IBM researchers predict holographic images in cell phones

This 6 months old article in Bloomberg has a story about how IBM predicts holographic phone calls by 2015 (in only 4 years!). Video phones were not well adopted in the history for several reasons (cost, privacy, accuracy). I was looking around the web to find out more about this prediction and I couldn't find anything.

So where does this claim come from? From the article, not all of their past prediction came true (like widespread adoption of second life). But a lot of them did. So is this holographic hype just to raise stock price? Possibly. However, even Nokia did something in this direction (all of which might be obsolete as it is based on Maemo platform).


I'm excited to see where this is going, but I wouldn't be comfortable to have all my phone conversations with it. I might make facial expressions I wouldn't like to be seen by the person on the other side of the phone. I might as well not be dressed appropriately for the environment in which the other person would be :). Happy imagination ...

Answering a doorbell with a mobile phone

Recently, news companies picked up a story about a 13 years old boy who "invented" a 3G doorbell. It is basically a doorbell with a SIM card in it and it calls your phone if someone rings it. I though to myself that this isn't so much new. Such systems that rang landphones existed for 15 if not 20 years and just a few years ago (probably 5) I read about doorbells that rang a GSM.  Then I dug further into story and realized that, being a kid and not having much money, he build his own system for far less than companies are selling similar systems for (to be fair even less complicated!).

Two main reasons for using such doorbell are:

  • answering to delivery guys when not home and
  • making burglars believe you are home

However. Such system has its flows as well. The boy and his buyers might have already thought of all the situations listed below, but I couldn't find anything about it.

  • If someone is home, I don't want the doorbell to spend my money by calling me. OK, this can be avoided if both SIM cards would be on plans which allow free calls between them. 
  • My phone is often turned off so I would miss lots of doorbells. OK, this one could also be avoided by ringing the actual bell in the house and calling the phone simultaneously. So it would work also as a regular doorbell.
  • Door pranks could get to another level. I imagine kids in the neighborhood bothering me (us) even when I (we) are not home.
  • This would allow neighbors (everyone) to call me for free :).
  • If my phone is not available, can it call someone else? Does it ring the next person on the list or can it call just one number. Lets see an example: I'm on the meeting, my wife is in the store, the delivery guy brings the package. The doorbell rigs my phone which is on silent and the package goes back to the local pick up point! No use.
  • What about if someone is home, answers the door while I also answer the phone? This might be a weird situation with me on the doorbell, the guest and the person opening the door. We could have a conversation :).

If it is to believe the story (emphasis on believe), he sold the idea for £250.000 which is a lot of money. The unit will be sold by retailers for £40. If everything is true, he has been on the right place at the right time. Even if he reinvented the wheel. Congratulations!

All the hype around 3D TV and its (dis)advantages

Is 3D TV ready for the main stream? With all the 3D hype with movies showing only in 3D and a dozen of new 3D TV models it seams so. While magazines and newspapers warn users to wait a bit longer for standards to form and for prices to drop, some users already enjoy their 3D movies and 3D sport in their living rooms.

But I'm on the skeptical side. And some are as well.

Two questions that come to my mind are:

1. Is 3D TV ready?

Looking at the history. When stereo came out, it sometimes produced awful results switching sound from left to right. When coloured TVs came out, the colour schemas were awful.  When first flat screen TVs came out, they were not really close to CRTs quality wise. Is this the stage of a 3D TV now? Probably. And it will sure improve. There are a few problems to be solved first. Quite a few people reported headaches and eye problems after watching 3D movies. Maybe some of these can be caused by constant changing of depth and angles that work well in 2D, but not in 3D. But there are other problems with 3D video.

Creating a stereoscopic video that would not cause these problems is maybe harder than just converting a 2D into a 3D. A 3D adds a depth, however it is realistic only in a "sweet spot". E.g. an image with a person in front of the house will look the same no matter where the viewer moves, while in real world viewer sees the person and the house from different angles. This makes brain work harder which happens also with a 2D (if watched from an angle) but way less than with 3D. Another problem is that depth is produced by double image and glasses. The glasses cause the right eye  seeing only the left of double image and vice versa. But when the object moves on the edge of the screen one of the images disappears before the other. This happens in real world as well with objects we watch at, if eyes are moved to the edge, but never for objects in front of us. Which is weird and makes brain work harder. This is the reason why IMAX theaters have "endless" screens.

Another study showed that "that 3D works by tricking the brain into making you think you are physically moving in relation to your surroundings. But you aren't. So your inner ear is not experiencing the movement that corresponds to what the eyes are seeing." So if eyes like the 3D, brain doesn't. This causes nausea and the public was already advised that Nintendo 3DS shouldn't be used by children under 7.

2. Will 3D TV replace 2D?

Looking at the history again. VHS was replaced with a DVD and the latter is slowly replaced by a Blue Ray. BW CRT TVs were replaced with coloured CRTs and than with LCDs. Now is even hard to find a non HD ready TV. So technology changes, improves and we as consumers are ALSO FORCED to buy new gadgets. New movies are impossible to be found on VHS tapes and new music on cassettes. Although there are niche markets for some of the old technology.

So will 3D TV replace 2D companions? Above examples added an extra value/user experience/benefit for users to adopt them for a low cost. Can 3D TV do the same? Several technologies had all these but still did not catch on (remember mini disk??). Maybe because the hype was not so prominent and such technologies became obsolete.

Another thing are glasses. Some people say that glasses are a major obstacle in adopting 3D TV. Who would like to put on and off glasses for watching TV. But many people wear (regular or sun) glasses with no complaining. This is similar to say: "people will not want to use headphones to listen to the music". IMO glasses aren't really a problem. And parallax might be a solution. But again, it can produce a real 3D only in one "sweet spot" (of which Nintendo 3DS takes advantage of, but this is not possible with TVs as we watch them from different angles).

As I said I'm on the skeptical side. Maybe our brains can be trained to some of these 3D video problems (nausea, headaches) which will cause wider adoption of this technology. And I also  believe that we will have holographic technology one day. But 3D TV is not ready for the mainstream. However, I might be wrong.

Symbol of a traffic camera signs - do and will they make sense to new generations?

I still remember the anecdote of Adobe whose Photoshop did not sell well in Japan. Why not? Because their splash screen contained an eye which was offensive to Japanese. Today I drove down the road and I saw a speed camera sign (which UK is full of) and realized it is a symbol of an very old Brownie camera.  It maybe does not even look like camera to today's standards. And I was wondering what would such image mean to generations to come. Their cameras won't look similar to the one on a photo (design sheets from DFT). 

UK

How do signs for traffic cameras (speed, red light, control) look around the world? Here's how, and some designs are way better than UK's:

Some EU countries like France, Italy

Somewhere in USA

USA Seattle

Australia

Another one in Australia

Singapore 

Norway

Spain

Poland

Greece (a lot of British tourists down there)

USA - Iowa 

USA - warning of a cam with no cam

USA - Seattle

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USA - California

USA Washington Bellevue

New Zealand (no cam)

Netherlands

Netherlands

Australia, Perth

Canada, Quebec

Australia, Sydney

Canada Winnipeg

Australia

USA, Connecticut.png

Canada, Quebec

 

 

Which one do you like most?