3D Printing is the next industrial revolution

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What if I told you that in the comfort of your own home, you could design an outfit you intend to wear to a fancy dinner function put the specification into your computer and print it out from your home just in time for that event that same day?

What if I told you that technology is available and is very close to being mass produced? Would you believe me?

As a kid, I remember watching Star Trek and there was this particular machine in the cafeteria, where customers would simply input their choice and it would make it on the spot. The ingredients would materialize out of thin air and assemble into the desired meal. Whilst this is a bit far fetched, similar is already happening. This company is selling a machine that promises similar.

All this is possible because of what is known as 3-D Printing.

What is 3-D printing you may ask?

3-D printing according to 3D PRINTING.com is “a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.”

This is achieved when the desired object is rendered in a virtual space through the use of specialized software, which enables the 3-D construct to be brought to life.

Many have lamented for years that the American manufacturing industry is on the decline, with jobs rapidly being shipped overseas and many industries closing in the wake of that. But don’t hit the death knell just yet; 3-D printing seems to be giving a lot of people hope for the future. Some have gone as far as saying that this will be the next big industrial boom. The one that will not have to bring back the lost jobs, but rather create new ones that will have an impact on an economy that desperately needs said jobs.

The applications and uses for this technology is mind blowing, with it being applicable to pretty much every sphere of life. Take for instance the health industry, the ramifications are astounding. Pardon me for using so many superlatives in succession, but this really has the ability to change life as we know it. But I digress, imagine a world where organs could be designed to match those in need, pretty much making things like organ donors irrelevant. No longer would people have to suffer for lack of finding the right organs or donors, when their needs could be addressed with a 3-D printer. Some are even speculating that this could prolong our lives if we are able to design perfect organs to work with our bodies; optimized to ensure that they don’t break down over time.

How many times have we bought an outfit online only to realize it doesn’t fit? With 3-d printing, anybody can make their outfits and the neat part is those clothes will always fit. Why? Because you design to your specifications. All you need do is input your measurements and what type of outfit you are trying to create. According to this article, the hours spent behind sewing machines will also decrease drastically. 3-D printers will take out all the effort, all we have to do is sit back and let the machine do its thing.

NM-Foodini-rendering

Could 3-d printing even solve global hunger? It’s possible. With a dearth of materials in certain places affected by famine, a 3-d printer could be the solution. We know it only requires certain materials to function. With limited resources, much can be created and effectively. Unfortunately, most of the 3-d printed food coming out still hasn’t solved the taste conundrum. But with so much time and effort going into this technology, that issue will definitely be addressed.

 

In conclusion there’s a lot to look forward to. As the world population continues to balloon and resources continue to decline at an alarming rate. 3-d printing offers a solution, whereas each individual is responsible for their livelihood. Everything from the cars we drive, to the houses we live in may eventually be created by a 3-d printer. The more proliferated the technology is, the cheaper it will be for the consumer. In the end, everyone wins. This is a band wagon you want to hop on.

 

REFERENCES

Giant 3D printer starts spitting out a house – CNET. (n.d.). CNET. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/giant-3d-printer-starts-spitting-out-a-house/

The 3D-Printed Car That Will Drive Across the Country. (n.d.). Popular Mechanics. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/industry/urbee-2-the-3d-printed-car-that-will-drive-across-the-country-16119485

“Food is the next frontier of 3D printing”. (n.d.). Dezeen Food is the next frontierbr of 3D printing Comments. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.dezeen.com/2013/03/27/food-is-the-next-frontier-of-3d-printing-janne-kytannen/

The World’s First Lab-Grown Meat Burger Tastes Terrible (Surprise!). (n.d.). Gizmodo. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-first-lab-grown-meat-burger-tastes-terrible-1027385867

Kurutz, S. (2013, December 14). Taking Fashion to a New Dimension. The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/fashion/3D-Printing-Clothing-fashion.html?_r=2&

3-D Printing: What You Need to Know About the Next Industrial Revolution. (n.d.). Inc.com. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.inc.com/aaron-aders/3d-printing-the-next-industrial-revolution.html

What is 3D printing? – Explanations – How it works – Industrial – Personal – 3D Printing. (n.d.). What is 3D printing? – Explanations – How it works – Industrial – Personal – 3D Printing. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/

Star Trek Replicator Nearing Reality?. (n.d.). StarTrek.com. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.startrek.com/article/star-trek-replicator-nearing-reality

 

 

Studio Ghibli: Educating A Populace Through Animation

thewindrises

A few weeks back I watched The wind rises, a beautiful animated story set in war time Japan, telling the tale of a young Japanese engineer whose dream was to create the perfect war time plane. The movie was made by Japan’s top animation studio, ‘Studio Ghibli’ and was directed by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki.

The movie although commercially successful as gotten some very tough criticism from inside Japan. The reason being, some feel that Miyazaki and his studio have white washed war and painted Japan in a less positive way. Historians and pundits will mostly agree that Japan was on the wrong side of World War II, the era in which the film was set. But watching this particular movie, one could easily get carried away by other themes that bubble to the surface, cleverly keeping the war at bay. In fact war is used as a clever back drop, playing up the young engineers’ dreams and the woman he falls in love with and eventually loses to illness. Yet as with many movies of theirs, studio Ghibli shows the heart break and devastation war brings, the lives lost, the savaged environment and the people that have to put back the jagged pieces of their lives.

Hayao_Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki has said many times that he considers himself a pacifist and an environmentalist. Just like their founder, his studio mostly makes movies that addresses one social issue or the other. Whilst a lot of their movies cater to kids and young adults, there’s a usually a very strong social message that goes along with it.

Some readers may or may not have watched some of the studios famous movies, but this link has the list of all the movies Studio Ghibli has made.

Films like Castle in the Sky, Grave of the fireflies, Porco Rosso and The wind rises all deal with themes of war. Interestingly enough, in both Porco Rosso and the wind rises, fighter planes and their pilots have a strong role in the telling of the stories. This perhaps has to do with the fact that Hayao himself is a son of an aeronautical engineer. His father was responsible for creating airplanes that were used in fighting the war. Whilst these machines are beautified in his movies, they are not exempt from being portrayed as weapons of devastation, destroying lives and properties with the ease that some of us would apply to devouring our favorite dessert.

nausicaa

Another big theme with Studio Ghibli and their movies, is the topic of environmentalism. Take for instance Nausicaa of the Valley of the wind. A movie whose main protagonist lives in perhaps the world’s only utopia, until that place must come to terms with the scarred outside world, and everyone has to figure out how to coexist. You might perhaps wonder how can a movie aimed for kids pack such a strong message, but one only has to watch a Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki movie to realize just how much of a genius he is at telling stories and conveying his message in a beautiful and enthralling method.

Its little wonder that TIME magazine has named Hayao Miyazaki one of the most influential people in the world, twice running. Till date no other foreign animated movie has won an Oscar, which Spirited Away did in 2001.

Its not that Studio Ghibli is the only Japanese animation studio making socially conscious movies. Heck, one can see strong anti-war themes in classics such as Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Suit Gundam. But whereas those shows and movies were geared towards a more mature audience, Miyazaki and his company take simple themes and give them a global appeal.HAYAO-MIYAZAKI-animation

Its little wonder why its one of the most successful movie studios not just in Asia, but in the world. Pretty much every release of theirs is a gold mine, which is quite a feat in itself. It is a testament to the remarkable Hayao, who up until his recent retirement, adhered to a stringent moral code, that he would not only make beautiful movies, but also ones with a conscience. With how widely accepted his movies are, generations of Japanese youth have been inculcated into the Miyazaki way. Learning about the perils of destroying our environment, the savageness and brutality that comes with war, and the jeopardy of abandoning our dreams.

References

. (n.d.). IMDb. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.imdb.com/company/co0048420/

Deep Focus Review – Movie Reviews – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). (n.d.). Deep Focus Review – Movie Reviews – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.deepfocusreview.com/reviews/nausicaaofthevalleyofthewind.asp

Hayao Miyazaki Contemplates Dreams, the Environment and the Elegant Simplicity of ‘Ponyo’ | 7×7. (n.d.). Hayao Miyazaki Contemplates Dreams, the Environment and the Elegant Simplicity of ‘Ponyo’ | 7×7. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.7×7.com/arts/hayao-miyazaki-contemplates-dreams-environment-and-elegant-simplicity-ponyo

Spirited Away. (n.d.). IMDb. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245429/

Akira. (n.d.). IMDb. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094625/

Shin Seiki Evangerion. (n.d.). IMDb. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112159/?ref_=nv_sr_1

The Greatest Living Animation Director Explains Why He’s Retiring. (n.d.). BuzzFeed. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/hayao-miyazaki-retirement-the-wind-rises

 

 

The Walled Garden of Facebook

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I remember when I first joined Facebook. Okay, to be honest, I had to go look it up. I joined in October, 2005, back when Facebook was restricted to just college students. Without an active college email there was no way you could get on the site.

The interface was simple, and what at that point seemed like a novelty has gone on to become this technological juggernaut of today. I do wonder if I had known what Facebook would morph into, would I have joined back then. It’s okay to look at such in retrospect and concoct hypothetical questions and solutions, but at the end of the day, what’s known is that I joined back then, and after numerous stints of trying to get off the site, I am unfortunately still a member.

Facebook went from simply being a site that allowed you to connect with friends from school, to becoming essentially a one stop shop on the internet that caters to pretty much every need of yours. What has made Facebook become so dominant despite competition from the likes of Myspace, Friendster and numerous other social networking sites? Well it could be the fact that the hybrid social media site operates under the principle of the walled garden.

A walled garden in technological speak, is an ecosystem that prevents or restricts users from getting content from external sources. In other words, it is set up in a way that everything you need is provided in that ecosystem and going outside of that ecosystem is highly discouraged.

Think of how many times you have tried to click on a link on Facebook, only to be told that you are about to venture out of the site and to take necessary precautions. Basically, Facebook does not want you leaving their site to get information they know they can provide for you. You might have noticed that the site comes with its own search engine, set up in a way to rival the likes of Google and Bing. Not surprising considering your data is what makes Facebook thrive, and for it to get such data, you must spend tons of hours in their garden.

Sites like Yahoo also operate to a certain extent under this format. This page shows every service Yahoo owns, and it’s quite an extensive list. Yahoo just like most of its rivals has designed its site and services to cater to whatever needs the user might have as soon as they open up their page. Its how they make their money, user information is extremely valuable to them.

According to this article, the average user spends 17 minutes a day on Facebook. I calculated mine from when I joined, and it turns out that I have spent a total of 37 days, 15 hours and 16 minutes on the social networking behemoth. I am not entirely sure how that was garnered, as far as I am concerned, I have spent way too much time on the site.

Granted, my activity on there has decreased drastically, but I can’t help but notice that every time I log into the site, someone is sending me a Farmville or candy crush invite. These are further examples, of time wasting applications that can be accessed directly through Facebook, ensuring that the users will devote time and energy to stay constricted within the confines of the social networking site.

The Walled garden is definitely more than just fun and games, and has a side of it that might be considered authoritarian depending on who you ask.

Take for instance the recent scandal involving Facebook, where it was discovered that user data was used for an experiment without their consent.

This is definitely something that gives me concern. Facebook has devised a TOS that basically gives it all the power to do as it pleases with the user. Whenever you sign up to be on the site, you are pretty much ceding your rights to them.

This article, ponders on the power Facebook wields in a walled garden, and what are the limits for such power?

Whilst the guardian pretty much confirms that your online profile is owned by Facebook. All rights reserved!

I suppose that’s why, knowing all this, I have begun to limit my activities on the site. Mind you, not many people feel the same way about it as do I, and I am by no means advocating that you do the same. But I do wonder, do people realize what they are giving up when they sign up for accounts on Facebook?

I cannot entirely fault it for operating the way it does. Its goal is to make money, and it can only do so by keeping users locked into its ecosystem. That’s why it offers everything from games, to music, to polls and even shows to keep you engaged on the network. But in doing so, they also have control of pretty much everything you input into their systems. Equal trade off? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

References

Arthur, C. (2012, April 18). Walled gardens look rosy for Facebook, Apple – and would-be censors. The Guardian. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/17/walled-gardens-facebook-apple-censors

Facebook. (n.d.). Facebook. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

Federal hot water for Facebook over emotional manipulation experiment | ZDNet. (n.d.). ZDNet. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.zdnet.com/federal-hot-water-for-facebook-over-emotional-manipulation-experiment-7000031513/

How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook?. (n.d.). Time. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://time.com/6107/how-much-time-have-you-wasted-on-facebook/

Yahoo. (n.d.). Yahoo. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from https://everything.yahoo.com/

walled garden Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia. (n.d.). walled garden Definition from PC Magazine Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/54187/walled-garden

Microsoft wants to dominate your living room

microsoft logo

On November 22nd 2013, Microsoft released its much hyped gaming console the Xbox one positioning itself to take over and dominate your living room.

Whilst the Xbox one just like its predecessors the Xbox and Xbox 360 focuses primarily on video games, we would be selling the system short by simply calling it a video game machine. It is much more than that, and it is no secret that Microsoft has been looking for a way to break into the users’ living room and control pretty much every function associated with entertainment.

Why does Microsoft need to do this you might ask, well let’s look at some of Microsoft’s competitors in the entertainment space. Sony, Nintendo, Apple, Google, Netflix and even Amazon. Each of these companies in recent months have announced a product or two that signifies just how important the living room is to their goals. Netflix started off as a video rental company, but now produces its own shows, including the critically acclaimed series House of Cards. Its well on its way to becoming a major content producer, diversifying the way it is run as a business. Sony just like its rival Microsoft released the Playstation 4 last year, whilst Nintendo had sent its Wii U into the wild in 2012. Both the Playstation 4 and Wii U are arguably similar to the Xbox One, but so far when it comes to packaging an all-inclusive media powerhouse, Microsoft seems the most aggressive in getting content to consumers.

Amazon which was once known as a retailer, has slowly been moving into the media and entertainment realm, by not only developing its own shows, but it announced the Fire TV this year, which allows users to play games and also watch shows, movies and the like on their set up box.

Both Apple and Google with their IOS and Android operating systems have enough content to power their Apple TV and Google TV setups. In other words, the new arms race is taking place in consumer’s homes and the living room is the preferred battle field.

Why the living room is so important?

 
xbox one

The living room is technically where most entertainment in the house is located. Tons of hours are spent in that section of the home, and that’s where most of the tech companies have targeted their products. The more time you spend on a certain product, the more likely you will buy stuff associated with it. The underlying logic behind Microsoft using the Xbox to control pretty much all your entertainment wants and needs is it allows them to keep you in their ecosystem and also peddle their products to you that way.

Microsoft has been able to partner with companies like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, the NFL, ESPN and a bevy of other multimedia content providers. Are you getting the gist by now? I’ll elaborate further. For years, cable has had a stranglehold over most TV watchers. There was a time when it was hard to go without cable and also watch quality TV.

What companies like Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon and even Apple through Itunes have done, is break up the stranglehold cable companies have on viewers, by splitting their offering (Channels and Shows) into smaller packages. Microsoft has taken the convenience of the Itunes stores, paired it up with the technology of their gaming system, and put it all together in one box.

Microsoft has also taken a step into content creation, by making its own shows and programming available for its Xbox users. Whilst a lot of the shows are geared towards a male audience, and might sound sexist, one should note that its mostly males that use their Xbox for streaming activities rather than video gaming, which makes them a prime target for what the technology titan is trying to do.

Another savvy move Microsoft made was partnering with the NFL, to bring exclusive content to the Xbox. Whilst on the surface this sounds like just another partnership to bring sports to casual viewers, it must be noted that the NFL is the most watched sport in America. By doing this, Microsoft has provided itself with another avenue to keep the user glued to its content, using their console. It’s a win-win for both the NFL and the company Bill Gates Founded.

Yes, the Xbox one primarily plays video games, but it also operates your TV, can be used to group chat via Skype, with its Kinect accessory it can read your heart rate, it can recognize you based on your voice and facial expressions, which also means it can work with voice commands and last but not the least, you can watch TV and play games simultaneously.

In conclusion, the Xbox one does not totally usurp Cable TV. People can still have Cable television and use an Xbox One, in fact the Xbox One allows you to plug your cable box into the system and arranges your channels in order. Yet, without a cable box, the Xbox one can provide you with pretty much whatever you need to not miss Cable. For those looking to cut costs and wean themselves off cable providers, the solution might be Microsoft’s little magic box.

I believe this quote by one of the engineers who created the Xbox one sums it up well, “When we launch Xbox One, it’s not a finish line,” it’s a starting line.”

 

References

Carr, D. (2013, February 24). Giving Viewers What They Want. The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/business/media/for-house-of-cards-using-big-data-to-guarantee-its-popularity.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&

Sherr, I. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324048904578316574122583926

Nintendo Wii release details: Nov. 19, $250 with a game included – CNET. (n.d.). CNET. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/nintendo-wii-release-details-nov-19-250-with-a-game-included/

Amazon is developing its own lineup of original TV shows to battle Netflix, Hulu. (n.d.). VentureBeat. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/02/amazon-original-tv-shows/

Amazon announces $99 Fire TV set-top box, available now. (n.d.). The Verge. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/2/5573818/amazon-announces-fire-tv

Apple TV review – CNET. (n.d.). CNET. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/products/apple-tv-2012/

What Is Google TV?. (n.d.). Gizmodo. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://gizmodo.com/5543822/what-is-google-tv

All your favorite apps,free access on Xbox.. (n.d.). Xbox 360 Apps. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.xbox.com/en-US/live/apps/xbox-360

Microsoft launching original programming for Xbox. (n.d.). CNBC.com. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/101615938#.

Microsoft and National Football League announce multiyear landmark partnership to enhance the game for fans, players and coaches. (n.d.). Microsoft and National Football League announce multiyear landmark partnership to enhance the game for fans, players and coaches. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2013/may13/05-21nflpr.aspx

Feature: The Xbox One: 33 things you need to know – OXM US. (n.d.). Total Xboxcom Multiformat RSS. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.totalxbox.com/61886/features/the-xbox-one-33-things-you-need-to-know/

Xbox, watch TV: inside Microsoft’s audacious plan to take over the living room. (n.d.). The Verge. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/8/5075216/xbox-one-tv-microsofts-plan-to-take-over-the-living-room

 

LYTRO – GIMMICK OR REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCT?

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I remember the first time I found out about the lytro, I was super excited about the gadget and thought it would be a great addition to the ever crowded field of photography.

I consider myself a photography enthusiast and I am always on the lookout for new technology in that field. I usually prefer using portable cameras to the bulky DSLRs that most professional photographers use. I know when it comes to resolution and such, DSLRs generally trump their smaller counterparts. With that said, after reading about the lytro, I thought to myself, is it possible that this device could make up for all the lost pixels that smaller cameras are inevitably plagued with?

The only way I was going to find this out was to get a hold of a lytro and test it out myself. Approximately 3 years later, I was finally able to get a hold of one, and in this article I will try to give an objective review of the gadget. Is it a gimmick? A one trick pony that only offers one feature, or is it something that could seriously challenge the major Cameras in the industry and convince me to look into seriously buying one?

Before I go any further, the reader might be wondering what a lytro is.

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It is basically a camera that specifically works with light field technology to enable the user change or alter the depth of field after the picture has been taken.

According to this article, the lytro has been in the works for almost 20 years. Light field photography, the underlying factor behind the lytro is also not new. Whilst it remains a field of photography without much acclaim, the idea behind it is something we will most likely be seeing a lot in our mobile cameras down the line. Light field photography gives photographers, both professional and amateur, the ability to enhance and alter everything from focus to after the picture has been taken.

Here’s a better quote from the Spectrum website, “Instead of merely recording the sum of all the light rays falling on each photosite, a light-field camera aims to measure the intensity and direction of every incoming ray. With that information, you can generate not just one but every possible image of whatever is within the camera’s field of view at that moment. For example, a portrait photographer often adjusts the lens of the camera so that the subject’s face is in focus, leaving what’s behind purposefully blurry. Others might want to blur the face and make a tree in the background razor sharp. With light-field photography, you can attain either effect from the very same snapshot.”


Many photo-editing apps and websites like Flickr, Fotor, Instagram and the likes, to some extent, utilize light field technology by allowing the user to edit and alter a picture or multiple pictures after it has been taking. It only adds credence to the earlier point that the technology might not be very popular right now, but it seems to be making the upwards climb to prominence.

So is the lytro worth buying? Does it pass my test?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. My plan was to use it for three days and then write this review. But after spending a day with it, I don’t think an additional two days will matter.

The lytro as far as design looks portable and can be carried around with ease, but because of said size, it makes it hard to take good pictures. I mostly use my IPhone for pictures, and I will argue all day about how great it is, so it was a bit of a letdown trying to use the lytro take pictures and not getting the desired outcome.

The screen is too small, and the touch screen functions aren’t as responsive as I’d hoped. The picture quality also leaves a lot to be desired.

The picture below was taken with a lytro to emphasize my above point.

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 The one below was taken with an IPhone

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Whilst comparing both is subjective depending on who is viewing, I would say that the IPhone delivers the better picture.

Below are more pictures taken with the Lytro, to further prove that the camera needs more work at least resolution wise. Even with the advertised light field technology, the quality and resolution of pictures taken could use some serious tweaking.

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CONCLUSION

All in all, I think the lytro is a promising tool. The ability to alter depth perception and exposure after taking a picture cannot be understated. Whereas DSLRs give you this function prior to shooting, most if not all smart phones could definitely use with post editing.

This is what I think the lytro makers should look into. Using this technology on smart phones or licensing it to photo editing software and applications. That would truly improve the mobile photography industry. As of now, the lytro is nothing more than a gimmick. It looks fancy, but the field of photography requires more than just a cute looking toy.

References

Lytro camera review. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/08/lytro-camera-review/

Light-Field Photography Revolutionizes Imaging. (n.d.). – IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://spectrum.ieee.org/consumer-electronics/gadgets/lightfield-photography-revolutionizes-imaging

Lytro’s light field camera captures ‘unprecedented’ images, lets you choose focus later. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/22/light-field-camera-captures-unprecedented-images-lets-you-cho/

Virtual Reality is the Next Frontier

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On March 25, 2014 Facebook announced it had purchased Occulus Rift for a stunning $2 bilion. Many in the tech industry where shocked by the announcement, some felt miffed whilst others treated it with cautious optimism.

For those who might be wondering what is Occulus Rift, here’s a brief breakdown below.

Occulus Rift is a virtual reality company, that started off on kickstarter. 

As you can see from the above link, it easily shattered its fund raising expectations, bringing in over 2 million dollars from independent backers. It basically is a head mounted display that allows the wearer to be immersed in a virtual creation, and whilst the founder Palmer Luckey initially intended it to solely function as a gaming device, it has slowly been morphing into more than that, showing that virtual reality has a lot of applications in our world today.

What is Virtual Reality you might ask?

According to this, “Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.”

In layman’s terms, Virtual reality allows the user to interact in the virtual world he or she is immersed in.

As a kid, I remember one of the first movies that awed me was lawnmower man. I have provided a trailer for said movie, apologies in advance for how seedy it looks. The movie is quite dated now.

Lawn Mower Man trailer

The premise is a bit ridiculous, but basically this goes to show that Virtual Reality isn’t some new technology. In fact its been around for quite a while. Its just now, with Occulus Rift and a bevy of other big tech companies on board, it seems to finally be getting the acclaim it deserves.

Why would Facebook be interested in such?

Facebook is a company that is primarily concerned with data, and by data I mean social data. The more hours people spend on Facebook and its subsidiaries like Instagram and Whatsapp, the more they can sell said data. From all indications, Occulus Rift is going to be another property that should have similar effect. Currently the development kit goes for $350, which is less than Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. By the time Facebook gets the product into final development and out to the public, the price should be even cheaper. That can only bode well for anyone who is yearning to get their hands on this technology. The cheaper it is, the more affordable it becomes.

Whilst this post has predominantly focused on the Occulus Rift, it should be made clear that Facebook and the Occulus Rift are not the only names in the Virtual Reality ring. Sony announced that its Morpheus headset would be working with its Playstation rig to bring the Virtual Reality experience to users. Also Samsung has talked about users being able to use future versions of its phones or tablets to experience V.R. as it is popularly called. Its only a matter of time before other companies jump on the wagon.

What Does Virtual Reality Mean For You?

As story tellers, V.R. opens up a world of possibilities for us. Not only does gaming become more immersive, but so does other technology. Can you imagine being able to participate in your favorite show? I envision detective or procedural shows where the user can actually engage and solve crimes. I think of sporting events and concerts where the user can be in their home yet experience these events like they were there in the flesh. With the 360 view Occulus provides, being in the moment takes on a whole new meaning.

In closing I leave you with this video, of this guy who got his first taste of Virtual reality. He seems pretty thrilled after wards. That’s how I feel every time I think about the possibilities for this technology. The future is here, and this is the new frontier.

REFERENCES

Facebook Buys Oculus Rift For $2 Billion. (n.d.). Kotaku. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://kotaku.com/facebook-buys-oculus-rift-for-2-billion-1551487939

Leonard, B. (Director). (1992). Lawn Mower Man USA: New Line Cinema.

Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game. (n.d.). Kickstarter. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1523379957/oculus-rift-step-into-the-game

What is Virtual Reality?. (n.d.). What is Virtual Reality Definition of Virtual Reality. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html

Using the PlayStation 4’s virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus (update: now with video!). (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/19/project-morpheus-hands-on/

Samsung is working with Oculus on a media-focused VR headset. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2014/05/30/samsung-oculus-partnership/

This Russian Guy Just Filmed The Best Oculus Rift Reaction Video. (n.d.). UPROXX RSS. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from http://uproxx.com/gammasquad/2014/04/russian-oculus-rift-reaction-roller-coaster-prank/

Patent Law Fights Are Killing Innovation

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by Lagosian

 Patent laws as currently structured is killing innovation. Whilst this might be a subjective opinion, one should look no further than the current battle going on between Apple and Samsung, two titans of the tech industry to see that if more companies begin to follow in their footsteps, there can only be disaster ahead.

Just going by market value, both these companies are worth upwards of 300 billion dollars, yet instead of keeping their battles strictly on the products they churn out, they have in recent years been involved in a nasty legal spat that will have terrible repercussions for business and the tech. industry.

Here is a timeline of the case and what has been happening.

Interestingly, both companies have worked together in the past, and still do so but to a lesser degree. Samsung was responsible for creating some of the processors that have run in the Iphones.

Apple believes Samsung copied the design of its IPhone for its flagship phone the Galaxy series. Samsung denies that, and claimed Apple was infringing on its software patents. From there on, it’s been one side claiming the other side is infringing on its patents, whilst the other side counteracts by claiming the same.

Apple was awarded more than one billion dollars in damages, a fee that was later reduced to 450 million dollars. Samsung appealed the decision, and both sides are still embroiled in court(s) all over the world trying to one-up the other. As an outsider, I can’t help but feel disappointed that these two companies continue to resort to such strategy, spending both money and time in what many view as a needless battle.

For those who might be wondering what a patent is, below is a brief definition of what it is and why it differs from copyright law.

WHAT IS A PATENT?

A patent protects inventions or discoveries. One can say it’s a form of copyright, but unlike copyright, in other to use said invention, the permission or authorization of the patent holder is required.

Also there are companies like Microsoft and Rockstar, who buy a ton of patents and then license it out to technology firms. They have no interest in creating products with some of the patents they own; rather they see them as investments that can be used to bring back money for their respective owners through procedures such as licensing.

Congress in making new copyright laws for this digital age has to think long and hard about the role of industries and corporations in deciding what’s beneficial for them and the public. One should note that just because it helps the corporation doesn’t mean it helps the public.

I have provided examples of tech giants like Apple, Samsung and even Microsoft who have used the court room and patents to generate billions instead of using the marketplace. It is very disturbing how companies now actively go out and purchase patents like we would groceries, but not because they intend on using said patents to create products that would get out into the public, but to arm themselves and prepare for any litigation and in some cases, be the ones doing the litigating. I believe when the first patent and copyright laws were created, this was not what the creators had in mind. In fact one could say this is detrimental to the economy because instead of companies and corporations duking it out in the marketplace, tossing out ideas that the public gets to decide on and benefit from, said companies and corporations would rather hoard such innovations and sue others.

A lot of the technology we rely on is only possible because of patents but if these big companies have their way, the progress that has been made in that realm is going to come to a grinding halt, as innovators will be too concerned with not getting sued rather than churning out the products required to improve the industry.

 

 

 

References

Why are Apple and Samsung throwing down? A timeline of the biggest fight in tech. (n.d.). Digital Trends. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apple-vs-samsung-patent-war-timeline/#!ZuJRK

Samsung confirmed to be manufacturer of Apple’s new A7 chip in iPhone 5s. (n.d.). Samsung confirmed to be manufacturer of Apple’s new A7 chip in iPhone 5s. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/20/samsung-confirmed-to-be-manufacturer-of-apples-new-a7-chip-in-iphone-5s

Pepitone, J. (2013, August 8). Apple vs. Samsung scorecard: a timeline of the patent battle. CNNMoney. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/08/technology/mobile/apple-samsung-timeline/

TechRadar. (n.d.). Computing reviews, news. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.techradar.com/us/news/computing/how-microsoft-makes-money-from

Backed by Apple and Microsoft, Patent Troll Makes Money Off Android | Business | WIRED. (0014, January 21). Wired.com. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2014/01/huawei/

How much is that patent lawsuit going to cost you? – CNET. (n.d.). CNET. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/how-much-is-that-patent-lawsuit-going-to-cost-you