Category Archives: Emerging Technologies

Sony Online’s SOEmote software provides you with your Everquest II character’s expressions and voice

Sony Online’s SOEmote software provides you with your Everquest II character’s expressions and voice

This really is going to be a bigger deal than it seems right now, yep.

As a collaborative concoction between Sony, Image Metrics, and Vivox, SOEmote captures your voice and facial expressions and pastes them onto your in-game character. It also modulates your words into the pitch appropriate for your race such as the deep baritone of an ogre or the gnome’s tinny squeak. We at GamesBeat recommend turning off this feature when spilling large, expletive-inducing cups of coffee.

 

In the below video, David Georgeson, Everquest II director of development, demonstrates SOEmote’s capabilities with his mighty Froglok warrior, proving anthropomorphic amphibians look terrifyingly creepy when grinning.

Mind-Controlled Videogames Become Reality

Mind-Controlled Videogames Become Reality

Picture this: You put on a headset and relax your mind. Soon you begin controlling an object with your thoughts.

 

This mind-power trick may seem far-fetched, like something from a late-night science fiction movie or the back of an old comic book. But several companies are bringing this technology to life with affordable headsets that determine a person’s state of mind.

 

The gadgets translate brain waves into digital information and beam it wirelessly to computers or other devices.

 

So far the headsets are confined to mostly digital interfaces—videogames and movies whose plots can be altered with the mind—although in some cases real-world objects have been used, like a pair of catlike ears that move depending on a person’s mood. The technology, still in its infancy, has the potential to not only entertain but to possibly improve education and strengthen mental health, some doctors say.

Why the Leap Is the Best Gesture-Control System We’ve Ever Tested

Why the Leap Is the Best Gesture-Control System We’ve Ever Tested

Headline says it all. Did I mention gesture is what comes after touch, for interfaces? 🙂

Must-See Video: Gesture Control Accuracy Takes a Huge “Leap” Forward

Must-See Video: Gesture Control Accuracy Takes a Huge “Leap” Forward

Dude! Yeah, it’s must-see. This is the next interface after touch.

It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen…. This isn’t a game system that roughly maps your hand movements. The Leap technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — at any price point. Just about the size of a flash drive, the Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.

Wii, WiiFit, Exercise and Physical Therapy

Brilliant. Note the subtitle for my blog? 🙂 Keep an eye out for the WiiFit. Hello, Sony? Hello, Microsoft? Where are yooouuuu? This is just the beginning:

Nintendo Wii popular choice for therapists, children
WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Jackson Peterson is running fast.

He’s running in place, moving his arms back and forth. So excited about the virtual race he is running that his physical therapist, Barbara Maxwell, is having trouble catching up with him — on screen, of course.

“Oh, there he goes, got him,” said Maxwell, a little winded after catching up to her client in one of the activities of the interactive Wii Fit, a popular video game on the Nintendo Wii console.

The North Texas Rehabilitation Center has recently adapted the highly interactive game console into its physical therapy program.

“It gets them moving, and it is something that is interacting with them; they don’t realize they are doing therapy,” said Susan Knowles-Martin, Director of Marketing and Development for the center.

According to an article in PT Magazine, a professional magazine of the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists around the nation have been introducing the Wii to patients. This has led to a dramatic increase in treatment compliance and a general upbeat attitude about therapy.

“It’s about making the therapy interactive and fun,” said Knowles-Martin, who explained that because of the large number of children treated at the center, the Wii has allowed them to make therapy sessions more fun.

“It’s perfect for a facility like this. Half of our clients are kids from 3 years old all the way up to teenagers,” she said.

The trick is in the motion. The Wii Fit uses a unique platform called the Wii Balance Board that can measure a user’s weight and center of gravity. The game has about 40 different activities, which include yoga, aerobics and various balance games which have allowed the therapists to target specific areas of concern.

“It’s a way to measure their progress,” said Lesa Enlow, director of programs, who was showing the game off to a group of students from Archer City High School visiting the facility.

“This balance stuff is hard,” said one of the students as he stood on his toes while attempting a high jump in the ski-jumping module of Wii Fit.

Enlow sees the Wii as a training tool that can adapt to the needs of their clients as well.

“It’s modifiable enough to where you can be disabled and still use it,” she said.

The Wii wireless controller can also be used as a handheld pointing device since it can detect acceleration and orientation in three dimensions. This allows for therapists to use the game controller to measure various types of movements, she said.

“We have a machine back there for wheelchair patients; the wheel simulates the turning and you can do the exact same thing with the Wii,” Knowles-Martin said. “Instead of keeping them in the gym, you can have them turn a steering wheel with the Wii and watch their wrist movement.”

The Wii also has other therapeutic uses. According to PT Magazine, rehabilitation clinics around the country are making use of the Wii fitness package for improving weight bearing and balance in patients following total knee replacement or back surgery.

So far it has been a hit with the younger clients like Jackson.

As his head moved from one side to the other, a little character on the screen was heading soccer balls back to the kicker.

“Wow! I got it,” he said as the 20 minutes of physical therapy came to an end.

Knowles-Martin said kids see the game as play instead of an extension of therapy.

“Since they have a shorter attention span, you have to incorporate play into therapy. If it’s not fun to them and they don’t know why they are doing it, they won’t do it,” she said. “With the Wii they can see how good they do and it gets them excited.”

The Jet Man. Really.

Yes, this is a movie of a jet man, flying with a jet pack.

No, this has nothing to do with a game.

It’s real.

And I’m blogging about it anyway.

Cause games wish they were this cool. 😀

Check out the mechanical details of how the wing works, how he’s steering, etc… I won’t give them away here.

Here’s his site: http://www.jet-man.com/ In the upper right hand corner of the site, you can click EN to see an English language version of the site. But I figure the least we can do is click to his site first in his own language.  Don’t miss his other videos!

Oh, did you notice I tagged this one with ‘User Created’ ? 😀

The next game controller–your brain?

A “headset that uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals naturally produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expression… Project Epoc now makes it possible for games to be controlled and influenced by the player’s mind.”

Yowsa.  This is real!   Strange Days ahead!  (not for the young or the squeamish, btw)

So they’ve just announced Project Epoc this week at GDC – nice splash! – and you can apparently try it out there.  Anyone there have a comment for us?

An image from their site:

And some from GDC:

Here’s the ZDNet article,  The next game controller–your brain?Some highlights:

The Project Epoc system can move objects based on a gamer’s thoughts, reflect facial expressions and respond to the excitement or calm the gamer displays, the company said.

Sensors in the helmet pick up on electric signals in the brain. The system software analyzes the signals emitted by the brain and then wirelessly relays what it detects to a receiver. The receiver is plugged into the USB port of a game console or PC, according to Randy Breen, Emotiv’s chief product officer.

As with handwriting or voice recognition, the machine itself has a learning curve, improving as it better understands what the player is thinking, but there is also a skill level involving visualization on the part of the gamer.

“We have had a number of kids try the equipment, and they often get the best results right away,” Breen said. “Part of that is because the kid doesn’t have the same kind of barriers as an adult does. Lots of kids can fantasize about moving a cup (telekinetically) and believe it.”

Adults, on the other hand, are more definitive in their thinking and thus have a barrier to believing that they can do something out of the ordinary, Breen said.

The helmet shown at the show is only a prototype to demonstrate to game developers what can be done with the technology. While Emotiv is not yet ready to announce any partnerships, Breen did say the product will be coming to market in 2008.

In conjunction with Project Epoc’s debut, the company launched a kit for game developers Wednesday. Emotiv also announced that it is developing its technology for use in other industries, including medicine, security, market research and interactive television.

Here are some highlights from the company’s press release:

Emotiv has created the first brain computer interface technology that can detect and process both human conscious thoughts and non-conscious emotions. The technology, which comprises a headset and a suite of applications, allows computers to differentiate between particular thoughts such as lifting an object or rotating it; detect and mimic a user’s expressions, such as a smile or wink; and respond to emotions such as excitement or calmness.

Emotiv’s founding team includes Allan Snyder FRS (co-founder), an internationally-recognized scientist, inventor of the theory behind optical fibre and a winner of numerous awards, medals and fellowships, including the 2001 Marconi International Prize; Neil Weste (co-founder), a pioneer in chip design and founder of Radiata Communications which was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2001 for approximately A$500 million; and Tan Le (co-founder and president) and Nam Do (co-founder and CEO), both award-winning technology entrepreneurs and former founders of SASme, one of the companies responsible for the creation of Australia’s and South East Asia’s SMS application market.

Here’s the company website for Emotiv

Here’s the product info page for Project Epoc

Here’s the For developers page with more details

Photogallery from GDC 

IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds

Here’s the Reuters story, as published by CNET: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds

It’s from 9 November – I’m catching up a bit after getting back from my Brazil trip.  But it’s important enough to the Second Life story I’ve been watching and reporting here that I wanted to blog about it.

The abstract:

IBM is ramping up its push into virtual worlds with an investment of roughly $10 million over the next 12 months, including an expanded presence within the popular 3D online universe Second Life .

I highly recommend clicking and reading the article, but as usual want to clip some important quotes from it:

Second Life, where Reuters opened a bureau last month, is one of the best-known virtual worlds, with more than 1 million registered users and a well-established economy and currency. The equivalent of more than half a million U.S. dollars change hands there every day.

IBM has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It uses the world primarily for training and meetings but has also built a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

The company is also looking to build a private 3D intranet where it will be able to discuss sensitive business information. It is moving to champion what it calls “v-business”–short for virtual business–just as it championed “e-business,” or electronic business, during the dot-com boom.

“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?'” said Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business. “The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”

Don’t miss that link to the Reuters story about opening up a news bureau office in Second Life: Newsmaker:  Reuters’ ‘Second Life’ reporter talks shop.  Second Life is first in the space of virtual worlds that parallel and connect to our own – and the world has no real clue yet how important and vast that space is going to be.  The Web’s been hot for 15 years now.  Would you believe me if I said that these virtual worlds are going to be much bigger and more important than the Web?  I doubt you would, now.   Putting this on my blog puts it in writing – let’s check my prediction in 15 years, shall we?

A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.

“In addition to our desire to work more closely with Linden Labs, we’re exploring how we can work with many virtual world players, including companies like Multiverse and Bigworld Technology, as well as open source platforms like Uni-Verse.org,” the spokesman said in an email.

“IBM’s ultimate aim is for inter-world integration, instead of separate islands of virtual worlds, where you cannot cross over from one to the other in a consistent way,” he said.

This gets to things I have been thinking and talking about with friends, but have yet to blog about.  I’ll find time to do that next month.  Let me plant this seed: the inter-world integration IBM is looking toward and working on could be considered a 3D version of the Web – will it be Web 3.0? It will ideally also integrate with and be consistent with 3D modeling of actual reality (ala Google Earth and Flight Sim X) as well as with 3D gaming realities (ala WoW and EQ2 and all the others).

Could Apple Become Games Console King?

If you haven’t thought about Apple’s ability to compete with Sony and Microsoft in the living room convergence market, and ESPECIALLY if you haven’t heard of the iTV yet – yes, that’s like iPod for your TV – than you really want to check this short article out, by Aaron Ruby of Next Generation.

And it’s as entertaining as it is full of very very thought-provoking information. How unusual!

You really should click and read the whole thing, but if you won’t, here’s the snippet chock full of the most mind-blowing information:

According to Disney chief Bob Iger, the iTV wireless streaming media device will have a hard drive. He recently said “It’s a small box about the size of a novel, and not War and Peace, by the way. It plugs into the television like any other peripheral would, like a DVD device. It’s wireless. It detects the presence of computers in your home; in a very simple way you designate the computer you want to feed it and it wirelessly feeds whatever you downloaded on iTunes which include videos, TV, music videos, movies or your entire iTunes music library to your television set.”

A plausible argument by Roughly Drafted’s Daniel Eran has the iTV being held just long enough for Apple to introduce 802.11n, which would allow 200 Mbit connections to an access point, nearly 10 times the a/g variety and more than enough to stream DVD-quality content wirelessly from a Mac (and possibly a PC). That would help explain the inclusion of an HDMI connection on Apple’s new device. As Eran points out, you don’t need an HDMI connection if you are simply streaming downloadable 640X480 content.

Some have speculated that the iTV may also be destined to get one of Intel’s Conroe-L processors, which it would need to process the HD content Apple eventually wants to sell over iTunes. Further, according to some, it’s very possible video card drivers could be written so that graphic output data could be sent to a network port instead of the monitor connected to the card. That opens the possibility of using iTV and a wireless controller to remotely play Mac/PC games (*cough* WoW *cough*) in your living room.

Convenient then, that on September 7, 2006, Apple filed a patent application for a handheld electronic device with “multiple touch-sensitive devices.” Sure, the primary application of the patent is likely to layer a touch screen over the iPod’s display, but applications that involve improving gaming control with Apple products is not far-fetched.

All of this basically means that Apple could be on the verge of launching a slimmed down, single-core Mac Mini capable of streaming interactive content from a host computer and capable of storing and playing casual games locally.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out how well this builds on the ridiculous social AND business phenomenon that the iPod has become. And I’m sure I don’t need to point out how much sense this makes for truly enabling digital convergence – something which to this point has only been lamely satisfied by PC and software and console makers who are more interested in selling their own product than in allowing people to enjoy their media and games where and how they want to.

But what I feel like I DO have to point out is the implications of this bit:

Further, according to some, it’s very possible video card drivers could be written so that graphic output data could be sent to a network port instead of the monitor connected to the card. That opens the possibility of using iTV and a wireless controller to remotely play Mac/PC games (*cough* WoW *cough*) in your living room.

That is yet another reference to World of Warcraft, yes, everyone’s Holy Grail in the post-dot-com quest for the return of gigabucks. Like the idea of playing WoW on your couch, with a paperback sized touch screen controller?

But WoW isn’t the point or the end, it’s just a one gigabuck per year example of what this could be capable of. The really really interesting potential for this, if they do it like customers would want it, instead of as proprietary business instincts will want it – the really interesting potential for this is to make it a cross-platform convergence device, which will let us do whatever we want with our TV and entertainment center:

  • play music from our iPod or other mobile music device
  • take calls from our cell phones
  • watch DVDs or MP3s or Tivo or any other video stream
  • play a game that runs on our PC or Mac or Linux box
  • play a game that runs on our XBox 360 or PS3 or Wii
  • play a game that runs on our PSP or GBA or Zune
  • play a classic arcade game running in an arcade emulator running on the iTV itself
  • surf the web – putting that in one bullet isn’t really fair; there’s a whole range of Web apps which would be unprecented on a good audio/video entertainment system – just think about how much is happening with digital media of all kinds on the web, and how ideal our home entertainment system is for all those kinds of digital media
  • manage, organize, tag and edit our audio or video or digital photo collections, right from an ideally comfortable, loud and big-screen seat

I highlighted my own personal favorites, and I could go on – but tell me, am I exaggerating the potential importance of a wireless digital box which can feed our TV/stereo systems content from ANY digital source? I don’t think so. I think this could be Apple’s next iPod-scale success. Could being the operative word.

Multitouch interface-free computing at TED

TED is Technology Entertainment Design. TED rocks! Here’s a 9-minute film from February this year which is very much worth watching, with Jeff Han, research scientist at NYU, demoing a very compelling, very intuitive, very dynamic new way we will be interacting with our computers.

He is, of course, showing the best demos of the stuff they have implemented first to take advantage of the new UI metaphor. It looks great, it works great – but my challenge for them and the others working in the space is to implement the most important other apps we use every day with this new metaphor. Proving if and how this can work for daily mainstream computing is how this will really take off. What’s my email client look like? How do I search and surf the web? Manage a spreadsheet? A UI change this fundamental will require some pretty fundamental shifts in our assumptions. Visualizing things differently is one of the keys – and is something this UI metaphor makes possible in ways that aren’t so possible now. Data visualization that we can easily understand and navigate to fit the app we’re using – that’s the key for a bunch of apps, like managing my (huge) email history or searching the (huger) World Wide Web’s content.

Table-top touch-driven interfaces was perhaps the most common technology presented in the Emerging Technologies room at SIGGRAPH 2006 – and this is the best film demo I’ve seen online. If you know of others, please do post a comment with a link. Most of the applications as SIGGRAPH were geo-location applications – which is one of those he shows in this film.

TED just made my blogroll. 🙂