Thinking about Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

I haven’t talked about AR/VR products in a couple of months. I guess, based on the fact that it is a new year I can say I haven’t talked about AR and VR technologies this year! There are some wonderful products in the space, and it is an ever-growing list. Hololens by Microsoft is one of the best AR tools I’ve found. First, because it has some business uses that make it interesting and second because the hardware works very well. I use Hololens frequently on conference calls to look things up quickly. A Skype plugs in for Hololens would make it even more effective (hint-hint) as a tool for business meetings.

The other areas that are interesting are the new Microsoft VR headsets for your computer. They are reasonably priced and offer a lot of interesting opportunities. Oculus Rift remains the market leader, and their product continues to improve with every single release. The value proposition is moving away from the bleeding edge. Both Oculus and Hololens are not quite there yet, but the potential for them is pretty high. There is something about watching Hulu on a simulated 100 inch TV that makes the movie experience better!

As is often the case in a technology emerging the biggest initial impact for Oculus is gaming. I think Hololens now, has more business impacts in the short run. Eventually, the world of training and interactive training will catch up to VR, making a business case for Oculus and the Microsoft VR headsets.

That said, both have a bright future! I am extremely excited to have them as tools to consider in my tool chest. I cannot wait until the appliance and other repair organizations realize the power of AR. Use Hololens to show the user what they are fixing, at the same time use the camera in Hololens to make sure they are doing it correctly! Interactive repair systems make things so much easier when we head into the world of doing it yourself.


AR/VR dreamer

Of AR/VR and excuse me what world am i in now?

The concept of AR/VR is increasing and becoming more and more relevant as we head into the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century. It is funny to me, as I read the pundits and analysts with widely varying estimates for the application of VR and the market size and application for VR/AR. One of my favorite writers posted an interesting article asking is this the year that VR/AR solutions grow past Pokémon Go?

There are some applications available and possible for the ever-growing world of VR/AR. In that ever-expanding potential lies some interesting market possibilities. I advocated the creation of security maps in AR/VR and of course there is the infamous reality of a VR library. IE you can walk over to the card catalog to find a book. All of this leading back to a product I have mentioned in the past. The product being the broad category technology Oculus Rift, and the interesting AR/VR interactive reality that is Microsoft Hololens.

Since My last AR/VR post, the new Windows headset shave begun to ship as well. I’ve been playing with the overall Windows experience and it isn’t as smooth as Oculus today, but it is a much smaller overall investment. Where this market shifts to is what the analysts and pundits are chasing. Like most technology markets, this is one that I believe will be consumer driven. As Pokémon Go exploded the reality of AR to the larger mass market, there is something coming. What will be tomorrow’s change and ultimately tomorrow’s technology in the AR/VR space? I think the reality of what Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant video can do in the AR/VR space for me is the next big step. The beauty of the projection is we shall soon know!



On chasing butterflies and what comes next!

crowdfundingA post by a writer I follow got me thinking this morning. I have for many years been a technologist. As someone in the technology field, there are two things that happen. The first is the reality of integration, I know the pain of start down a path, and then stopping and starting over. It means that everything you did, has to be undone and then redone in the new system. I also understand the competition that is new and shiny.

Balancing the desire to chase the butterfly (we all to some degree want to stop and chase the butterfly) against what is there now and requires attention is hard. The butterfly in the case of technology represents the cool new thing. The reality of what we have is much harder than what the butterfly offers. No matter what we do, the alluring butterfly will always pop in front of us when we are not ready.

For me the butterfly is gadgets. I acknowledge that as a technologist I am a butterfly chaser. Not because I can or should, but because I do and have. The reality of the butterfly for me is more that it is part of who I am, and part of what I do. There is an identity in chasing the butterfly. For many years I have been the person with the device in the meeting, not the person asking about the device. I realize however that makes it hard for me to approach life in the way I desire.

maturityI wish to be a minimalist, but I know the allure of the butterfly for me, won’t let me. So I struggle internally with the reality of who I am, what I do and ultimately how I perceive myself. I am the contradiction.

Accepting who we are is a difficult thing. I am a technologist. I believe technology can still change the world. I know this because technology has changed the world. But I also understand now, that the butterfly isn’t always the right answer.

I have at least 35 cables within arms distance of me, as I write this blog. But if I need a specific cable I cannot often find them. I have them, but wouldn’t know where they were. I can show you a 360-degree video of my office, it is a mess. But that is more or less, it is not my problem. My concern, my fear is more of loss than of finding.

I collect manual typewriters and toys from the old animated Christmas show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. At the same time, I removed thousands of slides and pictures from my life and converted them to digital. Clutter went, and clutter added. My butterfly seeks always to find something new, something just beyond the horizon.

Does my butterfly, in fact, chase me?

I wonder that sometimes, as I sit here in my quiet space. Alexa playing classical music, and Google answering my questions about what is cool what is hot. My butterfly has a name, it isn’t OSCAR, but when borrowing from a commercial for a line, you think about both the line and the concept. The name of my butterfly is not Alexa or Siri.

The reality of my butterfly is not that it is just out of reach. All butterflies are just out of reach. Just out of our ability to see, and touch. It is not that I never catch my butterfly, nor is it that like many others, I always seek my butterfly. Dancing there, in the distance, taunting and encouraging at the same time.

“Come chase me,” my butterfly says, it is good to get up and move not being at a desk. My #Fitbit, rejoicing that it is finally able to track something other than the dancing of fingers on a keyboard. I am alive, my #Fitbit says. The siren call of the butterfly of no concern to wearable fitness trackers. Why, when it promotes motion, would they care?

My butterfly is two sided. The one side is the many things that could have been but never were and the flipping it, the next big thing.

I cannot stop chasing my butterfly. It is part of who I am. It is part of what I do. Someday I will see the color of my butterfly.

What color is your butterfly?


Chasing Butterflies and charging my Fitbit!

Wandering the edges of cool tech and presentations…

I at times play beyond the bleeding edge of new technology. Based on that I am going to be more up front about cool Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects. I am willing to risk money on something that may never come to be. Based on that if you are not willing to risk money, do not back the more extreme projects I back.

The ones that interest me right now have to do with supporting my wife in her job. She at times works with patients from a number of nationalities and language barriers can be huge, when your job is helping someone prepare for the death of a family member. The translation systems that plug into your ear and allow you to hear and speak another language are interesting to me. It is an extension of the cellular device and using translation as a service. There are companies such as Language Line and other’s that provide this as a physical service, but the cost of those services is pretty high, and at times the speed is a limiting factor. Plus, you are speaking into a phone, getting a translation and there is by default always a slight delay.

Another area of technology that has peaked my interest for years is that of Robotics. The upcoming Aibo, Jibo and Keecker products are interesting. All three have extended development projects that led to their existence. Each is looking at the problem from a slightly different angle so it is interesting to see where they end up. Keecker is more a personal entertainment device, or as they call it a home pod. A device designed to make your entertainment experience that much better. Jibo is a static robot, in that it doesn’t move, but offers a number of potential interactions for the elderly and for children. When I was traveling years ago, I recorded myself singing the song I wrote for my kid’s bedtime. That way they would always hear me signing the Moon song before they went to bed. Finally, Aibo is another interesting project that is more aligned with the traditional robot. Both Keecker and Aibo are not fixed in one place and can move.

I did an IoT/drones/robotics talk for high school students a couple of years ago, in that talk I had a number of IoT devices that I shared with the kids, plus a look at the art of the possible. The art of the possible changes virtually every single day so that talk was always a blast. The last one I gave I had a line of kids waiting to talk to me well after school ended. The teachers had to come in and tell the kids they had to get on the buses, but that I would come back. So, I did go back and sat in the lunch room talking to some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. The best part of the talk was the very first time I gave it, when I launched the drone and played back the video of the drone watching the audience. Some principals were not comfortable with a drone flying in their auditorium so I only did that a couple of times. But the concept was cool and I showed the video of that to the kids that didn’t get to see the live drone.

Keecker will change that presentation I am sure. Having a portable projector that comes when you call it (via your cell phone for the connection and communication) will be pretty cool. Since it is also a device living in that connected Internet device space it will also fit in nicely.

Perhaps in a new presentation I can call Jibo from Keecker and have a conversation with someone sitting in my house. The only thing that worries me in the end is all the bandwidth. I am 1 step away from the maximum bandwidth Verizon offers via FIOS. (No cable modems are not as fast as fiber. I know they advertise that they have the fastest in home wi-fi but really? You are interested in things that live in your house only? You don’t connect to Netflix, Amazon instant video or Hulu? Because while the fastest in-home wi-fi is great for the family history pictures on your network, it does nothing for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon instant video).

Plus, I can also demonstrate the Hololens.

See, already rewriting my IoT presentation to share more things that are here, the art of the possible a lot more today than it was just a year ago,



The ghost of technology past hanging out with the ghost of technology future

5Many years ago, there was an event that happened. I have talked about that event many times. It was a changer for me. My father went on a trip for the University, when he got back he gave me a circular slide rule. It was nowhere near as easy to use as a calculator nor was it as easy to use as a traditional slide rule. But it was cool.

It had a card on the inside that had a bunch of information on the card. On the back of the circular device was a periodic table of the elements. I understand the reality of the situation. It was given to me by my father. It was a cool thing that was both practical and whimsical. Finally, it was the device that started me down the modify your cellular device capabilities many years later. I got that slide rule in 1975 or possibly a year after that.

Complex calculations are the first thing you use a slide rule for. Recreating those on my initial cell phone wasn’t likely. So, I got an HP programmable calculator. That gave me the ability to do all of that on my calculator. Eventually with the rise of the Pocket PC phone I was able to replace the HP Calculator (I actually still have it) with an application. Now, there is a great emulator for the iPhone that lets you run a virtual version of that HP calculator I had.

6The additional functionality (periodic table etc) was soon on the cellular devices as people created more and more useful table of the elements. In fact, now you can get even better versions on the Android or iOS devices. I really like the ones that are more interactive than the original I had (slide rule) and the first replacement (pocket pc).

That said and all laid out it was a quest for me. To first replace the circular slide rule, but also to find better ways to do things (for me). I have always been interested in technology. I find that it is something that can be used to improve and to change the world.

Technology is a game changer. It is a game changed as well. That change continues to permeate society. The reality of selfie’s and the instant state of update created by users of Facebook and other sites are driven not only by the fact that the potential is there, but because the connection is always there as well. It is the two sides to the coin.

Enabling connection allows more people to be, remain and expand their connections. Technology that enables both the connection and what to do when connected further expands the connection. Not only am I connected all the time but there is something I can do with that connection. It could be a chicken and the egg question for later generations. But for now, it is pretty easy to see that the reality of technology was creating the environment where sharing was more critical than it had been in the past. The act of sharing however was also changed by the technology used for the sharing. Together we have the brave new world.

7Still, all of this for me to replace something I once got. In part once it was lost (first the slide rule, and then my father) it changed things forever. Now, I seek the next big wave of change. What is coming beyond replacing that circular slide rule.

I like to think the future is like a prism. Many colors are available, it is the abilities of the system viewing the collars that determines what you see.

So, my quest continues. Now a larger quest (no I am not chasing giants that from a distance look a lot like windmills). It is just that now my quest is removing me from tasks where possible. I find that my GPS is right more than 99% of the time. The only errors it makes are when I make the wrong turn first. I am now trying to integrate more and more technology to replace me in the middle.

Once I sought to replace a circular slide rule. Now I am seeking to remove the errors of the former circular slide rule user!


Technologist, geek

Information age not here yet. Information for that age, h3ere now but well…

One of the things that always interests me is the concept of measurement. There are a number of types of measuring devices including Geiger counters, wind meters and infra-red cameras. Each measures a specific thing. Each thing, impacts you in a different way so knowing what is, is important. As a boater, I am also interested in Radar because it tells me how close things are to my boat. I am also interested in the downward looking sonar that tells me how much water I have under me. With a boat, you don’t want to venture into water that is well too shallow for the boat you are in.

All of these things provide both visual and auditory feedback, they are the seniors that make up part of what we now call the Internet of Things. Some of them are not connected today and therefore are not IoT devices. But the number of connected devices in the various spaces around us are increasing every single day.

It is something I have changed since getting my first pocket pc phone, now more than 15 years ago, what additional measurements can I take, have or make available via the devices connected to my phone. I realize that the path I was on originally (sleeves for my pocket pc) was not the right path. Stopping what you are doing to add a different sensor or sleeve isn’t optimal. In fact, the evolution of what is in the phone has been incredible. Accelerometers make great seismographs. Well not great but they can tell you if that is you shaking or the ground under you shaking.

One of the problems with more functionality on devices is the reality of usage. If the device becomes too complex to use, people won’t use it. That is why the world of bite-sized software has exploded. Software that uses one feature or function of your phone, really well. An easy to understand and consume interface that results in your quickly catching on to how and what to do.

The other side of bite sized software for me, is the concept of integrated messaging. Where the data from a variety of device sensors is presented to me, as the consumer, in a single unified screen. There are a number of systems that have this capability today. Android and iOS offer this natively. The problem I have is my social feed overwhelms the traditional sensor data screen so I have a secondary application I can launch that forces the social feed to the device pop-up window.

All of this to collect data. All of this creating the concept of Micro Data systems. Micro being the new IoT Buzz word, from Micro Grids (localized power grid) to Micro Weather (localized weather information). All of the data we have moving to the Micro delivery model. Start small, build and share information, eventually the data will show not only the reality of weather (Micro Weather stations show the fluctuation within a small to large geographic area). But also, the direct impact (what the Micro Grids generating power during the day and consuming power during the night with little to no generation).

It can be like drinking from a fire hose. What seems like a funny idea. But a firehose pushes out water at more than 60 psi. That is way more than your facet and way more than you can drink. So, the inundation that occurs when trying to drink from a firehose leaves more water outside of you than the small amount you are able to consume.

The flood (inundation) is a scary reality of both the devices we carry and the future state of IoT. The evolution of humans to absorb that type of information quickly is occurring but it takes 3 to 4 generations (or roughly 50 years) for that to occur. For now, we have those who struggle to stay with the pack and those who are left behind.

You see that flood is only going to increase. Today you can measure a lot of the world around you. Spike, a measurement tool by Ike is a great tool that lets you take your cellular device and measure distance in fairly large areas. Dario allows you to measure your blood sugar using your cellular device. Withings has a series of exercise and measurement tools you can connect to your cellular device (I love their blood pressure cuff). The world of data connected to your device is increasing. Now to a degree using connected versions of devices can help you cut down the noise (you only care when the readings are outside the range you set) but it does increase the amount of data you consume.

The future of information is coming. The information age is near. Not here yet though, so please post on every single analysts post that says the information age is here, NOT HERE YET.


Anti Informationageistic blogger

Some of the why behind my reviews and my love of technology…

IMG_0158I got an interesting comment yesterday to my Bloomsky weather station review. The first question was easily dispatched and I sent the person an email with my explanation. The easy answer why a home weather station is as follows.

1. The NWS tends to place sensors in large metropolitan areas. It is always 4 or more degrees hotter in DC than it is in Germantown Maryland.

2. The NWS sensor in Germantown is actually in the middle of a fairly large area of buildings, and is on average 2-5 degrees warmer than the more suburban area I live in.

3. Because of the first two knowing the temperature actually outside my house, important!

The second question asked is a little harder. Why am I such a gadget person? Well not just gadgets but what got me started in the world of technology. I began my career as a school teacher many years ago. At the time I entered education two things were happening. I had grown up in the house of one of the most unique educators in the country. I also grew up in the age of the birth of personal computers. Those two things combined to give me a view both on my future profession, education as well as life in general. Test it using the scientific models I was raised with. Explore it using the reality of what is possible with technology.

IMG_0363But beyond my father there were other people who influenced me. There were two other huge impacts on my life that led me to both portability and technology. The first was my love (also sparked by my father) of NASA. He and I watched the moon walk live. Staying up until 2 am to see Neil Armstrong first step foot on the dusty surface of the moon. NASA enthralled me, drove me and interested me. There is little in my current job you can point to, that doesn’t come from NASA’s direction in the 1960’s and 1970’s. From computing power, computing size, graphics and storage much of that was driven by the quest to land a person on the moon and return them safely.

Another influence in my personal gadget quest was living overseas. As a young man in the US I had access to television (yes there were 5 stations we didn’t have cable in the house until 1971). But I could watch different stations and different shows. When we lived in Thailand there was no television in our apartment. I loved to read anyway. But now reading was everything. I was introduced to the ever-growing world of fantasy, via The Lord of the Rings. But I was also introduced to the works of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and others. Those two come to mind because my love of technology was further expanded in reading their works. Arthur C Clarke was someone I read everything he wrote and the gadgets and items he talked about in his fiction were things I thought would be incredible to have.

You see who I was to be, was shaped by who I was. Growing up exposed to the scientific model developed by my father (the Inquiry Method), exposure to NASA and the amazing feats of space travel the organizations has and continues to perform. Plus, the open door created by Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. A door that led me beyond what was possible to the dream of the possible.

IMG_0386All of that making me extremely interested in new Technology and the impact of that on the world around me. That my view of the world is less colored by people than technology. I believe that technology has made our world a better place. I believe technology will continue to show us a path that continues to help us grow as human beings. Technology doesn’t care what you believe, what you are wearing, who you talk to or for that matter where you live. Technology is truly agnostic. Holding no belief better. Holding no place better. Holding no one person better than another. All of them are equal in the eyes of technology.

As a person, I believe that as well. I believe in the equality of all via technology. I believe not in the dysphoria of tomorrow. I believe in a brighter future where technology shows us how we can all “just get along” to quote Rodney King. To quote the other King, the Doctor, I have dream. That someday people will be connected. That someday we will cherish the contents of children’s minds and make education the priority globally. A world where all doors are open and all people taught how to pass through the doors equally!