I'm still on holiday break but I couldn't help but notice the huge volume today. Looking at the max chart I was surprised that today was only the fifth time in the company's history that over 1 million shares were traded on a given day, and today's volume of 1,254,085 shares stands as the second highest day of MVIS share trading volume ever.
12/30/2005: 1,254,085 shares Open $3.18/Close $3.60
06/25/2004: 1,019,100 shares Open $8.51/Close $8.55 (MVIS added to Russell Small cap index -- large majority of shares traded after market closed)
10/31/2003: 1,187,200 shares Open $6.50/Close $7.00
06/12/2000: 1,765,800 shares Open $32.40/Close $38.50
08/26/1997: 1,036,200 shares Open $13.00/Close $12.13
Probably only of interest to total MVIS geeks...but then, you're reading this, so there you have it. I'd be pretty happy for another $6 up day like in June 2000. They say history repeats itself...
Have a great New Year everybody! At least we have a nice solid up day to close out the year and get us geared up for 2006. See you on the other side.
I'm gonna be away from my desk for the next couple of days as 2005 winds down.
Stay tuned for MASSIVE updates in 2006 as we get geared up for what is sure to be an exciting year.
Happy new year to everybody and stay safe out there!
Medium-duty truck business is becoming the foundation for the expanding network of dealerships and service centers in Southern-based Rush Enterprises, the largest Peterbilt dealer in North America.Thanks to view from afar.
The heartbeat of the 120,000-square-foot building, which previously housed merchants' stalls in semblance of a grand flea market, is the wireless shop.
The night before the center's Oct. 7 grand opening, technicians eagerly demonstrated visual-display headbands they would wear while working on a truck.
Essentially a wearable computer with a wrist keypad, the Microvision Nomad projects see-through images of computer readouts and diagnostics diagrams before the technician's eyes as he or she works. The system was derived from the personal electronic display systems developed for the military.
"We're not into high-tech for the 'Wow!' factor. It's got to have a return; that's what it's all about," Rusty Rush said. If the Nomad setup, being tested at four centers - or any the other high-tech accoutrements populating the Smyrna facility - do not prove effective, they will not become fixtures anywhere in the Rush system.
"The back end [parts, shop, services] is what really supports you in the car or truck business," he said. "You can cover your fixed costs even if you don't sell a vehicle."
Happy holidays and new year to all MVIS Blog readers.
Over the coming weeks, we will discover how Microvision will meet their truly extraordinary opportunities. I look forward to continuing to chronicle Microvision's transformation into a global technology juggernaut.
You heard it here first. This company is going to be huge.
Thanks for hanging with me for the last 20 months and helping to make MVIS Blog the #1 Independent Resource for MVIS Investors. This thing is going to break out sometime soon and never look back. I can feel it.
Have a great holiday and stay safe out there!
Confidence in the end is what drives your aggressiveness, your emotion, your spirit, your communication, your everything. If you’re sure it’s right, and you know it’s going to work out right, it’s a lot easier to hit it hard. You know the nail is sitting right there, and you can just lean back and crack it. [Otherwise,] that thing is moving, tilting, jiggling, vibrating, and you just can’t do it as aggressively.Great advice from one of the greatest coaches in history. You have to believe in what you're doing. You have to believe it with every fiber of your being. You can't be hemming and hawing and wringing your hands over every decision you make. I believe that my choice to align my future with the future of MVIS will work out. I believe that it's worth it to risk it all in order to take a stab at greatness.
-- Bill Belichick
I'm sure it's right, and I know it's going to work out right. I am leaning back and cracking it. Who's with me?
A Heads Up Look at the MicrovisionCouldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for writing!
I just read that article regarding the Nomad system for private pilots. Let me tell you – as soon as the price point comes down a bit and some next generation refinements are made, these should be literally flying off the shelves (pun intended).
I agree with your recent blog post, why doesn’t everyone get what is transpiring here? Jordy’s visor is becoming a reality right in front of everyone’s face (pun intended), and yet the stock languishes. Virtual battlefield surgical assistance? Excuse me? Did that Corpsman just perform in-field surgery under the guidance of a qualified surgeon 50 miles away? What’s next? Firefighters rescuing people in zero visibility smoke-filled buildings -- using virtual floor plans and pre-positioned corridor/door waypoint/location designators? Come on . . . let’s get serious!
There is going to be an endless stream of new and evolving information technologies, and the one common thread that ties it all together are new and innovative ways to publish data to the brain. There can be no mistake. This is where the future is – Period!
(Well, now I've got an idea how the MVIS IR guys must feel after a day's work...!)
One thing about MVIS is that you have to be willing to accept that there's risk in your investment. This is not General Electric or Cisco or Oracle yet. This is a company with an extraordinary technology, but no established history of generating shareholder value from that technology.
The investment in MVIS is a bet that with some new strategies and tactics, and continued refinement of the technology -- whether evolutionary or revolutionary in nature -- MVIS will be able to succeed in bringing about the world of the ubiquitous scanned beam display. Whether it's in an endoscope, electronic eyewear, in-vehicle HUDs, printer engines, bar code scanners or who knows what.
I think it's really easy to let the stock price color your perceptions of the company's chances for success. But just as things were not all roses and chocolates with the stock at $6 and not a lot of cash in the bank, things are not so dire as some people seem to be thinking with the stock at $3.27 and a fresh $10M.
The truth must be somewhere in the middle. There are challenges, but there are huge opportunities -- and I think everyone can agree on that.
We're on the cusp of a new year, which sometimes helps people to take a look at things with fresh eyes. Here's what I'll be on the look out for in 2006:
Financing fun. Just so everybody can stop biting their fingernails over it. They'll get their money.
Roadmap to 2010.Tokman's plan should help folks see how we go from where we are today to becoming a real, tangible success. I think this plan will be critically important to establishing a new identity for MVIS. It will help people understand what a share of MVIS represents: the future cash flow from all products based on the MVIS platform. It should help steer the conversation away from worrying about the next slug of money and towards how we are executing against the plan.
Ethicon prototype delivery. If the JNJ guys go into the next phase of the contract, there's going to be much, much better visibility into the company's future revenue stream. This should lead to an improved stock price.
Bosch contract. Maybe that LOI from Bosch can get transformed into an Ethicon-like multi-phase contract leading to MicroHUD being OEMed by Bosch for a specified model year. That would also help give visibility into future revenue and help improve the stock price.
LED Widescreen contract. I think there's a good probability that we'll have to have an actual prototype device in hand before anybody's going to fork over millions of dollars to partner with MVIS to bring a device based on this architecture to market. So, we'll see what happens there. Should a gaming or multimedia company decide to devote some resources towards an MVIS partnership, I'd expect the stock price to really start to get moving.
EELED 'Point Source' contract. In this case, MVIS has a working prototype which many of us have seen as the digital camera electronic viewfinder, based on edge-emitting LEDs. This thing is flat out awesome. The hitch is, these EELEDs are not widely available, and as such the cost per unit is not low enough to get into the kinds of products we'll need to target. The challenge is to convince somebody to start cranking out EELEDs by the tens of millions. This would require a significant investment on the part of the supplier company. There would need to be something really nice at the end of the rainbow for this partner to dive in the pool with us. Give 'em something really special, and we'll just take a little royalty per unit...or something like that.
Next-gen Nomad. We know that MVIS is under contract to deliver full-color, ruggedized and battle ready Nomads to General Dynamics by June 2006. Recent developments in green laser light sources are bringing that next-gen Nomad closer to reality. I think a device like this will probably lead to some nice orders from GD. The recent emphasis on content and applications on the conference call is a sign that the company is starting to get the idea that you need to sell 'solutions' and not just hardware. So I'm looking to see the company work with some augmented reality software companies to really flesh out the software for military Nomad and create an offering that's totally compelling right out of the box. The same principle applies to the transportation/industrial maintentance verticals -- whether it's mono-red or full color, we need killer apps so that the ROI is immediately evident as soon as the device is put on. I hope to see some big steps in this direction during 2006.
DoD Orders. Don't look now, but there's $15.7M in the current version of the DoD appropriations bill for 1,599 Nomads and a bunch of development work by MVIS. Even if the final version of the bill has only half that much, it will still be really significant for the company.
I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but if we get some of this stuff going, next year is going to be really outstanding. It can be hard to imagine a whole line of successes playing out for us, considering the way the stock has performed and the lack of news over the last few months. But nothing that I've described here is outside the realm of possibility. And these are only some of the opportunities at hand. 2006 could be the year that we get our sea legs and start making real progress towards establishing MVIS as a serious player in the imaging and display space. If it is, those who loaded up in 2005 when everyone was crying in their beers will be feeling like kings.
What a wild time, eh? So, what's on the minds of MVIS Blog readers? Post a comment and let's get some dialogue going.
I got an email from a reader last night that totally blew my mind. This guy was contemplating selling his house and trying to put together enough cash for 70,000 shares of MVIS. Then he'd live 'on the cheap' for the next 4-6 years, and wait for 'MVIS-inside' (MVIS technology being OEMed by major consumer electronics companies) to happen and make him filthy rich.
I just think it's amazing. There's something so powerful about Microvision's technology that otherwise normal people would be willing to change their entire lives, for years, to own as much of the company as they possibly can for what may turn out to be the greatest 4-6 year run in the history of the stock market.
I can relate to this thought process -- I've sunk every dime I could get my hands on over the last 4 years into shares of this stock. At this moment, that's not looking too hot. But it's always been 2010 that I've had my eye on. I figure a little price volatility is the cost of having truly unlimited upside.
Now, of course it is kind of comforting to know there's somebody else out in the world who is willing to bet everything they've got on the chances that MVIS will become a global technology juggernaut.
But it got me thinking. How come it's me, and this guy and a couple dozen other guys who see the real vision for the future of this company and make every effort to acquire MVIS shares -- and not Washington Mutual and Fidelity and all the others?
What does Microvision have to do to really demonstrate what their future potential is to the financial community at large? How can a company with this much promise and partnerships with first-class companies like JNJ, BMW, VW/Audi, Bosch, et al, be just totally written off by these guys?
I do not believe the financial community is very smart or very forward looking (apologies to institutional readers -- I don't mean you, but those other guys down the hall). They are only thinking about interest rates, the price of oil, capital gains offsetting, blah blah. They see out to the next 3 months and have no conception or idea about the next 3 years.
Generally speaking, these institutions do not understand the significance of exponential progress or have a way to understand that Microvision will make many times more progress miniaturizing and improving their technology in the next 3 years than they did in the first ten years of their existence. This is the nature of technology. It elevates itself and reaches a plateau which in turn allows it to reach ever higher. It spirals upwards, faster and faster.
We need to boil it down to its essence for these guys. Spoon feed it to them. We. Will. Dominate. The. Future. Get it?
We need to have some deep pocketed folks come on board who share the passion and the vision for the future of this company that I've got, that this guy who wrote me has got, and that a whole bunch of readers of MVIS Blog have got. We need to figure out a way to spread this excitement from guys like me who work regular jobs and don't just have piles of money laying around and find more guys who can afford to jockey for position on the leader board of the institutional holdings list for MVIS.
MVIS stock seems to be in a vortex. There may be only one way to illustrate to the world that MVIS is going to be a good investment: By proving it to the people who believed all along.
By Mark LongThanks to cul8r33.
There's the Adidas smart shoe, which uses a microprocessor to adjust the cushioning around your foot automatically. There are wearable heart-rate monitors that keep you looking cool doing cardio exercises. There's even a wrist-worn, Windows-based computer that has a video display designed to fit over one eye, turning you into a reasonable facsimile of the Borg from Star Trek.
Clearly, the dawn of wearable computers is here.
Even as the chips that power these devices are getting smaller, they are getting smarter. Futurists say that the day when we will all be wearing full-fledged computers attached in one way or another to our bodies is right around the corner.
But for those of us already burdened with mobile handsets, PDAs, pagers, and laptops, a computer you slip into every morning might seem less like a must-have and more like a hassle.
Fortunately, a convergence of technologies is underway between engineers of wearable computers and manufacturers of mobile devices. It's a union that promises to revolutionize consumer lifestyles in several new and interesting ways.
Blurring the Line
"Although we've been talking about wearable computing for a decade, it is only now that the general public gets what that is," said Michael Sung, senior researcher in the Wearable Computing Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology . "But there's still a long way to go before the technology is embedded right into our garments."
Sung explained that, at this point, we could start taking steps in the right direction by putting advanced technology in the electronics devices that people are actually willing to carry for extended periods, such as cell phones or wrist watches.
Bruce Lambert, vice president of MicroOptical, a company that specializes in head-mounted computer displays, offered a similar take on the wearables trajectory. "The whole wearable-computing space is folding into the mobile-computing environment these days, and it is becoming tough to draw any lines of distinction between the two," he said.
This ongoing convergence makes sense, especially given the fact that the operating system, memory, processing power, and all the other assets that fulfill the needs of the wearable computing industry are now available on small compact devices, said Peter Phillips, vice president of Socket Communications, a company that makes add-ons for smartphones, PDAs, and other mobile devices.
Making Health All the Fashion
But before wearable technology makes you look better, it just might make you feel better. MIT's Sung recently conducted a study at MIT to demonstrate that today's smartphones -- when used in tandem with heart-rate and body-motion sensors -- not only can monitor health status but also can provide immediate feedback before a health problem becomes critical. The end result, Sung believes, will be nothing less than a sea change in health care.
With the health-care system bracing for the large numbers of baby boomers who will soon reach senior status, the old medical model is no longer going to work, Sung said. Instead, he sees a world of mobile devices that help their owners detect and deal with health problems before they become chronic or necessitate a visit to the doctor.
For example, people equipped with some sort of wearable computer, whether as a stand-alone device or a smartphone accessory, will be able to monitor themselves for signs of heart trouble and then take the appropriate steps to prevent a heart attack, he said.
"Most problems are the result of unhealthy behaviors, and if we are going to change behavior at the end point, we need to provide persuasive feedback to the individual," Sung said. "We are going to be building devices that are truly context-aware and able to do long-term behavior-monitoring of individuals, what each person's activity patterns are, and how much exercise they are actually getting each week."
Enabling Video on the Go
Early efforts to introduce wearable computers failed because of what used to be perceived as the inherent "dork factor," according to Stephen Glaser, vice president of Icuiti, a company that makes eyewear-mounted computer displays.
"When you used to see a person talking to himself while walking down the street, you'd have thought he was crazy. But with Bluetooth headsets and other wireless technologies so prevalent today, we now see this type of activity as normal," said Glaser.
Coming soon are head-mounted displays for consumers that weigh less than 3 ounces and are closer to a pair of sunglasses than earlier systems, Glaser said. "You can put on a pair of sunglasses and be watching a movie on a virtual 42-inch screen."
The new devices will be able to work on anything from laptops, PDAs, and portable DVD players to digital cameras and even cell phones, he said.
"We see the biggest market growth coming from people having video streamed to a cell phone," Glaser noted. "I also think the fact that Apple sold two million movies online to video iPod users in the last six weeks tells us that video on the go is going to be a big deal," he said.
Real Life Power-Ups
The marriage of head-mounted displays with yet another new computer technology -- called augmented reality -- could open the eyes of the world within the next couple of years, said Bruce Thomas, director of the Wearable Computer Lab at the University of Southern Australia.
"With augmented reality, the idea is that it is similar to virtual reality in that you wear a head-mounted display, and when you move your head, it moves the scene accordingly," Thomas said. "But with augmented reality, you see the physical world combined with graphical information."
Football fans already benefit from the concept. Augmented reality appears on the TV screen in the form of the computer-generated first-down line that is now part and parcel of every live football broadcast.
In the not-too-distant future, wearable computing systems will be able to process live images digitally and "augment" them through the addition of computer-generated graphics and other information.
Socket's Phillips likewise sees a bright future for the technology in the gaming arena through the introduction of wireless platforms using some kind of head-mounted display. "When the players are networked together, they'll be able to play a virtual game with others no matter where they might be," he said.
Boosting Social Intelligence
The MIT Media Lab has been studying social interactions involving large numbers of people equipped with wearable technology. "[It is] about having a device close to you that basically works on your behalf," said MIT researcher Jonathan Gips. "It helps you to collect information in social settings before communicating with someone else, and it works on your behalf in a very private way."
Gips calls such information "social intelligence." For example, people wearing special badges might be able to tell if they are doing well with the person they are talking to or going down in flames, Gips said. "And if your stress levels are going up, it can give you some immediate feedback to make you aware of this fact."
The technology might prove to be particularly useful to people attending large public events, helping them connect with others who have common interests. "When going to shows and looking for something in a giant sea of people, the technology can increase the likelihood of connecting," Gips said.
"If you and I have already talked with persons A, B, and C but haven't yet talked to each other, the device I am wearing will be able to proactively instigate a conversation between us by flashing a special icon that would prompt me to stop and say 'Hey, how are you doing?'"
Thomas, of the University of Southern Australia, sees these kind of electronic devices being integrated into clothing within the next five to 10 years. Making the technology as low-profile and unobtrusive as possible is key to its adoption, Thomas said.
"As one example, we are working on a set of pager motors integrated into a shoulder pad for a business suit," Thomas said. One idea is to have silent vibration patterns -- similar to custom ring tones -- coded to incoming phone numbers. "This way, when you are in a meeting you have a better idea of who is trying to contact you and you are not always pulling your phone out to see who is calling," Thomas said.
If he and the other wearable-computer innovators are right, reaching out and touching someone might soon take on a whole new, potentially augmented meaning.
What an amazing thing it is to have reached so many people with this blog. It is great to have such a dedicated daily readership. Recently, people have been posting comments more frequently, which I think really adds value to the site as well. I'm grateful to everyone who has commented or sent in emails.
I've received some really wonderful notes over the last few weeks, and I'm heartened through this decline to know that there are other people out there who think it is totally insane that $50M over cash will buy you every single penny of revenue ever to come out of Microvision.
Naturally, I'm turning over the sofa cushions trying to get my $50M together...!
The stock may be unloved right now, but it's all just 'sentiment' and group-think without any real insight. Short-term thinking dominates over entrepreneurship right now, unless you're a biotech company...we do have a hot prospect in the medical device field, though, so you never know!
Thanks again to everybody for making this site what it is -- the #1 Independent Resource for MVIS Investors. I truly believe that there are no limits to what Microvision can accomplish. I believe the economic value of the scanning platform will be greater than (almost) anyone is imagining.
With the powerful macro forces of exponential technological progress as the wind at our backs, change and growth will happen faster and faster in the weeks, months and years to come.
The business plan for the next 5 years is coming -- and with it, the world at large will begin to understand how truly extraordinary Microvision's market opportunities are. With discipline and focus, we will systematically execute on each opportunity. It will be obvious to all that this is not your father's Microvision. This is a new animal, with glowing eyes, and an obsessive focus on shareholder value creation.
We have barely begun this fight. The path to 'MVIS-inside' and the ubiquitous scanned beam display is laid out before us. I'm happy to have you all with me as we go from $80M cap to beyond imagining.
It is an important thing to recognize that a stock is not a company. The stock of MVIS has gotten kicked in the gut over the last few weeks, probably due to heavy shorting in advance of the recent financing. The quickness and relentlessness of the decline, in the absence of news about the business of the company, leaves people to infer that maybe something's going wrong, there's a problem somewhere with something, blah blah. I know a lot of people who have been in the stock for a while just feeling like they can't take it anymore and they don't want to endure any more of the kind of pain that MVIS longs have had to go through since October started.
It is important to separate the the psychological phenomenon of owning MVIS from the business of operating MVIS. I would suggest that the recent plunge is not an accurate reflection of the health of the business. In fact, the company had a lot less money in the bank back in October when the stock was $6. If you were going to freak out about the state of the company, that could have been the time to do it, right? But now in December, with a fresh $10M, there's a whole lot more room to move. Yet, the stock has been cut in half.
We've had another 3 months of technological progress, at the fastest rates ever. We are very close to the unveiling of Mr. Tokman's Roadmap to 2010, where MVIS investors will begin to see how we get from the (oooh, scary!) world of today, to the promised land of the ubiquitous scanned beam display.
The Roadmap and Vision will take us there.
Now, imagine for a moment that you are an engineer working on, say, the 12-month, $4.4M contract from General Dynamics that Microvision was awarded earlier in the year. You're not stopping work on your project because the stock has tanked. You've got til June 2006 to deliver on:
The 12-month contract will focus on preparing the Microvision HMD System for potential use in attack and utility helicopters, with specific emphasis on continued ruggedization and miniaturization of the HMD system. The previous phase of the program, with Microvision contracting directly with the Army Aviation and Missile Command, culminated in the delivery of a prototype full-color, daylight-readable helmet-mounted display [the Spectrum SD2500]. The new contract is expected to result in an upgrade for that display that will be ruggedized, miniaturized, and soldier-wearable in a package similar to Microvision's Nomad Helmet-Mounted Display System.
So, here it is. We will deliver a full-color, ruggedized wearable display with the astonishing quality of the Spectrum SD2500 in the next six months. That's the facts. That's a big part of the business of being Microvision. Deliver the highest quality display technology in the world to the DoD, to enable better safety and situational awareness for soldiers and pilots in harm's away. When I think about the time I saw the Spectrum, I was awestruck. It is incredible. To imagine that in a similar form factor to the existing Nomad, but small, rugged and ready for battle in the harshest conditions...it will be obvious that there's value in the stock and in the future of the company.
Maybe the psychology is so negative today for whatever reason. I don't really care. I just know that these things can turn on a dime. And that the promise of MVIS-inside at the end of the GE-transplanted Roadmap, and the tangibility of a full color wearable display will be a pretty compelling story.
I'm kind of amazed when I read this as it sounds a lot like the kinds of things I've been talking about for a while here on MVIS Blog: context-aware mobile computing devices. Seems to me like we should just import this whole team of MIT kids and let them run wild up there in Bothell.
Wearable Computing at the MIT Media Lab
To date, personal computers have not lived up to their name. Most machines sit on the desk and interact with their owners for only a small fraction of the day. Smaller and faster notebook computers have made mobility less of an issue, but the same staid user paradigm persists. Wearable computing hopes to shatter this myth of how a computer should be used. A person's computer should be worn, much as eyeglasses or clothing are worn, and interact with the user based on the context of the situation. With heads-up displays, unobtrusive input devices, personal wireless local area networks, and a host of other context sensing and communication tools, the wearable computer can act as an intelligent assistant, whether it be through a Remembrance Agent, augmented reality, or intellectual collectives.
The Memory Glasses is a wearable, proactive, context-aware memory aid based on the MIThril platform and wearable sensors. The primary goal of this project is to produce an effective memory aid and reminder system that requires a minimum of the wearer's attention.
The function of our system is to deliver reminders to the wearer in a timely, situation-appropriate way, without requiring intervention on the part of the wearer beyond the initial request to be reminded. In other words, the system behaves like a reliable human assistant that remembers reminder requests and delivers them under appropriate circumstances. Such a system is qualitatively different from a passive reminder system (such as a paper organizer) or a context blind reminder system (a modern PDA) which records and structures reminder requests but which can not know the user's context.
People's lives are increasingly complicated, and the need for effective logistical and memory aids is on the rise. For years, digital technology and computers have promised effective solutions for the problems of organization and memory, but present technology offers little more than an incremental improvement over the paper scheduler and alarm clock of the 19th century. Even the most sophisticated PDA is deaf and blind, and knows no more about the wearer's context than the time of day.
The solution we propose is a proactive, context-aware memory aid called the Memory Glasses. By creating a reminder system that is context aware, the role of the system is transformed from a blind, passive organizer to a proactive, perceptive entity akin to a human assistant. The delivery of information is situation conditioned; reminders are associated with context and are delivered when and where appropriate.
There are a number of open questions to be addressed in the construction of a proactive, context aware reminder system. These questions may be broken down as follows:
Defining Useful Context: What is useful context for proactive reminders? Assuming that we cannot know everything about the wearer's state and actions, what are the most important things to know? Of these, which are technologically feasible to sense and classify?
Time and location are obviously useful. In addition, it may be useful to know socially or logistically important features of the wearer's activity state, such as "in a conversation with person X" or "driving to work."
Context Sensing and Classification: How do we sense and classify useful context? What types of sensors, signal processing, and inference techniques are necessary? What are the bandwidth and computational requirements for this classification?
Time and location are relatively easy to sense and classify. Aspects of the wearer's activity state which are independent of time and location are harder. High-bandwidth, computationally expensive computer perception techniques may be used to provide infrastructure-free sensing and classification, and low-bandwidth low-computing power tag readers and tags may be used in cases where tagging infrastructure, people, and objects is feasible.
Wearer Interaction: Humans have limited bandwidth, and a proactive information delivery system must always assume that it is a secondary task. One of the hardest questions is how to present information to the wearer in a way that supports their interaction with and involvement in the world around them. Arguably this is the most important question, since no amount of sophistication and effectiveness in context definition, classification and sensing can be effective if the wearer refuses to use it.
Our recent research suggests that it is possible to support memory recall without the user's conscious attention.
Hmmm. Tough week, and only two days in. Look, everybody. It's like this. I don't know what's going on right now. But let's be realistic. The company put $10M in the bank this month and they've got $18M worth of LMRA. Even in a really conservative scenario where revenues and costs stay at the same levels, and the LMRA asset doesn't budge, this is over a year's worth of money. [Updated 12/8. Clearly there will be another funding event before too long, but stay with me here.]
This gets us to the end of 2006, into 2007. It took MVIS two years to go from Nomad I (2002) and its kind of bulky look to Nomad II (2004) which is pretty darn sleek. Based on our development history, we are on pace for a new dramatically slimmer, lower cost Nomad sometime in 2006.
We await the "strategic roadmap and vision for the next 5 years, transplanting it from General Electric, implementing it at Microvision" that was mentioned by Mr. Tokman on the 3Q conference call. We will "place our biggest bets on our most promising opportunities."
The roadmap and vision will probably lay some things out for investors and everyone else: Change is coming. Focus and direction are coming. Operational improvements and strategic vision are coming to Microvision and MVIS investors will benefit. The current doom and gloom reflected in the stock price does not square with the reality of the situation, which is that there are numerous potential hit products in the company's pipeline: MicroHUD, Picoprojector, Surgical microcamera, Next-gen Nomad, LED Widescreen occluded HDTV gaming/multimedia glasses, occluded edge-emitting LED 'Point Source' platform, among others.
Now tell me this -- if there was a startup biotech company with at least six really promising drugs in its pipeline, with huge potential markets, do you think they'd be worth just $52M over their cash and equity positions? Me neither. So, it doesn't make sense to me. Never mind that all drugs to be sold in the US need FDA approval which is a huge overhead of time and money.
The market is basically saying they don't believe that Microvision's products exist. But I have seen some of them and know for sure that they do exist. And they are awesome. I would suggest that the company needs to do a better job communicating their product pipeline and illustrating these products' advantages over competitors, or how these products do things that no competitor can do at all.
So, the deal is this. This company is not going away. They are going to continue to engineer incredible technology. And, now they are being led by a proven manager from the world's best run company, with a history of generating revenue growth from bleeding edge technology products. Microvision is going to continue to receive funding from the military to bring successive generations of life-saving situational awareness tools like Nomad to soldiers and pilots. They are going to continue to receive funding from partners like BMW, VW/Audi, et al to further develop and improve the astonishing MicroHUD, with an eye towards mass adoption later this decade.
I've seen the Spectrum full color, see through laser display. It is just incredibly awesome. And it is going to be in a wearable configuration by the middle of next year. Get your head around this: the inexorable, impersonal forces of progress are pushing this company forward towards the promised land -- where every man, woman and child in the civilized world owns or interacts with multiple products with Microvision's scanning engine inside on a daily basis.
The market hasn't exactly 'priced in' the probability of that scenario into MVIS shares just yet.
My feeling is, as the opportunities become clearer, more attainable and nearer term, the market will start to bet heavily on the likelihood of the only acceptable outcome: total success.
This is my world view and the only thing that I understand. The world outside, that is punishing MVIS on a daily basis over the last two months, I can't understand it. But these huge impersonal forces like Moore's Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns, I get these. It means that time is on the side of those who are long high-technology stocks. That what is acheivable during 2006 may be ten times or 100 times greater than what was achieved in 1996. With focus, direction and a strategic roadmap and vision transplanted from General Electric, anything can happen for this company and it's owners.
It's a long term deal, working with OEM companies that operate on their own timelines and with their own (secret) product roadmaps and schedules. So it's kind of stupid to complain too bitterly about revenue not going through the roof in the immediate term. Much more important than that is to establish good relations with these partner companies and take the time and effort to ensure that when the partnership is consummated and 'MVIS inside' is OEMed by a partner company, that the technology handoff is smooth, the royalty rate is looking good and the product is a smash hit when it is rolled out. It is all about the OEM strategy, putting partnerships in place and delivering killer technology that's manufacturable on a huge scale. That's the real challenge, every bit as important as generating product revenue now with Nomad.
That's my view and I'm sticking with it. So...who's with me??? Feeling a little bit insane and kind of helpless over the last few weeks. Sometimes I'll have a moment where I'm looking back on this moment in time from 2010 or thereabouts and I'll tell my present day self, 'see, everything works out fine!' Those are good moments. I'm going to hang on to those.
Kiss your wife, hug your children, pet the cat and walk the dog. The work of building the future can never stop.
To everyone who has written, unfortunately I have no explanation for, or understanding of, the decline in the stock. When faced with this inexplicable situation, I find some solace in 'The Law of Acclerating Returns' written by Ray Kurzweil, very briefly excerpted below. Now, how to align the shareholder value creation with the accelerating rate of progress improving Microvision's technology that has been demonstrated over the last 3 1/2 years (since the stock was in the $3 range) is a question that I will leave each of you to consider (for now).
I believe that this will turn around. I'm just sitting here, staying put, watching this. I believe that Microvision's technology, when coupled with the kind of operational excellence that a top-tier manager from GE will bring to the company, will prove to be incredibly valuable. It is not just Nomad for car mechanics. That is just a stepping stone, a proof of concept, leading towards full color models, with eyeglass form factors, Bluetooth, HDTV-resolution and all the rest.
The market says the future cash flow from all of Microvision's patents, partnerships and everything to ever come from the company is worth somewhere around $52M once the cash and LMRA asset is subtracted out. Fifty million bucks for the rights to every dollar generated by retinal scanning eyeglass displays, laser scanning surgical cameras, laser printer engines, laser bar code scanners, laser scanning picoprojectors, laser scanning HUDs for cars and airplanes, and on and on, til the end of time. Hard for me to reconcile the vastness of the opportunities with the minuteness of the market capitalization. Wow.
In any event, 2010 is sneaking up on us. Just about 3 years from now. MVIS is going to have to be very busy putting together the glasses and contact lenses that Kurzweil describes, methinks.
The Law of Accelerating Returns
An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century -- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The "returns," such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.
Full immersion visual-auditory environments will be available by the end of this decade  with images written directly onto our retinas by our eyeglasses and contact lenses. All of the electronics for the computation, image reconstruction, and very high bandwidth wireless connection to the Internet will be embedded in our glasses and woven into our clothing, so computers as distinct objects will disappear.
The web will provide a panoply of virtual environments to explore. Some will be recreations of real places, others will be fanciful environments that have no "real" counterpart. Some indeed would be impossible in the physical world (perhaps, because they violate the laws of physics). We will be able to "go" to these virtual environments by ourselves, or we will meet other people there, both real people and simulated people. Of course, ultimately there won't be a clear distinction between the two.
It is not the critic who counts,
nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt
This is how you market Nomad, volume II
This article really artistically describes how to market a high-tech product -- touching on user-centric design, hardware as a conduit for software services, and marketing based on the heightened emotional responses available from the virtual worlds of media. This is one of the most brilliant things I've read in a long time. And what's printed here is just an excerpt.
The User-Illusion of the World (1)
The User-Illusion of the World (2)
We need graphic interfaces which are not only user-friendly, but which make people addicted, like drugs do. Like Nintendo does.
-- Former Apple CEO Michael Spindler
By Norbert Bolz
I'm of the opinion that all of our contemporary culture's identity crises result from the demands of a new man-machine synergy; terms such as 'interface' and 'user surface' attest to this. The human being is no longer a user of tools, but rather a relay switch in the media syndicate, engaged in a circuit.
When you buy a computer, you're not only buying a piece of hardware but also, and above all, a bundle of software - with the promise of user-friendliness. By no means does this imply that the user is supposed to understand what it does, but rather that it will spare him any irritation. A user-friendly computer allows me to forget that I'm working on a computer: its interface design protects me from the post-human technology of the digital. In a simple analogy, you can drive a car your whole life long without ever having to look under the hood a single time. And you can definitely work on a computer your whole life long without ever even having to peek beneath the user interface.
This magic [of the interface] is design's most important effect. Designers are indeed the masters of simplification. Their task is to reduce complexity in such a way that the user surface offers us a meaningful image, an image of meaning. When you turn on your computer, you don't see the dangerous logical profundities of the digital on the screen, but instead a series of trusted icons. And these icons suggest to you, as used to be the case in the world of people, that you're operating an analog device. The designer, wants to seduce one towards use, and therefore has to whittle away people's fear of technology. Design, then, no longer strives for functional or objective transparence, but rather for security and the trust of the world.
'User' is the honourable name for the customers of simplicity. They don't want to know anything about programs and processors, but prefer instead to remain on the friendly user surface. This has consequences for our lifestyle. We have learned to take things at interface value, says Sherry Turkle correctly. We accept not knowing what's going on inside the Black Box computer because the knowledge of what's going on inside is not germane to understanding its social function.
Form now follows the feelings of consumers, and not the function of things. We can add here that the great emotions, our culture's grand loves and passions, have been displaced and are now longing for spaces where they can act themselves out. In the material world of modern civilisation, emotions are heading towards a chasm. You could say that we live in a vacuum of the great emotions. And this is where post-modern consumption jumps in. Emotional Design facilitates the transfer of 'interpersonal' values to the world of things. And that's why marketing and advertising are beginning to offer emotional patterns. In this context, that means learning from Hollywood.
Since the Pop Art revolution, one thing has become certain: emotions do not display their true intensity in life, but rather in the media and via consumption. And so today we have so-called 'theme worlds' which offer us a 'surreal' compression of experience. What they offer is even more real than reality itself. If you really want to experience something, you no longer look for this experience in empirical reality, but rather in its virtual counterpart - it's pliable, and less likely to break down.
Emotional Design now operates exactly like the media. It presents the product as an erotic event; human attraction can no longer compete with this. Media and the consumption of experiences submerge us in a world of virtual experiences - everything else, namely the real, is too dangerous. Emotional Design has two major sources of power: the impenetrability of our technological world and the vacuum of the great emotions.
Emotional Design furnishes our wayward emotions with an external grip: it offers emotional formulas. And in this sense, even German Romanticism was a kind of Emotional Design. You can't formulate Emotional Design's task more succinctly than Wackenroder did when he called it the compression of the meandering emotions which have been lost in real life. Emotional Design offers patterns upon which consumers can model their own emotions - and this is exactly what Hollywood films have been doing for years now. Communication design shapes the experiences within the medium of consumption. It is no longer everyday objects which are being designed, but rather relationship patterns.
And what does this mean for the economy? When you look at the market from the customer's perspective, the product is transformed into a problem solution or a wish fulfilment. And that's why the 'new marketing' sells goods as problem solutions. Anyone who buys something eventually turns up in the manufacturer's reports. So even hardware is now appearing in the form of a service. In other words, marketing necessarily has to be communication design, because communication no longer determines only consumption, but production as well.
A post-modern company's market range is shifting from products to problem solutions. Post-modern goods bear an informational character; companies which offer consulting, design and system management deal purely with information. And even traditional products can only be sold these days if they have a 'communicative index.' Communication, then, competes with consumption. Anyone who wants to hold his ground in the post-modern marketplace has to come up with forms of consumption which reflect the communicative desire. And marketing has to be communication design, since communication has now been superimposed onto consumption.
As we've seen, communication design is no longer directed at consciousness, but rather at its immune system, namely the emotions. Emotions correspond to patterns of relationships and are in a certain way learned. Thus it's possible to model emotions. Emotional Design crafts patterns of feelings, and I think that marketing managers could learn something decisive from cultural historians in this regard. In the ancient world, on the threshold of Western civilisation, emotions didn't originate spontaneously in people but were instead drilled into them 'by the gods.' Today we can say, very analogously, that emotions are drilled into us by design and by the media.
BOTHELL, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 1, 2005--Microvision, Inc. (Nasdaq:MVIS - News), a leader in light scanning technologies, today announced that it has entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement with various investors to issue senior secured convertible notes (the "Notes") in the aggregate principal amount of $7,000,000, to issue 837,986 shares of Microvision common stock and to issue warrants to purchase 1,089,386 shares of common stock all for an aggregate purchase price of $10,000,000. The warrants are exercisable for 5 years at an exercise price of $3.94 per share. The Notes are convertible at the option of the holders into Microvision shares at $3.94 per share. Subject to conditions, the company has the option to pay principal in cash or company shares, or a combination thereof. Further details are available in a Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Microvision has agreed to register the shares of common stock purchased by the investors and the shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of the Notes, issuable as payment of principal and interest, and issuable upon exercise of the warrants for resale under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. The securities have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration under such act and applicable state securities laws or an applicable exemption from those registration requirements.
Form 8-K for MICROVISION INC
Entry into Material Agreement, Sale of Equity, Financial Statements and Exhibits
Item 1.01. Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement.
Microvision, Inc. (the "Company") entered into a Securities Purchase Agreement dated as of November 30, 2005 (the "Purchase Agreement") with various investors (the "Purchasers") to issue senior secured convertible notes (the "Notes") in the aggregate principal amount of $7,000,000, 837,986 shares (the "Purchased Shares") of common stock of the Company, $.001 par value (the "Company Shares") and warrants (the "Warrants") to purchase Company Shares for an aggregate purchase price of $10,000,000, subject to customary closing conditions.
The Notes are convertible at the option of the holders into Company Shares. The conversion price for Company Shares is $3.94 per share. The maturity date for the Notes is March 15, 2007. The Notes bear interest at a rate of the applicable LIBOR plus three percent (3.0%) per annum, subject to periodic adjustment, provided that the interest rate shall not be less than 6.0% per annum or greater than 8.0% per annum. In various circumstances, the interest rate increases to the applicable LIBOR plus 6%, but not less 12% or greater than 15%.
The Notes must be repaid in five quarterly installments at the same time as the notes issued in March 2005. One-fifth of the principal amount of the Notes is payable in each of the last five quarters of the term. Subject to conditions, the Company has the option to pay principal in cash or Company Shares, or a combination thereof. If the Company exercises its option to pay principal in Company Shares, the Company Shares will be issued at a 10% discount to the arithmetic average of the volume weighted average prices for the 15 trading days prior to the payment date. The Company must pay principal in cash if the value of the Company Shares would be lower than $3.65 per share. Subject to conditions, interest is also payable in cash or Company Shares, at the Company's option. If the Company elects to pay interest in Company Shares, the Company Shares will be issued at a 10% discount to the arithmetic average of the volume weighted average prices for the 20 trading days prior to the payment date. The Company must pay interest in cash if the value of the Company Shares would be lower than $3.65 per share. The Company has the right to mandatorily convert the Notes into Company Shares at the conversion price of $3.94 if, subject to conditions, the shares trade at or above $6.90 for 20 out of 30 trading days after the six-month anniversary of the effectiveness of the required resale registration statement. The Notes are secured by the same 1,750,000 shares of Lumera Corporation's common stock which secure the notes issued by the Company in March 2005.
The Warrants will be exercisable immediately for 1,089,386 Company Shares at $3.94 per share through the date that is five years from the issuance date. The Notes and the Warrants will contain anti-dilution provisions to pro-ratably adjust the number of Company Shares issuable upon conversion of the Notes or issuable upon exercise of the Warrants in the event of stock dividends, stock splits or similar events affecting holders of Company Shares generally.
The transaction documents include material restrictions on the Company's incurrence of debt and liens while the Note is outstanding, as well as other customary covenants. The documents also include a change of control put right by the holders of the Note at 125% of the principal amount then outstanding and specified financial penalties for performance failures.
The Company will enter into a Registration Rights Agreement with respect to the Purchased Shares and the Company Shares issuable upon conversion of the Notes, issuable as payment of principal and interest, and issuable upon exercise of the Warrants, pursuant to which the Company has agreed to file a registration statement with respect to the sale of such Company Shares by the investors.
The proceeds will be used for working capital purposes.
The Company issued a press release with respect to the issuance on December 1, 2005 which is attached hereto as Exhibit 99.1 and is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 3.02. Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities.
The Company has agreed to issue the Notes, the Shares and the Warrants (collectively, the "Securities") for an aggregate purchase price of $10,000,000. The Securities would be issued in a transaction not involving any public offering pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. The terms of the transaction are described in Item 1.01 of this Report and are incorporated herein by reference.
The objective of this lab is to carry out research in the area of immersive media, a new and emerging field of studies that considers the profound effects of the expansion and intensification of media formats and presentation. By increasing the scale, resolution and dimensionality of image and sound, a threshold can be reached that radically changes our relationship to media, which is then no longer a separate object to be experienced from a distance; rather it becomes an experiential environment that surrounds and engulfs us. Immersive media can facilitate new kinds of cinema, in which narrative can be experienced from the inside; new forms of games, in which interaction is through direct manipulation of media objects (rather than through keyboard and mouse); and new forms of experience, where our perceptual apparatus can be directly engaged and challenged. In all cases, immersive media holds the promise of creating large-scale social experiences that are ideal for multiple users, facilitating direct communication and dialogue. While the techniques for conceptual immersion are in many cases well understood (although by no means exhausted), the technologies of physical immersion are still being developed, and the techniques to exploit them are relatively new or nascent.
The Immersive Media Lab is a testbed in which to conduct research into new forms of media. By exploring, extending, combining and experimenting with various immersive and interactive technologies, we hope to gain insight into where these technologies might be headed. While there has been research into certain aspects of immersive technologies—most prominently in the field of virtual reality—we focus our efforts on three specific areas:
Immersive cinema (narrative)
Immersive games (interactivity)
Immersive environments (experience and perception)
Each of these areas is critical in the development of new forms of media; together they hold the potential to develop media that extend cinema and television in ways we can only imagine at present.
Be sure to check out the USC Immersive Research Weblog
I guess these guys didn't get the memo that the future has been cancelled...
Hey gang. Well, when I see today's closing price, I'm brought back in time to July of 2002 when I bought a bunch of MVIS stock at $3.65. Interestingly enough, I bought some more MVIS at $7.35 (whoops) in December 2002, just five months later.
So I guess if history is any guide, we can expect the stock to recover from these levels before too long.
Another thing that I think about is just how much technological progress has happened in the 3 1/2 years since my last buy in the $3s. They've shrunk the scan engine and got rid of the vacuum enclosure. They've improved the form factor and paired Nomad with a wireless wearable computer. A lot of money has been spent on R&D, and the company has been granted a whole ton of patents in that time.
When I went to MVIS HQ in May and tried out the Spectrum SD2500 display, I was blown away. The guys told me that it had taken them 12 months from the word 'go' to shrink the electronics and light sources for the Spectrum from refrigerator-size down to the standard flight rack (toaster size) enclosure that powered the SD2500. This blew my mind. Their next mission was to further shrink the light sources down to a wearable pack about the size of the Nomad's computer over the next year.
So, what we have then is a disconnect between rapid, ongoing technological progress and the creation of shareholder value. Some things have not gone as expected. Marketing Nomad into the commercial/industrial space seems to be a bigger challenge than anyone expected. Maybe the difficulties there help to explain this 3 1/2 year round trip to $3.75. I don't know.
All I can do is chalk it up to another losing season holding MVIS shares, and start to look towards the draft, and next season.
The company's opportunities in the gaming space are huge, and probably closer than ever.
The Picoprojector handheld laser display sounds amazing.
The MicroHUD is amazing, from first hand experience.
The Nomad is an awesome tool, should some killer apps finally be found.
The Ethicon micro-camera could be a huge revenue driver for the company once it goes to production. JNJ thought it was worth investing over $12M in it so far, and these guys are no dummies.
Flic seems like it should be mopping the floor with higher priced rivals so I really hope we're able to make something happen there.
It is no fun to lose tons of money while the Nasdaq is soaring and seemingly every other stock is doing great. It shows you that there's a lot of work to be done. That Microvision must grow, and change, and adapt. That Microvision has to come to be known for innovation, customer focus and doing what they say they are going to do.
There are no shortcuts, and no magic bullets. It takes hard work. It takes passion and dedication to the dream that someday soon, Microvision will change the world in a fundamental way. That the patents and the intellectual property and the collective man hours spent on retinal scanning displays can be employed in the service of creating a paradigm shift in the nature of computing.
It is only through diligence, rigor, operational and strategic excellence that Microvision will be able to fulfill its destiny.
I am still here, holding all my shares, for better or worse. I still believe that there will prove to be no greater investment vehicle over the next ten years than shares of Microvision. It is a lonely, kind of stressful feeling, believing something so strongly, for so long, and having the world just kind of laugh in your face. But, then, I have never let a little thing like reality slow me down.
It is indeed, only money. When you're in a pine box, it doesn't matter whether you were a prince or a pauper. It is only what you do when you are alive that matters. It is love, and relationships that matter. But I believe that fulfilling your destiny also matters. Living up to your potential. Building something. Making something happen.
So, that's why I'm here. Because I want to see the day when wearing a scanned beam display is so common that you notice people who aren't wearing them. And I want to profit from every unit sold. Maybe that's gonna be 2010 -- that's what Kurzweil says, anyway. Maybe it's 2012 or 2015, or maybe it's just not gonna happen. But I will be there at the end to find out.
By Michael MachoskyThanks to Herbert.
Someday the latest iPod Nano will be as obsolete as the 8-track -- that's the way technology works. Already, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Complex Engineering Systems are pushing the boundaries of wearable tech, creating computer systems that are literally at your fingertips.
There is a watch that can detect when you're busy, or tell whether you're in trouble. The eWatch senses acceleration, audio, skin temperature, ambient light and tilt, drawing for itself a digital picture of your current state. It communicates with your PDA, computer and cellphone, and can tell whether you're in a meeting, for example, and don't want to hear your cellphone ringing just now. In that case, it sends the call directly to voice mail.
Other wearable computers include goggle-like headsets, which can put complex instructions -- for, say, putting an airplane together -- on a heads-up display right before your eyes.
"He sees exactly where some pins need to be placed and how to wire them, instead of consulting some manual," Smailagic says. "That can reduce aircraft assembly time by half."
As humans and computers get closer together -- and the workspace moves farther away from the office desk -- one major limitation is apparent. It's not computing power, or the physical weight of computers. It's the human attention span.
"Since medieval times, human attention didn't increase much at all, though everything else has been increasing exponentially," Smailagic says. "Disk capacity, memory capacity, everything doubles every 18 months. Humans can absorb a specifc amount of information, and there's a limit, and that doesn't change. This technology can help people focus on their primary tasks."
By Fran Molloy
November 24, 2005
You're moving through the streets of Melbourne stalking your quarry. A phone call on your GPS mobile phone tells you your target is only a few streets away. A direct kill means boosting your team's score. And in this game, winning is everything.
Welcome to the world of "real-life" games that blur the boundary between gaming and reality.
Last year the classic arcade game Pacman came to life on the streets of New York. A player dressed as Pacman ran around Manhattan collecting virtual "dots" while trying to evade four players dressed as ghosts. Each player had a human controller back at base who monitored their progress online and phoned through strategy and advice.
A few months later, a lab at Singapore National University had developed a version of the same game using GPS and motion sensors to track players through the city's streets. This time, players could see the game overlaid on the real world through special goggles called augmented-reality headsets.
A lab at the the University of South Australia is also working on moving gaming from the couch and on to the streets by projecting games into the real world.
"Our work is designed to be as realistic as possible and the user carries quite a bit of equipment," Dr Wayne Piekarski, assistant director of the Wearable Computing Lab, says.
"The user walks outside wearing a head-mounted display and can see virtual monsters overlaid onto the landscape."
The work by Dr Piekarski's lab is part of a bigger move in recent years that has seen gaming companies getting physical, including the development of vibrating game controllers, Sony's eye-toy games - which follow body movements - and arcade dancing games such as Dance Dance Revolution.
But it hasn't been enough, and gamers are finding all sorts of ways to hit the streets as artists join the push to move gamers off the couch.
Last month, British art collective Blast Theory ran a version of its chase game Can You See Me Now? at the Cardiff Festival. In an extraordinary blend of cyberspace and reality, players on the streets using hand-held computers hunted down online players.
"We ran a ridiculous number of kilometres," Blast Theory developer and artist Ju Row Farr says.
"We weren't fit enough for the online players and had to develop strategies on the ground to go after people."
The Blast Theory collective is working with the European Project on Pervasive Gaming, a consortium of universities in Sweden, Britain, Germany and Finland, to extend gaming into the real world.
Thanks to portable GPS units, mobile phones, public wi-fi hotspots and the internet, gamers worldwide are now roaming cities in the guise of their gaming personas, which can range from spies and assassins to poker players, detectives, ghosts and even characters from the wild west.
At the same time as people are diving into game worlds, the games are starting to invade the real world.
Other games need GPS to find a clue at a map co-ordinate or might require wireless networks, hand-held computers and mobile web cams.
Far from being socially isolating, players say the games can significantly enhance their lives.
"These games encourage interaction in real life," says Jackie Kerr, a 26-year-old US science researcher from Baltimore.
I'm heading off to visit some family for the Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks for reading MVIS Blog and thanks to everybody for all their letters over the last few weeks. It means a lot to me to hear from everybody.
Hang in there, you guys. We will turn this thing around.
A friend of mine told me about MVIS: there is no alternative but total success.
That has stuck with me and hopefully it will stick with you guys too.
Have a great holiday!
I think a lot of MVIS investors as well as people at MVIS think that in order to go after consumers, we need to provide full color displays. I believe that this is a mistaken notion. If we can create a display that has an attractive form factor, long battery life and serves an immediately useful purpose, there is no reason why monochrome red would not be perfectly adequate for an initial consumer eyeglass display.
Obviously, full color would be best. But the important thing to consider is not that consumers are used to full color on their desktop monitors -- but rather that we are introducing a new paradigm for computing, which is mobile, context-sensitive computing. The real world and your place in it is your context. A bunch of URLs that you visit and then click off of do not respect your context. They are static places that serve their function when they are visited and are waiting for your return.
The web will move from the concept of web sites to the pervasive information overlay that I've described a few times. The development of an information overlay is hugely computer intensive. You need data about a person, where they are, what they're looking at, what they're trying to accomplish. It will be a monumental task to provide meaningful information out of all this data. A critically important factor to consider is how much more information can be relayed via text vs. images or video. Google has built an empire on delivery of text information. Billions and billions of dollars are spent annually on Google AdWords.
Text is everything. Google says "the bit rate on text is very fast". And that's what we need to be concerned about. How can we deliver information as fast as possible, as unobtrusively as possible, that's relevant to a user and respects their context?
Through text. And in a see-through display, mono-red text would be just fine. And I'm sure Google would not mind another potentially huge channel through which to deliver targeted ads to users.
So rather than hinging our consumer strategy on an occluded display like the LED Widescreen architecture, I propose that MVIS would be better served to spend the time to dramatically slim down the form factor of Nomad into a pair of sleek, attractive glasses.
Cell phone and PC displays were monochrome for a long time and these devices still ushered in huge waves of economic growth. There is no reason why we can not attack consumer markets with an eyeglass version of Nomad. After all, mono-red is perfectly suitable for delivery of the form of information with the most meaning per bit -- good old text.
For a little more context on the power (and value) of text, check out this article.
How Google Tamed Ads on the Wild, Wild Web
Sergei Brin and Larry Page, the Google co-founders, were more receptive to internal suggestions that could not be found in a marketing textbook - like text-only ads. These could be created by a business of any size; the format would permit a business to try out hundreds, even thousands, of variations, statistically measure the results and see which ones drew clicks and which did not. This would please advertisers.
Some analysts view Google's embrace of text as temporary, predicting that the company will add image advertising to its site just as soon as it can build the infrastructure. Jordan Rohan, an Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said that given the fact that Google serves up 100 million search-query results a day, were the company to add a single photo-quality image to each page, the bits for each page would increase a thousandfold and the resulting load would figuratively "break the Internet."
Is Google holding off on image ads because of inadequate infrastructure? No, responds Ms. Mayer. She says Google uses text for ads because of cognitive science: text has the highest information density and allows users to scan a lot of information at the highest speed, or, as she phrased it, "the bit rate on text is very fast." Anything that gets in the way of speed-reading must go. Google does not permit advertisers to use all-capital letters. (Studies have shown we read those 30 percent slower than properly capitalized words.) Ms. Mayer did allow for one theoretical exception to text ads in the future: when users search for videos. "For a query on videos for baking a cake, then, a video might be best," she said.
The online marketing agency Avenue A, which later became Avenue A/Razorfish, says that about 30 percent of the more than $400 million it will spend on behalf of its clients this year will be for text ads on search pages. Last month, Eric Schmidt, Google's C.E.O., said the company's profits jumped sevenfold in the third quarter, versus the period a year earlier, partly because larger companies were increasingly willing to spend their ad dollars on search-related advertising.
TRUE, major ad buyers still spend a majority of their client's online budgets on banners and display ads and, increasingly, on video commercials. But even in the deployment of these formats, one can see the effects of Google's civilizing influence: these advertisements, for the most part, eschew the strong-arm tactics of earlier times. David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer, said, "Paid search has brought to the fore the cliché 'the consumer is in control,' and there is no going back."
Labels: Mobile Phone
By Kevin McLaughlin, CRN
Computer visionary Ray Kurzweil examined the effects of accelerating growth of technologies on the present and future of human technological innovation during a speech at the ninth annual CRN Industry Hall of Fame, held Tuesday in Santa Clara, Calif.
Much of Kurzweil's speech centered around how innovation is driving the engines of technological and economic growth. For example, adoption of e-commerce has followed a smooth exponential growth curve, despite the lower levels of online activity that characterized the dot-com downturn. "Generally, the 'boom and bust' psychology is a true harbinger of what will ultimately be a true revolution," said Kurzweil.
With regard to how solution providers use technology to tackle everyday business tasks, Kurzweil explained why he feels it's necessary to make predictions and models for the future. "It's very important to track technological trends. People assume the technology will be essentially the same in five years, but contemplating what things will be like--that's why we model for the future," said Kurzweil.
The bulk of human intelligence is pattern recognition, which Kurzweil said is the quintessential example of a self-organizing system. This will be instrumental in the development of future Web-based applications, he added. For example, he said that Google has developed a speech tool for English-Arabic and Arabic-English translation, despite the fact that no one on the development team spoke Arabic. "I think this type of feature will be a standard feature on mobile phones by the next decade," he said, giving a demonstration of the tool.
As proof that these types of evolutions will take place, Kurzweil used the example of artificial intelligence that is embedded everywhere in today's society, from medical devices such as electrocardiogram machines and credit card fraud detection software. "If these narrow [artificial intelligence] programs suddenly stopped working, it would cripple the economic infrastructure," he said.
By 2010, Kurzweil said, computers will begin to disappear, instead becoming embedded in the environment and into materials such as clothing and eyeglasses. Images will be written directly on human retinas, said Kurzweil, adding that the military uses this technology today in modeling virtual reality environments. "Search engines of the near future won't wait to be asked for information," he said.
"2029 is where technology really gets interesting because we'll have had all of this exponential growth taking place over the next 25 years," said Kurzweil. By this time, computation will move from the device and become Web-centric. "There is going to be a worldwide mesh consisting of tiny devices, nodes in clothing and in the environment, each sending and receiving their own messages, as well as passing on other peoples' messages," Kurzweil said. Organization on the massive worldwide mesh will be much like that of the traditional Internet, in terms of being self-organizing and every device being a node, he added.
Driving this worldwide mesh will be exponentially speedier bandwidth, according to Kurzweil. Most important of all will be not the devices, but the software that will be designed to harness this exponentially increased power of the network, he said.
Today I had the pleasure of spending some time with an outstanding student from Carnegie Mellon. Naturally, our conversation steered towards augmented reality technologies, the geospatial internet and its ramifications, emerging input-output modalities for ubiquitous computing, and killer apps for head-up displays like, say, this one or its descendents.
We discussed how the internet as we know it today is very static. I visit 'Yahoo.com' and the experience ends as soon as I shut off my browser or go to a new URL. The emerging internet paradigm of a persistent metadata layer totally redefines the notion of a 'web site'. It turns a web site into an environment. If you can conceive that every building, every billboard, every car and every object can have their own IP address, and communicate with the internet and with each other, then you are well on your way to understanding where the web is heading. And it's not just heading there because I say it is. Check out the last couple of posts about internet maps and what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft want to do with them.
(To the data warehousing and business intelligence professionals reading this -- the metadata layer will mean exponential increases in the amounts of data that need to be cleansed, aggregated and presented to users so your jobs are safe probably.)
Given that the transformation of the internet into a metadata layer of software and services might take a little while, what are some immediate opportunities made possible by a heads up display?
Some interesting answers to this one. For airline pilots, a head up display could tell you if you've pressed 'the right button or the wrong button.' For scientists, the display could provide information about what's visible in a microscope. For people working on circuit boards, the display could tell you about defects that are invisible to the eye.
The place to look for good ideas about where the internet is headed and what kinds of changes to make to devices like Nomad in order to start to scale up towards significant revenues are places like Carnegie Mellon or other leading universities where students have been connected to the web all their lives and are bristling with ideas about what's next, what's next. These kids are bored with the limitations of the internet as we know it, and certainly with 2" LCD panels.
These are the people who want to make science futurism into the present day reality and usher in the paradigm shifts towards persistent geospatial computing.
To MVIS, let's be like Google and just hire some insanely smart people and then turn them loose to figure out what to do with the platform.
Labels: Augmented Reality
Essential reading for understanding the transformation of the Internet from 'web-sites' to a global, location-based 'metadata layer'.
Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are racing to transform online maps into full-blown browsers, organizing information -- and, of course, ads -- according to geography. The likely winner? You.
By Wade Roush
"I describe [Google Earth] as a browser for the earth," John Hanke, general manager of Google's Keyhole group, says of Google Earth. Keyhole, where Hanke was CEO until Google acquired the company last year, developed the software upon which Google Earth is based, mostly for customers in defense, engineering, and real-estate investing. Now that Keyhole is part of Google, the idea is to use geography as a fundamental structural principle for the entire Web. "The interesting part is not necessarily the core map but the information from the Web that's now being organized geographically, so that you can get to it and understand it in its proper context," says Hanke.
It's such a potentially lucrative idea, in fact, that Microsoft has followed suit, introducing its own search-and-mapping service called MSN Virtual Earth. The service offers satellite photos, zooming and panning abilities, and interactive search listings resembling those of Google Earth, but it may actually reach a wider audience than Google's product, since it runs inside a browser window rather than needing to be downloaded as a separate application. Yahoo, too, is in the game: last year it introduced maps that provide, say, the locations of all the coffee shops with Wi-Fi hot spots within a particular neighborhood.
The mapping revolution could, in short, change the way we think of the World Wide Web. We've long spoken of the Web as if it were a place--with "sites" that we "go to"-- but as places go, it's been a rather abstract, disembodied one. Now that's changing. Geotagging means the Web is slowly being wedded with real space, enhancing physical places with information that can deepen our experiences of them and making computing into a more "continuous" part of our real lives .
For example, users of smart phones and wireless PDAs with location technologies such as Global Positioning System chips may soon be able to automatically retrieve stories, photos, videos, or historical accounts related to their current locations, along with ads and listings for nearby shopping, dining, entertainment, and business outlets.
And the information is already flowing both ways: users can upload their own texts, photographs, and other data to the Internet and pin them to specific latitudes and longitudes. "Historically, maps were a 'read-only' medium," says Schuyler Erle, chief engineer at Locative Technologies and coauthor of Mapping Hacks. "Maps were only created by professional cartographers and professional GIS [geographic information systems] people. What has happened because of Moore's Law is that people now have the computing power on their desktops to manage the vast amounts of data that are required for digital cartography. Maps are increasingly a 'read-write' medium. That changes how we interact with them and the impact they can have on our everyday lives."
Even on the surface, it's clear that Google Maps goes much further than older interactive map sites. The stunning satellite views, along with the ability to drag the map in any direction without having to wait for the page to refresh, are the most obvious advances. The shaded pop-up balloons pointing to the locations turned up in local searches--Google calls them "info windows"--are also a pleasing touch.
Google is so eager to let outside programmers experiment with its mapping platform, in fact, that it released an official API on June 30, meaning hackers would no longer have to waste time on reverse-engineering. That's led to an even bigger wave of Google Maps creations, from the practical to the disturbing. At ahding.com/cheapgas, you can see gasoline prices from Gasbuddy.com plotted on a Google map, directing you to the lowest-priced pumps in your area.
Geography as Context
To use the Google Maps API, developers must agree not to use the service for commercial purposes, and so far, even Google has refrained from placing ads on Google Maps pages.
But for companies exploring the Internet for the next big business opportunity, the geospatial Web is the equivalent of a virgin continent waiting to be planted with billboards. The attraction is especially great for companies in the search business, for one simple reason: interactive maps have the potential to greatly extend the power of contextual advertising--the engine that drives the search industry and accounts for Google's ever rising revenues.
We may be able to communicate instantly with friends halfway around the globe, but we're still fleshly creatures who must fulfill our basic needs locally. If you're new to a particular area, looking at a map is the most natural way in the world to search out local services. In this case, the "context" for contextual ads is no longer a list of keywords but a location--meaning that the primary measure of an ad's relevance to the user is simply proximity, with no fancy psychographic algorithms required.
Annotating the Planet
As the big three vie for Web users' loyalty, they're likely to introduce more ways for people to import their own data and see it displayed on professional-looking maps. Google Earth Plus, an enhanced subscription version of the program, allows users to upload and view data collected by their GPS units, such as "tracklogs," series of virtual bread crumbs showing where the user has been.
Siemens, meanwhile, is developing software that will let a GPS-enabled mobile device associate notes with specific coordinates; when someone else with a similarly programmed gadget approaches the coordinates, the note appears on his or her screen. A tourist bureau might "label" a particular spot along San Francisco's Embarcadero as the site of a fatal duel in August 1879. John Udell, a columnist for InfoWorld, has coined a phrase for this phenomenon: "annotating the planet."
It's a trend that the main providers of mapping platforms have every incentive to encourage. After all, as the history of the Web itself has shown, interesting content draws more traffic, which drives more click-throughs. "The world is really dense with information," says Schuyler Erle. "Access to ubiquitous networking and location-finding services means that we can take that information and make it accessible in the places we are actually in, when we need it, and that allows us to make much more intelligent decisions on the spot, at that time."
Every page on the Web has a location, in the form of a URL. Now every location can have a Web page--indeed, an infinite stack of them. That may sound like a recipe for information overload. But in fact, it means that navigating both the Web and the real geography around us is about to become a much richer experience, rife with occasions for on-the-spot education and commerce. It means that we will be able to browse the Web--and the virtual earth encompassed within it--simply by walking around.
Machines will take over from humans as the biggest users of the Internet in a brave new world of electronic sensors, smart homes, and tags that track users' movements and habits, the UN's telecommunications agency predicted.
In a report entitled "Internet of Things", the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) outlined the expected next stage in the technological revolution where humans, electronic devices, inanimate objects and databases are linked by a radically transformed Internet.
"It would seem that science fiction is slowly turning into science fact in an 'Internet of Things' based on ubiquitous network connectivity," the report said Thursday, saying objects would take on human characteristics thanks to technological innovation.
"Today, in the 2000s, we are heading into a new era of ubiquity, where the 'users' of the Internet will be counted in billions and where humans may become the minority as generators and receivers of traffic," it added.
Currently there are about 875 million Internet users worldwide, a number that may simply double if humans remain the primary users of the future.
But experts are counting on tens of billions of human and inanimate "users" in future decades.
They would be tied into an all pervasive network where there would be no need to power up a computer to connect -- "anytime, anywhere, by anyone and anything", the report said.
Remote computer-controlled household appliances are already appearing, as well as prototype cars with collision-avoidance sensors.
Mobile phones can be used as electronic train tickets while meat exports from Namibia or goods for US retail chain Wal-Mart are tagged with sensors to allow them to be tracked.
The ITU's vision goes further, highlighting refrigerators that independently communicate with grocery stores, washing machines that communicate with clothing, implanted tags with medical equipment and vehicles with stationary or moving objects.
Industrial products would also become increasingly "smart", gaining autonomy and the intelligence thanks to miniaturised but more powerful computing capacity.
"Even particles and 'dust' might be tagged and networked", the ITU said.
"In this way the virtual world would map the real world, given that everything in our physical environment would have its own identity (a passport of sorts) in virtual cyberpsace," the report forecast.
The trend is being fuelled by a small number of technological developments, including miniature radio frequency RFID electronic tags that allow immediate identification and tracking, and new sensor technology, as well as smart devices and nanotechnology.
While the report laid out economic opportunities, a huge expansion of the IT industry and innovation in a wide range of fields from health to entertainment, it also warned of a number of challenges, including privacy issues.
Some of the applications envisaged for emerging RFID tags are to replace human ID documents, track consumer habits, or banknotes.
The ITU said tighter linkages would be needed between those that create the technology and those that use it to cope with its forecast new world.
"In a world increasingly mediated by technology, we must ensure that the human core of our activities remains untouched," the report concluded.
This is what I've been driving at, folks...
The World at a Glance, Plus Footnotes
Technology: Web mapping "mash-ups"
Where you can find it: Google Maps, Google Earth, MSN Virtual Earth, Yahoo Maps
Why it's important: The physical world can be annotated online and transmitted to our wireless devices.
How much it costs: Free, at the moment
When it's available: Now
Cyberspace used to be a world unto itself. Now it's being linked to real-world geography in seductive ways. In recent months Google, and then Microsoft and Yahoo in turn, have opened their next-generation mapping systems to allow anyone to create maps complete with personal points of interest—whatever suits your fancy, from the itineraries of characters in Hollywood films to the best hot dog stands in Chicago.
The map mash-up movement has enormous implications for both businesses and consumers because it lets anyone add audio-visual overlays to any map. Retailers, for example, might buy multimedia ads on a Google "shopping" map. Imagine your mobile device buzzing to indicate a special offer as you walk by a jewelry store. Private individuals will get the chance to annotate the spaces in their lives. It's easy to picture cellphone-driven audio tours of old neighborhoods or whimsical maps on which lovers have pinned their favorite poems to their favorite spots. At the moment Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are not charging consumers to piggyback on their mapping engines. But it's not hard to see the virtual real estate boom that's on the horizon.