Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wearable Technology event in Pasadena shows us what the future will be like

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We will never know exactly what tomorrow will hold. But we can guess!

And one way to understand what types of wearable technology will present itself in the future is to reach out to as many trailblazers in the industry as possible and get them to speak about what they do. Which is what the Wearable Tech LA event in Pasadena, just off the outskirts of the Los Angeles, did on July 17, 2014.

It was organized by several influential members in the local tech scene, and this conference gathered up-and-coming pioneers in the wearable tech space to discuss what they’ve learned along the way, as well as to predict what the future might be.

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For some, it was all about gadgets like glasses, watches, shoes, and wristbands that interested them the most; like this technology called Ring that attracted a lot of attention as Takuro Yoshida demoed it in-between panel talks going on inside. Optometry-related glassware showed up too. For example, Erick Miller – Founder & CEO of Epiphany Eyewear presented a video of their aesthetically pleasing smart glasses being used by Macklemore as he performed the big-hit single Thrift Shop in front of thousands of adoring fans.

Augmented reality was present at this event as well. Kayvan Mirza, CEO of Optinvent, stated in a personal interview with us that “now we have devices that have the computing power and the transparent see-through screen that can allow us to do true augmented reality.” The hardware is here, which means that products like these interconnected smart glasses can and will be made.

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While smart accessories were being tried on, other people hovered around the peripherals looking for emerging trends. This included exploring the realms of wearable entertainment. Companies like this biometric platform that blends together healthcare and fun by using a smartphone app to detect heart-rate and play music based on the internal rhythms of the user. David Plans, Co-Founder and VP Products Science Biobeats, demoed their product out on stage which was quite an amusing experience watching as the music transitioned depending on how fast and fluid he was dancing.

Ed Tang, Head of Global Marketing at Avegant, showed off his company’s patented headphone technology that can be flipped down to cover the face of the user. This in turn allows their integrated optics system that is embedded inside to transmit light directly into the wearer’s eyes which allows the brain to see the visual images being displayed.

Even further, an EEG sensing headband called Muse showed that the future contains devices that sits atop the user’s head to detect brain activity, and possibly emotions. Ariel Garten, co-founder of InteraXon, creators of Muse, had participants try on the amazing devices and meditate to the sound of a quiet beach. If the user began to think too much, the sound would erupt into a stormy wind, reminding the person to relax and drift back to the peaceful waters of a calm and tranquil mind. They even have an open SDK that will allow for developers to use the sensors to create projects that can be controlled with the brain.

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The entire schedule was jam packed with exciting panels ranging from sports and wearables to the future of footwear to everything ingestible. Health platforms like this smartphone Breathalyzer were talked about throughout the day.

And some, discussed implantable sensors that could be used to detect heartbeat rhythms, hormone imbalances, or even devices capable of translating visible color spectrums into sounds vibrations sending them directly to the brain. Neil Harbisson, Co-Founder of the Cyborg Foundation seen in the picture below, for example, has an antenna attached to his head that senses color. He says that it makes him feel closer to nature, like insects who also have external sensing features, or dolphins that use sounds to locate nearby objects.

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But that’s not all. Topics of wearable tech for animals appeared within the panels of discussion. For instance, one guy by the name of Oliver Starr walked up on stage to give a presentation about one of his projects that involved strapping GoPro cameras to wolves in order to gain a better perspective of these wildly fascinating creatures.

He even brought with him two of his close friends. One was named Bixby who was a confidently, large black and white husky looking animal. His other companion was a quietly beautiful wolf who Oliver called Aqutaq. Bixby led the way allowing the shy wolf to creep onto the scene, cautiously making its way in front of more people than she has ever seen.

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Defense mechanisms like this wearable protection armband also made its way into the event.  The inventor of ArmStar, David Brown, demoed his latest iteration of their hands-free, less than lethal bodyguard device that can be used for self-defense. It contains a HD video camera, a green laser pointer, and a stunner that sets off an electricity arc with a pressure sensor on the hand. This all potentially could be utilized by police to communicate with backup and collect evidence at an emerging crime scene.

On the consumer side though, David told us that people of the future “will have a civilian model of something like this.” Which is good news to people who are scared of dark areas. When they put this device on, they become essentially a warrior of self-defense capable of fending off wild animals or mugging attackers. A simple flick of a finger, and a taser gun will frighten away any oncoming threat or possible disturbance.

Developers were at the conference as well. Winners from a recent design hackathon, presented their brand new wearables. Created at the Extreme Wearables Designathon a few weeks before, a project called Alia aims to help people unplug from their devices by keeping them subtle connected to their most trusted friend via touch.

CompassH20, another designathon winner, showcased their ephemeral wayfinding device. Glenn Zucman, one of the members involved, says that it “is an invitation to wander, to meander, to loiter, to be a 21st century flâneur.

And a third team, presented a wearble wristband called Emoti that can be used to help parents and care-takers see how an Autistic kid is reacting to a certain situation. It lights up different colors depending on the mood of the child allowing the other people in the room to see how the person truly feels.

Amazingly, each of the three teams had at least one member of a local hackerspace called Crashspace showing that there is extreme potential coming out these co-working environments.

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With so much innovation floating through this one conference on one day, it is clear that the future is full of wonderous wearable devices that will hopefully better our lives as a whole.  And as Oliver Starr said during his panel presentation, “the world is waking up to wearable tech. And it is going to make some of [the people here] fantastically wealthy.” But as he states later on, it is important to “pay that forward by helping evolve tech that helps us better understand the natural world, that respects the creatures whose lives we interfere with to assuage our big brain curiosity.

And to us here at HackerTrips, we feel that this is what the future of wearable tech is all about. These devices shown during events like this have so much possibility to change the world. But it is imperative to check out what others are doing in this emerging space. Otherwise, a dangerous idea might slip by causing the future to descend into a horrible scene of madness and wasted potential.

But so far, it doesn’t look like that will happen. Instead, the future of our wearable tech existence is filled with multitudes of useful sensors intertwingling the entire world, and even universe, together in such a way that will benefit everything from simple creatures within nature to astronaut explorers in space.

[Thanks to Wearable Tech LA for helping to spark the movement toward this beautifully interconnected future]

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For more information about Wearable Tech LA, be sure to visit their website posted at the top.

In addition, photos and videos of the conference (including interviews, demos, panel discussions, and walkthroughs) can be purchased on Gumroad.

Article written by @industrychanger

Bonus links:

Scenti8 – wearable wristband that can send smells in space!

Bonus Photos:

Takuro Yoshida (Ring)

Takuro Yoshida (Ring)

David Brown (ArmStar)

David Brown (ArmStar)

Ariel Garten (Muse)

Ariel Garten (Muse)

ACTON R Rocketskates

ACTON R Rocketskates

Kayvan Mirza (Optinvent)

Kayvan Mirza (Optinvent)

 

Erick Miller (Epiphany Eyewear)

Erick Miller (Epiphany Eyewear)

Metal (Deezmaker)

Metal (Deezmaker)

 

Oliver Starr, Bixby & Aqutaq

Oliver Starr, Bixby & Aqutaq

Nadeem Kassam, Ed Tang & David Plans

Nadeem Kassam, Ed Tang & David Plans

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Fear and Programming in Irvine, CA: a horrific journey into the heart of an Oculus Rift

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Black monitors and portable computers sit atop white Formica tables as 30+ VR developers bang out 3D modeled code in a co-working space that has been transformed into a horror-themed development world. Wild, red eyes stare deep into the Oculus Rift goggles that are strapped to the faces of the coffee-wired testers. They type furiously, dragging around first-person perspectives inside LCD screens while thoughts of buzzing bees and malicious things form in plain view.

Creatures of the night and destructive environments manifest out the developers’ heads, starting to take shape, seeping into the minds of the users bringing out the most imaginative nightmare scenarios. Suddenly, the scene changes, and the wearer of a DK1 glances down standing on the thinnest of ledges looking down at a falling fate of death. Below, the shaking legs of an animated avatar float above a drop so far that the G-forces alone would surely kill the unlucky person who accidentally took a misstep in the wrong direction.

Spaceship sounds echo off the corners the room. At the same time, creepy voices whisper their murderous plans to kill unsuspecting victims nearby as they craw their way through all encompassing darkness.

Silence.

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Then, the blank heartless eyes of a lost zombie appear tapping into the digital matrices along the edge of a mixed reality. Not quite augmented, and not completely virtual, but somewhere stuck in-between.

Ominous lights flicker. This time the landscape transitions to a desert ghost town. Fog rolls in, and the dark shadow of a man teleports itself into the distance. He hovers slowly towards the camera. Then BOOM! He lunges ready to tear out organs, feasting lusciously on bloody flesh.

“they want to kill you!”

“you’re going to die slowly”

Don’t lose your head just yet. Now, ask, “what is fear?” Is it found embedded in the zombie room, or perhaps located within a haunted elevator where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t escape..? It’s best to keep the lights on in this Mad House. No one will leave here alive!

Southern California will eventually need a VR bus

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As of July 3rd, 2014, Orange County has hosted five virtual reality-themed events that have attracted hundreds of people to various locations in the nearby area. Hackathons, demos, and info sessions have all been organized creating a spark in the VR industry that will continue to flourish like a hearty vine growing toward the energy of the sun.

However, the cost of getting to these meetups continuously is beginning to stretch passed the limits of those involved in the emerging VR culture.  Unless the person is a developer who wants to show off their new projects, or is someone who wants to help set up the events, the overall satisfaction rate drops off slightly just because of the price of gas to get there. There needs to be more of an incentive to swing by and check out what is actually happening.

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Now, OCVR and VRLA are both doing a good job to meet the demand for virtual reality in the Greater Los Angeles area though so far. Each group is providing amazing locations for their events. Examples include the legendary MxR Lab, the headquarters of a local independent gaming company called Sleepy Giant, and the innovative co-working place known as PeopleSpace. Heck, even an afterparty for the large gaming conference E3 was even held at the iconic Ace Hotel in downtown LA, which shows that the people organizing the events are making the right connections to further the community of VR.

The meetups are also bringing in appetizers and refreshments to keep the stomachs of the attendees filled and hydrated. OCVR is leading the way in this direction because of their food truck experience. They give out free food, free beer, and more through the use of their Burger Monster truck. This definitely helps to incentivize the experience of those looking to travel from far away. Those who decide to make the journey might not be able to afford a 1st class plane ticket, but they can drive down and eat until their heart’s content at one of these events.

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But there must be more that can be done to help cut expenses to get to these meetups. Already virtual reality enthusiasts are starting to figure out who lives near them and who would be the best to carpool with. For instance, VRLA co-founders Jonnie Ross & Cosmo Scharf, drove down from Los Angeles together to visit the Orange County VR team during their 2nd demo event at PeopleSpace. Their trip was short, but the effect is still the same.

More individuals travelled from other cities to go to that 2nd demo meetup as well, which you can see in the embedded ‘Transportation-oriented’ video below.

Most people took a motorized vehicle of some sort to get there. Cars, food trucks, SUV’s and Jeeps all carried people onto the highways weaving in and out of traffic driving towards one of the hotspots of VR in town. But that’s not all. One guy even took a skateboarding contraption that he put together.

The obvious next step for those coming to the events is to arrange more carpooling, especially since Oculus will be releasing their new consumer headsets soon. This will help bring the costs of travel down, while upgrading the level of experience involved. Those making the journey together will learn from each other and might even become closer friends. After that, ideas of organizing larger modes of transportation for the community like buses, or trains, can come to fruition.

In the meantime though, let’s see what happens next.

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Article written by @industrychanger
Bonus Photos:

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Bonus Interview with Karl Krantz at VRLA2:

All videos that were captured at the OCVR’s 2nd Demo Night can be downloaded for free here:

OCVR Demo Night #2 – Video Walkthroughs (1 of 2) – link
OCVR Demo Night #2 – Video Walkthroughs (2 of 2) – link