Archive for ‘Technology’ Category

You have to watch this….

datePosted on 10:39, March 21st, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Adam Savage talks about obsessions at TED….absolutely fascinating.

Coraline takes fabbing to the next step…..

datePosted on 09:47, March 21st, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

CG Society has a great detailed article on the tech that went into creating the new 3D animated movie, Coraline . For those of you who don’t know fabbing — the technique used in creating the characters for this movie — is the process of 3D printing . The article explains the use of 3D scanning and printing in the new Neal Gaiman/Henry Selick movie about a little girl who finds a secret door to an “Other World”.

From the article:

The first stop motion filmed in stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) during production, Selick wanted to tackle an even bigger accomplishment: creating a true stop motion film with the smooth facial transitions of CG animation in a hands-on medium.

The answer to this quest was to use replacement animation, where one stop motion puppet face is progressively swapped for another slightly different expression with the needed smile, frown, or appropriate eyebrow position. This method is not new, but the effect is a bit choppy- often desirable for a hand made look, but has never before had all the in-betweens that Selick wanted. However, sculpting those thousands of expressions by hand would have taken years to complete. To keep the budget and timeline intact while creating stop motion animation so smooth you could read Coraline’s lips, production studio Laika creating blend shape CG face models that were output through rapid prototyping (RP).

Teradici PCoIP makes me happy: Initial Review….

datePosted on 13:48, March 20th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

So after covering the initial annoucement of Teradici’s PC over IP product, I received an email asking to see if I wanted to review the product. I said yes, since we have been looking for a remoting technology to consolidate all our lab PC’s and Mac’s at the university and we could potentially end up using a Teradici or similar product in the future.

I’ve only spent 4-5 hours with the hardware and some of that time was wasted as I didn’t do my usual RTFM. So please keep that in mind as you read through. The package comes in two parts: the PCoIP Host Card — which is a 1 x PCI express card with the Tera1200 PCoIP host chip — and the PCoIP Desktop Portal, which is a small device that houses the Tera1100 PCoIP Portal
chip and connectors.

The host card simply has two ports, a high density dual DVI port — which is where the supplied dual display DVI dongle hooks up to — and an ethernet port that will provide the network link to the portal device. The two DVI connectors at the end of the dongle connect to 1 or both of your Graphics cards DVI outputs and “steal” it’s signal.
The portal device comes with the following remoted ports (in addition to the ethernet port that provides the remoted devices):
  • 4 x USB ports (2 on front, 2 on back)
  • 1 x Audio out (on the back)
  • 1 x Audio in + 1 x Audio out (on the front)
  • 2 x DVI ports (on the back, which correspond to the 1 or 2 DVI ports on the “remote” PC’s graphics card).

The portal device is kinda neat. I don’t know if Teradici is planning on selling it as a stand alone unit, but if all you want is a remote desktop via RDP protocol (MS Windows only) you can just buy the portal device and use it as a “Dumb Terminal” for your PC.

I did run into a small snag as I was setting up the portal. On one of the ethernet ports in my office — which works perfectly with my other Mac’s and PC’s in the office — the portal devices link light would not come on…..not sure why. The issue was quickly resolved (after a bit of head scratching) after I switched to another port. The big head scratcher on the portal side was the fact that no matter what I did my el-cheapo MS digital media 3000 keyboard and MS comfort optical 3000 mouse did not work on the portals USB ports. Not sure why, but one nice thing about my work is that I’ve got my private stash of just about evey keyboard/mouse combination known to man, so I quickly changed it to a Apple keyboard and mouse and everything was happy.

The host card requires NO SOFTWARE which is a blessing, but does require you to read the manual on the supplied CD. I didn’t — since it looked to be so simple at a first glance — and had some problems. It took about 30 minutes to realize that the card has a jumper that defines if it gets it’s power from a small power connector onboard (default, atleast on my card) or from PCI-Express bus. Now, I realise that this card might have been a demo card and consequently might have had the jumper in the wrong position, but I really hope that the shipping cards are setup to default to grabbing power from PCI-Express bus. Better yet, a small switch on the face plate would have done the job.

Once I figured the power situation out, the rest was a breeze. The “physical” machine all of a sudden found a couple of USB ports, an Apple mouse and keyboard, plus my LG W2252 panel which was now listed as a secondary monitor (I used the primary DVI on the graphics card in clone mode to feed a “local” monitor next to the machine).

Well now on to the tests. None of these situations are scientific. They are based on what I see students doing on a day to day basis. The “logical” distance between the portal and the remoted PC is 4 GigE switches and they are on two different subnets. The portal is super snappy, mouse and keyboard feel like they are hooked into the “real” machine. I even had a couple of our staff members come and test my new Quadzilla PC (I showed them the tiny portal device and told them it was a quad core AMD machine) and they could not tell the difference. Once they were told about the remoting concept, I literally saw a couple of jaws drop. It is truly an amazing experience to sit infront of the portal and have a 1ms delay on a routed/switched network connection across the building to the Quadzilla.

Now our network is fast internally at the university (1Gbps to every desktop with 10Gbps backbone), but the PCoIP system seems to work quite nicely even on 100Mbps segments. Just for arguments sake I grabbed a cheap linksys 4 port 100Mb “switch/hub” and stuck it between the Portal device and the wall connection and I’m happy to report that there was absolutely NO difference in performance.

The hardest thing I’ve thrown at the system was playing back the HD versions of Big Buck Bunny and Elephants Dream and aside from a super tiny delay there is no visual loss that I can see. The system uses about 50-65 Mb/s of bandwidth in this default mode and delivers a solid 30f/s to the portal. Keep in mind that this is on scenes where literally every pixel on the screen is changing at 30 f/s. Normal bandwidth usage is about 1-3 Mbps for average webbrowsing/Excel/Word applications and there are options in the webbased Admin interface to squeeze this down if you need to (default is set to zero meaning full speed ahead). I will cover the webbased admin interface in more detail as soon as i get a chance to play with it more.

The PCoIP system is MAC and PC compatible. I will be doing a MAC test run as soon as I get a hold of the MAC Firmware, so stay tuned.

All in all I have to admit that the system has gone far beyond my expectations. I’m now dreaming of a day when PC graphics can be transmited wirelessly right off the graphics card over a fast/low latency wireless network….Mmmmm, wireless GPU’s :-).

Topps 3D Live does Augmented Reality Baseball Cards…..

datePosted on 23:18, March 14th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Yep, this must be the newest trick advertisers are devising to get our attention. Michael Eisner’s company is trying really hard to make baseball card collecting cool again, by releasing Augmented Reality enhanced cards. You pick these things up for a buck or two, come home and hold the card in front of your webcam and through the magic of Augmented Reality, a 3D representation of your favorite player, complete with stats will pop up on top of the card.

Mr. Eisner’s company is not the first though, there was a German Mini advertisement that placed a Mini Cabrio on a magazine through some AR magic. So what’s next….I don’t know…..what do you think?

Oh and before I forget…..If you want to try out the Mini Cabrio Ad for yourself, grab this PDF file , print if and head over here to see it work. The only problem, it’s Internet Explorer compatible only…..YUCK.

Sixth Sense: You really need to see this.

datePosted on 22:45, March 14th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Well, I watched it and came across a couple of comments. First was “Holodeck is now one step closer” and right below it “Skynet is nearly Self-aware”. I guess I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to go on a “Star” trek or Terminate now :-). Just watch it, it’s 8 minutes of wonder.

Asus announces Eee Keyboard….

datePosted on 19:09, March 7th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Asus recently announced their new Eee Keyboard. Sounds kinda interesting, the keyboard is packing a 5-inch built-in display, a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16/32 GB SSD drive, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As far as ports, it’s got wireless HDMI, 2 USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI and audio in/out. Yes, there have been keyboard/computer combos before, but what sets the Eee Keyboard apart, I think, is the fact that it supports wireless HDMI….The perfect gift for the coach potato in your life. Kinda reminds me of a Macbook without the display :-).

LaserTouch….Multitouch using a projection TV and Lasers….

datePosted on 22:52, February 18th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Yep you heard right….freaking lasers…..yummy. These guys have managed to turn a rear-projection TV into a multitouch surface using IR lasers. Absolutely fantastic as it (using lasers) makes the whole design a lot simpler and gets rid of the the tracking problems associated with regular IR LED based tables and ambient IR light. Although the original laser idea comes from gang, stuffing everything inside a 16″ deep tv is a nice touch :-).

Below is a good rundown of the pros and cons of this setup vs. FTIR:

  • Excellent tracking results, even with lots of ambient IR light.
  • Zero-force: Feels very natural to work with.
  • Comparatively easy to build.
  • Comparatively cheap to build.
  • Comparatively fast to build.


  • Already “sees” the finger slightly before it touches the surface (since the laser light plane extends to about a millimeter above the surface).
  • It is very sensitive.
  • Availability of infrared lasers*
  • Lasers are dangerous for the eyes.
  • Potential problems with occlusion.

*As long as you are careful with the lasers, your eyes will be safe: Just accidentally looking into the laser for a second won’t do any harm, it’s just that you shouldn’t stare into them for long. However, since the infrared lasers also emit a bit of (red) light in the visible spectrum, you’ll notice immediately when you’re looking into a laser by accident, so you can turn your head away. It’s really nothing to worry about too much, but it’s most definitely not an ideal setup if you want to work with children, for example!

Their blog page outlines everything…..and I mean everything.

3D scanning for cheap(er)…..

datePosted on 22:25, February 18th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Well 3D scanning is coming within reach, slowly but surely. 3d3solutions announced their FlexScan3D solution that uses a simple projector and an SLR type digital camera to create a 3d mesh.

Using one or two digital cameras and a white light (presentation) projector FlexScan3D will scan a wide range of objects, faces, and body parts quickly and accurately.

The projector or laser puts reference patterns on to the scan target to aid accurate digitalization. The scene is captured using a camera or video camera. FlexScan3D’s 3D triangulation engine takes these images and creates millions of measurements of the scene. The process to acquire the data needed to create a 3D model is then completed in seconds.

FlexScan3D software is offered in 3 different packages: FlexScan3D Single, FlexScan3D Duo, and FlexScan Complete. Cost ranges from $999 to $1499 for the Complete.

Would you like your PC over IP?

datePosted on 13:13, February 10th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Imagine if you could hide your 16 Core, Quad GPU, Nitro burning gaming PC in the closet in the basement. What if you could build the next University lab where all the highpowered CAD workstations where humming away in the machine room and you could actually “teach” in a quite classroom/lab. Fill in the rest of the scenarios yourself. The next wave in thin client computing is here and it’s name is Teradici. They don’t really make a end user product (they just make the custom compression chipsets), but companies like Leadtek have end user products on the market now.

Integration of Teradici‘s PCoIP remote enterprise desktop technology in Leadtek‘s WinFast VP200 enables delivery of a high-definition graphic and multimedia experience across standard IP networks, unmatched by any thin client on the market today. For $800 per link, $400 on each side of the link, Teradici provides a PC-over-IP host card, to be embedded into the host unit (most likely a workstation), and a desktop portal, a device slightly bigger than a hardcover book, equipped with a Teradici processor chip, 4 USB ports, and an HD audio output, and dual DVI outputs. The desktop portal and the host unit are linked via LAN, WAN, or a wireless network, allowing the user to communicate with the back-end PC.

The WinFast VP 200 system includes a WinFast VP200H host PCI Express card and a WinFast VP200P desktop portal. The Host Card allows you to centralize your computing in a data center as an add-in solution to your existing Workstation, Rack Mount, or Blade Server to secure all data and computers; On the desktop, a stateless device called a Portal connects over a standard enterprise IP network to the Host Card, eliminating heat, noise, and clutter at the end user’s desk for a comfortable working environment.


Bug Labs Linux based Hardware gets major update….

datePosted on 19:21, January 11th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Bug Labs announced five new BUGmodules at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At the Bug Labs Test Kitchen the team showcased several innovative new BUG applications which fully demonstrate the endless possibilities of BUG, the open source modular consumer electronics platform. Each BUGmodule represents a specific gadget function (e.g. a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc.) that can be snapped to the BUGbase, a programmable Linux-based mini-computer with four available BUGmodule slots.

The five new BUGmodules are:

  • BUGprojector, a mini pico-projector module, incorporating DLP® Pico™ technology from Texas Instruments. With a native resolution of 480×320 pixels, stereo playback and a brightness of 9 lumens, users can project videos, photos and presentations on the go.
  •  BUGsound, an audio module, providing a flush-mount 20-mm speaker and omnidirectional microphone with hardware stereo codecs and four 3.5-mm stereo jacks for third-party inputs, outputs, headphones and microphones. Use BUG as a portable music player, speakerphone, audio processor or more.
  • BUG3g GSM, a 3G mobile radio with SIM card input, enabling BUGs to connect to any high-speed GSM network. Users can place calls, send and receive SMSes or transmit data, opening a world of possibilities for mobile and telephony applications.
  • BUGwifi, a dual-function 802.11b/g wi-fi and Bluetooth™ 2.0 + EDR radio, offering yet another wireless data connectivity option for the BUGbase, while providing a gateway to a variety of peripherals such as keyboards, mice, headsets and more.
  • BUGbee, a low-powered 802.15.4 radio, enabling BUG developers to create short-range personal area network (PAN) applications for home automation, sensor networks, automotive and more.

These five modules complement the initial batch of BUGmodules, including BUGlocate (GPS), BUGcam2MP (digital camera), BUGmotion (motion sensor and accelerometer) and BUGview (touchscreen LCD). And with the recent addition of BUGvonHippel, a breadboard module enabling users to add virtually any interface to their BUGbase, developers are given more control in making BUG the center of their device universe.