New York Tech Journal
Tech news from the Big Apple

#Wearable future – panel discussion

Posted on May 24th, 2016


05/24/2016 @Samsung Accelerator Chelsea, 30 W 26th, NY,  7th floor


Panelists were:

Moderated by:

The discussion including the following points

  1. Successful wearable don’t ask people to adopt new behaviors
  2. Statement pieces are the exception. E.g. some handicapped people want to show off the technology (rather than hide it). In that case, the challenge is to design the wearable so it can be worn both as a normal as well as a statement piece.
  3. Battery technology is the limiting factor of wearables. Until batteries hold a charge for longer, advances in wearables will emphasize doing more with less power. E.g. meditation bracelet needs to be small since it needs to have high accuracy without being bulky. Also half of the weight of Ryan’s smart helmet is from batteries.
  4. Wearables, like other devices, need to be designed so the product line can be broadened over time. The smart helmet started as a motorcycle helmet, but that would have limited the ability to widen the product line.
  5. The mainstream fashion industry wants to get into tech, but does not want to be cheesy and don’t want to undercut their brand.
  6. For connected devices, Apple and Google Fit are often the best way to store data while preserving privacy. Eventually there may be specific cloud appliances to store data.
  7. The panelist were excited about other wearbles including
    1. Meta – “eyes up” display system – motorcycle helmet – AR display
    2. Military has invested in smart textiles – medical applications.
    3. Soles – 3d printing of soles for shoes which offers an apparel alternative to hand sewing and injection molding.
    4. Carbon3d- changing the way we 3d print.
    5. Exo-skeletons so workers can lift heavier loads.

posted in:  applications, Internet of Things, startup, Wearables    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Will #Minecraft create the first software mega hit in VR?

Posted on July 5th, 2015

07/05/2015 from Minecon July 4-5, 2015, London


When #Oculus was bought by #Facebook, I know that I was not alone in thinking about the virtual worlds that #VR would allow us to access. The system that immediately came to mind was Minecraft. Here, one already has a vast library of worlds built in 3-d and the millions of game players who have the expertise and desire to build new worlds. Once a world is built, gamers explore it on a computer screen, but being able to easily look around a space would make the experience even more compelling.

#Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft in 2014 also fits in the story since #Hololens was announced earlier this year and Mindcraft demonstrated how the two products work together at the E3 conference. This doesn’t guarantee that Hololens will not suffer the same fate as #GoogleGlass, but it at least shows that Hololens has a more compelling argument for a killer app than Google Glass had at its introduction.

The presence of Minecraft could have a major effect on the evolution and acceptance of VR. At first look, established computer game makers appear to have a large advantage in creating VR software. These companies have the software tools to visualize worlds in three dimensions, many experienced programmers used to coding in a 3-d world, an understanding of what the consumer wants, and the hardware and systems to efficiently render the graphics and optimize the system. However, as I noted in a previous post, Minecraft has worked to create the tools and educate its players on creating games beyond block building. Its users all know how to create objects in a 3-d virtual world and its ecosystem includes many experts in adapting the vanilla system to create new user experiences. This possibly leads to the following scenario.

In this scenario, large numbers of Minecraft players create 3-d games that can be accessed as VR. Some of these games, while crude graphically, become popular. The most popular games are adapted by shops that specialize in smoothing the contours and movements of items while retaining the underlying software logic. Specialists also create procedures to move code running on the CPU to run on a GPU.

It will be interesting to see if companies such as #Unity3d, #InfinityWard, #GameMaker, #EAsports will need to respond to this challenge.


posted in:  Microsoft, Minecon, Minecraft, Virtual Reality, Wearables    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Review of Google I/O 2015

Posted on June 26th, 2015


06/24/2015 @Google, Chelsea Market, 9th & 15th St, NY

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Speakers presented their impressions of the #Google I/O meeting that was held in San Francisco, May 28 to 29.

First, Nitya Narasimhan gave a rapid overview of the directions of Google’s research over the past year. These initiatives include

  1. Advanced Tech and Products (ATAP)
  2. Chrome browser update
  3. Polymer & web components
  4. Cardboard
  5. Internet of Things
  6. ATAP – advanced tech & products included
  7. Jacquard – Use fabric as a touch sensor
  8. Ara – modular smart phone- with hot swapable components
  9. Soli – use radar for gestural interactions – interactive interfaces can be on anything
  10. Abacus- replace passwords with a series of gestures and your unique actions
  11. Vault- security archive
  12. Tango – indoor location sensing
  13. Chrome browser update – focus on R.A.I.L. performance standards (click here for a full presentation or Paul Irish’s keynote) which are performance goals to improve the UI. Other things to improve the user experience
  1. Polymer & modern web APIs. (web components) :
  2. you can create custom HTML tags
  3. you can export HTML components to other HTML files
  4. templates to create Polymer elements
  5. shady DOM – faster than shadow DOM but less capable – for older browsers

Polymer has families of custom components that make it easier to create custom HTML tags

  1. Iron- web components
  2. Material design
  3. Go web – Google services
  4. Platinum
  5. Gold targets ecommerce

Polymer starter kit is available with app templates

Material design is now available for both web and mobile.

  1. Cardboard VR
  2. Cardboard 2.0 now available for iPhone.
  3. Can handle bigger phones and the device is easier to assemble
  4. Expeditions is an initiative to create content for cardboard for education.
  5. Jump – a goPro hardware setup which captures a 360 degree view with software to stitch it together. Output to cardboard and Youtube.
  6. SDK for cardboard- example includes a walkthrough for building with Unity.
  7. Design- designing for virtual reality – see the online demo – see cardboard design lab for guidelines
  8. Tango – 3d motion tracking and depth scanning

5.Internet of Things

  1. Nest – thermostat
  2. Thread group – industry consortium looking to standardize a web and communication links between objects
  3. Brillo – smallest version of Android OS to run on almost anything – a tool for building with Brillo is expected out soon
  4. Weave is the messaging system
  5. Speech and neural networks

Next, Dario Laverde covered Android M, the upcoming version of the OS. It’s also called MNC, short for ‘Macadamia Nut Cookie’ and has an expected release date in the 3rd quarter

  1. Google Now can be done from any app. This means one can ask for the lead singer of a song as an app is playing that song
  2. App permissions : at run time you are prompted if you want to access camera, etc. – similar to that on the iPhone. Developers need to check their apps on the emulator to see if this affects older apps. Can also view permissions by app or by capability (e.g. camera).
  3. Voice Interactor allows for confirmation of actions by voice
  4. Fingerprints for authentication
  5. Android backup – backups up all data by default
  6. Google Play Services 7.5 – one can build deep links to features within your app.
  7. Can Cast the screen image to a remote display;
  8. Smart lock so passwords entered on one device do not required repeated password entries across web and mobile devices
  9. new exercise types added to types in Google Fit database
  10. untouched devices causes apps to become “inactive”. However, developers can whitelist an app so it does not go to sleep;
  11. Android design support library: notification icon can now be a resource id or a bitmap (not just jpg and png files)
  12. new version of Android Studio including real time step-by-step debugging in C++ in Android NDK
  13. Styluses are now supported on tablets
  14. Tools: Systrace is a tool to locate problems. Also new compiler optimization
  15. External storage such as USB device supported by adb
  16. Graphics – separate TORCH light from the camera controls
  17. Audio – midi interface

Other developments related to Android include

  1. New Android Developer Guide
  2. Android wear now allows maps to be displayed on a watch face see Github/googlemaps…
  3. Project Tango
  4. Tango tablet contains the sensors for motion tracking, area learning and depth perception.
  5. Google announced 3 Contests to build Tango-powered apps in utility, VR or entertainment
  6. Tablet sells for $512

The third speaker, Ralph Yoozo spoke about Firebase, an online, real time database. Firebase is easy to setup since it requires no server side code to set up security. It can receive data using web sockets or virtual infinite web pages. He has built two applications using Firebase

  1. A web page to show runners their times (adjusted for their start time) as they crossed the finish line
  2. The bills in discussion in the NY state senate: see s

Ralph also noted

  1. Firebase is open so everyone can read and write to it, but this can be adjusted
  2. Can run a curl command form the command line to test the app
  3. Have a simulator page to debug the code

Ralph also briefly talked about Universal Second Factor which promises to offer better security than just a password. It is a small device (can attach to key chain) that provides a second layer of security in addition to your password. It uses a FIDO protocol.

The meeting was concluded by two brief talks

In the first, Howard Goldstein@NYTimes talked about Smart Lock, which integrates Chrome’s password manager so it extends to Android. Howard said it was very easy for the New York Times to integrate Smart Lock into their applications

  1. Needs Google APIClient
  2. Request credentials (the password)
  3. If succeed, can auto-login
  4. If fail, some credentials may not have passwords
  5. If fail, might have multiple accounts on the device – have the user select an account
  6. Can push credentials to Google so user does not need to enter them again

The second brief talk was by Anna Yan, a first timer’s visit to I/O. She spoke about the two devices demonstrated:

  1. Exiii makes robotic arms costing $200 They capture motions to an android phone and can be customizable using 3d printed
  2. Neosensory maps sound patterns to different locations on a vest making use of the sense of touch. The vest can be used as a sensory substitution for the deaf or in extremely noisy environments.

posted in:  Android, GDG, Internet of Things, NYC GDG, Programming, Wearables    / leave comments:   No comments yet

WTF #Wearables: making wearables useful

Posted on May 4th, 2015

Make stuff that works – pop-up conference, #makestuffthatworks

 NYC UX Acrobatics

05/01/2015 @Loft W, 240 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Liza Kindred @ThirdWaveFashion talked about the 9 billion connected devices that populate our world and why many only clutter our lives. She first compared the me-too products such as “just another fit band” versus some products she sees as both innovative and useful:

  1. June UV monitoring bracelet – limit sum exposure for skin cancer
  2. Color correcting glasses – to help those with specific types of color blindness
  3. Motion sensing baby monitor – to avoid SIDS
  4. Motorola Tattoo – unlock a user’s mobile device display with only the use of their voice that is monitored by an electronic skin tattoo.

Liza next talked about some guidelines she recommends when developing a new wearable :

  1. No more novelty – create only for utility or joy
  2. Future proof the technology – devices can be upgraded
  3. Provide security – device needs to be secure
  4. Build for the network – talk to each other
  5. Build wearables for humans – make the interaction natural
  6. Blend fashion with technology – people are going to want to wear what we create
  7. Narrow the digital divide
  8. Make something the world needs – e.g. the Kite patch makes humans invisible to mosquitoes.

She summarized her thoughts in three key questions for users and developers/designers:

  1. Would I wear this? Is it beautiful? Is it aesthetically pleasing?
  2. Will I keep this device charged? – does it have long lasting benefits
  3. Does the world really need this?

posted in:  NYC UX Acrobatics, UX, Wearables    / leave comments:   1 comment