Tag Archive for 'Gadgets'

Twitter + Augmented Reality + Facial Recognition = Nineteen Eighty-Four?

Squidder's facetweet

While @briancaldwell of Squidder thinks that their latest creation reeks of “Big Brother / 1984” overtones, I beg to differ… it looks incredibly useful (and fun)!
Continue reading ‘Twitter + Augmented Reality + Facial Recognition = Nineteen Eighty-Four?’

theorycast.54 :: Ardica Moshi Power System

Buffalo’s freezing winter certainly hasn’t brought me down, thanks to the Ardica Moshi Power System. I’ll show you how the Ardica vest works, and chat with project manager / engineer Martin Corpos about their goal of ultimately designing a wearable fuel-cell power system.

Ardica Technologies, traditionally known for developing wearable fuel cells for consumer and military applications, has produced an electronic heated vest with a USB charging port for powering our devices. As a wearable power system, you can see why I’m particularly excited by its potential for always-on netizens like myself.

Ardica Moshi Power System

Fabric Heating
Codenamed the Moshi Power System, a signature feature involves the design of the lithium-ion battery for wearability and energy efficiency. With its slim, flexible lycra/form coated battery pack, any Ardica-enabled jacket would be able to run heat up to 105 degrees. The heating elements are flat and flexible, measuring about 4 x 4 inches and connected to the power source with wires embedded in fabric.

Gadget Charging
At the same time, USB power plugs inside the pockets interfaces with most all popular consumer electronics products, letting us charge personal devices, such as iPhones, while we’re on the move. Depending on power setting, the 25 watt battery system technically lasts three hours on high heat setting and up to eight hours on a lower setting. To overcome the obstacle of power and run time degradation during cold weather use found with traditional alkaline batteries, Ardica has developed a system that utilizes special rechargeable lithium-ion batteries configured to be immune to external temperature conditions down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fuel-Cell Future
To offer greater power density, Ardica is working on patented fuel cell systems and hybrid fuel cell/battery systems. Future-proofing the upcoming line of Ardica-enabled apparel, Ardica’s battery and fuel cell power systems will be interchangeable when Ardica introduces its fuel cell system in 2010. In fact, all Ardica products are going to be flexible enough to allow changes to fit, power, output, voltage and run time to fit the needs of a wide range of customer applications.

How to find Ardica-enabled apparel
Mountain Hardwear is said to be unveiling four “Ardica Enabled” jackets for fall of 2009. The cost of an Ardica-enabled jacket will drive price tags up $35 to $50 from a similar shell. The Ardica power system, which must be purchased separately and then plugged into an Ardica-enabled piece of apparel, will go at $145.

If you’re as into this wearable power solution as I am, stay tuned to http://www.ardica.com. A great overview of the Ardica Moshi Power System can also be found at Outside Blog.

A little cameo in “Search Engine Society”

Search Engine Society (Dec 2008)

My ex-professor/mentor Alex Halavais recently published a book which looks at how search engines impact our everyday lives. I’ve yet to receive my copy from Amazon, but here’s why I am reminded how exciting this topic is.

Entitled “Search Engine Society” (Dec 2008), Alex takes a much needed exploration of the social and cultural effects search engines have within the larger context of politics, culture and economics. Those of us who have experienced life in the early Internet era, would understand how how information-sensing online went through an incredible yet rapid evolution. From web rings, to online directories (e.g. the original Yahoo!), to complex search engine algorithms, every step of the way shapes the way we perceive information, and thus the perception of our environment.

Presently, the use of search engines becomes so second-nature, we might have forgotten and consequently fail to imagine how else information could possibly be sorted and made findable. As such, the more time we spend using these search engines, the greater the search engine’s influence on how we perceive the nature of our world. The way hyperlinks on search engines are ranked or censored, gamed or misdirected, all affect how we relate concepts to one another.

In his book, Alex Halavais runs the gamut of identity and society as mediated by search engines:

  • How have search engines changed the way we organize our thoughts about the world, and how we work?
  • What are the ‘search engine wars’, what do they portend for the future of search, and who wins or loses?
  • To what extent does political control of search engines, or the political influence of search engines, affect how they are used, misused, and regulated?
  • Does the search engine help shape our identities and interactions with others, and what implications does this have for privacy?

Incidentally, I made a little cameo in Alex’s book…
For your perusal, I’ve been given permission to share an excerpt from Chapter 8 under “Future Finding” (Page 185 on Amazon Search Inside):

Memory prosthetics

In the film Strange Days (1995) people entertain themselves by reliving the recorded experiences of others. By attaching electrodes to their head, everything they see and feel is recorded for later playback. Even without the brain interface this would necessitate, we are moving closer to the point where all ofour experiences are recorded, accumulated as a personal history. Already, our personal histories, as recorded on our home computers, are searchable by Google, and can be made available to the global collection of data. Those collections are growing much richer, drawing on new ways of recording our lives, and organizing that complexity is staggeringly difficult (Gemmell, Bell, & Lueder 2006).

Kevin Lim is one of many who are gradually becoming cyborgs, recording large portions of their lives. He wears a camera most days, recording his interactions with friends and strangers, while a GPS device tracks his progress through the world. Another camera sits on his desk, sending a live feed to the internet and recording his life from another angle. In this, Mr. Lim is different only in degree from the millions of people who keep public diaries of their everyday lives, and post photos and videos of their experiences. Already, this content makes up a sizable part of the web, and as “life logs” and other technologies for recording our existence grow, the data representing our everyday lives will grow with it.

Those recordings recall the Borges story in which a king orders a map at 1:1 scale to cover his entire country. A recording of our life is of very little value if we can only play it back at its original speed. The idea of a perfect memory is probably more attractive than the reality might be. Russian psychologist Aleksandr Luria (2006) describes the life of a man cursed by a perfect memory, and its crippling effects. Without the ability to easily edit memories of his life experiences, he loses the ability to distinguish events and interact with the world. The solution requires that we capture the moments that we wish to remember, and delete those moments that are best forgotten without too much intervention on our part. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes us a while to know which are which. Search engine technology will be called upon to help us find valuable information in this large data stream, filtering out the normal experience of our lives to extract the most salient features.

It is hard to say whether we want to have a recording of the first glance at our future spouse, or the last conversation we have with a friend before her death. Some things may be best left to our own memories, or just beyond them. But if we are to record our lives, we will want to have search engines that manage our memories in the ways that we want, and share them only when we want them to. We are still far from having the majority of our lives recorded, but automatic metadata and analysis of video and audio recordings remain particularly important.

Some folks have written elaborate reviews for Search Engine Society: Joris van Hoboken who writes about search engines and digital civil rights, as well as Shirley Niemans of New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University.

If you’re interested, Amazon has the paperback for around US$16.15. And yes, your Amazon purchase grants me some change towards developing my social cyborg project.

Macworld 2009: BoinxTV – elegant live video production for Mac

I’ve beta-tested it, loved it and even bought myself a sponsored edition for just $97 at Macworld Expo 2009. It’s normally $199 from their web site, with the full version being $499.

Why do I like BoinxTV so much?
Bastian, the video guru at Boinx Software, explains some of the key features of BoinxTV for live video production on the Mac.

BoinxTV’s slick interface, hardware flexibility (see how he uses a midi mixer for channel control), and extensibility (create show templates) won it over for me.

Being real-time means you get to stream shows live (e.g. Ustream.tv via GrabberRaster) with multi-camera support, overlays, chroma keys (for green screen) and more. It also means we get to produce video podcasts on the fly, with literally no need for post-editing over than video encoding for targeted media players.

They’ve just released BoinxTV 1.1 and here’s hoping for a strong user community and support.

Macworld 2009: Microvision’s “Laser-Powered” Pico Projector

3M and Texas Instruments have all made handheld pico projectors, but Microvision might have just upped the ante with their “laser projection” technology.

Jacques Lincoln, Microvision’s Global Product Manager, explains that by using laser instead of LEDs to project light, image projections never needs focusing (as you’ll see in the video), and maintains better contrast and accuracy.

Microvision’s codenamed “Pico Projector” is expected to arrive mid-2009 at an estimated price of around US$500.

UPDATE: Being highly mobile opens up new possibilities for displaying imagery in the open world. As seen in this Pico Underground blog, animal projections in everyday spaces create for a surreal synthesis of the real and virtual.

Macworld 2009: IPEVO Kaleido R7 Wifi Display (photos + widgets)

IPEVO’s marketing executive Caroline introduces me to an LCD picture frame that does more than just show great photos, the IPEVO’s Kaleido R7

The Kaleido R7 comes as a 7-inch, 800 x 480 LCD display, with 512MB internal memory as well as an SD card slot. This glossy looking networked picture frame comes in both wired ($169?) and wifi ($199) versions, auto-senses landscape/portrait modes, and grabs online content through RSS feeds, including photos from Flickr and Picasa. Best of all, it runs a bunch of Internet widgets which elegantly displays all kinds of information, from weather to blogs. There’s even an Eyestage iPhone app for syncing and controlling the picture frame.

For the hardcore geeks out there, you could use the Kaleido R7 as an “ambient display”, to keep track of things that matter to you without clogging up your regular computer display.

Interestingly, the hardware design seems to strike a resemblance to Sony’s OLED Digital TV, the XEL-1. What do you think?

For details on the IPEVO’s Kaleido R7, see http://us.ipevo.com/ces2009/

Macworld 2009: Brenthaven’s Switch Messenger Bags

Freshly announced at Macworld 2009, Brenthaven CEO Scott Armstrong gives me the lowdown on their new line of changeable laptop bags called the Switch Messenger Bags.

Brenthaven bags are well-known for being tough at protecting your laptop, but are also known to have a professional standard look to them. With the newly patented custom flip covers for these bags, users can now show off both their casual and professional personalities.

If you’re interested in these Switch Messenger Bags, you can create your own flaps over here. Retails $129.95.

Just spoke with Steve Mann – world’s first cyborg

Interview: Steve Mann - CyberGlogger

This video chat was conducted via Steve Mann’s Eyetap wearable video device, Skype as well as the standard cellphone. I’ll have a full video of this interesting discussion once I make the necessary edits (it was a lenghty discussion after all!).

Just moments ago, I remotely communicated with the original cyborg (or glogger as he prefers), Steve Mann.

As a professor at the University of Toronto, Mann, together with Professor Ian Kerr, have written extensively on surveillance, sousveillance, and equiveillance. “Sousveillance”, a term coined by Mann, creates a new dialog for cyborg technologies, as well as related personal information gathering technologies like camera phones.

Steve Mann's "Wearable Computer" / "Reality Mediator"

We touched on the ethical, legal, as well as cultural metaphors which gloggers like ourselves could employ to rationalize the need for such making memories (post-terminology for recordings). Thanks to the advent of camera cellphones, Mann noted about how our society was naturally reaching the middle ground of equiveillance.

Stay tuned for the full interview video in time to come. Meantime, here are some behind-the-scene photos and video.

theorycast.53 :: Life of a Social Cyborg

“Technophile Kevin Lim has found a way to make his private life a public event, broadcasting his experiences live to the Internet”.

For those wondering what it’s like capturing chunks of my daily life, here’s a short documentary of the social cyborg experience.

You’ll see highlight videos shot through my wearable camera outfit, as well as a show-n-tell deconstruction of my entire sousveillance outfit for the Buffalo News. The last video clip was produced by videographer Joseph Popiolkowski, as it is a supplementary video accompanying the Buffalo News article on lifecasting.

If you’d like to know more, see my introductory article to the social cyborg.

Social Cyborg: Coming soon to Buffalo News

Buffalo News Videographer Joe - 1

Expect to see (hopefully) a Buffalo News article this weekend Monday involving the fearsome “Social Cyborg“.

Journalist Steve Watson, Photographer Charlie and Videographer Joe spent last Tuesday covering my ongoing project on the consequences of a hyperconnected person, aka the social cyborg. While it was appealing to get absorbed in the technology involved (i.e. wearable networked cameras), the more interesting angle was on how we negotiate the ambiguities of identity and privacy in this unforgivingly digital age.

Buffalo News Videographer Joe - 2

I must say that ever since I started this “social cyborg” project, I’ve gotten the snazziest quotes from friends seeing it for the first time. Blogger Brennan once mentioned how “behind this third eye lies a thousand more”, while Buffalo News videographer Joe said how those who don the backpack would become “real-world avatars” since netizens could see and help decide the wearer’s next move. I’ll yak and throw in more links once the article gets published.

Oh, and in the spirit of transparency (perhaps a signature of journalism 2.0), you can peek at how the interview went…