In case you guys have been wondering what I've been working on.
It's nice to finally be able to share.
The future is awesome. g.co/ProjectTango
Friday, February 21, 2014
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2013 conference just posed this year's student competition. UIST is one of the best conferences to see new research in interface technology and sensing technology applied to real-time systems. It is also a great opportunity to meet amazing people working in industry and academia in a very small venue.
The student competition is meant to be a fun way to engage students, and give them an opportunity to flex their creative muscles and get a few moments in the spot light, since the submissions and awards are seen by most of the attendees.
This year is using computer controlled water as an interactive interface and sponsored by Microsoft Research. If you are selected to participate, you will get a free PumpSpark Kit that includes everything you need to make an interactive water widget. If you are one of the selected winners, you will receive a Microsoft Surface. Check out the video below, and see if you want to try your hand at the competition. Official contest page here.
It's always great to take a little time to step away from thinking about traditional computers, and mobiles phones and imagine how unusual materials could become a highly interactive input and output medium. The only reason computers look and feel they way they do, is because someone else made them that way. There's no inherent reason why they HAVE to stay the way they are today.
One of my favorite works in this genre is a project called Sandscape done in 2002 by Hiroshi Ishii's Tangible Media group at MIT Media Lab. Using an expensive laser scanner and projector, people could interact with the sand to create digital landscapes that react in real-time via computer simulation. A tremendous amount of technology completely disappears. The user merely plays directly with the sand. (Today, this can be replicated quite cheaply with a Kinect)
Posted by Johnny Chung Lee at 10:27 PM
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A little less than than a year ago, I transfered to a new group within Motorola called Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) which was setup after the Google acquisition of Motorola last year (yes, Google owns Motorola now).
The person hired to run this new group is Regina Dugan, who was previously the director of the Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA). This is the same organization that funded projects such as ARPANET, the DARPA Grand Challenge, Mother of All Demos, Big Dog, CALO (which evolved into Apple's Siri), Exoskeletons, and Hypersonic Vehicles that could reach any point on earth in 60 minutes.
It's a place with big ideas powered by big science.
The philosophy behind Motorola ATAP is to create an organization with the same level of appetite for technology advancement as DARPA, but with a consumer focus. It is a pretty interesting place to be.
One of the ways DARPA was capable of having such a impressive portfolio of projects is because they work heavily with outside research organizations in both industry and academia. If you talk to a university professor or graduate student in engineering, there is a very good chance their department has a DARPA funded project. However, when companies want to work with universities, it has always been notoriously difficult to get through the paperwork of putting research collaborations in place due to long legal discussions over IP ownership and commercialization terms lasting several months.
To address this issue head on, ATAP created a Multi-University Research Agreement (MURA). A single document that every university partner could sign to accelerate the collaboration between ATAP and research institutions, reducing the time to engage academic research partners from several months to a couple weeks. The agreement has been signed by Motorola, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Harvard University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Texas A&M University, and Virginia Tech. As we engage more research partners, their signatures will be added to the same document.
"The multi-university agreement is really the first of its kind," said Kaigham J. Gabriel, vice president and deputy director of ATAP. "Such an agreement has the potential to be a national model for how companies and universities work together to speed innovation and US competitiveness, while staying true to their individual missions and cultures."
This may seem a little dry. But to me, what it means is that I can approach some of the smartest people in the country and ask, "do you want to build the future together?" and all they have to say is, "yes."
Let's do it.
Full press release here.
Posted by Johnny Chung Lee at 6:24 PM
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
When it comes to robotics, I typically jump to the technical aspect of planning, kinematics, and tracking. It can get nitty gritty really fast. But, it's great to see what just a little bit of artistic creativity can do when applied to even the most modest of robots. I hardly ever see anything quite this "cute" come out of the robotics research community:
At the complete other end of the "cute" spectrum is this recent video from Boston Dynamics, but is amazing for a completely different set of reasons.
Boston Dynamics continues to push hydraulic actuators farther than I think anybody thought they could. But, why does it have run like some kind of giant insect rather than an actual cheetah? Surely, staggering the foot falls would provide mechanical advantages I am not knowledgeable enough to articulate. Developing a robot capable of matching the maneuvering performance and speed of a cheetah would be quite remarkable.
Posted by Johnny Chung Lee at 9:34 PM
Monday, August 20, 2012
I don't normally post negative reviews about products and services. I generally try to celebrate the things I really enjoy and share that with others. But, I had an astoundingly destructive experience with Linked-In this morning.
I received a Linked-In invite from an old colleague and decided to see who else had sent me an invitation that I might have neglected. I don't use Linked-In very much, but it's good to have a memory aid for colleagues I've worked with. After about 20 minutes of browsing and seeing which people have found new jobs (or been promoted in their old ones). I noticed that in my email stream were notifications of people accepting my invitations. I had only sent out about 5 invitations during my browsing session, and none of these notifications were from the people I had manually invited.
After about a dozen acceptance notifications from people I didn't recognized, I checked the Linked-In website and the "sent invitations" tab. Apparently, Linked-In automatically sent out nearly 1000 invitations on my behalf! See the screenshot below of my inbox flooded with accepted invites:
This continues on for several pages. I don't know exactly by what criteria this bug decided to send out 1000 invites. Perhaps it was everyone in the network of every profile I looked at this morning. Regardless, this was a major failure of this social network for me. I'm not even sure it's physically possible to send out 1000 invites in 20 minutes. And of course, there's no way to easily withdraw 1000 invitations in the UI. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what went wrong, emailing support, and trying to manually retract invites to people I didn't know.... I gave up.
Generally, I think Linked-In is a good service. However, this bug is castrophic for preserving any sense of professional meaning in the social network. It has caused A LOT of confusion for me and several other people, not counting the annoyance of spamming people on both sides. It's not the end of the world to be over-connected to people I may have briefly met directly, indirectly, saw me give a talk, or merely know of me. In fact, it's rather flattering that so many people accepted my invitations. I'm now connected to some people I perhaps should have sent invitations to, but the net was cast EXTREMELY wide and it has diluted the distinguishing value of Linked-In to nearly zero.
If you really care about the discretion of your Linked-In activity, BEWARE, this bug might hit you too and Linked-In might cause you to spam 1000 people, just like me.
Posted by Johnny Chung Lee at 7:13 PM
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I'm currently in LA for Siggraph 2012, which is the leading conference for computer graphics - but the community here includes artists, animators, modelers, movie studios, games studios, camera and display technologies. It's always a treat. While, there were definitely many interesting projects from the technical program (too many to enumerate here, like this, this, this, this, this and many more).
One piece that I really enjoyed seeing is a new animated short from Disney called "Paperman". It is planned to be shown at the beginning of Wreck-It-Ralph, so you'll get a chance to see it as well.
The reason I enjoyed it so much because it is a prefect balance of technology and art fusing hand drawn animation, CG graphics, and a great story. I watched some of the production talk about how it was created. The most enjoyable part of the talk was hearing about the interaction between the 2D hand drawing artists and the CG team - in particular how much they mutually respected each other and how humbled they were by what each side brought to the table. Often projects are too heavily weighted toward one side: either too focused on raw technology without a soul or too focused on the artistic concept without interesting execution. When you get a chance to witness the balance of both, the results are remarkable. "Paperman" is such an example.
I have a tremendous respect for the creative people I have encountered in my life, and make a conscious effort to expose myself to environments with people of vastly different skills and interests. I often run ideas that are extremely technical in nature past people who know nothing about technology, because I have often been surprised by the answer. At the very least, I get a little bit of practice trying to covey a complicated concept to someone who may have no domain knowledge and how it might affect ideas they care about - a very underrated skill, and not something taught in school.
So, whether you consider yourself an engineer or an artist, I encourage you to make a friend on the other side of campus. Your perspective on the world, the ideas you'll have, and the work you do will be better for it.
Posted by Johnny Chung Lee at 12:40 PM