WIRED Magazine: A look inside the tech icon’s potential for more tech
WIRED Magazine has been a leader in the technology industry since the early 1990s. WIRED helped cover the start of the personal computing boom as well as the Dot-Com Bubble’s blow up and burst. They have been steadfast in their coverage of new technologies for over 20 years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
One of the most frustrating parts of reading and now watching WIRED’s coverage of tech, is their complacency and lack of content. More often than not, WIRED rarely asks questions about the pieces they’re covering and forgets to include vital multimedia examples.
As a sneaker-head one the coolest pieces of technology WIRED has covered in the last decade is the Nike HyperAdapt, a shoe that laces itself modeled after Marty Mcfly’s iconic shoe in the hit 1989 film, Back to the Future Part II. Nike senior innovator Tiffany Beers and her team set out to design a shoe that movie fans have been dreaming of for nearly 20 years. WIRED spoke to Beers as well as an expert shoe designer and Nike icon Tinker Hatfield about the HyperAdapt. Beers spoke largely about the engineering and design of the shoe; understandable considering her background in plastic engineering.
The tech in the video is impressive, sensors detect a user’s foot entering the shoe and adjust the laces tightness to the user’s foot. The most frustrating part of the four-minute video is the lack of input by experts at WIRED. The shoe is a wearable device, that interacts with the user, so why not ask about the HyperAdapt’s ability to include more advanced technology? Can it include motion tracking, GPS, heart rate monitoring or any of many other features that devices like the FitBit and Garmin Vivofit have? There is amazing technology there, with unlimited potential that no one is talking about.
The October 2016 issue of the magazine did feature a more extensive look at the project. There was a feature on Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker, as well as one on Beers. There is small introduction into the manufacturing of the HyperAdapt as well as a mild behind-the-scenes at the Mia Hamm Building in Beaverton, Oregon, featuring wide spreads of pictures of inside the Nike building. The pictures are beautiful and open up a Nike world unseen to many, yet, answers about the future of wearable, and more specifically shoe and sneaker technology have remained to be asked or seen.
Google recently released a new virtual reality headset boldly called the Google Daydream View. The device, is a simple, but notably comfy-looking headset that requires a Google Pixel phone (exclusive to Verizon customers) in order to create a virtual reality experience. WIRED’s Peter Rubin reviews the device in a three minute video on the web only.
His review is spot on, assessing the aesthetic of the headset with its fleece-like coating does what it’s supposed to do. The headset even looks comfortable in Rubin’s hands as he explains the technology within it. As he is speaking, video of the virtual reality one would see while using the Daydream View is edited into the final review. Early reviews of VR didn’t include what the experience would look like, thus defeating the impact the review may have on the potential consumer. Rubin acknowledges that the headset being Verizon and Pixel exclusive may hurt its reach, but the device is top-notch for the price. Rubin’s analysis of the technology is spot on, including all the information a potential buyer may need before purchasing.
Shortly after the major social media company formerly known as Snapchat, changed their name to Snap Inc., it released hardware for the first time. The previously software-based company focused on a user-friendly picture sharing experience that tapped out at 10 seconds long, and was only shown to friends for 24-hours. Snap Inc. has now translated that same focus into Spectacles, their answer for a changing media market.
The Spectacles are relatively fashionable (I guess?) sunglasses that have a built-in camera. The camera is activated only when the user pushes the side of the device which starts a 10-second recording that is sent and saved to the phone.
The company released a limited amount of Spectacles via vending machines placed in major cities in the United States. WIRED dubbed the glasses as the “first camera we actually want to wear.” WIRED and senior writer David Pierce marveled at the ease of use of the Spectacles.
They seamlessly interact with your phone in order to give you your recorded content. They are easily rechargeable with respectable battery life, and do exactly as advertised.
Not only does WIRED review the device as is, but they expand on the growing wearable market. They touch on Google Glass and the impact they had on that same market. They do emphasize however, that the future of this technology is bright, with computers getting smarter and humans learning along with them. Yet, the technology simply isn’t all the way there.
Pierce’s review of the Spectacles isn’t only eye-opening, it’s inspiring to a growing industry. The wearable industry hasn’t erupted like it has the potential to yet. Whether it be the Apple Watch, Fitbit’s, or the Samsung Gear, the market has yet to reach its potential as Pierce points out. There is no limit to what wearables and devices like Spectacles can become, just like Pierce’s writing.
In September, Sony held an event showing the press the release of the new Playstation 4 Pro. The gaming console, not much of an upgrade from the previous model (the graphics processing unit is up to two times better) has gained traction amongst the gaming community recently for its VR integration. Playstation VR brings the most interactive, intuitive and immersive virtual reality experience straight to a gaming console, the first to do. WIRED’s Chris Kohler covered the event and what it means for the gaming market by focusing on the VR.
The gaming console is just that, a gaming experience, so for Sony to dive into VR headfirst and gear it toward games is a huge step forward for the technology. Sony also comically has required several different devices to even be able to play games in virtual reality. They tried to calm the stipulation with a sad and comical graphic on their website, but the total of all the devices can exceed $700.
Kohler explains the impact the console and the Playstation VR will have in the future, but mainly focuses on the business of VR and how gaming has impacted it. This is all very important, but what about the technology itself? It’s extremely difficult to explain VR to someone, they must see (and feel) it for themselves. WIRED needs to include a video of the gameplay involved with Playstation VR like the one below. Sony has it all over their website but WIRED couldn’t bother to include the experience itself. That lack of a visual adaptation severely hinders the effect the technology has on the reader.
Virtual reality has made its way into the television world. Aside from gaming, the tech wizards (engineers ) behind VR have found applications for it elsewhere. In October of this year, WIRED’s Pierce was able to watch a Democratic Presidential Debate, live, in virtual reality.
Thanks to the CNN, Samsung Gear owners were able to watch the debate live from their homes. The experience was “weird,” according to Pierce.
The virtual reality was choppy, pixelated and low quality throughout. The camera technology wasn’t there, even though the debate was only two months ago. But the positive was that viewers were finally able to see the entire stage, whenever they wanted. Users could now look at candidates reactions, and no longer had to rely on the decisions of producers to determine what they should be seeing. With this, and other pushes toward more widespread use of VR is NextVR.
NextVR is a company that focuses on 360 video and virtual reality within the entertainment world. They have deals with the NBA, NBC Sports Network, and FOX sports to bring a virtual reality to live events. WIRED’s Tim Moynihan took a look into the “next” level technology they were using.
NextVR has more of a focus on virtual reality, but the camera technology they’re relying on is more similar to 360. The rigs of cameras they use only have a 180 degree scope, but shoot in up to 6K quality, far exceedingly the resolution of most 360 cameras and virtual reality rigs. Yet, the best facet of NextVR’s technology are its 3D effects.
Because the rigs have right, and left cameras, NextVR has a unique advantage by removing redundancies from each frame in order to create three-dimensional images in real-time. All of this technology is spectacular, but for users without a VR headset, or a Samsung device, very limiting. NextVR has a small sample video on their website, but none of it shows the true potential of the company or its technology.
WIRED once again has yet to show any of the technology they sample and watched the production of. I refuse to believe they couldn’t have gotten more screenshots or even video to show the technology. NextVR seems like it has the future in the palm of its hands, but only Samsung Gear users can see it. So it is up to WIRED and their experts, writers, and behind the scenes access to get us what we need to see.
In late September, drone company, DJI released its new Mavic Pro Drone. In a year filled with new drone technology this drone shouldn’t be something to get too excited about. Yet, the Mavic Pro weighs less than two pounds is costs under a thousand dollars. WIRED did a short review on the product online, and an even shorter feature in print, but didn’t expand into the potential applications for the drone. While they did praise the new drones impressively tiny stature, WIRED neglected to talk about how the Mavic Pro can help journalists.
Easily the biggest upgrade of the drone is the battery which can last up to 27 minutes in ideal conditions. The drone can also fly an estimated 40 mph and maintain a steady altitude throughout that flight. The camera shoots in full 4K resolution and stays stable thanks to a new three-axis gimbal. And in my opinion the cameras best feature, which WIRED didn’t mention, is the drones “ActiveTrack” feature. “ActiveTrack,” allows the drone’s camera to lock onto one subject or person and either trial behind them, fly alongside them, or face them while flying in reverse.
All of these new technologies open up doors for drone journalism. Pilots could follow culprits and fleeing criminals on scene. The drone can shoot sweeping landscapes and get a birds eye view of places that a camera crew simply cannot get to. Also, the 27 minutes of flight time, compared to some other professional drones times of 10–15 minutes could mean more than double the video. The camera and the drone itself hold up to other competitors that exceed well over $2,000 in cost.
The Mavic Pro is a brilliant piece of technology and will be wildly popular amongst drone enthusiasts, but where the drone’s practical uses lie are within journalism.
Late in 2015 WIRED was able to get a taste of Microsoft’s new augmented reality project, HoloLens. The technology for getting real, true augmented reality into peoples homes was getting there. Then earlier this year, the developers kit for the HoloLens was released, thus further opening the market for AR.
The headset looked incredible and the technology within it, as WIRED points out repeatedly, is even more marveling. Their review includes every single detail of the HoloLens whether it be the 64gb onboard solid-state hard drive or the built in Bluetooth 4.1 LE connectivity, WIRED covered it all. Yet, they neglected to cover what all that mumbo-jumbo means for the consumer.
Microsoft claims that, “The era of holographic computing is here,” but WIRED never mentions what the HoloLens can actually do. The HoloLens uses 3D imaging technology to project light onto the lens of the device so that the user experiences three-dimensional, virtual realities layered on top of their already existing reality. The possibilities are endless for the HoloLens whether it be for simple entertainment purposes like streaming Netflix or playing video games on Xbox.
The video that Microsoft released early in HoloLens’ adoption showed more potential uses for the technology, while WIRED hadn’t shown any. The technology is clearly growing and hasn’t reached its potential yet, but to leave out any of its possible uses in favor of technical specs is naive. Virtual, augmented and mixed realities cannot be written or spoken about without a demonstration, they are simply too immersive.
In early 2015, 360 cameras and VR were introduced to YouTube. It had taken awhile, but the largest online video source in the world started support for most web and mobile 360 video in January 2015.
The feature kickstarted a wider adaptation of the technology outside of the YouTube community as well. Companies and filmmakers alike realized the significance of the technology and what it could mean for future content. Red Bull was among the first to jump at 360 videos possibilities. The experience allowed mobile users to attach their devices to a VR headset and essentially ride in the back of a Formula One race car.
The technology has now boomed with the introduction of better 360 degree cameras like the Samsung 360 and the Ricoh Theta. Yet, WIRED has covered very few 360 cameras and the potential of the technology. They wrote about an Apple Watch camera band that features an awkward camera on the top of the band for users to snap pictures without their phone. As well as Facebook’s weird, quirky design for creating 360 video that they shared to the public for free.
360 video is becoming increasingly more popular and WIRED’s lack of coverage on the devices is concerning. With VR and AR introducing more 360 degree technology like NextVR and DJI’s nearly $5000 drone, the more coverage and information consumers can have on the technology, the better they will be able to scale it’s significance.
The 2016 MLS cup final champion Seattle Sounders were filmed on a Samsung 360 camera shortly after winning the title game in penalty kicks. As they celebrated on the field, jumping on top of each other in a large pile, cameramen flocked around them, one able to record the entire scene around them. Another 360 video showed the losing Toronto FC fans sadness in the stands as they lost the championship game in their home stadium.
WIRED has been covering emerging technologies for more than two decades, but their coverage hasn’t always been perfect. Its reviews of specific technologies have been spot on, always focusing on the consumers needs. Yet, discussion and analysis on multimedia has been lackluster in its inclusion of examples and potential applications. Virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, 360 video, and drones have lacked coverage and representations of what the products and technologies can do. If WIRED needs to improve one thing, it’s to get those behind-the-scenes looks, get up close and personal, take pictures, get insider video content, and show the reader and the consumers what they need to know before they go out and get the product that WIRED gave nine out of ten stars.
WIRED Magazine: A look inside the tech icon’s potential for more tech
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