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So what is it? The answer is “cinematic reality.” Essentially, Magic Leap is a device that makes virtual objects appear in real life. And it was worthy of a $542 million investment from Google. It’s also rumored that Legendary Pictures has a notable investment and potential stake. All we know is that the company is working with light-field technology. BusinessInsider revealed that Nvidia’s use of the technology made 3D images “appear more realistic and natural to your eyes.” The idea is that Magic Leap could do the same for movies, gaming, and virtual reality/augmented reality.

via 14 startups that will change our everyday life: VentureBeat

But while Oculus wants to transport you to a virtual world for fun and games, Magic Leap wants to bring the fun and games to the world you’re already in. And in order for its fantasy monsters to appear on your desk alongside real pencils, Magic Leap had to come up with an alternative to stereoscopic 3-D—something that doesn’t disrupt the way you normally see things. Essentially, it has developed an itty-bitty projector that shines light into your eyes—light that blends in extremely well with the light you’re receiving from the real world.

via What It’s Like to Try Magic Leap’s Take on Virtual Reality | MIT Technology Review.

Here’s the TED Talk from 2014:

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SnowcrashPer my ongoing fascination and excitement for Virtual Reality: Science Fiction Realized, Facebook’s acquisition of the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and the new Photo Sphere 360 photo app (that looks poised to help consumers create VR content), this quote from Dan Hon’s eNewsletter was worth sharing today.

Hon has been going back through Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyber punk novel, Snowcrash (it’s a must-read!!), and often makes references of how the Metaverse could come to fruition in real life through VR (or often, how our offline and online lives are continuing to blur as only the science fiction greats could have predicted!)….

“I mean, I’m really interested to see if, post-public-Oculus and its backing from a multinational, billion-user social network, we actually end up with something like what Stephenson suggests with The Black Sun [ed. note: an exclusive online Metaverse club].

I mean, we kind of had it with Habbo Hotel, we didn’t really have it with Second Life (because the deal with Second Life wasn’t so much social as it was Hey! Build stuff in 3D! and the deal with Habbo Hotel and Virtual Magic Kingdom and all the other stuff was “chat software rocks”). No, I mean the whole thing about movie stars using it to “visit with their friends” and “strut their stuff”. I mean, seriously.

We’re about 12 months out from seeing if this is *actually going to happen*, and that’s pretty phenomenal.

Put it this way: you think single-camera amateur YouTube shows are a big thing? Imagine live streaming from an Oculus Rift instance, and allowing people to drop by.

This is like some weird virtual talk-show shit.

Dan Hon’s Things That Have Caught My Attention eNewsletter, #141

So if he’s right and we have <12 months to see if this VR stuff really pops, what brands and publishers will be leaders in the space? What will we do to help make this a reality?

And if he’s wrong, that’s fine, too. But I can't imagine some semblance of VR/Metaverse not becoming popular as hardware matures, prices improve, video games moving into immersive environments… and the fact that we're exporting more human connectivity to digital experiences than any generation before. It’s definitely worth exploring.

If you haven't yet had a Rift or Google Cardboard demonstration, you have to make it a priority. Heck, Cardboard costs <$20 put together! And some apps work on iPhone, as well as the standard Android app.

We live in an exciting time, and on this timeline, it may get more exciting quickly!

Staples wants to be the Kinkos of 3D printing, according to TechCrunch.

“Staples is getting a jump on 3D printing and just rolled-out a 3D printing service to two of its U.S. locations in New York and Los Angeles, where consumers can walk in and have a 3D doodad printed. If this trial proves successful, the retailer says it will expand the service to more locations.”

I relate this news to libraries going all-digital and adding 3D printing capabilities in their computer labs as a value-added service to communities.

Companies are starting to see a business reason for those same “print it yourself” functions, and that’s what Staples is bringing to the market. It’s an exciting step forward to the mainstreaming of product design and user-experimentation.

As a notable sci-fi reference to this trend, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age (1995) describes the evolution of the Post Office as a place we will go to have large deliveries “printed,” such as cars and beds.

Essentially printing items of a size and complexity your home 3D printer (aka matter compiler) of the future couldn’t handle. Are we on track to that prediction? Time will tell.

Thanks to Timehop, I rediscovered this gem of a quote from my favorite science fiction futurist on what he would really like to see in the future…

When he was asked, toward the end of lunch, where he thought computing might be headed, he paused to rephrase the question. “I’ll tell you what I’d like to see happen,” he said, and began discussing what the future was supposed to have looked like, back in his 1960s childhood. He ticked off the tropes of what he called “techno-optimistic science fiction,” including flying cars and jetpacks. And then computers went from being things that filled a room to things that could fit on a desk, and the economy and industries changed.

“The kinds of super-bright, hardworking geeky people who, 50 years ago, would have been building moon rockets or hydrogen bombs or what have you have ended up working in the computer industry, doing jobs that in many cases seem kind of ignominious by comparison.”

Again, a beat. A consideration, perhaps, that he is talking about the core readership for his best sellers. No matter. He’s rolling. He presses on.

“What I’m kind of hoping is that this is just kind of a pause, while we assimilate this gigantic new thing, ubiquitous computing and the Internet. And that at some point we’ll turn around and say, ‘Well, that was interesting — we have a whole set of new tools and capabilities that we didn’t have before the whole computer/Internet thing came along.’ ”

He said people should say, “Now let’s get back to work doing interesting and useful things.”

The needs of the world are great: New forms of energy, space transportation and infrastructure all need to be tackled with imagination and innovation, he said. He grew animated as he discussed his latest initiative: He is now pushing for a return to a can-do American culture that can “get big stuff done.”

via NYT: Out of Neal Stephenson’s Imagination Came a New Online World.

Two years later, I’m living this advice. I’ve given up on the social media echo chamber and talking about how impactful the web will be on society. I grew weary of the meaningless digital churn of Facebook likes and retweets and video views. And especially of the nave gazing on disposal holiday posts from brands and who offended who.

It’s time to DO THINGS. MAKE THINGS. What’s the point of creating all these new tools and technologies if we’re just going to talk about how awesome they are and pat ourselves on the back for living in a world where new things are possible. TIME TO GO.

PS: If you haven’t read Snowcrash and Reamde, and you work in interactive, technology or marketing, you are harming your career. Read them. No excuses. Then read The Circle, and let’s grab lunch.