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Ford Goes Open Source to Speed App Development

Ford Goes Open Source to Speed App Development | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
In the ecosystem gamble of "open" or "closed," Ford is putting all its chips on open.
Jed Fisher's insight:

I'm very interested in this. There are a ton of solutions that really fit well for an in-car experience. The key for the App developers is to make compelling Apps that make sense and work well from within the car. 
I love that this will result in Apps that let me better engage, use, and understand my particular vehicle, it's location, and what can be done with it. 
I'm glad Ford has taken a open approach and not start with some closed

proprietary system. 

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ComplexInsight's curator insight, March 11, 2013 12:29 PM

While initial focus will likely be apps for in car entertainment and information services, the open sourcing of the API's adds a lot of potential for smart telematics apps that better help with traffic management, environmental reporting etc as well. Be worth tracking this.

4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD.
Insights into product strategy, emerging technology with Mobile, 3D, Augmented Reality, VR, Visualization,CAD, PLM, AEC, BIM, and downstream 3D. Curated by Jed Fisher http://blog.4Dpipeline.com @4Dpipeline - Making digital products customers love.
Curated by Jed Fisher
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SuperMac War Story 7: Rabbits Out of the Hat - Product Line Extensions

SuperMac War Story 7:  Rabbits Out of the Hat - Product Line Extensions | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

A year after we started repositioning the company, Engineering, which had been working on a family of new products literally for years, came to deliver some good news and bad news....


First, what we proposed is that we take our world class, ten-times-faster-than-anyone board and build an entire product family around it, by slowing it down.  We wanted nine boards, each differing in performance by 10%.  The only real difference between them would be the addition of “wait states” or “slow down” instructions on a chip.  Our entire new product family would be an identical board. 

Jed Fisher's insight:

Outstanding Steve Blank, excellent insight into product management, pricing, and packaging. As he often writes, price around value, not costs. Package for your the target market(s). 

And design outward in, not inward out.

Lots of lessons in this article. Week by week i deal with similar examples when helping customers, it's not usually as simple as this example but then again - it is ;-)

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This Technology Could Change the Way Deaf People Live

This Technology Could Change the Way Deaf People Live | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

MotionSavvy’s first product, though still in prototype stage, could revolutionize the prospects of millions who are deaf or hard of hearing. Called Uni, the device clasps around a PC tablet and uses MotionSavvy software to act as an interpreter between a signer (who can’t speak) and speaker (who can’t understand sign language) in very-close-to-real-time.

Jed Fisher's insight:

Fantastic focused use case for Leap Motion's hardware and technology. This is what it's all about - taking some brilliant piece of technology and finding a market in need, then tweaking them and bringing them together.

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Disney rendered its new animated film on a 55,000-core supercomputer

Disney rendered its new animated film on a 55,000-core supercomputer | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

"We've said it many, many times. We made the movie on a beta renderer," says Hank Driskill, technical supervisor for Big Hero 6. "It was very much in progress." Driskill is referring to Hyperion, the software Disney created from the ground up to handle the film's impressive lighting. It's just one of about three dozen tools the studio used to bring the robotics-friendly world of San Fransokyo to life.

... "In a way, Big Hero 6 is a love letter to technology"...

Jed Fisher's insight:

Like Pixar, Disney Animation makes great movies and is also pushing the limits of computer animation technology. Their latest movie Big Hero 6, uses 55,000 Cores! 1.1 million rendering hours per day!

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Apple's HomeKit will bring smart home control to iOS 8

Apple's HomeKit will bring smart home control to iOS 8 | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Soon you'll be able to ask Siri to close your garage door, and have your house light up as you approach.
Jed Fisher's insight:

HomeKit is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home. You can enable users to discover HomeKit accessories in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri.

Gizmodo - recently did an article: Apple TV Gets One Step Closer to Becoming Your Smart Home Hub

http://gizmodo.com/apple-tv-gets-one-step-closer-to-becoming-your-smart-ho-1643518715

HomeKit, CloudKIt, and HealthKit, along with Extensions, are gifts from Apple iOS 8 Development we can use to make better more naturally integrated Apps that people will love.

Contact me at 4D Pipeline to help make your ideas a reality; and a success. jed (at) 4Dpipeline (dot)com

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Nemetschek Acquires Bluebeam Software

Nemetschek Acquires Bluebeam Software | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

Nemetschek® AG announced it is acquiring Bluebeam® Software, Inc., the leading developer of PDF-based collaboration solutions for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, for a $100 million purchase price.

Jed Fisher's insight:

Nice move by Nemetschek. I've only met some of Bluebeam team a couple of times but was really impressed with their traction (from memory they've more than half a million customers/users of their PDF markup software). Probably a match for both companies.

I'm guess most of Bluebeam's customers are in the US - which helps the Nemetschek family expand here, and vice versa, Nemetschek helps Bluebeam reach Europe. 

The AEC software space - never a dull day! 

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Simplicity is much more than just the absences of clutter

Simplicity is much more than just the absences of clutter | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

“True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absences of clutter or ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity.”
- Jony Ive

Jed Fisher's insight:

My favorite Jony Ive quote.


And another this made me think of from Albert:

"Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

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Do Customer Interviews Even If You Don't Think You Need To

Do Customer Interviews Even If You Don't Think You Need To | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
You might think you know your product best when it's a problem you're solving for yourself. But it doesn't hurt to learn more about your customers.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Good article. 

One of the hardest things for an entrepreneur is to look themselves (their business) in the mirror and take an honest assessment - how do i look?

Finding out the big idea you had won't actually be used, or that your product stinks is not what anyone wants to hear. But this is exactly why we need to hear it.

I can guarantee you - No one has got it right first go! No one! Trust me - they may make it out that they did but they didnt. They had feedback and they listened and learned.


You can build a business (and a product) in one of two ways:

1) build the product - hope you get it all right, build the business model and go-to market plan - *hope* you get it all right. 

OR 

2) save yourself a ton of time, and do some unbiased LEARNING customer interviews. Listen and adapt, change where you need to change, find the patterns, and come up with a better product and better plan. Then repeat, go through the entire process again (so painful i know) but do again and validate and tweak a bit more -> then go a build it. 


These interviews may seem like a waste of time but i guarantee you they are not. Every minute you spend will save you time. Plus it adds so much validation, instead of saying "i think blah blah blah", you can say "when we spoke to ACME, John, and Sam, they said they need blah, blah, and blah". Speak with the voice of your customer, understand their world better than they can, know them intimately, and solve their problems!



 

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Apple Explores Augmented Reality Navigation For iPhones

Apple Explores Augmented Reality Navigation For iPhones | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Apple has two new patent applications out today (via AppleInsider) that show it's been working on boosting the iPhone's navigation abilities with augmented..

Via Mohir
Jed Fisher's insight:

Very interesting could be huge - the patents describe a way to use GPS, Wi-Fi and sensor information to pinpoint a user’s position and then download a 3D model of their surroundings, including points of interest. 

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Oculus Announces Partnership with Unity

Oculus Announces Partnership with Unity | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

The partnership was announced during the Oculus Connect 2014 conference, along with various details about how the two will work together to improve the development process for VR in Unity.

Through an add-on in Unity, developers will have a wide range of tools at their disposal to hone the more VR-specific elements of a Rift game, including stereo imaging optimization and 3D audio support.

Oculus' hardware will be supported in both the Free and Pro versions of the Unity engine.

Jed Fisher's insight:

A match made in heaven! Makes perfect sense for Unity, Unity Developers, Oculus and Facebook. 

One more platform for Unity's games and interactive 3D content.

At 4D Pipeline we often work with Unity and technology like Oculus for 3D VR (and AR) experiences for products, buildings, entertainment, and more. Give me a yell if you'd like a hand taking your product or idea to this platform. 

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Travel to Hawaii and London in This Weird VR Holodeck

Travel to Hawaii and London in This Weird VR Holodeck | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Virtuality is still stuck in an awkward liminal stage. Sony introduced Morpheus, Samsung's $200 Gear VR is just around the corner, and the Oculus Rift continues to showcase the best the platform has to offer. But it's a technology not easily accessible. Instead, it's still relegated to strange demos and experimental experiences—and this could be one of the weirdest.
Jed Fisher's insight:

What i like most about this is that it's being done by Marriott Hotels. What a great Deploy - makes a ton of sense for them, "wow's" their customers, easy fun marketing. 

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3 Ways Bigger iPhones Will Change App Design

3 Ways Bigger iPhones Will Change App Design | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
User interface experts tell Co.Design how the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 line will impact app design across the industry.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Great summary of what to look out for with iOS8 and the bigger iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus. 

1. Controls move to the bottom of the screen.

Lovely new useful feature.

2. Gestures replace buttons

Mobile First thinking and minimal UI has always been part of our 4D Pipeline UX mantras, we love using gestures and I'm happy to see more standard gestures coming.

3. Splitscreen Apps proliferate 

Ultimately this is why I've chosen to go iphone6 Plus, i want to test this out and use/develop for it. Incredibly useful. 


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Developing Next-Generation Apps for the Apple Watch

Developing Next-Generation Apps for the Apple Watch | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
The word is out! The new Apple Watch is coming your way in early 2015, providing a brand new platform and great opportunities for a new category of apps. In this post I'll cover some of the basic features available for app developers so you can begin thinking about how these features can be put to use in your own custom apps.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Here at 4D Pipeline we are preparing to begin our first Apple Watch App. The key as with any new device is to focus on "New (improved) Ways of Interfacing with Users (or as they are sometimes called - people :-))".

The GPS apps are obviously a great example, riding your bike and one buzz for turn left, two buzzs for turn right. 

I'm personally looking forward to all the fun gamifications ideas we can do with this. Secret notifications and communications for example, let's go back to Morse code! dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot (or in Watch terms - short buzz, short buzz, short buzz, long buzz, long buzz, long buzz,  short buzz, short buzz, short buzz!) :-)

I can't wait for meetings to be like "close your laptops, turn off your phone, take off your watch!" ;-)

I look forward to exploring more great ideas with you!jed (at) 4Dpipeline (dot) com

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This 3D-Printed Car Will Be Drivable By The Weekend, For Sale Soon After

This 3D-Printed Car Will Be Drivable By The Weekend, For Sale Soon After | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Local Motors, the crew who brought us the venerable off-road sports car we know and love as the Rally Fighter, are making the first full-sized drivable car from a 3D printer at this very moment.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Big fan of Local Motor. Pretty amazing, fun video.  Hardcore 3D Printing :-)

More: http://3dprint.com/14358/3d-printed-car-local-motors/

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Autodesk's Jeff Kowalski on 3D Printing - 3D Printing Industry

Autodesk's Jeff Kowalski on 3D Printing - 3D Printing Industry | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

Autodesk Senior Vice President Jeff Kowalski unveils the Ember 3D printer and Spark 3D printing software at Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara....

 

“Why are so many 3D printers transparent? So you can watch your print fail.”

He actually made that joke. And as with most good jokes, there is enough truth in it to be a little uncomfortable. 


Jed Fisher's insight:

I'm not so deep in 3D printing (hardware), it's certainly enabling and improving manufacturing and many industries significantly but it's still far from "perfect". Autodesk is coming in swinging now with their hardward. Will be interesting to see how successful they will be.

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Magic Leap Secures $542M Led By Google For “Lightweight Wearable” Tech That Merges Physical And Digital Worlds

Magic Leap Secures $542M Led By Google For “Lightweight Wearable” Tech That Merges Physical And Digital Worlds | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
It's rare that a company can stay relatively secretive while raising a huge amount of funding, but Florida's Magic Leap has managed that. The startup, led by..
Jed Fisher's insight:

Holy Guacamole Batman!

I'm still processing what to say on this one, i'm stumped!

We've got AR + computer vision + glasses = Half a billion dollars in funding! Wow..

If they can do what their videos show in their website, it will be fundamental.  Very few technologies have been able to do this well (realistic based on the environment).  No one has incorporated lighting from the real environment to blend onto the 3D object itself. This is very hard, and needed to get things to blend in with the real world and look realistic.

That being said, there hasn’t been much demand for things to look real, as augmented reality was never meant to replace, only augment reality.

More soon!

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Computer Vision - Tesla's AWD Model D Obeys Speed Signs and Changes Lanes By Itself

Computer Vision - Tesla's AWD Model D Obeys Speed Signs and Changes Lanes By Itself | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

According to the leaked report, one of the new headline features is the ability for the Tesla to recognize, and then obey, speed signs. Using an on-board camera, it should be a relatively simple exercise for the Model D to recognize speed signs, and then adjust itself to match. It's not the first cruise control that messes with your speed without you asking — radar-guided cruise control is actually pretty commonplace on higher-end cars these days — but a sign-recognition system that works reliably would be ground-breaking.

Jed Fisher's insight:

Fantastic use of computer vision - sometimes you dont need to go as far a complete autonomous vehicle instead, take the MVP and simply help drivers recognize road signs and the like. Awesome "feature" to see on the car, once again Tesla leading the way.  Also it helps by checking your blind spot.

Of course speed limit checks can also be done via GPS but using computer vision and ideally scanners to identify hazards and more complicated challenges has huge potential. Lane changing just being one of them.

I'd love to see a lane checking "feature" on bicycles (and motorbikes), with perhaps tactile feedback to the handle bar/grips (alerting the user to not change lanes or of danger).

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Today, Google Design open-sourced 750 Material Design icons

Today, Google Design open-sourced 750 Material Design icons | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

Google Design are open-sourcing 750 glyphs as part of the Material Design system iconspack. The system icons contain icons commonly used across different apps, such as icons used for media playback, communication, content editing, connectivity, and so on. They're equally useful when building for the web, Android or iOS.

Jed Fisher's insight:

#design

Nice - save time, use standard HQ icons. Thanks Google

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Now you can test drive a Lexus RC F with the Oculus Rift

Now you can test drive a Lexus RC F with the Oculus Rift | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

Lexus has built a virtual reality RC F using the car's actual steering column, foot pedals and an Oculus Rift DK2 headset. It calls the setup the Lexus RC F Rift, naturally, and it'll be at select auto shows across the nation for the next several months. The player can race the car around a virtual track. At the very least, it's a novel way to get a feel for the car's interior, and a good look at how companies outside of the gaming industry may use virtual reality technology in the future.

Jed Fisher's insight:

Interesting article to follow the Unity/Oculus partnership also the earlier blog entry showing Ford's VR center. Excellent example of how a tool like Unity/Oculus can benefit a company like Lexus. 

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The Science Behind Why Jeff Bezos' 2-Pizza Rule Works

The Science Behind Why Jeff Bezos' 2-Pizza Rule Works | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Keeping team sizes small makes communication more effective. Here's why.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Very original article.
If you know me you know I'm a big fan of communicating, collaboration, and being as transparent and clear as possible.

At 4D Pipeline we take pride in the fact that the insight and transparency we provide is often better than that of what people have from their "own" core team. 

We are big advocates of lean cross functional dev teams, i.e. small fast teams that get sh!t done. Usually no more than 5-6 people (inline with article) and as a team they have all the expertise they need (eg Product Manager, Dev's, Usability Expert, ..), they have the right people and as required can get help and pull in info, roles are clear, fast and lean.

We use scrumboard religiously - at any point it's super clear what's being done, who's doing what, what's up next. And usually keep to our 16 minute scrums per day.

All these things help keep communication and transparency up but overhead down. Contact me to find out some of the other best practices we employ to get projects done right - on time, on budget.

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Motorcity Europe with NVIDIA Quadro Picks Up the Pace & Power for Automotive Design

Motorcity Europe with NVIDIA Quadro Picks Up the Pace & Power for Automotive Design | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

Motorcity Europe in Cologne Germany provides vehicle styling and design services to the automotive industry, including major OEM clients down to smaller specialist brands. At the head of the company is automotive designer David Hilton, former chief designer for the Ford Motor Company and head of exterior design for Bentley Motors in the UK. David and the Motorcity team help develop the looks and style of diverse types of vehicles, from familiar commercial models like the Ford Focus RS and Ford SMAX, to the Infiniti E-Merge and Mazda Superlite supercars, to vehicle concepts.

Jed Fisher's insight:

I'm a big fan of David Hiltons work, he has designed some of the most iconic Bentley's and Fords. His presentation at this years NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference was in my view perhaps the best of the show - it was an insightful view into the the art and love of automotive design. If you get a chance to hear him speak i highly recommend it.

(Note full disclosure: NVIDIA is a client of 4D Pipeline)

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Ford demonstrates VR prototyping in Immersive Vehicle Environment

Ford demonstrates VR prototyping in Immersive Vehicle Environment | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
We recently had a rare opportunity to take a look into a few areas of Ford’s Melbourne design center that are normally off limits, including the FIVE lab wh...
Jed Fisher's insight:

Interesting article to follow the Unity/Oculus partnership. Excellent example of how a tool like Unity/Oculus can benefit a company like Ford. 

What's nice about this article is it gives you an insight into Fords workflow, everything comes from the CAD. I've worked with most of the Automotive companies and it's a fascinating but complex process to see how these vehicles are designed and iterated through. UX/usability, styling, performance, are all being tested and fed back to the CAD for continuous checking and iteration. Lots of moving parts (no pun intended :)). 

Anyway - good read - Thanks to Robert from Motus Ventures for the link.

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3D Printing Company Stratasys Is Buying GrabCAD For Around $100M, Beating Out Autodesk, Adobe, and others

3D Printing Company Stratasys Is Buying GrabCAD For Around $100M, Beating Out Autodesk, Adobe, and others | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Some M&A activity afoot in the world of hardware design: GrabCAD, an online community that has been described as the 'Github for mechanical engineers',..
Jed Fisher's insight:

Well there you go, as said by the great Ferris Bueller - "Life moves pretty fast..". 

We all knew GrabCAD was heading for an acquisition, they had built a ton of momentum, raised ~14M in VC funding, had some paying customers (unclear how many really) but were saying and doing all the right things to gain attention from Autodesk/Siemens/Dassault/PTC/Adobe and a few others.

Looks like Stratasys, a 3D printing company (valued at $6B from their IPO) will do an all cash deal to acquire them - wow.

3D/CAD/Cloud/openness - a good formula that fits well for Stratasys. Stratasys was also the company that earlier acquired MakerBot. 

If you work with 3D technologies or have an idea here - now is the time to capitalize on that idea.


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This augmented reality motorcycle helmet could save your life

This augmented reality motorcycle helmet could save your life | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it

"I was in early morning traffic when an inattentive driver hit me from behind and I was thrown from my motorcycle."

"What it is, is a fully integrated and connected device that motorcyclists can wear that allows them to have a full cognitive awareness of what's going on around them." The Epson optics provide the rider with a detailed heads-up display, filling their view with data from the rear view camera, their current speed and navigation information.
"It also has video recording capabilities," he told me. "Everything is recorded passively, but in the event that an accident is detected, that footage is locked into hard memory. It effectively has a black box feature built in." It sounds like a great feature, but Shearman obviously wants it to be used as infrequently as possible. The helmet's software package is being designed to monitor the cameras for potential hazards -- if all goes well, the final product will be able to alert the driver of a dangerous situation before it becomes an accident. He also plans to add voice control to future prototypes.

Jed Fisher's insight:

Outstanding use of Augmented Reality and a lot simpler than dealng with windscreen as we know exactly where the driver is looking. Using AR we can provide not only a HUD to the driver but also rear vision and more. Watch the video at http://www.fusar-tech.com/

The defence and aerospace industry have been doing similar things for a while, allowing pilots to see through the floor with x-ray like vision. Glad to see this sort of tech now being used for motorbikes and more.

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Breaking News - Frank Gehry's AEC Software Company Acquired by Trimble

Breaking News - Frank Gehry's AEC Software Company Acquired by Trimble | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
The merger will help streamline communication across the construction process, according to the companies.
Jed Fisher's insight:

Breaking News!
Wow - smart move by AEC company Trimble - and a good move IMHO by Gehry Technologies; I see this making a lot of sense for both companies. I also get to say "i called it" on this one (albeit 2 years ago and did think that Dassault was the more likely buyer).

Gehry has been doing a lot of good things with their own developments (Digital Project & cloud based GTeam) and their own acquisitions (like BIMshare). Trimble meanwhile has also been on a little bit of a rampage with some excellent acquisitions such as Sketchup (from Google). 

Interestingly both Autodesk and Dassault Systèmes have invested heavily with Gehry over the years.

The AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) and BIM space is still very exciting; Autodesk, Nemetschek (esp. bim+), Bentley, and Trimble all doing some very interesting things. Of all these groups Trimble comes the most from the C/Construction space but now with it's purchases it's getting a very strong offering also in the A/Architecture.

Gehry Technology primarily sells their products through it's world-class building development consulting services. They a well known for building complex signature designs from architects like their founder Frank Gehry. 

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iOS 8: The Best (almost hidden) Feature for App Developers

iOS 8: The Best (almost hidden) Feature for App Developers | 4D Pipeline - Visualizing reality, trends and breaking news in Mobile, 3D, AR, VR, and CAD. | Scoop.it
Of all the new features introduced in iOS 8 last week, app extensions are the ones that will have the biggest, most visible impact on the new operating system. The feature is most commonly described as a way for third-party applications to talk to each other, though that's an oversimplification—that's not the only thing app extensions can do, and technically third-party apps in iOS still can't talk directly to one another.
Jed Fisher's insight:

You've got an App or an Idea? Then a very important question to ask yourself is can my App benefit from better iOS integration. This is a huge feature for iOS8 and one which will allow your app to do more and open up better experiences for end users. 

For example, make a custom keyboard, Today extension, share extension, Action translation, or cloud storage provider extension. 

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