The most amazing thing about some of the movies hitting theaters nowadays is their uncanny ability to map human movement for special effects. Case in point are creatures such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the great ape in King Kong, and of course the infamous movie Beowulf which mapped out the actors bodies so accurately that in some of the shots you’d have sworn they weren’t computerized images. It only makes sense that this kind of technology would gradually find its way into the broader consumer market.
Already people are spending hundreds on golf clubs that measure swing speed and trajectory, or gloves that tell you if you’re gripping the handles too hard. In fact there are even devices out there already that can tell you where your swing is wrong, if your feet are too far apart, or if your posture is poor. You can buy equipment and software that can work for just about any sport. Tennis, bowling, baseball or track and field to name a few. Heck, even curling, the greatest Olympic sport in the world, could benefit from video analysis.
Down the road we could see the technology get so advanced that instead of having to carry around 30 pounds of equipment costing over a thousand dollars, all we’ll need is an add-on to our digital cameras. Coupled with expert analysis instead of self-analysis, this product could change the importance and role of coaches worldwide.
Sports are perfect for this technology, but what other applications could this be used for?
Imagine taking tango lessons in your home with a world-class dancer telling you where you’re going wrong and what you’re doing right. A culinary program showing you the proper way to clean a fish or prepare cherries jubilee. If we really expand our minds, how about a mobile program on a sailboat speaking into your ear piece whether you’re on the port side instead of starboard, or telling you how to tie a knot step by step. What would you think about taking karate lessons from Jet Li?
If you enjoy Wii Fit, imagine playing a video game that depends on your every move. When attacking an entrenched bunker you have to lay lay flat on the ground, then jump up quickly to sprint across a mine field. Or maybe you have to dodge a lineman to dive and score the winning touchdown.
The possibilities are almost endless and not all that far from feasible.
But would there be a downside to this kind of technology?
A few years into the future when someone says, “I think I’ll use my lifeline,” they will no longer be referring to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but instead their geo-spatially coordinated content history.
According to John Schneider, CTO of clever geo-web annotator Abaq.us, we’re about to experience a powerful convergence of mirror worlds and life-logging that will enable all sorts of interesting applications including community feedback mechanisms and amplified memory.
“You’ve been to something like an antique shop last month with your wife, and you just can’t for the life of you remember where this place was or what the name of it was,” lays out Schneider, “But because you’ve life-logged you can get on your account, you can take the time slider and move it back in time to the place you were. ... Now you project that lifeline on something like Google maps, bring up the Street View, look around and there it is – there is the place you’ve been looking for.”
For those of you still wondering about the awesome power of open-source software and web apps, which some forecasters believe will comprise 40% of all IT jobs by 2020, the Open Street Map (open version of Google Maps) editorial timelapse above is an illuminating demonstration of how individuals scattered across the globe can work together to quickly assemble a complex information graph.
Still doubting the power of digital altruism? Consider that over the next few years we'll move closer to always-on, hi-def, GPS-enabled life-logging devices, which will make contributing rich information to such 3D wikis much easier, if not nearly automatic. Mix in some smarter software that understands where to contextually arrange data and we're likely looking at serious acceleration of open-source graphing projects, which would help explain why the % of open-source jobs is expected to rise so significantly.
The Global Brain is hard at work. Emerging technology, software, information and social norms are speeding up its top-down, bottom-up and hybrid knowledge generation.
In its effort to catalog and effectively share the world’s
information, Google continues to improve its dynamic representation
of earth and has now extended its reach to cities and towns.
The first time I experienced Google Earth, I was pretty
impressed. Accessing satellite information, I was able to navigate
most any location on the planet that I was interested in, from a
bird’s eye view. Of course the first thing I did was check out my
street, the homes of my past, and landmarks around my town.
Next I was introduced to Street View, a
visualization composed of photos taken from automobiles that allows
full 3D street navigation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when
Street View was at last integrated with Google Maps, that I could
travel down my street take a glance at my house and my car parked
neatly on the curb. That was really cool to me. I found myself
wondering where I was the time the photos was taken, and being
thankful they hadn’t caught me outside my
house in an early morning stupor.
After some light research I found that Google isn’t just
concerned with satisfying my curiosity. It has found ways to make
money with this technology while expanding its functionality for
important, decision-making parties.
Google introducing advanced versions of the platform with
Pro ($400/year), a collaborative tool for commercial and
professional use and Google Earth
Plus ($20/year) for everyday map enthusiasts. It also provides
non-profit organizations with Earth Outreach, a
program that allows organizations to map their projects to help
In March 2008, Google Earth introduced Cities in 3D which is
unsurprisingly a complete 3D visualization of numerous cities. To
contribute to this effort, users can submit and share renditions of
structures and buildings using Google’s SketchUp. The program
primarily relies on city governments to submit their 3D information
electronically (for free) and invites them to review the
The benefits for local governments seem rather extensive. They
include: engaging the public in planning, fostering economic
development, boosting tourism, simplifying navigation analysis,
enhancing facilities management, supporting security and crime
prevention, and facilitating emergency management.
Check out this stunning video of inventor JoAnn Kuchera-Morinis demonstrating the Allosphere at the last TED conference. The Allosphere is a 3 story high chamber that allows researchers to stand in the middle of incredible visual and sonic representations of their data. Complex algorithms are powered by a super-computer to bring data to life in breakthrough fashion.
If there’s one thing movies have shown us, it’s that identifying people through biometrics can be flawed. Blood can be faked (GATTACA), eyes can be removed for retinal scans (Demolition Man), voices can be recorded (Sneakers) and fingerprints can be used from the guard you just used the Vulcan neck-pinch on (Spaceballs).
But have you ever thought of using your veins as an identification device?
The Hitachi Vein ID bounces Infrared Light from multiple angles which is “partially absorbed by hemoglobin in the veins and the pattern is captured by a camera as a unique 3D finger vein profile.” Veins are believed to be even more unique than fingerprints — even twins have different vein patterns.
Are veins the answer to biometric data theft concerns?
The great thing about veins is that, since they are located within the body and are invisible to the naked eye, they are incredibly hard to forge. One would have to have a scan of your vein structure and build a replica, something even crazy evil scientists might have a problem with. On top of this, if someone were to chop off your finger to access your data, the blood would drain out of your finger making vein identification useless (no blood, skinny veins).