It’s been a little over a year since Google started teasing something it called “Project Glass.” The futuristic, wearable computer that would change the way that you interact with the world was nothing more than a series of rumors for months before it was “formally introduced” in April 2012. Not known for hardware and not having a current bonafide physical device that was popular among consumers, many opined that this was Google’s way of begging for attention. It might have been, and it definitely worked.
In 13 months, Glass has gone from Star Trek fantasy to reality. It’s been quite the whirlwind of activity.
The “wearable computing” age is upon us, and it’s been widely reported that Apple was working on a watch, therefore many assumed that Google was working on a similar device to keep up. This was not the case and Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin took special interest in the Glass project and has been leading the charge going back to when the prototype weighed about eight pounds in August 2011.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, because a lot has happened over the past year in Glassland.
The video from Google itself got sent people’s imaginations into overdrive. It was called “One day…” and gave us a glimpse into the life of a daily user of what Google had up its sleeve. We now know that the “One day…” reference had more to do with what the product could become, not what it would be in its first iteration:
The user experience in this video is aspirational at best, as the current iteration of Glass is more of a complement and utility to your day, rather than the augmented reality “enhancer” as this video demonstrates. Still, the elements that make Glass handy are all there, taking calls, getting directions and taking pictures from a new point of view.
Immediately after the video, and public admonishment that the project was real, the press wondered out loud if Apple should compete and that other companies should stand up and take notice. We also now know that the rumored final name for the device, Google Eye, isn’t likely. Good thing, because it sounds way creepier than Glass. We’ll get to more “creepiness” later.
It was clear that Glass was getting a lot of attention, both positive and negative, from the start. Even Jon Stewart did a parody about them.
OK, now they’re really real(ish)
Before Google’s I/O developer conference in 2012, Sergey Brin started showing Glass off to folks like Gavin Newsom. This is the first time that we found out that Glass had a trackpad that would let you scroll through its UI, even though we didn’t know what that UI looked like yet.
Even Google CEO Larry Page got into the act, wearing his pair at the Google Zeitgeist event in London. Was Page making important company decisions without us knowing, using his futuristic eyewear? Probably not, but it was cool to think about.
Holy crap, they’re really really real(ish)
At Google I/O 2012, developers sat in the Moscone Center not knowing what to expect from the company that has been using its advertising business to fund all types of cool projects. After all, who would have thought that a search and advertising company could actually pull off something like Gmail? Or a web browser? And now a driving car? A pair of glasses? Crazy talk. Well, on June 27, 2012, Google fed into that crazy talk with…a crazy stunt.
The man at the helm of Google X and Project Glass, Sergey Brin, pulled off a stunt so memorable, that many of us in attendance still don’t fully understand what we saw.
After that, a bunch of people hopped onto bikes and drove into the keynote auditorium. The audience looked at one another, as if to say, “Did this just really happen?”
It was indeed Google’s “Apple moment.”
After Brin took the stage, we were left to wonder if he would then go into full Oprah mode and tell us all to check under our seats for a pair of Glass that would be our very own. Nope. At I/O 2012, the “Glass Explorer Program” was announced, and the first 2,000 attendees that wanted to pledge to pay $ 1,500 for the opportunity to develop apps for the Glass platform could.
There was no date given for when the device would be shipped, but nobody cared. These things were real(er). Think about it, developers signed up to pay $ 1,500 for a device that they had never even touched. I was one of them, and even I felt silly. There was something about the cadence that Google had been marching to up to I/O that year that felt right.
Bloggers got to try Glass on for a few seconds, but didn’t get to do anything with them. The hypefest was on. Our founder, Michael Arrington, had a fun, and grounded, thought after the announcement:
“I can imagine in a couple of years we’ll all be wearing these at events. Then a couple of years after that maybe we’ll look back and think we all looked like idiots.”
After I/O, Google started communicating with its Glass “Explorers” about all of the device happenings, introducing its skunkworks team along the way. Those who joined the program at the conference would get to participate in Hangouts, attend conferences and get exclusive news on Glass. In retrospect, Google set itself up for people to start making fun of those clamoring for the device, whom are affectionately/unaffectionately referred to as “Glassholes.” You see, whenever something is only available to a select group of people, those not inside of that group tend to lash out a bit. Sure, there are those who think that Glass will never amount to anything, but those on the fence had no choice but to attack. It’s kind of like high-school.
As the months went on, the press flirted with Glass, as more and more Googlers starting wearing them on campus. Stories about Microsoft’s “Glass” plans and a reminder of Apple’s wearable tech patents were peppered in, too.
OK, Glass. You’re real.
In April, a group of heavyweights in Silicon Valley announced a partnership called “The Glass Collective.” Developers who wanted to build things for Glass, without ads or any means to make actual money, could visit either Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz or Kleiner Perkins, and if their project was interesting enough, they could get funding from all three.
It was at that event that Google Glass team member, Steve Lee, let it slip that developers would soon be receiving invitations to pick their pair of Glass up from Mountain View, Los Angeles or New York City. They could have them shipped, but that’s no fun. Glass was officially real.
In just a few days after that Collective event, the first pairs of Glass for developers were coming off of the production line, the Mirror API guidelines were posted, its companion app for Android was released and full specs were released for the first time.
This “moonshot” that Google had been cooking up in its super-secret X Labs were going to see the light of day, outside of Google’s campus’. People just then started to realize that certain folks would be meandering around town with cameras on their face, and focused solely on how the device would affect them…the ones not wearing the device. The ones not in the “club.” A quick search for the term “Google Glass privacy” shows the same story written by hundreds of reporters, most of them never having worn the device.
I was able to pick up my pair of Glass on April 17th, and it’s interesting to see what the device really is in its current state, as opposed to what we saw in the video released last year. We did a “day in the life” video, showing what I was seeing on the display:
While it’s not as “pretty” as Google’s first teaser video, the elements are all there. In its current state, Glass is a utility that allows you to do some of the things that your smartphone does now. The difference with Glass is that you can do these things hands-free, quicker than before and in a less socially disruptive way.
What’s next for Glass?
For a period of time, we’ll see the same types of stories about how creepy Glass is. At this year’s I/O, none of Google’s executives wore the device on stage or while walking around the Moscone Center. It was its way of turning the “lens” onto developers and saying “It’s time to make this yours.” Still, we heard about people wearing Glass in the bathroom, as if to remind us that not everyone is ready to feed into the hype of the device.
It’s hard to argue with the point that the Glass platform is the most interesting one for developers to iterate upon since Apple’s introduction of the App Store. For the first time in years, these developers are getting a chance to re-imagine their existing services, or build new ones, for a new device. Glass isn’t perfect and will only be as good as the apps that are developed for it.
During this year’s I/O, Twitter, Facebook and a slew of others announced their own Glass apps. The Facebook app is great, while the Twitter app will need more work. As I’ve continued to wear the device while I’m not at the computer, I’m finding myself trying to get away from all of the crazy and unnecessary notifications that I get on my phone and desktop. The Twitter app, for example, sends me mobile updates that I’ve subscribed to, @ replies and direct messages. This simply won’t fly, and Glass users are going to need more granular controls for what pops up on their displays. It’s early though, and these are good learning experiences.
No matter what you think about Glass, you have to admit that the past year has been a good one for Google and its fancy, futuristic device. From a secret pet project to developer-only playground, it will be fascinating to see what happens next in Glassland. There’s no telling when the device will be available for everyday consumers, but I can guarantee that it won’t be until developers have had ample time to explore the possibilities. I do know one thing: If you’re really worried about being spied on by someone wearing Glass, don’t be. You’re not that interesting.
I’ve spent a little over three weeks with Google Glass, and I’ve noted that the utility aspect of the device is strong, but the fun isn’t there yet. It feels a lot like the original iPhone did, before it had the App Store.
In this video, we discuss some of the quick assumptions about Glass, warranted or otherwise, and give you a look through the eyes of the device in action. Stepping outside, pulling up an address, replying to an email and listening to the latest NYTimes headlines is a pretty seamless experience. Google calls the technology “calm,” since it doesn’t require you to pull a device out of your pocket, unlock a screen or tap any buttons.
The power of Glass will be unleashed once developers start building apps that consumers will love. Until then, have a look at some of the things I’ve been doing since I got the device. For those following along, I hope to have my recipe app available soon. It’s been a fun learning experience for me.
Adobe surprised everyone by showing off a new hardware effort today at its annual MAX conference, including Project Mighty and Napoleon. Mighty is a pressure-sensitive digital pen that works with tablets and stores a wide variety of settings and preferences in the cloud. Adobe showed it off working on an iPad, and it looked similar to what we’ve seen from existing pressure-sensitive input devices from other companies, but with tighter integration into Adobe products.
It can pull in stored Kuler color palette themes from Creative Cloud, for instance, as well as brush settings and a cloud clipboard that stores assets you’ve created previously for use in new drawings. Moving from tablet to tablet preserves the settings associated with your pen, which makes it possible to take everything from tablet to tablet.
Napoleon looks a little like a modern Apple remote, but allows you to easily draw straight lines and arcs via snap tools combined with digital pens like Mighty. It’s almost like having traditional drafting tools including squares and triangles, but better suited to digital media. For precise drafting and more serious, demanding graphics work, these two tools in tandem should help push creativity on mobile devices quite a bit further than what we have available today.
The Mighty pen itself looks similar to something like the Jot Touch 4 pressure sensitive pen, but with full access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud services behind it. It’s a little like an entire artist’s box in a single device, judging by what Adobe has shown us on stage today. It also takes advantage of non-stylus touch, too, in a way that looks novel, allowing users to do things like erase with their free hand. But when paired with Napoleon, it becomes much more powerful than what we’ve already seen, which should really push the envelope on mobile creativity.
The pen boasts an LED on the back that can display different colors depending on what a user is doing with it, and there’s a button for connecting via Bluetooth. The ruler has two touchpoints on its underside to give the tablet its orientation, and the pen has managed to make Apple’s iPad recognize even small touches, which it actively tries to ignore using its built-in accidental touch software. Adobe isn’t saying exactly how it pulled that one off, however.
This is still essentially a project in the R&D phase, Adobe noted, but we will definitely see it materialize down the road as a real product, they said. The real question will be how this can compare to for-purpose devices like the Wacom series of tablets, which are much better than anything else out there in terms of pressure sensitivity, latency and overall ability to mimic the experience of working with traditional artists’ materials.
Lumu Is A Digital Light Meter For Photographers That Plugs Into Your iPhone & Tells You What Camera Settings To Use
Meet Lumu: a digital light meter for photographers that plugs into the iPhone’s headphone jack as a smaller and smarter replacement for traditional analogue light meters. It’s used in conjunction with Lumu’s app — being demoed in prototype here at hardware alley at Disrupt NY – to help photographers figure out the best camera settings for their current location.
Lumu is not going to help you take better photos on your iPhone — it’s a tool for standalone cameras that have ISO, aperture and shutter speed parameters that can be manually set. The startup, which hails from Slovenia in Europe, plans to kick off a Kickstarter funding campaign in about a month. The Lumu device will cost $ 99.
“It’s the world’s smartest light meter,” says co-founder Benjamin Polovic. “The existing light meters are large, bulky and very expensive. With Lumu, the main processing is done on the iPhone, so we use the iPhone’s power. It also doesn’t use any batteries, it’s powered from the iPhone.
“You take your iPhone or your iPod and plug it in and it’s going to recognise it, and it sets all of the parameters for your unique environment. So you put in your ISO that you use in your film or your digital camera, the aperture you want to use and then it calculates the time.”
The photographer then needs to manually input the suggested settings into their camera but Polovic says the group is thinking about making a Bluetooth dongle so settings can be wirelessly sent to a digital camera. “We’re excited to get some ideas from Kickstarter when the campaign launches,” he added.
As well as showing the light level and exposure value for the current lighting conditions, the app lets users store pre-sets for individual geotagged locations so they can easily revisit them later. It will also include an auto mode, and a filter-style feature that will tell users how to achieve effects such as bokeh (background blur).
Polovic said Lumu’s hope is to inspire more people to start digging down into their camera settings. ”We love photography, we want to make it better, we want to introduce it to people who don’t necessarily know how to use cameras because they are quite complex. We want to make it simple,” he says.
The startup has been developing Lumu for about four to five months, according to Polovic. Down the line, it plans to launch an SDK so developers can create other apps using the light sensor — giving the example of an app that wakes the iPhone’s owner when it starts getting light, for instance.
The floor at Disrupt’s NY Hackathon is filled mostly with people working on software projects, but there were also some interesting hardware endeavors underway. One in particular caught my eye: a robot built from open-source components build to help anyone subject their app or device to strenuous, physical testing in a non-simulated environment.
The basic bot is built from an Arduino controller, along with 3D-printable components is a test automation device for iPhone, built by R/GA Technical Director Sune Kaae and inspired by Jason Huggins Selenium-based open source Angry Birds-playing robots. It’s a device that Kaae says is easily programmed via Node.js, meaning it’s accessible for software developers who are more familiar with web languages.
One of the big remaining challenges facing hardware startups, Kaae says, is that developers are intimidated by a perceived barrier to entry in programming physical devices. They don’t have to be, though, he explained, since it can be made relatively easy to accomplish things with programming languages they already understand.
Kaae’s robot, which positions a touchscreen-compatible stylus anywhere on a screen someone wants to place it, and can run tests that just aren’t possible via simulated virtual testing, or are too costly or boring to do human testing for. It can also help with things like testing movement for the Nike Fuel + Band, which R/GA helped design.
Right now, Kaae’s looking for a mathematician to help refine the product, to make sure that when you input a coordinate to hit, it hits exactly that coordinate and not just roughly the right area. But the little bot is a great example of how some people are trying to make it easier to make and test hardware to begin with.
Nokia Puts WhatsApp Hard Key On $72 Asha 210 For Asia, Africa; Qwerty S40 Handset Gets Facebook Button In Europe, Latam
Nokia has announced another handset in its Series 40-based Asha portfolio of low end mobiles which compete with the budget end of Android and cheap BlackBerrys. The 2G-plus-Wi-Fi Asha 210, due to ship before the end of Q2, packs a physical Qwerty keyboard and comes painted in Nokia’s now trademark eye-popping colours (yellow, cyan, magenta), plus black and white. But the most notable addition to this BlackBerry-esque device is a hardware key on the front that short-cuts to messaging app WhatsApp — which, extending the BlackBerry comparison, is the phone’s BBM replacement.
As well as the ability to fire up WhatsApp by long pressing on this dedicated key, Nokia said Asha 210 buyers will get a free subscription to the messaging service for the lifetime of the device. On the Series 40 platform, WhatsApp normally charges a $ 0.99 annual fee after a first year of free use. Last week the messaging service said it now has north of 200 million monthly active users (this compares to BBM’s more modest 60 million). Tapping into the hugely popular social messaging craze is clearly Nokia’s aim here.
Nokia describes the Asha 210′s WhatsApp hardware key as a “world first”, although we’ve seen the mobile maker (and others) stick a Facebook button on a phone before. But before you start wondering how displeased Facebook is going to be with Nokia for two-timing it with a deadly messaging rival, the handset actually comes in two social messaging flavours, with a second variant having a dedicated Facebook key (shown below, on the black handset) instead of a WhatsApp button.
The two Asha 210 social flavours — which also each come in single SIM/dual SIM variants – won’t be offered together in the same market but will rather be region specific, presumably corresponding to where the respective services are most popular. Neil Broadley, marketing director for Nokia’s mobile phones division, told TechCrunch the WhatsApp device will generally target Asia-Pac and Middle East & Africa, while the Facebook flavour will mostly be heading to Europe and Latin America. He also confirmed that neither device will be sold in North American.
Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world.
“On a market by market basis we will have either WhatsApp or Facebook,” said Broadley. “Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world and as we go on a market by market basis, some of our market teams would like to have the WhatsApp variant, some would like to have the Facebook variant. And of course we already have the Nokia Asha 205 on a global basis with the Facebook hard key there as well.”
Broadley added that Nokia is looking at the possibility of making a third variant of the Asha 210 — specifically targeting the Chinese market — with another, as yet undetermined social service loaded on the hard key (China has a variety of homegrown social services that outstrip the popularity of global offerings, such as microblogging service Sina Weibo vs Twitter). Nokia certainly has work to do to win back buyers in China. In its Q1 results last week, China saw the biggest drop of any of Nokia’s regions in terms of sales by value and volume, with $ 334 million in sales in Greater China, down 56% on the year ago quarter.
Low end hardware + social software
Aside from differing social shortcuts, the Asha 210 variants have identical hardware and software, with a sub-1Ghz chip; 2 megapixel rear camera plus a dedicated camera key on the front of the device (in addition to the WhatsApp/Facebook key plus standard nav/call keys); Nokia’s Slam Bluetooth-sharing data transfer tech and its hot-swap SIM system; plus a rubberised full Qwerty keyboard which recycles the pillowed keys of 2008′s Nokia E71. The keyboard also includes shortcut keys for turning on/off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
On the software front, the device comes with WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter preloaded; support for YouTube streaming and web apps; a ‘Games Gift’ of 15 free downloadable “premium” games & apps from the Nokia Store; plus Nokia’s neat voice-guided self-portrait feature, which gets around the lack of a front-facing lens by helping users align a self-portrait when they can’t see the screen.
Nokia’s earlier Facebook-button-packing phone, the full Qwerty Asha 205, was announced in November last year. At the time, the company’s decision to introduce a phone with a dedicated Fb button revived a 2011 trend which, for the majority of last year, appeared to have run its course — without, apparently, covering any of the device maker particpants (including HTC, Orange and Vodafone) in huge heaps of gold.
Asked about sales of the Asha 205, Nokia said it has not broken out any numbers for the model but added that the number of Facebook activations for the device is “significantly higher” than for the average Asha family device. Whatever the sales figures, Nokia clearly believes there is more gold to be mined from low end mobiles by associating its hardware with the biggest brands of the social messaging space.
Asha vs Android: Show me the money
The Asha 210 — along with the entire Nokia Asha range — targets developing markets and cost-conscious consumers, which explains its focus on seeking ways to reduce not just the initial outlay but also the total cost of ownership, while simultaneously amping up its core social offering by making sure it can provide access to big name apps and allow for easy social photo-sharing, as Android does.
The Asha 210 will have a $ 72 price-tag (before taxes and subsidies). The price-tag puts it in touching distance of budget Androids and while the S40 platform is not as user friendly, flexible or as app-rich as Android, Nokia has been working to strength its competitiveness against Android’s low end with additions such as its cloud-based data-compressing Xpress Browser, which ekes out up to three times as much data as non-compression browsers to help keep the user’s data costs down, plus offers such as ‘Games Gift’ and the free WhatsApp subscription.
As with other Asha devices, the 210 also boasts a long battery life — of up to 46 days on standby, and around 12 hours talk time. Nokia noted that it is using push notification technology to reduce battery drain caused by the Asha 210 checking for WhatsApp/Facebook updates. Update checking is done by Nokia in the cloud, with any new info pushed out to the user’s phone when it arrives.
One more thing…
Nokia and WhatsApp are about to hold an online Q&A about the launch of the Asha 2010 so we’ll be checking for any interesting tidbits that come out of the discussion to add as an update below. Currently, around the world, there is still plenty of regional diversity across messaging and social services – messaging apps are especially fragmented. Many of these apps inevitably compete with and come into conflict with social networking giant Facebook, which wants to own all the world’s chatter. And with Facebook having just launched its app-sidelining Android skin, social challengers such as WhatsApp are likely to be keen to find ways to increase their own visibility on mobile. Having your brand stamped on the outside of a phone sounds like a great place to start.
Updates from the Q&A, with Nokia’s Broadley and Neeraj Arora, business development, at WhatsApp:
On whose idea the WhatsApp hard key was, Nokia’s or WhatsApp’s… Broadley: “We have an ongoing relationship with WhatsApp that spans a range of Nokia Asha and other Nokia products. We are both really excited about this opportunity.”
On whether the WhatsApp hard key will be exclusive to Nokia devices… Arora & Broadley: “We are very excited to bring a dedicated WhatsApp button to Asha 210 and we will take consumer feedback for future consideration.”
On whether Nokia will bundle WhatsApp’s software with all Asha devices… Broadley: “We already bundle WhatsApp with many Nokia Asha family devices and are working on extending it to as many Nokia phones as possible.”
On what evidence there is consumers want social messaging hard keys on phones, or whether they just want easy access to lots of apps & services… Broadley: “With the Nokia Asha 210 we’ve worked hard to give people the best of both worlds. People have access to a dedicated hardware button, preloaded social networks ready to go right out of the box, and access to the Nokia Store to download and install more.”
On WhatsApp’s support for dual SIM devices… Arora: “The launch of Asha 210 does signify WhatsApp’s availability on Dual SIM devices. We are working on extending it to other Dual SIM devices.”
On the differences between the Asha 210 and Nokia’s earlier Facebook button phone, the Asha 205… Arora & Broadley: “There is WhatsApp deep linking into social share gallery and there is more to come.”
On the Asha 210′s battery performance… Broadley: “We have a really high quality Nokia 1200 mAh battery in the Nokia Asha 210. The software really helps get great battery life — for example we have something called Nokia Notifications which works in the cloud to check for your social network updates, then pushes them to the phone. This stops the individual apps having to continually check for updates — saving battery.”
On Nokia’s approach to phone design… Broadley: ”Starting with the Nokia 206 announced just before Christmas we’ve been progressively uniting the Nokia portfolio under a single, coherent design language… We have one stunning design approach across the Nokia range.”
On whether Nokia could introduce a Lumia product with a physical Qwerty to differentiate its smartphones from rivals’… Broadley: “We don’t comment on future plans.”
This week on the TechCrunch Gadgets Podcast we talk about Google Glass, the Galaxy S4, and the magic of Ubuntu laptops. This time we’re joined by Matt Burns, Jordan Crook, Greg Kumparak, and a pair of underwear that vibrates in Australia. Enjoy!
We invite you to enjoy our weekly podcasts every Friday at 3pm Eastern and noon Pacific.
Intro Music by Rick Barr.
Time Warner Cable has expanded its TWC TV IP streaming of broadcast television to several different platforms since its launch two years ago, but so far it’s been limited to use inside subscriber’s homes. That will change tomorrow, according to a tipster who informed us a new version of the iOS app is coming that allows out of home streaming. This source previously gave us an early heads up on TWC TV for Roku, which just launched last month. The video doesn’t include all of the channels that are a part of TWC TV, but will feature video on-demand from channels like BBC America, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nick, and Univision, among others. There will be ten live TV channels as well: Aspire, BBC America, beIn, Big Ten Network, FearNet, Fox News Channel, Fox business, GMC, Pac-12 Network and TV Guide Network
The web portal will also be revamped in May, and Android users should expect an update in Q2 with access to streaming away from home. However, there are still a few strings. From what we’ve heard, streaming over 3G / 4G will be limited to Verizon Wireless until Q4, but all users will be able to access the video streams over WiFi. Time Warner already faced several legal challenges to the initial app, if the new features arrive tomorrow we’ll see whether Viacom and other content providers head back to the courts for round two, or if any complaints have been negotiated away already
After a very public defense of rumors about the next Xbox’s always-on Internet requirements, a new report claims that Microsoft creative director Adam Orth is no longer with the company. In a series of Twitter posts, Orth defended the move by countering that “every device” is now constantly connected, and then delivered a low-blow when someone responded suggesting always-on connectivity might not work great for customers in rural locations, responding snidely, “Why on earth would i live there?”.
According to Game Informer, which confirmed reports from unnamed sources via a call direct to Microsoft that Orth was no longer employed there (we also contacted Microsoft for official confirmation, but a spokesperson simply said ““We are not commenting further on this issue”), it’s likely that incident led to his resignation or removal. And based on Microsoft’s public apology, it likely is the case that this wasn’t the venue. But the real problem here might be that defending a decision to embrace an always-on Internet connection requirement is bound to devolve into personal arguments, since logical ones that don’t involve owning up to a simple “we want to lock down our product and better control piracy” aren’t readily available.
The original report of how the next Xbox would work included a requirement that a user be connected to the Internet to even begin playing games or apps on the console, along with a 3-minute time out for a connection loss before said games or apps are suspended pending the resolution of the network connection issue. For users who have been burned by the always-on requirements of recent PC gaming titles like Diablo III and SimCity, this rumor (which Microsoft neither confirms nor denies, despite its apology) probably sounds like a total nightmare scenario.
It’s not making things better that a report surfaced this week from the Verge which claims that the next Xbox will interact with your cable box, hence the need for an always-on connection. The timing of that report smacks of Microsoft trying to do some subtle damage control based on these recent leaks, without giving away anything official ahead of its own planned Xbox events, the first of which is reportedly taking place late in May.
Of course, even that doesn’t justify an always-on connection requirement, not for isolated functions like single-player gaming which should have no problem running without an active connection, even if a player has to give up some features like achievements and leaderboard ranking to make that work (you know, exactly the way it works now).
The problem with trying to come up with a coherent argument for why a device or game needs an always-on connection without saying those three dreaded letters (D-R-M) is that it’s impossible to do convincingly. Companies like Microsoft and EA, which have very savvy PR professionals on staff, know that trying to do so without a proper feint like a connected TV service is fruitless. Aside from strongly suggesting that the leaked info was correct, taking to Twitter also meant venturing away from the party line that always-on is value add, not consumer punishment, and that’s not something any company mulling this kind of sensitive and major change to the way it delivers services can afford.
If you’re into 3D printable stuff, or into remote-control cars, then the OpenRC Project is for you. A gentleman in Sweden named Daniel Norée is sharing his progress on a 3D-printed Truggy, as well as sharing the recipe with the OpenRC Project group that he created. A truggy is an off-road vehicle, in case you weren’t sure.
The cost of 3D printers is dropping both for at-home use and enterprise, so it’s a very real possibility that consumers all over the world could soon have these devices in their living rooms. Crazier things have happened. We’ve seen 3D-printed iPhone docks, violins, pottery and even a robotic hand for a child.
If you can print out your very own customized remote-control car with one, count me in. While not all of the parts are printable, such as the wheels, for really die-hard remote control car fans, those are parts that they probably have sitting around in the garage already.
Here’s a video that Norée uploaded today that shows some of the schematics behind the parts, and the actual 3D-printing process using one of those fancy MakerBot Replicators:
The project has come a long way in the past few months; here’s a video of an earlier model breaking down:
I want one.
While this isn’t the only 3D-printed remote-control car out there, the advantage here is that you can follow the progress of the project on Google+ and join the discussion. If you’re ready to print one out, go here.