In the early 1990s, Xerox Parc researchers showed off a futuristic concept they called the Digital Desk. It looked like any other metal workstation, aside from the unusual setup that hovered overhead. Two video cameras hung from a rig above the desk, capturing the every movement of the person sitting at it. Next to the cameras, a projector cast the glowing screen of a computer onto the furniture’s surface.
The rise and fall of FireWire—IEEE 1394, an interface standard boasting high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer—is one of the most tragic tales in the history of computer technology. The standard was forged in the fires of collaboration. A joint effort from several competitors including Apple, IBM, and Sony, FireWire was a triumph of design for the greater good. It represented a unified standard across the whole industry, one serial bus to rule them all.
When Urho Konttori handed me the VR headset, I almost laughed. The founder and CEO of some Finnish company I'd never heard of had just told me he and his team of 19 people had managed to leapfrog virtual reality 20 years into the future—and he gives me an Oculus Rift? "It's just the housing," he said. "We added some things inside." Fine, I thought. You've seen plenty of demos where the reality didn't match the hype. Just do it, then you can go back to the office. So I put the headset on.
Three-dimensional printing is becoming more prevalent in the defense industry, as engineers explore the process to make parts for the most sophisticated U.S. weapons, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles.
But lesser-known projects have been in the works at a Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, shop that has been producing parts for Air Force aircraft for at least two years.
Voice-powered speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home have carved out a place on kitchen counters and nightstands in countless homes. What makes their immense popularity all the more remarkable is that they’ve achieved it without a key feature: Knowing exactly who’s talking. That changes with Google Home’s introduction of support for multiple accounts.