Thursday, January 22, 2015

Microsoft Introduces HoloLens, Digital Holograms that Interact with your Physical Environment.

Everyone who have seen the Iron Man movies probably love the way Tony Stark manipulates 3D holograms when he's working on his inventions. Well, Microsoft unveiled yesterday during their Windows 10 announcement something which seems to use the same kind of technology that Tony Stark uses in the Iron Man movies.

During the presentation the Microsoft guys had a "one more thing" to introduce to the world, and it's called HoloLens. HoloLens is a see-through headset that allows you to see digital holograms that interact with your physical environment. Holographic technology - as they call it because i'm not sure we can call this real "holograms" - seems to be a big deal right now but for me and as cool as it looks it seems to be closer to "augmented reality" than real holograms, that's why i don't buy really what Microsoft is trying to sell us in their marketing presentation.

Anyway, check out the videos below. and let's wait until we try this technology in real to see if it is really amazing, or just a "one more thing" which will make our lives probably more "fun", but not necessarily better.

Picture and video: copyright Microsoft

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Disney Research Creates a Crush Robot to Draw Pictures Onto The Beach !

Disney fans are going to like this "Beachbot" robot as the guys from Disney Research have created an adorable robot looking like Finding Nemo's sea turtle Crush able to draw by itself pictures onto a beach!

From Techcrunch: "The robot — aptly called “Beachbot” — works by dragging a set of pins through the sand, sort of like a rake. Each pin is individually raisable, allowing the bot to draw lines of varying thicknesses. More pins down = thicker lines drawn.

The artist behind the robot starts a canvas by setting down poles, which the robot uses as markers to finely calculate its position. At that point, the robot can be passed an image file to draw automatically, or the artists can steer it manually.

The Beachbot moves on a set of large, soft wheels that Disney has dubbed “balloon wheels”, allowing it to move across the sand without leaving tracks or screwing up whatever it’s drawn previously.

Why? A) Because why not. and B) It doesn’t require much thinking to come up with practical uses for this, even just within the realm of Disney. Disney has beach resorts. People would flip out to wake up in the morning and see their favorite characters drawn in the sand outside of their room — and by lunch, high tide would come in and wash it away, prepping the canvas for a new drawing the next day.

This project, like a good number of Disney Research’s projects, was built in collaboration with Swiss engineering school ETH Z├╝rich."

Don't miss the video below!

Pictures and video: copyright Disney Research

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sony eInk Watch Project is the Most Brilliant Idea Since the Invention of Watch !

It was a rumor, and now it's not anymore: Sony is really working on a eInk Watch and as you will see in the video it'll be one of the most brilliant idea since the invention of watch. Basically, they've found a way to use e-paper not only for the watchface itself, but around the strap itself too and just at the click of a button or even by a move the strap and the watch will change of pattern or color! And you'll have 24 different choices!

Flexible E-ink displays are nothing new, but as you'll see on the other video the technology could be used for others wearable items like shoes, glasses, and all of them could change of colors in less than a second. As they say, a picture worth a thousand words, so have a look at the videos below!

Picture and video: copyright Sony

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Sony RX100 M3 is a Triumph... and the Best Compact Camera of All Time

The first version of the RX100 released by Sony two years ago was a huge hit from day one and acclaimed by almost everyone who owns it and tech blogs, including by the one of David Pogue who, in the New York Times, did a long review explaining why he thought the RX100 was simply "the best compact camera ever made". And, boy, did i agreed with him! Like everyone who had the good idea to buy the first version i was stunned by the quality of the pictures, due to the amazing Sony 20M pixel sensor, the quality of the lens giving amazing sharpness of each image, etc... all this in a such small camera.

And recently, after Sony released last year the Mark 2 version of the RX100, they've released the third version, the RX100 M3 and this latest one beats them all and will please both enthusiasts amateurs and professional photographers... If just like me you're looking for a camera which is at the same time small, light, and can shoot pictures of an amazing quality - almost like a DSLR - then the Sony RX100 M3 is for you, as it's case - all in magnesium - is as small as a pack of cigarettes, it weights only 290G - battery include - and yes, it's a real "pocket camera"!

Not only its design is pure and beautiful but the new RX100 M3 has all the numerous great options, settings, manual controls and capabilities which existed in the M1 and M2 but it comes with much more as you will see. First, the Zeiss lens is now a 24 -70 mm ( instead than 28 - 100 on the M1 and M2 ) and although some might regret that it don't goes up to 100mm the fact that it starts at 24mm instead than 28mm is invaluable. And by the way, you can always get closer to the subject you're shooting... or use the digital zoom which is amazingly good for a digital zoom. Have a look at the pictures below shot in wide angle. By the way, please click on each picture of this article to see them in big size as they've been uploaded in almost real size for each file.

As always the quality of the "pixel" is stunning, thanks to the new EXMOR R CMOS sensor so if you need to zoom in post production in the image without losing quality you'll be able to do it easily. The contrast is always perfect, and colors are vibrant without being over saturated.

Among all the numerous options / functions available on the RX100 you can of course choose to do everything manually but the "Auto" or even better the "Intelligent Auto" mode is doing a great work, really. And, in the SCN ( scenes ) options there is my favorite which is the "Hand Held Twilight" mode. This one is here normally to shoot great pics at twilight without a stand but i use it too when it's full night, or when i am inside a place where there is not too much light and the result is stunning. Basically, the camera shoot 10 pics in one second and make the best out of them. The result is almost 100% of the time a picture incredibly sharp with great colors and all this hand held without a stand. Have a look at some examples below, all shot in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, beautiful but the lighting is incredibly dark! Also note that the ISO sensitivity can go up to 25600 ISO.

There is of course also several options to shoot in black and white, and the rich tone B&W or high contrast mode will give you great results with always amazing sharpness. Below, a picture of paris Eiffel tower in B&W.

Also new on this Mark 3 version, the new codec video as not only the RX100 M3 shoot great pictures but it also film HD 1080p video and the new XAVC-S codec mean less compression than with the previous AVCHD and so better quality. Just remember that you can record in XAVC-S only on a SDXC card, not on a SDHC, which is no big problem as you can find SDXC memory cards easily.

But what tops it all what is new in the RX100 M3 is the amazing viewfinder that Sony engineers succeeded to include in a such tiny camera. And an electronic viewfinder with a gorgeous definition which will be very helpful if you can't see well in the 3" display screen because there is too much sun or it's too dark. The viewfinder pop-up when you need it and when you don't you just put it down so it couldn't be more simple. Because of that the flash is now in the center with the viewfinder on the left, and it's even better to have the flash in the center.

Talking about the 3" screen this one too have something new as it can move and be adjust up to 180} which will be perfect for those who're looking to shoot some selfies.

The battery last 3 hours, even if you shoot a lot, but as always it's always better to have one more battery with you, just in case. Now, you can charge the battery directly inside the camera but if you prefer - like i do - to charge it on an external charger, Sony is doing one that you can buy.

The camera do have WIFI so you can easily download the pics on your phone or iPad to see how they look on a bigger screen while you are in vacation. And if you have a HDTV with a usb connection you can connect the RX100 directly to the TV and watch pics and movies instantly, very easily.

I'd like to find something going wrong on this camera but, honestly, each version has been from the start a delight to use with such satisfactory results that i can hardly find one. Okay, here is one: if you buy this RX100 M3, think to buy too the leather case that Sony is doing. Why? Because although the camera is remarkably small it's almost a little bit too small, and the case will add 6mm more in large and give you a better grip on the camera, and of course a perfect protection.

The Sony RX100 M3 official price is $799 which might look to you a bit high, but believe me, it's the best pocket camera money can buy and you'll love it instantly, and won't regret one cent! Have  a look below at a series of pictures shot when i was in Paris recently, all shot day or night without a stand! And for a complete list of its specification jump HERE to the Sony website.

Another version of this article, with different samples pictures, all shot at Disneyland Paris has been posted on my Disney and more website HERE. Check it out!

In conclusion, and knowing that Christmas is coming soon, this Sony RX100 M3 would be a perfect gift for the one you love or, more simply, yourself! You won't be disappointed by this amazing and powerful 20M pixels camera!

All pictures: copyright Alain Littaye : No reproductions of any kind and in any way allowed without written authorization.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Georges Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Stunning Design

Georges Lucas has a big, big project and it's called The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Located at Chicago - instead than San Francisco where it was first envisioned - it will be a gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of moving images – from illustration to cinema to the digital mediums of the future.

What are "Narrative Arts"? Narrative Art tells a story. It uses the power of the visual image to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions and capture universal cultural truths and aspirations. What distinguishes Narrative Art from other genres is its ability to narrate a story across diverse cultures, preserving it for future generations. As there is different forms of narrative arts the museum will have different sections, one for illustrations, children's art, comic art, photography, pin-up art... another one for the Art of Cinema will present Cinematic Design, Set Design, Prop Design, Costume and Fashion Design, Makeup and Creature Design, Animation or Visual Effects. Another section will talk bout digital arts with focus on Digital Cinema, Digital Illustration, Digital Fine Art, Digital Sculpture and digital architecture.

Talking about architecture, the architectural concept for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will explore the relationship between nature and the urban environment. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, the design integrates the natural beauty of the park and Lake Michigan with the powerful man-made architecture of Chicago. The design furthers the Museum’s mission to be a place of education, culture, and inspiration.

The Lucas Museum design is both futuristic and timeless. Its continuous, undulating organic surface blurs the line between structure and landscape. As the harbor rises up to the land, it merges with stone surfaces that reach up to the sky and ultimately crescendo into a “floating” disc. The Museum is not an isolated object, but a spatial experience that is defined by the people who occupy it and interact with it. Its organic surface is made of a single material, a stone as primitive as it is futuristic, evoking the great achievements of architectural history. It is a place to discover and explore, to communicate and contemplate. More than a building, it is an urban vista for social interaction, bringing people closer to each other and to nature.

South View
Rising up from the land and crescendoing to a “floating” disc, the tallest points of the Lucas Museum will feature an observation deck, providing visitors with stunning views of both Chicago and Lake Michigan.

North View
Earth, stone and sky merge seamlessly in the innovative design of the Lucas Museum.
The tallest points of the Lucas Museum will feature an observation deck with 360-degree views, providing visitors with stunning panoramas of both Chicago and Lake Michigan. Inside, four levels of exhibition space in infinite loops will inspire the imagination to ponder endless possibilities, both in content and design.

The design for the Lucas Museum mirrors the objective of the artwork inside: It tells a story. The narrative ushers in the future of architectural design, exploring the relationship between man and nature. Its iconic design aspires to join the ranks of Chicago’s many cherished landmarks.

Wide-Angle View
Situated between McCormick Place and Soldier Field, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will expand public access to green space on Burnham Harbor.
To keep the community up to date, The Lucas Museum website will feature a live web-cam as well as time-lapse photography to showcase the progression of the building's design.

With its architecture looking like Space Mountain over which would float an alien mother spaceship, i instantly loved it! If you want to learn more about the architecture watch the video below in which architect Ma Yansong shares his vision. And to learn more about The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, jump HERE.

All pictures: copyright The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art