Tag Archives: Home

Disney to Make Augmented Reality Birthday Cakes

Disney-to-make-augmented-reality-birthday-cakes-b9f796b152

Disney has filed a patent that describes its plans for projector systems to produce augmented reality cakes and other food products. Along with sensors, these could be used to display images and videos on the surface, or create customized storybooks and interactive experiences.

According to Gizmag, the patent outlines two methods for projecting onto a cake. One uses a small projector built into a cake topper and the other connects a computer to an overhead projector, with the addition of sensors for tracking movement.

Using AR technology, video clips or slideshows of photos could be displayed. Someone could thumb through a virtual storybook, wave fairy dust on top of the cake with an accompanying wand or shine a light onto the food to reveal hidden objects. Digital worlds could be mapped out over the surface and people would be able to interact with them by removing pieces of the food or using special props.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ken’s Oven

This article originally published at PSFK
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/10/disney-reality-birthday-cakes/

Loom Decor Puts Professional Design Materials in Your Hands

Fabric-store

The Fabric World Interiors store in London.
Image: Flickr, Herry Lawford

During her time at a top New York City interior-design firm, Ashley Gensler became frustrated by the exclusivity of the industry; most products are available only “to the trade,” and high fees limit access to great design. Armed with an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a background in design, Gensler set out to change this industry standard, launching Loom Decor in 2012. She and co-founder Nichole Ocepek have built Loom into a comprehensive online resource for high-end custom textile furnishings at prices accessible to customers and designers alike.

Gensler talked with us about why they started the business and what technology made it possible.

BND: What problem were you hoping to solve with your business?

A.G.: Fundamentally, I believe DIY decorators like me should have the same access to gorgeous, high-quality decor as professional designers do, and at an accessible price. Unfortunately, the traditional interior-design market is highly exclusive, offering most products only through professional designers. Antiquated supply chains and structures make most of those products, especially fabrics, too expensive for 99 percent of homeowners. So, I set out to make custom home decor accessible to the masses. Combining easy-to-use online configuration tools, complimentary design assistance, and access to more than 400 designer-quality fabrics and customizable products, Loom offers the same high-end custom textiles highlighted in the professionally designed homes of shelter publications, but at a fraction of the cost.

BND: Could your business have existed 20 years ago?

A.G.: Not in terms of the ease of service and experience we provide, nor to the market we serve. There have been workrooms doing custom decor for interior designers for a hundred years, but empowering consumers to design their own decor was not an option 20 years ago, for several reasons.

The technology for dynamic visualization and online configuration, which is key to customers’ ability to see what they are about to purchase, was not available (at least not at a cost that would have made sense).

Consumers’ interest in personalization and DIY was just evolving at the time. The expectation back then was that you would hire an interior designer (if you could afford it), and if you couldn’t, then you would just have to settle with what was available in stores. Thus, the mentality to want to purchase custom decor specific to your style and vision was not in the consumer psyche. Now, we have a plethora of blogs, DIY shows and online resources that not only educate and empower, but encourage the average homeowner to want to take on their own decorating projects.

While you could likely access some of these services in stores or by calling someone (in which case you would have to know a lot about what you wanted), an online experience 20 years ago would have been so clunky that nobody would have wanted to use it. After all, most people didn’t even like to shop for basic items online 20 years ago, let alone be involved in the design process.

BND: What modern technology (or technologies) has made your business possible?

A.G.: Dynamic visualization software is the No. 1 technology that has enabled our business. This technology is at the crux of the experience of creating or modifying your own furnishing. These are big purchases for homeowners, and they live with them for a long time.
Most people have a very hard time visualizing the choices they are making — like what a certain print will look like as a curtain — and dynamic visualization software allows us to show them exactly what their product will look like before they buy it — not just some unrealistic rendition, but with photorealistic quality. This also allows us to show a catalog of thousands of furnishings. Each product silhouette is available in hundreds of different fabrics. We don’t even need to take inventory or photograph all of those items individually, which would be cost-prohibitive, knowing that we would have to keep up with the latest trends and carry more unique, chic styles than a mass-market ready-made approach can allow.

BND: Is there a technology you can’t live without?

A.G.:My iPhone. As an entrepreneur, I’m so busy that I feel like I have to make use of every little moment. So, I have my smartphone out on my commute into work, emailing away and planning out my day before I ever step foot into the office. Plus, it’s great for jotting down ideas when I’m out and about, and for browsing design mags and Pinterest for creative inspiration. And, let’s be honest — who doesn’t love the games (when I have five minutes to play them)?

BND: If you could hire one extra person right now, what would you have him or her do?

A.G.: Marketing, marketing, marketing. The hardest part of starting up a business is getting in front of your potential customers and breaking through all the noise. Not only are we up against large, established retailers, but as a new company, we don’t have a long history with Google or with the industry, so we have to build credibility to jump-start our SEO, increase our press coverage and build an email list, among many other things. It’s starting from ground zero, and you don’t have a business if you don’t have customers.

BND: What technology do you wish existed?

A.G.: We would really like to be able to show our products in our customers’ homes. I wish there were a much more sophisticated way for users to take photos of their rooms and, with just a few clicks, make a 3D model that they could then start “modifying” as part of their decorating process.

The basic technology exists — larger companies are already using apps and programs that allow them to create 3D modeling and use augmented reality. But it’s the user experience that is still clunky. The imagery is often unrealistic, which can sometimes be a turnoff (for the furnishing you are considering).

BND: What app are you relying on most right now?

A.G.: My Measures & Dimensions on the iPhone and iPad. My husband and I are house hunting, and it’s coming in very handy for recording dimensions during open houses. It lets you snap a picture using your camera and write dimensions directly on the image. Plus, our stylists swear by it for measuring windows for drapery.

BND: What technology do you think is most overrated?

A.G.: Google Glass. First, it kind of freaks me out. Someone once showed me how it works and said, “See? I just blinked and took your picture.” I mean, at least with a cellphone, you can see when someone is being creepy! Second, it’s already bad enough that we are glued to our phones half the time when we are out with friends (me included). Imagine if everyone were staring off into “Terminator” space. Talk about impersonal!

BND: What’s the most valuable non-tech skill an entrepreneur needs?

A.G.: The ability to communicate a vision. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to not only envision what you want to build (or, better yet, what your customerswant to build), but also describe it in a compelling way not only to investors, but literally everybody you encounter in business. That includes your customers, to get them to purchase and advocate for you, as well as your partners and vendors, to get them to work with you and believe in your concept. And, most importantly in my mind, you need to communicate your vision to your team, not only to convince great people to come work for you, but also to get them all aligned to work toward a common vision.

This article originally published at BusinessNewsDaily
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/03/03/ashley-baker-gensler-loom-decor/

Internet TV Isn’t Ready to Replace Cable Yet

Internet-tv-isn-t-ready-to-replace-cable-yet-53445bec7e

Roku founder Anthony Wood runs a startup that, along with companies like Apple and Microsoft, sells hardware that’s bringing web video to home television screens. It’s no wonder his nine-year-old daughter prefers to watch her favorite Disney shows on Netflix at her whim, rather than surf Disney’s own 24-hour cable channel.

This is one example of how traditional TV service providers are losing their hold on America’s eyeballs. Internet-connected TVs are becoming the norm on store shelves, and today represent 12 percent of those in people’s homes, according to a recent survey by NPD Group. These TVs, and devices like Roku’s, make it easier for viewers to cut the cord on their expensive cable bills, and instead simply watch content provided by companies including Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Amazon and Google on their big home screens.

Yet Wood hasn’t canceled his family’s TV service, and neither have the majority of his customers. In fact, several factors may make “cord-cutting” slower than anticipated.

Wood cited statistics at the Next TV Summit, held recently in San Francisco, that about 35% of its three-million-plus Roku set-top box owners, with access to 600 free and paid content apps, wind up either ending or reducing their pay TV packages. But 10 percent were never cable or satellite subscribers in the first place. And there are still more than 100 million cable and satellite subscribers in the U.S.

As the Roku figures suggest, cord-cutting is happening, so far, on a relatively small scale. For example, Nielsen reported that the number of households that have only broadband Internet and free broadcast channels increased by 631,000 in 2011. Meanwhile, 1.5 million homes ended TV service from cable, satellite, or telecommunications providers that same year.

In other words, the massive wave of migration is not materializing as fast as many Internet companies might hope, or as fast as cable companies and networks may fear. “So far, it doesn’t seem like it’s the tipping point,” says Fox Networks distribution president Michael Hopkins.

One major reason is that most Internet platforms don’t yet provide crucial live content — such as news and sports — nor the original programming that draws viewers in (rather than reruns or held-back content).

That is starting to change, though, and it is likely that the cord-cutting trend will continue to gradually pick up steam. Netflix is now developing its own exclusive and original content. Meanwhile, Microsoft recently paid PBS to shoot 50 percent more hours of content of Sesame Street, which it then developed into an early example of “interactive” TV for Xbox Kinect.

And Google-owned YouTube, which has sports, news, and entertainment divisions just like a network broadcaster, not long ago invested $100 million to seed the creation of high-quality content intended for cable-like channels. So far it is pleased with the results — 20 channels averaging more than one million monthly views, and 25 with some 100,000 “subscribers,” according to Alex Carloss, YouTube’s head of entertainment.

The cable and satellite TV incumbents are, unsurprisingly, determined to retain their subscribers, and at the Next TV conference, some believed they will feel pressure to give customers more freedom to pick and choose which channels they want to access instead of paying for a large bundle.

In 2009, for example, TimeWarner and Comcast launched “TV Everywhere,” an authentication technology that is allowing them to make their shows easily available on any kind of screen to paying subscribers. Broadcast TV, too, is also aiming to offer access to live content on other devices.

Wood believes it won’t be long before an “incumbent” launches Internet-based versions of their cable packages. “A lot of this is about getting access to the content,” says Wood. “That’s a business that requires complicated negotiations, requires a lot of money, and I think, a lot of experience.” HBO recently launched a channel for the Web, HBO Go, but customers must be existing subscribers to HBO through a cable provider.

As more people stream TV content on their home screens, infrastructure limitations could become a factor. Will Law, Akamai Technologies’ principal architect in its media division, says if there were a sudden spike in TV streaming far above today’s levels, “there would be massive congestion collapse.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, joannapoe

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/01/internet-tv-replace-cable/

Mashable Weekend Recap: 65 Stories You Might Have Missed

Mashable-weekend-recap-65-stories-you-might-have-missed-cab0c8fda5

The weekend started off with a bang, thanks to the dazzling opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. That was spectacular enough to get everyone super-ready for the athletic competition involving our entire planet.

There were plenty of stories about the Olympics, and at the same time, your intrepid Mashable team discovered so much more — happenings in the digital world, tech innovations that felt like they were from a future world, and GIFs, comics and weekend fun that seemed to be from another world entirely.

Best of all, we’ve gathered all those stories here for you, in one big easy-to-peruse package. So take a look at the latest Weekend Recap, where you can catch up with the entire weekend of delightful news and views, right here:

Editor’s Picks

James Bond and the Queen Parachute Into the Olympics [VIDEO]

Please, NBC and IOC, Learn How to Share the Olympics

13 Surprising OS X Mountain Lion Facts [SUNDAY COMICS]

Top 10 Twitter Pics of the Week

Mountain Lion Vs. Windows 8: Which One Is Better?

Best Pics Yet: This Could Be the Real iPhone 5

How to Watch the 2012 Summer Olympics Online

Spoilers: Angry Olympics Fans Tweet Their Protests, NBC Responds

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

News & Opinion

Marissa Mayer Brings Free Food to Yahoo, Eyes Acquisitions [REPORT]

MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ Facebook Game Is Feast for Fans in First 5 Weeks

Where to Get Back-to-School Deals on Tablets, Computers

How Dictation Tools Can Help Speed Up Your Workflow [INFOGRAPHIC]

Russian Cargo Spacecraft Docks With Space Station on 2nd Try

Olympic Check-Ins: Hot Foursquare Deals and Badges for London 2012

Record-Setting Electric Plane Flight Almost Didn’t Make It [VIDEO]

Mysterious Billionaire Commissions World’s Largest Yacht [VIDEO]

Twitter Jokester’s ‘Bomb Threat’ Charges Dropped [VIDEO]

Olympic Popularity: Starcount Reveals Which Olympic Athletes Are Trending

Amazon Sales Tax — What it Means for You

Down to the Millisecond: All About Olympics Timing

Trioh! The Flashlight You Can See When The Power Goes Out

On Reddit, Rapists Say They’re Sorry

Latest Apple Ads Take a Turn for the Worse

Why the London 2012 Olympics Is the First Real-Time Games

The 9 Most Important Tablet Mysteries of 2012

Device Turns Eye Movement Into Handwriting

Apple Considered Investing in Twitter [REPORT]

Hidden Genius Project Provides Tech Mentorship for Young Black Men

What Higher Education Will Look Like in 2020 [STUDY]

Why Do We Keep Going Back to Mars?

This Is What the Olympians From 100 Years Ago Looked Like

Shedding Light on Mitt Romney’s Unexplained Twitter Surge

New Leaked Pics May Hint at iPhone 5 Design

Chick-fil-A PR Chief Dies as Company Battles Controversy

Hacking the Olympics Opening Ceremony

Romney Advisor Tweets ‘Follow Friday’ List of Potential VPs

Facebook’s Not the Only One Struggling With Mobile Advertising

Weekend Leisure

This Cute, Cubed Bamboo Speaker Packs Crazy Sound [VIDEO]

9 Nifty Laptop Feet to Keep Your PC Running Cool

Kickstarter Project Is a ‘Smartwatch’ for Your Smartphone

‘Fund Me Maybe’ Is Tech World’s Parody of ‘Call Me Maybe’ [VIDEO]

10 Stylish Onesies for Baby Geeks

12 Pictures of Animals Being Forced to Marry

It’s Official: This Is the Cutest Picture on the Internet

Twitter Doghouse Lets You Temporarily Dump Annoying Tweeps

Top 10 GIFs of the Week

Boys Will Be Boys In This ‘Girls’ Parody [VIDEO]

10 Brits Snubbed from the Olympic Opening Ceremony

You Have Upset The Tetris God [VIDEO]

Sneak Peek: Justin Bieber Teases ‘As Long As You Love Me’ Video

If ‘A Space Odyssey’ Were Remade as a Hollywood Blockbuster

Forget Traditional Tours; Vayable Helps You Discover New Ways to Travel

Listen to Talk Radio on Your iPhone? You’re Probably a Liberal

You’ll Grin and Bear it With This Wild Live Video Stream

Mr. Bean Gets Carried Away During Olympics Appearance

Get a Bird’s-Eye View of 25 Olympic Stadiums

Top 6 Comments on Mashable This Week

Helpful Resources

Everything You Need to Know About Foursquare’s New Merchant Tools

How to Structure Your Daily Job Search to Help Land Your Next Job

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

6 Key Software Updates You Should Be Doing

The Beginner’s Guide to Socialcam

4 Reasons Why Recruiters Should Stop Accepting Traditional Resumes

The Anatomy of a Killer Content Marketing Strategy

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/30/weekend-recap-64/

Top 10 Pinterest Pins This Week

Top-10-pinterest-pins-this-week-90e7905d04

Can You 3D Print Your Dream Home?

Barbie-dream-cottage

If you love LEGOs, you might have imagined building a real house from them. And with the surging popularity of 3D printers, such a dream seems well within reach. Nick Johnson, a spokesman for real estate blog Movoto, decided to find out what it would take to build a 3D-printed house.

“Given that we’re due to get our own 3D printer here in the Movoto office soon, I pretty much couldn’t be more excited by the possibilities the technology introduces,” Johnson wrote in a company blog post. “So, with that, I thought I’d look into exactly how realistic it would be to print the components needed to build a house using one of these devices.”

As it turns out, if you were to use today’s 3D printing technology, you would be long dead by the time your pieces were printed. In fact, it would take 220 years, four months and 11 days for a single machine to print the 27,735 bricks required to construct a 2,500-square-foot (232 square meters), two-story house. And if you think the endeavor sounds time-costly, you should read the price tag: $332,820 in plastic alone.

Johnson based his calculations on a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer and jumbo-size bricks measuring 8 in by 3.5 in by 2.75 in (20.3 cm by 8.9 cm by 7 cm). It would take nearly three days to print a single brick, and each brick would cost about $12 in ABS material. (ABS plastic filament is a must for this project, as the alternative — PLA — would begin to melt under the heat of the sun.) You can try Johnson’s calculator for yourself:

By Movoto

But industrial 3D printing experts tell a different story.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor at the University of Southern California who heads the Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program, stunned a TED Talk audience earlier this year by showing it’s possible to 3D print a 2,500-square-foot house in about 20 hours. Khoshnevis called the process “Contour Crafting,” which would use a gigantic 3D printer erected over the footprint of where a building will stand. The 3D printer extrudes a concrete mixture, building a house layer by layer, the same way a desktop 3D printer makes a plastic figurine.

Khoshnevis said it’s the cheapest form of construction — less expensive than prefabricated housing and infinitely customizable. “Every building can be very different just by changing the design,” he said. “You could execute really exotic architectural features without incurring additional costs.”

Once the basic structure was completed, finish work, tiling and even painting could also be done automatically with the kind of printers used for rendering billboards, he said.

Khoshnevis is currently working with NASA to design structures suitable for living on the moon. But long before Moon colonization becomes a reality, you may be able to print your own custom home here on Earth — imagine leasing a Contour Crafting machine at your local Home Depot.

Image courtesy of Simon Farnworth

This article originally published at TechNewsDaily
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/20/3d-print-dream-home/

15 Adorable Animal-Shaped iPhone Cases

15-adorable-animal-shaped-iphone-cases-ccc32d063b

If Life Gives You Lemons, Give Them to This Beagle

If-life-gives-you-lemons-give-them-to-this-beagle-video--157ca38fd7

Dog licks lemon. Dog freaks out. Dog walks away knowing better. Dog comes back for more.

We’ve all been there; we know what’s best, but that lemony-fresh goodness just keeps calling our name. Then the lemon-sour-sucky face follows. This poor beagle learns that lesson the hard way — not once, not twice, but a few dozen times.

We’ll call it perseverance though, because he refuses to just let that lemon get the best of his taste buds. So even though he nearly attacks his own tounge after biting into that yellow devil, he returns.

Someone get this dog a palette cleanser ASAP.

What’s your favorite cute animal YouTube video? Share in the comments below.

BONUS: Check out our top 5 viral videos of the week:

Is Thin-Film Solar Dead?

Is-thin-film-solar-dead--ec8d0bb645

When the Chinese energy giant Hanergy decided last week to buy Miasole, a Silicon Valley-based thin-film solar company, at less than a tenth the amount venture capitalists had invested in the firm, it could have been making a savvy move. Though it seems as if thin-film solar panels have no hope of competing with conventional silicon ones under today’s market conditions, the technology might still have a strong future.

In recent years, the price of conventional silicon solar panels has fallen far faster than expected, and once-promising thin-film startups are going bankrupt, delaying manufacturing plans or being bought by Asian companies for pennies on the dollar. (In addition to Hanergy, TFG Radiant, SK Innovation, Taiwan Semiconductor and a few others have bought or taken large stakes in such companies.)

Some analysts think the companies that have been snatching up these bargains know what they’re doing. The poor market conditions that have kept thin-film companies from competing may not last: When demand increases and it comes time to start building solar-panel factories again, the argument goes, the technology might have a significant advantage, because for comparably sized plants, it could cost far less to build a new thin-film factory than a conventional one.

A gigawatt-scale thin-film plant would cost $350 to 450 million, versus $1 billion for a conventional silicon plant, says Travis Bradford, a professor at Columbia University’s school of international and public affairs and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit research firm. (The cost estimates will vary depending on what’s included in the plant. For example, if you add the cost of producing polysilicon, the equivalent to the raw materials that thin-film solar plants use, the capital cost for a silicon plant goes up to $2 billion or more, he says. But most plants buy silicon from large suppliers.)

So far, the companies with the potentially cheapest thin-film technology have built only relatively small factories that cost far more per watt than large ones, and building larger plants doesn’t make sense in the current market. (Solyndra, the failed thin-film company, was building a large plant, but it had notoriously expensive technology, including unusual tube-shaped solar panels. First Solar, by far the most successful thin-film company, has built large plants, but newer types of thin-film technologies may prove cheaper and more efficient.)

Startups can’t afford to wait until market conditions get better. But large companies like Hanergy might be able to bide their time until the market improves and then build a large plant that could compete with conventional silicon. “Hanergy spent $30 million to get Miasole,” Bradford says. “It will take them a few hundred million dollars to eventually build a large factory and launch the technology. But if they’re right, they’ve got assets that will be worth billions of dollars later. That’s the bet they’ve made.”

Waiting for market conditions to turn, however, is a risky strategy. The market is currently flooded with solar panels — current manufacturing capacity is more than enough to satisfy demand, and that’s driven down prices to the point that many manufacturers are selling at a loss. It’s not clear how long it will take for this situation to change.

Timing the construction of new thin-film factories will be difficult. In the meantime, manufacturers of conventional silicon technology continue to lower the cost of their solar panels and improve their efficiency. And there’s no guarantee that new thin-film panels will perform as expected when produced at a large scale — or that cost targets will be met.

One option could be for large companies to develop and build their own solar power plants. That’s the model used by First Solar, and it seems to be the model Hanergy is adopting.

But many analysts remain skeptical that thin film can compete with silicon, given silicon’s overwhelmingly larger scale of production. Thin film may have had a chance once, but it’s taken it too long to reach large-scale production and lower costs, according to Jenny Chase, manager of the Solar Insight Team at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “That ship has sailed,” she says. She expects that thin-film companies might succeed only in niche markets, such as applications where very lightweight or flexible solar panels are needed.

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/10/thin-film-solar-dead/

10 Halloween Cards for the Ghoulish Geek

10-halloween-cards-for-the-ghoulish-geek-17734b197e