Augmented Reality: Looking at the world through bionic eyes… darkly.

October 11, 2009

Source: Wired’s Beyond the Beyond, elsewhere as indicated.

Augmented Reality HUD (from How Stuff Works)

Imagine being able to look at something or someone and having instant access to its information right in your eyes. This is the basic idea behind Augmented Reality: Using computerized information over reality.
NOTE: Click the pic for more information on Augmented reality on

For the past five months Bruce Sterling has been blogging about the emerging augmented reality technology. With the first story being about an AR geisha, there has been a rapid progression of the technology, and with it the proliferation of applications for portables that are making AR more probable than VR.

Here’s an demo of an AR zombie blast-a-thon game.

We’re not just playing games here. Browse through the 12 pages of Augmented Reality articles from BtB and you’ll see more than just zombie blasters. There are city guides, movies, presentations, world maps, … even T-shirts are getting into the AR craze. All are currently… or soon will be… available for your portable devices.

But, they’re currently working on AR without the need for portables.


In the eyes of the beholder…

Bionic contacts for AR

In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.

Source: IEEE Spectrum Work is currently underway to create contact lenses that can beam information AR-style directly onto the retina. The circuits will be small and/or transparent enough to not interfere with normal vision, while radio frequency waves will provide power.

These lenses don’t need to be very complex to be useful. Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or offering visual cues from a navigation system. With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display.

A single LED is only the beginning. In 5-10 years, they are looking to incorporate bio sensors into the lenses, with possible full AR capabilities by then.


Somehow, AR shooting with an iPhone doesn’t quite compare to using an AK-47.

Is AR the future, or is it another VR? Before you go googling for the latest AR development system or learning how to program in ARML, you might want to refresh your memory banks regarding the “potential” that virtual reality (VR) had in the 90s, especially while you read stuff like this:

“First, Mobile AR is going to be bigger than the web. Second, it is going to affect nearly every industry and aspect of life. Third, the emerging sector needs aggressive investment with long term returns. Get rich quick start ups in this space will blow through money and ultimately fail. We need smart VCs to jump in now and do it right. Fourth, AR has the potential to create a few hundred thousand jobs and entirely new professions. You want to kick start the economy or relive the golden days of 1990s innovation? Mobile AR is it.

Don’t be misguided by the gimmicky marketing applications now. Look ahead, and pay attention to what the visionaries are talking about right now. Find the right idea, help build the team, fund them, and then sit back and watch the world change. Also, AR has long term implications for smart cities, green tech, education, entertainment, and global industry. This is serious business, but it has to be done right. I’m more than happy to talk to any venture capitalist, angel investor, or company executive that wants to get a handle on what is out there, what is coming, and what the potential is. Understanding these is the first step to leveraging them for a competitive edge and building a new industry. Lastly, AR is not the same as last decade’s VR.”

Not the same? We’ll see about that, once the consumers have had their say…

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.

Ray Kurzweil wants to be a machine

May 25, 2009

Source: Newsweek (May 25 issue), original story by Daniel Lyons.

Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil has given many a speech about how The Singularity – the point when humanity will be surpassed by technology – will actually benefit humanity by allowing them to become cyborgs – and he wants to be one.

Somebody call the Borg. Ray Kurzweil actually wants to be assimilated; To become the man-machine hybrid of sci-fi and cyberpunk lore. He has given speeches about the fabled “Singularity” where machine intelligence supplants human intelligence and the meat is no longer needed… or possibly wanted. But Kurzweil also believes that the Singularity presents an opportunity for humanity to forever alter the course of evolution by merging with machines. He is hopes to be one of the lucky ones to be assimilated, and is currently preparing for the event by dieting and taking supplements to get his biochemistry ready. He expects The Singularity to happen around 2045, when he will be 97. Kurzweil may be cutting it a little close.

Ray Kurzweil’s wildest dream is to be turned into a cyborg—a flesh-and-blood human enhanced with tiny embedded computers, a man-machine hybrid with billions of microscopic nanobots coursing through his bloodstream. And there’s a moment, halfway through a conversation in his office in Wellesley, Mass., when I start to think that Kurzweil’s transformation has already begun. It’s the way he talks—in a flat, robotic monotone.


… and you thought a fossil can piss a creationist off? Ray Kurzweil has is share of detractors who call him a bona fide wingnut:

P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has used his blog to poke fun at Kurzweil and other armchair futurists who, according to Myers, rely on junk science and don’t understand basic biology. “I am completely baffled by Kurzweil’s popularity, and in particular the respect he gets in some circles, since his claims simply do not hold up to even casually critical examination,” writes Myers. He says Kurzweil’s Singularity theories are closer to a deluded religious movement than they are to science. “It’s a New Age spiritualism—that’s all it is,” Myers says. “Even geeks want to find God somewhere, and Kurzweil provides it for them.”

Even one of Kurzweil’s colleagues said “Ray is going through the single most public midlife crisis that any male has ever gone through.”

Kurzweil, being the futurist that he is, has made some other out-there predictions that were nowhere near true. But there may be a real deep-seated reason why some are hating The Singularity so intensely:

(Peter) Diamandis says academics who scoff at The Singularity are just threatened because the established order will be disrupted. “These technologies can topple major companies, even governments,” he says. “All these ideas are about empowering the individual.”

Locutus of Borg

Friend or Foe? One major question about The Singularity yet to be answered is: Will the machines even want us around? Ray Kurzweil believes they will, but we will have to wait until 2045 to know for sure.

That’s assuming some ultra-religious dickhead doesn’t make the 2012 “apocalypse” a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.

USB Finger drive has human attached to it.

March 11, 2009

Sources: Gizmodo, Technology Viewer,

Check his photo set on Flickr

USB Finger drive

Beware if Jerry Jalava give you the finger. He may be trying to upload a virus into you!

… so it begins. Jerry Jalava was a hacker until a motorcycle accident last May caused him to lose a finger. He could have settled for a standard prosthetic replacement, or a “new” digit off a fresh corpse. He chose the prosthetic, but not a standard prosthetic. He wanted something more… 2GB more…

A 2GB drive is embedded in a silicone “fingertip” and features a USB interface, and has a Billix Linux distribution… and the move Freddy Got Fingered… on it. He’s a hacker… that should be enough explanation.



If only they knew…


Not quite cyborg. Jerry’s new finger-drive isn’t permanently attached to him, which is good for when he needs to replace or upgrade the drive, so the reports of a cyborg being born are still premature. There are even doubters already calling shenanigans on the photos (they must be looking at the “visualization” pics from Yanko Design). Still, this has to be the most cyberpunk idea to come over the fiber in some time. But it also leaves an important question still unanswered: Why?

He’s a hacker… that should be enough explanation.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.

Meet Aiko, one man’s perfect robo-woman.

December 11, 2008

Source: The Sun (UK).

It started with a more helpful idea. Toronto inventor Le Trung wanted to build a robot to help the elderly. Then his hormones kicked in, and Aiko became his love toy.

“Aiko is what happens when science meets beauty.”

And she is a beauty. A fembot that Hajime Sorayama could have envisioned, but Le made her real… and almost perfect. Aiko has a couple of flaws: She can’t walk… yet (Le is looking for a sponsor to help with that part.) and sex, which he hasn’t tried yet:

“Her software could be redesigned to simulate her having an orgasm.”


The ultimate Stepford Wife… Not. Aiko was originally designed for housework so she can handle simple cleaning tasks easily enough, but being a robot…

“Aiko doesn’t need holidays, food or rest, and will work almost 24 hours a day. She is the perfect woman.”

Before you consider her a push-over, better watch the video and pay attention around the one-minute mark. Le created his fembot with face recognition and sensors so she can react to touches. Touch her the wrong way or cause her pain and she’ll bitch-slap you for your efforts.


It’s now official, cyberpunked living is HERE. If this blog doesn’t convince you, then you may want to google the nets for a fembot announce earlier this year named E.M.A., The kissing robot, a.k.a. “Femisapien” for US robosexuals.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.

He wants to be the camera: Canadian filmmaker also looking for a camera implant

December 6, 2008

Sources: Wired, Eyeborg

Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence holds his prosthetic eye, and a wireless camera module.


Eye-Eye-EYE! Only a couple of weeks ago, SFAM blogged about a San Francisco artist looking for a webcam implant for her artificial eye. Now a canucklehead [sic] is looking to follow suit.

Toronto-based producer/director Rob “Eyeborg” Spence lost his eye due to a gun accident and only had it replaced with a prosthetic three years ago. Now he wants to augment it with a wireless camera, not to restore his vision, but to become a literal camerahead, with the ability to record and store images of what he sees:

I am not restoring vision, I’m just modifying my prosthetic eye into a video camera with the same capabilities as a modern cell phone. I can stream the footage, save it to a hard-drive, or put it in my documentary film called Eye 4 an Eye.


Equiped for the job. In Rob’s case, such use for his camera-eye is obvious. As a professional filmmaker, he must have spent countless hours setting up shots, finding the right angles, and adjusting lighting whenever possible just to ‘get it right.’ With a built-in camera, all he needs to do is look and… ACTION! Stephen Speilberg probably would give up his own eyes to do what Rob is planning. I bet there are many photo-journalists who wish they could have such cameras when news breaks around them, and not waste time setting up cameras and cables when things go down in a split second.


The beginning of the Trend? Rob and Tina ought to get together and discuss their plans for their eye-cameras, maybe share notes and record their shared experiences. But could these two be just the beginning of the trend of voluntarily having such camcorders implanted into their eye sockets?

No doubt, there are going to be those who have lost an eye who would want such implants, including those who would want them connected to their brains. Then you may have those photo-journalists and movie-maker types who would willingly sacrifice a good eye for such a setup. Not to mention the possible security-surveillance applications…

When normal people with both eyes still working want to have one removed for an implant, that’s when we can say things have gotten out of hand. But it’s still better than what emos have been “implanting” themselves with…

This post has been filed under Cyberpunked living by Mr. Roboto.