The Case For The Virtual Reality Helmet

There’s no question that Virtual Reality is going to change the way we do everything. 2016 is touted as a pivotal year, with at least 3 large companies delivering affordable devices.

There are a couple of tweaks needed to make this mainstream, however. Firstly we need a way to untether the interface (Head Mounted Display, or HMD) from the computer. Or increase the compute power of an untethered HMD, currently a smartphone. Wireless has to be the way to go here, but there’s an immediate and obvious challenge…

…Power. Any untethered HMD needs power to run the display, which in turn means it needs a battery.

VR Helmet

My solution for this, and another HMD problem: Front-heavy, uncomfortable displays, is a light-weight helmet.

Consider the motorcycle helmet. Mine is a mere 1.3 kgs, with a plush comfort liner. You can easily wear this for hours, and many motorcyclists and race drivers do. (10 – 12 is my max so far) Helmets already comprise years of research for comfort and wearability.

Shell

For a VR helmet you could lighten the shell with ventilation, as you don’t need crash protection.

Power

The helmet allows you to place a battery on the rear, enabling far better balancing options.

Display Visor

You could design the display into the visor, so someone could literally flip it up and transition back to the real world. I imagine this to use technology similar to the Avegant Glyph, that reflects a projected image, rather than having a display mounted in front of the eyes.

Furthermore a helmet prevents one of the biggest distractions to immersion in VR, light leakage. Once you close the visor, you’ll be in the experience without any extraneous light.

The visor itself would provide a far great FoV increasing peripheral vision and the sense of immersion.

Sound

For maximum immersion you can embed decent, noise cancelling speakers in a helmet. E.g. My bike helmet already has integrated speakers. In a VR helmet you could even install surround sound speakers to enhance the experience.

Branding

Finally, consider the branding opportunities. From StarWars to Halo, there are helmet designs that aficionados will pay premium prices for.

Who wants to co-design this with me?

 

Thank You For Riding A Motorbike!

Have you seen Senator Leyonhjelm’s speech thanking those who ride a motorbike?

Nevermind, here you go:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZUxOYxOMRU&w=800&h=480 ]

I’m sure you’ll agree, stirring stuff.

We all know that electric, self-driving cars, not to mention VR & AR will reduce congestion, road wear and tear, parking contention, and carbon emissions. But until then the best solution for a city are those who ride a motorbike.

Motorbikes in Indonesia
No congestion or pollution here

Actually this picture is of a protest ride. And consider if everyone of those bikes were individuals in a car. The road would look more like this:

Carmageddon on the LA I405
Carmageddon – The future of traffic in cars

That is the I405 outside LA, but could be a motorway in any major city: Shanghai, Brussels, London, NYC, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Bangkok. We really don’t have a traffic problem in Australia.

Nevertheless, Thank you for riding a motorbike

Free Motorbike Parking?

Multistrada parked at Sydney Airport
For Once, Parked in a genuine motorcycle spot

My second most popular article ever, is Free Parking at Sydney Airport.

One of the reasons is because, well, it’s not click bait. Even today my motorbike is parked at Sydney airport. As you know, I fly a lot, both domestically and internationally, so given the popularity of the post, I was wondering:

Which airport do you park your motorbike at, and is it free?

I’d love to use this blog as a resource for travelling motorcyclists everywhere. Feel free to comment below, or write a full article and reach out to me to guest post.

 

2013 – The Year that Was

And so 2013 comes to a close. All that is missing are the fireworks and the cheering. But as you read this we'll have crossed the threshhold, and all of the promise of 2014 will be upon us…

Not bad for a nondescript Wednesday in Sydney (or wherever you are). Charis put it best when she went off to the friends she'll be partying with tonight: “See you tomorrow Dad!” Yep, time, that illusory man made concept upon which we base civilisation, but really the sun will set, and rise, and another day will be upon us. E.g. Dexter doesn't care, as long as there's food.

But we have created this illusory concept, and do hang our achievements, investments, and celebrations to specific 24 hour periods. Like interviews, and birthdays, anniversaries, and exams.

Closing Chapters

Throughout life chapters close. Like reading bedtime stories to your kids. One day you read your last bedtime story, and the chapter has finished. You can't take your 15 year old and 'catch up' those 3 weeks of bedtime stories you missed because of the project in 2003. This year I realised that 2 chapters in our family story finished last year.

The first was our annual “No Mumz, No Rulez” winter camp. For over a decade we've been camping in the middle of winter, in the freezing cold, hence the no mums. Hence the no rules. (Pointless having rules without anyone to enforce the rules.)

Anyway, between burgeoning social lives, part time jobs, study and friend's with waning interest, this year we just couldn't get it together. So the very last “No Mumz, No Rulez” (at least with Amanzi & Charis) was last year. Wish I'd known then.

The second chapter that's ended is the family New Year's Eve party. That was two years ago, as all the girls & Lucy were in the UK or flying last year. And this year have boyfriends and friends they'd rather spend the time with. Actually I'm not too fussed, no doubt I'll get a text if we're not together, and not if we are 🙂 When was the last time you sang “Auld Lang Syne?”

This is not a bad thing, it's just a thing. But it catches you out somewhat.

Learning: Treat every time with your family as if it's your last, cos it very well may be.

Bonus Learning: Jealously create family story. If you don't plan it, and guard it, and fight for it, it won't happen. All you'll have to remember your time together is re-runs of “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother”

Anniversaries

There were a couple of biggies this year. In June, Lu saw in her half-century, and has been celebrating with her new saxophone ever since. Then she headed off to the UK in the week before Christmas to join her family in celebrating her mum's 80th.

There was also our 19th Wedding Anniversary, and the best year of marriage thus far. As ever, we had a surprise week-end away. Although this year was 5 nights away on a Cruise Ship

19, 50, & 80!! Wow!!

Reading the Future

I reckon this year will be where Cloud computing becomes seamless to most organisations and individuals. More important will be Big Data. There will be a dearth of Data Scientists and technologists, and if Australia doesn't get their act together with ubiquitous broadband (NBN) we will slip further from the lead economies.

Mobile will segue to wearable computing. Fitness & Health trackers, smart watches, smart glasses, wearable storage will all start becoming commonplace, and cause businesses more issues than tablets and smartphones.

Wearable tech will be simply a subset on the Internet of Things. This year more and more devices will connect to the Internet. This will create huge opportunities around connecting, sensing and controlling all of these computers. More need for Big Data, but also more need for a protocol for the IoT.

3D printing will become both affordable, and useful this year. More and more firms will start creating software components that customers can print at home. For the bulk of the year, this will be slow and crude, and in plastic, but watch towards the end of the year when multi-material printers start becoming available.

Wearable tech, especially video (glasses) and audio (smart headphones), will finally herald useable, hence mainstream, augmented reality. Whilst you can do a lot with the smartphone, it's still too geeky for your average punter. But having a HUD for recognising people at a conference, or directing you to the latest fashion, will simply be irresistible once it's affordable.

The big question mark is bio-informatics. Genome mapping is already affordable, and organs are already being 3D printed (kidneys, ears, cartilage, etc). I can see a future where individuals can “bank” their stem cells, and print one of their organs if they need one. But that may be 3 -5 years away yet.

What is certain is that genome mapping will become affordable enough to be used commonly in diagnosis. This will go a long way to individual pharmaceuticals.

Whilst on pharmaceuticals, increasingly “Organ on a chip” technology will reduce the cost, research time, and improve the quality of drugs. We're not about to eradicate the common cold, but we will be saving more and more people from diseases that were terminal, or debilitating, just 5 years ago.

4K will become affordable by the end of the year, and like DVD technology a decade ago, content will start finding it's way into download stores. Much as I hate using entertainment for this, yet another reason for ubiquitous broadband. Whilst it won't be mainstream just yet, more and more people will start replacing TV's with 4K to “future proof” homes.

More and more enterprises will go the way of Kodak, Borders, and Blockbuster, as the diseconomies of scale (payroll, facilities, rent etc) outweigh the economies of scale. As more enterprise quality services become available essentially for free on the Internet, enabling tiny start-ups to compete with multi-nationals, more companies will struggle to restructure their cost base and will fail.

2014 won't be the death of the large enterprise, but watch for the next batch.

Happy New Year

2 years ago I took the resolution to do at least one thing everyday that makes me happy (spending time with Lu & the girls, playing my drums, reading, video/photo creation, riding my motorbike etc).

This year at the “Wired for Wonder” Conference I learned about, and started the habit of writing down at least 3 things to be thankful for every day.

As we look to 2014, I can recommend this habit to change your mindset. It takes less than 2 mins a day, costs nothing, and really focuses your mind on all the positive things in your life. Don't stop at 3 either if you find more.

If people have done something you're thankful for, take the time write them a card to revolutionise your relationships.

This one small habit is incredibly powerful in changing your outlook to one of gratitude and joy, not to mention changing your relationships. If there is one thing that will enable you to have a Happy New Year, this is it.

I highly recommend it, and wish you all the best for 2014.