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Original author: 
Sean Hollister


Three months ago, celebrated video game publisher Valve did something completely out of character: it fired up to 25 workers, in what one employee dubbed the "great cleansing." At the time, co-founder Gabe Newell quickly reassured gamers that the company wouldn't be canceling any projects, but it just so happens that one project managed to get away.

Valve was secretly working on a pair of augmented reality glasses... and those glasses are still being built by two Valve employees who lost their jobs that day.

"This is what I'm going to build come hell or high water."

Former Valve hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth and programmer Rick Johnson spent over a year working on the project at Valve, and have been putting in six days a week, 16+...

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Augmented reality for mobile devices has grown in popularity in recent years partly because of the proliferation of smart phones and tablet computers equipped with exceptional cameras and partly because of developments in computer vision algorithms that make implementing such technologies on embedded systems possible.

Said augmented reality applications have always been limited to a single user receiving additional information about a physical entity or interacting with a virtual agent. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have taken augmented reality to the next level by developing a multi-user collaboration tool that allows users to augment reality and share that we other users essentially turning the real world into a digital canvas for all to share.

The Second Surface project as it is known is described as,

…a novel multi-user Augmented reality system that fosters a real-time interaction for user-generated contents on top of the physical environment. This interaction takes place in the physical surroundings of everyday objects such as trees or houses. The system allows users to place three dimensional drawings, texts, and photos relative to such objects and share this expression with any other person who uses the same software at the same spot.

If you still have difficulty understanding how this works and why I believe when made available to the general masses it will be a game changing technology for augmented reality and mobile devices, check out the following explanatory video.

Now, imagine combining this technology with Google Glass and free-form gesture recognition. How awesome would that be?


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Google Glass Sergey Brin

Google's Project Glass promises us a new kind of ubiquitous computing with a wearable heads-up display, but the actual glasses will be a long time coming. To test the concept for himself, AI researcher Rod Furlan pieced together existing parts from manufacturers (some of whom are now out of business) into a facsimile of Project Glass, then connected it to a repurposed iPod touch as an on-board computer. Furlan's is hardly the first wearable display or hobbyist headset, but his experience wearing even his rudimentary design, as well as the "feeling of loss" he felt upon taking it off, is fascinating.

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call -151 writes "Many years ago, a human-generated intentionally nonsense paper was accepted by the (prominent) literary culture journal Social Text. In August, a randomly-generated nonsense mathematics paper was accepted by one of the many low-tier 'open-access' research mathematics journals. The software Mathgen, which generated the accepted submission, takes as inputs author names (or those can be randomly selected also) and generates nicely TeX'd and impressive-sounding sentences which are grammatically correct but mathematically disconnected nonsense. This was reviewed by a human, (quickly, for math, in 12 days) and the reviewers' comments mention superficial problems with the submission (PDF). The references are also randomly-generated and rather hilarious. For those with concerns about submitting to lower-tier journals in an effort to promote open access, this is not a good sign!"

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Located on a rather nondescript industrial estate in a suburb of Leicester you'll find an equally nondescript warehouse unit. Nestled amongst the usual glut of logistics companies and scrap metal merchants, the building in question once housed a firm that was poised to dramatically alter the world of interactive entertainment as we know it, and worked with such illustrious partners as Sega, Atari, Ford and IBM.

That company was Virtuality. Founded by a dashing and charismatic Phd graduate by the name of Jonathan D. Waldern, it placed the UK at the vanguard of a Virtual Reality revolution that captured the imagination of millions before collapsing spectacularly amid unfulfilled promises and public apathy.

The genesis of VR begins a few years prior to Virtuality's birth in its grey and uninspiring industrial surroundings. The technology was born outside of the entertainment industry, with NASA and the US Air Force cooking up what would prove to be the first VR systems, intended primarily for training and research. The late '80s and very early '90s saw much academic interest in the potential of VR, but typically, it took a slice of Hollywood hokum to really jettison the concept into the global consciousness and create a new buzzword for the masses.

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This isn't another blog post about gamification. It's about brands who want to reach people, and great, fun games being the way to do it. And your chance to get money to put your games in front of millions of people.

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Two weeks ago EVE Online launched Incarna, an expansion that added human avatars to a game previously focused on spaceships. What should have been the celebrated release of another evolution in the continuing space saga, quickly turned to drama and uproar amongst the passionate EVE community alarmed by the high price vanity items on sale through micro transactions, and then the leak of internal memos. The memos appeared to present a blunt attitude of the CCP development team: EVE players were seen as the "golden goose", and they were going to be rinsed of money to help fund new projects at CCP.

In retaliation, the EVE community revolted with in-game protests and abuse directed at the CCP developers - last week at the Game Horizon event, CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson revealed that bullets and baseball bats had been sent to the company's HQ in Iceland - amongst other verbal and in-game economic mischief.

CCP called a crisis meeting with the Council of Stellar Management - player representatives who speak for the community and deal directly with upper management - to address the issues and anger, and a resolution of sorts was reached.

Last week, a day before the meeting of the CSM and under embargo until after the event, sat down with Pétursson to discuss the extraordinary backlash, the effect it had on the talent at CCP, the shift to micro-transactions and the constant evolution of one of the most successful and fascinating online virtual worlds.


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Whole Brain Emulation: The Logical Endpoint of Neuroinformatics?

Google Tech Talk May 27, 2010 ABSTRACT Presented by Anders Sandberg. The idea of creating a faithful, one-to-one computer copy of a human brain has been a popular philosophical thought experiment and science fiction plot for decades. While computational neuroscience and systems biology are currently very far away from this goal, the trends towards large-scale simulation, industrialized neuroinformatics, new forms of microscopy and powerful computing clusters point in this direction and are enabling new forms of simulations of unprecendented scope. In this talk I will discuss current estimates of how close we are to achieving emulated brains, technological requirements, research challenges and some of the possible consequences.

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