The inventive minds at Microsoft Research and the company’s Applied Sciences Group are experimenting with advanced technologies to come up with new ways of computing and communicating for the future.
First up is “IllumiShare”, a camera-projector pair that enables remote people to share any physical or digital object on any surface. As you can see in the demonstration embedded above, with IllumiShare a simple Skype conversation can be transformed into an interactive workspace that can be manipulated by one or more persons. The applications for this are endless; this tech can allow for remote gameplay, as well as introduce new methods of remote teaching.
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?
At NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, Adobe detailed a direction in photography. With a plenoptic lens and advanced rendering software, a future you will have the ability to take a picture with a digital camera and change the precise area of focus after the image is taken. As the post title exlaims, out-of-focus imagery be gone!
But how does it all work? A plenoptic lens is made of hundreds of very tiny lenses placed together; it gets fitted between a camera’s standard lens and image sensor. When you snap a picture with a plenoptic-aided camera, the captured photons are recorded from multiple perspectives, allowing for an “infinite” depth of field. Transfer the data-filled image to your computer and a simple slider can be used to determine an exact area of focus within the image.
Watch Adobe’s presentation in the video above to see a demonstration of this future technology.
A group of Swedes known as The Astonishing Tribe (or TAT) like to show of their future innovations time to time. Their latest challenge was to imagine what the future of screens will be like.
Screen technology is now taking the next leap and the coming years imagination is the only thing stopping us. We will soon have dual screens, malleable screens, screens built into wifi connected mirrors, desks or backside of gadgets clothed with e-ink screens, tactile feedback, color screens with great contrast in sunlight, holographics/stereoscopic screens, color e-ink touch screens, or screens actually knowing where they are in relation to other screens thanks to ultrasonic emitters and microphones.
As you can see in the video above many of the screen technologies they’ve imagined are already being implemented today but in more rudamentary (and certainly less flashy) ways. Sharing information across devices using Bluetooth and WiFi is already here (I’m thinking of Bump, the iPhone app that allows you to share contact information over Bluetooth by tapping two phones together). Checking local news and weather on your mirror while brushing your teeth? Yeah, that’s in the works (I hope!).
This year IKEA commissioned a study by The Future Laboratory, a UK-based think tank that prides itself for “its innovative approach to trend forecasting, consumer insight and brand strategy”, to come up with various visions of how kitchens will function in the year 2040. “In thirty years time, the kitchen will be so technologically advanced that it will almost be alive” claims the study. One possible future kitchen scenario is dubbed “INTUITIV”:
As you walk into the INTUITIV kitchen of the future, LED light projections adjust to your mood – it will know if you have a hangover via sensors that will read your brainwaves. Aromatherapy infused walls will be synced to your calendar, calming you before a big meeting or energising you before a gym session. The fridge will have selected some breakfast options, identifying the essential vitamins for your day via sensors. When you get home, a hologrammed chef will be on hand for recipe inspiration.
Two others are the ELEMENTARA (the “back to nature kitchen”) and the SKARPP (the “smart kitchen”):
The ELEMENTARA kitchen will encourage you to grow your own food and be self-sufficient with a garden or mini allotment as a standard extension of the room. Food will be kept cool through cold larders and recycling facilities will be seamlessly incorporated into the kitchen.
[The SKARPP] kitchen will be intelligent, predicting its inhabitants’ needs with smart technology. Synchronized appliances will make everything happen at the touch of a button, communicating through iPad style devices which will act as the brain of the kitchen, making our lives easier.
In essense, the study finds that our kitchens of the future will “respond to your energy levels, nutritional needs and mood, even with a high use of technology, it will also be sustainable and eco-friendly.” Celebrity chef holograms, 3D food printing, sixth generation iPads. Most of this tech is being developed today; I say we speed up the process and make all this a reality within the next ten years! Who’s with me? Official PR is after the break.
Curious Displays, designed by Julia Yu Tsao, is a way-off-into-the-future conceptual idea. Like way into the future. Basically, hundreds of tiny blocks scatter your surroundings and bunch together to form various things. For example, the blocks can come together to form a screen of sorts to watch a movie, or they can collectively shape into an arrow and point to the location of your missing keys. Tsao describes the project as such:
The project explores our relationship with devices and technology by examining the multi-dimensionality of communication and the complexity of social behavior and interaction. In its essence, the project functions as a piece of design fiction, considering the fluctuating nature of our present engagement with media technology and providing futurist imaginings of other ways of being. ..
Curious Displays is a product proposal for a new platform for display technology. Instead of a fixed form factor screen, the display surface is instead broken up into hundreds of ½ inch display blocks. Each block operates independently as a self-contained unit, and has full mobility, allowing movement across any physical surface. The blocks operate independently of one another, but are aware of the position and role relative to the rest of the system. With this awareness, the blocks are able to coordinate with the other blocks to reconfigure their positioning to form larger display surfaces and forms depending on purpose and function. In this way, the blocks become a physical embodiment of digital media, and act as a vehicle for the physical manifestation of what typically exists only in the virtual space of the screen.
It’s all a little too far out there for my tastes, but an interesting topic to undertake nonetheless.
Ericsson’s “spider computer concept” is a product the company believes may very well be the form factor our computers will come in by the year 2020. The spider features a pico-projected screen and laser-projected keyboard that sit upon a spider-influenced tripod of sorts. Interesting, to say the least.
Want your bathroom to be “out of this world?” This stunning sci-fi bathtub by Spiritual Mode is just the thing to send all your senses awhirl! The Beignet bathtub features fashion and function, and is designed to relax and rejuvenate. Water fills the tub via two ultra-modern taps. The soft, circular shape is soothing to the sight, while water jets along the tub’s base will calm you at the end of a long day. A great addition to contemporary bathroom design, this stylish new bathtub brings technology, luxury and elegance to “me time.”
True, it looks like a UFO landed in your bathroom. Still the modern look and the architectural detail of each piece makes for the coolest bathtub I have ever seen.
Photographer Alexx Henry and his team have created this video to show how creating a “living portrait” could be created and designed in a not-so-distant future. Here Henry is photographing triathlete Chris Lieto using the RED One and the Canon 5D Mark II cameras for Outside Magazine. With the newspaper and magazine industries slowly losing the battle against the Internet for providing news, pictures, and other content, animating text and images in these mediums might be the only way to save them from extinction.
Based on an intensive two month research (in cooperation with FESTO and the EMPA) concerning artificial muscles my work reflects upon how new technologies will change future products (and society), and the way we interact with them.
One day active materials such as electroactive polymers will drastically change the way we perceive products. Products will gain new dimensions ranging from changing tactile surfaces over active membranes to morphing shapes. Products of the future will be “alive” in a way.
[The Funkionide] is an amorph object whose intention is to provide the owner with an atmosphere of presence thus counteracting the feeling of loneliness. In the visions future people are lonely and with all the new dimensions products offer, humans will eventually turn to “robots” for emotional satisfaction.
Now if this isn’t one of the strangest things I have ever stumbled upon, I don’t know what is. So according to Ulrich, we will all live in a lonely future where only “robots” can provide the right amount of “emotion satisfaction” to give us a boost for the day. In this case, the “robot” is a giant morphing blob. Oh, how I hope such a bizzare future does not come true!
The Rolltop, by Orkin Design, is purely a concept, an idea, a figment of imagination for now. The Rolltop features a 13-inch flexible OLED and multitouch display that can be fully ‘rolled out’ to transform into a larger 17-inch screen. It includes a detatchable stand that stores the device’s stylus, has a USB port, and functions as a power adapter. Although the Rolltop represents the future of the future of what laptop computing might be like, it sure is nice to at least witness such a cool gadget in an animated video (see above).
The Panasonic Fusion is what we all hope “the future of economy class seating and in-flight entertainment” to be. Panasonic has integrated a tablet-like screen into the back of an airline seat. With its supurb industrial design, the Fusion’s main goal is to give OEMs the ability to create their own user interfaces. As shown in the video above, such UIs could include Facebook and Twitter integration, along with TV and movie watching. If this in fact the future of airline seating, I will have to start travelling more often! Except to see the Panasonic Fusion being installed in various airlines by November 2010.
If you are at all interested in this Personal Mobility Device, read on for the details, straight from Honda.
“Honda has developed a new personal mobility technology, U3-X. It is a compact experimental device that fits comfortably between the riders legs, to provide free movement in all directions just as in human walking forward, backward, side-to-side, and diagonally. Honda will continue research and development of the device including experiments in a real-world environment to verify the practicality of the device.
This new personal mobility device makes it possible to adjust speed and move, turn and stop in all directions when the rider leans the upper body to shift body weight. This was achieved through application of advanced technologies including Hondas balance control technology, which was developed through the robotics research of ASIMO, Hondas bipedal humanoid robot, and the worlds first* omni-directional driving wheel system (Honda Omni Traction Drive System, or HOT Drive System), which enables movement in all directions, including not only forward and backward, but also directly to the right and left and diagonally. In addition, this compact size and one-wheel-drive personal mobility device was designed to be friendly to the user and people around it by making it easier for the rider to reach the ground from the footrest and placing the rider on roughly the same eye level as other people or pedestrians.”