I recently watched the film ‘Lion’, a dramatization of the real-life experiences of Saroo Brierley, and it broke my heart in more ways than I could have anticipated. A tragic story of a boy who becomes an orphan, it is also the story of how childhood trauma works its way into what can feel like a well-adjusted adulthood.
I am frankly very skeptical about virtual reality's ability to catch on using today's technology as an example (I'm looking at you, anemic PlayStation VR library) but there's no doubting that there's some interesting possibilites just waiting to be unleashed.
Look no further than this amazing video from Disney to see the potential of VR and AR. Using motion sensing, this technology basically augments the human's ability to catch a ball. That's pretty rad, and still only scratches the surface of what's possible.
As more and more people discover that their phones are making them crazy, I've seen the occasional Kickstarter campaign pop up dedicated to bringing back the 'dumb phone'. These simpler devices, which are less connected while still providing us with the core essentials we need, seem to have a newfound place in people's lives as they try to disconnect.
Though dumb phones may find some slight popularity, we are without a doubt living in the age of information and technology, and there's no going back. What I'm hoping for (instead of regression) is a device which will evolve into something that knows when to bother me, or when to give me some peace and quiet.
The 'Siempo', currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, is trying to do just that. Rather than limiting the amount of features the phone includes, the Siempo has well-designed concepts like a powerful and easily-accessible version of 'Do Not Disturb' called 'Physical Pause' where pushing a button on the phone will stop all but the most urgent messages from coming through.
The feature which I'm most interested in is the 'Intention field', a 'pass-through' type of app which lives on the home screen and is intended to be opened whenever you have a thought that needs to be acted on. You can write a person's name, click their contact information, then write a text out and send it without opening your messages. You can jot down a bit of writing and save it to your notes without opening the rest. This is a fantastic idea, and allows you to get something done without being inundated with requests, messages, or other actionable which might break your focus.
A more mindful phone is an idea worth pursuing, and I hope that this project sees the light of day.
March 20, 2017 - Comments Off on ‘Apple’s Next Big Thing: Augmented Reality’
The Gurman post I've been waiting for hit early this morning, essentially confirming that Apple's next big move will be in the world of AR. This should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to augmented reality's potential, and the fact that Apple's first crack at augmented reality is already on your iPhone, in the form of 'Portrait Mode' on the iPhone 7 Plus.
The article asserts that the lead on the project, Mike Rockwell, was hired back in 2015, and that development is well underway:
Last spring, in a sign that it's serious about taking products to market, Apple put some of its best hardware and software people on Rockwell's team, including Fletcher Rothkopf who helped lead the team that designed the Apple Watch, and Tomlinson Holman, who created THX, the audio standard made popular by LucasFilm.
Apple has also recruited people with expertise in everything from 3D video production to wearable hardware. Among them, the people say: Cody White, former lead engineer of Amazon's Lumberyard virtual reality platform; Duncan McRoberts, Meta's former director of software development; Yury Petrov, a former Oculus researcher; and Avi Bar-Zeev, who worked on the HoloLens and Google Earth.
Apple has rounded out the team with iPhone, camera and optical lens engineers. There are people with experience in sourcing the raw materials for the glasses. The company has also mined the movie industry's 3D animation ranks, the people said, opening a Wellington office and luring several employees from Weta Digital, the New Zealand special-effects shop that worked on King Kong, Avatar and other films.
Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies—and that makes a writer excellent at creating multilayered characters and situations. Not much research has been conducted on the theory of mind (our ability to realize that our minds are different than other people’s minds and that their emotions are different from ours) that fosters this skill, but recent experiments revealed that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective theory of mind (understanding others’ emotions) and cognitive theory of mind (understanding others’ thinking and state of being) compared with reading nonfiction, popular fiction, or nothing at all. Specifically, these results showed that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances theory of mind, and, more broadly, that theory of mind may be influenced greater by engagement with true works of art. In other words, literary fiction provokes thought, contemplation, expansion, and integration. Reading literary fiction stimulates cognition beyond the brain functions related to reading, say, magazine articles, interviews, or most online nonfiction reporting.
That's an activity worth pursuing.
February 24, 2017 - Comments Off on ’Creating photorealistic images with neural networks and a Gameboy Camera’
Every new iPhone has to come with a new case. It’s just the way it is. I can’t let the shiny jet black iPhone, already prone to “micro-abrasions,” show any signs of wear and tear. It must remain pristine. I know. I’m ridiculous. Stop.
But now, thanks to this article from Drew Coffman at Extratextuals, I’m thinking about ditching the case.
I glance at my phone and see a long, deep cut right in the middle of the screen, an imperfection picked up somewhere along my journey, essentially unnoticeable when the screen is turned on but obviously apparent when it’s off.
This is — and I mean it — totally fine.
It’s strange to me, how we baby our technology, using cases and screen protectors and everything else in an attempt to keep that which we use every day as pristine as possible.
The scratches and scuffs, the dents and the scrapes, the cracks and the imperfections all show signs of adventure and life and love. Each one has a story to tell.
Our cracks and imperfections and dents and scrapes do, too. There’s beauty in the brokenness. We call that grace.
I just discovered my new favorite podcast. Nick Robinson and Griffin McElroy (who I’ve fallen in love with through their excellent Car Boys YouTube series) have a show where they take suggestions for video games and then spend a solid hour finessing the idea until it's super strange but also…kind of perfect?
The first episode has them crafting a rogue-like dungeon crawler where you play pasta (possessed by a pasta shaman) that needs to be cooked to perfection. It’s called 'Grandma Likes It Al Dente: Grandma Needs it Al Dente’.
I recently read through ‘Drop the Rock’, a book focused on removing character defects using steps six and seven of the 12-step program. Though I have not personally gone through the 12-steps, we all have character defects worth looking at, and I was interested in the perspective offered.