The New Reality (AR Breakdown)

I have only paid attention to Augmented Reality for a few years now but it has been going on since the late 90’s. AR is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. If I really wanted to, I could have a Smurf juggling apples in front of me. In reality that is, not happening but I am visualizing it through a screen. That leads me to ask the question; what is reality? With the growth rate of AR and its relative VR, otherwise known as Virtual Reality. Our realities are about to change, if they haven’t already.

PAST

AR began its life back in the olden days, well, by olden days I mean 1998. It first appeared as the yellow first down line that you see on TV while watching a football game. The term Augmented Reality was coined eight years earlier by Boeing researcher Thomas Caudell. Back then it wasn’t a serious topic but now they have evolved AR into such things like the Google glass and heads-up displays in car windshields.

CURRENT

Technology Companies are taking advantage of this and using it to evolve their apps on mobile devices. Snapchat for example, uses AR to allow users to wear an augmented mask, otherwise known as a Snapchat filter. IKEA uses AR on their app to allow customers to visualize what a piece of furniture may look like in their house before they even buy it.

FUTURE

AR is heading in a very impressive direction. Holograms becoming a reality are very near. Microsoft and multiple other companies have dedicated teams to working on such a project. AR and VR are working with each other as well, allowing users to take advantage of the benefits from both Virtual and Augmented Reality. It’s a multi-dimensional reality.

IMPORTANCE

AR is not just some toy people can play with either. Multiple industries use the innovative technology, including: healthcare, public safety, gas and oil, tourism, and marketing.

“Neural implants could accomplish things no external interface could: Virtual and augmented reality with all five senses; augmentation of human memory, attention, and learning speed; even multi-sense telepathy – sharing what we see, hear, touch, and even perhaps what we think and feel with others.” –Ramez Naam

It’s amazing technology; use it to your advantage.

VW Heated Windshields

As people who reside in the Great White North, we are (somewhat) accustomed to the cold weather. We know that we need to start the car early to warm it up, and that in the depth of winter, we will most likely need to spend a couple minutes chipping away at the frost and ice on our windshields. Volkswagen has developed a new technology for their windshields, a “silver lining” that could potentially solve a lot of those problems, without the flaws of previous models.

Other companies have implemented heated windshields before; it’s nothing new. “Ford Quickclear” is one of the top examples of a heated windshield technology. However, in Ford’s (and others’) case, the heated windshields used thin filament wires to heat the glass and clear away ice and snow. The problem with these filaments is that while they are mostly invisible, drivers reported that, especially in bright or direct lighting, the filaments were distracting and annoying. Imagine driving down the highway and having every passing car’s headlights reflecting off the thousands of tiny filaments in your windshield. I think I would rather spend the extra couple minutes scraping off the ice than deal with that.

The new type of windshield uses a thin layer of electrically conductive silver instead. This layer can handle up to 400-5oo watts of electricity to warm up the windshield, and is completely invisible to the driver! While the other methods surely got the job done, this new method trumps its predecessors because it isn’t distracting or annoying like the others. Additionally, the bottom sections have extra filaments to keep the windshield wipers from icing up.

As a bonus, Volkswagen claims that the ultra-thin layer of silver is not only beneficial for winter driving, but for summer as well. According to VW, the silver layer actually reflects some of the heat from the sun, keeping the interior of the car cooler. As opposed to the traditional green/blue tinting of windows, the silver keeps the car a whole 15 degrees cooler in sunlight. While I’m sure these new vehicles would come with A/C, getting into a car that’s been parked in the sun all day would be slightly less vomit-inducing.

The wireless, filament-free windshield is an optional extra for European Volkswagen models, however it is not available in North America at this time. I find this kind of ironic because typically we deal with more frost and snow than a lot of European countries. But with the rapid improvement of technology in cars, I’m sure it won’t be long until we see something like this here.

 

Are Roll-Up Displays Necessary?

In our industry of technology, there are a lot of advancements being made every day. Some that change the world for the better, some for the worse, and sometimes… we end up somewhere that, from my perspective, doesn’t do either. This is the case for LG Display (a company known for its high quality LCD displays for T.V.’s, laptops, and other devices) who have recently revealed their prototype for the world’s first roll-up display.

You may be wondering, “What’s a roll-up display?” A roll-up display is exactly what it sounds like; it is a screen capable of being rolled-up similar to a newspaper.

When I had seen this prototype for the first time, I was intrigued, to say the least; My mind was purely focused on the groundbreaking technology that this display must possess to make such flexibility possible.  However, with time, my perspective began to change. I chose to question the necessity of this feature in today’s world. Never once have I ever heard someone say, “This T.V. is so rad! If only I could roll it up like a piece of aluminum foil! That would be extra groovy!” 90’s slang aside, the point still stands. Do we really need this feature, or do the displays we have right now suffice?

LGflexibledisplay

The Roll-Up Display demonstrating its feature.

It’s very debatable that this product, if ever released, could be marketable at all. Technological products are often marketed for their convenience and ability to save us time in our busy schedules. While this product does provide convenience in terms of its portability, LG claims that this 18″ display feels just like newspaper. If you’ve ever held a newspaper, you know they’re very difficult to keep up without the use of two hands. That is where this display’s inconvenience lies. Why use both hands to hold this display while watching Netflix when a tablet could do just the same while on your lap, hands free?

As I stated above, this piece of technology is still in development, being a prototype and all, but I remain skeptic as to how this newspaper display could ever be marketable to consumers when there are more convenient products already available. I sincerely hope that LG Display eventually reveals what else this product can do, and why it’s better than what can be done right now. As for now, this Newspaper Display remains innovative technology without a purpose.

ALLie – Revolutionizing Security

In our daily lives, keeping an eye out for our loved ones and valuable possessions can become a difficult task to take on. Appointments on the horizon, piles and piles of work adding up; we’re sometimes forced away from the comfort of our own homes to get these tasks done, so just how can we make sure everything is safe? Enter the new ALLie (pronounced Awl-ee) from IC Real Tech, Inc., the camera that can stream video up, down, and all around. I believe this is some state of the art technology, making sure you’ll never be left in the dark again.

When is the last time you and your family went on a vacation? Perhaps one that would keep you away from home for weeks? Odds are, keeping your computer safe while you’re gone is a huge concern. ALLie can be connected to your WIFI, so you’re easily able to see through it through the computer at the hotel your family is staying at, allowing you to keep an eye on that sweet computer of yours hundreds of kilometers away. And with the ALLie smart phone app, ALLie’s camera can be accessed straight from your phone or tablet.

ALLie being demonstrated through a tablet.

ALLie being demonstrated through a tablet.

 

When ALLie’s capabilities are taken a step further, the security of our world can be further expanded to a home environment. What if there were more things than your computer that you wanted to check on from time to time? Like, a lit up fireplace in the living room as you’re caring for a baby? The phrase “want to see” slowly changes into “need to see” as the circumstances change, but we’re not always available to meet those needs. ALLie puts your mind at ease when you’re away by being your second pair of eyes and ears. As you’re cooking dinner in the kitchen, you can use your smartphone to pan around the room and zoom in to exactly where the baby is.

I think the world can be changed for the better with ALLie’s innovative design and technology, but only as far as we’re willing to allow it. If every single ALLie of the world were only put towards being used as  720 degree selfie machines, that would be seriously hindering its abilities. Instead, if ALLie is used towards not only making our lives, but the lives around us more secure, then our world will become that much brighter.