Monthly Archives: April 2017

Google Tilt Brush gets a new sharing platform & more

Good stuff:

Google’s VR paint experience Tilt Brush just got a hefty update with a slew of new features that let users tweak the environment for more dynamic lighting and color options. But even more exciting: The community is getting its own social website where they can upload their art for others to download and remix themselves.

Check it out:


New DJI goggles offer head-controlled drone flight

Yes, these things are a $499 (!) behemoth, but damn if they don’t seem kinda wonderful:

PetaPixel writes,

[T[he goggles aren’t just about showing you a FPV from your drone cam, they also turn your head into a motion control unit, adjusting the drone’s yaw and camera tilt as you look around. The combined experience is incredibly immersive…

In addition to letting you ride along “in the cockpit” as it were, the goggles also allow you to control the camera—set focus, take pictures, or start and stop recording. And if you use DJI’s newest intelligent Fixed-Wing Mode—”the aircraft doesn’t turn left or right but instead flies forward with enough rotational movement for realistic flight simulation”—you can let the drone do the flying while you look around, enjoy the view, and take pictures.



Google’s new Jump camera debuts; apply now to use it for free

This monster features 17 4k cameras (!) backed by cloud compute:

Footage from those cameras runs through the Jump Assembler, which uses sophisticated computer vision algorithms and the computing power of Google’s data centers to create 3D 360 video. Amazing VR videos have been made with Jump, such as The New York Times’ Great Performers collection, Within’s “The Possible” series, the NFL Immersed series, and Wevr’s “Internet Surfer” video.


 Google is looking to sponsor 100 filmmakers (you?) to use it to make epic stuff:

Jump Start gives selected filmmakers both free access to a Jump camera and free unlimited use of the Jump Assembler for their VR film. Over the next year, the program will give over 100 creators these tools and enable them to make their vision a reality. Applications to Jump Start open today, and filmmakers have until May 22nd to apply.


PYOP (Print Your Own Pancakes) with PancakeBot 2.0

New life goal: Use this thing to print a drawing of Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy, causing Aldous Huxley to explode in his grave:

PancakeBot 2.0 is the the next generation PancakeBot with the ability to change the printing speed, included SD card, and added improvements to simplify user experience. The PancakeBot 2.0 lets kids and adults express their creativity through food while exploring technology.

Yeah, but can it squeeze out sacks of fruit juice…?



Be the user

i.e., Don’t build me some wishy-washy bullshit

“How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.” — Steve Jobs, 1985

I know, I know: “You are not the user,” and “The truth is outside the building.” But as I counseled teammates today, if [productivity product X] isn’t addressing your personal, specific, Googler needs, figure out why & fix it. Pick a personal destination that’ll make you happier & more productive at work, then laser-burn your way to it.

That is a critical user journey.


Instagram finally adds collections

I’ve been expecting this one for years:

Tap and hold the bookmark icon underneath any post to save it directly to a collection. You can create and name a new collection when you save a post, or you can add it to one you’ve already created. 

Instagram continues to redefine creativity—away from strictly posting a few best shots, and towards:

  1. tossed-off ephemera (stories) and
  2. curation (a la Pinterest—drag the shiny-shiny back to decorate your cave).

This is going to be a license to print money: Let Kylie Jenner (or mouth-breathing celebretroid of one’s choice) create collections of merchandise that hang off the main profile & enable instant purchasing. Hopefully it’ll also benefit individual photographers, by offering a crazy-simple way to buy prints. Stay tuned.



Try the new Google Earth, right in your browser

It’s finally here!

The whole world is now in your browser. Fly through landmarks and cities like London, Tokyo and Rome in stunning 3D, then dive in to experience them first hand with Street View. See the world from a new point of view with Voyager, which brings you stories from the BBC, NASA, Sesame Street and more. Start exploring:

  • Choose your own adventure with Voyager: Experience interactive stories from around the world.
  • Discover new places with Knowledge Cards: Flip through cards and learn about local landmarks.
  • Orbit the world in 3D: Use the new 3D button to tilt the map.
  • Snap and share a Postcard: Capture snapshots of locations and share them with your friends.
  • Feeling Lucky? Roll the dice and see where the world takes you.



This is going to open amazing doors for interactive storytelling. I can’t wait to show my kids the snow leopards from Planet Earth.

We’ve joined up with some of the world’s leading storytellers, scientists and nonprofits to bring the planet to life with Voyager, a showcase of interactive guided tours. Start with Natural Treasures from BBC Earth, and journey to six habitats—from islands to mountains to jungles—and learn about the unique and thrilling wildlife in each. Then head to Gombe National Park in Tanzania and hear from Jane Goodall about her team’s chimpanzee research and conservation efforts.

Get the new Google Earth now on the web in Chrome; on Android as it rolls out this week; and on iOS and other browsers in the near future.



Bob Ross on A.I. Acid

(aka, Hieronymus Bosch, PBS Edition)

Felt like you’re having a stroke yet today? No? I can fix that. Here: This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD (once someone invents digital drugs). It shows some of the unreasonable effectiveness and strange inner workings of deep learning systems. The unique characteristics of the human voice are learned and generated as well as hallucinations of a system trying to find images which are not there. & FiftyThree introduce new design collaboration apps

Ever since the late 90’s, when I was a designer browbeating Adobe for a good collaboration system, I’ve been intrigued by efforts to help teams work better together. has just rolled out v2 of its video-centric team platform:

Elsewhere, FiftyThree (makers of the much-loved Paper sketching/notes app) have introduced the Slack-savvy Paste tool:

  • Arrange your flow and add text to craft the story you want to tell
  • Fullscreen walkthroughs and fast feedback from your team that syncs with Slack.

Knowing their history, I’m expecting a lot of delightful attention to detail.




Logojoy: “AI-powered logo creation”

I’m intrigued by—but don’t quite know what to make of—Logojoy, a hosted app that promises, “Using artificial intelligence and advanced learning algorithms, our logo maker is able to produce designs just like a designer would.”

It seems that almost no one in the general public can define just what the hell “AI” means, and I’m not sure that this offers anything more than a nicely packaged wizard/template system. Still, some of the results I got weren’t half bad, and creative disruption will only continue: The world at large will get greater & greater access fairly competent aesthetics (think Target & design for all), while creative people will have to hustle more & more to remain relevant.

If you take it for a spin, let me know what you think.




Night vision: Color 5,000,000 ISO that looks good?!

Around 2am in a long-past life, I terrified some young kids fishing for sharks off the end of their pier in Puget Sound. I was wearing night vision goggles in a RIB alongside a bunch of M16-toting Navy guys, and we’d been quietly paddling around the boys’ pier as we hid from our own ships while we stalked Rangers. But that’s a whole other story.

The X27 seems amazing & makes the goggles I wore look like Frogger by comparison:

Kottke writes:

The camera was developed for military use, has an effective ISO rating of 5,000,000, and has a comically long name: “X27 Reconnaissance Day/Night high Fidelity true real time low light/low lux color night vision Imaging Security / Multi Purpose camera system”. Pricing information is not available, but I bet you’re paying for every single one of those words. 



Going inside the music with “Song Exploder”

It’s a bit OT for this blog, maybe, but I’m excited to check out the marvelously named Song Exploder:

Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made… Using the isolated, individual tracks from a recording, Hrishikesh asks artists to delve into the specific decisions that went into creating their work. Hrishikesh edits the interviews, removing his side of the conversation and condensing the story to be tightly focused on how the artists brought their songs to life.

The Weezer episode in particular sounds really interesting. In it Rivers Cuomo talks about how he constructs guitar solos by singing them, then using software to modify his recorded voice to match the desired tones.


Chronoscape: A fun AR experiment from Google Japan

How about an augmented-reality spyglass that lets you see your current surroundings from the perspective of another season? That’s Chronoscape:

Auto-translated project description:

When you approach Chronoscape with a dedicated Android smartphone application and approach a place where you can see “another time”, Chronoscape notifies you.Look into Chronoscape and rotate the operating part, you can see different scenery of different time at that place. In addition, favorite landscapes can be saved in a smartphone with a single touch, and you can look back and share it later.