A VR Experience

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a frigid January when I found my friend Eddie knocking on my door at my home in Roblin about 3 years ago.  Welcoming my friend in the door I noticed he had this huge mysterious box. He was ecstatic and speaking so fast I was having trouble catching anything he had to say. 

Setting the box on the kitchen table he finally slowed himself down and began setting on the table the components of the box of mystery:  

  • A hardcore laptop
  • A big high-tech headset
  • Some stick hand controllers
  • Lots of wires
  • Package padding
Fig 1 Photo credit BestBuy

It’s Finally Happening & I’m Excited

I was growing in excitement as he laid things out.  I had heard so much about VR (virtual reality) but hadn’t actually any real first hand experience.  This was going to be my first time and thankfully I had the rest of the evening free to do whatever I desired.

Fig 2 Picture credit Playstation VR

Hooking everything up and powering up the experience was the easy part.  The hard part was clearing out enough space so nothing could get broken or anyone hurt.  Then it began… a sensation comes about as the immersive experience takes hold. I felt like I was almost in another world and it was pretty neat to say the least.  

But How Are The Controls?

The controls were very responsive and I had little trouble quickly adapting to the way of things.  Transitioning from traditional hand-eye control using controllers and a screen, I saw the appeal that VR would have to anyone but knew instantly that it would not replace the old ways at all.  VR games can really wear on the user’s stamina and alot more energy is exerted in order to play. Although there are a lot of advantages and benefits to this playstyle, I believe most people will burn out quickly and resort back to their old systems in the long run.  

A Relaxing Simulation Experience

The VR experience does not just encapsulate gaming though.  I used it as a simulation and just laid back and listened to the music while staring into the sea in my headset, it truly was a relaxing and amazing experience.  Next I tried floating in space. It became apparent to me that this technology goes beyond gaming and could be used educationally or as an outlet to destress or reflect.

Fig 3 Photo credit PCGamer

The Conclusive Results Are In…

Truly this new technology can help us carve a new path in how to educate ourselves better in a lot of fields.  At the same time it serves a purpose as a form of entertainment and gaming. Lastly, after my own experience, I see how this technology can be applied to treating people who are stressed out and/or depressed.  An escape, a way to educate, and a gaming platform, I look forward to the evolution of VR.

Desktop view

6 New and Emerging Tech Highlights Pt. 2.

Continuing our discussion from my last blog post, we will finish the list of new and emerging technology out there in the world at this very moment.

Machine Learning

Image courtesy of Alex Knight from Pexels

You may have heard the term machine learning before, and are likely unfamiliar with what machine learning actually is. As defined by expertsystem.com, machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that aims to give a program/system the ability to learn and improve from experience without actually being programmed by an individual. It involves programming the the original software to be able to recognize patterns and therefore make better decisions in the future. This is achieved by giving the system example information, and instructions in its coding.

One of the most common examples of machine learning technology that is being used in the world is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop uses machine learning to find faces in images, analyze the faces and find “landmarks” such as eyebrows, lips, and eyes to determine the position of the face and alter the facial expression of the person, all while not making the image an absolute mess to look at.

Chatbots

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Chatbots have been around for quite a while, and are essentially an AI system developed to talk with the user as if it were another human being. These programs started quite a long time ago with sites called jabberwacky, and cleverbot letting you have a conversation with this bot. The early iterations of chatbots were not very good at making it seem like you were having an actual conversation. They would often spout nonsense and seem to just babble. As they’ve developed chatbots have started to be used by businesses to interact with their customers who are visiting their websites and need assistance. They are generally used to help guide the customer through the website and start email exchanges for support tickets for products. Starbucks has its own chatbot that syncs with it’s mobile app and lets you place your order, and customize it through a text chat with their bot. The aim of chatbots for the future is for them to act as a concierge, guiding the user to where they need, as well as reminding them when they need to restock on certain products, and answering their questions.

Facial Recognition

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Facial recognition is known to be used predominantly in the security industry, but it is being used more and more in other industries. One industry being hospitality. Expedia has partnered with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, and with the viewer’s permission, is using facial recognition software to see which images and videos (showing various different activities on the Hawaii Islands) on their site evoke the best reactions by detecting by analyzing the movements in their face to determine the emotions of the viewer.

All in all, technology is making great strides forward and we should all be excited with the potential and possibilities that lie ahead for technology.

Graphic Design Tools

Essential Gadgets for every IMA Student

Whether you’re new to the Interactive Media Arts program, or an esteemed second year student well on your way to escaping, there are a few neat gadgets and products that can help you with designing, editing and content creating. My eventual goal with this list is to help new and old IMA students know what tools are helpful for the program, and what they can be used for.

Image Courtesy of pexels.com

1, A Drawing Tablet

Drawing tablets are helpful for more than just what the name suggests. Tablets are useful as they allow you to streamline your movements in applications in the Creative Cloud, and are also extremely useful for creating unique shapes and designs for various different results. What adds to the appeal of using a tablet over a mouse and keyboard, is that tablets allow for much more natural movements, and can make jobs like drawing assets and animating much easier than it would be with a keyboard and mouse.

Image Courtesy of pexels.com

2. A Laptop

Laptops make college work a lot easier, as it allows for students to take their work on the move with them. Having a laptop means you can work with all of your files in multiple different locations without having to worry about cloud storage or external drives, and the transferring, uploading and downloading that comes with it. Having a laptop allows you to keep everything in one place, helping you be much more organized then if your files were spread out across multiple different storage’s, making files harder to find.

Image Courtesy of pexels.com

3. A Sketchbook

While this one isn’t really a “gadget” by conventional standards, it’s an extremely useful tool when it comes to the design process. Having a sketchbook allows for students to make their ideas have a tangible, rough draft before heading onto the computer, where creative decisions can be a little hard to implement and change then when you’re working with traditional means. Being able to make drafts of designs before the actual design is implemented is extremely important for the design process as well, as an individual can come up with more ideas quicker than they could working on a computer.

Image Courtesy of pexels.com

4. Headphones

Headphones are incredibly useful for being an IMA student for a variety of reasons. The most obvious being that they come in hand when dealing specifically with the audio courses, like Digital Audio or Digital Video. A good set of headphones will allow you to fine-tune your audio choices so much more and really deliver a clear, high-quality final result that you can be proud of. Another reason why headphones can be considered to be important to the IMA program is they allow you to listen to music, which can be a huge inspiration and motivator for the creative process. Music can help inspire designers in so many ways, from the overall feel of a product, or something smaller like the colour palette of a piece.

black-flat-screen-computer-monitor-1714208

6 New and Emerging Tech Highlights Pt. 1.

When it comes to technology, there’s a lot going on. From new tech that is helping to personalize online business to customer interactions, to tech that helps to make your devices more secure, to the always present virtual reality. We’re going to take a quick look at some relatively new and emerging tech, as well as tech that’s been around for a while and is getting progressively better.

Virtual Reality

virtual reality
Image Courtesy of: https://pexels.com

Let’s start with one that’s been around for some time and has been progressively getting better. We all know what virtual reality is. You put on a funny little headset, swing your arms around wildly trying to hit a monster, slash a block for points, or pick up an object just because you can. All the while you are more than likely going to run into something or someone because, well, you can’t see anything outside the game. That’s all virtual reality is right? Really janky controls that barely work and the possibility of real world hurt. Honestly, you’re not completely wrong. You’ll run the risk of running into things due to your lack of real-world spatial awareness once that headset is on. On the flip side, virtual reality has come a long way in so much as the design of the games is at the point where the team at vrgluv.com have created haptic gloves which use precision hand-tracking to help control your movements in-game, making it all the more realistic of an experience.

Biometrics

Image Courtesy of: https://stock.adobe.com

Biometrics (think sensors that are able to read what’s happening in your body, fingerprint scanners, etc.) is an interesting branch of technology. It has been around for some time, but is getting to the point where it’s usable for more than just scanning your fingerprint to unlock your phone. There are iris scanners for more secure protection on your devices, as well as special sensors that can measure your heart rate, blood glucose levels, body temperature, and more. This technology is making it easier for individuals to help regulate and track their “stats” if you will. It can be used by fitness buffs looking to stay healthy, people who don’t like inputting passwords to unlock their devices, and most importantly, can be used in the healthcare field, helping doctors and nurses regulate and track their patients’ vitals.

Voice Activation

Image Courtesy of: https://stock.adobe.com

Voice activation is a technology that we’ve had access to for some time as well. From the ability to text using your voice, to virtual assistants on your devices (Google Assistant & Siri), to your Amazon Alexa or Google Home for activating things around the house easier. This technology has progressed to the point where you can more confidently ask your phone to call your best friend by name and not have it dial a random number. This tech keeps getting more precise and accurate.

This post will carry on next week with the continuation of this interesting and emerging tech list.

Is Media Ruining Body Image?


The images of perfect bodies and gleaming smiles that fill social media are being blamed for causing profound insecurities among many young people.

 

Adolescents has always been a time for feeling awkward and unattractive, a problem made even worse when social media posts suggest everyone else has the perfect figure.

 

Zachary Cullen is a student finishing his freshman year in high school, “I feel like there’s a lot of things you you feel like you need to do and need to be, I feel those things too. ” Cullen says. “In high school, it really changed because there’s a lot more people and a lot more peer pressure to look the best way you can.”

 

And social media isn’t helping those who struggle with body image.

 

 

On the other side of town, counsellor Ryan Sturgeon works with teens who are struggling with body issues, “One in four teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their body.” Sturgeon says. “[And] one in two teen girls, according to Canadian Pediatrics Society.”

 


Though men are typically not the target of beauty campaigns, they are also victims to media’s portrayal of what men should be.

 

Todd M. Wysocki, a professor of Psychology has conducted research in his article, Male Body Image: The Best Kept Secret , “215 college men completed a body image questionnaire developed specifically for this study.” Wysocki says. “More than half indicated some level of body dissatisfaction and 86% identified a desire to change parts of their body.”

 

But are body positive campaigns really aiming to help those who are struggling with body image, or are they a simply a target for advertising agencies?

 

Campaign Backlash

 

Dove, a beauty company that has a well known background in promoting heart felt body acceptance campaigns – received negative backlash when they decided the create shampoo with different “body shapes” to represent the diversity of shapes.

 

Some consumers are not please with Dove’s philosophy behind their new product. (Photo taken from www.Dove.com).


“Our six exclusive bottle designs represent this diversity: just like women, we wanted to show that our iconic bottle can come in all shapes and sizes, too.” Dove said on
its website.

 

Though on the consumer side of things, Nicolle Neulist is not impressed with the product. “I don’t want fat representation in soap bottle form.” Neulist says, “I’d prefer it in a form of fat people not being systematically treated poorly.”

 

It seems that she is not alone, many people have taken to twitter to voice their opinion.

 

Photo taken from www.twitter.com.

 

Photo taken from www.twitter.com.


Beauty companies that campaign for body positive isn’t fighting the real problem that alot who struggle with their body image: eating disorders.

 

The University of Pittsburgh has researched the correlation between eating disorders and social media. “[The] subjects who spent the most time engaged with social media each day had 2.2 times the risk of developing eating disorders.” The report continues, “ [Additionally,] those who most frequently checked their social media feeds weekly carried 2.6 times the risk.”

 

Back in the city, Cullen is taking a more healthy approach – he has been boxing for almost a year now. “It’s not really how my body looks now,” Cullen says. “It’s how boxing makes me feel. I am more confident in myself.”  

The most popular massive multiplayer online types

With the changes in the internet some people who like to play video games may want to play with lots of other people who share similar interest as them. For some people when they think of massive multiplayer online(MMO) games their mind think of the massive World of Warcraft, and there is no surprise to that because of the millions of people who still to this day are playing. Read More

Dive Technology

Dive technology, a newer and very untested but promising piece of tech which if it pays off can lead to immense developments in the fields of design and all parts of life, but since we’re focusing to the design element here i’ll keep it to this industry.

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Guy playing video games

Why Building From Scratch is Better Than Not!

“Calling All Gamers, I Repeat, Calling All Gamers”! I’m here to inform you guys and gals why you should look into building your own gaming pc instead of buying store bought products. Some reasons that I will let you guys in on will be Price, Performance, and Components to have a stellar, yet powerful pc for any types of games or videos that you are about to delve into.

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Chromosphere Isn’t Just A Science Thing Anymore

I’ve always love the idea of creating your own art style and own identity that makes you stand out from the crowd. One day while was I scrolling through YouTube I came across this video:

I fell in love with this video, but also with the animation and style. So, I decided to do some research into finding out who created the video, it wasn’t until one day when @rebeccasugar on Instagram tagged @chromosphereLA, was went I drove head first into this creative and wonderful world of Chromosphere.

Read More

Forgetfulness… Wait, What Was I Suppose To Write About??

If you are a fan of Steven Universe, then you might be familiar with a character named Opal. Opal is a fusion and “Giant Women” named by Steven between Amethyst and Pearl and has the traits of Agility and Accuracy; however, she has one trait that makes her a unique and funny character: She is forgetful.

I have come to relate with Opal somedays and I created this little theory known as the Opal Paradox. The Opal Paradox is the theory of; “There are days where I knew I have an important project that’s due tomorrow, then suddenly I forget about that project I was working on because I got distracted by technology, work, or by other distractions.” Long story short; The main reason that I forgot to submit this blog by 12:30 PM and missed my deadline.

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Connecting with Google

The use of Google Classroom has made education more convenient than ever.  It wasn’t that long ago when I attended classes where the professor would use actual chalk on an olden days object known as a “chalkboard” and used it to write down important notes.  Google’s Apps for Education is a series of applications designed for schools to help them communicate with their students…and it is quite helpful.

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Don’t Miss the Small Things in Life!

Do you ever look at your phone to see what time it is and then get distracted because someone just posted something amazing? Meanwhile you stick the phone back in your pocket forgetting to check the time. We humans love gossip, we love seeing what others have to say, but did you know that we spend about 7 hours a day on the internet; watching TV, streaming, and social media? Before the technology we have now, kids between the ages of 7-18 would interact by meeting up to the closest malt shop or park to socialize. Now you can’t go without seeing a 7 year old who doesn’t have a smartphone.

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Tattoo Technology

 

Getting a tattoo is usually a special event for a person, often commemorating something important, or a mile stone of sorts. From black and grey, to full on tattoos consisting of over 25 colours, like myself, a tattoo can come in all shapes and sizes.

But, what if I told you that you could use a tattoo to control your phone, or use that same phone to listen to a tattoo?

Well, good news, folks! You can do both!

In April of 2017, Nate Siggard created the first playable tattoo that you can listen to with the use of his now popular app, Skin Motion.  With this success he created a company with the same name and created the now popular Soundwave Tattoos. The idea is that you get the sound wave image of the sound that you want tattooed onto you by a specialist. With the help of the Skin Motion app, you can then play it back as many times as you want.

Another interesting, and slightly strange, new tech coming out in the tattoo world is Duo Skin. Created by MIT Media Lab and Microsoft, a custom, functional device attaches to a person’s skin and can interact with your technology. The way that it is made is the design is created in any design software, then sent out and printed with a film cutter. This is then traced on to tattoo paper and layered on with gold leaf (used as a conductive material), where the electronics are placed. Then you apply, or “install” this onto your skin.  Some of the designs can even have LED lights put into them to enhance the look of the tattoo. There are three different types of uses for this: input devise which act like a track pad or controller; output display which changes colour based on your temperature or emotion; or communication devices, which include NFC tags so you can read data with your skin.

There are many more advances coming out in the tattoo industry, including helping in the medicine field and longer lasting temporary tattoos, because commitment is hard.

Will you take any of these new advances into consideration when you plan your next tattoo?

For more information check out these links:

https://skinmotion.com/

http://duoskin.media.mit.edu/