TechKNOW Tomorrow – 3D Holograms on Your Smartphone

Image by George Lucas via Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

Think of some examples of technology that have become staples of science fiction literature and movies: spaceships, laser weapons, robots. We’ve witnessed the beginning of each of these technologies throughout the twenty-first century. On the edge of science fiction becoming reality, future generations will be able to experience what we could only dream about.

Another technology you see frequently in movies is 3D holograms. There’s an infamous scene from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in which a hologram of Leia appears to Luke and Obi-Wan. Back in 1977, that scene gave us an idea of what we might never see come to fruition, but it was still fun to think about all of the possibilities.

While we have seen several strides made in “do it yourself” holograph projections, most don’t work well unless they’re in extremely low light conditions. The technology was just not quite ready for the world. Thankfully, one company might have just changed that.

3D Holograms by IKIN

Image by IKIN via IKIN, Inc.

IKIN, a company with a focus on developing immersive technologies, recently unveiled their prototype for holograms that can be touched, interacted with, and produced on a smartphone in broad daylight. If this is almost ready for a public market, that means that IKIN are the first company to make such a breakthrough with holography.

We’ve seen 3D visual technologies such as VR (virtual reality) enter the mainstream, but most people still prefer to consume entertainment through 2D means such as on a television or computer screen. Why? VR creates the illusion of a 3D image, but it still is technically using a 2D screen, which can cause nausea or eye strain as our brains struggle to discern the distance and depth of various objects.

IKIN hopes to change that. While creating realistic 3D versions of what we see is difficult with VR, “holograms offer a shifting perspective based on the viewer’s position, and they allow the eye to adjust focal depth to alternately focus on foreground and background“. As a result, we may start seeing holography introduced into various types of mediums.

Image by Jon Favreau via Iron Man 2.

Imagine playing a video game with a view of your environment similar to VR, except that you don’t have to wear a massive headset in order to enjoy it. Or watching a hockey game from home, except a hologram makes it appear in 3D like you’re actually there. Even a 3D, fully interactive university class from halfway around the world doesn’t sound too far-fetched.

These are just a handful of the things that could be possible over the next decade. IKIN’s primary goal is to “design a truly interactive, high-quality, and affordable holographic eco-system, in which, every person will be given the tools to create, interact, touch and feel stunning holographic environments right in the palm of their hands”. Not only can these holograms be touched and moved, but they integrate with AI and adapt to create better experiences.

Most importantly, if the technology is affordable, that means that the ultimate goal with experiencing entertainment is to have it be more accessible and inclusive to everyone. For a society in which finding new ways to communicate with one another is fundamental to our continued survival (e.g., Zoom), 3D holograms could be a way for us to better communicate when a physical location isn’t possible.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

TechKNOW Tomorrow – The Future is Here: Robots that Help You Around the House

Image by Andy Kelly via Unsplash.

Back in the ’80s, there was an abundance of movies that attempted to capture what the future might look like. In 1984, the classic film, The Terminator, told the story of an advanced AI (artificial intelligence) system created in the near future called SkyNet. SkyNet was initially developed to help people with mundane tasks in their everyday lives, but as soon as it became self-aware, it sought to destroy its only perceivable threat – humanity.

Released the same year, Electric Dreams predicted a future in which home computers have become so deeply integrated into our lives, that they can even control our appliances such as blenders or coffee makers. In the film, the home computer becomes sentient over time and lashes out against its controller, sort of like SkyNet on a much smaller scale.

That was almost forty years ago. When you think about it, the fictional future these films created in telling their stories isn’t that far from the truth. Most of us do have AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google that can communicate with us and help with spoken requests. Smart appliances such as fridges, coffee makers, and dishwashers have existed for several years now and are frequently being improved upon annually.

While the idea of a self-aware AI that turns against its creators is a far-fetched idea (it’s highly unlikely that a machine could ever become more intelligent than the person who programmed it), the fact of the matter is that we now have machines enhanced with AI that can automate many of the mundane, time-consuming tasks we perform on a daily basis.

By 2024, we will likely start to see robots in our homes performing tasks like cleaning out the dishwasher, vacuuming without any supervision, and even performing prep work for cooking.

In other words, the future is here.

AI and Life at Home

Image by Samsung via YouTube.

At the annual CES trade show, numerous companies illustrated CGI prototypes of possible tech in upcoming years. A couple of companies, however, actually featured physical prototypes to demonstrate how close we are to having these items in our homes.

One of these excellent innovations comes from a company called Nobi with their unique smart lamp. Taking the place of your current light fixture or as a separate one, the Nobi Smart Lamp uses motion sensors to detect the slightest movement. Unlike outdoor sensors, however, the light adjusts to the situation.

The light shines upwards or downwards depending on where you are and the time of day. At night, if you sit up in bed, it’ll shine towards the ceiling so as to not disorient you from bright light. Getting out of bed, it’ll then shine downwards to prevent falls or injuries.

The smart lamp can detect a fall and will even ask you if you’re okay. If the answer is anything but yes, it will automatically call your trusted contact or even emergency services. The device also includes an air quality sensor and a built-in smoke detector. All of these features combined can aid with independent living no matter what age you are.

Some other interesting inventions come from Samsung with their new lineup of robots for your household. For instance, if you struggle to micromanage all of the little details in your life (appointments, time management, getting enough exercise, taking breaks, etc.), Samsung Bot Care can help with that. This little robot can recognize and understand your behaviours and follow you around like a little companion, reminding you of everything you want/need to do in the run of a day to remain healthy and keep your sanity. A little bit creepy, but also very cool!

As if that wasn’t enough, Samsung also previewed two other nifty little robot assistants. JetBot 90 AI+, equipped with both an optical sensor and laser navigation system, is essentially an incredibly “smart” vacuum cleaner that requires practically no maintenance. While not exactly a new invention, it’s far better than models of previous years.

It can detect different types of objects and determine whether or not they are fragile while it’s cleaning. For example, it’ll be careful around an object like glass, but not so much around a metal chair. It can even avoid loose cables or articles of clothing that would require you to reset its position. Finally, with a built-in camera, this robot can even give you updates at home on your animals whenever you’re away.

Perhaps the coolest robot Samsung presented at CES 2021, however, was Bot Handy. The robot uses AI to detect and understand objects made of different weights and types of materials (a plastic bottle or a glass plate, for example). Bot Handy can apparently move around, set the table, load/unload the dishwasher, put groceries away, or even pour you a glass of wine after a hard day’s work.

The most interesting thing about these robots? They’re almost ready for sale and distribution to households worldwide. While we shouldn’t worry about the unlikely scenario of SkyNet trying to wipe out all of humanity, you may want to consider sleeping with one eye open if you plan on purchasing one of these robots.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

TechKNOW Tomorrow – A Space Flight Involving Only Civilians Plans to Launch This Year

Image by SpaceX via Unsplash.

As children, many of us once dreamed of climbing into a rocket and exploring outer space. What could be more exciting than discovering extraterrestrial life (friendly, of course!), visiting other planets, or even just orbiting the earth and watching the stars?

Of course, this is an unrealistic fantasy for the vast majority of us. You need at least a bachelor’s degree in science, math, or engineering. In addition, add another three years of experience flying a jet aircraft and an intense physical exam. In short, having an ordinary civilian launch into space was a distant pipe dream.

Until now.

SpaceX

Billionaire Elon Musk created SpaceX to support his own dream – to colonize Mars in the event that Earth’s limited natural resources could no longer support the overpopulation of our planet. Musk has spent two decades trying to turn this dream into a reality, and it finally looks like it’s paying off.

For those who don’t know, SpaceX is a privately-owned company that has grown exponentially in recent years. This is in stark contrast to NASA, which is a government-owned and funded organization. SpaceX receives most of its income from space launches of commercial and military satellites. In fact, NASA is one of SpaceX’s best customers, meaning they collaborate on a lot of projects.

Image by SpaceX via Unsplash.

One of Musk’s most noble goals is his desire for more affordable space travel for the average consumer. For that to happen, it’ll require billions of dollars in investments from rich tourists. At the moment, funding this new technology is expensive because the technology is in its infancy, in low production, and requires more testing. Over time, this won’t really be true anymore.

In these next few years, it’s not difficult to imagine the rise of space tourism. As SpaceX receives more funding from wealthy investors who want to travel into outer space, we may start to see average people orbiting Earth or our Moon the moment it becomes a lot more affordable.

The 2021 Plan to Launch Civilians into Space

In a recent announcement given by SpaceX, a plan to launch a Dragon spacecraft with billionaire Jared Isaacman at the helm is already in the works and aims to launch before the end of the year. Isaacman, an experienced jet pilot, decided to donate the other three seats to the general public.

Image by Kyle Wiseman via Twitter.

Isaacman plans to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with donations gained from a fundraiser that’ll determine one of the lucky three civilians travelling to outer space. A female health-care worker at the hospital will also earn a seat, as will one entrepreneur with an online business. A parallel can be drawn between Isaacman and Willy Wonka, in a way.

Of course, these three lucky people will be provided with astronaut training, which will involve “emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations.”

Besides this training, it’s important to note that there are some shifting boundaries here. What was once a requirement in order to demonstrate the skills and knowledge necessary to be an astronaut – education and flight experience – is now being replaced by automation. Technology has advanced far more swiftly than any of us could possibly have imagined.

From the sounds of things, some of what was once found in classic science fiction novels will realistically turn into scientific possibilities in the near future. Maybe not for us, but certainly for our children or grandchildren.

As it stands, this means that many of those kids who still fantasize about exploring space will actually be able to realize those dreams… one day.

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At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.