I find the concept of the uncanny valley very interesting. Having worked with 3D modeling and design, I’ve watched the work of people much more talented then myself create human like characters. I never knew there was a name for it before, but I’ve felt the instinctual feelings that something was wrong with the person in the image. Take the Miss Digital World Contest for example. If you follow the link and check out the images and videos you’ll start to get a feel for how visually they don’t really look right.
Some still image models have been done very well and they seem to cross the valley. I think the KAYA model is a good example of that (images here) However, if you watch the video, the animation makes the character slip right back in to bottom of the valley. I do think this is very subjective and observer based however fixing it by toning down the human like characteristics is fairly straight forward. The new movie Monster House uses stylistic human characters to a much stronger effect.
Robots have the same problem. Currently the most advanced looking human like robot is the Repliee Q1Expo. It sort of scares me. I’m excited about the progress being made in the area of more human like design, but I find that I have a stronger emotional association with the Aibo or QRIO. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to make the fully animated android / robot cross over that line, but when it does I think it will be exciting for sure. However until they do look like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, I think they need to keep the creepy zombie creatures (NSFW link) out of the public eye. It’s scaring people away from the whole study and development.
I stumbled upon this site Making Toys because of post about making a remote controlled Katamari game. This site is full of some really interesting electronic projects and insight in to toy design.
Make stuff because it’s fun!
Welcome to Brightcove
Here’s what I found so far:
The founder Jeremy Allaire is smart guy. He was one of the creators of Cold Fusion. He also created Homesite which became part of the very successful Dreamweaver application produced by Macromedia.
What Brightcove is doing:
Creating an open standards based software application that will be used for finding and watching video streams off the internet and on your TV. The idea is to strike deals with companies like Tivo, Sony, Phillips, etc. to use this software on their systems. Another plan is to get it running on home media center systems like MS Media Center Edition or on OS X. This is a big challenge these companies are already producing their own products. They’re big difference from all the other web based video tools like this is that they want to get this off a computer screen and on to a TV screen.
What technology are they using:
The front end is an all web based Flash interface. All the video is played through flash using the On2 Flix software for encoding. So something a lot like Google video.
Quote from Brightcove:
“It’s our hope and intention for Brightcove to become an essential online service for building Internet TV businesses – with full choice and control for publishers over user experience, monetization and syndication.”
This is huge for them. One of the big challenges they faced was getting advertiser dollars. Now they have the backing of AOL and if successful can integrate in to their ad network. I’m also guessing that this could solve their bandwidth problem if they every had one.
My take away:
Home media computers are on the rise but are still a very small market space. Apple, Microsoft and other very large well funded companies are trying to get in to this space. Brightcove wants to piggyback on that. They can be successful if they have good content, can find ways to make content providers money, and it’s easy to use. I’m not sure what their plan is in regards to quality programming. Without quality you end up with the same stuff that’s on google video: people crashing their cars, cats, babies, and more dumb people doing dumb stuff. I for one don’t want to watch that sort of crap.
Technology wise what they are doing is easy. At least from everything I’ve been able to find. It’s just been a matter of putting together all the said technologies in to one easy to repurpose package. I’m not sure what their storage solution is but I guess some very large SAN system.
I like rockets and a pretty much like bikes but I’m not sure that I’d really want to ride on the rocket bike. “200-pound-thrust engine capable of blasting him from 0 to 60 miles an hour in five seconds—fast enough to beat a Porsche in a drag race.” That pretty much sums it up. We’re talking about a ridiculously fast bicycle here.
The Reactive Cube is an interesting piece of technology that combines a water and oil mixture with light in a clear acrylic box. As the light is passed through the liquid mixture an extruded effect occurs with the objects being drawn. The overall effect is very pretty. The real time interactive feedback method creates some very interesting visuals as well.
Oh, and just in case you didn’t know, Microsoft released the new Xbox 360 today. Bill Gates was at the Bellevue Best Buy last night at midnight handing out the systems to buyers. One unlucky kid got his stolen from him right after he bought it.
GameSpot has coverage of Kevin leaving Infinium. As some of you know I was working on the infamous Phantom for some time. There was a time that I thought we might have actually pulled it off and introduce a technology product that was truly innovative and exciting. They still have a lot of talented people working hard there and I’m sure this sort of news is hard on everyone.
VirtuSphere is a fully immersive virtual reality environment. The company is located in Redmond and works with the University of Washington’s Human Interface Technology (HIT) Lab. I’ve also had a special place in my heart for VR. This seems like a pretty exciting product with lots of potential, although I bet it will be a long time before I can have one in my home.
TiVo to Transfer Shows to iPods, Sony PSP – New York Times. This is exciting news for me. I already go to the trouble of converting files over to my PSP. I’d like to get a video iPod someday too. I think transferability is the killer app for any DVR. I’m not sure why it took Tivo so long to do it when all the others had been for a while. Maybe I’m just one of those weird people that don’t have time to watch TV in front of my TV. I like my media to be mobile. Since they still don’t have “Tivo To Go” software available for the Mac, I’ll continue to use my very faithful eyetv instead. It’s a great product for getting the TV and video on to my machine and other devices. I just wish it had a good 10 foot UI and a better remote. Because it doesn’t I still love my Tivo.