Saturday, December 27, 2008

SOB, stop relying on the hardware!

People, you have got to realize by now that your pet (laptop, desktop, PDA, whatever) doesn't mean shit. Just ten minutes ago, I was trying to uninstall a program, and damn if the thing didn't want to be uninstalled! Everyone that thinks that they need such-and-such hardware to make their problems go away is stuck in a loop. They have their heads stuck up their butts.... oops... in the sand.

Apple, and Broderbund, and Microsoft, and Google, and God knows how many other companies just are biding their time until the asswipes in Washington DC listen to the lobbyists and let them do their thing. Have you ever watched weather patterns in physical reality? When I was a kid, I used to lie in the grass and watch the small clouds build up into large clouds and shit if I wasn't running into the house from the rain. It's the same thing in VR, peeps! The cloud is building.

The first thing was a little whisp of white in a beautiful blue sky. It was ARPAnet. And over the last 10 or so years, that whisp turned into beautiful white fluffy harmless clouds. And now we have "web 2.0". What a crock of shit. The clouds have turned grey and have people's attention. But what do they do? They put up hardware "umbrellas" and think that life continues as usual.

Apple released the first lightening bolt with "iTunes". The rumble followed with proprietary hardware called iPhone. The iPod was just the static buildup. And what does everyone do? "Ooh! Ahh! Lookit the pretty lightshow!" The next bolt followed quickly with the MS "Surface". And the public said "Wow!" Kudos to Bill Gates for stealing Steve Jobs' "thunder" (snicker!)

And now Ozzie is in charge. And Stevie is just warming up. There is no ignoring the storm clouds. Google is throwing hail around with it's Android software. And all the while the stratosphere is boiling with some really far out, left field, cool shit! And everyone is bellyacheing that their Vista umbrellas are damaged. The next lighting bolt is going to be Windows 7. Get away from the Vista lightening rod, folks, 'cause this one is gonna be LOUD. And currently all the small software company leaves and debris are dancing wildly in the wind, looking for their niche to survive in.

Hardware? Pfft. Intel has a chance, if they don't insist on remaining static. Which it looks like they saw the lightening and decided to brace for the storm. Everyone else has wimped out and took cover inside. Those players "might" be able to pick up whats left from the tornado thats on the horizon, if they find some key items left from the storm that passes thru. All you people that think your new hardware will get you thru the next few years had best hide in the corner of the basement now. There will be public assistance lines forming after the storm has passed.




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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bots and automation.

The more I think about automation, the more it makes sense to me. Robotics is the same. Of course the two are rather hard to distinguish between. For years I've been looking forward to having my own personal robot. But as the technology advances, a general consensus is forming that personal robotics won't consist of a single "do it all" machine. There will be a plethora of devices that will operate invisibly aound you, and appear only when you seek it out.

Think about it. Today we're at the point where a lot of automation is going on in the background of our everyday lives. Not a lot of big, noticeable machines. Rather, dozens of inconspicuous single function devices. Possibly several dozen in your workplace alone. Off the top of my head, where I work, there are roughly fifteen automatic procedures, and "set it and forget it" items. Or to use the term the manager does, "bots". I blogged about that before. In the average home there are clothes washers & dryers, dish washers, programmable thermostats for fuel efficent furnaces, and most recently, "smart" kitchen ovens and ranges. Refrigerators will be next. The trick there will be the home network.

In the wider world, here in the UP of MI, traffic flow is regulated by simple sensors embedded in the roads. "Auto"-mobiles are getting smarter all the time. Sensors in the keyrings will ID who you are. From there, a crapload of functions happen. Did your spouse or kid drive the car last? Either pressing the "unlock" button on the palm- sized remote, or even placing the key into the lock will instantly readjust the driver's seat to your preferences. Put the key into the ignition, and the GPS will ask "where to today?" They e-mail you now to let you know of service needed. And eventually they will be able to drive themselves, using GPS, and following the lines painted in the road. In Vernor Vinge's book, Rainbows End, autos simply line up and wait for passengers. You don't need a car? Surprise, the roads are clear for pedestrian traffic. But look for one, and within just a few minutes a car is waiting on you! Cars will perhaps be the closest to personal robotics that was predicted decades ago. That, and children's toys.

Toys will be hugely automated. Pick a favorite character: Elmo. Have you seen the Elmo live toy, yet? How about the Golden Retriever? No? Well, then, there is a hobby horse that does pretty much the same thing. Everythng responds to touch sensors. Remember Furby? Toys WILL be the "go fetch me a drink" item. Nothing taller than three feet. And of course everything connected to your home net. "Robotoy, I want a beer." the home net hears your request to the toy, and as the small bot waddles to the kitchen, the fridge scans its contents, asks via an active speaker, either the TV, Stereo, PC, or cellphone, "Bud or Miller?" Depending on how much the toy waddles, you might want to wait a few minutes for the can to settle before opening it.

On the horizon is a really cool technology called "augmented reality". There are several applications for it already. But the one that is gonna break wide open is interactive characters. Japan has already put its foot in the door with an item called ARis:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCCx7zANsGE

http://geishatokyo.com/jp/ar-figure/

From this point, computing tech will do a paradigm shift. Complete emphasis on the cloud. And wearable hardware. That's when AI will really come into its own. And I've always believed that AI is hardware independent. Intelligent robotics. Which kind of brings me full circle for this blog.




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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Time marches on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfL-ZjLL-Tg

The above link is to a quick video of a Doctor Who episode called "Timecrash". Not to get into how I found it, I just want to review why I'm posting about it.

Back in the late 1970s/early 1980s I was rabid about Dr. Who. Tom Baker had just morphed into Peter Davison. Number 5. I watched the show constantly on Sundays back in Chicago on WTTW. Around the time of #7, the BBC did their "no more Dr. Who" thing, and I lost track of the show. A few years back, I caught a few web episodes on the BBC site, but really couldn't get into it because of bandwidth issues. Fast forward to today. The show is on SciFi channel, the last time I saw it. Dr. #10. Wow.

There is a British organization called Children in Need. This clip comes from that fund-raiser. So I watched it. And lo and behold, we have a version of the Two Doctors all over again. Albeit within a timeframe of roughly over 8 minutes. Which is all that was really needed. The end line is a tear jerker for me.

Dr. #5: "To days to come."

Dr. #10: "All my love to long ago."

And that, folks, is what Doctor Who is really all about. Fond memories, and the promise of adventure with a trusted commrade.

I raise my glass to the Doctor. All of them. :-)




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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

augmented reality

I've been studying up on something called Augmented Reality. I'm sure most of you know about it. I never learn anything first. If not, you'd do yourself a favor to do a search on it.

In a nutshell, a designated personal device you use has software/hardware to overlay data in any desired preference in physical reality. You view a resturant in AR, and you get as much info as that resturant provides. Want to overlay graphics? That's where it really gets mindblowing.

Sounds like SF, doesn't it? I think this will be commonplace in about five years. Seriously. And I'm usually conservative about predictions.

What has me thinking is the way a person would choose to interact with AR. Most of the images and videos I've seen wrap physical reality in augmented reality. But then I found one image where things like a "clock", "rolodex", and "phone" sat on your "desk" and wall. Without AR, the room was blank. If you go with that extreme, you place yourself into Virtual reality. My opinion is if you do that, you might as well sidestep AR and go for total VR immersion. Because physical reality scares you.

As for me, I'm seeing where VR finally escapes it's boundaries and your experience is so seamless, you slip in and out via AR without even realizing it. you're in that resturant mentioned earlier, and your friend halfway around the world joins you for a cuppa joe via a full sized avatar, even though they are at another resturant. they see your avatar in their resturant via AR.

How is it done? Webcams, RFID, Bluetooth, GPS, and whatever passes for WiFi by that time. Maybe WiMax. your AR device connected to the web, finds the camera in those resturants, and id's you via RFID or Bluetooth. And even if there is no webcam or even a security cam, all the device really needs minimally is the AR software on a portable device and the web. But then there will be lag.

Ever interact with an avatar in physical reality? Five years, tops.




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Monday, May 12, 2008

RFID vending machines

http://www.rfid-weblog.com/50226711/rfid_ice_cream_vending_machine_enjoy_your...

A while back I posted a bit about robotic vending machines. The link above comes close to what I was blogging about. In this link, the RFID tags are dedicated to the hotel you stay at, but I'm sure in the future generic tags will speed up the process of a machine on every corner.




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Monday, March 24, 2008

personal robotics

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted. Anyway, my subject is personal robotics. Lately I've been reading posts on www.deviantart.com about how people would like a bot that fits in your hand. Seeing that the trend is having affordable robots connect to the web via the local network for processing power, it is entirely possible. Larger bots would be limited to industrial, commercial, and household tasks. The little critters will be about the size of a cell phone, and have a USB connection for a power hookup.

The trick will be not losing them like phones and PDAs during the course of the day!

BTW, scroll thru my posts to read about a cell phone robot.




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