The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

Of all activities in life, I’ve come to the realisation that the bedtime story is most important. More than important, significant! It is the lifeblood to educate, comfort, nurture, develop creativity, and most importantly, to build rich relationships.

And I didn’t tell enough of them. Not by a long shot.

It’s probably my only regret. Well, certainly my biggest.

I especially regret the times I was at home; too busy commuting, working on projects, or studying. Too invested in my career, and not nearly enough in my family.

Don’t get me wrong, I did read and tell many stories in my time. Just not enough, and I didn’t begin early enough. I learned too late that the (bedtime) story is more important than anything else you do. Seriously, in the hospice when your kids can’t relate to you, you’re not going to care about that sale in 2007, that certificate of excellence in 2012, or that shiny medal.

And then there’s the travel. My entire career has seen me spend long hours, days, even weeks away from home. Of course I faxed, phoned, then Skyped, and now FaceTime and WhatsApp my family. But it’s hardly being in the room with The Very Busy Spider, Harry Potter, Jock of the Bushveld, or stories of lives I’ve lived.

There are two technologies that are going to revolutionise stories for when you have to travel.

Soon you’ll literally be able to holoport with Augmented Reality

And right now you can join your child in a fantasy world with Virtual Reality:

But whether you’re in the bedroom, or your hotel room, you still need to take the time to tell stories to your kids. That’s not about technology, we’ve been sharing stories since before inventing fire.

Ricoh Theta S
The 360 Ricoh Theta S Video Camera

For myself, I’m going to buy a 360 Camera and start recording myself reading and telling bedtime stories. So my grandkids can enjoy time with their grandad even when I’m gone.

How about you?


The New Role Of The Library

If the arbiter of knowledge is no longer the printed document, in other words “If the Internet, why the library?” Indeed, why set aside space to shelve dusty documents of static information?

Once anyone can access the latest, contextual information, knowledge, even wisdom on any connected electronic device, surely libraries must fall into disuse, disrepair and eventually disappear.

Scooter Rider Access Smartphone In India
Internet Anywhere in Bangalore

Even I believe this will take some time. Firstly not anyone can access the Internet (yet). Although you might be surprised to know that more people in developing nations have access to the Net than to libraries. I was in India this week, and this nation of 1.3b leads the world with 960m mobile phones. It would be impossible to scale libraries to reach that many.


The role of the library has always been rennaisance. A place centralising access to knowledge initially for the wealthy, since the printing press increasingly the public. Somewhere any literate person could come to read, research, and renew their mind.

That need hasn't changed. Just the technology we use to codify our knowledge. If the role is rennaisance, then we need to shift these spaces to allow people to do just that. To be fair most libraries provide access to other media, DVD's, even Internet connected PC's. But this is simply the start.

What about spaces dedicated to VR. Here students could immerse themselves to research any topic from the psychodynamics of MLK's “I have a dream speech” to the inner space of faulty heart.

Could we give access to AR glasses whilst these are still the plaything of the corporate, so learners can collaborate with others from around the globe to work on anything in real space?

Rooms dedicated to making perhaps? Filled with 3D printers, laser cutters, milling machines?

Are maker spaces the new library?


In AR and VR The Map IS The Territory

Cave paintings from Lascaux Cave
Credit: Bradshaw Foundation - Lascaux Cave Paintings

Ever since we've presented knowledge with models, probably the hunt on cave walls, one thing is commonly agreed as true:

“The map is not the territory.”

But that is changing. Technology is removing the latency between how we present information, and the source of that information.

Augmented and Mixed Reality

AR is a means of placing digital information into a real space. Right now you can do this with special glasses, or via the display of a mobile device. As you look through the display, a computer presents visual and aural artefacts that appear as real as physical objects.

Mixed Reality with Microsoft Hololens
Credit: - MR with MS Hololens

The difference between AR and MR is that AR merely 'augments' the space. So whatever digital information you see occludes everything behind it. In AR a digital sign is always visible in front of a door. MR, also referred to as holographic computing, treats digital artefacts as if real. In MR a digital ball can roll behind a real table. You could juggle a real and digital ball.

Both AR and MR 'occur' in the real world. In this sense we paint the 'map' onto the 'territory.'

Virtual Reality

In VR you wear a headset and earphones that immerse you into a virtual space. You no longer experience anything from the real world (at least visually and aurally)

This space can be a reflection of a physical space through 360 degree video, simulated via CGI, or entirely synthetic.

In VR we create the 'territory' into a 'map.'

The Impact of a Malleable World

There is considerable power in mashing the model and the world.

A model is something you can manipulate, learn from, understand key relationships, and evolve. The world where we gain rich experience not achievable from theory.

The model allows us to zoom into the tiniest details or out to cosmic scale. The world allows us to perform again and again to understand and manage laws of physics.

There is no question that both of these technologies will quickly become as ubiquitous as the mobile phone.


The AR Motorbike Helmet. Really?

AR Motorbike Helmet
The upcoming HUD. Photo courtesy Autoevolution

The promise of commoditised Augmented Reality is nigh. Everywhere you look there are AR applications, AR glasses, and if you're a motorcyclist like me, there's the promise of the AR Helmet. Even here in Australia we have a great AR Helmet start-up Forcite Helmets, whom currently produce smart helmets for action sports.

But all the current helmets are doing is shifting the location of information closer to the eye. However, all this does is reduce latency. And for the price, not very much. A Skully AR-1 for U$1500, or the IC-R [price TBA] helmet allows you to save the half-second it takes to look at your speedo, or rearview mirrors.

Of course their argument is “How much is your life (or licence) worth?” If that half-second saves you from being rear ended, it's probably money well spent.

Far Enough

Does this go far enough?

Why limit yourself to the constraints of old technology: The speedometer or rearview mirror.

As someone who rides 20k – 25k km's (12k – 16k miles) per year, I change my helmet roughly every 2 years. Sometimes more regularly. I know that many people only change every 10 years, but they probably don't do the same mileage as me.

At that cadence the cost isn't worth simply replacing old tech with a digital proxy. It's hard enough justifying $500 for a lid never mind $1500. Especially when that digital proxy is limited by battery life. I often ride for 6 hours or more. Even when commuting at home it's annoying when my BT headset goes flat on the way to work because I hadn't charged it for a week. Imagine that was my rear vision capability?

So what features would be worth the cost?

Actual Safety Requirements

The most common motorbike accident is the SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn't See You). This is where someone pulls out from a side road in front of an oncoming bike. Also where people cut you up in traffic. They change lanes and simply didn't see you. Hence the name.

The second most common is attributed to 'Single Vehicle Accidents.' Essentially coming in too hot on a corner. There are probably more occasions of other vehicles contributing to these, I've often come around the corner to face a car or truck on the wrong side of the road.

Nevertheless both of these most common accidents require forewarning far more than rear vision. (It helps to know where things are behind you so you can manoeuvre though)

Sensory Addition

Imagine being able to 'see' in infrared as well as the visible spectrum? So you could 'see' the engine heat of a vehicle at a hidden road junction. Imagine the bike had LIDAR, so it could warn of impending motion.

Imagine that LIDAR 'saw' in 360 and informed you perhaps via a 3D soundscape. That would add to my mirrors rather than replace them. So I could 'hear' the proximity of cars around me, or through haptic acuators, 'feel' them.

Imagine that you could have the ideal line tracking on your NED (Near Eye Display) in green, changing to amber then red if you're riding too fast for road conditions. As well as the upcoming map. Like on Forza Motorsport

Map and Driving Line from Forza
Your ideal track with speed & map. Photo courtesy

Imagine this system able to 'look' around corners. Made more intelligent with the combined insight of current weather, traffic, roadworks, and the history of every bike that had ever ridden that road.

Now that would be a helmet system worth spending the money on.