While companies like Oculus, Samsung, Sony and Valve are betting big on virtual reality, Microsoft is taking the road less traveled (I’m looking at you, Google) and putting its focus on augmented reality. It’s HoloLens helmet aims to merge the physical world with digital by overlaying holograms on top of the real world around you. From video games to the classroom, Microsoft HoloLens aims to be a dominating force across myriad industries. One that makes just as much sense as the others? Sports.
At a panel called “The Future of Football: How Technology Could Shape the Next 50 Years of the Game,” Microsoft showcased the power of HoloLens and the exciting potential augmented reality and holograms can bring to gameday. Imagine if you had the ability to extend the big game beyond the confines of your existing HDTV, and not just by literally making the screen bigger. I’m talking live, interactive player stats and real-time fantasy football updates. Peer at your coffee table and watch it come to life with 3D instant replays viewable from any angle. This is the future of watching sports, and with it, the so-called “second screen experience” folds back up into one.
Now, I hate to burst your bubble, but this seemingly pie-in-the-sky tech doesn’t exist yet as it’s shown in the visually impressive demonstration above. It’s merely a concept, but you can rest assured Microsoft is considering it very seriously. The HoloLens hardware and software (it runs on Windows 10, believe it or not) is still in the development stages; Microsoft is ramping up production for developers to test and improve the device later this year. Still, this glimpse into the future is nothing short of amazing and it expands the evolving potential for an augmented reality lifestyle.
The company behind Windows has manufactured a glimpse into a future “where technology extends and highlights our productive capabilities.” The concept video, embedded above for your wonderment, includes ideas for products that take advantage of current technology (speech recognition, data visualization, etc.) and magical things that have yet to be invented like glasses that translate speech in real time and transparent refrigerator doors with data overlays. Microsoft “see[s] technology moving from a passive tool to a more active assistant, helping us get things done, and strengthening our interactions with one another.” Tap play and journey into Microsoft’s vision of the future. Spoiler: so many screens. It’s good to know that physical QWERTY keyboards will still exist in the future, right? Right?
At an event dubbed Photoshop World 2011, an Adobe exec demonstrated the future of Photoshop…on an iPad! You might think Photoshop Express in the App Store is a useful tool to edit photos on a mobile device, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. Resizing, manipulating, and applying filters to images is a smooth experience on this conceptual, futuristic version of Ps for iPad. The coolest feature, though, is the ability to add layers and view all applied layers in a 3D animation mode that reveals how exactly they are organized in relation to one another. But alas–this tease of an insanely cool iPad app is but a concept and no release date was shared with the event’s crowd in awe.
“Ring” is a futuristic lamp created by Italian designer Loris Bottello and obviously inspired by the world of Tron. It’s lit by bioluminescent polymers and its intensity can be adjusted by rotating the disc. By design, the energy is transferred by brush contacts on the outer copper ring. Aesthetics and functionality aid each other in this bold concept that I want by my bedside stat.
If you didn’t know, Lady Gaga was appointed the Creative Director of Polaroid. You know, the company famous for inventing the chunky camera that almost instantly spits out pictures onto film sheets. In 2008 Polaroid announced the discontinuation of its self-developing film, but now they’re back and with the help of Gaga they hope to reinvigorate the nostalgia of the aged Polaroid camera and their overall brand with three new products. The “Polaroid Grey Label” includes the GL30 Instant Digital Camera, GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, and the GL20 Camera Glasses. The GL30 is reminiscent of Polaroid cameras of the past and uses ZINK Zero Ink Technology for instant printing. Users can select from a number of filters and borders before the image pops out of the portable, sleek digital camera. The GL10 is a portable printer that also uses the ZINK technology and images are instantly printed on smudge-proof, water-resistant film that resembles white photo paper. The GL20 glasses has to be the coolest product of the bunch, and they’re something only Lady Gaga could think of to invent. The fashionably loud and futuristic glasses double as a digital camera. You can instantly capture or upload pictures with it and then display the images on the glasses’ LCD screens for others to see. Sounds strange at first but the idea is quite novel. It’s just another way to express yourself.
All three products were shown off in purely conceptual form at CES 2011, but Polaroid is confident they will ship the printer in May 2011 for $149.99 and the camera and glasses “later this year” at undisclosed prices. Look at the pics below and PR is after the break.
This is one slick concept machine. Razer, the maker of high-end precision gaming products, revealed a concept mobile PC designed for gamers on the go. The Razer Switchblade is based on the Intel Atom processor and packs an ultra-sensitive, 7-inch capacitive multitouch touchscreen (1024 x 600) and a dynamic tactile keyboard. The keyboard is the most intriguing part of the design; key layout and configuration can be changed on-the-fly based on game content and user requirements. For example, it can serve as a standard QWERTY keyboard as you’re browsing a website inside a browser and the next minute it can morph into a keyboard made specifically to play a game like World of Warcraft where the keys become quick access points for magical potions and spells. So how does it all work? Easy; just like the top half of the device, the keyboard is actually a large LCD screen in disguise with physical keys layered on top of it. Inside the custom Razer OS skin the user can tweak the keyboard to make the keys function however they want. Customization is left up to the user’s imagination. Sure, you can make the keys display video playback controls such as play, pause, fast-forward, etc.; but Razer is a gaming company at heart and they are hoping that gamers will find the customization options to be helpful in optimizing the way they play games on the go when a full keyboard and mouse combo are not present.
As awesome as that keyboard hopes to be, keep in mind that the Switchblade is still a portable notebook. Razer’s custom skin can be hidden to reveal a standard copy of Windows 7. There are also USB ports (so a mouse can theoretically be connected), a mini HDMI port, and a webcam. Bluetooth and WiFi are also inside. The company is still determining whether or not to pack 3G capability with it. That’s right–this concept notebook unveiled at CES 2011 is actually coming to market in the near future. Razer is mum on exact release date and price, but you can expect to see this portable gaming machine attempt its transformation of the mouse/keyboard paradigm sometime within the next year or so. Full PR after the break.
From a melancholic loss to a tangible idea the C60 Redux was made.
In the book I Miss My Pencil, co-authors Martin Bone and Kara Johnson of design firm IDEO conceived twelve design experiments through collaboration, sketching, and prototyping. One of these concept designs is called the C60 Redux and it begs the question, “Does the mix tape still exist in a digital world?” Bone shares his thoughts: “I feel strangely melancholic that in this shift from analog to digital we somehow lost something; we traded connection for convenience.” And he gloomily concludes: “Ultimately this experiment won’t change anything; technology marches on, teenagers in love today play out their courtship online in their Facebook pages, not browsing record stacks. But I feel much better for having done it.”
This particular experiment inspired a group at IDEO to make a real working model of the C60 Redux and their efforts are revealed in the video above. Something was “somehow lost” in the technological shift from analog to digital, thought Bone. That something is physicality, and so the designers marched on to create a working model with this question in mind: “What if we could touch our music again?” Using Arduino Pro Mini boards and RFID tags the concept came to life. The designers constructed a small box that takes design cues from a record player, and built inside are Arduino boards that can read RFID (or radio-frequency identification) cards. Embedded inside custom-made cards are two RFID tags, each tag representing a song. When you place a card on top of the box, the circuitry inside the box instantly reads the RFID tag and plays the song stored on it. Flip a card over to play Side B. Place multiple cards on the surface to create a playlist (the cards are read in a clockwise order).
And just like that a mere concept born out of a need to bring back the physicality of music was made into a real product. Beyond the final product, what’s important to glean from this story is the tale of technology and how it can bring exciting advances and at the same time disregard staples of the past. In the move from vinyl to cassette tapes to CDs to MP3s, the convenience of throwing a couple hundred songs on an iPod has managed to make most forget about the materiality of music and what that brought with it. The days of collecting piles of vinyl and what Bone calls the “joy and love” of creating personal mix tapes are way behind us, but something like the C60 Redux might just have the power to bring it all back to our digital world.
The Mercedes-Benz BIOME symbiosis vehicle is made from an ultralight material called BioFibre and tips the scales at just 875.5 lbs (around 394 kg). This material is significantly lighter than metal or plastic, yet more robust than steel. BioFibre is grown from proprietary DNA in the Mercedes-Benz nursery, where it collects energy from the sun and stores it in a liquid chemical bond called BioNectar4534. As part of this process, the vehicle is created from two seeds: The interior of the BIOME grows from the DNA in the Mercedes star on the front of the vehicle, while the exterior grows from the star on the rear. To accommodate specific customer requirements, the Mercedes star is genetically engineered in each case, and the vehicle “grows” when the genetic code is combined with the seed capsule. The wheels are grown from four separate seeds.
If you haven’t deduced this by now, the BIOME is an eco-friendly hybrid “vehicle of the future” that can be grown in a lab. While it’s in use it produces oxygen, like plants, thereby contributing to improving air quality. And when the car has reached the end of its lifecycle, it can be fully composted or used as building material. But don’t hold your breath; a concept car like the BIOME won’t become a reality for quite some time simply because its fantastical feature set is downright impossible to implent today. But one can dream, no? Read more about Mercedes’ crazy ideas for the future after the break, and look in the gallery below to view the BIOME from various angles.
The fact that this concept took this long to come up with is a bit sad. And the other fact that it hasn’t been installed in busy roads is even worse. Try to wrap your head around the Sand Glass traffic light designed by Thanva Tivawong. Its design is inspired by the hour glass, the physical object and the famous Windows “wait” mouse icon. Implementing the hour glass concept into the traffic light is genius, really. Brightly lit LED pixels change color (red, yellow, green) to designate wait, ready, and go, respectively–we’re used to that already. When it acts like an hour glass, drivers can get a more precise sense of almost exactly when the traffic light will change states. The designer also included a countdown timer; the yellow state will read “3, 2, 1” when its about to change color to green and prompt the driver to “go” or change to red and prompt “stop”. This is a concept that needs to become a reality! We like having a sense of progress status, don’t we? Look in the gallery below for more conceptual visuals.
Check out these “social network sneakers” designed by Gerry Mckay for Adidas. These are purely conceptual sneaker designs for now. If people start demanding these be produced for consumption, Adidas can give the go ahead to make it happen. Though various blogs are hatin’ on the very idea of a sneaker based on a social networking website, I happen to find the designs extremely attractive.
Mckay’s idea is to merge the classic Adidas Superstar sneaker (which celebrated 35 years in 2006) with Twitter and Facebook branding. The Twitter Superstar features the recognizable light blue color scheme and Twitter ‘bird’ logo as a “visual element.” The Facebook Superstar is inspired by Facebook’s dark blue on white color scheme and it features the Facebook type logo at the heel of the shoe and on the tongue beneath the Adidas logo. On the inside wall of the shoe two Facebook slogans read: Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you” & “Making the world open and connected”.
Take a closer look at the Superstar sneaker designs in the gallery below. Sure, socially-inclined sneakers sound lame but these designs are simple, smart, and definitely appealing.
The BendDesk, a research projected created by members of the Media Computing Group, is an attempt to converge digital and physical workspaces into one desk. The concept desk features a curved multitouch display and supports up to ten touch points. The display can bring up digital content like documents, photos, or videos. And thanks to its ergonomically impressive design, the digital desk doubles as a physical desk; it can easily support a laptop, paperwork, pens and pencils on the horizontal surface. For now the BendDesk is merely an in-house concept project, so don’t expect to see something like finding a place in your room any time soon. The best we can do is watch it in all its futuristic glory in video demonstration form above.
Journey to a distant future with me, will you? This is the Mozilla Seabird imagined by concept designer Billy May. The smartphone’s specifications will make your eyes pop out. Dual pico projectors can project images on virtually any surface. When laid down on a flat surface or placed in a dock, the projectors can illuminate a QWERTY keyboard to provide content and interface simultaneously. The embedded Bluetooth dongle doubles as a Bluetooth earpiece and IR pointer (with 1:1 IR tracking and haptic clicking) for manipulation of on-screen items in 3D space. And isn’t the curved, ergonomic design to die for?
Now don’t get too excited there, partner. Mozilla (yes, the company behind Firefox) has no plans to develop the Seabird, or any smartphone for that matter. Billy May conceptualized the Seabird in this 3D rendering to support the Mozilla Labs Concept Series, a Mozilla-backed project that fosters the brainstorming of new ideas that “push the boundaries of the Web and the browser.” The Seabird is May’s second attempt at an “open web concept phone.” Since early 2009 he’s been listening to community feedback, and what you see in the 3D rendering above is the final result. Salivating yet?