Planet Earth is about to get its own version of the Web!
Cisco Systems is partnering with NASA to create a massive online collaborative global monitoring platform called the "Planetary Skin" to capture, collect, analyze and report data on environmental conditions around the world, while also providing researchers social web services for collaboration.
This type of platform is essential for Climate and Ecosystem researchers, but it also might be a sneak peak at the future of the Internet.
'Smart Planet': Age of Sensors & Structured Data If life in the past few decades has been forever altered by complex microprocessor chips, the next century could see the same social disruption via simple, low cost networked sensors and 'embedded objects' that mirror a digital signal of our analog world. But making this disconnected data relevant is a challenge.
The 'Planetary Skin' platform [video] will stitch together 'petabytes' of unstructured data collected by sensors (land, sea, air, space) reporting on changing environmental conditions. The platform will also allow for 'streamlining of decision making' and 'collaborative swarming' on analysis of relevant data. The project's first layer, “Rainforest Skin,” will be prototyped during 2009.
Good for NASA, Great for Cisco, and Wonderful for 'Mirror World' Metaverse Enthusiasts The benefits to NASA and Planetary system researchers is clear. Forget about Facebook, these scientists are looking for a functional digital research simulation 'Mirror World' (as envisioned by David Gelertner).
Meanwhile, Cisco is working diligently to make itself the most relevant web company in the next era of Internet architecture where collaboration, video, 3D simulations and structured data change the nature of our interactions. 'Planetary Skin' might be Cisco Systems under the radar, but out in the open effort of essentially building its own Internet of Tomorrow.
This video shows how RFID can help improve control over stock inventory both in real world and virtual world situations. With the current state of virtual reality, it’s unlikely that virtual supermarkets will take off. They’re just too…clunky. However, one distinct possibility is a reversal. Computer controlled reality.
RFID will play a large part in this. The data it will provide will change the way we look at reality. By reporting and recording our locations and activities, it will digitise us – turning us into real life avatars.
In virtual reality, everything we do can be recorded. The software can record our every movement and interaction. This will soon be possible in real life, thanks to RFID and our interactions with computer interfaces.
This is a shot that was definitely not heard around the “real
A company named Vollee has at last enabled fluid access
to 3D virtual worlds, namely Second Life, via a mobile phone.
Check out the video of their new service, currently in Beta:
While this product won’t matter to 99.9% of us (barring the SL
addicted) in the short term, it’s a big milestone for the broader
evolution of the web.
As such, we can use it to extrapolate what changes an
increasingly interactive 3D web might gradually enable:
Perhaps we’ll visit real-time representations of stores from
hundreds of miles away or more efficiently navigate shops in real
space, or more easily find jobs that allow us to work from afar, or
surf 3D social networks to see what our friends are currently doing
and where, or hop into virtual games tied into real-life locations
when we’re bored, or search the web in 3D and 2D as well as through
text and semantic search, etc.
The main point is that as we endeavor to simulate the near term
future of other domains like health, business, transporation, etc.
it’s important to consider the impact of new products like Vollee
so that we don’t miss the larger, more disruptive products and
events just over the horizon.
It has been said that the reason doctors and surgeons have not
embraced simulated training to the same degree as airline pilots is
because they don’t “go down” with their patients. The implicit
message is that pilots have an incentive to utilize the very best
This distinction is important because as 3-D display and virtual
reality technology continues to improve it will soon reach a point
where it is just as good if not better than current training
techniques. The U.S. military has already embraced virtual reality
training to prepare soldiers before they go into actual combat
because it has been demonstrated to save lives. The same will soon
be true in the health care industry, but first doctors and surgeons
(and the medical institutions that train them) will need to unlearn
existing training methods which they have relied on for the past
This lesson in unlearning is not, however, limited to the health
care sector. As this article suggests, innovative leaders in the
automotive industry are already embracing the technology. There is
no reason educators and professionals in a host of other industries
can’t do the same.
My question to Future Blogger readers is what other industries
you think can benefit from 3-D/virtual reality training.
Add sports media to the list of early technology adopter companies alongside the military and porn industries!
ESPN and Electronic Arts have joined forces around the ‘Virtual Playbook’ to shake up the world of broadcast media by launching a new era of immersive mass media experiences.
In recent years sports based games have pushed the evolution of 3D experiences, but now ESPN is bringing football analysis into the era of 3D Augmented Reality. This Fall, ESPN commentators will interact live with realistic 3D virtual NFL players. They will stand next to life sized scale 3D players as they demonstrate based offensive and defensive patterns.
Gamers are obviously thrilled and NFL viewers are likely to become bigger fans of sports commentators able to navigate a virtual landscape of players.
Now that we are witnessing the first mass media application of augmented reality, it becomes easier to build a futures road map looking at the convergence of drivers that support augmented mass media experiences.
We can see clear developmental lines of commercialization with 3D software (ray trace rendering, 3D authoring etc.), hardware (terahertz chips and video servers) and display technology (thin film, flexible OLEDs and high def projection systems) and interface standards (gesture, smart object and motion based interactions).
Thanks to ESPN, we have now jumped to major hurdles – viable business models around convergence of 3D software, gaming and virtual world companies with broadcast media. And the biggest barrier with the most uncertainty – People! Specifically mainstream TV viewers.
Entrepreneurs can now start imagining the unique applications. When might students use augmented reality to create reports – immersing themselves in history scenes or building cities? When might kids insert themselves inside a Dora the Explorer adventure? Or aspiring athletes play the world champions in an immersive experience that makes Wii tennis look like 8 bit pong?
When might technicians and engineers use augmented reality to work collaboratively long distance? Could Home Depot or our plumber walk us step by step through the bathroom project?!
The list of mainstream applications is exhaustive. And the convergence of technologies is within sight. There is no need to overstate and ‘hype’ augmented reality, or bow to naysayer skeptics of tech adoption. Augmented reality is much more appealing and functional than a pure virtual world experience. And it could give a boost to TV broadcasters desperate to stay relevant.
3, 5, 7 or 10 years is not too far off for mainstream applications at work and home! But how do we get there?
The office. It’s a dreaded workspace for many, for others it’s a grand tradition (and, for a few, it’s just a funny TV show). However you see it, the office as it exists now is evolving. Have a look at yours. Does it resemble the standard Dilbert-esque vision rife with miles and miles of identical cubicles, Sticky-Notes, and studded with those ever-flattering fluorescent tubes? Or is it simpler setup- a laptop on your lap?
These days, companies are rethinking the way we work. The new workspace, called non-territorial or non-assigned workspaces, resemble a modern version of musical chairs. Employees come to work and find their spot. This model works for Cisco Systems. At other companies, such as Bank of America, employees can reserve spaces or meeting rooms. Others (think IBM) don’t even have offices.
Mind you, the concept of the paperless office isn’t new. It’s been floating around since the 1940’s. The Atlantic featured a series on Memex machines, theoretical proto-hypertext computer systems that were to function as self-contained research libraries, in 1945. Life Magazine soon followed with illustrations. And, of course, we can’t forget gems like The Jetsons, or Brazil, or even Spielberg’s Minority Report.
Although, we’re not quite hovercraft bound, the future of the office is increasingly flexible and mobile. Employees will no longer be confined to the cubicle. The advent of wireless technologies, smartphones, teleconferencing and the Web 2.0 cloud has made the office as we know it, a thing of the past. Today, virtual is the way to go.
Some great science fiction movies have depicted the protagonist sitting in front of a beautiful landscape with chirping birds and incredible gardens (Aliens, Total Recall, etc). Spooky Science Fiction has yet again struck close to reality.
Called the SkyCeiling, it uses high resolution imagery on embedded image tiles to give the looker a true 3D experience. Some of the technology they use in developing the SkyCeiling is used currently to treat seasonal depression. It provides “daylight-balanced light (the same light used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder) for rich color rendition and recognition as ‘natural’ daylight.” The hope is that the product would help sooth and calm people in hospitals who are unnerved by the white and sterile environment.
"You can have children reading about Alice in Wonderland ... and Alice can pop out of the page, and have a tea party on the page."
Every amazing new technology needs to be wrapped in an equally elegant high-demand application if it is to diffuse past just the military on through the human masses. Often the first killer app is targeted at youth (ie, Facebook, Club Penguin, MMORPGs), then gradually spreads upward to older generations that require more convincing and immediately useful applications.
When it comes to augmented reality, it's possible that a company called Mixed Reality Lab (MXR), a spin-off owned by the National University of Singapore, is on the verge of creating such a cross-over app: Virtual 3D Pop-ups for Children's Books.
Coming on the heels of MXR's real-time augmented battlefield displays, the new Magic Books product aims to generate revenue from mommies and daddies who feeled compelled to get their kids interfacing with the most advanced new media.
A few years into the future when someone says, “I think I’ll use my lifeline,” they will no longer be referring to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but instead their geo-spatially coordinated content history.
According to John Schneider, CTO of clever geo-web annotator Abaq.us, we’re about to experience a powerful convergence of mirror worlds and life-logging that will enable all sorts of interesting applications including community feedback mechanisms and amplified memory.
“You’ve been to something like an antique shop last month with your wife, and you just can’t for the life of you remember where this place was or what the name of it was,” lays out Schneider, “But because you’ve life-logged you can get on your account, you can take the time slider and move it back in time to the place you were. ... Now you project that lifeline on something like Google maps, bring up the Street View, look around and there it is – there is the place you’ve been looking for.”
Note: Make sure the movie loads fully before watching. I am trying to upload it to YouTube, but the feature is still buggy as Xtra Normal is in beta.
Using the new Xtra Normal platform, the above video took just 30 minutes to produce. This forward-step in super-user-friendly machinima brings us just a little closer to a scenario that I like to call The Toon Point, the time when virtual-world-generated video equals the average quality of a Saturday morning cartoon created in 2005. (Why 2005? Because that’s roughly when I began thinking about the notion of a Toon Point.)
Ever since my days in the West Hollywood Metaverse House, as my buddy and former roommate Jerry Paffendorf likes to call it, I’ve been a fan of virtual worlds and looking forward to The Toon Point. Due to their ability to incorporate and network other communication technologies, the potential of virtual worlds as an Interactive Communication Technology is simply astounding, and is reflected in their rapid diffusion patterns.
Dubbed the VirtuSphere, this giant ball hopes to deliver a true virtual reality experience by giving people the ability to explore their environments on foot. “The VirtuSphere platform consists of a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless, head-mounted display, users can step inside the sphere to fully interact in immersive virtual environments.” It claims users can run, jump, crawl, even roll inside the sphere.
This is new technology, meaning it’s also beta technology. From the looks of it, the idea that a user could actually run in that thing is a little far-fetched. Not only is the ground curved, but without a more accurate virtual image on the heads-up display users might find themselves a little off-balance. It also looks like the sphere cannot help move the ball in the direction you are moving — if you’re running at full speed and suddenly stop, you might end up eating virtual pavement as the ball continues its momentum.
The key to these devices is really going to be in flat ground. Balance is easier, it’s more familiar, and it allows for non-wireless tech to be included such as more powerful headsets and maybe a support harness. Maybe an omni-directional treadmill which can tell which way you are going and move accordingly?
Maybe if we can get those white boxes from the Beijing Opening Ceremony we could incorporate vertical as well as horizontal movement (skip to the 42 minute mark).