NBCNews has an article on the recent tornado disasters, in the wake of yesterday’s Oklahoma touchdowns, and includes some interesting discussion with weather researchers and HPC simulations experts. In addition, they have a few nice visualizations of historical storm data.
“Tornado Alley” generally refers to the region centered in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and points north, where tornadoes are most frequent — but multiple studies indicate that the deadliest twisters occur to the east, in a region that’s come to be known as “Dixie Alley.” The reasons for that have to do with geography and demographics as well as meteorology in the southeastern United States: Storms tend to move faster, and they’re more likely to strike at night. There are more trees and other obstructions to raise havoc. Population densities are generally higher, and the region has many manufactured homes that lack basements in which to take shelter.
If you think the incredible picture quality, detail, color and resolution of HDTV is the pinnacle in home entertainment viewing, you’d actually be mistaken. Something even better is on the horizon: 4KTV.
Yes, 4K television is on its way, and it promises to be even better than HDTV — four times better, to be exact.
How on earth can things get better than HDTV, you might ask? Well, the quality of the 4K picture starts with the video camera. A 4K camera is able to capture far more details than an HD camera. The 4K image sensor is quite a bit larger than previous video cameras, so more digital data is captured. The end result is a more accurate, superior picture. It has been said that 4K enables the largest TV screens to look better than ever. Viewers can sit closer to the screen and have an engaged, immersed experience, like having a movie theater right in their home.
To put it in pixels, at this time HDTV has a resolution of 1080p, or 2 million pixels per frame. By comparison, 4K technology will deliver about 8.8 million pixels per frame, with resultant heightened accuracy, detail and picture quality. Its creators believe this will translate into even sharper, clearer pictures with better color and contrast than what HD currently offers.
Concerns with Content
As for concerns with this technology, the main one so far has been the fact that there’s just not yet that much content available for these TVs. At this time, about 100 movies are available in 4K, according to CNN. Only 4K content can do justice to a 4K display. It’s going to take some time for the technology to become widespread, and then content providers will step up their output.
Sony has plans to offer a 4K media player — the FMP-X1 — that will be released in 2013. It will come pre-loaded with 10 movies in 4K resolution and has a price tag of $699. The device will be internet-ready and also ready to connect with a 4K movie download service Sony will be offering, set to launch in late 2013. This content will be available for users with unlimited fiber broadband and a paid subscription. 4K Blu-ray won’t be available in 2013, which may create a higher demand for 4K streaming services.
Third parties, especially cable tv providers, will eventually start offering 4K technology as well. DirecTV recently trademarked a 4K/Ultra HD network, according to DigitalTrends.com. Streaming cost details have not yet been released, but these will likely be your best bet for 4K content if you snap up a 4K TV early in the technology’s life cycle.
The Cost of Cutting-Edge
As of this writing, the Sony company is leading the charge in 4K technology. They offer a huge 84-inch model for $25,000 as well as smaller sizes. A standard size TV these days has come to mean 50 inches or larger, as “average” for a TV size seems to continually increase. CNET got a chance to demo Sony’s offerings; here’s what they found:
Sony will offer the Bravia model in a 55-inch 4K UltraHD-TV with a price tag of $5,000. There will also be a 65-inch version for $7,000, according to Forbes. Lesser-known companies like Sharp, OEM Seiki, LG, Panasonic and Samsung will also offer their own versions of 4K TV. These offerings will likely be more affordable, but come with fewer features.
The question remains: Do you need 4K TV? The answer to that question is up to you. Visual people who love home theater entertainment will probably want the latest and greatest. However, if you’re only a moderate TV watcher, the difference may not be appreciable enough for you. Regardless, go and see the technology yourself, view it side by side with HDTV, and decide for yourself if the difference is worth the cost.
Article by Peter Henry
Pete is a freelance writer and single dad who lives in Maryland.
Another acquisition for Autodesk today, this time it’s TinkerCad. TinkerCad is a solid modeling tool popular amongst kids and hobbyists, designed for rapid design of 3D printer models. With this acquisition, Autodesk has a new toolsuite to target at the smaller markets.
I am happy to announce that we have just signed a deal where Autodesk will purchase the Tinkercad site and core technologies. This is a great day for all Tinkercad users, Autodesk is a very enthusiastic and capable steward. There are two main impacts of this deal: the site is fully operational and Autodesk has some very exciting plans for Tinkercad.
Sensopia today is reporting a nice $1.2Million round of funding that will help them push their “MagicPlan” technology to the next level. If you’re not familiar with MagicPlan:
MagicPlan lets you take a photo of your environment and generate a floor plan in minutes. The application can automatically measure, draw, and publish a floor plan by taking a photo with your iOS device. MagicPlan was released earlier this year and uses augmented reality and reality capturing technology to create a floor plan.
It’s a good use of classic SLAM-type technology, although I believe the real opportunity for monetization is in what they do with the resulting map. Just mapping the environment for it’s own sake isn’t terribly useful. That is the main thrust of this investment, so hopefully we’ll see more “Powered by MagicPlan” apps on the horizon.
Kitware has taken their recently developed web-visualization tools and pointed them squarely at the newly available hospital procedure cost database released by the US government, and created a nice interactive tool for visualizing various procedure costs by region.
The federal government recently released data about what hospitals charge for procedures, and how much Medicare reimburses them. We have visualized some of this data, along with publicly available data about mortality rates under these same procedures. How does your hospital stack up against national averages?
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at scientific data visualization, but don’t have a data science or computer programming background, try out NodeBox. It’s a tool suite from Experimental Media Research Group in Antwerp, Belgium and offers 2D and 3D visualizations (with animations and interactivity) via a nice and simple drag-and-drop interface.
Using our open-source tools we enable designers to automate boring production challenges, visualize large sets of data and access the raw power of the computer without thinking in ones and zeroes. Our tools integrate with traditional design applications and run on many platforms.
Reminiscent of the beginnings of the Oculus Rift, there’s now a new Augmented Reality headwear coming to Kickstarter from some old Valve employees and Jeri Ellsworth. They had some rough prototypes at the recent Maker Faire 2013, and the folks from engadget were there to get pics and an interview.
We interacted with a variety of environments, from a flying tour over a digital landscape to shooting up zombies with hooked up Xbox controllers, and was amazed at how intuitive and natural the controls felt. We also waved a LED-equipped wand around to throw a wrecking ball into a Jenga-style tower, which delighted us to no end. Not once did we feel nauseous or disoriented even as we bobbed and weaved.
Different from many other AR systems I’ve seen, the Cast works by mounting the projectors on your head thanks to new picoprojector technology. This offers many benefits like the ability to tightly couple a projector’s display to shutter glasses in hardware, allowing the projectors to display the left and right eye-frames in sync with active shutter glasses. This limits the augmented reality experience to a small projection area, but you could imagine a modified AR/VR scenario similar to working in a CAVE where you only render the portion of the screen you are looking at.
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