Wearables & Wireless Streaming in Smartglasses

Monday

19

Oct

Last October 6th, Miguel Hernandez University in the city of Elche organized a seminar for the Telecommunications Master Degree to which we had the pleasure to attend. Mr. Jesus Llor, PhD and Key Account Manager at Droiders lectured on Wearables, Streaming and Smart Glasses. He explained the recent history of wearables, the different kinds of smart glasses and their application through Augmented or Virtual Reality.

Nowadays we take for granted issues simply unthinkable 60 years ago. If Konrad Zuse, creator of the Z3, took a walk through a house or an office of our era, he would probably stare at a laptop for hours: our computers are not two meters tall (6.5 ft)do not have intermittent lights and do not weigh a ton.

Wearables, since their birth

The history of wearable devices goes back to the 17th century with the first abacus ring from China’s Qing Dynasty. This ring was used by traders to realize calculations so they carried it as a “calculator”. Is smart jewelry a product of recent years? Not even of the 20th century. “Smart rings” were in use in 1600 for buying and selling goods until calculation became a problem as well as carrying around a big abacus which was…quite uncomfortable.

In 1907, a German apothecary, Julius Neubronner, revolutionized aerial photography. He employed carrier pigeons to receive orders from a nearby sanatorium. One day, one of the carrier pigeons went astray and Neubronner then wanted to find out where his pigeons flew to when getting lost; so he decided to install a camera – his pigeons could carry up to 75 grams (2.7 oz) – and photograph their flight path. Photography was not even one hundred years old when Neubronner had designed his own miniaturized camera even with a built-in automatic trigger. From that moment on, he also used that method to captures images from above, for mere pleasure.This invention started being deployed during World War I in order to spy on the enemy, being a lot more useful, discrete and economic than a globe or an airplane. Pigeon Photography earned much recognition by the International Spy Museum and by the CIA.

Wearables

Pigeon photography

During that same period, in 1914, and also throughout the World War II, the wrist watches were born as a substitute to uncomfortable pocket watches. Armies realized that soldiers could go astray if they had to put their hands in their pockets to synchronize timing, added to the rucksacks and weapons weight. Later, when soldiers went back from the war, the watch manufacturers did not miss any opportunities to introduce them to civil society, becoming a fashion.

Modern and popular GPS that has helped us in our traveling, was born in 1927. Inventor still unknown, but it really was the precedent of the gadget we use so much these days. First GPS was called “Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator”. Any inconvenience? The driver had to turn the rollers with his/her free hand to be able to see indications on the go and when reaching a crossroad, a full stop was needed to change maps. Besides, it only brought about 20 maps of England starting in London.

Wearables

Plus Four Wristlet Route Indicator 1927

In 1961, Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon designed the first wearable computer that could be hidden in shoes or in a pack of cigarettes.  This device was used to predict a roulette wheel motion, picking up data with a microswitch that registered speed, so that the computer could indicate on when to bet by sending musical tones via radio into miniature speaker inside the ear.

Wearables

Wearable Computer

The eighties came and Casio, the Japanese company, headed by Tadao Kashio who introduces, after 1974’s first digital watch, a similar model but a revolutionary innovation: a watch with calculator. It was precisely 1974 the starting shot to endless functionalities. Year after year, Casio implemented a new functionality: watches with radio, with games (Space Invaders!), with a keyboard, with melodies and, at its peak, with a remote control in 1994. The needles and tic-tac sound gave way due to Casiotron, marketing watches more complete and functional.

Definitely, the history of wearable tech is yet to be written. This is only the beginning of something really big that will mean a breakthrough in many fields. Thanks to wearables, we have had many innovations that have served the Ministry of Defence, advances in processing and calculation, photography and quantification, to name a few.

Another breakthrough that should have his own space is what happened in 2010. Somehow the brain is not conscious of the time that has passed, but it has been only five years ago since our devices can be connected to Internet. Something we see as so distant, in reality is very recent. Until 2010 wearable devices were not connected to Internet, they had their own functionality but could not connect to the cloud.

And today? The sky is the limit. There are many types of wearables with many kinds of prices, some more popular than others, but we see a lot of people in the street with at least one wearable.

Smartglasses: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Since Google Glass was announced in 2013, many companies have launched their own Smartglasses. HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Epson Moverio, Microsoft Holo Lens, Meta Glass, etc.

Wearables

Oculus Rift Simulator

What is the difference between each other? The kind of experience the user may have. Augmented Reality (AR) is superimposed on the reality itself, while Virtual Reality (VR) is fully immersive.

As mentioned, VR gives the user an immersive experience, physical reality around him/her disappears to enter fully into a virtual world. What has been marketed more? Marketing and Video games. Advertising to increase a better experience and sensation to the future potential consumer. Video games to fully delve the user into the game and experience it completely when playing in a world of fantasy, horror or adventure.

Wearables

VR Glasses

Back to the real world. Augmented Reality, AR, generates a layer of information about our own physical reality and allows us to interact. In this case it has been marketed very similarly. Companies are always looking to be innovative, so users can position them as the most “techie”.

Wearables

AR Glasses

To summarize, the technology race has only just begun. Gradually we will see more and more different types of Smartglasses and wearables. Hopefully, the industry will grow beyond the purely business, not just geeks, begin to implement a wearable in their daily life.

Cardboard Revolution

Tuesday

23

Jun

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating on a panel at SASCON, Manchester about Wearables with Martyn Bryant of The Next Web, and Tom Cheesewright, an Applied Futurist. Tech talking head on TV and radio.

Wearables is a broad topic of course, time was of the essence, it was late on a friday, so I decided to hone my deck and gist down to the phenomenon of Google Cardboard.

Cardboard just earnt itself one of the highest creative industry accolades in Cannes.

Google Cardboard wins Cannes  GRAND PRIX

A crucial aspect about Cardboard is you have to experience it to truly ‘get’ it. Cardboard is an inexpensive, delightfully simple optical ilusion that serves as a brilliant introduction to the world of VR.

Pop your smartphone in, hold it close to your face, open an app or view some media and woah time!

Ladle man is Cardboard

Whenever I’m asked about Cardboard and I’m not carrying one, I show them ladle man.

Ladle man

I call him Ladle Man, I’ve no idea who he is or where he came from.

Because in spirit, ladle man for me at least,  conveys the experience and fun of VR.

Here’s a more official polished video:

VR and 360º video is tipping

There’s a confluence of factors in 2015 that are poised to tip VR and immersive filming mainstream.

YouTube already offer 360º content youtube.com/360 and when viewed via mobile, a clickable cardboard icon above the playback bar will stereoscopically split the screen to allow optimum Cardboard viewing experience.

And it’s not just video, there’s a copious amount of shared panoramic photography in forums and groups from stunning locations around the world that are best enjoyed with a Cardboard like viewer.

During IO 2015, Google announced SDK iOS Cardboard availability and a v2 of the Cardboard viewer that allows iPhone compatibility with the repositioned trigger button now on the top right.

That development alone is a force multiplier for 360º content for developers and companies alike and at Droiders we’re thrilled with the prospects ahead.

Google Cardboard LabsVR is #notagame

A year ago, many derided Google’s entry to VR as little more than a light hearted side project. As a counter indicator to that thought, a few weeks ago, the chief designer of Search, Jon Wiley, became the chief designer of Google Cardboard and his task will include introducing guidance on some much needed universal UX vocabulary into the ecosystem of designing for VR.

A new UX for Virtual Reality

As Jon observes;

how do you walk around in a VR game? How do you touch a VR button? What does a menu or file system look like in an immersive, 3-D environment?

It’s a whole new exciting area of design. At Droiders we recently trialled UX inspiration from common building safety exit and motorway signage for nascent VR design cues.

The CardboardDesign Lab app from Google is a great VR design primer.

A crucial aspect of VR design is consideration of heightened use of audio.

A crucial aspect of VR design is consideration of heightened use of audio.

Facebook is soon to introduce spherical video content as the web’s video publishing explosion continues, and meanwhile 360º video production is booming at both ends of the market.

Despite high end devices like the Lady Bug or the recently unveiled impressive JUMP rig combining sixteen GoPros on a carousel rig with high powered cloud stitching, consumer grade devices and technology is breaking out of the crowd sourced niche, with products such as the Ricoh Theta and the imminent consumer available Giroptic.

At Droiders, we’ve been toying with VR in other fields for medicine and retail with Oculus and Cardboard, and continue to develop VR and 360º projects as demand increases with rising awareness of the technology.

The 360º revolution has only just started. It’s all around you.

Warning: This deck contains references to Mr McGuire, Joey “The Lips” Fagan, Ladle Man and a double rainbow front cover. Just like Cardboard, you have to be there really.

With thanks to Richard Gregory and the organisers of SASCON. Many of the presentations of the highly engaging speakers of the two day marketing event are available here and if you want another perspective of the event, this will offer you a flavour of the proceedings:


Again, marketing conferences or saroa (singular) as colloquially known in spanish, as with Cardboard, you have to be there really, to experience it.

ps. If you want to enjoy branded colour Cardboard (v2) viewers for your agency or brand campaign and need 360º or VR development, follow us for exciting news soon or get in touch, either through form or info AT droiders.com.

China #throughglass: What Chêng Ho teaches us

Friday

19

Jun

Looking at the world #throughglass, it is known that the search of objects such as The Ark of the Covenant, Merlin’s Wand, Excalibur or of mythical places like El Dorado, Shambhalla or Atlantis, has long encouraged all sorts of sincere entrepreneurial truth-seekers and neo-gurus. There is nothing new about this; ever since “Man” – and of course, “Wo-Man” – were able to say “I Am”, there has been a search for meaning, for answers. In the world of today’s turmoil, there is only a different language to express all this.

Let us read an example. In the year 1433 AD, Chêng Ho (Zheng He), born of a Muslim family from southern China and a top-notch Imperial Court’s eunuch, had returned home due to the new Emperor’s strict policy forbidding the Chinese from traveling abroad. His birthplace, Kunyang, is a 900-km (550-mile) drive to Droiders’ office in Shenzhen along the South to the East China Sea.

Admiral Ho established diplomatic and/or tributary relations with peoples ranging from Nanjing (northern China) to Kochin (southern India) to Mecca and down to Mogadishu (actual Somalia). The Indians, Persians and Arabs could not envisage how the most powerful naval force known to that day, a 27.000-man crew with mastodonic nine-mast four-deck ships, was used primarily for exploration and seafaring. Now, that was truly a search for the Grail of trade and meaning!

Back at home, the same story: an old battle between Confucian bureaucrats and Court eunuchs.

What should we learn, not from Admiral Ho himself but from the new Emperor’s attitude? This is to say, how upper management  in companies across the market board must find means and meaning by being ready and up for the challenge; this is one of the issues we address at Droiders, every day: our product, Streye, is the means as those ships and firmness of purpose were for our protagonist. How reinvestment, effort, the search for technical perfectibility and the Herculean challenge of human reason produce the best results. These are the questions people like Chêng Ho have to master: a sense of enterprise by looking at China and the world #throughglass. If you are a Google Glass explorer just go ahead and feel free to do it!

Let a thousand flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend“, said Chairman Mao Tse-T’ung. After him, he Chinese started in quite a different way where Chêng Ho had been compelled to leave off.

Here is the moral (and the morale) of this piece of history: Admiral Ho and his vast fleet could have “discovered” the European continent, had they been able to carry on. Then, sixty years later the Treaty of Tordesillas and Vasco Da Gama opened the way for Europeans to “discover” China in 1513 AD…

… the new Emperor should not have listened to mere bureaucrats.

A Day at Droiders: Smartglass and Wearable Technology

Friday

08

May

a day at droiders

We are located in Murcia’s financial district, it’s 8:30 a.m. and Droiders opens its doors. When the lift doors open, the first things we perceive are a delicious smell of coffee and laughter. So, as we enter a wide open-plan office, we gape at the biggest Google Glass in history hanging from the ceiling. This is how work starts at Droiders every morning, having breakfast while gazing at a spectacular view from the tower, where Droiders headquarters are.

Droiders headquarter smartglass

Droiders Headquarters

After a quick coffee together, the Development team crosses a hallway into the heart of the company. This is where engineers, designers and developers work on Augmented Reality software and hardware, such as Epson Moverio; Virtual Reality and cutting edge wearables.

pizarra smartglass adrian

desarrolladores smartglass moverio

Developers testing Epson Moverio and Google Glass

Around 9:30 a.m., after spending some time in front of a computer screen, the Marketing team enters the Meeting Room; they report on daily subjects and objectives as well as feedback on yesterday’s work. An overhead projector turns on and, from a pair of Google Glass in which there is a Streye Checkr tasks list, starts showing slides; in order to achieve this, we use Streye Live Pro, a smartglass software we have designed, developed and patented ourselves. Then, today’s subject turns out to be about the strategy and campaign of our new product. After the meeting, the team returns to its section, moving forward with new ideas for the project.

Droiders smartglass expo

Google Glass and Streye Live Pro presentation

It’s 11:00 a.m., time for a quick brunch.  You see people walking back and forth from all directions. Some take over the kitchen to get toasties ready, while others take advantage of having a pair of Oculus Rift goggles to leave this world for a brief time. They become immersed into a virtual world. Then, there is a Formula 1 Race challenge, to find out who’s fastest…and who will have to bring food for the rest!

race droiders smartglass oculus

Immersed in a Formula 1 Race

A visitor comes into the office; senior managers and clients head for the Meeting Room. All the rest return to their posts so to keep working on new concepts, on developments that shall bring the future a bit closer. The streets are about to be invaded by devices way beyond smartphones. Wearables are clothing that store, broadcast and receive information. Hyper-connectivity is here to stay.

desarrolladora software smartglass

Working on new concepts

Lunch is here! There is an avalanche and people cue for two microwave ovens; the open-plan office is empty. Now food tables are the place to be. Comments and laughter between bites and mouthfuls. A courier service package arrives and one of the engineers opens it as was typical of Steve Jobs, and he introduces a brand-new smartwatch being long awaited by the team.

It’s 3:30 p.m. Two more hours to go in which the design and Web usability teams work on the web pages and display banners to be used in the commercial campaign. Marketing analyses performance, past and present.  Just before off-duty time, the last meeting of the day, commenting on real-time results and tomorrow’s objectives.

At Droiders, our sights are set on that which exists though always looking at what is to come. By working here, one realizes that the future is not far from the present. It is right here, within the following minute and we are heading straight into it.

Droiders ¡Performing Apps!

Truly “Immersive” VR: Sharing Droiders vision

Tuesday

28

Apr

It was a steamy, sunny south-Florida Saturday afternoon; some neighbors had carried all sorts of items out to their own front yards for a typical Yard Sale. I happened to walk by and decided to snoop around. A Betamax player from the 80s, a whole stack of John Deere t-shirts…and some books. I had to buy me at least one of those t-shirts! The book section was quite uninteresting to cherry-pick from, except for one first-edition book I happened to bump into: The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit.

Great book by Sherry Turkle

Great book by Sherry Turkle

Something clicks inside when you read a title like that. The book’s authoress was Dr. Sherry Turkle, Director of MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

Program in Science, Technology, today. I bought that old-time hardcover for pennies and this is what I read in the Introduction: “Technology catalyzes changes not only in what we do but in how we think. It changes people’s awareness of themselves, of one another, of their relationship with the world…It challenges our notions not only of time and distance, but of mind.” This was written in 1984.

From Oculus VR

From Oculus VR

Chatting about ‘immersion’ and how Virtual Reality (VR) jostles our minds, it is easy to extrapolate on how it may affect education. For those of us who consider education as the backbone of the future, VR is much more than just a way of escapism as we have seen in most sci-fi films. Droiders is also developing on Oculus Rift for more than one purpose: that is called Corporate Social Responsibility.

We at Droiders, in the same way as Palmer Luckey, Founder of Oculus VR, share in that adventure: to positively enhance human capabilities. Wired magazine article on Mr. Luckey testifies to this upcoming, catalyzing and immersive mission to enrich minds by raising unusual questions.