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  May 23, 2014
Bounded Only By Imagination...


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" 

~ Arthur C. Clarke

As a self-admitted propeller-head, new technology fascinates me.

Gadgets like low flying commercial drones, robotics, 3-D printers, and the Oculus Rift are just a few of the new technologies that will ultimately change the lives of millions (if not billions) of people on this place we call earth.

Now many of you may already have some familiarity with unmanned aircraft (drones), robots and/or 3-D printers as there has 
amazon dronesbeen quite a bit of news coverage concerning these high-tech products over the last five years or so. 

We hear about Amazon wanting to bypass UPS or the postal service to make 1-hour deliveries using their own fleet of helicopter delivery drones... we hear about spy drones (yes Big Brother is indeed watching)... there are other uses more civilized such as being able to follow herds of wildlife - protecting them from poachers or fertilizing crops at a close distance of a few feet rather than the current method of aerial crop dusting - dropping chemicals from a plane.

Robotics and artificial intelligence are turning manufacturing facilities into virtually unmanned factories.  These robots are the real threat to manufacturing jobs around the world... not sweat-shop facilities of third-world countries.  

Unlike people, robots don’t need food, housing, coffee breaks or overtime pay.  They just continue churning out parts every hour of every day... holidays included.

Relatively low-cost (around $1500), 3-D printers are being employed today providing ultra-customized product creation and quick-turn prototyping (for more information on 3-D printing click HERE).

Now whereas many people have some basic information about the above new products, very few people have actually heard of Oculus VR. 

Oculus VR is a company started by Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey in Irvine, CA in 2012 (no... not all really cool companies were founded in Silicon Valley).  OculusOculus VR’s product is the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted display used in immersive Virtual Reality (VR).

Following a demonstration of a prototype of the Rift in June of 2012, the company was able to raise $2.5M through a Kickstarter campaign in only 36 hours with the money being used to help fully develop their product.

The Oculus Rift allows users to become totally immersed in a simulated 360 degree, 3-D environment.  Look to the right and you see a scene to your right... look behind you and see what is behind you... look down and you see a virtual floor.

A stereo THX sound-system provides high-quality audio to the user.

Never has anything like this been done before - other than in multi-million dollar simulators such as those used to train military pilots.

The Oculus Rift is currently selling to game and content developers for a suggested price of $300.

In March of 2014, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook announced that it had acquired Oculus VR for the sum of 2 BILLION dollars. 

From conceptual prototype to $2B in less than 2 years..!!

So what the heck does Facebook want with Oculus?... Facebook isn’t a hardware or game developing company...

No... Facebook is a "shared experience" company.

Over one billion people now have a Facebook account; with the average time logged into their account being just over 37 minutes per day (since I log onto my Facebook account about 5 minutes a month... I’m sure I take that average way down).

People post their experiences, whereabouts, likes, and cute photos of their children and pets on Facebook.  

Some folks use Facebook to share their most treasured experiences with all 1,500 of their closest friends... many of them whom they’re never actually met or seen now for 30 years (well... if you’re like me that is).

Now imagine that instead of posting your experiences with your friends... you now have the opportunity to whitewater raft down Lava Falls on the Colorado River... sitting next to your very best friends... experiencing the thrill-ride of your life as waves crash into the boat with the thunderous roar of the rapids droning all around.

With Oculus Rift, you are now sharing the raft with your close friends, your children, the cast of Ocean’s 11 with Matt Damon pushing George Clooney into an on-coming wave while Brad Pitts laughs... all in virtual reality of 3-D...

As you drift in the calm waters below the falls... you look back at the scene behind you as another raft enters the rapids... a silhouette of a bald-eagle is screeching above you as you try to shield your eyes from the glaring sun...

The experience was so exciting... you do it again... and again... this time with different friends and the cast Mad Men.

There was once a world where we believe that the best that we could hope for was the perspective a Kodak Instamatic camera taking a static picture with one aperture setting...

Loaded the camera with a film cartridge... snapped on a flash cube... looked through the viewfinder... and clicked a photo... .it was so easy... or at least we thought it was...
Then came digital cameras, which revolutionized photo-taking as we know it... soon we no longer worried about being old photo storelimited to 24 exposures on a roll of film that needed to be developed in a lab in as little as one day (plus the time it took to drive to the Fotomat).

Now we take pictures in as much time as it takes to point your phone and shoot... we eliminate the "red-eye" and within seconds we are sharing our "selfies" on our Facebook page for the world to see.

This is the world we now live in...

Now I’m not sure if you gave any thought, as I was describing our Colorado River adventure, as to how this movie will actually be photographed...

How exactly will a movie director actually film this scene? 

This is 360 degree filming... no crew off to one side... no lighting fixtures... no microphone booms.

In giving the idea some thought... I suppose that a movie maker could do the filming in several takes with a camera pointed in different directions on each successive take...

... but now instead... imagine a small drone... being navigated down Lava falls via a computer robotic piloting system... mounted with 12 very small customized cameras... with special one-of-a-kind camera mounts perhaps molded from a 3-D printer set up in some remote site...

This is the world we live in today (or will shortly)...

No longer are we limited to a world found only in our viewfinder or limited by 24 exposures...

... the world today is limitless only bounded by our imaginations.

Unfortunately this is scary business to some people... those who long for the simple days of yesteryear... and their Instamatic...

The ones who will survive and ultimately thrive are those who embrace the new technology and think up fresh new ways to employ the tools that were formerly unavailable to most of us...

If you were a movie maker... exactly how would you film in this new medium and what experience would you like to share with others?

Just some food for thought as we enjoy our long weekend ahead...

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we are constantly trying to find new ways to apply new technology to solve new problems... 

Jim Kalb

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 

Twitter - @OptiFuse

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