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Holograms in communications, perhaps not as far away as you might have thought

We find out from Digital Trends that at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems conference in Montreal this week, the researchers at Queen’s University in Canada unveiled a hologram system.

The TeleHuman 2 may be the “first truly holographic video conferencing system.” It works through a system of depth cameras that capture a 3D version of a person, combined with a set of projectors at the other end. The projectors are positioned in a cylindrical tube or pod, and they recreate the 3D image in it.

 

Work in progress

The hologram generated by the TeleHuman 2 flutters and glitters, much like when the electricity cuts off holographic communications in science-fiction movies. As the team admits, there is still a lot to be perfected.

*OK, you may say, but what about TeleHuman 1? The first version of the system featured in the emerging technology section of some online media websites in 2012. Here it is, as presented by the same Digital Trends publication. The project included other potential uses, as well as a cost estimate for this technology.

The same developer – the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University in Ontario now works on TeleHuman 2. Their goal is to allow remote interlocutors to face each other “with a fidelity that, at least when it comes to angular accuracy judgments, cannot be distinguished from reality. No helmets or glasses required, and without obscuring parts of the face.”

The targeted audience – of course, the business audience. Upgrading video-conferences to holographic conferences has been yet another decade-old dream, waiting for advanced technology to make it possible.

 

 What would holograms bring into modern communications?

Firstly, compared to Virtual Reality (VR), holograms come without the annoying gear and the weird isolation needed to separate the virtual images from the surrounding real environment. One should be able to watch an image as if it spatially exists in all its dimensions, in the setting of the receiver’s real environment.

Secondly, holograms compare to the current means of business (and personal) video communications. Currently only the face or the upper part of the interlocutor is visible, and picking up on body language signs is difficult, as well as confusing – says the Canadian Team. As a future goal, they want to want “to expand the TeleHuman 2 to encompass an entire room while cutting its cost to make it more viable”.

We leave it to you to imagine how meetings would look like when using this technology. Or to rememorize movie images – since this technology was featured in many series and films.

 

canvy, gamification, games, trending

Is the gamification trend counter-efficient?

While gamification translates as employing “game-based  mechanics,  aesthetics  and  game  thinking  to  engage people,  motivate  action,  promote  learning,  and  solve  problems” (see the 1st hyperlink below), in fields previously characterized by a non-game structures and an overall seriousness, this trend is catching on in the tech world, as well as in education and business.

The gamification hype

“If it’s games they like, let’s give them games” – this seems to be the motto guiding the adoption of game-like structures in various fields. Of course, learning through play it’s a century old truth. But the yesteryear play that allowed youngsters to mimic life and thus enhance and exercise their skills was a full three-dimensional type of exercise. Nowadays we play games that put our imagination within different type of boundaries, whilst greatly remaining different from the reality in which we breathe, live and interact. Furthermore, the gamification that’s been imported into the workplace, education, training or business operations is derived from video games, since this might well be the singular trigger for interest when dealing with the digital generation.

The gamification hype doesn’t ask questions – businesses adopt and employ gamification because it’s trendy and because it delivers short-term results. Once the recipients of gamified products and programs respond to this approach, the psychological downsizes to this process seem to concern almost no one.

Games teach us something, but there is a price

 Of course, there is a wide variety of games, even inside the video game genre. Strategy, fight, survival, creative, click and play, open world and so on, each subgenre implies a different set of rules and develops certain skills and thinking abilities.

There are learning games and there are escapist games. The truth nobody wants to hear is that all games are escapist – we turn our back to immediate reality and immerse ourselves as players in a fantasy world where we live the illusion of our actions being constructive or important. To a certain extent, they are. Games perpetuate a cause and effect dynamic that is not always met by reality, and many players do not concern themselves with the difference between a regulated, enclosed environment and the vastness of reality, nor with the difference of rhythm between a video game and life, where often the slow pace and the effort beneath each action predominate.

Games and gamified processes teach us what they have been destined to teach us. They deliver a simplified, clear experience that stands in opposition with the chaotic way life unravels. Many a time those who have played more games that lived challenging life situations find it hard to process complex situations. The tendency to simplify things and reduce multi-layered situations to their closes flat counterpart does come out of being too familiar with game-based dynamics.

As studies have noted, games perpetuate the winner philosophy – the learning value of failing lacks or is strongly neglected, and thus they promote a distorted perception of the world.

Are we strong enough to remember the rules of the biggest game of all?

To paraphrase Lewis Carroll “life, what is it but a game?” While it may surely be considered so, the rules of this game are partly mysterious and (fortunately) yet elusive. We may wish to simply it all, and make it all more understandable – but it hardly works this way.

Gamification highly serves the technology hype, as well as humanity’s dreams of automation and robotics. Any device stands the possibility of being programmed to understand the rules of a game and apply these rules in order to win. We are already making the first steps to introduce gamification in talent assessment, in education, and companies enthrall their employees by bringing games into the workplace.

We are thus encouraged to remain or to become again kids, eager to express ourselves, to have fun, to go for the immediate advantage.

To go back to literature, perhaps it would be useful to read or re-read Lord of the Flies – in a world of kids, who will be humane, kind and wise?

The biggest game of all has different rules, and it still awaits for us to be adults, mature and to have gained the degree of understanding and knowledge to be able to play it. In life, true victory is a victory for many, not just for one. Winning means turning your opponents around, perhaps changing our own position to meet in the middle. Finding out our purpose, communicating, sharing, feeling that we still have a soul – such are the victories of this intense, dynamic, trying and challenging “game”.

Meanwhile, in Gamelandia…

The online news is topped by game-related news, such as the one about the French start-up Blade bringing their cloud game service to the U.S, or the Mad Catz manufacturers resurfacing soon at CES 2018. Millions hold their breath when reading about their favorite video game latest addition, version or release, in a disproportionate effusion of sentiments.

As an old-fashioned teacher would say “first do your chores, then play”. But at a global level our chores are long forgotten, while our play comes first, or at least its two-dimensional or three-dimensional replica does.

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AWS Summerian, contextualized in what smartphones tech is concerned

In a previous post, we mentioned that AR technology relates to next-gen mobile phones. Due to the fact that for these devices, VR technology is considered less suitable, the development of AR applications should be the key for future success.

In this context, Amazon’s cloud division (AWS) launched a new Amazon platform, the Amazon Summerian, supporting the rapid development of AR, VR, and 3D applications without the need for sophisticated coding skills. Available in a preview version, the new service is browser-based and benefits at this stage by a considerable push from the company, who wants to accelerate its adoption by the developers.

Integrated, easy-to-use tools should tip the market

Mass-coding is a dream many have when anticipating the future. Being able to have at hand an average employee that is basically skilled in coding, and pairing this type of professional with easy-to-use developer software could serve in a rapid implementation of various concepts at a global scale. Of course, this dream is also cost-saving, as well as perhaps a bit offensive from the point of view of an old school programmer.

Attempts of materializing this idea are already in motion – from introducing coding as a new language in the school’s curriculum, to making various coding apps available, so that kids are familiarized from an early age with this activity.

The other side of the coin consists of the easy-to-use tools designed for developers. When backed by tech leaders, these tools are bound to have a meaningful impact on the market.

High expectations, more exigent customers

 

Amazon, in order to present its product, conveyed the following statement to the public, through the voice of Marco Argenti, the Vice President of Technology at AWS: “With Amazon Sumerian, it is now possible for any developer to create a realistic, interactive VR or AR application in a few hours.”

This raises quite a few questions, related to the possible variables – does this estimate concern low-skilled or high-skilled developers? Is this an accurate expectation to create, or is it just a marketing move?

Some of these questions have answers, while for others, we still need neutral feedback. For example, the same FirstPost article mentions how the developers “need no specific experience in AR or VR programming”, but also that the company is “working on integrating third-party developers with the services to add more features”. So the platform is partly work-in-progress.

While the customers are increasingly demanding, the specific market includes an extended array of developer tools, as you may see here, some open source, others selling for quite reasonable prices, depending on the budget.

Trendsetters will be trendsetters

 

There’s nothing like good, powerful support coming from an established source that is willing to push a product on the market. All its qualities are underlined and turned into selling points, while the sore points are remedied or in view for remediation.

From this angle, a product coming from Amazon, Google (another company investing in the same area), Microsoft or others manage to equal similar, more competitive products, who do not benefit from the backup of the huge promotion/selling mechanisms these companies have. This market gap (more like a publicizing means gap) is supposedly here to stay, because it determines smaller developers to cooperate with the bigger companies more willingly, in order to join forces.

That is why even the small moves in the market, when coming from huge tech companies, are relevant. They help in anticipating future trends. Their small moves are doubled by ample investments, and these companies are likely to shift entire markets for their estimated ROI. Others may benefit, too, in the process. Customers most certainly benefit from the fierce competition – and so do the smaller companies that are clever enough to take the pulse of the market.

1031 tech boo

Boo! – a Canvy Team Halloween post

OK, so it’s time to dive into a few scary technologies, existing or emerging, and let the cold 1984-ish shivers run down the spines of our readers.

Ubiquitous tracking

Yeah, you may well look above your shoulder, with that creepy feeling that someone is spying on you. With the emerging tracking technology of today, you’re bound to become a VIP: location tracking meets surveillance cam, giving an entire extra dimension to the “keeping up appearances” saying. Of course, there is more than “meets the eye” – the presence & behavior are also analyzed, not just captured. Having a bad day? Better not kick any street bin around, spit on the pavement or drown your misery in shopping or in a bar – these have all the chances of becoming part of your pattern or portrait, in terms of tech tracking and identification.

No privacy for you!

This kind of derives from the first one, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. That is, it covers an entirely new area. With the smart houses of the (not so distant) future, data on your sleeping, eating and other habits will be fed to, well, practically, to you-don’t-know-what, since nothing is hacker-proof. You may be agreeing to this process out of handiness, as in, “I’ll let my fridge tell me when it’s time to order milk’, and end up in some dark internet scheme. It’s one of the risks… Ah, and in case you don’t know it yet, there are online services offering to spy on your SO by means of hacking into the smartphone and other tech networks that might provide insights on what a person is doing, with whom and where.

No opt-out from the things above

Read yesterday how an airport technology provides faster access for those who agree to have their face and retina scanned. Since this tech is in its early stages, it’s opt-in, but when the alternative presumes waiting in line until you get bored, there isn’t much mystery on what the average person will choose, right? And how about mandatory enrollment for every citizen of a state in a biometric database? It’s already happening, and it may soon be “coming to a location near you”. Stop fixing your hair and start worrying whether the AI will identify any menacing traits in the way your forehead is configured… oops, excuse the exaggeration, but this is a Halloween-y post, so just bear with us.

Feeling a bit spooked out?

You’d better drop the anxiety, because it’s bad for your health. And the future projections include robot doctors. You might not be (yet) prepared to relinquish your fate to some sort of cyber hands. What if the power is cut off? What if the machine goes berserk and starts preparing the planet for the rise of the machines – with you?!

Having medicine delivered inside your body by tiny nanobots isn’t far from scaring the daylights out of you. What are these tiny things doing, besides getting the treatment to the targeted cells? What happens when they are done, is any of them staying behind and starting to consider your body as a host? How about programmed nanobots that activate when the patient triggers them via certain behaviors & parameters, like nervousness or sweating. Sssh – just be nice and maybe they will leave you alone!

…Perhaps the future generations will save us!

Oh, well, who knows what a genetically engineered kid will think of these matters, and of us altoghether. When removing the weak or “bad” traits in the process, the CRISPR scientists might as well increasingly remove humanity. It takes quite a process to understand and accept human failures, and empathy is not found at every corner. Even less on every genetically-engineered corner. Will these alleged superhuman be able to accept their predecessors as such, or will become son kind of inferior species?

Shall we go on?

We thought of saving other tech spooks for the next Halloween. Enough is enough, right? Or you might go on with your own research on AI, driverless cars, brain scanning, cyber implants, and other potential wonders with a dangerous edge.

quantum computing Canvy Team

Dreaming of quantum smartphones? The Canvy Team checked out the timeline

This article on Inverse caught our attention. Turns out that quantum smartphones are waiting in line for the quantum computer to materialize. That is if they are ever to become a convenience of the future – a thing that some really doubted a few years back.

Spoilers, spoilers… Well, not really, because it would be only logical for any tech aficionado to assume that we are still at a distance from buying quantum smartphones, instead of the regular types we see today.

Here’s a 2012 answer on Quora that explains how miniaturizing quantum technology in order to fit it into a phone is highly unlikely. Although we have seen such arguments in the past of humanity being blown into pieces once certain breakthroughs happened, there is a lot of sense in this argumentation.

 

With the expansion of technology, distribution takes place

We have seen how AR and VR tend to distribute themselves into phone-compatible solutions (AR) and more complicated, device-compatible tech (VR) – see the Canvy Team previous article here.

In a similar manner, quantum technology would supplement existing computers, instead of supplanting them. Due to the fact that the computers of our times already do a very good job in certain areas, quantum computers are to take up other tasks. Inverse sees quantum computers dealing with big data “mass sorting and brute force possibility checking”.

There is no point in employing over-qualified technology for mundane tasks. Although we might be stretching our comparison a bit here, it is just as in human resources. Quantum computing would go into unfathomably complex tasks, as far as traditional computers are concerned.

 

No quantum smartphones doesn’t mean lack of interest in what the quantum technology is concerned

The truly passionate know that having no quantum smartphones at the horizon (not even via cloud solutions) does not mean the quantum technology will remain parallel with the mobile technology of the future.

We are already witnessing the starting effects of bringing AI into marketing and sales, and ultimately into business. AI’s potential depends on quantum computing – handling big data is necessary in order to mimic human thinking processes. Moreover, going beyond human capabilities surely needs the quantum-based power of computation.

What this means is that, although at a hardware level our phones might remain pretty much the same, we will see the effects of quantum computing in an intermediate manner. Processing big data, with quantum-powered AI algorithms, should revolutionize the tech world as we know it. Even more, all that counts on technology, but leads into the business environment should see a boost that might lead to surprising breakthroughs in some cases.

Although there are risks involved – perhaps you’ve also noticed the concerns raised in the Inverse article – this version of our technological future is the most plausible. Quantum computing could support more activities and processes than we imagine, being ubiquitous in a less visible manner.

 

The Canvy Team encourages you to keep in touch with the latest trends in technology

As IT specialists, the tech world is our larger focus, while our main focus remains on what we specifically design and develop.

Staying updated with the emerging technologies is important – on a connected future, success depends on seamless integration and on being one step ahead in the right direction.

Quantum computing might feel unfamiliar for many technical people, because it involves learning some concepts from the start or relearning others. Nevertheless, since there are solid reasons to believe it will form the underneath layer in many tech fields, it comes with the right motivation for getting to know a few details about it.

Here’s a recent update on this subject. We especially enjoyed exploring the IBM Quantum Experience experiments featured on their IBM Q website.

AR augmented reality Canvy wikimedia

Augmented or Virtual Reality? The Canvy Team picks up on this trendy question

Recently, TechCrunch launched a question on what the future holds for smartphones and apps, in regards with enhanced reality. More precisely, they invited their readers to contemplate the possibility of smartphone AR stunting VR’s growth. As we are keeping an eye on smartphone-related technology here at Canvy, we also contemplate this idea, while keeping in touch with the latest related news.

 

How does smartphone AR look like and why is it appealing?

Smartphone AR presumes specially designed apps that allow users to add virtual layers to the reality around them, as reflected on the screens of their phones. Of course, explaining the Augmented Reality concept in this simplified way might seem laughable to all those already familiarized with it.

If nothing else, think of the latest craze that swept the world of its feet – Pokemon Go. Employing AR combined the mobile game with real-life places and landscapes, while sending the players into outside world quests. Even if sometimes the two realities clashed and some people faced various types of dangers, the success of this game managed to put AR back into the spotlight, at times when VR is facing slow growth. Other developers saw the opportunity to launch their Pokemon Go –inspired apps, so the AR trend gained traction.

Virtual Reality desperately needs specially tailored apps, dedicated hardware, seamless integration between them and seems more complicated to orchestrate than AR. (Mind you, “seems” is the key word here, because surely there must be AR software that takes a lot of time and hard work to deliver, just as VR programs do.) However, it is realistic to say that VR is facing (slightly) difficult times.

 

What advantages do push AR in front of VR?

Another important element is that VR, as TechCrunch mentions, is superior to what the smartphones can offer. In fact, the authors say that it will always be superior, but one never knows what the future holds in terms of phone design and capabilities, so we thought of applying here the old saying of “never say never”. So VR requires much more advanced hardware than our current smartphones hold. Therefore, advantage AR…

All things considered (besides those mentioned above, there are also others), AR is fit for smartphones.

  • It is appealing, due to the fact that it restores the user’s relationship with their surroundings;
  • It also enables local experiences, thus attracting marketers;
  • It is visually pleasing, while allowing the user to include it in his/her usual activities;

(Because it is not disruptive in the way VR is, by conditioning the entire experience through the need of complete immersion into the virtual.)

  • Both Google and Apple test (or already built AR solutions) into their products;
  • It has been around for a while and people expect it to bloom in the next-gen series of smartphones.

 

Is it a race we are witnessing or are the two technologies completing each other?

The answer to this question depends on where we stand when addressing it. As we’ve mentioned above, some consider smartphones are destined for AR. Others might design VR applications that go with enhanced mobiles, thus making the two technologies compete on the same devices’ segment.

On the other hand, those investing in VR lead us to believe that, once perfected, the VR technology will be like no other. Therefore, there will be no question of any competition between AR and VR, just because we will witness VR going out of AR’s league, so to say. This remains to be seen. Until then, it seems that throwing VR into investment-related conversations still has a magic effect. Yet there are many who wonder how much until the magic wears off, if the promises that raised so much enthusiasm don’t deliver sometime soon.

The race seems shifty – depending upon elements that the large audience has little access to, if any. Elements laying within the R&D divisions of various companies, ranging from tech giants to small startups. And, of course, the Canvy Team knows all about R&D activities and putting bright ideas into practice.

Perhaps one day, the photos you assign to your Canvy contacts would become AR-enabled images. For now, we provide a visually fun canvas of contacts, bright-colored and organized by your interaction degree with each contact.