Will Google Announce Maps 3D Next Week?

It may be fairly short notice, but today Google issued invitations to a Google Maps event to be held on June 6th, less than 5 days away now.  The announcement  doesn’t give any indication what the event will be about, but the title may not be quite so cryptic to understand.  “The Next Dimension of Google Maps”.

Google Maps already has a limited amount of 3D content, displaying famous structures.  It seems logical that they will be taking this technology to the next level, but to warrant an event would indicate this is more than just an incremental update to the service.  It has been rumored that Apple will soon be ending their partnership with Google as the iOS maps supplier and that they are working on 3D for their own map service.  Perhaps Google is looking to beat the Cupertino company to the punch.

Whatever the announcement is, we will find out very soon – next Wednesday to be precise.  Perhaps there will be more than just 3D to announce as well.

Metaio Augmented Reality at The Gadget Show

Metaio logoThere’s no doubt that augmented reality (AR) is hot area at the moment, with several exhibitors at Gadget Show Live showing off products and software. Metaio is one such company and it provides AR software for Vuzix‘s high-tech glasses.

Vuzix

Sascha Kiener from Metaio gave me an impressive demonstration of the their product. I put on a pair of glasses and when I was shown a picture of a T-Rex, a 3D image of the dinosaur appeared out of the picture. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the dinosaur picture and the illusion worked regardless of the orientation of the picture, so you could turn the picture to turn the dinosaur. All very clever.

In the interview, Sascha talks to me about augmented reality and some of the prospects for the future.

SoftKinetic Gesture Recognition Platform

SoftKinetic CameraMicrosoft can rightly claim to have brought gesture recognition to the consumer market through Kinect for Xbox in 2010, but SoftKinetic has been in the business since 2007, providing hardware and software solutions for the consumer electronics and professional markets. Andy and Courtney find out more from Virgile Delporte.

SoftKinetic are team of mathematicians, 3D imaging specialists, software engineers and game designers that have developed both hardware and software components of an end-to-end solution that can be incorporated into new products. The 3D middleware platform, iisu, lets content and video game developers, arcade and fitness equipment manufacturers develop their next interactive product or solution without needing a deep understanding of how the technology behind gesture recognition actually works.

If you want to have a play, SoftKinetic’s DepthSense Professional Kit, which includes a camera, is available from their store for just $499.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Leonar3Do Virtual Reality Kit

Leonar3Do 3D Controller

This looks more like an instrument of torture than any kind of bird I’ve seen but fortunately it’s not and it’s actually the virtual reality controller from Leonar3Do‘s desktop VR kit. Andy and Courtney breathe a sigh of relief and chat to Stewart Oldroyd from Leonar3Do.

Hungarian start-up have created “the world’s first desktop VR kit”, consisting of the scary controller above, 3D glasses and three line sensors that affix to the computer monitor to track the position of the controller and the glasses. There’s a video on the company’s website that shows the system in action and it looks amazing.

The innovative part is that it’s an out-of-the-box environment which costs around $1500 rather the $10,000+ usually associated with VR systems. Currently only available for enterprise and education markets, the consumer version will arrive in late spring.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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MakerBot Replicator Prints 3D Objects

MakerBot ReplicatorIf you’ve never come across a MakerBot before, think of it is an inkjet printer, which instead of printing on paper with ink, prints a three dimensional object with plastic. Andy and Don investigate further with Bre from MakerBot.

Announced at CES, the MakerBot Replicator is bigger and better, with an increased volume capacity and the dual extrusion, i.e. able to create objects from two materials, most usually two colours. Model files can be downloaded from Thingiverse in the STL file format and there’s no shortage of different objects to try out.

Bre shows off some different objects, from hard cubes to stretchy bands, all of which were printed out on the Replicator previously. The Stanford bunny puts in a special appearance for modelling geeks.

The new Replicator costs $1750 for a single extruder and $1999 for a dual extruder. There’s a bit of a lead time at the moment because of its popularity with deliveries expected in a couple of months.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Toshiba Glass FREE 3D TV’s

Todd and Steve Lee (from Waves Of Tech) talk about seeing the 3D TV’s at the Toshiba booth at CES 2012. The one that impressed them the most was Toshiba’s 55inch 4k tv which will ship sometime in “early 2012″ and cost somewhat less then $10,000. I personally don’t know how much I would use the 3D on the set, but I would LOVE the 4K. Now to get more 4K content. Anyone have a Red camera I could borrow?

For more information, go check out the Toshiba Website us.toshiba.com

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IOGear Introduces HDMI Switch with 2D to 3D Conversion

According to IOGear about 70% of the people currently looking to buy new TV’s are leaning towards 3D, but are scared off by the lack of available programming.  That’s why they have decided to produce what is the worlds first conversion box for making 2D content available as 3D, that also has upscaling features and an HDMI switch built-in.

This new HDMI switch has 4 ports and it does a lot more than simple conversion.  This as-yet-unnamed IOGear box allows the user to make adjustments to get the 3D picture looking right for their individual tastes.  Since it has four HDMI inputs you can also up-convert your 2D DVD’s as well.  It also upscales resolution types by turning 480 into 720 and 720 into 1080, which then converts to 3D, making all of your existing content available in 3D.  The box is expected to be available in March for an MSRP of $199.  That’s about double a basic 4 port HDMI switch, but it contains functionality which can’t be had all in one box until now, and it’s all in one very small box.  You can check it out in the video below.  Now all it needs is a name.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Sony Connects Up At CES

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

SmartGoggles by Sensics

http://www.smart-goggles.com/wp-content/themes/twentyeleven/images/helmet.pngIf you are a gamer you know that the best games are those that you can immerse yourself in. That is the idea behind 3D goggles. The trouble with most of them is that they require you to be connected by wire to a video source and cable, limiting the users mobility. Sensics will be introducing new 3D goggles technology at CES 2012 called SmartGoggles, they are being advertised as intelligent, immersive and interactive. They use technology based on professional head-mounted displays. They have great resolution and depth of field. They allow for the real-time 360 degree tracking of the users hands without wires or the need for an external computer. This will allow the gamer to track their location and route no matter where they go or are going. This will allow for greater portability and on board intelligence. These new SmartGoggles will not only be great for gaming but also with other entertainment devices.  SmartGoggles can run almost, any Android application, connect to the cloud and work with numerous devices. The application processor embedded in the goggles is so powerful you can run and store Android applications locally on the goggles.   Yuval Boger Sensics Chief Executive Officer said “SmartGoggles revolutionize 3D goggles the same way that Smart Phones revolutionized mobile phones”

Sensics will be doing private demonstration in the South hall ground Leval MP 25942 at CES 2012. At this point there are no googles on the market that use the  SmartGoggles technology.  They are looking for developers to start developing for the platform.   SmartGoggles technology will be available to consumer electronics companies to building goggles that their customers will love, hopefully by late spring 2012.   Maybe, hopefully soon real immersive gaming will become a reality.

Lexar Takes CompactFlash to 150 Mb/s

Lexar CompactFlash ProfessionalEach year, CompactFlash gets faster and more capacious, despite being one of the older memory card formats around, and it looks like 2012 will be no different. Lexar has announced a new addition to its Professional range with 1000x CF cards that support minimum data transfer speeds of 150 Mb/s, allowing the capture of high-quality images and 1080p full-HD and 3D video from a suitable DSLR camera.

Available in 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB capacities, the CF cards support the VPG-20 specification meaning the card has been tested and guaranteed for professional video capture streams at up to 20 MB/s. To get the video off the card, Lexar offer a high performance USB 3 card reader.

Included with the purchase of a Professional CF card is Lexar’s Image Rescue software (downloadable) which will help recover accidently deleted photos and videos from the card.

The new Lexar Professional 1000x CompactFlash card will be on-sale in February, though the 128 GB variant won’t be ready until April. Recommended prices are 16 GB – $169.99, 32 GB – $299.99, 64 GB – $529.99, and 128 GB – $899.99 (ouch!)

You might be wondering what significance the “1000x” is. The original CompactFlash cards had a transfer rate of only 150 kb/s which itself was based on the data transfer rate of CompactDiscs (CDs). Geek fact for the day.