Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
Skytemple Design is proud to announce our latest project,
SKYTEMPLE SPACE DIVISION
Until now, Skytemple Space Division has been kept top secret. Skytemple staff have been legally bound to nondisclosure agreements. We have lived the last year in the shadows while secretly preparing to lead the way into the final frontier for web design companies.
Finally, our story can be told.
All the way back in 2011 a strange discussion erupted at one of our weekly meetings concerning the news of actor Ashton Kutcher’s recent purchase of a $200,000 ticket aboard one of Virgin Galactic’s new sub-orbital space ships.
Richard Branson, the billionaire head of the Virgin Group claims to have already sold 500 tickets aboard Virgin Galactic’s as-yet launched sub-orbital space fleet.
This got us wondering: why doesn’t Skytemple have a Galactic Space Fleet? We couldn’t come up with an answer.
So after months of soul-searching, we started construction on our proposed Orbiting Sky Temple and our fleet of Skytemple Space Cruisers.
It is thanks to these efforts that we are able to offer our celebrated services in a whole new way.
Websites, in SPACE!
The orbiting Sky Temple hosts three shuttle docks and an impressive array of anti-drone space missiles. Inside its fifty-thousand square foot interior, it boasts impressive living quarters including 70 bathrooms, a full space tennis court, a zero g sauna, and a staff of over three hundred robots. It is 4G and Space Wi-Fi integrated.
Each of the six Skytemple Space Cruisers is staffed by a crew of seven pilots, three engineers, and four attendants. In-flight meals are prepared by master space-chefs and include ‘Astronaut’ versions of all your favorite foods. Freeze-dried ice cream, freeze-dried open faced portable mushroom paninis and freeze-dried foie gras are just a sampling of the vast menu.
I know what you’re wondering. Will Skytemple still make great websites and offer expert consultation for all of my marketing needs? Of course. We will simply be doing it from our gigantic orbiting Sky Temple from now on.
Check back often for future news and information about how you can apply to live in the orbiting Sky Temple!
The Future is Now
Augmented Reality, or computer mediated reality, is already all around us. Although we may not be able to buy The Terminator’s glasses or Jordy LaForge’s ocular implants, the world of fully immersive computer mediated experiences that blend the real world and the digital are not far off.
At a recent brainstorming session, we talked about the promises and pitfalls of this emerging technology as well as some of our own ideas on the possibilities of Augmented Reality. To give some focus to our vision, we each created cards describing the features that could come out of this emerging technology.
A Little History
Augmented Reality could be said to have it’s roots in a famously abandoned technology of the early computer revolution, Virtual Reality. Speculators ranging from Timothy Leary to William Gibson had dreams of building fully immersive 3d virtual worlds. Suits encased the user literally in bulky helmets and gloves, sometimes full body suits – and at their most extreme, buckled harnesses attached to human sized centrifugal hoops designed to free the user from the bounds of gravity. Unfortunately the dream exceeded the technology of the time. Virtual Reality never took off in large part because computers able to handle the amount of raw data needed to continuously render convincing interactive 3d worlds simply was too expensive and cumbersome for the average consumer.
Augmented Reality became a kind of middle ground. A staging area where the ideas and techniques of a virtual interactive 3d world could be tested by mixing them with real world objects and locations. On one end, exhaustive and exacting GPS coordinating became possible enabling geolocation accuracy down to a few feet and closing every day.
The real world was mapped and digested into numbers and fed into computers all over the world, creating a exhaustive, immense, and self-perpetuating mosaic of a world more detailed than the most thorough fantasy realm. The advance of personal portable computers in the form of PDAs and Smart phones has given rise to an already existing unseen virtual world growing up all around us. Best of all this virtual world is hosted in an ever expanding wireless web; cloud computing is slowly but surely breaking down the limitations of storage capacity and information access.
On the other hand, immersive multiplayer virtual worlds have grown both in popularity and sophistication. Two examples being the ever prevalent World of Warcraft (just one of many online communities who’s virtual economic system has grown so large and complex that it has given rise to cottage industries of ‘gold farmers’ who buy and trade virtual items for real world currency) and the recently released Skyrim, which has dazzled audiences and critics with it’s level of immersion and sophistication. In the last few years however, each of these splintered fields has been increasingly linked to create powerful applications which overlay the virtual world onto the physical.
The Writing On The Wall
One of the most familiar uses of Augmented Reality is in sports. Many people are familiar with the yellow ‘first down’ line in Football which appears to actually be painted on the field but is really generated by computer in real time, but many other sports use the technology to display advertising on empty playing field walls.
Applications on Android and iPhones can supply a kind of computer-mediated vision of the world. Some display simple things such as maps and information about surrounding points – all with the aid of location-identifying GPS coordinators, while others directly overlay the position of the planetary bodies, stars, and satellites, or real-time special effects such as laser blasts and explosions. While these early uses of Augmented reality may seem, at their best, like simple expansions on existing technologies, and at their worst gimmicky novelties, AR has the very real potential to change everything about how humans interact with the world. From advertising to architecture there is nothing off limits to AR.
As computers creep from the desk, to our pockets, weaving into our very clothes and perhaps some day our flesh, the question has become not when, but how computers will mediate our lives. Will AR be used to supplant reality with a “better” version, to cover walls with virtual ads and fantastic vistas, or will it be used to enhance reality, to visualize once invisible depth and dimension to our the Real World User Experience?
The Whoo Space on Market St, has been host to a variety of community events, from an art exhibit of handmade books to campaign headquarters for Arnold Levinson in this years past Ward 3 Special Election. This past Tuesday was no different when University of Massachusetts’s Permaculture Program, in conjunction with Creative Community Collective, and a number of local residents hosted a presentation on shared community space.
According to C3′s website, “three Northampton neighbors decided to take their fences down and combine their yards to create a larger space for shared recreation and food production.” The goal was to create a Permaculture site, which C3 defines as:
…a vision, design system, and global network that draws on patterns and principles found in nature to meet human needs, while regenerating the natural world and creating abundance we can share.
The students redesigned the shared backyards into a sustainable open space, taking down the barriers of the three neighboring backyards and integrating them into one cohesive shared area for recreation and sustainable gardens. The goal is to inspire others in the community to open to the idea of turning neighboring land into shared space for the community to gather around.
The presentation consisted of a number of design possibilities. The various options which the team of UMass students had assembled ranged from the more conservative rearrangement of bushes and minor terraforming to the highly progressive, with much of the shared backyards transformed into a super efficient organic farm powered by animals complete with rice paddies and greenhouses heated by chickens. Owen Freeman-Daniels, newly elected Ward 3 City Councilman, owns a condo on part of the property used for this project. He told our Director of Marketing that he hoped his neighbors were interested in pursuing the concept. The turnout was exceptional, with more people in attendance than the space could accommodate. Many passersby were poking in to see what the gathering was about. Each mini-presentation was followed by a short Q&A session where members of the community could gain further insight in each proposal. The group was then invited to stay and take a closer look at the various proposals drawn up by the students, as well as ask any further questions to the presenters. Check out our gallery of photos to see the audience and designs. It was a great success, with a lot of interesting new ideas about utilizing the ever-decreasing open spaces that we have here in Northampton’s Ward 3.
The mirror on the wall may soon reveal more than your appearance, becoming a two-way mirror for advertisers
Two years ago, MIT student Ming-Zher Poh managed to turn his laptop’s webcam into a heart rate monitor. At the time he was looking for a way for doctors to check vital signs in the least invasive way possible. The method he came up with was fairly simple: As each pump of the heart sends fresh waves of blood through your veins, the light that penetrates your skin and bounces off your muscles fluctuates subtly. When these fluctuations are analyzed by a computer and camera, they can be translated into heart-rate data.
Although the technology is not new, Poh created a new algorithm which allowed a much less sensitive standard laptop webcam to isolate the blood flow light pattern from other light collected by the camera. Using an adapted process to extract single sounds from a noisy recording, Poh, managed to cleverly tie this into a way for even a lower resolution camera to isolate data and even track multiple subjects.
So what did he do with it? He built a mirror that could look inside of you.
A webcam mounted behind a two-way mirror monitors your vitals invisibly as you gaze upon your visage, displaying your heart-rate reading. Poh imagines improving the system further to measure other vitals such as respiratory rate and blood oxygen levels.
Still years away from the market, Poh plans to bring the mirror to consumers after, he hopes, he finishes his PHD later this year. Poh remains hopeful of the devices uses saying,”This shows your inner health. Maybe as people use it, they’ll say, ‘This is part of my identity. It’s not just how I look on the outside.”
Good News Everyone
Ming-Zher Poh goes on to imagine tele-medical screening tests over a webcam or even a cell phone and hands-free vital scanning of burn patients and newborns, all of which seem like positive applications for Poh’s research.
As with all new technologies though, other possible real life applications seem darker. Although Poh is currently developing the Mirror for medical uses, it’s hard to imagine the technology staying in the box, so to speak. If all it takes is an algorithm to turn a cell phone into a medical scanner, albeit a primitive one, what is in the way of this algorithm being added quietly to all devices via standard updates? If a Doctor can access your vital signs from as little as a built-in webcam who else might want this information?
While the answer to the first question might be a difficult web of consumer-protection issues, the latter question is easy to answer.
Advertisers, marketers and corporations have already spent a fortune in the field of figuring out what we feel before we do, and the tide seems far from abating.
As the recent acquisition of NeuroFocus (a company devoted to turning neurological research into useable market data) by Nielsen (of Nielsen Ratings) shows us, advertising and market analysts are taking serious Science’s promise of conquest through measure and number.
NeuroFocus grew out of a frustration by advertisers in their inability to predict what consumers wanted. And they take this quest very seriously. Just a few months ago NeuroFocus announced it had developed the worlds first wireless EEG headset, and it runs on bluetooth.
Looking a bit like something out of the movie Strange Days, the device can capture brain activity 2,000 times per second and relay that information via that bluetooth connection to your smartphone, tablet or home computer. The device has many uses, one being a hands free ‘mouse’ controlled in one incredible TED Conference video, by mere thought. Another is watching the brain for ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ readings as you scan your digital paper or watch a commercial to then relay that information to marketers and analytics teams to offer realtime insight for advertisers.
“NeuroFocus leverages ground-breaking neuroscience and expertise to measure consumer attention, engagement and memory retention through brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements.” The company stated in a recent press release.
With so much hardware already in place, touchscreen phones can register the force of our taps and built-in cameras are in just about everything digital these days, how long will it really be before your computer can tell when you’ve had a long day and need some soothing music or maybe suggest a new restaurant based on your subconscious reaction to a commercial you recently saw for italian food?
‘Cause it is close to us. (Be careful not to have your speakers up too loud when you click that!)
All silliness and Spongmonkeys aside, we also like the moon because there is going to be a spectacular total lunar eclipse on the morning of Tuesday, December 21st! In the Eastern Standard Time zone it is all going to start around 1:30 am, be totally eclipsed at 3:17 am, and finish up at 5:01 am.
An eclipse like this doesn’t happen all that often, the last one was on February 21, 2008, and those of us in North America and parts of western Europe are in the absolute perfect area for viewing. So if you can drag yourself out of bed, it should be a spectacular sight!