Kevin Lepton

I am the writer, editor and publisher behind this future technology blog and I predict you will keep reading to see what is coming right around that metaphorical corner.

Nov 282015

When people hear the term “virtual reality”, they usually think of sci-fi books and movies and futuristic video games. But this is no longer the case since virtual reality (or VR for short) has already entered real life. Specifically, it’s making a name for itself in advertising as it helps companies grab the attention of their target audience and rise above their competitors.

Why is VR taking off in advertising?

Customer engagement has always been an important factor in corporate success, which is why companies have always been looking for meaningful and memorable ways to interact with their consumers. They switched from printed ads to TV commercials since these let them promote their products or services through attention-grabbing audio and video. From there, they moved on to social media marketing and guerrilla marketing so they can cater to the modern and adventurous mindset of the millennial generation.

Now businesses are stepping into virtual reality, which allows them to engage with their customers in a deeper level. By putting on the headset, consumers are drawn in to the VR world and enjoy a unique, high-tech experience that makes them feel more connected to the company’s brand.


Which companies are already using this technology?

Many corporations have realized the power of virtual reality and are creating their own VR advertising content. One such example is PepsiCo, which worked with digital agency Firstborn to create content that lets customers hang out (albeit virtually) with popular sports figures. Racing enthusiasts, for instance, can enjoy a ride with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., while skateboarding fans can do kickflips and heelflips with pro Paul Rodriguez.

Volvo has also used virtual reality to raise brand awareness and introduce customers to its newest models. Using the new technology, Volvo gave consumers the chance to go on a virtual test drive with its XC90 SUV and experience its exciting features without setting a foot away from the showroom.

Other companies who have jumped into the VR wagon include tequila maker Patron, UK-based telecoms company O2, and luxury boutique The Line.


Should business owners invest in VR?

Absolutely. It might seem like a huge unnecessary expense at first glance, but adopting VR advertising is actually important. According to market information company CCS Insight, the market for virtual reality devices and mobile augmented reality gadgets will reach around $4 billion three years from now, in 2018. So, to prepare for this boom and ensure they’re on top of the competition once VR becomes widespread, business owners must start developing their strategy as early as possible.

They can start by thinking of unique ways to integrate VR into their marketing campaigns. Those who own a travel company, for instance, can design content that let customers virtually visit a tropical vacation destination and see what it has to offer. Those who own an event organizing business can create content that allows clients to attend and enjoy a virtual concert or music festival.

Virtual reality advertisement is here to stay, and it’s up to companies to adapt to it and integrate it in their marketing strategies.


Oct 062015

Children can now enjoy fun activities like solving puzzles and coloring their favorite Disney characters with the Disney Color and Play app. The people behind the Disney Research Project are taking the art of coloring to another level by developing an app that will allow users, young and old to color using Augmented Reality (AR).

Coloring books are not only creative tools to develop art skills in children but are also great stress busters for adults. And with this augmented reality coloring book app from Disney, children from all ages are introduced to a whole new world of art and technological advancement.

Basically, the user simply has to place the tablet with the app over the image on the coloring book he or she is working on and the result will be a three-dimensional model of the image. What makes it different from the iOS mobile app Crayola Color Alive, launched in 2014, is that it lets you see the 3D image while you render the color. The app from Crayola, on the other hand, allows users to see the output only after the work is done.

Another twist worth looking forward to will be the textured 3D version of the image being colored. That is, whatever texture is derived from the coloring book, the app will create the same output on screen. Moreover, the object is animated and can be seen from different angles, allowing the user to see the 2D image transform into real-time.

With the added dimension on the screen output, you can have an idea how the image looks like from different perspectives. This is made possible with what is known as the virtual spring system.


How does it work?

With the application of augmented reality in this latest project of Disney’s creative team, the app that is being developed is able to detect and track the original 2D image on paper and convert it to a three-dimensional image in real time. As you color the image, you can also see the development of your work on your tablet, but it will feel like magic with the animated 3D image on the screen.

Augmented reality has been present for a while now and has been used in different applications. It has enhanced user-experience with the integration of contextual information with what is seen on a camera feed. Also, it has made gaming experience more realistic as it allows images to come alive.

This technology has been used in business applications as well. However, Disney was able to come up with something that stands out among other creations introduced by other companies, an app that does not take away the joy of using traditional coloring books but rather enhances user-experience with the use of technology.

With the number of activities that can be enjoyed with smart devices and gadgets, researchers from Disney say that the use of traditional coloring books might not as exciting as they used to be. But by being to turn 2D coloring book images into animated 3D models, this will not be a concern anymore.




Sep 152015

Unlike regular printing which almost all of us know how to do without having to scratch our eyes out, 3D design and printing is in a league of its own. Basically, it’s more tailored towards those who are more tech savvy and actually love creating three-dimensional objects. However, Madeline Gannon – a researcher and teacher at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture and PhD candidate in Computational Design – wants to change that. She wants to unleash the designer that is hiding in all of us.

Gone are the days when 3D printers used to be luxury machines. Although there are still rather expensive models these days, technology has advanced so much that anyone with a few hundred dollars to spare can get their hands on a 3D printer. However, as Gannon notes, not everyone can just create original 3D objects.


Enter Tactum

In order to give creative power to ordinary 3D printer owners, Gannon developed a system called Tactum. It’s an innovative software system that gives users the ability to create their own designs for 3D printers by just touching a projected image.

Essentially, one would just have to rub, poke or use any other hand gestures on a projected image which will then become their 3D printed object. Through this process, people can instantly see their object change shape in response to the touches.

The first series of 3D objects Gannon designed made use of a surface that is very much accessible: the human body.

Together with a companion project called Reverb which helps convert user-created designs into printable meshes, Gannon has created bracelets and necklaces with wide-ranging designs, including smooth landscapes and intricate textures.


Further Uses

Tactum’s use in creating fashionable items is just the beginning. The system really proves itself when used in the creation of functional pieces like the custom watchband Gannon designed for a Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch.

Gannon plans to use Tactum for customizing prosthetics and other wearable medical devices. Can you just imagine how better it would be for patients to have a truly customized device? They can collaborate with doctors and a Tactum technician in real time, providing feedback regarding the fit and feel of the device.

Tactum has the potential to produce 3D objects at a rate that is much quicker and at even lower cost. As such, doctors and patients can continually adjust prosthetic limb as they see fit, and also giving the patient a certain degree of personal expression.


The Journey to Maker

Gannon’s path to Maker can be traced back to her trips to museums as a high school student. For her, the buildings interested her more than the exhibits themselves. She realized then that she wanted something to do with architecture.

However, during her last year of architecture school, she experienced the limits of the human-computer interface. In other words, the computer couldn’t produce the ideas from her head. As a result, Gannon plunged herself into computer science.

Fast forward to the present and Gannon now heads MADLAB.CC, a design collective that explores computational approaches to architecture craft and interaction all aimed at exploring the “edges of digital creativity.”