June 24, 2015
Earlier this week we sent our resident geek, Dave C., to do some reconnaissance at the Museum of the Moving Image. They're currently hosting an exhibition on new and experimental storytelling technologies, called Sensory Stories, and the centerpiece is the much-hyped Oculus Rift.
While it was hardly our first encounter with the Rift, the exhibit at MoMI had several different software experiences queued up, and they presented a great overview of the potential of this new generation of virtual reality devices. There were interactive games, but also a remarkably immersive 360º tour of a refugee camp in Jordan - Clouds Over Sidra - produced by the United Nations, and some disconcertingly realistic 3D-rendered experiences that explored the illusions of proximity and distance that the device can create.
Everything we saw implied that virtual reality is ready for primetime - not just as a gaming device or novelty, but as a new way to consume all kinds of media, from telepresence to documentary film. And the most important part of the equation may just be price; Oculus recently announced that when the final version of the Rift arrives for purchase early next year, the entire system necessary to experience VR - including a computer to run the software - will cost about $1500. At that price point, we think VR-based entertainment might finally be more than an illusion.
Sensory Stories will run at the Museum of the Moving Image through July 26, 2015
June 11, 2015
One of the most-hyped NYC restaurant openings of the summer is fast approaching, and what it isn't is as interesting as what it is. Reclaimed wood by the yard? Nope. Simple farm-to-table dishes that celebrate heirloom ingredients? Sorry. Prohibition-era cocktails? Nowhere to be seen.
We're talking, of course, about Oleanders, the new restaurant opening at the McCarren Hotel in Brooklyn. What it is is a fern bar - one of those distinctly late-70s, early-80s temples of preppy mildness, filled with leafy plants, Tiffany lamps and lounge seating. Food leans toward staid classics like lobster thermidor and meatloaf, and cocktails are of the sweet '80s variety.
Oleanders is certainly an outlier, and might turn out to be an anomaly - but the excitement around its arrival also shows that the leading-edge Brooklyn crowd is increasingly ready to look beyond craft culture for inspiration. And where they go, the mainstream is sure to follow.
Pic via Eater
June 4, 2015
Developing new technology takes time - which means that those of us who love to hear about new advances in robotics typically have to wait a while between items. Sometimes, though, the stars align and we find ourselves inundated with robot news - and that's just what has happened over the last seven days.
It began with the blogosphere's thrilled/terrified reaction to the newfound jumping ability of MIT's Cheetah Robot, and has been followed by more feats of robot dexterity, like this humanoid 'bot that moves boxes just like a real (struggling) person. And of course we watched and rewatched the remarkable feats - and untimely demise - of this tiny robot, too.
Finally, we have some hope for the logistics of working robots, via The Verge, where they've found that the actual cost of Amazon's delivery-by-drone service could be quite reasonable. Well, as long as we assume that the program could be implemented without any legal hurdles or unforeseen conflicts. It might be a while before your next Amazon box drops onto your porch from the sky, but we're glad to see that one of Amazon's most out-there visions has some real-world viability.
May 29, 2015
Over the years, we've seen a lot of different ingredients getting mixed into coffee. More often than not, these additions tend to be creamy and a little heavy, turning the regular cup of joe into a milky confection. But that trend looks to be reversing, with the discovery that adding a little tonic water to your espresso (or cold-brew!) yields a drink that's crisp and light, with a complexity that puts it on par with some of our favorite summer cocktails. The espresso tonic has started popping up on menus at trendy coffee shops around New York, and we've even heard that Stumptown has their own variation in the works. Here at CE HQ, we're officially hooked - and we're more than a little happy that this is a mixed drink we can enjoy any time of the day.
May 22, 2015
We've seen some great ideas for expanding the influence of YouTube advertising content - see, for example, Geico's brilliantly unskippable ads - but now, the video service is launching a new type of ad that will allow users to jump directly into purchasing the products they see. It's called TrueView for Shopping, and Google hopes that it'll transform "micro-moments" - those times when we turn to YouTube to help us learn a new skill, for example - into opportunities to shop for the items we might be learning about.
They've already tested the system with Sephora, and have seen some significant results in consideration and ad recall. With web video booming, but no clear way to turn that growth into revenue, we expect to see some really interesting tie-ins between video and shopping coming down the pike.