A recent paper takes us to a future of robotic sex in Amsterdam and explains how it can change sex tourism.
Remember: It’s only science fiction because it hasn’t happened yet.
Futuristic Sex Robotz. The idea of sex with robots isn’t new, it’s been around since some German boy fapped to the gynoid from Metropolis. Hajime Sorayama’s drawings have been fueling such fantasies since the 1970’s. And all the sci-fi movies, shows, comics, and animations since have given us glimpses into robotic futures. Now, the latest issue of Futures journal (V 44, I 4, May 2012) has an article that describes a fictional club in Amsterdam that caters to robo-fetishists in 2050.
Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars of the University of Wellington’s Victoria Management School create a hypothetical robo-brothel not only to show how it can be possible, but to show how it can alter how the sex trade operates in Amsterdam, and potentially world-wide. The Futures journal is available for download from Science Direct, but it’s behind a paywall. I was hoping it would be shared by now, but fortunately io9 quotes a few paragraphs about the club, its services, and the advantages to meat-based bordellos.
Welcome to the Yub-Yum Club!
(from io9) The Yub-Yum is Amsterdam’s top sex club for business travellers located beside a 17th century canal house on the Singel. It is modern and gleaming with about 100 scantily clad blonde and brunettes parading around in exotic G-strings and lingerie. Entry costs s10,000 for an all inclusive service. The club offers a full range of sexual services from massages, lap dancing and intercourse in plush surroundings. The Yub-Yum is a unique bordello licensed by the city council, staffed not by humans but by androids. This situation came about due to an increase in human trafficking in the sex industry in the 2040s which was becoming unsustainable, combined with an increase in incurable STI’s in the city especially HIV which over the last decade has mutated and is resistant to many vaccines and preventive medicines.
The Yub-Yum offers a range of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features.
The most popular model is Irina, a tall, blonde, Russian exotic species who is popular with Middle Eastern businessmen. The tourists who use the services of Yub-Yum are guaranteed a wonderful and thrilling experience, as all the androids are programmed to perform every service and satisfy every desire. All androids are made of bacteria resistant fibre and are flushed for human fluids, therefore guaranteeing no Sexual Transmitted Disease’s are transferred between consumers. The impact of Yub-Yum club and similar establishments in Amsterdam has transformed the sex industry alleviating all health and human trafficking problems. The only social issues surrounding the club is the resistance from human sex workers who say they can’t compete on price and quality, therefore forcing many of them to close their shop windows. All in all, the regeneration of Amsterdam’s sex industry has been about the success of the new breed of sex worker. Even clients feel guilt free as they actually haven’t had sex with a real person and therefore don’t have to lie to their partner.
Sounds like fun, but that 10K price tag may force many back to the meat-houses which may sustain the trafficking and diseases, or unlicensed robo-bordellos where the sexbots may not be as “clean” as hoped. And let us not forget about robot rights becoming the new civil-rights battlefield.
The concept is still about forty years away, but sex robots are already here…
I originally blogged this a couple of years ago, only for spammers to ruin it before any mirroring or archiving could be done. So here’s take two…
Roxxxy TrueCompanion is a sex robot that debuted at the 2010 Adult Entertainment Expo by Douglas Hines. She can be purchased at the TrueCompanion website (where a male version, Rocky) for $1,000 US (actually less right now, she’s on sale). She has an articulated skeleton, though it cannot move by itself, the proper “ports,” and even options for skin/hair/eye color. She also comes with five personalities that range from wild to frigid. The idea for the personalities came from the September 11 attacks:
“I had a friend who passed away in 9/11,” Hines said. “I promised myself I would create a program to store his personality, and that became the foundation for Roxxxy True Companion.”
That was two years ago, and this video shows a rather unusual… um, “bug”… that resulted from that personality. Hopefully it’s been corrected since then, otherwise….
io9’s Charlie Jane Anders is looking for the most cyberpunk places in the USA. Think you know of a place that qualifies?
Cyberpunk is no longer the future. We’re living in an age in which many of the visions of creators like Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan and Ridley Scott are invading our world today. (Opening paragraph from io9 article)
But you already knew that. Right?
We’ve been following the technologies and events that show how we are rapidly advancing to a cyberpunk world, even if some of it is by accident. Hacker wars, cybernetics, the Internet, megacorps, … these are now part of everyday life. And io9 is looking for places in America that show the country hasn’t devolved into an ultra-conservative tea-fag-party run by brainless rape magnets. There are people who do read Gibson and Sterling, opting to use Ayn Rand for kindling for their oil-barrel fires. While other cities of the world have already made such the conversion, and inspired the cyberpunk vision, io9 wants America to join the party, whether it’s a private hackspace or a major metropolitan sprawl fulfilling the cyberpunk prophecy.
From theory to practice. The sudden interest in finding cyberpunk places can be traced to an essay, Cyberpunk Cities: Science Fiction Meets Urban Theory by Carl Abott that was published in 2007. You can download the essay from here via the Pasta & Vinegar blog. P&V found the essay interesting, but this particular paragraph caught his attention:
Because the cyberpunk subgenre draws on ideas that ascribe power to technological change and global capitalism as all-encompassing forces, it offers relatively little direct guidance for planners. However, it does suggest the need for flexibility, for seeing plans as reflexive processes intended as frameworks for responding to inherent instability. It also suggests the value of creating opportunities for spontaneous and informal social institutions by loosening building codes, preserving low-rent commercial spaces, and making information infrastructures as ubiquitous and cheap as possible.
In other words, planning should be less like “planning” and more like “adapting”. Are there any places that are like that in America?
Vegas, baby! You want to focus on the underground? Las Vegas would be the place to start. Beneath the glitz and glamor of the strip…
… lies a very different reality of Vegas.
More pics like these can be found on the Place Hacking urban exploration blog, where they find not only a moment of clarity regarding their activities, but an underground economy that could very well be the definition of cyberpunkness:
Given that our crew has now started squatting space in London, are we really all that different? And if we are bridging the gap between urban explorers and hobos, tramps and bums, following Anderson, what are we? Does that dreaded monstrosity the prohobo – the hobo that chooses to be homeless yet retains the ability to photograph, blog and scam the internet for money as well as picking pockets and robbing Liddle for fixtures to BBQ vegetables looted from the skip actually exist? Is this Donna Haraway’s cyborg, neither nature nor culture, human nor computer, neither employed nor homeless? Are we becoming as liminal as the spaces we increasingly reside in? Are we finally getting close to the meld? I hope so, cause I can’t wait to pop.
OmniCorp Detroit. (Official OCD website/blog) The former Motor City has been one of the U.S.A.’s most cyberpunk cities for some time now.
Just a couple of minor details to make it complete.
OCD is best described as a group of artisans and tinkerers who are into, as they put it, making, breaking, reshaping and hacking all sorts of things! They hold events like Maker Faires and Open Hack Nights. Sound like the kind of group that could be helpful in an urban wasteland.
Microsoft’s House of the Future. Touch-top tables? Refrigerators that can order food when you run low? A hot tub with an underwater music system?
A full-size model already exists, complete with digital devices for walls and tabletops in the kitchen and living room. It’s the kind of pad that only corporate-type cyberpunks - like Bill Gates - can afford. Dare to dream.
Other points of interest. Some other spots include a hackerspace in New York City, a latino art gallery in San Francisco, and a converted Los Angeles warehouse.
Think you know of a place that qualifies? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and if it does, it just might appear in io9’s next issue of The Most Cyberpunk Places in the U.S.A.
People as Data. Imagine having your body wired 24/7/365 to collect data on what you eat, how you move, when you go to the bathroom,… when (or IF) you get laid…, and that data is used to tweak your body and mind through organic or cybernetic means. Orwell revisited? Google’s or Apple’s business plan?
Financial Times’ April Dembosky reports on a growing group of bio-hackers, or “self-quantifiers,” who are doing just that, and they even have a website where other would-be bio-hackers can find more info (Quantified Self) and meat - er, meet - each other. They held a conference in late May in California to explore the possibilities and discuss the effects of self-quantification not only on each other, but on society as a whole (link for more info).
“We like to hack hardware and software, why not hack our bodies?” says Tim Chang.
Past is prolog. The idea of self-quantification isn’t new, as a paragraph on Benjamin Franklin shows how he kept track of 13 virtues that he would check off when violated. This would help him keep his moral bearing straight. Modern self-quantifiers see themselves doing something similar, only with modern implantable equipment like pacemakers and insulin pumps. And the medical community is also taking notice. Modern medicine has always had a “magic bullet” or “one size fits all” mentality for treating ailments. With the data gathered by willing self-quantifying patients, doctors can better tailor treatments for those cases where the standard issue treatments can cause adverse side effects… like killing the patient. That could save lots on insurance and lawsuits.
Already these self-quantifiers are comparing themselves to a group of 1970s era computer geeks: Early-adopters and hobbyists with visions of everyone in every household quantifying themselves to tweak their meat for optimum performance. One possible system described is the Sprout:
The self-tracking equivalent of an early model, 30lb, four-part desktop computer is Fujitsu Laboratories’ Sprout, as worn by software engineer Alex Gilman at the Quantified Self Conference: a maze of sensors and wires send data from his ear, chest and arm to the pocket-sized computer clipped to his belt – the Sprout. The Sprout synchronizes the physical data from the body sensors and from the apps on his iPod Touch where he records his moods and drowsiness levels. What is now a mess of raw, useless data can be calculated and translated into a neat graph that will eventually be used to measure stress and fatigue, manage weight loss, even predict illness.
The potential of the Sprout is intriguing, but mass appeal will only come when such devices are consolidated into small, wireless, all-in-one products that make data collection completely passive, says Chang. Most will require little to no human effort and some will even be “game-ified”, he says, made as fun and addictive as Angry Birds.
“… and right here is where I farted.”
Speaking of games, I can already see athletes at ALL levels wanting to use self-quantification and bio-hacking. They probably already do, with a poke of ster… I mean “vitamins.” But using this system is not considered cheating… yet.
The Bigger Question: Do you REALLY want to be tracked and quantified? Self-quantification may sound pretty cool, until you need to find a place to put all your biometrics. Not only do you need large enough space, but that space needs to be secure from unauthorized access:
The implications for privacy are dramatic. Advocates and politicians were in an uproar when they realised the kind of access that Apple and Google have to geographic data derived from phones. Imagining three years worth of heart rate data or depression symptoms travelling through mobile devices – potentially being offered for sale to drug or insurance companies, exploited by advertisers or hacked by cyber criminals – puts watchdog groups on alert.
“What consumers need to realise is there’s a huge, huge demand for information about their activities, and the protections for the information about their activities are far, far, far less than what they think,” says Lee Tien, a privacy attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “A lot of these cloud services fall outside the federal and state privacy regimes.”
To put it another way, do you want to hear from Lulzsec that you are genetically predisposed to being gay or homicidal?
Most, if not all, self-quantifiers do it of their own free will, in the name of self-improvement. To many outsiders, they can’t get over the feeling of orwellianism mixed with a bit of narcissism. Even former self-quantifiers admit to taking the quest to perfection to the extreme:
“People thought I was narcissistic. What they didn’t see was the self-punishment, the fear, the hatred behind the tracking,” writes Alexandra Carmichael, one of the founders of CureTogether.com, in a poem about why she stopped tracking herself. “I had stopped trusting myself. Letting the numbers drown out my intuition, my instincts.”
Despite the perils, the self-quantifiers are willing to continue the tracking and tweaking in hopes of making humans a better species. Will they become Friedrich Nietzsche’s ubermensch, or just a bunch of skin-eating mutants roaming the streets? Nobody has come up with an app for that, and that leads to the most important question:
As the technology gets smaller, it will become harder to find a place to put the battery. America’s DARPA agency has an idea on how to power our implants…
Mad scientists strike again. DARPA, America’s DoD division of mad scientists responsible for the Internet, has been working on an important project for implantable electronic devices: How to power them when they are so small that the smallest batteries currently being manufactured are still too big to fit.
Smithsonian’s Michael Belfiore writes about a couple of DARPA ideas for the magazine’s August 2010 edition… possibly as a not-so-subtle advert for his book about the agency.
(In my best He-Man voice) I HAVE THE POWEEEEERRRRRR! Literally. DARPA plans to power implants involves “scavenging” (that’s the term they’re using) the human body to generate the power needed for implants. To make that power, DARPA plans to use human movement (”vibrations”) and body heat:
(Smithsonian) - Obviously, our bodies generate heat—thermal energy. They also produce vibrations when we move—kinetic energy. Both forms of energy can be converted into electricity. Anantha Chandrakasan, an MIT electrical engineering professor, who is working on the problem with a former student named Yogesh Ramadass, says the challenge is to harvest adequate amounts of power from the body and then efficiently direct it to the device that needs it.
In the case of harnessing vibrations, Chandrakasan and his colleagues use piezoelectric materials, which produce an electric current when subjected to mechanical pressure. For energy scavenging, ordinary vibrations caused by walking or even just nodding your head might stimulate a piezo material to generate electricity, which is then converted into the direct current (DC) used by electronics, stored in solid-state capacitors and discharged when needed. This entire apparatus fits on a chip no larger than a few square millimeters. Small embedded devices could be directly built onto the chip, or the chip could transmit energy wirelessly to nearby devices. The chip could also use thermoelectric materials, which produce an electric current when exposed to two different temperatures—such as body heat and the (usually) cooler air around us.
I remember reports of flexible solar electricity-generating plastic sheets from a year or two ago that this project can use. The plastic can be made transparent so it can be used in eye implants and contact lenses. Another possible human power source, written about by Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz in 2002, gets its power from glucose in the human bloodstream:
(University of California, Berkeley Lab Notes) - The prototype microbial fuel cell contains a tiny chamber where the microbe resides. Glucose flows into the chamber, causing hydrogen protons and electrons to be generated during the fermentation process. In a June paper, Lin and graduate students Mu Chiao, Kien B. Lam, and Yu-Chuan Su reported that their tiny powerhouse cranked out 300 microvolts for two hours until the solution dried out in the open air. That kind of power is plenty for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), tiny machines fabricated similarly to the way integrated circuits are manufactured.
Sort of want. If you’re the kind of person who wants implants, you will need to have a way to power them. Which method of human-power harvesting will work best or win out is yet to be determined. Then again, there will be those who would rather not get into the implanting scene, though I can’t understand why…
“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this. “
Like a double-barrel shotgun-o-flechettes to the face, news about two different types of implants is going to have some borg-wannabes salivating in anticipation. Stay cool, mensch-machines, these implant aren’t on the market… yet. But with news like this, it can give those who want… and need… them much hope.
Progress report on the artificial pancreas shows… IT WORKS.
(JDRF website) Today (27-Jun-2010), during the joint American Diabetes Association-JDRF symposium, Hovorka outlined results of his most recent study, which showed these benefits remain consistent even after adults with type 1 eat a large meal and drink a glass of white wine before bedtime. The study found that using the artificial pancreas system, these adults spent 70 percent of their time within their target blood glucose range, up from 47 percent of the time they spend within target overnight without use of the artificial pancreas system. As in the other studies, time spent in hypoglycemia tended to be reduced, even though alcohol is known to increase the risk of nocturnal/next morning hypoglycemia for people with type 1 diabetes.
Also revealed were the results of research of people who used continuous glucose monitoring, or CGM, a key component of the artificial pancreas. Those who actually used CGM and understood what its data meant had better results.
“There needs to be attention paid to the people using CGM,” she said. “We can’t just focus on the technology. In determining individualized patient care, it’s important to pay attention to who is most likely to succeed with this technology. It’s not for everybody.”
The JDRF has also set up a website, The JDRF Artificial Pancreas Project, so we can track the progress of its development. This may be a diabetic’s best chance for a cure… until they figure out a way to clone a new pancreas.
You won’t be able to see for miles and miles, but seniors losing their eyesight may still benefit from this telescope.
The FDA sees what they did. America’s Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) has approved a telescope implant device made by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies Inc. The implant is being made for senior citizens suffering from severe loss of vision due to blind spots. This is good news for seniors, but the approval comes with some drawbacks (in other words, the implants are “release candidates”)…
VisionCare needs to keep tabs on those who have already been implanted while implanting and studying a larger group of people. The implants themselves aren’t perfect, requiring rehabilitation to use them properly since only one eye can be implanted. And the implants themselves may require a cornea transplant.
Then there’s the biggest drawback: A $15K US price tag…
Dr Mark Gasson explains to the BBC how he got infected.
Proof of concept. Yesterday, word was spreading around the nets about a man who infected himself with a computer virus. That man was Dr. Mark Gasson from the University of Reading (UK), who had an RFID chip in his hand. What he did with that RFID chip and virus should be cause for alarm…
(TechNews Daily) Gasson had a relatively simple chip implanted in the top of his left hand near his thumb last year. It emits a signal that is read by external sensors, allowing him access to the Reading laboratory and for his cell phone to operate.
He and his colleagues created a malicious code for the chip. When the lab’s sensors read the code, the code inserted itself into the building computer database that governs who has access to the premises.
“The virus replicates itself through the database and potentially could copy itself onto the access cards that people use,” Gasson said.
The experiment showed that implants which wirelessly communicate with other computers can infect them and vice versa.
Ammo for the anti-RFID crowd. As you might have figured, Dr. Gasson deliberately infected himself to prove a point :
(Physorg.com) “Our research shows that implantable technology has developed to the point where implants are capable of communicating, storing and manipulating data,” he said. “They are essentially mini computers. This means that, like mainstream computers, they can be infected by viruses and the technology will need to keep pace with this so that implants, including medical devices, can be safely used in the future.”
As you can imagine, there are some serious implications for such human-computer infections, and even possibilities of human to human transmissions via infected RFID chips. Anti-RFID groups can use this as a weapon against the RFIDs themselves. Instead of getting spam in your inbox, it will arrive directly to your cortex. How about a DDoS attack on your pacemaker? Even worse, a zombie apocalypse courtesy of Conficker using infected PEOPLE!
If Jeffrey Brewer has his way, everyone with type 1 diabetes will have a computer controlled insulin pump.
A personal quest. Jeffrey Brewer was the founder of net-ad company GoTo.com, now Overture.com. In 2002 his son Sean was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (aka “Juvenile Diabetes”), in which the victim’s own immune system attacks the pancreas leaving it unable to produce insulin. Patients are forced to monitor their blood-sugar levels and administer insulin as needed; Processes that involve lots of poking from needles…
… or as some would say, “like a heroin addict.”
Brewer wanted something better. Something that didn’t require the constant needling. Something… automated…
They learned a simple algorithm: If their son’s blood sugar was this high, give him so many units of insulin; if it was this much higher, give him that much more. It’s a crude scale that every one of the more than 1 million type 1 diabetics in the US makes do with daily.
Tall, thin, and intense, Brewer was shocked by the antiquated approach. “I had this logbook,” he says. “I’m testing Sean every few hours, and I’m thinking, this is crying out for automation. A computer should do this and would do it better. Why didn’t this exist, with all that we can do?”
So began Brewer’s quest: To create an artificial, cybernetic pancreas.
The pieces come together. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to find the parts needed to make a robotic pancreas, as most of them had already been out on the market:
An insulin pump had been approved back in the late 1970s, and a continuous glucose monitor that read the output of a sensor implanted under the skin was nearing approval. (The first one would hit the market in 2005.) The trick was to connect the two via software, letting the monitor’s information on blood-sugar levels — high or low, rising or falling — serve as the basis for calculating exactly how much insulin to release.
In 2005, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation approved the development of the device.
Input, please. Human testing began in April 2009. The results for the device proved its worth, but the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) began dragging its feet:
Among the 10 diabetics he personally tested during overnight stays, he says, there were 17 episodes of mild hypoglycemia when the patients controlled their own insulin pumps, compared with just two when the device was in control. That’s an eightfold reduction — for most typical situations, computers really are better than humans at dispensing insulin in response to shifting blood-sugar levels.
Now the main challenge is getting the FDA to recognize that fact. In June 2009, Medtronic, a leading maker of diabetes treatment devices, announced the approval in several European countries of an integrated pump and sensor with a “low glucose suspend” feature that shuts off the pump when sugar levels are dangerously low. While only a baby step toward a fully self-regulating unit, it represents a milestone. But the FDA was still demanding that Medtronic conduct a clinical trial of the automatic shutoff before the agency would approve the device.
It would appear that the FDA, like the US Military, is nervous about letting machines make all the decisions and insist that some form of human input is present. Diabetes 1 patients want the convenience of not having manual, error-prone, human input and “Some have begun whispering about hacking their pumps to control them wirelessly. The likelihood of someone actually doing that increases with each passing day of bureaucratic paralysis.”
Brewer expects a semi-automatic version of his robot pancreas to be approved in five years. Then the only problem to be expected are repo-men.
Click the image to get to the official Robot Land website.
BOY, have we got a vacation for YOU!
(Korea Herald) The government said yesterday (12-Feb-2009, by the article’s date) it authorized Incheon to build the world’s first robot theme park, aiming to boost the regional economy and advance the nation’s robotics industry.
The robot theme park in the Incheon Free Economic Zone is to be officially designated today as Robot Land development area by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy under the robotics development law, ministry officials said.
The robot theme park, which the government says is the first of its kind in the world, will feature a number of attractions such as entertainment facilities, exhibition halls, research and development centers, education buildings and industrial support facilities, officials said.
Wired must be slowing down a bit, given they called this a “recent news report.” Still, robo-philes must be jumping at the chance to visit a theme park featuring real robots… not the Disney animatronic bots, but realrobots like factory bots, service bots, pleasure bots, hunter/killer bots… wait, what?
Better make reservations now. The park is expected to have a price tag of $560M US with groundbreaking planned for this November with the park’s opening in 2012, though construction will continue until 2013.
Among the facilities will be a Robot Hall of Fame featuring well known bots from TV and film, an aquarium and water park featuring robot fish, a food court with… yes, robot waiters, and stores where you can buy robots.
It’s all fun and games until…
The robotics industry is a future-oriented industry.
In connection to Incheon Free Economic Zone’s advanced industrial complexes that can provide foreign funds and easily connect to logistics IT and entertainment businesses, Incheon Robot Land will grow into the Robot Land of the world.
South Korea, like Japan, is watching its population age and is looking at robots to assist the elderly. To this end, they are making Robot Land not only to entertain, but to educate possible roboticists and draw the needed dollars/Won needed. Robot Land will have a Graduate School of Robotics, research and development centers, and corporate facilities for corporate-government contacts. There will also be residential and commercial centers with robot-themed shopping.
Haven’t we been here before? You might think of Robot Land as a potential Delos, but the site’s photos show no signs of a robotic wild west area, though it may be possible to see a dressed up Yul Brenner-bot in the Hall of Fame. Accidents will happen, but nothing like the Delos tragedy should be expected.
When Robot Land opens to the public in 2012, you can expect a lot of robot stuff, some good, some bad. But remember…
NOTHING CAN PUSSIB… POBABAB… PABABABA… POSSIBLY GO WORNG! RONK! WONG! Ah, screw it.
A demonstration from Philips Electronics showing the possibilities of implanted LED “tattoos.” Pretty kinky, but there are already practical applications being considered.
The Illustrated Man. Tattoos have mostly been static graphics, limited in their usefulness in communication certain info. But researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have now come up with LED tattoos that can turn your skin into a living screen. And to help get this tech inside you, the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have found a way to use silk to implant the circuits.
A silky entry. Why silk to implant electronics? From Technology Review:
By building thin, flexible silicon electronics on silk substrates, researchers have made electronics that almost completely dissolve inside the body. So far the research group has demonstrated arrays of transistors made on thin films of silk. While electronics must usually be encased to protect them from the body, these electronics don’t need protection, and the silk means the electronics conform to biological tissue. The silk melts away over time and the thin silicon circuits left behind don’t cause irritation because they are just nanometers thick.
Silk has been used before and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for medical use. So far, all that’s left is to nano-size the electronics and make the connections better. Once that happens, then what?
Tramp stamp one second, instructions the next.
It’s written all over your face… and the back of your wrist. Currently the technology is limited to monochrome displays, but even so, they can be just as useful. Blood-sugar readings are just a start. From H+:
Professor Litt’s laboratory is a collaboration between Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuroscience, and Engineering. While epilepsy is the lab’s core focus, other research includes implantable neurodevices, functional neurosurgery, network and computational neuroscience, movement disorders, intra-operative and ICU monitoring, major mental illness, and other brain network disorders.
Ultimately, they can be interfacing with the brain to allow the implantee to control the tattoos.
The future isn’t black and white. Making the millions-of-colors tattoos may still be ways off, but that isn’t stopping Wired from speculating about future uses:
GPS, with a map readout on the back of the wrist would certainly be useful, as would chips that cover your eyeballs and can darken down when the sun is shining too bright.
And a full-body display will eventually be used for advertising. Combine this with bioluminescent ink, for example, and you could turn yourself into a small, walking version of Times Square. At least, unlike a real tattoo, you can switch this one off.
I’m thinking about simply changing skin color to start, like going from Albino white to dark chocolate African, or maybe steel gray… or alien green.
Imagine being able to look at something or someone and having instant access to its information right in your eyes. This is the basic idea behind Augmented Reality: Using computerized information over reality.
NOTE: Click the pic for more information on Augmented reality on HowStuffWorks.com
For the past five months Bruce Sterling has been blogging about the emerging augmented reality technology. With the first story being about an AR geisha, there has been a rapid progression of the technology, and with it the proliferation of applications for portables that are making AR more probable than VR.
Here’s an demo of an AR zombie blast-a-thon game.
We’re not just playing games here. Browse through the 12 pages of Augmented Reality articles from BtB and you’ll see more than just zombie blasters. There are city guides, movies, presentations, world maps, … even T-shirts are getting into the AR craze. All are currently… or soon will be… available for your portable devices.
But, they’re currently working on AR without the need for portables.
In the eyes of the beholder…
In the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field—virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene. In stories by the science fiction author Vernor Vinge, characters rely on electronic contact lenses, rather than smartphones or brain implants, for seamless access to information that appears right before their eyes.
Source: IEEE Spectrum Work is currently underway to create contact lenses that can beam information AR-style directly onto the retina. The circuits will be small and/or transparent enough to not interfere with normal vision, while radio frequency waves will provide power.
These lenses don’t need to be very complex to be useful. Even a lens with a single pixel could aid people with impaired hearing or be incorporated as an indicator into computer games. With more colors and resolution, the repertoire could be expanded to include displaying text, translating speech into captions in real time, or offering visual cues from a navigation system. With basic image processing and Internet access, a contact-lens display could unlock whole new worlds of visual information, unfettered by the constraints of a physical display.
A single LED is only the beginning. In 5-10 years, they are looking to incorporate bio sensors into the lenses, with possible full AR capabilities by then.
Somehow, AR shooting with an iPhone doesn’t quite compare to using an AK-47.
Is AR the future, or is it another VR? Before you go googling for the latest AR development system or learning how to program in ARML, you might want to refresh your memory banks regarding the “potential” that virtual reality (VR) had in the 90s, especially while you read stuff like this:
“First, Mobile AR is going to be bigger than the web. Second, it is going to affect nearly every industry and aspect of life. Third, the emerging sector needs aggressive investment with long term returns. Get rich quick start ups in this space will blow through money and ultimately fail. We need smart VCs to jump in now and do it right. Fourth, AR has the potential to create a few hundred thousand jobs and entirely new professions. You want to kick start the economy or relive the golden days of 1990s innovation? Mobile AR is it.
Don’t be misguided by the gimmicky marketing applications now. Look ahead, and pay attention to what the visionaries are talking about right now. Find the right idea, help build the team, fund them, and then sit back and watch the world change. Also, AR has long term implications for smart cities, green tech, education, entertainment, and global industry. This is serious business, but it has to be done right. I’m more than happy to talk to any venture capitalist, angel investor, or company executive that wants to get a handle on what is out there, what is coming, and what the potential is. Understanding these is the first step to leveraging them for a competitive edge and building a new industry. Lastly, AR is not the same as last decade’s VR.”
Not the same? We’ll see about that, once the consumers have had their say…