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Monthly Archives: December 2011

360-Degree Views of Local Businesses Coming to Google Maps

Business virtual tours



“Sometimes it seems like the crowd is 10 percent Google employees,” said Yaron Milgram, owner of the restaurant Local Mission Eatery.

Of course, the tech crowd comes with certain advantages, and it was through a contact at the company that Milgrom became aware of a new project called Google Business Photos and signed the eatery up to be part of the pilot program.

Soon, users of Google Maps won’t simply have the option of zooming in on, say, the front door of a stranger’s house in another state, but will be able to take detailed virtual tours of businesses. In April 2010 Google announced its plan to include photos of businesses’ interiors on their Google Places pages, and in May 2011 the company announced its plan to take things a step further, providing 360-degree views of business interiors.

On Nov. 28, a Google photographer paid an off-hours visit to Local Mission Eatery to shoot the interior while it was devoid of patrons.

Milgrom said the photographer arrived with a camera on a tripod “with some relatively fancy hardware, but not ridiculously fancy.”

Milgrom thinks giving people the opportunity to tour his business virtually will encourage people to come into the restaurant, a modern but homey space with lots of wood accents, a living wall, a cookbook library, and a coffee and pastry bar tucked in the back. He also thinks that it will create an added value for potential customers who can call and reserve specific tables after viewing.

And there’s also the added advantage of getting in on the ground floor.

“I think in the short term, people may come to our website just because we’ll be included in the initial launch,” Milgrom said.

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innovation Sighting – Multiplication in Photography

Innovation in photography

Pick up a camera and see how many innovations you can find in it. That shouldn’t be hard. There are lots of them. The camera, like all inventions, started with a core idea. From there, it continued to evolve and improve though time. It might surprise you that a single innovation pattern, Multiplication, formed the premise of all photography. The cameras you use today evolved from multiplication. The entire photography industry continues to benefit thanks to this powerful pattern.

Multiplication is one of five simple patterns innovators have used for thousands of years. These patterns are the basis of Systematic Inventive Thinking, a method that channels your thinking and regulates the ideation process. The method works by taking a product, service, or process and applying a pattern to it. This changes the starting point. It morphs the product into something weird, perhaps unrecognizable. With this altered configuration (we call the Virtual Product), you work backwards to link it to a problem that it addresses or new benefit it delivers. The process is called Function Follows Form.

Photography, in essence, is multiplying the subject onto a piece of paper. Something unique happens when light from an object passes through a pinhole. A small image of that object will be projected on any surface on the other side of the pinhole – only upside down. This “pinhole effect” was discovered thousands of years ago. Aristotle noted in 4 BC that “sunlight travelling through small openings between the leaves of a tree, the holes of a sieve, the openings wickerwork, and even interlaced fingers will create circular patches of light on the ground.” From that humble beginning, we have photography. Hardly a day goes without looking at an image of something: a framed family photo, a magazine cover, an outdoor billboard. Images are all around us.

Let’s get back to cameras. Were you able to find these innovations?

Red Eye Reduction: In 1993, the Vivitar Corporation patented a novel way to beat red eye. The solution: a camera with a dual flash. The first flash constricts the subjects’ pupils. Then the camera shoots off a second, “multiplied,” flash that provides sufficient light for the actual photograph. Since the subjects’ pupils are slightly closed from the initial flash, no red eye appears in the final image.
View Finders: Modern cameras have not only the traditional viewfinder to line up a shot, but also an LCD version. This allows you to compose your image while seeing more of what’s going on around you
Aperture: Pull out your smart phone and you will see one camera aperture on the back and another on the front of the phone facing you. Why? It’s seems obvious in hindsight. The second aperture allows you to photograph your favorite subject…you!
Stereoscopy: Oliver Wendell Holmes invented the stereoscope viewer in 1861. It creates the illusion of depth in an image by presenting two offset images separately to the viewer’s left and right eyes. Think about that next time you see a 3D movie.
Panorama: Thomas Sutton patented the first panoramic camera in 1859. By taking multiple photos of the same scene, he was able to merge them together to create a wide screen, panoramic view.
Film Negatives: Developing paper film creates a negative of the image – the colors are reversed. When the negative film is developed again using the same process, images come out as “positives.” The two-step process allow photographers to create multiple copies of the positive film.
Color Film: Taking three photos of an image but each with a different colored filter – red, green, and blue – allows them to be combined to yield a color image.
Lenses: Photographers use a variety of lenses depending on the particular effect they want to achieve: close up, far away, wide angle, and so on.
Movies: In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge used 24 cameras to photograph a galloping horse. Each camera captured the horse in a different state of motion. When he combined the images, the horse appeared to be galloping. Muybridge created the first “moving picture.” Multiplication launched not one, but two global industries.
by Drew Boyd

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iOS app turns exercise output into a virtual tour of famous sights

Virtual tour of famous sites

No one needs to tell us anything that makes exercise more interesting is a good thing. Time to banish the vacant stares and wandering minds at the gym with a new app that turns your iPad or iPhone into a virtual tour of scenic locations.

The Virtual Active app measures your speed on an exercise bike, treadmill or elliptical by measuring the vibration of your machine. Once you download the app you just put your device on the machine, and off you go. An accelerometer tracks your pace and translates it into the speed you zip through the videos.

While Virtual Active is free to download, you do purchase the videos — ranging from the Alps, the streets of Venice, the Grand Canyon and more. They don’t come cheap at eight dollars each, and they are space hogs requiring around 800MB for a half-hour video.

The whole thing started as Project Excite when an industrious hacker hooked up his exercycle to his Xbox 360. The rest is history as it evolved into the Virtual Active app.

BitGym provides the technology behind the videos, and is planning to expand the concept into games and other entertainment around the concept of exercise propelled interactivity. They list plans for Fit Freeway, which will use the accelerometer to control speed and head movement tracking to steer.

For those of us who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time it may provide some challenges, though we’re probably the minority in gaming circles. But, in principle anything with the potential to motivate gamers to exercise and let them get their game on at the same time sounds pretty freakin’ clever.

Via TechCrunch

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Experience travel in 3-D, no silly glasses required

3d travel experience without…


Ever wonder what it’s like to trek to Mount Everest? Unless you’ve got a month of vacation and a big bank account, the next best answer may soon be sitting right in front of you.

Opening to the public on Saturday, Journey to Everest promises to bring Nepal to your computer screen via interactive 3-D. Along the way, the program offers a glimpse into the future of virtual tours.

The Journey was created by Singapore-based 3rd Planet Pte. Ltd. as a portal and marketing tool for the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). “[This] enables us to showcase our country in a totally new dimension,” said NTB CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha in a statement.

Or several. After registering (free) on the 3rd Planet website, users can explore Kathmandu, navigate around Tribhuvan Airport and fly over the Himalaya to the town of Lukla. Right-click your mouse to activate “fly-through” mode and the scenes get surprisingly realistic.

In Kathmandu, for example, users can walk the streets, peer around corners, even pass through the exterior columns of the Chyasim Deval temple in Patan Durbar Square. (Careful, it takes some coordination not to walk into the walls.) Later, in a scene straight out of “Lost Horizon,” you can ride along as a prop plane works its way over the mountains to the remote town of Lukla.

For now, that’s where the journey ends with the rest of the trek to Everest expected to go live next year. Even so, 3rd Planet CEO Terence Mak believes interactive 3-D travel is ready for prime time. “Pictures and words don’t do justice to a location,” he told “Of all the various ways of remembering information, the human mind remembers it best through experience.”

Others in the industry appear to agree. Last year, 3D Travel of Honolulu launched 3-D portals that combine Google Earth imagery with travel-specific information for Hawaii and Las Vegas.

For Sin City, for example, users can fly along a videogame-like representation of the Strip, ducking under the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, following along the roller coaster at New York New York and passing through the fountains at Bellagio. Sidebars let users get more information on hotels, shows and other attractions and, in select cases, make immediate bookings.

The company expects to launch a similar offering for San Francisco in January.

Whether as a marketing platform or booking tool, interactive 3-D travel is still in its infancy. However, it’s likely to become more common as the technology improves, more destinations opt in and more people incorporate tablets and other mobile devices into their travel planning.

“There’s a lot more planning going on with iPads and other tablets,” said Norm Rose of Travel Tech Consulting Inc. “The more you can give people an opportunity to experience the virtual world, the more it will encourage actual travel to those destinations.”

Or, as Mak puts it, “We live in a 3-D world and the best way to understand a destination is in 3-D.”
source: By Rob Lovitt,