Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A bright and beautiful light

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Yesterday my sister and I took a trip to the New York Public Library to see the wonderful exhibit on the letters and memorabilia of J.D. Salinger. If you are currently in NYC and can manage to catch that exhibit between now and this coming Sunday (the day it closes), I highly recommend it.

I think the great majority of Salinger’s readers discover him in childhood by reading The Catcher in the Rye. But I discovered him only in my twenties.

Consequently, I ended up loving everything he published except Catcher in the Rye. That book probably would have spoken to me when I was thirteen. Yet by my mid-twenties, I was no longer speaking the same language.

On the other hand, I was utterly enthralled by Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour, an Introduction. There was a time when I lived and breathed the travails of the Glass family.

So for me, as I imagine it is for many people, reading the letters of Salinger resonated on a deep emotional level. I felt as though I was searching for clues to an undefinable mystery.

Of course the man is not the work, and the work is not the man. Salinger himself wrote in his letters that the distinction must be respected.

But that’s ok. True genius casts a bright and beautiful light. For a few precious hours yesterday I felt myself bathed in the healing warmth of that light.

Double negatives considered mathematically

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

When you use double negatives do
Not neglect to deny what’s untrue
For there’s evidence mounting
You’re actually counting
In binary modulo two

AR app store

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

I was having a conversation with someone in the augmented reality industry today. We got onto the topic of how AR will eventually be used by ordinary people to give them various capabilities, without requiring them to become experts.

This reminded me of the Apple App Store. For the first year of the iPhone, third party developers had only one option: Implement something that would run on the Web in the Safari browser.

That all changed with the launch of the App Store a little more than a year after the introduction of the iPhone itself. Developers were now free to create things like maps, games, educational software, programs for visual artists, or pretty much anything else they wanted to offer to the public, without being constrained by the limitations of Safari.

It’s possible that we will see a similar arc after wearables come out. Third party developers will come up with ideas for useful power-ups that the makers of the hardware never thought of.

On the other hand, Web browsers are far more capable and developer-friendly now than they were back in 2007, while apps can be slow to download and to update, as well as posing potential security risks. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just put on your future reality glasses and run everything from a Web browser?

Extradimensional explorations

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Recently I have been doing a lot of work in VR to explore visualization and interaction with objects that have four spatial dimensions. It’s a fun topic that has fascinated me since childhood — but now I can actually do something about it.

Alas, our physical universe, as far as we know, only allows us to roam around in three spatial dimensions. Fortunately, newly emerging virtual reality technologies are making it ever easier to simulate that extra spatial dimension.

I am hopeful that this kind of research will help to give wonderful super powers to new generations of children. If you want to learn more about that, you can read it in my blog post today at our Future Reality Lab.

When information is everywhere

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

It takes a certain amount of work to point your phone at something, isolate a particular physical object of interest, and read information about that object on your phone’s screen. This is true even if you have an easy-to-use app installed for this purpose.

But when SmartPhones are replaced by SmartGlasses, the same operation will take no work at all. The entire process will be so seamless and automatic, you won’t even think about it.

When that happens, all objects will be information objects. Furniture, houses, people, food, whatever you look at will contain information that is instantly available.

This will fundamentally change the nature of our relationship with the world around us. We will stop thinking of information as something different than physical reality.

The next generation of kids will grow up without any inherent separation between physical reality and digital information about that reality. Because of this, they will think about things in a way that is in some ways fundamentally different from the way you or I think about things.

They will grow up to develop ways of reasoning, of going about their day, of work and of play, that are hard for us even to imagine. And they will tell their children of a long ago time before information was everywhere you looked.

To their children, that ancient time will seem like a distant fairy tale. They might wonder what it must have been like to live in such a strange world.

Future super powers

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Capabilities we take for granted today were once considered the realm of fantasy. Until about 145 years ago, you couldn’t have a conversation with somebody who was miles away.

Similarly, photography, movies, sound recording, the Web and other media technologies have created new kinds of human super power. What was once considered impossible soon becomes taken for granted.

Various new super powers will emerge when everybody starts wearing those forthcoming Smart Glasses. There are too many to enumerate here, but a few stand out.

You will always be able to identify people you are looking at (and possibly their mood), you will know where you are in traffic (whether walking or driving), you will be able to know just by looking whether that restaurant you like across town has a table for you and your date, or whether there are still good seats at that movie theater.

But I suspect the one I will appreciate the most is the zoom capability. Whatever you are looking at, if you want to see it more clearly, you will be able to simply zoom in for a closer look.

Now that’s what I call a super power!

Virtual pets

Friday, January 10th, 2020

In the future those virtual specs
Will enable some fancy effects
When everyone gets
All their virtual pets
I just want a baby T. Rex

Moments of simple joy

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Life can contain all sorts of nasty surprises and unwelcome turns of fortune. You never know when reality will throw an unpleasant curve ball in your direction.

Yet every once in a while, it’s good to stop, look around you, and simply take stock. Right now I am doing just that.

And I realize that I am actually pretty happy with what I see. Life, for all of its ups and downs, truly does contain many moments of simple joy.

Today I am remembering to honor those moments. And I am also remembering to embrace them with gratitude.

This certainly doesn’t mean that life is perfect. But maybe it doesn’t need to be.


Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

Today I shared
A quick smile
With a complete stranger

The entire encounter
Lasted just a moment
Yet in that moment

Against all odds
We became friends

Future personal space

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

When everyone is wearing SmartGlasses, many things will change. One of those things may be the way we negotiate personal space.

Right now my personal space in the physical world pretty much ends with my body. I can reach out my arms to shake somebody’s hand, or to pick up an object, but generally speaking, that’s about it.

Of course I could choose to pick up an object and throw it at you. But that would generally be an example of my invading your personal space.

But when everyone is wearing SmartGlasses, we will each likely have a visible and sometimes audible cloud of information hovering around us. Objects in the world will also have such clouds of information, depending on their purpose and on our relationship with them.

Where will these clouds of information go? Will they hover between us, over our heads, or float around our hands and fingers?

Whatever the scenario that ends up being widely adopted, the result will be a realignment of physical space. Much like the daemons in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, the virtual extensions of our physical selves will become an intrinsic part of our physical presence for one another.