Top Tech#6: Holograms, eye implants, bionics, haptics, rockets, teleportation.. and doodling

leia city

leia city

There’s a lot of technology news — but this digest aims to highlight only the most interesting or important innovations.

This edition’s Headlines

Leia’s only hope: Holograms
Lenses as thin as paper
3D-printed wearable temperature sensor
Second Sight implants aid eyes
Brain-bossed Bionic Hand
Gadgets that touch you
Smartphone scans for HIV
Take-off for brain-driven drone
‘Butt Boop’ Boeing Launcher
Beam me up — Quantum teleportation achieved
3Doodler draws solid lines
Intel flies 3D camera

You can read the full article here.

From 1966: first Selfie in space

aldrin selfie

aldrin selfie

Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale, reports the NY Times. They include the first image taken from space, in 1946 — and the first selfie in space, shot by astronaut Buzz Aldrin twenty years later, in 1966.

The vintage prints — not reproductions — are being auctioned by a European collector. Many were “never widely distributed by NASA.”

Here is the full story.


Full-frame manual rangefinder proposed



Is this another retro throwback, or a look forward?

A team of engineers and designers is developing a compact mirrorless cameras “which is simple, pure, and holds true to the core of photography — capturing light.”

The crew at Konost — which they admit is a made-up word — is working on a “true digital rangefinder” with a 35mm full-frame 20-megapixel sensor, an optical viewfinder, and four “fundamental” manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, focus, and ISO. The “simple and minimalistic camera” will be “stripped of any unnecessary features.”

The Konost FF will work with M-Mount rangefinder coupled lenses. Future cameras are also being planned. “We envision a range of mirrorless cameras,” they add, “light and compact in size, simple and elegant in design, solid but comforting in feel; all loaded with large image sensors, and affordable to the general consumer.”

There’s more information here.


On the PMA Podcast: Mylio memory evangelist Kevin Gilbert


Photo Trip to Hawaii

Photographer Kevin Gilbert has worked at the White House, The Washington Times, The Discovery Channel, and on TV productions such as “The Apprentice.”

He’s now the memory evangelist for Bellevue, Washington-based software start-up Mylio, where they are working on ways to protect, organize, and access your photos. The Mylio software runs on Windows and Macintosh computers, and iOS phones and tablets (Android is in development). You can import all your photos from your computers, mobile devices, and services such as Facebook and Flickr. From there, changes made to your library are reflected throughout your network instantly, the company says. New photos captured on your phone automatically show up on your PC; photos copied from your camera to your computer are instantly viewable on your phone. Edits on individual images on one device show up on every device right away.

In this episode of the PMA Podcast, Gilbert talks about the importance of photography to memory, his own photography service Blue Pixel, and the work Mylio is doing to ensure you never lose a photo again.
You can download the episode or subscribe to the podcast here.

Or you can tune in now with the player below.

View-Master reborn: photo viewer to show 360 degrees



Building on Google’s strangely-named Cardboard technology, Mattel says it is developing an immersive digital experience for kids, rejuvenating the venerable View-Master with a “21st century twist.”

Mattel says new View-Masters can be paired with Android smartphones to let kids “immediately find themselves immersed in an imaginative and interactive learning environment… An easy-to-use and affordable platform that will empower users to take dynamic field trips where they can explore famous places, landmarks, nature, planets and more in 360-degree photospheres,”

Mattel’s new View-Master offers an easy-to-use and affordable platform that will enable users to take engaging field trips where they can explore famous places, landmarks, nature, planets and more in 360 degree ‘photospheres’. By pairing the View-Master’s ‘experience reel’ and app with an Android smartphone, kids will immediately experience an imaginative and interactive learning environment.

Mattel says its View-Master was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, “giving consumers access to spectacular 3D worlds by simply selecting a reel and looking through a device.”

The new viewer will sell for $30 this Fall. Individual “experience reel packs” are $15 “and each will feature four experience reels with themes such as nature, adventure destinations, and science.”

Here’s a demonstration video.

view-master 1

Computers taught to understand an image’s sentiments

flickr study photos

flickr study photos

Photographs convey more than just who, what, or where. They can show feeling, communicate ideas, express emotions… That is, we can infer those subjective messages from the image. Can a computer be taught to do so as well?

Yes, according to scientists at the University of Rochester and Adobe Research. In a paper presented at the recent American Association for Artificial Intelligence conference, the researchers describe a “progressive training deep convolutional neural network,” Kurzweil AI reports.

“Once trained, a computer can be used to determine what sentiments (feelings) that a given image is likely to elicit. …This information could be useful for things as diverse as measuring economic indicators and predicting elections… But no human could look at every picture shared on social media — it is truly “big data.” To be able to make informed guesses about a candidate’s popularity, computers need to be trained to digest this data.”

Here is the full article.

The research paper is here.


“Print it or lose it” – Internet co-inventor warns of digital image dangers

Kodak ESP 3.2 printer
Kodak ESP 3.2 printer“We stand to lose a lot of our history,” warns Internet pioneer Vint Cerf. Future generations may struggle, he says, as technology advances so quickly that old files may be inaccessible.

The Telegraph UK  reports on Cerf’s speech at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in San Jose, California.

Noting “the quantity of documentation from our daily lives which is captured in digital form,” Cerf says we “don’t want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them the same way we preserve books and so on we need to make sure that the digital objects we create will be rendered far into the future.”

Now a vice-president at Google, Cerf says technologists need to create digital formats which can still be accessed in thousands of years. He recommend a system which will not only store a digital format but preserve details of the software and operating system needed to access it, so it can be recreated in the future. “We have various formats for digital photographs and movies and those formats need software to correctly render those objects,” the Telegraph quotes him as saying. “Sometimes the standards we use to produce those objects fade away and are replaced by other alternatives and then software that is supposed to render images can’t render older formats, so the images are no longer visible. This is starting to happen to people who are saving a lot of their digital photographs because they are just files of bits. The file system doesn’t know how to interpret them, you need software to do that. Now you’ve lost the photograph, in effect. If there are pictures that you really care about then creating a physical instance is probably a good idea. Print them out, literally.”

Robots and Artificial intelligence – Technology News Digest #5

There’s too much general technology news to keep up with yourself… So let us do it for you!
The Top Tech digest provides a brief look at recent interesting or important items.

This weeks Top Trend: Robots and AI
Sometimes the trends leap out and identify themselves, and in preparing this edition of the Top Tech digest, there were an overwhelming number of news items about robots and artificial intelligence.
Whether you think these two trends represent a boon or a boondoggle (or a potential big boom) there’s no question the pace of innovation here is accelerating rapidly.

Headlines in this edition:

AI: Threat or Menace?
Not the Terminator: the Extinguisher
Real-looking robot receptionists
IBM’s AI employed in android
Britain’s ’Bot behind the wheel
Old interplanetary robot found
DARPA robots go wireless for $3.5 million
Robot scientist develops drugs
Robot dogs form packs
AI Revolution: Road to Super intelligence
Shooting a laser-guided rifle made me feel like a robot

You can read the full free briefing here.

Space, Sound, Sunlight, Sleep – Technology News Digest #4

wrench printed in space

wrench printed in spaceIt’s been another slow news week in the photo biz, but there’s still too much general technology news to keep up with yourself… So let us do it for you!
The new Top Ten Today-Tech digest provides a brief look at recent interesting or important items.

1. NASA emails a wrench to the space station
2. Graphene to extract energy from air
3. Sunlight-to-electricity made much more efficient
4. Capture at 100 billion frames per second
5. App helps autistic kids make eye contact
6. 3D Sound tracks head movement
7. Rewritable paper fabricated
8. Look to Unlock
9. A safer touch in your car
10. Sense your sleep for sounder slumber
You can read the full free briefing here.

Microsoft debuts HoloLens augmented reality



Weird coincidence department: the same week Google all-but cancels its Glass hardware that overlaid computer visuals atop your real-world view, Microsoft debut its HoloLens which can be described as doing the same thing…

“The era of holographic computing is here,” the company says. “When you change the way you see the world, you can change the world you see.”

It has a depth camera, motion sensors, a GPU, and “the world’s most advanced holographic computing platform,” Microsoft says, to “bring high-definition holograms to life in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things. Holograms will improve the way you do things every day, and enable you to do things you’ve never done before. Microsoft HoloLens puts you at the center of a world that blends holograms with reality. As holograms, your digital content will be as real as physical objects in the room. For the first time, holograms will become practical tools of daily life… A new reality.”

…Okay, that is a bit more than Glass, which basically put a camera next to your eyeball and juxtaposed blurry smartphone graphics over what you were trying to look at. Not saying that making you think “digital content [is] as real as physical objects” is particularly a good thing, but it’s certainly more ambitious than Glass — which Microsoft dismisses without naming the “simple heads-up display.”

The untethered holographic computer has “no wires, phones or connection to a PC,” the company adds. The “see-through holographic high-definition lenses and spatial sound” mean you “view and hear holograms in the world around you.”
Here’s a demo video.
CNet has a hands-on look here.


As part of its Windows 10 roll-out, Microsoft also announced the Surface Hub, a huge 84-inch multi-touch video-conferencing screen with built-in cameras, sensors and microphones that “make every person… feel as if they’re in the same collaborative space.”