Here are two cool examples of augmented reality apps/prototypes that are already out. The first is a really fun one from GE's futuristic Ecoimagination campaign. By making a print-out from their site and holding it in front of your monitor it brings the animation out of the box and into your room. Here's the Future is Awesome's Duncan Rawlinson demonstrating it with the print out attached to his mobile.
Here are some other DIY examples that illustrate it further 1. 2. 3.
Another very cool, though early incarnation technology that gives us a hint of how we'll be interacting with information in our physical environments comes to us from the MIT Media Lab - demoed at the recent TED conference (via Wired).
It's "a wearable computer system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen." Definitely has some of that early stage Minority Report feel to it and I think when looking at these two examples it's pretty obvious that this world will be here sooner than most people think.
Lucky for us the sun is a wonderful source of clean energy. Its
rays can be harnessed and transformed into electricity using
semi-conductor-based solar cells that power homes, buildings, and
even transportation. Researchers have spent decades trying to
refine this process.
Recently, MIT researchers have made a
significant mark in this endeavor. Associate Professor Marc A.
Baldo, leader of the project, and a team of four graduate students
of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
have constructed a cost-efficient solar concentrator device based
on a failed 1970s model that uses glass and dye. In practical
terms, the concentrator device is a high-efficiency window.
Currently, solar concentrators on the market track the sun’s
rays using large mobile mirrors that are both expensive to arrange
and to maintain. Furthermore, Baldo explains, the solar cells that
house these concentrators must be cooled, thus the entire assembly
Baldo’s new solar concentrator increases the amount of usable
energy by a factor of 40, all while cutting costs by reducing the
amount of solar cell, which because its base is silicon is rather
The device consists of glass coated with a mixture of relatively
inexpensive dyes that absorbs the light and re-emits it on a new
wavelength into the glass to be collected by the solar cells, which
are located on the edges of the glass.
Baldo says the 1970s model failed in two ways: the collected
light was absorbed before it reached the edges of the glass and the
dyes were unstable.
Using optical techniques developed for lasers and other diodes,
the MIT engineers found the perfect ratio
of dyes that would allow the light that is absorbed and emitted to
travel a longer distance before reaching the solar cells.
RoboClam. The name merely conjures up an image of a robotic clam skidding along the ocean floor at top driving speeds. But upon closer examination, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Picture a ship anchor in the shape of an oblong razor clam the size of a cigarette. According to Anette Hosoi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “it turns out that clams are actually very fast diggers.” Seems like researchers are increasingly finding answers in nature.
How does it work? The RoboClam uses its namesake to embed itself in the sand which enables the anchor to hold it’s place. It vibrates in order to turn surrounding mud into liquid. Its jaws then spread open, allowing a mechanical "feeler" to push down further into the ground. The hope is to eventually build one which can dig down up to three feet.
Some crazy smart people over at MIT collaborated with a Danish design group to make a house that moves on legs.
The house, which reportedly can move up to five kilometers per hour, comes equipped with all the necessities for a personal dwelling. “The house is ten feet high, powered by solar panels, and is outfitted with a kitchen, toilet, bed, and wood stove.” What makes this different than a traditional motor home is that it can pass over objects where a tire might have a problem. It can reportedly “turn left and right, move forward and back, and even change height as needed.” In a sense, a true mobile home.
The hope is to eventually create a dwelling capable of climbing hills and navigating over rough terrain. They even hope to build a model which could also float on water for both land and sea adventures.