VR , Project Tango and what does it really mean …

Google just announce that Project Tango, their vision of how we bring to real live, the depiction of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash vision of how we will combine what we do, how we do it, between the real world, the Universe, and the virtual world, the METAVERSE

In his world, Stephenson people will be going from one to the other, using something very similar to the Oculus, where people could even work, managing automated devices, from a distance, from home or some other place, but also they will have at some point to interact in person.  Countries become server farms and URL’s

Looking at how investment in this area is accelerating, we can understand why Project Tango is so important.


Investment is accelerating in this area, mostly forced by Media companies, that can feel this is a great opportunity to level the competition ( CB Insights )

But while Google plays with all these concepts, and spend their stockholders money in all this research, the rest of the world has to deal with what is the definitions of VR = Virtual Reality.

Let’s see what FB thinks about VR : During FB8 Mark Zuckerberg was clear about VR , but no so much : “We had 360-degree open-source cameras. We had the bot revolution.We had antennas connecting the unconnected. It’s all sort of smoke and mirrors right now, but Facebook at least seems to be making this real much faster than anyone would have ever thought.”

Talking to some friends in the space, here is where i am today.  So far all the the different explanations lead me to one of these 3 :

Virtual Reality Definitions:

  • The most common these days is 360 video ( most of the pieces of the NYTimes )  Don’t know if I would call this Virtual Reality.  Eveything is REAL… nothing is added.  You can just play with what was taken… Is like having the best seat at the Opera house.  perfect for creating Travel guides, Museums Virtual visits, etc.. but all you need is a camera that is taking in 360 degrees so you can show that and let the technology control what you see or not.  This could (is ) typically added with 3D and there are way too many applications as well as specialized hardware doing this ( Oculus being the most important).

YouTube’s head of product Neal Mohan put it recently, when talking about the experience of 360 video, all you need for VR with Google is a smartphone and cheap Cardboard viewer. “Those are the kinds of magical experiences this technology is going to be able to create, without having to spend money on some fancy headset.” Tango is likely going to take that strategy, and push it one step further.

  • Augmented Reality.  I called this the Hybrid solution, You have a REAL image, video, Text and they by using technology you can over impose virtual things. Over impose video, images, where real takes get mixed with  images stored.  The best example I was able to imagine ( there are others but for now this is very good explaining what I mean)  think of a room, or house, where you can see the room through the lens of you camera, cellphone, etc. What you see are walls, empty room.  Then you use one of those hardware ( like Oculus or the cardboard or plastic where you just place your cel phone) and through and app you are suddenly immerse in that empty room.  Now with your hands and using your head as movement, you can start adding “furniture” that you have in a file or maybe even from Furniture Stores that you access online. The furniture takes the exact size to fit or not inside the room.   What it means is that based on a REAL physical experience ( the Room, the House, etc) you start adding images, video or text that is NOT real.

IKEA tried this in 2014 Catalog , that is 2 years ago… it had too many glitches, bu they were in the right direction.  Ikea just announce a new version developed at the French company Allegorithmic, using Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games, specific for Kitchen design

  • VIRTUAL REALITY.  Now, think of yourself sitting or laying at home.  Your device operating in front of your eyes in a closed vision path. ( hardware like Oculus or cardboard or plastic with a cel phone that has an app that controls the 3D sensation and that control with movement).     You are suddenly ANY place in the world, you can access ANY posible video experience that has been prepared ( or in the near future, these “experiences” could be totally unprepared) you are suddenly talking to people (the redefinition of Instant Messenger) , presenting yourself with a specific image ( an avatar? ), buying , selling, interacting with other people or situations. … nothing is real world, but everything seems to exist.   You just place yourself in a another dimension.

For now we have to focus on the first one.. Content companies need to prepare for all this, let their content free so it can be accesses by any other program/person in a virtual fashion.  Today is still a dream.

Facebook vs Google : Who controls the DATA generated by the Internet of Things (IoT)

Beacons are capable of transmitting and activate functions on your smart phone…. creating DATA

Beacons are capable of transmitting and activate functions on your smart phone…. creating DATA

A race between @Facebook & @Google is happening without too many noticing.  The Internet of Things ( IoT ) needs tone able to communicate among them and with devices that actually control their functions or use their services for some linear activity ( from opening a door, control temperature, assigning you a table at a restaurant, pointing you to where to find products displayed in your shopping list, instant coupons, etc.) that interacts with smarter devices, some mobile and some other at a distance. These devices also “take info from humans” as they walk and their smart phones are connected to the WEB using so many applications that we all leave open all the time.   Think if you enter a restaurant or a store, and your phone has the Facebook app open or the Google+ or even just Gmail or Gtalk open, the beacon can activate it, letting know your app that you just enter this area.  That information is delivered through your PHONE, not through the beacon (remember i is for now a single way communication) to whoever control the application ( Facebook or Google in this specific case I am talking about).  Then the app creates a notification into your phone and ask you ” do you want to become a FAN of this XYZ Restaurant, click here” or “add Restaurant XYZ to your Google+ Circles?”

Well while you walk, your apps start collecting data from all those beacons and that info related to your Journey is conveyed to the app owners. The Wireless Registry ( TWR) is in the process of launching a large initiative so all those beacons are forced to have an ID and we can control the use of that DATA.  In the meantime Facebook and Google already started controlling the access.

So FB started a program to flood retailers, service providers, any place where humans tend to congregate with these BEACONS “Facebook Bluetooth® beacons are devices that businesses receive from Facebook. These beacons use Bluetooth® technology to send a signal to the Facebook app on your phone…”

So Google launched “set out to build a new class of beacons that addresses real-life use-cases, cross-platform support, and security.” So just like they did with Droid OS, they created an open format for BLE beacons that anyone can use: Eddystone. This programming platform has some very amazing capabilities: supports versioning so you can start small in functionality and suddenly grow as much as you want and it’s cross-platform, capable of supporting Android, iOS or any platform that supports BLE beacons. And it’s available on GitHub under the open-source Apache v2.0 license,

Of course the Facebook and Google solutions that are FREE come with caveats : each one of them control who has access to the DATA collection format and function. This is the main reason why we need a 3rd. party body that controls the famous ID’s of each IoT device, the beacons and the wireless devices.

Remember that a beacon is meant to be discoverable by any nearby Bluetooth Smart device. What makes it possible for you to stop or give access to the signal is via its identifier. Google has built a feature called Ephemeral Identifiers (EIDs), which change frequently, and allow only authorized clients to decode them. EIDs will enable you to securely do things like find your luggage once you get off the plane or find your lost keys. Google has promised to publish the technical specs of this design soon.

For some people these events are finally building a map of what is the next generation of deployments over the WEB, the so called “micro-web”, that of the IoT talking among themselves, and exchanging data that is supposed to enhance our quality of life. Until somebody starts using it for the wrong purposes….

In the meantime, watching how Facebook is trying to dominate the space by giving away the Hardware and making sure they control the features in those devices (and maybe lease in the future for 3rd. party applications?); and then waiting to see what my friend Jeff Jarvis describe very well in his book “What would google do?”, where they try to set the sandbox for everybody to play, they want to be perceived as the good guys here, and in the future they will just crush anything that is NOT inside their sandbox.

(some of this material came from Google and Facebook sites).