Two small examples of technologies emerging

Last month I shared two little but interesting examples of new technologies. Today’s I’ll offer another pair.

ITEM #1: some virtual reality gear is rapidly becoming more accessible.  In July my wife and I participated in the fine NYSCIO conference, and several vendors were present.  Most gave away swag, like pens and cell phone holders.  One, Varonis, freely handed out its version of Google Cardboard.

VR cardboard from Varonis

To be clear, this is a virtual reality head-mounted display mount.   It’s free.  We just had to fold it together, stick a decent phone inside, and start ogling in 3d.

Yes, the high-end visors are still expensive.   Yes, producing VR is still a significant challenge for most. But the cardboard option for consuming VR is now at effectively zero cost.  This is one way forward for the medium.

ITEM #2: Here’s a tiny example of automation being used in creativity.

Yesterday I took photos of some flowers on our land after a short rain (they are bee balm; very useful for our gardens).  I posted this one to/via Instagram:

bee balm pre Google

A couple of the black dots just visible are actually bees.

Over night Google asked me if it could do some creative work on it.

How did this happen?  I checked into Google+ (my profile) as I do every day.  Under “Notifications” appeared a “we’ve created a new thing for you” alert.  I clicked it, and found this:
bee balm after Google

G+ seems to have taken my photo, added an old-time photo mount border around it, then filtered parts of the image.

(I’m not sure if it was my Instagram photo or another one taken using my Galaxy’s native phone app.  I haven’t synced phone to laptop of late, but I think the mobile G+ app just sniffs around the phone’s camera folder whenever it’s online.)

On the plus side, this was fun.  I liked seeing what the machines did to my snapshot.  I enjoyed the surprise of this being brought to me, rather than my asking for it.  It makes me want to try filters again

On the downside, I can image Alan Levine barking up a critique.  It’s not that impressive a tweak, nothing as wild as DeepDream.  And maybe it won’t inspire users to do anything; indeed, maybe this machine creativity disables human desires to create.

And yet I could still do things to it.  G+ offered a handy edit option, which gave options new to a photography tyro like myself:

Google + edit box for a photo

Personally, I learn from this.

The larger trend to point to?  As I’ve been saying, computer-aided creativity is now a thing, and it’s likely to grow.  We need think hard, now, about what that could mean.

In sum: two little examples.  Two bits of evidence from a core sample taken from mid-2016, showing digital technologies in development.

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2 Responses to Two small examples of technologies emerging

  1. CogDog says:


    Google auto editing might do some interesting things. They did some auto color correction, maybe sharpening, and added a vignette blur to make it look like shallow depth of field.

    I don’t have a criticism, it just does not interest me. And I’ like John Henry, might make a better photo, and still die at the end.

  2. Pingback: Two more science fiction technologies became real this week | Bryan Alexander

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