BBC builds a ‘holographic’ TV to see how we may watch shows in the future

A holographic image of a beating heart, projected using a flat screen TV and an acrylic pyramid. BBC/YouTube


The BBC has created an experimental ‘holographic’ TV to bring to life some of its archive footage. It produced striking footage to show how holographic TVs may be part the living rooms of the future.

The holographic TV was made as part of the broadcasting corporation’s work in exploring emerging technologies for future audiences. The BBC’s head of digital partnership, Cyrus Saihan, lead the project.

Saihan’s team used existing technologies and simple techniques to explore ways to create holographic content.

First, in order for the images to really float like a hologram, video footage had to be adapted. The team collaborated with MDH Hologram, a UK-based visual effects and hologram specialist company, which tweaked and formatted the archive footage to make it ‘holographic’.

The team selected archive footage that they thought would work well as a hologram, including clips of the London New Year’s Eve firework display and dinosaur recreations from some of the network’s natural history history footage.

Then, a simple acrylic pyramid shape was placed on top of a 46” TV, inspired by an old Victorian theatre technique. The images were then broadcast through the TV, making them appear holographic.

“The technique that we used was based on the work of John Henry Pepper who in the 1800s came up with a way of enabling ‘ghostly’ objects to appear and disappear on stage. The technique involves placing a reflective material at an angle (we used transparent acrylic) and shining an image onto that material at a certain angle, giving the impression of a ‘floating’ image,” Saihan told WIRED.

“By creating a shape like this, we were able to allow audiences to see the ‘floating’ image from a wide range of angles.”



The experiment was tested out on audience members touring the New Broadcasting House building, who felt that it brought the images to life more and made watching TV more engaging.

It was found that the images were more powerful when the ambient lighting levels were low and the room was dark. The effect of the images also worked best when the display was positioned at eye level.

Though the BBC experiment was simplistic, it demonstrated that new technologies in this area may have the potential to change the way audiences experience media content.

“This is just a toe in the water for us, but it will be interesting to see how the space develops as the augmented reality devices that various technology companies are creating start to become more widely available,” said Saihan.


September 25, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
Inside Star Trek Beyond’s Amazing Visual Effects


Design FX dives into the incredible special effects of Star Trek Beyond. From the digital construction of the Starship Enterprise all the way down to the extraterrestrials themselves, Mike Seymour takes us into warp drive as he breaks this successful franchise down to its DNA.

[The Scene]

July 27, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Lucasfilm and Magic Leap are pushing Star Wars into augmented rality

(Lucasfilm / Magic Leap)


The company’s released a teaser video earlier this week, showing two memorable characters from the franchise in an AR setting.

Lucasfilm is joining forces with Magic Leap in order to bring another dimension to the Star Wars experience.

Announced at the Wired Business Conference, the exact details of the union are unclear. Will the partnership be for creating theme park rides; or will it be for special movie effects or for computer gaming? Despite dazzling the world with teasers and demos, Magic Leap is still a company that is keeping its augmented reality technology a closely guarded secret and this partnership is no exception.

However, a video, which premiered at the event in New York on Thursday, showed amazingly life-like computer generated representations of C-3PO and R2D2 appearing in a room, talking straight to camera and appearing to interact with their surroundings.



June 20, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Razer’s VR headset is designed for developers


The OSVR HDK2 was arguably Razer’s biggest E3 unveiling this year – but it was also kind of besides the point. Like Google’s Daydream announcement a few weeks back, this is a reference device, a way of showcasing hardware designed specifically to work with the company’s software.

OSVR VR is Razer’s attempt to build a hardware ecosystem for virtual reality, away from the proprietary nature of companies like Oculus, HTC and Sony, whose chief concern is getting and keeping people in their own virtual reality offerings.

“A huge part of OSVR is enabling the community,” Razer Product Marketer Jeevan Aurol told TechCrunch in an interview at the company’s booth. “We offer a product which the community can upgrade, change and use it as their own to further their own VR needs.”

At $400, it’s certainly not the most premium headset out there. But the company’s not looking to compete directly with the Rifts and Vives of the world, even though purchase will be open to consumers. It’s pretty big and chunky and, as one might expect from a reference design, and doesn’t contain many of the niceties we’ve come to expect from more expensive reference models.



Razer is certainly couching the initiative as an altruistic method for bolstering the developer community. The company offered up a good chunk of its booth space to startups like Gloveone, which has developed an impressive glove-based peripheral that both tracks motion and features haptic feedback to simulate touch.

“OSVR is a software platform that facilitates the growth of an open ecosystem,” adds Jeevan. “Different brands of hardware can coexist within this ecosystem. That allows for compatibility and allows a consumer to walk into a store and purchase any type of headset they want, with any type of controller they want.”

At the very least, the growth of the ecosystem positions Razer extremely well to develop consumer-facing hardware of its very own. The gaming peripheral maker is, however, still a bit cagey. Says Jeevan, “There is a strong possibility that we will make VR hardware for the industry in the future.”



June 20, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , ,
‘Your job is to create a world that lasts forever’ Steven Spielberg Speech | Harvard Commencement 2016


This world is full of monsters,” director Steven Spielberg told Harvard graduates, and it’s the next generation’s job to vanquish them.

“My job is to create a world that lasts two hours. Your job is to create a world that lasts forever,” he said.

These monsters manifest themselves as racism, homophobia, and ethnic, class, political, and religious hatred, he said, noting that there is no difference between them: “It is all one big hate.”

Spielberg said that hate is born of an “us versus them” mentality, and thinking instead about people as “we” requires replacing fear with curiosity.

“‘Us’ and ‘them’ will find the ‘we’ by connecting with each other, and by believing that we’re members of the same tribe, and by feeling empathy for every soul,” he said.

June 8, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
9 Different Ways Of Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
9 Different Ways Of Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Serious business owners have been investing to Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality, and the market is as large as the desktop market today. AR and VR can be used in nine ways, and the transformation is under way.

Video games – gamers insist on the best graphics and the revenue from gaming is expected to be $5.1billion in 2016. Lessons can be learned from the industry and with games such as VOID, you find virtual and physical worlds merged so you can play in a specially designed theme park.


Healthcare – these were some of the forerunners when it comes to using AR and VR. Health professionals were trained with the systems, and a big advantage is that training can be held safely.


Real Estate – architects gain from the processes as houses can be shown in a fun way. Sotheby’s estate agents are marketing the condominium development in First Hill and use VR headsets to allow viewers a clearer view of the inside of the building.


Engineering – projects can be safely tested throughout the term of the job.


Education and Training – this could be public schools or the military and complex theories can be studied at a sensible price.

Military – no harm can come to personnel training with VR and AR. Scenarios can be shown, and knowledge gleaned.


Live Events – VR will be very important when it comes to living to stream. NextVR and VReal are pioneers and offer 3D VR experiences. The National Collegiate Athletics Association allowed fans to watch the tournament between Villanova and North Carolina in VR.

June 4, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
No helicopter needed: How drones are opening the sky for filmmakers



Long gone are the days of indie filmmakers blowing half their budget on a helicopter for that all-important aerial shot. Quadcopters are where it’s at, their flying and camera capabilities now good enough for capturing incredible footage that can wow audiences – subject to the director’s artistic vision and flying skills, naturally. Tim Cash, a filmmaker from Bend, Oregon, has been using the technology for around a year now and although music videos are his specialty, he recently had the chance to include some carefully crafted drone shots in his debut feature film, which lands this summer.

DT got in touch with Tim to find out more about how drones have helped take his work to a whole new level, and about his experiences with the technology along the way.

How long have you been using drones in your work?

“They’ve brought production values way up.”

It’s been exactly one year since I got the chopper. I use DJI’s Inspire 1 along with my iPad Air as the monitor and controls. I wasn’t impressed with drones until I saw what the Inspire 1 could do. The main things for me were: controlling the camera settings in the air (i.e., shutter, aperture, and ISO), as well as being able to control the gimbal and do tilts in flight, all from one controller. It also used a camera that wasn’t fisheye and shot native 4K at 24 frames. Bonus, as all my work is in 4K at 24 fps.What impact have they had?

They’ve brought production values way up.  Always going for the bigger-than-life look.

What are the biggest challenges for you when it comes to filming with a drone?

Well, I would have to say the attention it brings. When shooting with my camera crane I get looks and interest but once they see this thing hovering, then flying over the ground at 60 mph, people get interested real quick. Mostly because they’ve never seen anything like it. I personally like to stay below the radar but drones just bring you more attention. And then there are the legalities. That’s all still happening, so we’ll see where things go in the next couple of years.


How much training did you need to get proficient at flying the drone?

Not much at all. I’ve been flying for a year and have about 200 hours in the sky. I have experience operating a crane with a camera on the end, which involves similar controls. That said, I’m still learning and the camera moves only keep getting better and more intricate.

What kind of mistakes did you make early on when using drones in your work?

Well, I’ll start by saying, “These things can be dangerous!” I started flying with a huge fear of hurting someone or damaging the craft itself. In all it costs around $4,000 for everything, so sending it to the ground is not an option. I’m a very conservative flier and safety is always the top priority. When I first started piloting, I experienced a few near-fly-aways at 200 feet; I had to fight with the controls to rectify the problem and it was scary at the time.

Before drones, how would you get aerial or elevated shots?

“Advice: Don’t crash it into people and ruin it for the rest of us!”

On one particular shoot a few years back, I used a helicopter. The pilot and the chopper, plus the cameraman, camera, and gimbal, cost over $3,000 for less than an hour in the sky. And you can’t get a helicopter nearly as close. I also have a 20-foot camera crane which has set me apart from most of my competition. So I’ve been doing flying shots for a while … just not without strings.

Drones produce such stunning footage that it must be hard to not use them during an outdoor shoot?

I’ve always been a variety guy. There’s a lot you can do with a drone but the trick is definitely not to overuse them. In the right situation they can set up a scene or add some serious action to another. We just released a trailer (below) for The Astronot movie, which has quite a few drone shots in it but we’re trying to get butts in seats so we really wanted to wow them with some cinematography right out of the gate!


Could you tell us something about that gorgeous sweeping drone shot at the start of The Astronot trailer?

Ha! Yeah, when it comes to flying the drone, I’m a send-the-bike-down-the-road-and-get-as-many-shots-as-I-can-while-the-bird-is-in-the-air kinda guy. I didn’t really know what I was getting until I saw it in the monitor, then it was all about the dance with the bike – keeping it smooth and keeping the bike framed artistically, all the while flying a multi-rotor aircraft. The second part tends to leave your mind especially when you have a wide-open area to fly in with no obstacles. When I have to fly around or through things, that’s when my heart palpitates.

Below: One of Tim’s music videos using drones, and drone shots, as part of the story:


What improvements would you like to see made to the currently available remotely controlled copters?

It’s already happening – better camera! They just released a new camera for the Inspire 1 with a great big sensor and it shoots RAW. I’ll probably upgrade to it sooner than later.

And finally, what advice would you give to filmmakers looking to include drone photography in their work?

Don’t crash it into people and ruin it for the rest of us!

[Digital Trends]

May 19, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
Building the Ultimate Star Wars Lightsaber

Over the past 15 years Star Wars fans have created their own custom, high-end lightsaber scene, producing some of the most accurate designs ever created. With The Force Awakens bringing the original Skywalker saber back to the big screen, The Verge’s Bryan Bishop set out to track down the most realistic and spectacular version he could possibly find… of course, he ended up talking to Yoda.


April 17, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
DIY GPS Tracked Bike Lock

Having just purchased a half decent bicycle, and living in a city with a bike theft rate almost as high as New York, I wanted to have some peace of mind that if a thief with an angle grinder were to cut through my U-lock I could still catch them.

My main design constraints were as follows:

The device has to be Arduino based so that if I run into trouble I can easily search the forums for help
Whatever I make has to be able to fit into a small bag that goes under my seat
The battery must last for a very long time, at least a few weeks. I don’t want to have to plan my bike rides around my lock being charged or not.
This project is pretty cheap, especially if you compare it to the cost of replacing your stolen bike! I’ve outlined the cost of all the components used in my design below. I was able to use some old parts I had lying around and hopefully you will too. If I had bought everything needed brand new this would have cost about $225.


Arduino Uno ($24.95)
Arduino GSM Sheild ($99.95)…
Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout ($39.95)
Arduino Prototyping Shield
>1.5A PNP Transistor, I used the TIP127 just because it’s what our local electronics store had. I’ll go over precautions for using different transistors later. ($1.00)…
2.7K Resistor ($1.00/pack)
7.4V 2S Li-Po Battery Pack ($10)…
Retractable Cable Lock ($12.42)…
GSM SIM Card ($10 + 30cents/sms) This is the rate on Rogers in Canada. Just make sure you are on a GSM carrier.
Under Seat Bag ($14) for vancouverites MEC has a great one that fits everything snugly. I suggest you try fitting everything in the bag before you take the tags off.…
5 Minute Fast Set Epoxy ($5)
Zap Straps ($2)


2S Li-Po Battery Charger
Soldering Iron
Wire Strippers
Philips Head Screwdriver
Flat head screwdriver (or some other good prying tool)
Digital Multimeter
Step 1: PNP Transistor Circuit


The transistor is a device that is used for switching. A very small input can enable a very large current output. In the case of the TIP127, it can handle 5 amps and has a gain of 1000. Roughly this means that if you were to need to drive 5 amps your effective input would need to be 5/1000 amps.…

The PNP transistor is “off” when you connect the base to the positive side of your circuit and on when it is connected to ground.

The way it is used in the bike lock is pretty clever I think, the steel cable of the lock will connect the positive side of the circuit to the base of the transistor. When the lock is cut, the connection is broken and the path of least resistance will be to ground. When the base is grounded like this power is supplied to the Arduino

This is the clever part of this design. It means that we will only be using full power power during the small amount of time it takes to lockup your bike. The rest of the time it will only be using the small amount of power used to supply the transistor.

Test out your transistor circuit on a breadboard before soldering to your Arduino prototyping shield. While testing your circuit use a switch in place of the retractable lock in the next step. With the TIP127 hook the circuit as per the schematic above. If you want to use a different transistor than the TIP127 the only thing that will change is the value for R1.

Step 2: Modifying the Retractable Lock

We need the retractable lock to serve as an electrical connection from the positive side of the battery to the base of the transistor. This way when the lock is cut, the electrical connection is cut as well and the Arduino will boot up.

Assuming that you have the lock that I recommended in the intro, the first thing is to remove the screw that connects the two halves of the plastic case. The use a wedge to pry open the edges and separate the two halves.

At this point it is a good idea to take a picture of the inside of the lock so that if any pieces fall out you can put them back later. I forgot to do this which resulted in a lot of wasted time studying the mechanism.

Time to get out the soldering iron. Make one connection for a wire on the brass ending of the steel cable. It is located on the spool the the cable wraps on when inside the lock. Make the second connection on the spring that holds the pin that the cable makes contact with when you insert it into the lock. Use your DMM to check for conductivity when the cable is inserted into it’s hole and that there is no conductivity when it’s lose. A lose cable is the same effect as cutting the lock.

Make one hole in the plastic case near your spring connection. The other hole should be made halfway between the centre of the spool at the bottom and the outer edge of the spool. I found that making a connection in the centre of the spool would twist the wire so much that it would break.

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far the hardest part it over! Lastly just run your two wires through the holes you’ve made and close up the case. If you’re finding that the screw is not enough to hold the two halves together anymore a generous coating of epoxy resin is recommended. Also, depending on what type of bag you will use for the electronics it may be useful to put the screw through a zap strap so that you have a way of securing it to the bag. Put some epoxy on the zap strap as well. Just don’t be too generous or you may gum up some of the important mechanisms of the lock. During this step I managed to glue the retracting mechanism of my lock so be very careful. Clamp your lock together and leave it for at least an hour.

Step 3: Add GPS


The ultimate GPS breakout from adafruit works well in this application. Hooking it up couldn’t be easier. Find a good place for it on your pro to shield and then just connect the Vin to 5V, GND to GND, Rx to digital 9, and Tx to digital 8.

This is all you need to get the GPS working however adafruit has nicely broken out Vbat so you can supply 3.3V to the GPS’s internal clock when the power is off. This will give you quicker startup times. I used one of my LiPo cells to supply this with 3.7V. This can in theory discharge both LiPo’s unevenly and be dangerous, however considering the power used it very small I think the uneven discharge rate will not be a problem. And so far so good, if i have a spectacular problem with respect to this I will be sure to post it here.

Step 4: Add Battery Connection


Its useful to find some sort of connector so that when your batteries do finally die it will be easy enough to remove them and recharge them without bringing out the soldering iron. Epoxy your connector of choice to a good spot on the pro to shield (make sure it doesn’t contact anything on the arduino when it is connected!) and connect one side to ground and the other to the emitter on the transistor.

In the photo you can also see a connector with only one wire which is the 3.7V used for the GPS clock described in the last step. The connector in the photo with 3 wires is the balance connector that my LiPo charger needs to make sure both cells are charged evenly. See your specific LiPo charger’s docs for details on this.

Step 5: SIM Card for the GSM Shield

No matter where you live you must find a cell phone carrier that has a GSM network. This pdf will show you a list of GSM carriers in your area.…

For the GSM shield you need a regular SIM card, micro SIM or any other size won’t work.

Ideally the only time that the device will send a text message is if your bike is being stolen, and for testing of course. A prepaid phone plan is probably the best for this reason. In Canada the going rate for text messages on a prepaid plan seemed to be 30 cents a text. The catch is that you have to load your account with $10 in credit every month so stay active. So it is basically is a $10 a month cell phone plan. I went with Roger’s Wireless since I was already a customer and I managed to get $30 of credit to last for 6 months, talking to the guy at my local Rogers store. Canada is great for many reasons but our cell phone plans definitely are not one of them. Hopefully the cell phone carrier in your area has better prepaid phone deals.

Step 6: Connect and Code


Connect the proto to shield and the GSM shield to the Arduino. Upload the “BikeTheif_V5.ino” sketch with your phone number in the “remote number” variable. Make sure you have the TinyGPS++ and AltSerial libraries installed before hand.

You might be wondering why I used the TinyGPS++, the AltSerial, and Arduino GSM libraries instead of the Adafruit GPS library and the software serial library. It turns out after messing around with the latter for a few hours that the Adafruit GPS and software serial use the same timer (a programming flag the pops up after a specified length of time). I’m no programmer, but from what I understand unless you went into the library and changed all instances of the conflicting timer the sketch will not upload. This post from mallison-electrical led me on the right track and I ended up using their code as a baseline.

When you upload the code the Arduino you should receive a text that says “Your bike has been stolen!” after about 40 seconds. This includes a 15 second delay plus the amount of time to connect to the network, send an sms and receive an ams.

Once your gps gets a signal you will start receiving GPS updates in the decimal degrees format. Just copy and paste this into google maps (you might have to add a space between the “-” and the second coordinate) and you will see the location on a map. For me the GPS could take from 30 seconds to 15 minutes to connect.

Good luck and hopefully you, or the Police can catch the next guy who tried to take off with your bike!

– Instructables.

October 9, 2014 / by / in , , , , , ,
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