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Arvind Sanjeev
Arvind Sanjeev

This Augmented Reality Flashlight Changes How You Interact With the World

Arvind Sanjeev
Arvind Sanjeev

Compared to sleek smartphones and augmented reality goggles, a flashlight looks pretty low-tech. But what if you used that familiar design as a vehicle for some of today’s most exciting technology? That’s what Arvind Sanjeev accomplished with Lumen. As Co.Design reports, the masters student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design has reimagined the handheld flashlight as a platform for augmented reality.

What sets Lumen apart from other AR products, like Microsoft’s HoloLens or even the apps on your iPhone, is the straightforward design. Most people know how to use a flashlight: Pick it up by the handle, click it on, and point the light at whatever you wish to see. Lumen operates on a similar principle, but instead of illuminating objects with light alone, it projects relevant information onto them that enhances the way users experience reality.

Using a built-in camera and a special algorithm, the flashlight can identify the objects in its path. Direct it at a stereo and it will project its own interface with dials you can actually use; point it at the ground and it can show an arrow leading you to your destination like a maps app. Developers can work with the interface to program their own responses to appear when Lumen lands on a certain item.

Lumen is also capable of impressive visuals tricks. It features a depth sensor that enables it to wrap pixels around 3D objects in a convincing way. Bring the light to a museum and it can change what you’re looking at by superimposing moving faces over portraits and statues. (Just try not to annoy your fellow museumgoers.)

Sanjeev claims that Lumen is unique in the mixed reality market: All other devices either rely on screens and headsets or they can’t be easily transported. “Lumen challenges this trend and explores how people can feel immersed in their natural space by merging bits with atoms,” he wrote on his website. By ditching the wearable hardware, Sanjeev believes he has created a more organic augmented reality experience.

For an idea of how Lumen works in the real world, you can watch the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
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Jeff Bezos Is Helping to Build a Clock Meant to Keep Time for 10,000 Years
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo

Few human inventions are meant to last hundreds of years, much less thousands. But the 10,000 Year Clock is designed to keep accurate time for millennia. First proposed in 1989, the long-lasting timepiece is finally being installed inside a mountain in western Texas, according to CNET.

The organization building the clock, the Long Now Foundation, wanted to create a tribute to thinking about the future. Founded by computer scientist Danny Hillis and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, the group boasts famous members like musician Brian Eno and numerous Silicon Valley heavyweights. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is putting up the $42 million necessary to complete the project, writing that “it's a special Clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking."

Measuring 500 feet tall when it's completed, the clock will run on thermal power and synchronize each day at solar noon. Every day, a “chime generator” will come up with a different sequence of rings, never repeating a sequence day to day. On specific anniversaries—one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years—it will animate a mechanical system within one of five rooms carved into the mountain. On the first anniversary, for instance, the clock will animate an orrery, a model of the solar system. Since they don’t expect to be alive for many of the future anniversaries, the clock’s creators won't determine animations for 100, 1000, or 10,000 years—that'll be left up to future generations. (To give you an idea of just how far away 10,000 years is, in 8000 B.C.E., humans had just started to domesticate cows for the first time.)

Though you can sign up to be notified when the clock is finished, it won’t be easy to see it up close. The nearest airport is several hours’ drive away, and the mountain is 2000 feet above the valley floor. So you may have to be content with seeing it virtually in the video below.

Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

[h/t CNET]

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Tynker
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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
Tynker
Tynker

Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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