Tag Archives: Tech

Tomorrow’s cyberpunk today: augmented advertising on your eyeballs.

In the future, even your eyeballs won't be safe...

I’m all for futurism.  Wi-Fi toasters?  Bluetooth underpants?  Hi-Def backpacks? Totally down with all of the above.

Sometimes, though, I begin to think that the interface of technology and humanity is going to places that I’m not comfortable with – witness Bitter Wallet’s story on Augmented Technology contact lenses.

Hence the use of the screen-grab from “Minority Report” above.  There was a film which seemed to get the future’s interface between humanity and technology bang-on.  Your eyes get a retinal scan whenever you walk into a shop and the contextual adverts update in real-time with recommendations based on your purchasing history.

I'm assuming that digital readers of augmented reality contacts won't be quite so terrifying...

It’s like a really terrifying, faux-omniscient Amazon Recommends reading your recent life every time you go to the Mall.  In related news, I don’t go to Malls unless I absolutely have to and can’t get out of going (A trait which I picked up from the wise and lovely Mrs Rolling Eyeballs whose blog title directly references “Minority Report”, fact fans).

Though the technology in the Bitter Wallet story has only so far been tested in lab conditions on Rabbit subjects as a proof of concept (because Bunnies are all about wearing contacts, yo….), one can only imagine that this stuff is going to have a subsequent application which directly impacts on a more human client base and which will inevitably be used to sell us stuff.

The history of technological innovation seems inexorably married to subsequent commercial usage – an inevitable by-product, I suppose, of the funding rounds required to develop anything worthwhile in our era.  You can’t develop something cool because you need money, which is available from private sector investors, who want results which can be effectively monetized to make a return, which arguably compromises innovation in turn because something esoteric but fantastic won’t reach a big enough market to be worthwhile.

Teetotal blogger posts augmented tech, faux-Guinness advert from nearly ten-year old film. Universe implodes at the Meta-ness...

The lovely thing about “Minority Report”, of course, is that we’re supposed to be slightly disapproving of the technological society in the movie – it’s invasive, barely regulated and runs on gadgets which erode personal liberty which we allow because it gives us greater daily convenience (insert obligatory, anti-Mark Zuckerberg joke here).  Director Steven Spielberg meanwhile manages to get lots of brands and marques to liaise with his crew of futurologists to be featured in the film (a risky gambit, as any contemporary viewer of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” will attest – it’s like a graveyard of once-prominent brands), which seems at least tacitly critical of the future it’s asking these corporate partners to sign up to.

Sweet ride, bro.

So, corporate branding is bad – but here’s a nifty futuristic Lexus for you to covet…no mixed messaging there, then.

I think that we can all agree that companies having less direct contact with us is a good thing – and that the degree to which advertising can be used to influence our behaviour is something which shouldn’t be jacked directly into our cerebral cortex (well, eyes, but you get the point).  This may be a generational thing with me – I grew up reading Gibson, Sterling, Pat Cadigan and the wave of eighties ‘cyberpunk’ authors, so the idea of corporate interests feuding over who gets to control the future is one which resonates with me.

It seems that kids don’t necessarily have the same concerns – I think to many young adults, the labyrinthine agreements which we agree to when we set up accounts on internet sites so often implicitly guarantee invasion of privacy that its seen as the norm and nothing to be bothered about unduly.  Yes, you’re being tracked, tagged and scanned as you check in on smartphone apps or buy a song on iTunes, but that free stuff you got when you signed up more than makes up for companies data-mining the hell out of you.

Still, check out these cool adverts on my eyes, man – feels good

 

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Filed under Films, Geekery

Why you should never confiscate your child’s Blackberry…

Over at the UK version of Gizmodo, their weekly ‘Notes from the Frontline’ column (which follows a serving officer in the London Metropolitan Police Service) outlines just why a child and his mobile phone should never be parted.

 

 

 

Image via the Daily Telegraph

It’s a tale of family strife, concealed weapons and the fated allure of Blackberry mobile phones and it made my jaw drop a few times.

These are strange (and occasionally) frightening times in which we live, and no mistake.

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Filed under Blogs

The Amazon tablet – out in November?

Slashgear have a story on one of the Autumn’s more geeky and eagerly awaited tech products – the Amazon tablet.

The upshot of which is that Amazon are holding an Apple-style press conference next week and not telling us yet just what they’re announcing.  So that means the much-rumoured Tablet is real and we’ll all get to see it for the first time next Wednesday. Probably.

via MacRumors.com

See.  It’s a thing.  A heavily re-purposed Android tablet, with Amazon branding and services integrated.  Sold at a loss to get to some of the punters who’d love an iPad but can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the Apple Tax.  I guess that I’m in that latter group – I’d be happy to use a device purely for media, but I’m aware that it’s an absurd, first world luxury item and one that I don’t really need.  Would like to have, perhaps, but I don’t need it – the distinction there is key and is one that I don’t think a lot of people make.

As a bona-fide Amazon fan I confess to being eager to see what they come up with on Wednesday – I haven’t yet bought a Kindle as I still quite like the feel of a paperback and the physical media display impulse is strong within me (an arguable disorder not made any easier by the Black Library’s tendency to have neat illustrations on the spine of their paperbacks, each of which has a different chapter of Space Marines on it).

For example:

And, lo - did the Nerd Overlords at the Black Library figure out new ways to divest me of cash...

Physical Media still gets the job done in some respects – you can’t beat a good book jacket or a nice typeface. I can’t see myself making the jump to eBooks until the publishers figure out some way to provide ancillary benefits to the collector which induce them to collect in a digital format.

So, to sum up – Amazon are doing something or other on Wednesday and I’m a massive nerd.  I think that’s everything…

 

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Filed under Blogs, Books, Geekery

Today’s mind-blowing science update…

…is over at Gizmodo, where they report that scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a system to capture visual activity in the brain and reconstruct it on a computer.  Or, the first steps towards ‘dream recording’, for want of a better phrase.

Does Not Want 8 Foot-tall Snakeman...

‘Mind.Blown’ as the young people might say.  Not that I wish to jump the gun in any way, but I am taking this to mean that Holodecks are imminent.

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Filed under Blogs, Geekery

Xbox 360’s Autumn Dashboard preview

 

 

 

Joystiq have published their thoughts on the new Xbox 360 dashboard update for 2011 – and they seem reasonably happy with it.

Now with added content and features that Europe doesn't get. Great, thanks for that...

It’s not as fussy and a lot more like the Windows Mobile user interface – which is, in turn, apparently indicative of what Windows 8 will look like.

Clean, less cluttered, now with added Kinect functions (stunning, no?).

 

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Filed under Gaming, Geekery, Spoiled!

Uncharted 2 ‘maxes out’ PS3?

Quip Quip, Bang Bang!

Quip Quip, Bang Bang!

Over at PlayStation Lifestyle, Naughty Dog’s Amy Hennig makes some pretty bold claims regarding “Uncharted 2 – Among Thieves”.

I loved the first game,  and will no doubt love this sequel, but my cynic’s radar tends to beep uncontrollably when devs start telling us that their newest game ‘maxes out’ the hardware on the console they’re releasing on.  It seems entirely probable that the Naughty Dog team have wrung new levels of performance out of the PS3 hardware in the years since the first game launched with the system – you would hope that a two or three year dev cycle doesn’t merely result in a slight upgrade – but surely it’s better to just admit that the game is going to offer the best performance, audio and graphical fidelity and gameplay advances available at the minute.

If Sony really do regard the PS3 as a ten year system, they’re not going to be that chuffed at the notion that their system is already all tapped out, wouldn’t you say?

I’m expecting more of this level of hype and bluster come the inevitable release of “Killzone 3” Indeed, one of the gaming news sites that I frequent is already positing that “KZ3” will figure characters with the kind of photorealistic features due to be seen in next year’s “Heavy Rain”.

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Filed under Gaming

Nintendo raise Wii price, gamers shrug…

Courtesy of Cubed3, a story which boggles the cranium – just as Sony cut the price of the PS3 (and introduce the PS3 Slim) and Microsoft make noises about another Xbox 360 price drop, Nintendo decide to buck the trend and  RAISE the price of their market-dominating Wii console to £200.

Is this box worth £200?  Ninty thinks so...

Is this box worth £200? Ninty thinks so...

I can’t really see the logic of this – the value in the machine can’t compare to the merits found within both the 360 and PS3, the demand for the system appears to have hit a plateau and the whispers of an HD iteration of the console refuse to be silenced.

As somebody who loved his GameCube and has just picked up a DS, I have no interest in dissing the system – far from it, in fact.  A few moments spent in the Nintendo sphere is a heady treat and so refreshingly different from the gaming vernacular of Sony and Microsoft – no bald-headed, swearing, alpha-male space marines for Ninty.  I want the Wii to offer something so compelling that I feel the need to acquire the system for my home, but this price hike is hardly the right way to encourage new consumers to adopt the hardware.

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Filed under Gaming