I have been thinking about Project Natal over the weekend. I do not want to discredit some of the innovations Microsoft has created over the last two decades – but for the most part Microsoft has not been able to create innovations on its own (but rather mimicking or buying stuff from outside). There may be some advances like C# and .NET – but generally this is insider stuff – meaning nothing to a wider public.
Project Natal may be the first true innovation with an Microsoft stamp on it. Fifteen years ago I have seen programmers trying to recognize 2D movements of arms and legs from a video – with results that were respectable – but never a game changer. Too much CPU power was required back then to be relevant in the consumer market.
To include the 3rd dimension in the motion detection is such a game changer. Combined with voice and face recoginition, this takes away the controller out of the control: your full persona is represented in the system – not just your fingertip. This is radical – and it has been a dream for many many years.
Just look at this example from game designer Peter Molyneux from Lionhead:
The device is so complex that a developer will have to have access to an SDK that allows simplified communication with the sensory system of Natal. Frameworks could provide automatic recognition of gestures to programmers – even in combination (so I you wave your arm, that would call another function than waving your arm and saying “Bye!”).
The level of precision could increase with future revisions. It could be combined with classical controllers. Maybe one day even finger positions, fluctuations/timbre of the voice, body temperature or point of view will be detected as well. Simple “lite” versions specialized on facial parameters could replace webcams in laptops.
So I do not look at Natal as a game controller – I see it as a complete new interface generation coming up.
Obviously Microsoft feels the need to claim back some market share the Nintendo Wii took away with a new controller type. Project Natal is utilizing a range of biometric sensors for body motion, face and voice recognition.
The video is more a vision than an actual feature presentation. But it is clear what the goals are.
Here is another Video from the demonstration that shows what is possible right now:
This article asks wether or not Information Visualization is a field on its own in Information Design:
If we’re going to live in a world driven by data, the thinking goes, we need a simple means of digesting it all. We are increasingly a visual society, and our understanding of the world is increasingly made possible by this new visual language.
… and …
Designers have historically excelled at finding insightful ways of looking at complex problems. Visualization will likely play a prominent role as design evolves beyond the consumer economy (selling $2,000 poufs and other high-end furnishings) and helps create efficient new forms of buildings, food distribution and transportation.
Bonnie Bassler discovered that bacteria “talk” to each other, using a chemical language that lets them coordinate defense and mount attacks. The find has stunning implications for medicine, industry — and our understanding of ourselves.
Shai Agassi is the CEO of The Better Place to get rid of oil dependency (especially for running vehicles). The idea: Give away electric cars for free (like mobile phones) and make the batteries part of the electric grid system (instead of a costly component of the car). You basically pay for miles, thus the service of mobility – not for the hardware.
Scientists and celebrities raise the alarm regard global warming. Prince Charles for example claims that there’re only 100 months left to act. On the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit 2009 the economist Nicholas Stern confronts politicians and scientists with a dire outlook of the future if politicians fail to act swiftly on carbondioxide emissions.
The mere difference in these numbers of the Republicans and Democrats show that politicians are responsible! They set the agenda, they rally their voters, they need to act – it is not enough to hope that the market will act upon their behalf. This is not going to happen – or: It will happen too late. The reason for this is that clime change is too slow to be anticipated by individuals or corporations.
Nicholas Stern has estimated two years ago that countries have to invest 1 percent of the GDP to address the climate change issue. If they don’t do that, the cost will consume up two 20 percent of the GDP. And these figures may even be too optimistic.
Former NSA analysr Russel Tice talks publicly about the wiretapping of the National Security Agency. Obviously the NSA patched into backbones of national telecommunication providers and scanned ALL communications. Complete organisations had their communication secretly copied and backed up for investigative purposes.
Update: There is a second interview with Mr. Tice the day after:
I just noticed that there is a “fan”-feature on Technorati. It may be on for years but it never really drew my attention. I have four fans!
Beside of Marian Steinbach (whom I know, “Hello!”) I see three other people that I do not know:
Tom Roper who is a Information Resources Development Coordinator for the Brighton & Sussex Medical School in England.
Alwin Hawkins who seems to have added me years ago and seems to have kept me for my interest in Tinderbox (don’t know…).
Mark Blair who is a Website architect, Internet strategist and techno-sociologist.
It’s odd how people get to appreciate things from authors that don’t know about it. I think this is fundamental that the Internet changes the relationship between authors and readers – more than it has already.
I’d love to see who are those 500+ people that have subscribed to this blog, but I fear I will never really know….
After a long time of consideration I turned over to WordPress for this weblog and I will not be using Tinderbox to blog here anymore. Tinderbox is a great software for thinking and writing – and I love to have a more graphical/visual note taking approach to weblogging. But it was getting too clumsy to update my weblog or simply correct a typo. It also is a client side application – thus requiring me to use Tinderbox to blog (so it didn’t work with other clients or other computers).
Computer scientist Mark Seager of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claims that this will change the scientific method for the first time since Galileo invented the telescope (in 1509)”.
The reason for that is that simulation and approximation can be used to come to acurate models of complex phenomena instead of just reasoning about formula by theory and experimenting to prove those.
With 362 terabytes of memory and 1.059 quadrillion floating-point calculations per second the Jaguar of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is tuned for scientific calculations like climate and energy models, drug discovery, new materials, etc.
The question arises if these amounts of speed and data processing could one day break one fundamental rule: that some problems will always be beyond discovery through calculation. Neurology, psychology, sociology, economy and cultural studies are scientific areas that haven’t really started yet. Large scale simulation can be the one scientific method that is missing for those (implied that the methods of observation deliver enough data to model upon).
And if so, there is a danger that even governmental policies may one day be driven by probability and not ethics.
Here is a two hour documentary by Peter Joseph from July 2008 explains so much of the backgrounds of a “corporatocracy” today, an unsustainable “monetary-ism” and religious deception that causes social and economic distress.
»Zeitgeist: Addendum« is a sequel to the documentary »Zeitgeist« from 2007:
Zeitgeist: Addendum, attempts to locate the root causes of this pervasive social corruption, while offering a solution. This solution is not based on politics, morality, laws, or any other “establishment” notions of human affairs, but rather on a modern, non-superstitious based understanding of what we are and how we align with nature, to which we are a part
The movie portraits the Venus Project – a life long futuristic vision of Jaques Fresco of a sustainable society. Unfortunatly the site looks like a study site for futuristic industrial design and technology and thus fails to generate interest for the socio-political subtext of Frescos work.
Unfortunatly, while the movie does extensively talk about a global vision, it remains a US centric view as the critisism is focusing on the US agenda. And thus it falls short in the ideas of how to initiate change in the system.
But much of the movie very well explains the problem of the current monetary system and how it came into being.