Author: bluese7en

OBOTO – Rise of the Robots

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OBOTO – Digital Pet (Robot) Showcases Advanced Augmented Reality

Since co-founding Ogmento back in 2009… a goal for the company has always been to creatie immersive augmented reality experiences, including the ability to place characters and other digital interactive content seamlessly into the physical world.

The key to a truly magical and immersive experience is in the tracking.  Powerful computer vision algorithms come into play in order to seamlessly tie the virtual to the physical.  With Ogmento  focusing on premium AR experiences,, we are now highlight some of our tracking capabilities with the introduction of OBOTO, and a little robot named Oggie.

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With our prototype OBOTO app (available for iPhone) we are testing out the idea of a digital toy robot that can interact and track to the physical world without the use of markers, printouts, or any pre-setup.  To date, the need for markers, printouts, or a lengthy set-up process have prevented Augmented Reality (AR) from true mass adoption.  These initialization methods are intrusive, and ultimately barriers to entrance for many mobile content enthusiasts looking to experience the magic of AR instantly.

When it comes to offering an engaging augmented reality experience (one which can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere), Ogmento believes a zero-initialization tracking solution in a natural environment is key.  The release of OBOTO, Ogmento’s first original project, showcases such a solution.

Users can place Oggie into any environment they wish — on a table, on the floor, in middle of the street, in their hand, etc.  Oggie will track to the environment instantly, allowing the user to pan, zoom, and move around creating a seamless mixed-reality experience.  This zero-initialization, natural feature tracking AR, allows for instant immersion, which is key.

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Photo and video features allow users to get creative and show off with their very own digital pet robot.

If people enjoy the notion of virtual characters in the real world, and  the character interactions that come along with that, there are endless opportunities for this type of application. Virtual pets, mascots, toys, and more. With the added ability to unlock exclusive content based on location, and brand recognition as well, this is a content model that has no limits, and will only continue to grow.

Be sure to download and check out OBOTO, and let me know what you think.  If your company, agency or brand have ideas in mind based on this content model, I’d love to explore opportunities with you.

Relavant Links

ogmento.com/apps/oboto

facebook.com/ObotoCentral

youtube.com/ObotoCentral

twitter.com/ObotoCentral

The Rise of Sensor-Based Apps and Wearables

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I’m a big fan of sensor-based apps and personal wearables, as they bring with them vast potential for utilizing motivational data, content and feedback loops for things like self-improvement, optimal health and ultimately the gamification of every day life.

Nike has been playing a leadership role in this area for a few years now with their Nike+ sensor and app, and they are stepping it up once again with the release of the new Nike+ FuelBand.

While not perfect, the FuelBand has some very nice design features, and brings a new metric approach for motivating users to be active throughout the day.

Designed as a stylish and sleek bracelet (not too different than those yellow LiveStrong bangles), the FuelBand represents forward movement in tech fashion, with a device people might actually wear on a daily basis. As a bracelet on the wrist, rather than a chip tucked away in a shoe, it allows for a simple feedback display to be  viewed throughout the day. Here again, Nike has done a smart job to simplify this data down to some core metrics, along with with a power-meter that gets longer  in length and hotter in color the more “fuel” the wearer burns.  This meter-bar clearly indicates that feedback loops are key for continued motivational aspects.  Rather than pulling out your Nano, or iPhone, just look at the wrist as if checkin the time.

The Nike+ Fuel Band tracks your daily activity using an internal accelerometer (which senses your movement).  Time, Calories, Steps and NikeFuel are all tracked. The new “Fuel” metric is interesting and unique to Nike, as it matches a person’s movement through the wristband’s accelerometer against data collected on how rapidly oxygen is consumed.  This may not be the best way to track fitness, as it still relies primarily on an accelerometer, and the readings will vary greatly depending on how much you move your arm. If you were to ride a bike the sensor would probably read this activity as burning less Fuel than if you were sitting in a chair just waving your hand around.

While, I am not yet sold that the Fuel Band will be a big hit, or that it brings tremendous value for the price, I am impressed with what it represents as a sign of where things are going in sensor-based wearables and apps. We are only getting started.

As chip prices keep coming down, and sensors keep getting smaller, they will get embedded in more and more wearables, such as watches, clothing, jewelry…  and the feedback displays will likely end up moving onto our eyewear and sunglasses, utilizing heads-up-display technology. This is when things get even more interesting from my standpoint. The user can now have an always-on feedback loop, monitoring things like heart-rate, and eventually things like stress levels, blood pressure and more.

Once we start to gamily the feedback loops, or one can imagine how achieving our optimal health will become much more manageable and fun with such tech. Signs that this world is not so far off can be seen with announcements like this one, for Googles HUD Glasses.

Here is a mock-up image I made a while back for a presentation on LBS & AR Gaming.  The idea here is that we will someday be able to wear stylish Heads-Up-Display enabled eyewear, which could feed us our biometric data, along with other stats and game elements throughout the day. This example highlights the idea of a Nike+ AR  Pac-Man type App — set a course, and see GPS enabled landmarks as motivational collectibles to race towards and gobble up within a certain amount of time.  Comparing scores and results against friends in this type of game scenario would certainly be a nice evolution to the Nike Tag challenge program we have today.

There are a few players in this field now, with Jawbone, Fitbit, Motorola, and a couple others releasing their versions of wristbands, watches, etc.. for tracking daily activity.  I imagine there will be more entrants in the coming years.  Still, Nike continues to be a major brand associated with health and fitness and will likely continue to play a strong role in the evolution of tracking our daily lives.

I’d love to hear from people focused in this field professionally, and get your take on the state of this industry, and where things are going. As Ogmento continues to develop Location-Based Augmented Reality games and content, the convergence of these two worlds in a few years is inevitable.

Going Geo-Social and Hyper-Local

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I’m excited about the recent launch of our Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary iPhone game for many reasons — First, it’s Ogmento’s first big game title, and it feels great to finally have something out in the market. Even more so, this game represents a new breed of game design & platform, that is very powerful and represents the next generation of location-based gaming.

The Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary game can be described as a “Geo-Social, Massive Multiplayer, Augmented Reality Game.” That’s a mouthful, so lets call it a GSMMARG for now (if you have a better acronym, let me know). These three unique areas have individually generated a lot of buzz over the past year, but few have combined them all into one big game experience before.

On The Geo-Social side, the most common examples of popular mobile games include Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, and MyTown. Still, while these apps might offer badges and rewards for your geo-social activities, only MyTown is really close to being a game. Foursquare and the like are more akin to LBS social networks, which offer “badges” for repeat visits to certain locations (check-ins) . While these Geo-Social apps are all the rage right now, there are some inherent flaws to the way they are set up, which make them 1) not very fun or engaging, 2) not very accurate, which encourages cheating, and 3) more suited as city-guides / utility apps than any sort of true game experience.

The Paranormal Activity Game developed by Ogmento takes a newer (and what I believe to be a much more engaging) approach to Geo-Social games. Using Google maps as our “game board”, players can dynamically change the tides in the battle between good and evil, and see how that plays out in real-time, in the real-world. If you neighborhood is infected by demonic activity, you can see that on a map (Hell Holes). You can then create safe havens (Sanctuaries) by casting spells, and see how the game board (map) changes instantly. Missions in turn are not as much about “check-ins” as they are about treasure hunting along a story-line path to discover unique locations, and unlock special items which allow for more powerful spells, etc. Unlike other Geo-Social apps, the power of this game can “drive” a player to a specific location for fun and rewards. We can create missions on the fly at any specific location or time, which is very powerful. For example… when the third Paranormal Activity movie comes out in theaters this October, we can drive people to the movie theaters opening night as a mission, and allow them to unlock special spells and rewards.

So let’s talk Hyper-Local! As I mentioned, the check-in is inherently flawed because one can check in to about 40 different locations from the comfort of their house. GPS alone is not very accurate, and rewarding somebody for visiting your retail store when they haven’t really visited does not make much sense. The lack of accuracy encourages cheating, and makes the experience less rewarding for those who play by the rules. Ogmento can take the idea of check-ins much further by using computer vision to essentially “verify” the visit. If the GPS is telling me I am standing near a Starbucks, and at the same time, I am “looking at” a Starbucks logo via my phone camera, we have a powerful combo. Now, add in a bit of Augmented Reality, and trigger an interactive experience off of the logo, as well. Now the player is engaged with the brand, experiencing a cool mixed-reality experience, unlocking special rewards, and truly verifying the visit.

Currently, the Paranormal Activity game has a hyper-local augmented reality experience that is not tied to locations, but rather from user-generated content. We wanted to show-off a bit of true hyper-local AR in the game, as most AR games in market still use GPS only, or other non-computer-vision techniques. We also did not want the user to have to print anything out, and to make the trigger something fun and unique, which tied into themes of the game. We came up with “sketch-casting” where players cast spells by sketching a pentagram, and focusing their camera on the drawing. The player can create their own star sketch, and witness a true computer-vision AR experience as part of the game — a sample of things to come.

If you have an iPhone, be sure to check out Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary, and try it out for yourself. While this horror-themed RPG might not be for everybody, the power of the platform is very evident. Ogmento will be launching more titles this year, which follow along the lines of PA:S. We’ve gone geo-social and hyper-local, and the mobile game space will never be the same again.

Experience Real World Horror

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The press release went out today for Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary. We did a soft launch about a week ago, and got over 5,000 players in just a few days by word of mouth, and one mention on Paramounts Facebook page for the movie. Now with the press release out, we are looking forward to building those numbers dramatically. Exciting stuff! Here is the release…

Experience Real World Horror Game With Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for iPhone

First Game to Combine Vision-based Augmented Reality, User-Generated Content and Geo-Social Elements; Now Available in the Apple App Store

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Augmented Reality (AR) gaming company Ogmento Inc. today announced the release of Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary, a geo-location based, augmented reality role-playing game, now available for free in the Apple App Store for the iPhone. Published by Ogmento under license from Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary creates a new way for players to interact with their environment, where the world is the new game board and favorite neighborhood locations – coffee shops, grocery stores, parks – become integral elements in the game to transform a player’s daily routine into a riveting experience.

The launch of this game marks several milestones in mobile gaming:

- The first augmented reality game of its kind to use Ogmento’s patent-pending technology that engages with user-generated content. It allows users to draw out game play elements on paper that come into life in the game through a camera phone.

- The first game of its kind to mix geo-social and vision-based augmented reality game elements with a top tier film franchise.

Game Overview

Demonic forces are trying to bring hell to earth, and it’s up to players to withstand temptations and possessions to stop them. In Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for the iPhone, players will have to choose a side in the global battle between good or evil. Using their iPhone at home, at work, or where ever they are, this location-based, augmented reality experience will empower players to seek out demonic activity that will test their sanity at every turn. Be careful not to succumb to evil urges, or players will become possessed by powerful dark forces. Cast spells to create sanctuaries around a player’s favorite places to keep the demons away, or submit to the unknown and spread hellholes across the city. But players can’t persevere on their own; they’ll want to recruit and collaborate with friends around the world to stay on top.

“The Paranormal Activity franchise embodies the powerful psychological space between what’s real and what’s imagined,” said Brian Selzer, co-founder and president of Ogmento. “We wanted to encapsulate that feeling in an iPhone game and use augmented reality to accentuate the overall game experience in a way that has never been done before.”

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary is free to play, with additional features, game elements and virtual goods available for purchase in the iTunes App Store.

Paranormal Activity: Sanctuary for the iPhone can be downloaded for free at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paranormal-activity-sanctuary/id392834635?mt=8&ls=1

About Ogmento

Ogmento was founded in 2009 by industry veterans committed to developing the next generation of video games. Through cutting-edge technology that overlays computer graphics onto real-world environments, Ogmento creates games that let users directly interact with their surrounding environment. The company is currently developing ground-breaking Augmented Reality (AR) content for a range of mobile devices and platforms including iPhone, Android, PC, and traditional game consoles. Ogmento is ideally positioned at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality and Geo-location gaming industries. For more information please visit http://ogmento.com/.

About Paramount Digital Entertainment

Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) is a division of Paramount Pictures Corporation. PDE develops and distributes filmed entertainment across worldwide digital distribution platforms including online, mobile and portable devices, videogames, and emerging technologies. Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. The company’s labels include Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paramount Famous Productions, Paramount Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., Paramount Studio Group and Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution.

Ogmento First AR Gaming Startup to Win VC Funding

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I’m thrilled to be able to officially announce that Ogmento is now venture-backed. The news hit the wires today, and the story is being picked up at a tremendous rate (WSJ, Forbes, Yahoo, AOL, CNET, USA Today, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Joystiq, and many others).

Here is the original press release -

Ogmento Raises $3.5 Million in Series A Funding From Chart Venture Partners

Becomes First Augmented Reality Gaming Company To Secure Institutional Investment

NEW YORK, May 26 /PRNewswire/ — Augmented Reality (AR) gaming company Ogmento, Inc. (“Ogmento”) today announced the closing of $3.5 million in Series A equity financing to expand development of its AR game platform and operations in New York and Los Angeles. The round was led by Chart Venture Partners with participation from CNF Investments and private investors.

Already a leading company in the burgeoning Augmented Reality gaming space, Ogmento will use the funding to build out its development teams on both coasts. The company will also use the proceeds to expand the core features of its technology as it prepares the release of several game titles in the coming year.

“This investment allows us to expand our operations to support our growth while putting development resources into our own intellectual property,” said Ori Inbar, co-founder and CEO of Ogmento. “Chart and CNF bring a strong track record of identifying disruptive technologies early, and working with founders to build strong companies.”

As part of the financing, Matthew McCooe of Chart Venture Partners and Joe Del Guercio of CNF will join Ogmento’s board of directors, along with founders Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, and Inbar. Cole Van Nice, a partner with Chart, will also join Ogmento’s management team directly as COO to help drive strategic planning.

“We’re thrilled to have this level of support from our investment partners,” said co-founder and President Brian Selzer. “Given Chart’s investment activity in hardware and software areas related to AR, they understand the true potential of this technology. Adding a partner to our management team is an exciting endorsement of our business.”

Ogmento has already developed interactive Augmented Reality experiences for Penguin Publishing, SAP, Orange Telecom, Smith and Nephew, and PBS. The company is currently producing games in collaboration with leading media, CPG, and sports enterprises and will continue to partner with game developers and augmented reality labs around the world.
“We’ve been evaluating the fast evolving AR industry for over a year, and believe that Ogmento is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for the industry. It has an incredibly unique mix of mainstream video game industry executives, AR industry thought leaders, and world-class researchers and scientists,” said Cole VanNice, a partner at Chart Venture Partners. “We’re delighted to be the first VC to provide funding to a company focused on Augmented Reality games, and I’m confident that together we can help Ogmento continue to build on its position as a market leader.”

ABOUT OGMENTO
Ogmento was founded in 2009 by industry veterans committed to developing the next generation of video games. Through cutting-edge technology that overlays computer graphics onto real-world environments, Ogmento creates games that let users directly interact with their surrounding environment. The company is currently developing ground-breaking Augmented Reality (AR) content for a range of mobile devices and platforms including iPhone, Android, PC, and traditional game consoles. With founders Ori Inbar, Brad Foxhoven, Brian Selzer, Oriel Bergig and Nate Hagbi and a team of experienced game designers, animators, and award winning PhD scientists, Ogmento is ideally positioned at the epicenter of the Augmented Reality industry. For more information please visit http://ogmento.com.

AR: The Purple Pill

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Things have evolved since The Matrix.

We no longer have to choose between taking the RED or the BLUE pill.

Augmented Reality offers the PURPLE pill!

I am putting together some slides for my upcoming presentations at eComm, ARE2010, etc. I thought this particular slide might serve as a nice teaser. The title of my talk is “AR: The Power of Real World Gaming,”, but “AR: The Purple Pill” certainly works as well.

For those reading this and interested in attending eComm, I’ve got 50% off codes. If you want to go, let me know.

My Conversation with James Cameron

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I don’t make it a habit of sharing personal conversations on my blog, but when the individual you are exchanging ideas with happens to be James Cameron, it’s very difficult not to share (okay brag) a little.

I was invited to a private Avatar screening on the Fox Studio lot, presented by James Cameron and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The screening showed about an hours worth of the film, and focused on the strong environmental message throughout. James Cameron spoke after the film on the amazing reception the movie has made with environmentally conscious people. He discussed his passion for nature, technology, and much more (Have you seen his 3D undersea documentaries?). The irony that Avatar uses state-of-the-art “technology” to tell a story about “getting back to nature” does not get past him. It is this topic — “using technology to better the planet” that I was most interested in speaking with Mr. Cameron about.

The screening was followed by a reception, where I got to meet and speak with Mr. Cameron for about 10 minutes. We spoke primarily about Augmented Reality, which played a large role in the making and marketing of Avatar.

Coke, Mattel, and McDonald’s used Augmented Reality to integrate the Avatar brand into their cans, toys and happy meals. James Cameron also used AR technology in the filming of Avatar, to pre-visualize his actors within the CG scenes live, and in real-time. For those familiar with motion capture animation technology. Mr. Cameron pushed this further… creating a system that allowed him to observe on a monitor how the actors’ virtual counterparts interacted with the movie’s digital world in a real time environment. He was able to adjust and direct the scenes as if shooting live action, but in a computer generated world.

Mr. Cameron and I started to speak about the power of entertainment and games to motivate people to action towards bettering the world, and this is where things really got interesting. It became clear immediately that this was our shared passion… to not only entertain and engage people… but to motivate people towards good. I shared a bit about my past projects like Superdudes, and the notion of “games with goals” really resonated with Mr. Cameron.

It’s fairly clear that a movie like Avatar is a success because it delivers on many levels… beyond box office numbers, it entertains, and it gets people to think… and maybe even act! I would not be surprised if all the talk about the 3D technology and the enormous box office of Avatar are soon overshadowed by the message and impact of the movie itself on our society.

Needless to say it was a great honor to be able to talk about things like augmented reality, technology, movies, games, and the environment with James Cameron. It is my hope that the work we do at Ogmento can make a similar impact with people the way Avatar did… delivering content that immerses people into a new world… entertains, engages, challenges…and as a bonus perhaps motivates people to take action and do their part in making the world a better place.

Year of the Technology Tiger

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My first post in 2010. Since it is already February, and the start of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year… I wish everybody a Xin nian kuai le!

2010 is the Year of the Tiger, which is associated with good fortune, power, and royalty. The Tiger is viewed with both fear and respect; hence, their protection and wisdom is sought after. Some Chinese Zodiac forcasts say that drama, intensity, change and travel will be keywords for 2010. The Year of the Tiger will bring far reaching changes for everyone. New inventions and incredible technological advances have a good chance of occurring. Everything happens quickly and dramatically in a Tiger year – blink and you could miss an important chance of a lifetime!

Predictions of dramatic change and technological advances seem to come true on a daily basis these days. Our future is happening at an accellerated rate. In futures studies and the history of technology, accelerating change is an increase in the rate of technological (and sometimes social and cultural) progress throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the near future.

I can’t help but think of Ray Kurzweil and his essay on the Law of Accelerating Returns, which implies that a technological singularity will occur before the end of the 21st century.

The essay begins:

“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. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to the Singularity—technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.”

Conscider this… So far in the month of February (in the past 2 weeks), we have seen headlines like this (just Google them):

- Scientists develop universal DNA reader to advance faster, cheaper sequencing efforts
– Microsoft adds ‘Augmented Reality’ to Bing Maps
– Boring conversation? Let your computer listen for you
– Researchers Develop Nanofiber-Based Technology to Make Energy-Efficient Lighting
– Wi-Fi at the Speed of Light
– Google Ultrafast Broadband May Shake Up Fiber Market
– Researchers develop ‘lab on a chip’ that detects viruses
– Google leaps language barrier with translator phone
– An Early Warning System for Cancer
– Scientists identify first genetic variant linked to biological aging in humans
– First germanium laser brings us closer to ‘optical computers’
– NASA, GM team up to build robotic astronauts
– ‘Nanobubbles’ kill cancer cells
– Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy
– Multitouch ‘Skin’ Transforms Surfaces Into Interactive Screens
– Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything
– Researchers perform complete genomic sequencing of brain cancer cell line

Phew!

So… as we kick off the year of 2010; one associated with Tiger-like qualities of intensity and change… I can only imagine we are in for a wild ride, especially when it comes to advancements in technology. Let’s be sure to harness this energy and power for positive world change. If we dont, it just might bite us in the ass!

Projection Mapping

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As I focus on Augmented Reality, I continue to be fascinated and inspired by the notion of transforming common landscapes into art and entertainment. Some of the best reference for this can be found in projection mapping.

There have been some amazing projects that truly inspire the creative possibilities, and serve as examples for what Augmented Reality will eventually allow us to experiences at any time. When it comes to transforming every-day environments and buildings into works of art, this is a great place to look for creative ideas. Virtual lighting, 3D augmentation and distortion, edge highlighting, surface painting… it’s all here.

If you are interested in bringing these types of experiences to Los Angeles; if you have the equipment to pull this off; and/or if you know of great buildings/locations that can be made available to be used as a backdrop for a Projector-Mapping festival of sorts, please contact me. I am hoping to set up an event for sometime in 2010.

The following are a few of my current favorite examples (make sure your volume is up!)…


How would it look if a house were dreaming?
Production by Urban Screen


Private festival in the North East of England
Production by The Darkroom


Battle of Branchage @ Branchage Film Festival 2009
Production by Seeper


El Jardí theater building i
Production by: Palnoise

Humanity+ Summit 2009

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I will be speaking at the Humanity+ Summit this Sunday, December 6th on the subject of Augmented Reality, and how to make sure we use AR to get to an awesome future!

The H+ Summit (Organized by Humanity +) is a two day, interactive event that will explore how humanity will be radically changed by technology in the (possibly quite near) future. Over 30 visionary speakers will explore how to enhance your body, mind, life, and world…

What is going to be like to be a human in this next phase of technological progress? How can we get our heads around it so when it arrives we’re best prepared to deal with it?

We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth. The possibilities are tremendously broad and exciting — and the H+ Summit will provide a venue to discuss them with like-minded individuals, and hear exciting presentations by the leaders of the ongoing H+ r/evolution.

The Summit will be held at EON Reality, Inc. – The world’s leading interactive 3D visual content management and Virtual Reality software provider.

It should be fun, I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone there.

For more on the event and a list of speakers, check out http://hplus.eventbrite.com/