Well…it’s probably not going to change the world. But it does offer some interesting tangible possibilities wherever botany and education meet. And tangibility is very important in education, especially for younger people. An example of this, is how so many of my fellow chemistry students, in High School, failed it spectacularly…in all the time we were there, we never got to do any practical work, because we had none of the equipment or chemicals.
We never got to see anything happen, we never got to see any results. Colours, precipitates…these were things we had to remember from the textbook. People remember things better, when they’ve had some hands-on experience.
Bearing that all in mind, Botanicoitus Interruptus, is indeed yet another interesting effort in tangibility, in the world of interaction design.
If by some spectacularly unlikely chance, you’ve visited this blog on more than one occasion, then there’s a similarly unlikely chance that you might recall, that almost two months ago, we had a post up here on a new 3D gesture control peripheral that is going on sale soon, called Leap-Motion. I touted this as something we’d being seeing much more of in the year to come.
Here is another video on the system, with (among other cool things) a most notable demonstration of it being used to play games, such as Angry Birds (aka “Kwaad Voëls”) and even a surprisingly good showing in Half Life 2.
Now all we need is a really good 3D hologram setup, and we can all be our own peculiar version of Tony Stark!
A couple of months ago, in a drive to become the number 1 chain of grocery store in South Korea, supermarket giant, Tesco, tried out a rather interesting idea. Using backlit, lifesize images of shop shelves packed with various items, each with it’s own QR code, south Korean commuters were given the opportunity to do their shopping in the public space of a subway station, by scanning the QR code of their desired item and posting the order online. The order could then be picked up later, packaged and ready to go. Indeed, South Korea where every child is born with a smartphone in his/her hand and the general population (as stated in the video below), is believably, at least the 2nd hardest working in the world, is the completely ideal place to try something like this.
But imagine if they tried it here in South Africa… where internet access is rare as an incisor in Cape Town, and on the rare occasion you do find it, the connection is as slow as an ant pushing a brick across the desert (Confession: I totally stole that last line from Yahtzee. You brilliant bastard, you!)…
And even if they did manage to set up the service to work reliably…you tell me how many people would still have their cellphones after a train trip anywhere in South Africa? Eish.
The world of Family Guy is now open to all, in this really interesting shot at a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game), in Unity 3D. Sign up for free and you’re given the run-about, of the entire town of Quahog, as your own customized family guy character. I gave it a go…
Create a profile with your own character, from 4 different classes, each with it’s own special attributes. I chose the Stewie class. Build up your character’s skills and collect new items and abilities.
The RPG element of the game has you completing tasks for some of the familiar characters in the series, such as finding items or fighting people. Completing these tasks raises your experience level, and rewards you with credits, allowing you to unlock various items, achievements, as well as new sections of Quahog. Throughout the time you’re playing, you can see other players scurrying about Quahog. Find people you like, and you can add them as friends, and chat to them.
As you go along, more of the town is opened up to you, including the inside of some of the more prominent buildings, like Quagmire’s house, or the church.
Scattered all over Quahog are hidden familiar items from the series. Identifying enough and you get rewarded. Any fan of the show would know exactly where I found this one.
You can find all the familiar characters from the show standing around. Here’s the neighbourhood peadophile, Herbert (the pervert?) threatening to slap me right in my penis.
The off-the-wall Family Guy humour is abundant in Family Guy Online.
Go to the church, click on Seamus, the local peg-limbed mariner, and he launches into a crazy rendition of Great Balls of Fire on the church organ.
It’s perhaps not everybody’s type of humour, but fans of the series simply must try this game. It’s full of hidden gems from the series, immersive and fun to play. Also, wandering around the Griffin house and outside in Quahog, is oddly familiar. It seems to laid out exactly as you figured it would, from watching the 2D cartoon. The quality of the graphics is great, and the sounds is completely fitting for a Family Guy game, with the jazzy/show-tune type soundtrack and familiar voices, going a long way to making you feel as if you’re right there in Quahog.
Oh…and you must have the Unity3d browser plugin to play, so if it asks, simply allow it to install. If you’ve got a pretty slow connection, you might be annoyed by the loading time, but once you’re in the game, it runs smoothly…provided you have the minimum requirements:
“Windows or Mac, Flash Player, Java, 128MB video card or better, 200MB RAM or better, broadband internet access”
Which all should be fine, provided you aren’t surfing the web, on a baked potato.
The common perception of Microsoft being stuck in the past, resurfaced, even in the midst of their most daring attempt to move their flagship product into the future. The similarity between and ancient AOL interface and Windows 8′s Metro(sexual?) Interface is bizarre, and ironic. The interfaces are 16 years apart, yet both look like the most difficult part of their design process was the settling of violent squabbles between their graphic designers, on the contentious issue of sharing their crayons and coloured craft paper.
Malware has been around since pretty much the beginning of personal computers, but what we’re seeing these days, is a level of sophistication far beyond the abilities of the average, deranged, basement dwelling outcast we’ve all come to blame, for the odd epidemic of random zoo-porn icons appearing on office desktops around the world. Indeed a lot of malware we see these days has some sort of low-level objective, other than annoying you to the point of running over your computer at full speed in a flaming JCB. Some want to trick you into buying something, some want to pepper you with ads, some want to steal your banking details and in turn, your money, some want to enslave your computer in a giant botnet.
And some just want to watch the world burn.
What we’ve been seeing in the news, with the discovery (albeit too late), of the Stuxnet and Duqu super-malwares, is the embrace of malware as the primary weapon in clandestine cyber-sabotage, by the world’s heaviest hitters. Suspected, but not confirmed by any real measure, of being the United States, China and their corresponding client-states, in various applications. And that suspicion is not at all unfounded, given the kind of planning and resources required in order to create such sophisticated and dynamic malware. Everything from the way they hide themselves, to the way they propagate is extremely well thought out, dynamic and intelligent. And experts have recently discovered another new super-malware, that, although not intended to target vital industrial processes for destruction, like Stuxnet was, is still devilishly clever and sophisticated.
Dubbed “Flame”, by the experts that discovered it on systems, in the Middle East, this super-malware’s seemingly simple objective is evidently, only to gather as much information as possible. However, it’s size, modus operandi, versatility and ability to upgrade itself, is what has the experts in awe, as well as what appears to be, an integration of 3000 lines of high-level Lua programming. The extent of Flame’s data-gathering is vast, with everything from voice recording from microphones, to screenshots, to Bluetooth data, all being sent out to one all of Flames large number of Command and Control modules.
Read more about it here, at Securelist.com.
The Q&A makes for some fascinating reading.
Indeed, it is one of a handful of free cloud storage options out there. But Google’s option integrates nicely with your existing Google interface, including Google Docs. I gave it a go earlier on, sharing a reasonably large file with a fellow Google user and it worked like a charm. Very easy to use. Just download the application, synchronize your folder and off you go.
If you have a Google account, give it a bash: https://drive.google.com/#my-drive
Looking at a computer rigged up to use it, you might not even notice anything amiss. This small aluminium device is the only component in a new 3D motion sensing interaction system that is set to change interactivity forever. Introducing The Leap Motion peripheral 3D motion sensor. Capable of sub-millimetre motion detection, this brand new device has been demonstrated to have seriously impressive accuracy, allowing for some very interesting, very fluid interaction possibilities, as demonstrated in the video below. The Leap System reportedly creates four cubic feet of interaction space around the peripheral, in which the user can interact very fluidly, with his computer. Demonstrations of the system working make for fascinating watching, with users playing games, zooming and panning across maps, drawing and writing, with very little effort.
Effortlessness or intuitiveness, in application, I might remind you, combined with affordability, is really what makes or breaks a piece of technology. Though not one of my favourite people in the world, Steve Jobs was a particularly big proponent of intuitiveness in interaction and design, saying: ”The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious”. And he had it right. A lot of his later success, putting aside the obvious massive marketing genius of Apple, was their insistence of designing the interactions between consumers and their products, to be intuitive, close to what the consumer is used to in his dealings natural environment. In other words, the interaction can quickly begin feeling natural and therefore gets quickly forgotten about. And herein lies the possible success of the Leap Motion system. The accuracy of the system might bring interaction close enough to natural gestures, that we forget we’re even using it.
Though not at all a new concept, with the incumbent Microsoft Kinect already commercially available for a while now, the Leap Motion system is visibly more accurate and practical. Co-creator of the system, and quite possibly one of the most smug-looking men the world has ever seen, Michael Buckwald, claims, that it is the most accurate 3d motion sensing system ever created, which certainly looks to be the case. Besides it’s possible role in changing the way users interact with their computers, (gaming being a particularly exciting prospect), the Leap Motion System looks to have some very tantalizing applications in multimedia, especially in interactive devices out in public, recreation or retail spaces.
Already, we’ve seen some particularly interesting applications of the Microsoft Kinect, in smaller multimedia displays, which has already been effectively used as a replacement to more bulky Infrared/IR camera systems of old.
Shipping at $69, 99 ( +- R575), it’s really a steal, for such an accurate device and with SDK’s already out, we’re bound to start seeing some really cool applications not too long from now.
So, this awesome performance by Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and a seemingly holographic, very lifelike depiction of Tupac Shakur has really blown up in the last two days, and though Wireframe Studio isn’t really in the rap business, me an my homeboys are really down with the technological splendour of this performance. It certainly was fantastic.
Crowds at the Coachella Valley Music Festival were amazed to see an extremely lifelike Tupac Shakur, performing two of his very own tracks alongside Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre. Everything from his clothes, down to all of his mannerisms and even the very authentic-sounding voice were depicted in impressive realism, for the full duration of the two tracks, with some nicely coordinated interaction between the the “hologram”, and the other performers.
So how on earth did they manage to pull this performance off?
Firstly, no, ‘Pac is not back from the dead.
So all the Tupac Experts, of which there are…I don’t know, maybe 175 million at least, all over the world…can continue to deconstruct his music for possible clues as to when he will indeed return in the flesh. As prophesized in the Holy Book of Pac, written by alarmingly enthusiastic and confident scribes since the death of the mysterious man, (which he allegedly had accurately predicted) many years ago, in a time called the 90′s.
In the media, all over the web and everywhere else, this performance was referred to as a hologram, but in reality, it’s really some very impressive CGI and voice acting, combined with a clever, yet surprisingly old delivery method. As explained by Arstechnica, the entire performance was accomplished using a combination of impressive CGI, projectors and a technique know as “Pepper’s Ghost“, which uses a hidden room and some mirrors, to create the illusion of something appearing out of nowhere. This combination of old and new, was probably the most impressive part of it all, and the extremely lifelike depiction of a long-gone rapper, whose life and personality is still shrouded in mystery today, is more than like what gave it that complete wow-factor.
There is no reliable information on how many times loyal East Side audience members had attempted to bust a cap in the projection’s ass.
It isn’t the first time that this combination has been used, but it’s probably the most impressive. And it brings to mind many interesting ideas for application in multimedia.
Imagine a museum exhibit, where people can actually watch and listen to lifelike CGI depictions of famous people in history, such as Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, or Amelia Earhart actually speaking to them. Or imagine lifelike CGI depictions of famous naval battles seemingly appearing to be taking place on the floor of the museum. Fantastic stuff. Check it out.
Aaaand….here is a nice explanation of how it all works: