the world around you and your perception of things of the future. The interface in Minority Report was such a thing. Now I stumbled across Fluid Tunes and I think that goes even further then the interface in Minority Report as it lets you control your screen without touching it and without wearing goofy gloves. The demo program is just that - a demo - you can flip through your iTunes library - but the interaction model is astonishing - you can even push buttons by tapping in the air - the possibilities are AMAZING for a performer that is on the lookout for fast easy interaction with big buttons (VJs for example ;). I know this might be old hat and I have been sitting on it for a while but I am sure there are people out there who have not heard about it. Now imagine this together with Apples patent of a screen that acts as camera (two years ago) and a screen that can detect IR 20 cm away (about 2 month ago) and you might see that this is exactly where Apple might be going with their bigger computers.

Fluid Tunes


Minority Report Interface&OS - for real

It seems science fiction is contributing more to REAL products then science of late. The ubercool interface that scientology addict Tom Cruise used in the film Minority Report when looking through the memory recordings of the uberconcious future lookers has been made a reality. Apparently the designer of the movie thing was also on board. Think real spacial handmovement interaction. Now this is how I could see myself performing a vj set for sure. Guess not a bad time to get back to kung fu training so that you movements are a bit more smooth then geeks in the movie below.

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.


Stereoskope - A Blinkenlights Installation


The word is officially out so I can talk about it publicly. Project Blinkenlights is awakening again and its bigger and more badass then ever. The Blinkenlights crew will turn the Toronto City Hall in Toronto/Canada into the biggest-analog-lowres-giant-dual-screen on earth. As seen before in Berlin and Paris every window will turn into a pixel with 16 steps of brightness and sustaining an impressive 30 frames per second picture feed across two buildings. Classic computer games, crazy controllers (*cough*iPhone*cough*Wii*cough*), love-letters and a custom tailored live VJ performance on the houses are all in play.

For the VJs out there is maybe of interest that a lot of the picture making process is driven through quartz composer - there will be even an official blinkenlight quartz composer plugin soon. That means not only can you preview your graphics in quartz composer to see how they look on the house (3d is in the works) but you can actually use quartz composer to stream videos to the blinkenserver that is then serving them to the house (30fps I mentioned right?).

The installation will light up mid-end september and stay on for about 2-3 weeks.
As mentioned I will do a live performance on the houses on the 4th of October - the night of the Nuit Blanche. Standing on the Nathan Philips Square in front of City Hall with music and all.

There will be a live stream of the feed that goes to the house and stay tuned here as I will be "live blogging" as much of the installation setup and tryout as my time permits. Its whicked and monumental and I am proud to be on the Blinkenlights team.

(thanks Tim for putting trust in me).

The official website.
The official blog


Sigraph Paper: Capture Normal Maps with Camera Flashlight

In my ongoing series about absolutely stunning developments from Siggraph this year comes a techdemo /white paper that is so simple yet so powerful. Every serious 3D artist knows that it is hard to capture real life textures and replicate them with lots of details and try to make them appear haptic. Tricks like making fake bump/displacement maps by extracting a range of values in a certain color channel only get you so far and touch up is time expensive.

Now Mashhuda Glencross and Gregory Ward from the University of Manchester in the UK and Dolby Canada in Vancouver developed a dead simple - everyone can do it way to extract the normal map of any photo that is shot twice - one time with normal exposure and one time with the flash turned on. From that the get the depth data of the surface. Look at the video of how simple this is - no commercial product yet but believe me that this takes about two weeks to surface (if it isn´t patent locked in some closet).

Watch the video to see how it works and be amazed:

Original Article over at the NewScientist

And I found this tutorial in the comments over there on how to fake this with 4 photos and a lightsource other then camera flash.

OpenGL ES specs on the iPhone

iPhoneOpenGLES.jpgBesides Apple trying to keep anything and everything under wrap there are things I wish they would just publish loud and open. I had to look about an hour today to find the maximum texture resolution and the general graphic specs for the iPhone implementation of OpenGL ES - since I am not developing but producing content for a developer I have no access to the specs but needed them badly. I eventually found some light info on which refers to an pretty extensive article called "OpenGL and Mobile Devices: Round 2 - OpenGL ES for the iPhone and iPod Touch" by Richard S. Wright Jr.
that is available from Dr. DobbsPortal:

There are a few limitations you should know from the start:
* There is no stencil or accumulation buffer.
* There are only two texture units.
* The maximum texture size is 1024×1024 (use power of two only).
* The maximum space for textures and surfaces is 24MB.
* Only 2D textures are supported.
* There is no software rendering fallback.


Brain-Computer Interface

nia_angle.jpgOCZ - a modder company selling overclocking and cooling devices normally - has introduced a computer brain input interface. No its not an "coming soon product" it is apparently available to buy pretty much now for a mere US $147,00. The devices detects brainwaves, facial muscle movements and eye muscle movements to enhance your input possibilities. There is a great writeup from hothardware using it and reading that makes me very itchy. This could very well be a great additional solution to some input woes with complex programs - especially complex programs that need fast reaction time or programs were you need to push more buttons at once then you have fingers. Like VJ programs for example... Sadly the device is Windows only at the moment and mostly aimed towards gamers. But I expect this to become a common form of input if it is really working as described in the article.


Enter the Holographic century

There have been hundreds of devices out in the last 100 years that all attempt to bring true 3d visuals to the masses. Now I tripped over the Cheoptics360 and I think this could be the real deal. While the website and the net in general is spare on details on how it actually works it surely looks like a R2D2 style hologramic projection is what this machine does - but watch the videos (and remember the videos you see are 2d so the 3d effect is not sooo visible - yet you can make out the floating object in front of the all the backgrounds which is a good indicator that this is actually working and quietly enough (read: no rotating mirrors) to be installed in an airport lounge. And large enough to eventually give us almost immersive environments... I still suspect this to be the old mirror trick but since its visible from 360 degrees this can´t be. Expect to see you live size game characters appear holographic in your living room in the next 15 years until then enjoy the video... or visit the developers vizoo website.


HoloDeckCube coming near you

A Dutch comany called HoloCube starts marketing a similar called Device that lets you project movies in thin air. Its about 20 inch and geared towards the 3d advertising market (why? because it probably costs lots of mo and therefore the advertising market is the only market it could survive on). Expect StarWars HD quality holograms at your next fair visit. But don´t put you hand in one of these or they might get beamed to a 3rd dimension. (oh and of course in the video below you can NOT see the 3d effect as the video itself is only 2d! so just imagine the videos floating in air - if you believe the company. It must be the hardest thing to market anything "3d" with 2d mediums.)


Wiimote, SciFiGloves = Minority-Report-Style (without Scientology) interface?

The WiiMote has struck again. This time with a Minority Report Style "no touch" touchscreen interface. This technology will not stop to amaze us this year. My prediction: WiFit is next.


Cheap Motion Capture Device to hit market soon

MotionCaptureSensorSystem.pngWow. Sensors are SOOOOO ubercool. Now the motion capture monopoly that is Vicon and its associated studios might fall - very soon. Researchers from the MIT(USA) and MERL (Zürich, Switzerland) have created a system using of the shelf motion sensors such as the one that is found in the Wii controller and ultrasonic sound to create a $3000 motion capturing system that already rivals the vicon - and its only an alpha alpha version. They say the price could easily fall to a "couple hundret bucks". For comparison - a Vicon system that is actually usable cost upward of $250.000 - and that is in no way even close to perfect as every visual motion tracking has to deal with "blind spots" - tracking points that are invisible for a couple of frames because they are obscured by body parts or other bodies. The problems come if these points are then popping up in a different place after they had been obscured leading to absolutely unusable tracking data that has to be cleaned in a very tedious manual labour process.
The Vicon system has 5+ highresolution highspeed infrared cameras (we are talking about 2000lines resoltion and 200 frames per seconds here - you know where the price comes from) so this system will not fall in price anytime soon.

So as a 3d artist I can not stress how great it would be just to slap a <$500 motion capture system on any actor, have them do their dance and then have ready to use data. Especially since this can be employed outside a studio - so to say on set!

But also this would make the Wii look like a stone age gaming device. Imagine playing a boxing game with one of these.....

read more about it at the new scientist

or watch the youtupe video explaining the system.


Funky Forest: Virtual Reality with eco shic for children

funkyforestangle.jpgImmersive Environments get more and more press over the years, as they finally become more rich and interactive. Its not only the "Goggle 3D thing" anymore its also blackboxes. One of the funkier ones I have seen and one that serves to teach children a bit about tree growth (namely that they need water to grow ;) and is generally great looking is Funky Forest. Children can create trees with their bodies, divert water with handmovements all in a immersive four walled environment that has some style.