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DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Entries in Google Glass (4)

Wednesday
Apr302014

A New Way to See: Shawn Hardin on Glass & Rift

Shawn Hardin is the cofounder and CEO of Mind Pirate, a tech startup delivering an application and cloud platform for the development and distribution of wearable computing apps, called Callisto. The company is focused on making it as easy as possible for OEMs and developers to deploy great apps across, and take full advantage of, a range of wearable devices. You can follow Hardin on Twitter @shawnhardin. I serve on Mind Pirate's Board of Advisors. This post appeared in today's Venture Beat

 As a technology executive since the early ’90s, I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat to the digital revolution. I’ve observed the meteoric rise of the Internet, broadband, social media, and mobile and watched their consumer adoption soar from 9 percent to 90 percent. Today, we’re on the cusp of a similar inflection point for wearable technology and augmented reality.

We all love smartphones. But it’s not realistic to assume the phones we now carry around in our pockets represent the final form factor for mobile.

In fact, the phone is about to explode. It will evolve into many different pieces, with wearable devices for many different parts of the body, including your wrist, ears and eyes. A couple years ago, an episode ofFuturama joked that the “eyePhone” would replace the iPhone. As we know now, that transition is already underway, as devices such as Google Glass and Oculus Rift demonstrate.

Yes, the devices are different. But they’re also quite closely related. And if you view Glass and Rift as steps along the same continuum, you start to see a very clear picture of the wearable-computing future.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan042014

#googleglassmovie

A month ago I blogged about initial reactions to my new Google Glass wearable computing device, mostly the back story about why I decided to dive into this new world and my initial experiences. 

Well, I've been wearing Glass for about a month now, capturing still images and videos and entertaining my friends. Brilliant of Google to get people like me to pay them for the privilege of evangelizing their product, but hey, it's been fun being the first kid on the block with a new toy. 

My experience with the device was limited to image and video capture, primarily because connectivity is so difficult, especially as I use an iPhone not an Android device. Other problems remain, and I'm sure others will solve them. I'll also leave until another time my comments on the social dimension of this new class of wearable devices, except to say that my encounters wearing Glass produced more curiosity and astonishment than fear or snearing. Subterfuge is not that easy with a glowing cube attached to your forehead.

So herein I offer my first month with the Google Glass camera, a frenetic period with lots of travel, conferences, meetings, and of course the year-end holidays. I reduced my month into five minutes, along the way remembering how to user iMovie and why media editors have a right to be crazy. 

The image quality is, to my eye, pretty damned good for an amateur like me. What's great is the sponteneity of image capture -- especially after Google introduced its "blink" function that allows you to take a still image by blinking, without needing to power up the device. You don't have to find the camera in your pocket, open the app, aim and frame. You just blink. Like one of my friends said, "it's creepy." 

The hands-free essence of the wearable camera turns your body into a steadycam or a dolly, like the shot of my hand holding catfood while following the cat, and the 360-degree pivots that are so fun when you wear the camera. It's a more fragile version of the GoPro, a product I've never used beyond trade show demos. 

The worst thing about Glass' camera is the lack of an actual viewfinder. I couldn't frame shots as easily as I do with my cameraphone. As a result, you'll notice that many of my shots slice off the tops of heads because the camera is positioned slightly above the normal field of vision. 

Now that I'm used to wearing the damned things, I'm going to try to shoot interviews at CES and see if I can create a movie with more content. 

Monday
Dec022013

Dawn of the Next Big Thing: I Get Glass

While other Americans were trampling each other for retail bargains on Black Friday, I was driving through the rain to Google’s Venice Beach facility for an appointment with a Google Guide named Sam, whose job was to introduce me to my new Google Glass wearable technology device.

We traversed a predictably whimsical courtyard (giant chess board, etc.) and a gourmet lunchroom (Sushi Specials!!) bereft of the 600 Google employees housed in the former Chiat-Day binoculars building because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The joint was empty except for Google Guards, Google Guides, and Google Explorers, the latter group being the one that includes me.

My first pic with Glass.The Explorer program launched back in the Spring with a #ifihadglass contest. Some 8,000 folks were offered the chance to buy their own Glass (at $1,500) and, as Google put it, “Being part of the Glass Explorer program is pretty insane (good insane): let's face it, using cutting edge technology that changes every month requires a certain sense of adventure.”

I did not enter the contest, though I must say, I was tempted. A friend and colleague Shawn Hardin had told me privately that his next company, Mind Pirate, was developing a full-scale game and app platform for Glass and other wearable computing devices, premised on the conviction that this market will be huge.

Shawn is incredibly convincing. His research suggests that the wearable tech market, which includes smart glasses, watches and clothing, will grow to $18 billion by 2018, up from $1.4 billion this year, with more than 64 million units worldwide. He told me that 10 million smart glasses will ship by 2016, and not just from Google – many companies are jumping into this.

In the intervening months, I’ve joined the Mind Pirate Board of Advisors and helped formulate a new production lab program between the company and the Canadian Film Centre’s ideaBOOST media tech accelerator, which I advise. We launched that program November 21st in Toronto with five participants (SmokeBomb Entertainment, Imaginary Computers’ Sean McCracken, Normative, and Little Guy Games and the CFC Media Lab). It was an extraordinarily creative and energized experience, diving deep into the technology of developing for Glass, learning about Mind Pirate’s Calisto platform, and jamming with some insanely smart folks. It’s called Flow.

So, of course, I had to apply to the Glass Explorers program and I had to accept when my invitation arrived a few days after my return from Toronto. I plunked down my own dough at a decidedly non-Black-Friday price, even though I know that other, cooler wearable gear is likely to make this thing on my head seem quaint in a matter of a business cycle or two. I’ve got to hurry up and be cool.

Rainbow outside the Google office, taken with Glass.So here I am again at the dawn of the Next Big Thing:  a new and very disruptive generation of devices, applications, and services, to rival previous revolutionary platforms such as the PC, Internet, broadband, social media and mobile.

I’ve been in the land of tomorrow in the past. Somewhere in the closet I have, for example, Apple’s QuickTake camera (boo), a Newton (ugh) and several Palm Treos (yea). None of those turkeys lasted. In general, being on the bleeding edge is messy and time-consuming, since pioneering devices are never as useful as their progeny. Which is why it’s better to get them for free.

Still, I do like the idea of being first, seeing the technolust in the eyes of my fellows, though so far, most people have ignored me. As my friend Carol said, “I thought it was going to be Goggles.” No, Carol, Googles, not Goggles.

So far, I’m just learning the interface, which is kind of tricky. I’ve set up my account, learned how to take a picture and record a video, set up WiFi and navigate pointless Twitter posts on my eyelids. When I sent an email to my college roommate, I couldn’t figure out his reply, which was “Wow, Alice, is it really you?” until I read what I had actually sent:

hi Michael this is my first email response on Google glass

Followed by:

Sent Through the Looking Glass

Seriously, the Glass default signature is THAT?

Then there’s social etiquette of using the device – the Internet was alive with the story of an Explorer who got kicked out of a Seattle restaurant.

I’m more afraid that I’ll look like I’ve got Tourette’s or epilepsy as I twitch, tap and shout to my little friend in the screen inside my head. 

I will be in Silicon Valley and New York City in the next week, which should give me plenty of experience to report here, and on the Explorers website. I figure I’d better hurry up and act like an early adopter before everybody gets these things, rumored to be in a matter of months.

Wednesday
Oct022013

The Coming of Wearable Computing Content

It's disconcerting now, going to some tech-centric event where a handful of folks are sporting Google Glass (and fending off the curious), but in a few years, we'll get used to (and wear) a slew of new computing devices coming onto the market -- not only eyewear, but watches and who knows what else. 

What will the killer app be for tech-powered eyewear? To date, most attention has been paid to video, in part because the market is just emerging and developers haven't applied their ingenuity and genius to the new form factor. (There are lots of accounts from those among the select Glass users, my favorite being from novelist Gary Shteyngart in The New Yorker.)

But here's a safe bet: games will be very, very popular, just as they are on mobile devices, laptops, desktops.. hell, people just love games.

Google Glass is in the early stages of defining the user experience and engagement structure of the platform, which includes head movement, voice commands, and earpiece touching. Oh, and lest we forget, the experience is inside the real world, so it's 3-D. 

So what happens in a game when you add all of those variables, especially when most game developers, even on today's sensor-rich iOS and Android devices, do not take advantage of many of the functions that they could use to create unique gaming experiences?

We are about to find out with the announcement of a new games production lab focused on next-generation wearable tech devices like Google Glass. 

Toronto-based Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Menlo Park CA-based Mind Pirate have teamed up to create the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab. The Lab will recruit North American developers of games and other interactive content during a three-month boot camp, the results of which may be published and brought to market as early as Q1 2014.

Mind Pirate is a start-up focused on multi-platform game development and has created a next-generation game platform, Callisto, to create products for mobile wearable devices, like Google Glass.  Callisto does not release publicly to third parties until 2014, making ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab program participants among the first in the world to get their hands on this next-generation technology.

Mind Pirate is headed up by my old pal Shawn Hardin, a serial entrepreneur whom we recruited to serve on the Advisory Board of the CFC's new digital media business accelerator called ideaBOOST. Synergy ensued as he and his team connected and brainstormed with Ana Serrano, CFC Chief Digital Officer and the visionary behind ideaBOOST. You can read their quotes in the press release here.

Mind Pirate and its investors are betting on their platform called Callisto which they believe will be a game-changer as the market's first and only tightly integrated client-side and server side game-focused platform that supports leading mobile devices with a special emphasis on so-called 'wearables'. It enables developers to create content and experiences that merge the virtual and physical worlds by taking advantage of the native capabilities of the underlying hardware while creating a consistent experience across different devices, including iOS and Android.

Interested parties can start submitting applications on October 2, 2013 by visiting ideaboost.ca/mindpirate. The application deadline is October 22, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PST. The program will begin November 20, 2013 at the CFC headquarters in Toronto.

Disclosure: I am a senior advisor to the CFC and ideaBOOST.