philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Virtual Reality: Coming Soon to a Cubicle Near You? Cisco invites customers to experiment with Cisco Spark in VR

TN-91253_screenshot_07.pngAs of today, Cisco Spark ™ customers can download the experimental Cisco Spark in VR app from the Oculus Rift store here. As long as they have the Cisco Spark VR app, Oculus Rift with Touch controllers, and a Rift-compatible computer, they can meet, discuss, and interact in a virtual, three-dimensional environment. More importantly, Cisco Spark in VR bridges the gap between the virtual and the physical space by natively integrating with the Cisco Spark platform and endpoints. Users can view shared files and even whiteboard with someone outside of VR in real-time.

Cisco Spark Makes it Possible
Cisco Spark provides everything teams need for meetings, messages and calls. Backed by Cisco security and reliability, the Cisco Spark platform is API-based, making it simple to integrate with VR.

Cisco will be a featured participant in the Oculus Connect panel discussion on VR use in business next month in San Jose.

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Holiday Rentals near Dreamscape VR, Exeter, England

Philip Lelyveld note: Apparently people are planning vacations around a visit to a VR Arcade!  


Alan Kay, The Father Of Mobile Computing Is Not Impressed

i-1-iphone-10-years-on-thinksThe finest distillation of that imagination was the Dynabook, one of the most enduring conceptual artifacts of Silicon Valley—a handheld computer that was powerful, dynamic, and easy enough to operate that children could use it, not only to learn, but to create media and write their own applications. In 1977, Kay and his colleague Adele Goldberg published “Personal Dynamic Media,” the most robust description of its intended operation.

“Imagine having your own self-contained knowledge manipulator,” they implored—note the language, and the emphasis on knowledge. “Suppose it had enough power to outrace your senses of sight and hearing, enough capacity to store for later retrieval thousands of page-equivalents of reference materials, poems, letters, recipes, records, drawings, animations, musical scores, waveforms, dynamic simulations, and anything else you would like to remember and change.”

The Dynabook, which looks like an iPad with a hard keyboard, was one of the first mobile computer concepts ever put forward, and perhaps the most influential. Although some of its concepts were realized in 1973 with the desktop Alto, the Dynabook has since accrued the dubious distinction of being the most famous computer that never got built.

I’d headed to Kay’s home in part to ask the godfather of the mobile computer how the iPhone, and a world where 2 billion people own smartphones, compared to what he envisioned in the ’60s and ’70s. Kay believes nothing has yet been produced that fulfills the original specs for the Dynabook, including the iPhone and the iPad. In fact, mobile computers, he says, have turned out to be mind-numbing consumption devices—sophisticated televisions—rather than the wheels for the mind that Steve Jobs envisioned.

If people could understand what computing was about, the iPhone would not be a bad thing. But because people don’t understand what computing is about, they think they have it in the iPhone, and that illusion is as bad as the illusion that Guitar Hero is the same as a real guitar.

So, one of the major things that schools should be charged with, is to teach children to be media guerrillas—that’s what we call them. It’s guerrilla warfare going on, because everything has been infiltrated.  ... Things that are constant in our environment both seem natural and also become invisible.


Well, it’s not really standardized because they’re up to HTML 5, and if you’ve done a good thing, you don’t keep on revving it and adding more epicycles onto a bad idea. We call this reinventing the flat tire. In the old days, you would chastise people for reinventing the wheel. Now we beg, “Oh, please, please reinvent the wheel.”


..., the telephone was an amplification of a human universal, which means you don’t have to learn how to use it, which means it’s just going to completely triumph over anything that requires you to learn something. ...

The idea is, you never let the child do something that isn’t the real thing—but you have to work your ass off to figure out what the real thing is in the context of the way their minds are working at that developmental level.

When I saw what Papert was doing, while I recognized it immediately, it had just never occurred to me. And then that nanosecond I realized this is what McLuhan was talking about. This is what Montessori was talking about. This thing is the equivalent of the Montessori school.

Papert had the great metaphor. He said, “Look if you want to learn French, don’t take it in fifth or sixth grade. Go to France, because everything that makes learning French reasonable, and everything that helps learning French, is in France.


I said, “If we’re gonna do a personal computer”—and that’s what I wanted PARC to do and that’s what we wound up doing [with the Alto]—”the children have to be completely full-fledged users of this thing.”

Think about what this means in the context of say, a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad. They aren’t full-fledged users. They’re just television watchers of different kinds.


A well-written essay is something where the author knows a little bit about you, somehow, and tells you in the beginning of the essay what you need to know and answers questions that the author somehow knows that you have. It’s amazing how well good authors can do this. They prepare you for the whammy, two-thirds of the way through, and for the last third of the thing, where they actually get you to elevate your thinking—it’s incredible, isn’t it?


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earth-vr-street-view-640x0Up to now, you could fly around the planet like Superman, exploring locations from above using an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset. But now you can drop down to ground level to explore Street View imagery from 85 countries using the Google Earth VR app. The content comes from the Street View team as well as regular folks who’ve been contributing 360 photos to the online tool.

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Editor’s Corner: For VR, 4K, AI and voice control, it’s sink or swim time at IBC

IMG_0976As 4K progresses and VR fizzles, artificial intelligence has emerged as the toast of IBC.

"AI is something that's transforming our business today," Drury said.

"..It will disrupt pretty much all areas of the market," said David Mowry, vice president of strategy and business development at IBM Cloud Video. “We’re just scratching the surface on how transformative AI will be.”

In describing the investments Fox has made to overhaul its TV Everywhere hub Fox Now, Sullivan said that his company had leaned heavily on machine learning to rev up its recommendations.

So for many emerging technologies, outlooks are promising. Meanwhile, voice control and 4K seem to have finally reached the mainstream after years of wheel spinning. But VR, for all its promise and impressive capabilities, has spent another IBC languishing as a technology still struggling to find much of a future.

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People will soon be doing graffiti in augmented reality, and no one knows how to police it

rtxu1b6Armed only with their phone and a virtual spray can, artists could soon leave hidden marks for others to find in the urban environment. Virtual graffiti would allow budding artists to be creative and push boundaries in the public domain without creating an eyesore, allowing local governments to clean up the actual streets of traditional graffiti while letting young artists have a creative outlet.

As with many other emerging technologies, the consequences and implications of this blurring of the real and fake world are complicated and unsettled. As AR increases in popularity, it’s coming up against established rules and societal expectations: If something only exists in virtual space, but it appears real to its creator, is it bound to the laws of the actual world.

Legal systems are yet to get a grip on new technology, and there is cultural confusion about the role of virtual items located in public places. As demonstrated by pro-LGBTQ Pokemon GO players trolling the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, the conversations and experiences that play out in the augmented world can have real-life consequences.

We will soon have to answer some complicated questions: Is graffiti still a crime if it only exists in the virtual world? If the message scrawled on the side of a building is only visible to those who wish to see it through their phones, is it still counted as defacing public property? Or does ownership carry over to the digital world?

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Augmented Reality: Making it secure, fast, efficient and resilient

aug_reality2A team of researchers from UCLA and New Mexico State University have received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and Intel to integrate augmented reality into new wireless networks. The project aims to develop augmented reality applications on top of the new NDN network architecture to address the limitations in performance, scalability and availability with today’s TCP/IP architecture.

The new project has four research goals:

  • Build an operational AR demonstration system, an AR campus browser, on an NDN network that runs over high speed heterogeneous wireless technologies.
  • Design robust and resilient networking support for AR that can withstand major network failures.
  • Transition the delivery of content to one that utilizes in-network storage and processing, is highly individualized, fast, and efficient.
  • Incorporate comprehensive security and privacy throughout the system from the start by utilizing the security building blocks provided by the NDN architecture.

“A fully realized AR environment  would not be too far from what science fiction movies have depicted, as many of the necessary components are emerging, including both very high speed wireless technologies and advanced applications such as AR, ” said Lixia Zhang, UCLA’s Jon Postel Chair in Computer Science and the lead principal investigator on the project. “However currently, a major bottleneck in the way is the existing network architecture. We want to use this project to showcase how our newly developed NDN architecture can fully utilize the latest wireless technologies to support AR and promote innovative new applications.”

“In this project, we’re envisioning a new way of browsing the real world in order to drive our research,” said Jeff Burke, associate dean for technology and innovation at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) and a co-principal investigator on the project.

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Report predicts key iPhone X tech will ultimately kill the iPhone

iphone-x“History suggests that few if any hardware vendors stay at the top for long with the ‘good enough’ attack from below the main reason,” the analysts wrote. “However, we think that Apple could become a leader in developing the Ambient Paradigm, essentially raising the bar on user experience and fending off competition.”

The “Ambient Paradigm” Milunovich and Wilson speak of is a future where computing devices are all around us and they use biometric technologies like Face ID to identify us.

The analysts continued, “Apple has a philosophy of self-cannibalization and identifying personal technology trends. It appears to be laying the foundation for the next era with transition products, such as Apple Watch and AirPods, and services provided by a multi-sided platform. We expect new product categories to be launched.”

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Why Virtual Reality Is in the IBC Spotlight

virtual-reality-vrEquinix is here at IBC and all-in on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), not just because it is undeniably cool, but because we’re experts in the interconnection that makes it happen.

Virtual and augmented reality can’t look like actual reality without high-performance, low-latency connections. We help VR and AR companies implement an interconnection-first approach by using an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy that brings their partners and users closer to themselves and to each other, for the superior connectivity they need.

We’re also involved with a little VR filmmaking as a funding partner for the Emmy-nominated short, Wonder Buffalo, which will make its European premiere at IBC.

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Snapchat’s new augmented reality feature brings your cartoon Bitmoji into the real world

Snapchat’s latest product update is giving the term “selfie” a whole new meaning.

The company is combining two of its most creative features: The cartoon avatars people can create for themselves called Bitmoji, and augmented reality technology, which lets users project images (like dancing hotdogs) into the real world through the app’s camera.

Starting Thursday, users will be able to superimpose their Bitmoji avatar into whatever environment they are looking at through the app’s camera. So instead of using Snapchat to film a hotdog dancing on your kitchen table, you’ll soon be able to film a cartoon version of yourself dancing on your kitchen table.

Snapchat has a slight advantage in the form of Bitmoji, which it bought for $64 million almost 18 months ago. Facebook and Apple can create fun augmented reality masks like Snapchat did, but neither company has a database of user avatars to dig into.

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