Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hottest stocking stuffer this holiday season?

Google Cardboard, the under $10 device that allows you to experience virtual reality with you smartphone is my selection for the most popular gift this year. 

Everyone who sees it gets a big smile on their face followed by, "Oh my gosh" or "How does this work?" Or "Wow!"  

By leveraging the smartphone which already has a chip, accelerometer, GPS, hi-res display and app stores, Google has hit a home run almost like Chromecast. The price cannot hurt either. 

So what can you do with it?
1.  The Cardboard app has a some great use cases highlighted by the demo video. This is a great place to start. 
2.   VR reality apps like roller coaster experiences
3.   The palace of Versailles is a great example of a virtual tour guide. 
4.   Collection of great photospheres in the updated Google Street View app  I loved the Sagrada Familia and Machu  Pichu. 
5.  The NY times app (NYT VR) with its great refugee camp story and the incredible Mini Cooper memories video. 
6.  Watch 360 degree videos on YouTube (Android only for now). You can find this on the #360 Video channel. The resolution of these videos is nowhere near the NYT app
7.   The most crazy thing was seeing my own street in Google Streetview.  It was almost like standing there on the street looking at my house but I was playing with this inside the house.  The clash of RL and VR took my breath away for a second. The only thing that prevented it from being perfect was the Streetview was shot in the height of summer and right now it is the fall with almost no leaves left. 

It was a great experience and it is just the start of the journey. Looking forward to some great applications of this technology except we will probably see a spate of 3D selfies. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Making sense of Wi-Fi Sense - Different implications of Home vs. Business!

With the roll out of Windows 10, the feature that is ruffling the most feathers is Wi-Fi sense.

What is Wi-Fi Sense? 

Wi-Fi Sense lets you "automatically" share your password to access Internet using your router with a "friend". Before you get all hot and bothered, there are a few caveats:

  • You have to first tell Windows 10 that you do want to share that particular router's information
  • You then have to select which group of contacts (outlook, skype or Facebook) will be able to get this information
  • The contacts have to have a Windows 10 device
  • The password that is shared is encrypted
  • The contact cannot share the connection information with their contacts without knowing the actual password - which they don't because it is encrypted.
  • They cannot connect with Wi-Fi Sense unless they themselves as shared one of their own connections.

What does this all mean in practical terms?

Setting 1 - Home

The most likely setting is when you have a friend visiting your home and needs Internet access.

Scenario 1.
If the following four conditions are met:
  1. They have a Windows 10 device
  2. They have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing one of their own connections
  3. You have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing you own Internet connection
  4. They are in your Outlook.com or Skype or FB contact lists
Then they will be automatically connected to the Internet without asking you for the password.
They will not be able to share this information with their own contacts (unless those contacts are also your contacts in one of the three groups listed above).
WiFi Sense options in Windows 10

Thus this scenario does not pose much of a concern for me.

Scenario 2.
There is the alternative scenario that is more bothersome.  Suppose you did NOT turn on WiFi Sense.  Then they will have to ask you for the password.  Often you will just tell them the password or write it down for them.  If they have a Windows 10 device, they can now share this information with their contacts.  This is because they just need to know you password when they elect to share the connection information.

So my suggestion:
If a friend has a Windows 10 device, do one of two things
  1. Turn on WiFi Sense so they get an encrypted password.  The conditions listed above in Scenario 1. would still need to be met.  OR a lot simpler:
  2. Offer to type in the password for them (without them seeing it) on their device and select
    'Not shared'.  If they ever want to turn sharing on, they will be asked for the password which they will not have.  

Setting 2 - Small Business

Now take a different setting - a small business for example
They could actually turn WiFi Sense on and tell people to connect with them on Facebook.
If they do, they would automatically get free WiFi!
This might become a great marketing tool once Windows 10 becomes more ubiquitous.
Of course the person would need to have to use their own Internet access to connect to Facebook first and then they would be able to get WiFi through the small business or they could have added them on Facebook ahead of time.
I am not sure if this would work right now for FB pages or just for FB friends.  But with this does seem quite possible in the not too distant future.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Creating 3D models with your SmartPhone

Creating a 3D digital representation of a real life physical object seemed like an impossible task for an amateur. But now this has become quite simple for anyone with a smartphone.

I tried my hand at this using 123D Catch (by Autodesk)  to explore the ease of use, quality of output and ability to share and export.  

Here is the link

To view the 3D rendering

  1. Click on the image or link above
  2. On the page that loads, click on 3D view (at the bottom of the image)
  3. You can use your mouse for navigation control (click on "?" for instructions or see below)
What did I learn from this exercise?
  1. The process was quite simple - all you need is the app and a smartphone
  2. Make sure you take shots from about the same distance, with good lighting and follow the grid on the app.  It is a lot like photosphere or other similar apps
  3. The upload and processing takes significant amount of time.  About 1-2 hours.
  4. Once done, you can download the files for the model (*stl) 
  5. You can make your model public and share with others.  You can tweet, Pin, etc.  You also get an embed code which for some reason did not work for this blog post.
Next steps:
Explore use of this tool for anatomy education!

Tips for navigation
  1. Zoom in to the drummer - on touch pad you may have to use 2 finger slide, on mouse use scroll wheel
  2. Pan to center the drummer - Shift + left click + Drag (slide on touch pad)
  3. Rotate - Left Click + Drag (slide)