Monday, February 6, 2017

500 Strong... Where to next?

Remember when quadcopter drones juggled balls and formed up into a Star Trek logo? That seems downright quaint compared to what we just saw at Lady Gaga's elaborately produced Super Bowl halftime show. During her first number, 300 Intel drones formed the shape of an American flag, punctuating the singer's wire-assisted fall to the stage below. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What is WebVR?

What is WebVR

In the past year, Google has focused on making virtual reality a better user experience. At Google I/O 2016 the company introduced Daydream VR mode in Android Nougat, which is a far better VR experience than Google Cardboard ever was. Google is continuing this trend by adding WebVR support to Chrome, arriving in Chrome 56 as an origin trial.

WebGL, a subset of OpenGL that allows web pages to render 3D graphics, has been around for years. With WebGL and WebVR, web pages can create immersive 3D environments at high frame rates (if you have a decent device, that is). 

Below is one of the demos, running at a smooth 60FPS on my Google Pixel once everything is loaded (the recording itself is not 60FPS).Viewing works equally well in all VR headsets - whether it's a Google Cardboard or a Daydream VR headset. Developers can also choose to use the Daydream controllers, Google Cardboard button, and other input devices as controllers.

While WebVR in Chrome 56 does not require enabling any flags in Chrome settings to use, the WebVR API is still under development, and as such the feature is marked as an origin trial. This means that websites have to whitelist themselves with Google to use the feature. If you have Chrome 56, you can try out some WebVR samples here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bears Ears National Monument

I am very proud to be both Navajo and American. As the President of the Navajo Nation, I’ve dedicated my life to ensuring that, as a Navajo, my story -- and our stories -- are part of our collective American history. Today, I want to share one of those stories with you.
There was a time when our nations, American and Navajo, were at war with each other -- when the U.S. Cavalry forcibly rounded up Navajo men, women, and children, and marched them at gunpoint to a foreign land hundreds of miles away. During this time, some of my Navajo ancestors successfully hid at a sacred place of prayer, shelter, and fortitude: the Bears Ears area of Utah.
Bears Ears National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
This beautiful piece of land stretches for over a million acres across the southern edge of the state. Its ancient cliff dwellings, ceremonial sites, abundant rock art, countless cultural artifacts, winding creek beds, and expanses of desert land, contain the great history of my nation.
This place served to protect my family then, just as it has protected many Native American people throughout the years.
This action reflects the President’s profound record on conservation: He has done more than any other president in history to set aside more land and water for the future.
But it is also in accordance with his actions to elevate the voices of Native people. Five sovereign tribal nations petitioned to have this irreplaceable land conserved.
Bears Ears National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument is sacred not only to the Diné people, but also our Hopi, Ute, and Zuni neighbors. These tribes came together in an unprecedented show of unity to conserve these lands for future generations of all Americans. This intertribal coalition also pushed for a new standard for national monuments and tribal involvement.
With this step to protect and conserve these irreplaceable lands, he has set a new precedent for national monument tribal collaborative management. And he has strengthened the relationship between our Navajo and American nations.
As both Navajo and American, I am proud our President listened to a sovereign appeal and acted to preserve our sacred land for future generations.
Thank you for listening,
Russell Begaye
President, Navajo Nation
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

AR via Google Earth Anyone? An Expedition to the Wild Far-off or Casual Stroll in Calcutta?

What is Expeditions?

Google Expeditions enable teachers to bring students on virtual trips to places like museums, underwater, and outer space. Expeditions are collections of linked virtual reality (VR) content and supporting materials that can be used alongside existing curriculum.

These trips are collections of virtual reality panoramas — 360° panoramas and 3D images — annotated with details, points of interest, and questions that make them easy to integrate into curriculum already used in schools.

Google is working with a number of partners, including: WNET, PBS, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society, David Attenborough with production company Alchemy VR and many of the Google Cultural Institute museum partners to create custom educational content that spans the universe.

If you want to put together your own kit, you can use the app with Android tablets and phones. Expeditions will run on any Android (4.4 and above) or iOS (8.0 and above) device, but multiple devices are required to use the app. The phones used with a virtual reality viewer need to meet the required specifications.

Required specifications:

A gyroscope and accelerometer: This is essential for determining orientation and doing head-tracking in virtual reality viewer.

  • Android 4.4 or later OR iOS 8.0 or later
  • 1GB ram

Even if your phones meet the required specifications, some devices may still not be able to use Expeditions. For more certainty and a better experience, we recommend some additional specifications and features.

  • GPU comparable with an Adreno 330
  • High resolution screen: 720p or 1080p is recommended. 
  • Minimum of 2GB ram, 3 or 4 would be better
  • 2.4ghz and 5ghz wifi support
  • VR viewer compatible screen size (check the specifications for your viewer for recommended screen size)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

DoD's Really Really Smartphone...

The NSA Chief Has A Phone For Top-Secret Messaging. Here’s How It Works

The Boeing "Black" phone
There’s no such thing as a perfectly secure phone, especially if it also connects to the internet. But leaving your phone on the plane every time you visit a hostile foreign country isn’t an option for everyone, and so a handful of top military commanders now have a device that can send and receive Secret and Top Secret messages. No surprise: it doesn’t work quite like the one in your pocket.

Developed by Boeing and the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Boeing Black phone has a dual-SIM card that “enables users to switch between government and commercial networks. Boeing Black integrates seamlessly into customer mobile device management systems and virtual private networks,” according to the product data sheet.

One of the recipients is Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers, said DISA head Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn.

That’s not to say that everyone in the military can expect to receive one. “The Boeing Black is the device we’re currently working with,” Lynn said. “We’re just now in the test phase,” he said.

That the military has been working on such a device is no secret. A lot of device manufactures have been eager to meet rising military needs for secure communication. One contender, Silent Circle, co-founded by encryption guru Philip Zimmerman and former Navy Seal Mike Janke, has managed to push a few units into the hands of some military for testing and recreational use.

Lynn said the Boeing Black phone also works with “a large amount of encryption.” But the encryption alone is not what makes the device so secure. “There’s nothing that lives on the devices,” said Lynn. “It’s close to a VDI,” a virtual desktop infrastructure.

What that means is that the most secure phone in the world is, in the purest since, just a window to another computer, a remote server on the military’s Top Secret JWICS network. That server does all the real work and holds the data. The phone itself just moves input commands — keyboard, mouse, and other signals — to that server. The result, said Lynn: “We’re not too worried about losing data,” at least not off the phone.

But does Rogers like the phone? Lynn said, “I think he does. Haven’t heard any complaints.”