Lightform: Augmenting Reality Through Projection

Lightform is an interesting little device: It does automatic mapping for full-room projection mapping, so you can hook it up to a projector and project interfaces anywhere in the room:

The device itself looks a little bit like a Kinect and the whole concept is reminiscent of Microsoft’s RoomAlive, IllumiRoom and Lightspace research projects, which isn’t entirely surprising considering that Lightform was developed by former Microsoft researcher Brett Jones, who worked on the IllumiRoom project.

I rather like the idea of augmenting the real world around us with projections because in a way it turns the traditional idea of augmented reality by wearing heads-up displays on its head. Instead of these individual, private augmented realities you get a shared, public, consensus augmented reality. Kinda like the difference between smartphones and large TVs I suppose.

You can read more about Lightform at Wired and The Verge, and for another take on automated projection mapping see Razer’s Ariana.

JSON Feed

Brent Simmons (creator of Netnewswire, my favorite feedreader for many years) and Manton Reece recently introduced JSON Feed, a JSON based alternative format to RSS and Atom. Dave Winer, the inventor of RSS (some people might argue about this claim, but not me), also shared his reaction. I think it’s safe to assume that he’s not a big fan of new, additional formats in general, and there are certainly good reasons for that. Of note, Dave Winer already proposed a JSON-based RSS format back in 2012, but it never took off.

Nevertheless, I’m happy this exists. I went looking for a JSON-based alternative to RSS a few years ago and was surprised that there weren’t any. JSON has replaced XML as developers’ choice for APIs and data exchange on the web, and in my personal experience it is much nicer to work with than XML. Let’s just hope it gains some traction, but early signs are looking good.

Opinions on MacBook Touch Bar are divided

Following up on that previous post about buttons: Steven Troughton-Smith’s Twitter poll with nearly three thousand votes shows opinions on the new MacBook Touch Bar to be divided:

Michael Lopp probably isn’t among its fans:

In week #3 of actively using the 15” MacBook Pro, I am delighted by its build quality. I love its weight. Last night, I found myself admiring the machining of the aluminum notch that allows me to open the computer. I type deftly on this hardware.

I am also equally deft at randomly muting my music, unintentionally changing my brightness or volume level, and jarringly engaging Siri.

The Verge reviews the 2017 BMW 5 Series

[The BMW 530i is] a car that’s supposed to represent the future of “state-of-the-art” car technology, but instead of feeling indispensable, most of its tech proved to be confusing, hidden in menus, or dysfunctional.

They might not be fancy, but sometimes buttons and knobs are the best solution to a problem.

The next statement in the review is really stupid though:

After four days of driving, it seems that BMW has misplaced its focus on design rather than functionality.

I’ll just let Don Norman deal with this one:

 

Razer’s Project Ariana

razer-ariana.jpg

There wasn’t a lot of things to get excited about at this year’s CES for me, but the Razer Ariana Projection System stood out:

Project Ariana projects an expanded view of a game on a wall to create a more immersive gaming experience. It’s based on Razer’s Chroma Lighting System. Microsoft presented a similar concept, Illumiroom, at CES 2013, but considering that was four years ago, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a commercial release version of that project. Hopefully Razer is more determined to bring Ariana to market.

Superfluous Instructions in Apple Music App

The Apple Music app on iOS now displays an instructional card to tell users that they can scroll the viewport:

applemusiccard.jpg

When something that should be obvious isn’t, you don’t fix it by adding instructions. Instead, you accept that your design is bad and find a better solution.

As Donald Norman wrote in his seminal book The Design of Everyday Things: “Complex things may require explanation, but simple things should not.”

(via)

Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda

HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Our physical and virtual realities are becoming increasingly intertwined. Technologies such as VR, augmented reality, wearables, and the internet of things are pointing to a world where technology will envelop every aspect of our lives. It will be the glue between every interaction and experience, offering amazing possibilities, while also controlling the way we understand the world. Hyper-Reality attempts to explore this exciting but dangerous trajectory. It was crowdfunded, and shot on location in MedellĂ­n, Colombia.

This is another great piece of science fiction prototyping by Keiichi Matsuda, who previously created Domestic Robocop and Augmented City 3D.

Platform Shifts

Steven Sinofski recently wrote about his experience in switching to an iPad Pro as a replacement for his laptop. This in itself isn’t particularly noteworthy, but before describing his own experience in switching to an iPad as a laptop replacement he spends some time discussing how broad shifts across computing platforms happen and why some people react with enthusiasm to these shifts while others resist them, depending on their needs, preferences and circumstances:

By far, the biggest obstacle to change is most people have jobs to do and with those jobs they have bosses, co-workers, customers and others that have little empathy for work not happening because you’re too busy or unable to do something you committed to, the way someone wanted you to do it.

[C]hange, especially if you personally need to change, requires you to rewire your brain and change the way you do things. That’s very real and very hard and why some get uncomfortable or defensive.

Now it’s worth keeping in mind that Steven Sinofski was president of the Windows division at Microsoft and a highly visible public face for the development of the rather controversial Windows 8. One of the criticisms leveled against Windows 8 was that it focussed too narrowly on tablet usage and in doing so compromised the usability of the typical keyboard-and-mouse desktop model, which is undoubtedly the predominant way of Windows usage to this day. Jakob Nielsen concluded in his usability assessment that “Windows 8 UX [is] weak on tablets, terrible for PCs”.

In that light I find the following observation (a variation of Amara’s Law) quite interesting, because it might just explain some of the reasons behind the Windows 8 design direction, but also why it ultimately backfired and failed:

As difficult as they are, we more often than not over-estimate platform shifts in the short term but under-estimate them in the long term.