Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The AEC Hackathon 2.4 was this past weekend in London. Held at Future Cities Catapult's Urban Innovation Centre, the weekend long event brought together technology developers with professionals from the built environment to create technology solutions to industry problems. While I was unable to physically attend due to my work schedule, I was still able to remote MC on the big screen and keep things going thanks to great Internet connection.

 The really exciting things about this AEC Hackathon for me are it was the first one outside of the United States and the first one supported and locally organized by a government entity. The local lead organizer was Simon Hart from Innovate UK. Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency that works with people, companies and partner organizations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

Simon and team did an amazing job with the help of AEC Hackathon board member Paul Doherty that was onsite in the UK. The challenges ranged from the usual AEC hack categories to those that used London city data. One team even created an application that worked with a hologram system. 

To be expected, the teams developed some pretty amazing hacks.

Best Overall Project: Team Ghost BIM Squad
Best Open Source Project: Team Optioneers
Innovate UK Hack Challenge - Mind the Gap: Team Gapathon
Autodesk Challenge: Team Ghost BIM Squad
National BIM Service Challenge: Team Massive
Future Cities Catapult Challenge: Team Gapathon
Energy Savings Trust Challenge: Team Gapathon  

Additional information about the event can be read at these blogs:
News Innovate UK Simon Hart's Blog: WTH just happened Pt 1
Autodesk Developer Network Blog: London #AECHackathon, Revit 2016 API Leader Attachment

Way to go UK AEC Hackers in making the first event overseas a smashing success. There will be another one next summer planned in London so get ready now!

Monday, June 29, 2015

AEC Hackathon 2.3 Southern California

The AEC Hackathon 2.3 in Southern California was this past weekend in Los Angeles. Held at UCLA's Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the weekend long event brought together technology developers with professionals from the built environment to create technology solutions to industry problems.

This AEC Hackathon set new records. While we always have folks at the events from all around the country and in some cases the world, 70% of the people in attendance were not from the SoCal area. A decent amount of us came down from the SF/Bay area and some from as far as the East Coast. We also had the highest ratio of tech engineer to industry personal with over 75% of the folks there having a technical background. 

To be expected, the teams developed some pretty amazing hacks. Watch the team presentations in the video below.

Best Overall Project: Team Rhumbix
Best Open Source: Team Holy Donut
Best Use of Experimental Tech: Team Cloud Tango & Team VRML (Virtual Review Management Loop)  
Genesis Award (sponsored by 2.2 Winner Team iPower): Team Agua Fresca  
BIMstorm Hack:
- Most Innovative Owner: Max, SPAWAR, DoD, Veteran Affairs
- Most Innovative Dev: Aditazz
- Best SEPS Design: Design Atlantic & Scarmack
- Best Connection: Attainia
- Best Hack of SEPS Data: 4D Pipeline  

Additional coverage of the event can be read here:
Brok Howard's Blog - SoCal AEC Hackathon
BuiltWorld's Blog - UCLA Hackathon Much More than Holy Donuts

Thanks to all that attended and thanks to Greg Howes, Willard Williams, the sponsors, and the folks at UCLA for a successful event.

Now off to London for AEC Hackathon 2.4!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Epic day of Unity with the Seattle VR scene

I just had an unforgettable day of VR here in the Seattle area. It started off at Envelop VR's office to discuss an upcoming VR event they organize called SEA VR and then my buddy Greg and I got to visit both Unity and Epic's local offices. I can't thank Nick and Pete enough for letting us see their VR rigs and try out their VR demos.


I had a great chat with Pete at Unity's office where I got a chance to see their setup and try out the HTC Vive unit. So far, this headset is by far my favorite HMD.

Next up was a visit to Epic Games' office just a few blocks away. While I am not a game developer, I am a big Epic fan. Epic's Unreal Engine is responsible for a variety of games I have loved playing over the years so this was a fan boy dream come true.

I also got a chance to see the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay demos that I never stand in line at conferences to see. First up was the super cool demo 'Showdown' that takes the user on slow motion trip through a street battle between futuristic cops and a giant robot (see the video below).

While this was among the best demos in VR I have seen to date, nothing has prepared me for what I experienced next. I got the opportunity to see a VR demo Epic did with Weta Studios, the company behind all the special effects for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.

The experience started with me in the mountain chamber of gold from the Hobbit movies. This alone was a 'WTF' experience as the scene looked exactly like it did in the movies. It looked so real and truly 'epic', that I was screaming into my hands to mute the sound of how awesome the experience was.

 The demo features the dragon Smaug swimming through mountains of gold looking for the thief (my character) it senses. Voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug speaks directly to the user with his daunting size on full display; 500 feet of red-scaled dragon. This demo is the kind of VR that I can put anyone in and they will automatically get why virtual reality is going to be a whole new level of media experience. Hands down this demo is the best I have ever seen so far.

I am so grateful to the guys at Epic and Unity for the truly fun day and I look forward to future visits to the Pacific Northwest to get my VR on.

Hacking Virtual Reality in Seattle

I just left Seattle where I attended the first hackathon for virtual reality in that region. Hosted at the University of Washington's Center for Education and Research in Construction (CERC), the Seattle VR Hackathon brought together virtual reality developers and enthusiasts for a weekend of hacking and a whole lot of fun.

There was a nice turnout of folks from the local VR community present including people from Samsung, the Microsoft HoloLens team, Unity3D, and Epic to name a few. Here is a nice writeup by one of the VR hacker teams that came from building firm Mortenson Construction (an AEC Hackathon alumni also).

 In addition to a weekend of building cool VR demos, there were informative VR related presentations from Unity3D's Pete Moss, Epic's Nick Whiting, and Matt McIlwain from Madrona Venture Group.

  A big thanks to Greg Howes, Trond Nilsen, Michael Lenzi, and Lucky Agung Pratama from Seattle's VR community for putting on this great event! A huge thanks to organizing partner the Web3D Consortium and the sponsors Samsung, Leap Motion, IDEAbuilder, Sony, Playingmondo, SpiralConcepts, and Unity3D.

There is another VR Hackathon planned for Seattle this coming September. While open to any subject matter and industry, the VR Hackathon will also be co-located with the area's AEC Hackathon.  If you are in the region and into immersive technologies, this is the event for you. Make sure to sign up and I will see you there!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Augmented World Event - Superpowers to the People

This past week was the Augmented World Event. Themed 'Superpowers to the People', this year's event showcased the hardware and software augmenting our lives. The event featured over 200 companies leading the charge in augmented and virtual reality, wearable tech and the Internet of Things. Over 3,000 tech professionals engaged in over 20+ workshops, 200+ interactive demos, a VR experience powered by UploadVR and 100+ AWE-inspiring talks from industry leaders and pioneers. AWE is focused on turning ordinary experiences into the extraordinary and empowering people to be better at anything they do in work and life.

Hands down this is still the best event for the commercial side of immersive technologies that brings together industry leaders from all over the world. There were plenty of folks from Europe, Israel, Asia, and all over the U.S.A. Monday was a day full of workshops with Tuesday and Wednesday being the speaker sessions and expo days for the event.

As usual I was moderating the Enterprise track all of Tuesday, but I got to see some great presentations and plenty of goodies on the expo floor. The expo featured several AR platform providers and about a dozen different AR and VR headset manufacturers. There was standing room only in several of the speaker sessions and great panel presentations including my favorite one on the closing day, 'VR vs. AR' where Amir Rubin of Sixense became my hero for how he held it down.

Subscribe and stay posted to the event's Youtube channel for the videos that will be released of this year's conference. Superpower your life and definitely check out the event for yourself next year. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Augmented Reality Pioneer Metaio gets acquired by Apple

So Apple has bought the German augmented reality company Metaio. I learned of the announcement via Tweetdeck and Magdalena Rogl's Twitter account where she posted a picture of this document.

I send a huge congrats to Metaio's founders Thomas and Peter. Metaio has been around longer than a decade and continued to push the limits of the AR envelope with their computer vision and tracking technologies. I have been a fan of Metaio's technology for some time now as seen in the videos below.

It definitely doesn't come as a shock that this company got acquired as they have great augmented reality tech and some good AR patents, but I am shocked it was by Apple and I am curious to see what they do with this technology now. With such big players like Apple, Facebook, Google, and others coming into the AR & VR space, our lives are about to get a lot more mixed with the digital world. Strap in and hold on!

*scan this image with the Junaio mobile app