A New Uncanny Valley?

InigoMontoya

As VR and MR enter into the mainstream consciousness, people are starting to get familiar (or at least using) with terms that have been common in the 3D, VR, and animation fields for many years. In one way this is great to see. Language is the key to communication, and once we have a shared set of terms we can share and build on ideas faster and easier. In our world of saturated buzz phrase media though, there can be a disconnect when tech journalists start using a term in a different way than what has been the norm. I’m not opposed to evolution of language, but it’s also important to use consistent terms with established ideas.

The source that inspired me today is an interesting use of the term “uncanny valley”. I’m not going to call this out or reference the usage at this time because I don’t want to add to this new myth. I’ll send the author my comment and let them do as they will.

But to clarify, the uncanny valley isn’t a new idea that has just been created for virtual reality. The uncanny valley concept and term have been around for a long time, and applies to graphics, robotics, sound design, and many other disciplines. Wikipedia has a clear definition here, which is in line with the way the 3D, animation, and graphics industry I have worked in for the last 20 years has used it. Basically:

When features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers.

I am in no way a grammar purist, and I also have a tendency to make up and mash up new words to suit my needs or whims. I also applaud the use of words and language to bring a creative approach to concepts allowing for a fresh or extended perspective to further conversation. But once a term has a definition, stating that it means something totally different is a disservice to the community of participants and spectators.

I’m sure it is very difficult to keep up with the plethora of terms that are emerging from new technology these days, but I do believe that tech writers should learn and understand the language, and help new audiences learn as well.

PS. If I have used any terms above incorrectly, please comment and hammer me for it. I will probably respond that I did it for ironic impact and emphasis, but I still would appreciate the opportunity to learn.

Uncanny Valley from Wikipedia.

Oculus Rift – Pollen Preview

I wrote a quick post at The Rift Arcade about the game Pollen from Minefield Games. Check it out here. This one is built with Unity, so it’s even closer to my heart.

I love what will be possible with VR and AR tech in the coming years, and have been playing with different projects for a while.

More fun with testing

I’ve learned a lot from GLaDOS in the time we’ve been together, and fully understand her deep need for constant eternal testing. That’s why I have another one for you, if you are up for it.

Web Voice Messaging Made (un)Easy

The last one with Google Voice didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It made you put in a phone number, and then it connected your phone to a machine so you could leave a message. Pretty clunky, not really intuitive, and really seemed to feel a bit creepy.

Fail.

A New Hope

This is another on-line voice message system designed to let you leave messages right from a website without going through a pesky phone device. Brought to us by the bright crew at Speakpipe, and soon to come out of beta, this web widget lets you leave a message, and me to hear it. Easy enough. The cool part is I can use the same widget on my blog, Facebook, and all other sorts of places. Care to test if it works?

On this page

On your right, you should see an orange little tab prompting you to leave a message. There are other ways to have it appear, but this one is default and I wanted to get this rolling quickly.

Click it, and a window comes up and starts the recording process.

On Facebook

If you are of the Facebook sort, hop on over to my Facebook fan page here and give the Speakpipe Facebook widget a try. (While you are there, if you wouldn’t mind tapping a Like for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.) They should all come back to the same place.

A Webpage

If you’d like to use a special SpeakPipe webpage, use this link.

Leave a message for Bugfrog!

Let me know what you think

There are even iPhone and iPad apps that work with the whole shebang. Maybe try those, too. The point is I’d love to hear from you, and to see how this system works! If you would share how your experience went, how you felt, what you were thinking, that would be great. It’s circle sharing time. I’ll let you know how it goes, and if you have any questions about it, I’d be happy to share share share back with you.

Until the next test!

bg

Google Voice Widget testing fun!

Remember when you actually talked to people with a phone? That was cool. You could ask a person a question, and get their actual answer RIGHT THEN. Of course, this is only if the call is clear enough for you to hear them, and stays connected.

That brings me to this great feature of Google Voice. HTML Call Widgets. From anyplace you can embed HTML, you can allow your reader to initiate a call. You can decide whether the call goes to a phone or straight into voice mail.

When you click Call Me, it will ask you for your phone number, and if you would like to keep it private. I don’t need your number, so be sure to click that button. Then Google will call your number. As soon as you answer, it will connect you to my number. One of the great things about this is that you we can call each other without ever revealing our numbers AT ALL. I could schedule a call in pirate internet radio show and allow people to call me without ever giving them a number to call. It would be pretty easy to remove the Call Me button from a web page when I didn’t want people to have access to it.

I think there a many ways this could be a great engagement tool, and even a fun toy. Strange internet scavenger hunt ideas are flying through my mind.

Are you willing to give it a try? This simply plays my message for you, and asks you to leave a message. If you are brave, hit the button, make the call, and leave me a question or comment. Be brave, try it! I want to hear how this works.

Thanks for your help!

If you are on a mobile device, you may not see the image that should be here. That’s a drag.

A Gear in Illustrator

Yes, I’m a moron who doesn’t use Illustrator much anymore.

There have been several times where I needed a simple gear or series of gears for something and it was always a pain in the ass. It was never a massive part of the project, just a small additional element, meaning I never really put any time into figuring out how to do it. I usually would find a free vector gear, or autotrace a jpg and clean it up. One time I even used to pen to make one with an image template.

I finally put a few (very few) minutes of thought on it and came up with this approach, which works just fine for what I’ve needed. After I take it into Cinema4D or something similar, it can get super funky, but this is where I need it for now, and a lot faster than it used to take me.

GearsTutorial

The real learning lesson? Take a few minutes to figure out how to do things right in the beginning and you will save a ton of time in the long run.

Testing a contact form

I’m testing out how this contact for works. I like to test things to see how they actually work, instead of how they are supposed to work.

If you would like to submit some info, please do. I like it.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Organization

Kicking virginity in the Austin

NOTE: I found this draft post that I wrote the night before Aim went to the hospital in Austin. Funny to read it knowing what happens next.

This is it. My first trip to South by Southwest Interactive geekfest in Austin. Aim has been there for the last few years an she always comes back tired and energized. There is supposedly a lot going on, but I’m not calling it until I see it. Lots of friends are going to be there from all over the country, so it will be great to see them. There will also be about half the tech population of Boulder migrating to the Boulder of the South, so if I need to get bailed out of jail, we should be able to take up a collection.

There are a lot of sessions about using game mechanics outside of the pure game realm this year, which will be a blast for me. I’m going to see as much as I can on this to apply in my game class. The more references beyond my own experiences the better. Hopefully I can find some more teaching tools this weekend too.

My Dearest Adobe

Oh, Adobe-muffin, my longtime friend. I understand your frustration at Apple for not allowing Flash to run on their iPhone and iPad. You have worked long and hard on systems that would convert Flash into an iPhone/Pad application, and don’t want to throw all that great programming out the window like a day old placenta. I bet that really burns your bottom in the worst way. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way the cookie crumbles today. But don’t lose heart, you can still plant that placenta under a beautiful rose bush to enrich the already fertile soil you currently tend.

Of what do I speak? What quizzidom of quirkitude of which do I quack? Why your other products, of course. Illustrator, Fireworks, InDesign, Photoshop and many many others, including the wondrous and ever useful Acrobat. What amazing and incredible things!

Maybe now you can make it so that every fucking time I open a fucking Adobe product, I don’t have to fucking download yet another fucking update.

Toodles! Hope you have a great day!

Love,

bg

P.S. Aldus said to tell you “Eat it, Cakeboy.” Not sure what that meant, but he sure seemed to be laughing.

Ads updated in Streetview

Google’s got a patent on the tech to recognize photos in Streetview images, and then replace them with current imagery. Obviously, one big use of this would be marketing. If you see a billboard in a Streetview image, Google will be able to update that image with a current billboard any time the image is viewed. Imagine you are wondering what movies are playing at the local megaplex. Do you look it up? No, you go to Streetview and virtually walk by the front of the theater and see what “posters” are up. They could run trailers in frames in front of the theater all the time. What exhibit is running at the museum this month? Take a look while looking up the address.

Basically, if someone is looking for information, Streetview could be a great way to get it to them. This could be useful if what you are looking for is connected to the location, like the movie example. If you want to know what movie is playing at the theater near the mall, sure.

But this example fails when someone is searching for a movie and not the theater. This search isn’t location based, it eventually gets to a location, but by that point, you already know what movies are there.

Even with this slight catch, there could be a lot of potential here for ads and revenue. The owner of a billboard could buy the Google Streetview ad space so that when anyone views it, it says “Your ad here, call me.” In real life, the billboard is leased by another paying customer, but in the virtual world, it can be entirely different. Think of the ads that run behind the batters during the World Series games. Those ads can be one thing in real life, but on broadcast TV, they are entirely different. Outdoor advertising agencies could do their self promos in virtual space, delivering discounts, promos, and premiums upgrade offers directly to the people that will be looking at the space. On this line, all types of real estate possibilities exist.

So what does Google know about how Streetview is used? How do we use it? We all looked at our house and neighborhood a few times. We all looked up an address of some business we were trying to find and checked to see where the actual door was or how much parking they have, right? It would be interesting to see where the hottest places in Streetview are located. That would give a great indication of how useful this could be.

Where could more active marketing work into this? Could physical therapy companies put ads on the side of virtual hospitals? Could rehab centers put ads on the billboards outside virtual bars? Why not? What connections would be effective? Will every location on Streetview end up looking like the commercial district of downtown Tokyo? And will downtown Tokyo billboards sell a premium offer that includes placement in all virtual views? Political ads could go all over any signage on landmarks around Washington DC tourist spots. Even better, a national political party decides where they will have their next convention, buys up all the virtual ad space around it, and then announces their convention location. Groups interested in attending will be looking at the street view to help them plan their connection to the event. Man, this could get fun!

How far away are we from NBA stars leasing out the space on their forehead and bicep for virtual replacement on internet feeds of the game? Crazy? So were automobiles.

This all leads us to the augmented reality world in a big way. Soon, we will see what someone has paid for us to see, instead of what was there for the photo (but how trustworthy was that photo in the first place?). Hopefully for the short term, Google will put these ads as a layer we can disable if we so choose.

Final thought: all the above is simply about the basic uses of this, but Google is sneaky sometimes. Are there other ways they could apply this? What’s the purpose that isn’t so obvious?

QR Code & AR meet like Reese’s™

So QR codes are great, but what if you make them the size of a building? And then make the tweets of the people in the building visible through an Augmented Reality viewer on a cell phone? And then, decorate the building any way you want through your AR viewer.

One Translation: Interactive billboards that are huge, grab attention, and all without cluttering up the landscape. Magical things can happen here. Throw in some PaperVision and you’ve got some cool possibilities.

I love the direction this is going. James and I presented about QR at Ignite a while back, and it is great to see things still happening. It doesn’t happen that much in the US because…um…well…maybe we’re too lazy to hold our phones up that high? Not sure why.

Direct Link if the embed fails — http://go.bugfrog.com/2y

N Building from Alexander Reeder on Vimeo.

From the creators who need a shout out on this one. I pulled the following from here, and I hope they don’t get pissed. Most of it is in Japanese which I don’t read very well. I mean, I can read it of course, but I just don’t understand any of the words that I am reading because I don’t speak Japanese.

Here is our latest project, in which we as Qosmo.inc tried to “augment” additional information upon a physical artifact, namely a building, with new digital media technology empowered by iPhone.

N Building is a commercial structure located near Tachikawa station amidst a shopping district. Being a commercial building signs or billboards are typically attached to its facade which we feel undermines the structures’ identity. As a solution we thought to use a QR Code (two-dimensional bar code) as the facade itself. By reading the QR Code with your mobile device you will be taken to a site which includes up to date shop information. In this manner we envision a cityscape unhindered by ubiquitous signage and also an improvement to the quality and accuracy of the information itself.

December 15th, 2009 we held an opening which included the limited release of an iPhone application made specifically for N Building.

If a QR Code is static, what could we do with a dynamic device like the iPhone? Our proposed vision of the future is one where the facade of the building disappears, showing those inside who want to be seen. As you press on the characters their comments made on online appear in speech bubbles. You can also browse shop information, make reservations and download coupons. Rather than broadly tagging, we display information specific to the building in a manner in which the virtual (iPhone) serves to enhance the physical (N Building). Our goal is to provide an incentive to visit the space and a virtual connection to space without necessarily being present.

The building is detected in real time by its shape (for an example, see video). Characters are then superimposed over the live video. Twitter feed comments are located via GPS tagging. Store information, reservations and other infrastructure is part of the iPhone application. The iPhone application is not for sale in the iTunes App Store, but is available to interested parties on request. While N Building’s QR code provides a subtle yet important queue to users to take out and use their mobile devices, Qosmo, Inc. is available to implement a similar system for structures without QR Codes or any markers.

If you are interested in this project, please feel free to contact us: email.png