by Amica Graber · Friday, April 28th, 2017 03:42 am GMT +5.5
Real talk: the only selling point of “Prometheus” was the last 20 minutes, which looked like H.R. Giger imagined an episode of “Squidbillies”. Helmed by Ridley Scott, the film should have been a slamdunk. Alas, it was more of a slow exhale through the rectum rather than the white-knuckled thrill ride one expects of the “Alien” series — which is why I’m so stoked about the May release of “Alien: Covenant”.
Early murmurs are promising the same high-octane, gore-splattered space odyssey from yesteryear, and it’s about bloody time. The fan community at large has been hotly anticipating the next installment of the franchise, because it’s just not “Alien” without our favorite phallus-headed space monster making an appearance.
Which brings us to #AlienDay, which a) was yesterday and b) comes from a date derived from the colonial moon featured in “Aliens”, LV-426. Ergo, 4/26.
Christine isn’t just insanely talented at upcycling homes into haunted wonderlands. She’s also a creepy cooking goddess, and her creations are to die for. Take, for instance, this hyper-realistic Facehugger. No, it’s not a prop from the set — it’s actually a cookie. A goddamn cookie.
“Alien” isn’t our only sci-fi favorite to get basted with Christina’s pastry brush; her latest Instagram offerings are a ghoulish delight. For instance, we have a whole Valentine’s Day menu set in the Upside Down from “Stranger Things”:
I can only hope that Christine is a fan of “Twin Peaks”, which has the reboot of all reboots scheduled to come out in May. Follow her Instagram for more jaw-dropping baking feats, or buy her cookbook on Amazon! Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the latest trailer from “Alien: Covenant” below. Remember: in space, no one can hear you scream, but the same can’t be said for your armchair.
by Amica Graber · Saturday, April 8th, 2017 03:53 am GMT +5.5
“Nice face. I’d like to wear it sometime.” No, it’s not a Valentine’s Day card from Buffalo Bill. But it might be an icebreaker in 2020.
If you’ve had a bad face day, you can usually keep up appearances on social media thanks to the magical filters of Snapchat and Instagram. If you’re having a really bad case of the fugs, you can just face-swap yourself with your favorite movie star and call it quits. That’s all well and good from the privacy and solitude of your own bed, but when it comes to heading out into the real world, the closest thing to a real-life filter was a good concealer.
But now, thanks to an innovative dream team from Tokyo, IRL Snapchat filters are real. Sort of.
The practice has moonlighted under a few aliases, including “spatial augmented reality” and gruesome-sounding “face-hacking.” But it’s commonly known as projection mapping. In short, the practice involves projecting an image onto a non-flat surface. The earliest adopter of projection mapping was none other than Disney, which first used projection mapping at the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland way back in 1969. It’s been used on-and-off since then with limited success. But the capabilities of projection mapping have always been pretty basic … up until now.
WOW labs, helmed by CGI-expert Nobumichi Asai, has been working on an advanced method of projection mapping for the last few years.
So, what is it?
Asai’s projection mapping uses specialized software to track a surface in motion, while a custom-built projector alters the image to adjust to the subject’s movements. The results are a seamless and high-definition projection that works in tandem with the face. For instance, say you wanted to project a zombie mask onto a model. If the model moved, the mask would move with them — without distorting or losing quality. It gives the appearance of a CGI effect in real life.
In 2015, Kat Von D used projection mapping software to promote her new collection of makeup at Sephora. The projection mapping used was 240 frames per second (fps).
WOW studios partnered with the University of Tokyo and TOKYO production studios to create the stunning performance video, which clocks in at just over a minute long.
In order to accommodate Asai’s CGI technology, the DynaFlash projector was custom-built by the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. This 8-bit, 1000 fps projector uses state-of-the art technology to keep up with the movements of the human body. Check out this side-by-side comparison between a standard projector and the DynaFlash.
WOW, TOKYO, and the creators of DynaFlash collaborated with iconic dance duo, AyaBambi, to create this stunning video performance, which shows off the capabilities of face hacking software. It’s unreal.
Morphing your face into something straight out of Samara Morgan’s home movie collection might be fun for now, but the possibilities of face hacking are electrifying.
As tech continues to get smaller and more portable, it’s easy to imagine projection mapping software being added to a wearable tech device. Magic Leap might fill up your local watering hole with mythical creatures, but face hacking could turn every habitué into Harrison Ford or Marilyn Monroe.
We’re already beginning to explore the ethical implications of “face borrowing.”
Rogue One presented us with Grand Moff Tarkin, even though actor Peter Cushing died in 1994. It also gave us a fresh-faced Carrie Fisher, although CGI isn’t advanced enough yet to defer the effects of “uncanny valley” — the tendency for the human eye to reject almost-human replicas.
But if we could switch up our faces as easily as we can change our Snapchat filters, will we have to license our own looks to stop copycats from borrowing our features? And is it okay to borrow someone’s face, especially if they’re dead?
Non-celebrities don’t often think about things like licensing your looks, but our faces are being collected every day through mediums like Snapchat and Facebook. In the user terms of Snapchat, it writes that is has:
“Worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display” any content you upload to the app, “in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)”
American property law dictates that your likeness can’t be used without your consent. But thanks to the murky ‘tap here’ terms and conditions of companies like Snapchat, you’ve probably already given your consent. Imagine your surprise if one day you walked into a bar, to find someone else wearing your face. Or — if you want to take the Black Mirror approach to it — the face of your dead relative.
By sticking to shadowy constellations and embracing eerie distortions, AyaBambi’s performance avoids deep philosophical questions such as those, while providing a mesmerizing example of how projection mapping can be used. At the moment, the technology has both feet firmly planted in the art world. But it raises a myriad of interesting questions about what will happen when technology allows us to change our appearance with the ease of a Snapchat filter.
by Amica Graber · Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 05:14 am GMT +5.5
It might not jam a comlink or come with a blaster cannon, but you can still live out your fantasies of cruising through the forest on a 74-Z speeder bike thanks to Russian start-up, Hoversurf.
Star Wars fans collectively experienced spasms of joy when a video featuring the first commercially manned hoverbike hit YouTube in mid-February. Since then, the video has garnered over a million views. The Scorpion-3 hoverbike is equipped with four drone propellers, powerful enough to blast both quadcopter and pilot to an altitude of 33 feet.
This isn’t the first hoverbike to survive a maiden voyage with a human pilot. British hobbyist, Colin Furze, is still the first man to take to the skies on a hoverbike, which is even more remarkable considering he built said bike in his garage. A joy to behold, it was also a one-off and not geared towards the mass market.
Enter Hoversurf with the Scorpion-3, the first hoverbike available for sale — although it’ll set you back a staggering $150,000.
This jumbo-sized quadcopter is built for the adrenaline junkie, although thrill seekers may be disappointed to discover that the in-built safety system automatically regulates the height and speed of your ride.
Half-drone, half-motorbike, the Scorpion-3 can carry up to 266 pounds and reach speeds of 33 mph. With a maximum airtime of 27 minutes, it’s not going to take you on a cross-country tour, but it’s one hell of a way to make an entrance.
Not everybody is ready to throw their regular bike into the trash compactor just yet. “So this is what a human juicer looks like,” mused one user on Twitter, presumably after noticing the lack of propeller guards separating the human passenger from the rather deadly-looking propellers.
As the US military is wont to do, they’re already light-years ahead when it comes to hoverbike technology. The Army Research Laboratory unveiled a flying quadcopter in early January, known as a joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle, or JTARV for short.
The JTARV is longer, sleeker, and admittedly more of an aerial BAMF than any other hovercraft on the market. But Star Wars wasn’t so much the inspiration for the JTARV as…Amazon Prime?
“Anywhere on the battlefield, Soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes,” he said.
The JTARV prototype is currently electric, but researchers are already exploring utilizing a hybrid propulsion system which would spearhead a faster and more powerful hoverbike, capable of carrying 800 pounds and travelling up to 125 miles.
“We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.” Vong told visitors from the Department of Defense.
So when can we expect to see a fleet of drones travelling across the skies? If you live in Dubai, it could be as soon as July.
The EHang 184 will be the world’s first autonomous air vehicle (AAV) used as an air taxi. Come July, Dubai expects to have its first fleet of AAV taxis taking flight across the city, and alleviating some of the city’s traffic woes in the process.
Much like calling for an Uber, you’ll use an app to request this egg-shaped quadcopter, which can accommodate one passenger and a small suitcase weighing up to 220 pounds. After you’ve strapped yourself in, you’ll simply enter your destination on a touch screen display and the EHang will self-pilot through the skies to your destination. It can stay in the air for 30 minutes and has a range of 31 miles.
If the concept of a self-driving car makes you wince, you’re unlikely to feel comforted by the idea of combining self-driving technology with heights. But EHang assures potential passengers that the aircraft is totally safe. According to their website, if the power system starts behaving abnormally, the EHang can still operate a normal flight plan. If anything malfunctions, the AAV will automatically land in the nearest available area.
Is Xiaomi the next big thing in smartphones? Perhaps yes. This brand is probably the next major player in the ever-expanding market of smart phones. This can be seen in how the company has grown in leaps and bounds in its last four years of existence. Although Xiaomi entered the market with a risky concept —producing smartphones aided by Apple’s design, thus acquiring the title ‘’Apple of China’’ — this has since worked positively to favor the company.
by Bharat · Friday, January 27th, 2017 03:56 pm GMT +5.5
Today with vast availability of fan stores from all kinds of fandoms, people believe it’s easy to choose a gift for a geek. Just get the guy another Harley Quinn figurine to gather dust on the shelves, right? Wrong! Geeks don’t care about mainstream pop culture. They only care for what’s close to their heart. That’s why Suicide Squad and Superman movies are getting all the criticism. That’s why nobody wants an average, thoughtless, mediocre present. It is time for a geek to speak up for one’s needs by pointing out some of the most common mistakes others make while choosing geeky presents only a wannabe YouTube nerd-streamer with 37 views will enjoy. Read More…
by Gaurav · Friday, January 20th, 2017 01:21 pm GMT +5.5
Of all things in this tech dominated era, robots are definitely taking huge leaps as far as AI is concerned. They look like humans, behave like humans and ultimately are going to take over the control from us humans. As weird as that might sound, it is the future of robotics which is already making our jaws drop in one way or the other. Apparently, yet another chapter to the applications of robotics in professional arena has been added. Read More…
by Gaurav · Thursday, January 19th, 2017 06:18 pm GMT +5.5
PC mods are cool and making a custom designed PC case is interesting and worth the effort. For that very reason DIY’ers invest a lot of time in building unique case mods. This one though is in a league of its own for its sheer design niche. In fact it is shaped like a desk which has loads of cabinets to house all your fancy, powerful hardware. The DIY desk is work of [Crafted Workshop] who call it desk PC which is true to its name and function. Read More…
by Gaurav · Thursday, January 19th, 2017 04:24 pm GMT +5.5
If there is one gaming title that you need to have in your collection, it is the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard game which is all set to release by the end of this month. The eagerly awaited Capcom survival horror title raises the bar for strategy gaming, and it has always lived up to the expectations of the gamers. To go with the Resident Evil 7 theme, Smartoys has come up with a freakin’ cool (yet ugly) PlayStation 4 controller. Read More…
by Gaurav · Thursday, January 19th, 2017 03:33 pm GMT +5.5
Names like UrbanClap and Zimmber have become quite common these days with every other acquaintance booking different services through these mobile marketplace like apps. From dry cleaners, plumbers, carpenters, wedding photographers to salon at home, every service is available at a touch. But how exactly do these mobile marketplaces work? Well, the process of hiring service providers through a digital platform is quite easy and can be managed with just a few clicks.
by Gaurav · Thursday, January 19th, 2017 12:25 pm GMT +5.5
Recent years have seen the number of handheld console enthusiasts rise exponentially, thanks to cutting edge innovation in the industry. Despite competition from Microsoft’s Xbox line, Sony’s PlayStation 4 stood its ground in 2016 to again become the year’s most sought after electronic device made exclusively for gaming. And now with the release of the PlayStation Pro, things are expected to get even better for the company. Read More…