Episode 159 – Virtually Secure

Michael R and Michael M, go deep on virtual assistants and the security storm around WhatsApp in the news recently. We also look at how an old virtual world shopping experience may be coming to life in virtual reality.

The duo start with the Facebook/Oculus tour of the White House and think about whether movies and television shows have the layout and rooms of the building right.  Michael and Michael quickly then turn to Amazon’s focus on virtual reality shopping experiences stemming from articles from TechCrunch and Variety.  Michael R shares his experiences in developing just this kind of experience for Sears 10 years ago.

Then things get even more interesting with holographic personifications of artificial intelligences — where the Gatebox anime character looms large — or rather hovers in a coffee machine style enclosure, and interacts with the user via voice and text chat.   While speech commands are picking up steam, it is still has a social hurdle to climb.  It is embarrassing or just feels weird to talk to inanimate objects, even though the author of the Digital Trends article makes the valid connection that talking to devices is like talking to a pet, and pets do sometimes listen…

The show wraps up with an interesting discussion on the security news related to WhatsApp.  We hope you enjoy!

Show Links:
Virtual White House – http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2017/01/13/obamas-lead-white-house-tour-virtually-help-oculus/96532192/
The West Wing http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0200276/

Amazon possibly working on VR Shopping Experience https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/19/amazon-job-posting-suggests-plans-to-bring-shopping-experiences-into-vr/
Google Daydream View https://store.google.com/product/daydream_view
Oculus Rift https://www.oculus.com
Samsung Gear VR http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-vr/
Bridge AR/VR headset https://bridge.occipital.com
Sears VR Shopping Experience – now 10 years old https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABxTr8sL3U&feature=youtu.be

Variety article — Amazon VR Shopping app http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/amazon-vr-shopping-app-1201962695/

AI Assistants are like Pets http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/talk-to-ai-assistants-like-your-pets/
Gatebox Home AR Powered Holographic Robot http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/12/the-anime-girlfriend-experience-gateboxs-ai-powered-holographic-home-robot/
Gatebox story http://gatebox.ai/story/
Gatebox https://gateboxlab.stores.jp/items/57ea607100d331404d002d77

Twitch See Bots Chat https://www.twitch.tv/seebotschat

Security Researchers call for Guardian to retract false WhatsApp backdoor story https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/20/security-researchers-call-for-guardian-to-retract-false-whatsapp-backdoor-story/?ncid=rss
SecurityNow! Transcript Episode 595 -What’s up with WhatsApp? https://www.grc.com/sn/sn-595.txt


Episode 158 – 2017 Kickoff

We kick off 2017 with a short show.  Michael M. and Phaedra discuss an augmented reality app launched in conjunction with the recently released movie “Hidden Figures”, review Smart Canes and have a lively discussion about the challenges surrounding video capture and the importance of thorough testing from the Kotaku article — a good reminder for everyone involved in technology development.

The augmented reality app (App StoreGoogle Play) has the user go to specific geographic locations, such as on the University of North Carolina campus to unlock content related to the stories and accomplishments of STEM leaders.  Michael gave this a try, and the picture above shows the statue of Katherine Johnson superimposed on the phone screen in front of the Bell Tower at UNC.

Show Links:
Hidden Figures – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/
AR and Hidden Figures – http://wraltechwire.com/-hidden-figures-ibm-augmented-reality-project-links-in-3-triangle-universities-/16402395/
Smart Canes and Wheelchairs – https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/05/smart-canes-and-wheelchairs-among-tech-empowering-the-disabled-at-ces/
Racist Video Game – http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2017/01/12/how-we-accidentally-made-a-racist-videogame


Episode 157 – Through the 2016 Looking Glass

In their final episode of 2016, Michael and Michael explore themes where sci-fi blends with reality. In the TechCrunch IoT Redux article, Michael and Michael kick off the discussion with the state of affairs on all the data emitted from the things on the internet, and quickly go into the realm of the British Channel 4 television show Black Mirror (available on Netflix). It is simultaneously possible to have so much of your life available to you at your fingertips, and what could go wrong with such technical capability — the Kingsman movie being another example from the entertainment world.

Turning to the skies, the pair talks about a recent patent from Amazon on a creative approach to the last mile logistics of delivery — drones delivering from a platform attached to a zeppelin. Interesting to consider the example of Duracell’s battery delivery in the midwest states — providing over one ton of batteries to prevent the dreaded “batteries not included” scenario from spoiling (or delaying gratification – you pick), and how useful something like a flying drone warehouse could be. One of the commenters on the Twitter stream for this compared this story to the recent movie Storks.

Periscope announced a new 360 degree broadcasting capability — provided of course, you have a 360 degree camera — yet the functionality on the viewing side was fantastic. Panning or swiping, you can see all the way around.

Both Michaels were happy that our Android friends will get their hands on Mario Run, and Michael R was especially pleased with the earlier than anticipated delivery of the AirPods.

We are thrilled to be back for another year, and look forward to engaging with you.

selected links
TechCrunch article: IoT Redux — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/28/iot-redux-this-time-its-personal/
Black Mirror episode Entire History of You — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Entire_History_of_You
Wikipedia: Steve Mann — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Mann
SingularityHub article: Lifelogging — https://singularityhub.com/2014/02/09/lifeblogging-gear-is-small-cheap-and-powerful-so-like-it-or-not-youre-going-to-be-recorded/
New York Times Bits Blog: One on One: Steve Mann, Wearable Computing Pioneer — http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/one-on-one-steve-mann-wearable-computing-pioneer/
Independent article: Gamifying Obedience to the State — http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-has-made-obedience-to-the-state-a-game-a6783841.html
Black Mirror episode Nosedive — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosedive
Kingsman — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsman:_The_Secret_Service
Zoe Leavitt “Death Star of #ecommerce” tweet — https://mobile.twitter.com/zoe_leavitt/status/814212767041331202
United States Patent: 9305280 — http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9305280.PN.&OS=PN/9305280&RS=PN/9305280
Ad Week article: Duracell Express — http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/duracell-saved-lot-tears-delivering-free-batteries-midwest-families-christmas-eve-175309
Storks — http://www.storksmovie.com
MacRumors article: Twitter’s Periscope Now Supports 360-Degree Live Videos — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/12/28/periscope-360-degree-live-videos/
@Feynwoman’s 360 degree tour of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum — https://www.periscope.tv/w/azUYdjFEWUtYYk5iYXZFZ0x8MWRSS1pYcVpEd1ZKQo71GNCpXWNOcwF2Pj8lTX25w3MNUmA56MLO1oXdSEhq
TechCrunch article: Super Mario on Android — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/29/you-can-now-register-to-find-out-when-super-mario-run-hits-android
MacRumors article: AirPods Supplier Increasing Production Capacity Due to Strong Demand — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/12/30/airpods-increasing-production/


Episode 156 – AI for All

For what may be the final Games At Work recording of 2016, Michael and Michael get ready to welcome our new robotic overlords in all the ways they may arrive.

First off, the co-hosts marvel at how Google Translate has made dramatic improvements through the rewrite completed in a mere nine months, turbocharging the understanding of language, and making the automatic translation of text and full sites even more powerful. Michael R has even set up our own website to use the service to translate Games At Work into a language of your choosing. Unfortunately, Klingon and Pirate are not currently available choices.

Switching gears from language AI to automotive AI, Michael and Michael discuss the new capabilities that Nvidia is unlocking, as well as the recently announced Waymo spinoff from Alphabet approaching the challenges of mobility from an AI perspective.

Going from AI to AL (as in Yankovich), Michael M shares the ALsongs.com website which is oh so handy, to help you find the lyric that’s been floating around in your brain, along with the song being parodied. Bookmarked!

And talking about bookmarking sites, the team concludes with an intriguing article which describes how researchers can capture a person’s interest by reading their EEG brainwaves and in their tests, bookmarking the relevant Wikipedia pages. Amazing.

From the science fiction meets reality, know that you can now buy yourself an authentic original series Star Trek communicator, which will pair with your cellphone and allow you to talk with your friends & colleagues, and prepare for your away team adventure. How cool!

selected links

New York Times article — The great AI awakening — http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html

TechCrunch article — Nvidia is now clear to test self-driving vehicles on California roads — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/08/nvidia-is-now-clear-to-test-self-driving-vehicles-on-california-roads/

Waymo — https://waymo.com

Spectrum iEEE article — Google’s car graduates to standalone business —

ALsongs — http://alsongs.com

TechCrunch article — Researchers use machine learning to pull interest signals from readers’ brain waves — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/14/researchers-use-machine-learning-to-pull-interest-signals-from-readers-brain-waves/

Emotiv headset — https://www.emotiv.com

MacRumors article — Apple AirPods now estimated to ship in 6 weeks — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/12/14/airpods-now-ship-in-6-weeks/

Bluetooth 5.0 — http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/what-is-bluetooth-5
Star Trek Communicator with awesome videos via ThinkGeek — https://www.thinkgeek.com/product/iphv/

Games the hosts are doing

Playing Michael M: just starting Walkr — https://walkrgame.com/en/

Reading Michael R. – The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) by William Hertling — http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18305964-the-last-firewall


Episode 155 – Holiday Potluck

Gearing up for the festive season, Michael and Michael serve up a veritable smorgasbord of holiday potluck delights.

Starting with well, um, leftovers from last week, Fitbit has indeed acquired the technology, software assets and intellectual property of Pebble and many of the people from Pebble will be joining Fitbit to continue their work on wearable technology. This brings up an interesting point on the nature of cloud services and the integration with physical devices — that one without the other does not work, as products and services are becoming more and more intertwined.

Moving on to appetizers, Cortana now has more capabilities in Windows 10 that allow for someone to issue a voice command to shut down the system — not just the system owner — and Pantone has announced the color of the year for 2017, a fresh vibrant green called Greenery (15-0343 TCX), expressing hope and optimism to rejuvenate, revitalize and unite.

Stopping at the main dish area, where we find all the news that’s fit to virtually experience — Michael and Michael explore how virtual reality can help the ‘reader’ become more immersed in a news story, by virtually being there and interacting. BMW is using augmented reality with their Visor for BMW Mottorad concept vehicle. And finally, how the Occipital Bridge has been just announced with the blended / mixed reality experience allowing for an iPhone 6, 6s or 7 to be coupled with a camera and Occipital’s software to provide a full virtual reality experience that you have to see to believe. And you can get one now, if you act fast!

Rounding out with dessert, Michael R shares the 3D printing test he’s done of a dragon’s head door knocker. This is something amazing — can’t wait to see the full size print!

selected links

MacRumors article: Fitbit acquisition of Pebble — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/12/08/pebble-fitbit-buyout-customer-refunds/

BGR article: New voice commands for Cortana — http://bgr.com/2016/12/08/cortana-shut-down-microsoft-windows-10/

iEEE article — VR immersion for news stories — http://theinstitute.ieee.org/technology-topics/consumer-electronics/virtual-reality-can-immerse-people-in-news-stories-and-prepare-them-for-natural-disasters

Switchpoint 2016 conference in Saxapahaw, NC — https://event.switchpointideas.com/2016

Games at Work e134 with discussion on Switchpoint — http://gamesatwork.biz/2016/03/20/episode-134-swords-and-virtual-realities/

New York Times Virtual Reality viewer — http://www.nytimes.com/marketing/nytvr/index.html

Mashable article: BMW Mottorad Concept motorcycle with augmented reality Visor — http://mashable.com/2016/10/12/bmw-motorrad/#aXY19b9M_iqz

Occipital Bridge mixed reality viewer — https://bridge.occipital.com


Episode 154 – Heroic Wearable Brain Robots

Michael and Michael share their insight on games for good, specifically on games that have an additional benefit to the fun of playing them.  Sea Hero Quest is a game sponsored by Deutsche Telekom together with University College London, University of East Anglia and Alzheimer’s Research to help with early diagnosis of dementia.  Michael and Michael discuss the possibilities of a software layer which could be placed on top of (or alongside) other games that could capture similar data points for researchers.

The pair then turn to wearables, and the interesting way that mobile and Internet of Things devices can be used for purposes such as the detection of earthquakes as exemplified by the MyQuake Android app, and how quantified self wearables can be harnessed for similar data capture and analysis.

Recalling the Douglas Adams quote of how to fly, and that walking really is controlled falling, Michael and Michael watch the video (above) of the Boston Dynamics Atlas robot walk across a treacherous field — pretty amazing.

Speaking of amazing, Michael R has found a puzzle game like no other either Michael have played before called TraptionBakery — where you attempt to bake a loaf of bread, Rube Goldberg machine-style.  Check it out!

selected links 

Sea Hero Quest — http://www.seaheroquest.com/en/
Techcrunch article:  Neurotrack Brain Scans — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/01/neurotrack-takes-brain-scans-home/
Neurotrack — https://www.neurotrack.com/
Techcrunch article:  Motorola wont release a new smartwatch anytime soon — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/01/motorola/
MacRumors article:  Fitbit reportedly close to acquiring Pebble — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/11/30/fitbit-buying-pebble/
Techcrunch article:  Earthquake sensing mobile app, MyShake — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/01/earthquake-sensing-mobile-app-myshake-captures-hundreds-of-temblors-large-and-small/
Washington Post article:  What personal fitness trackers tell us about earthquakes —   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/08/25/what-personal-fitness-trackers-like-jawbone-tell-us-about-earthquakes-public-health-and-just-about-anything-else
TechCrunch article: Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot walks over rubble — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/01/atlas/

Games the hosts are playing 

Michael R — TraptionBakery by ProperBostin — http://www.properbostin.com/traption_bakery/
Post & video on the building of the game — http://www.properbostin.com/anoraks/tb/index.html

Michael M — Dungeon Boss by Big Fish Games — https://itunes.apple.com/app/dungeon-boss/id776132132?mt=8
join the guild “Knights of the Shrubbery”


Episode 153 – Chicken and Mushrooms

Michael and Michael get together to cook up an episode chock-full-o tasty post Thanksgiving treats — starting off with the promise of solar, with the example of the American Samoa island of Ta’u and the new solar roof tiles made available from the Tesla/SolarCity team. The Google Project Sunroof site is still up & running, so you can check your own roof to see how suitable it may be for solar.

Alexa has teamed up with Allrecepies to help out in the kitchen, providing step by step guidance on how to cook delicious dishes. The video shows an example of how Alexa can use the Allrecepies API to suggest what can be done with a set of ingredients in the fridge. While we won’t spoil the surprise, the answer has something to do with chicken and mushrooms.

A news report from Marketplace highlighted the work done by Alibaba to create virtual reality shopping experiences for Chinese consumers in stores like Macy’s and Target. This reminded Michael and Michael of the work they had done years ago, and discussed most recently in episode 148 (http://gamesatwork.biz/2016/10/02/episode-148-painting-with-digital-and-physical-ink/). Michael R’s video on his work on the virtual Sears store is in the show notes below. One of the pair’s patents outlines how a virtual store could be created dynamically based on the shopper’s preferences.

Rounding out the show with a little Star Trek goodness, are the Propel Star Wars Battle Quads, and an IFTTT mashup using the Force Band by Sphereo. We are in for a very happy holiday season.

Drop us a line with your ideas and thoughts about digital convergence on Twitter or Facebook!

show links
SolarCity Roof
Google Project Sunroof
Island of Ta’u goes 100% solar

Alexa, what can I make with chicken & mushrooms?

mobile & enterprise are keys to VR & AR scale

VR shopping

MyVirtual Model
Tag Along Shopping Patent
Sears Second Life Walkthrough

Star Wars laser battle quadcopters
Use the force… to make coffee


Email handling

This will NOT be a political post.  Over the last few years, the world has gone insane.  It has become obvious, at least to me, that people are using more and more technology that don’t have a clue how it works.  Governments, companies, and hackers are enjoying this, as many people don’t understand what data is stored where, and how that data is handled or secured.  Many people are willing to give up all of their privacy just to play a game (if you don’t believe this, take a look at how many of the freemium games on your phone “require” you to either be connected and/or have location tracking turned on).  A whole generation of consumers have given up on the whole idea of privacy online.

I was listening to a security podcast recently and they discussed the idea that we’ve all become overwhelmed with our own security requirements.  Many people have just given up on trying to stay up to date on their security and privacy settings.  When was the last time you have checked your Facebook security and privacy settings. Companies, like Facebook, assert the right to change their settings and defaults at any time, and as such just keeping up with those changes could be a full time job. 

By default, email is inherently an insecure protocol on the internet.   In order to route email between end points the meta data is not corrected.  So you already give up privacy on who you are sending email to.  Most email users will not change their settings to actually encrypt their email content.  

Over the years, I have used PGP encryption in my emails.  PGP is an example of public key encryption, which will allow you to encrypt the email content and ensure the receiver that the email has not been changed in transit, as well as ensure that it actually came from you.  However, for some reason, every time I upgrade my operating system my PGP tool fails, as they  must be hooked into the OS land thereby lag in compatibility. This is an unacceptable outcome for the average consumer.

I believe we need to change the fundemantal architecture for email to make encryption, security and privacy the default setting.  It may take another 10 years or more to migrate the web to this architecture, as we have the problem with defaults – most people don’t change them.  What do you think?

Episode 151 – Continual Learning

Michael welcomes back our co-host Phaedra after a long drought. We look at how experience needs continual education to drive long term value. We look at how old school learning models are being challenged, with new approaches and by artificial intelligence. And we look at how Elon Musk is trying to drive AI with his hiring practices at Open AI.

Show Links:
Experience is worth less than you think.
Phaedra’s blog post
UNC World View
Google is flagging harassment via AI
OpenAI, Elon Musk’s plan for AI