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Matt Crosslin

Will Vue Make Wearable Smart Glasses More Practical?

2 min read

A few years ago, I made a technology trailer for a grad class. Justin Dellinger of LINK Lab was part of it, and he made a spontaneous joke in the video about how he had to get the prescription Google Glasses so he could teach his class. Little did he know he was predicting the future. Or maybe he did know? Either way, it looks like Vue is well on its way to funding a KickStarter to create more practical wearable glasses. And yes, you can get your prescription lenses in these. As the video above shows, the creators of Vue took the clunky nature of Google Glass into consideration, making their glasses stylish and practical ("Smart glasses - you can spot them a mile away"). Oh, and they removed the creepy camera. What is left might not win over those that loved Google Glass, but at least these glasses will be more practical. Which is good, because many people are starting to look at wearables and say "so what?" If the makers of wearables want to move forward, they have to move from clunky and distracting to practical and seamless. The Vue is a step in that direction it seems. The big question is will they tap into the AI capabilities of things like Siri more. or will you have to learn a whole new set of apps that make you do everything? What will they do with the data that is collected if they do tap into AI? What privacy issues will they create if Siri can know where you are and what direction you are looking? We will see as the KickStarter was looking for $50K and currently has nearly $1.4 million. Yes, million. A lot of people want this form of smart glasses. Did Google Glass ever reach $1 million in sales?

Matt Crosslin

Google Earth VR Takes Virtual Reality Global

2 min read

Most people probably saw this coming once Google Maps started offering 3-D maps of certain parts of larger cities, but now we have Google Earth VR. Certain select areas of the Earth are offered in virtual realty for HTC Vive users. The Vive is and $800 device that requires a powerful computer to run, so don't see this as global virtual tourism for the masses. But it is another sign that interest in virtual reality is exploding. Services like this are probably a good way to work the kinks out of VR navigation and interface problems. Someday we will probably see VR "record and broadcast" devices that cane be set in a room or at a famous landmark or whatever to record video and sound in immersive VR to broadcast like Facetime. Then those devices will probably be integrated into our phones as quickly as possible. So now is probably a good time to start talking about the future of immersive real word broad VR. What will privacy, permission, data, etc become in a situation where a device can record and broadcast immersive VR from all directions? I like the idea of visiting the Eiffel Tower from my living room, but what happens when my neighbor carelessly broadcasts their VRcast (maybe that will be a thing?) from their front yard and my window is open?

Matt Crosslin

How Will Learners Create Their Own Content in Virtual Reality

1 min read

When talking to educators about Virtual Reality, the big question I always run into is "how can my learners create their own content?" This is a good question. If we don't get our learners into the creation process, we are really just creating fancy textbooks and lectures, or slightly more immersive movie experiences. Interesting but passive in the end. There are some ways to use newer high-end phones to record 3-D panoramic images with apps like Panorama 360 or InstaVR. But these aren't moving, and you need some serious sound equipment to re-create immersive sounds. Projects like Jump from Google are looking at how to work on these issues. But even then you are looking at recording the world around you, bringing in limitations. How does one create content for games, fiction scenarios, historical re-creations, etc? It seems that Google is also looking into this with the Daydream platform (see also the video above). Still very rudimentary, but a good start. Someday we can hope that building VR will become as easy as placing a box of crayons and paper in front of learners and letting them create whatever comes to mind.

Matt Crosslin

Are We About to See Virtual Reality Go "Mainstream"

1 min read

Virtual Reality seems to be everywhere I look now in technology news. Does this mean that VR is about to leap from "cool futuristic idea" to "mainstream tool that most people are familiar with"? We will see. Just in the past week alone: Sony Playstation finally released their long awaited VR headset and suit of games (with reviews not always being that glowing), Occulus Rift released a pair of controllers (that did earn glowing reviews), Walmart started selling a headset/controller combo that turns your smartphone into a VR device for $19.98 (made out of plastic instead of cardboard), and a VR model was used to convict a Nazi War criminal. The real educational potential will be more in allowing learners to design their own experiences in VR, from creating 3-D models that they can then walk around virtually to designing and releasing various games and simulations.

Justin T Dellinger

Five Days of Pokemon (or So I Thought)

1 min read

After Pokemon Go came out, I prepared myself for the onslaught of articles pertaining to the application of the game to education. Audrey Watters best summed up my feelings in a singe tweet:

Regardless, I decided to see if there was any substance to the notion and I started playing on July 27. I planned to play for just five days and finish on the 31st, but life was extremely busy at the time and I kept playing past my self-imposed deadline. Most of the aforementioned articles popped up in July and August (ex: http://www.tcea.org/blog/pokemon-go/, http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/educational-potential-pokemon-go, http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/08/03/educators-weigh-learning-value-of-pokemon-go.html and my contribution is definitely late to the game. My post highlights my positive and negative experiences, as well as a few ways that an educator could consider utilizing the app. Here is some more information if you have the inkling!

Happy hunting!

 

Matt Crosslin

Visualizing Wearble Data: Is It a Good Idea?

1 min read

Finding ways to visualize wearable data is sometimes a tough challenge. How exactly do yo visualize physical attributes when the meaning of those numbers are different for each person? Then there are the ethical considerations of what should you be displaying and where you should display it. So this article about displaying stress levels for everyone to see seems more concerning than intriguing (see also the video above about bio-wearables). Anyone that has used a stress monitoring device of some kind knows they are not always accurate. But even when they are, would you really want that information broadcast to people around you? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't - we are probably all different. But there is also the very real concern of people that could see you are stressed and take advantage of that. Which I realize already happens without technology, but the concern over what data is being collected and who it is available to is a huge one to grapple with.

Matt Crosslin

Room Scale Virtual Reality with a Smart Phone

1 min read

If you are like me, the first time you used Virtual Reality, you probably ran into one of the more painful problems with VR: you can't see real life obstacles with a device that blocks your view. While it might seem that mapping an entire room into VR would be incredibly expensive, Occipital has found a way to bring that price down to $500. Occipital's Structure Sensor can apparently scan the room around you in 3-D, and bring the physical world into your virtual one. So now, instead of being a passive participant basically watching a VR movie unfold, you could possibly roam around in simulations with real movement (instead of moving virtually with a controller pad or awkwardly with an omni-directional treadmill). And while $500 is not cheap, its still less expensive than other options.

Matt Crosslin

Creating Touchable Holograms through 3-D Printing

1 min read

Anyone that watches SciFi knows that the big downfall to holograms is that you can't touch them. You just pass right through them, ruining the illusion. However, in real life there are several projects working on creating touchable holograms. The problem with these projects are - of course - the cost and availability of tools. But the general idea is that you use focused sound waves to create resistance at various points in mid-air to mimic the feel of virtual objects. New work is going into creating cheaper ways to do this, including printing tools that help shape sound waves in 3-D printers. Of course, this only works for static objects, but its still a new idea that will get more sophisticated over time. The video above really doesn't make much sense outside of the article, but it is pretty interesting at the end where they make drops of water levitate in mid-air.

Matt Crosslin

Turning Virtual Reality Into Simulator Rides

2 min read

One of the biggest problems with Virtual Reality that I keep coming back to (other than cost and ethical concerns) is the lack of interaction in most VR simulations. There are many ways around this, but many of them still involve tracking hands or movements. If you want to go sit on a virtual horse, you can't. Until now it seems. FutureTown has created a device that converts into a motor bike, a mechanical horse, and a standing ski/surfing simulation board (see the promo video above). Connect this device to your favorite VR headset, and its like you are almost there! Well, not really, but it probably does bring us closer to Holodecks. But it also highlights the problems with the whole idea: how expensive is it going to get to create a new set-up for every way you could use this? Cars, boats, biking, etc all have different contexts for motion. Will this be useful for education anytime soon? Not really. But I did get to play in something like this in a mall - basically, an eggshell that worked like a space ship while I fought off an alien invasion. It was pretty cool, bur practical? We will have to see.

Matt Crosslin

Artificial Intelligence Meets Instant Messaging in Google Allo

2 min read

One thing you have to give Google - they are always willing to try new things. Of course, I can't remember what the last new Google "thing" was that I read a few months ago, so that could be good or bad. But today Google announced Google Allo, a new messaging app. Its basically another version of testing or iMessage or (insert an messaging predecessor here). So nothing to get excited about there. However, they are combining it with a new Google Assistant to add some artificial intelligence to the mix. Basically, you don't have to leave the app to look up directions (or whatever the task may be) - you can tell the AI to look it up and it will display in the app. It will also give you some suggested responses based on the messages you get. Basically it lets the AI do the Googling for you (the video above covers the more cutesy aspects, but the linked article includes more interesting ideas and details on things like Incognito mode). Interesting ideas, but do I have to get all my friends on Allo to use it? That seems to be the downfall of so many new Google ideas. Its hard to get people in new apps that don't go viral like Pokemon Go.