December 30, 2013

FT3D Word Cloud

Here’s a graphic word cloud of all the key words or themes in our Future-Talk 3D blog during the year 2013.  The more the word is found, the larger it appears in this word cloud. It's good to see what's most important--you can tell from its size! The word cloud is interactive, so explore a bit!

It’s quite interesting to visualize, in this way, the recurring themes and concepts that have emerged as memes from Future-Talk 3D this last year. It’s like putting your fingers on the pulse of what’s happening with educational 3D—and taking a read.

December 23, 2013

Future-Talk 3D Worldview

Добрый день      Bom dia   مرحبا   こんにちは Bienvenidos       

The Future-Talk 3D blog serves a diverse international audience interested in educational 3D. Our readers might be interested in seeing which countries were our top ten blog visitors during 2013. Based on web impressions for the 2013 calendar year, here is how the data shape up:

It is worthwhile to note that Germany outpaced Russia this year; there is a relentless back-and-forth wrestling match between Australia and India (and India won out this year); and that France has surged from tenth to sixth place this year. 

Are there any surprises here? Or are these just “the usual suspects?” What do you think? Please comment.

Of course, this chart only represents the top ten. Many hundreds of other visitors have frequented this blog, coming from countries all over the world. Future-Talk 3D blog has been visited by nearly every country in North, South, and Central America. The same is true for Europe; the entire Middle East is also broadly represented. Most of Asia has visited us, as well as more than 16 countries from Africa.  

I want to thank you for your deep and committed interest in 3D in education. Please write me, let me know what you are doing in your country. I would love to feature some interviews in 2014.

December 16, 2013

Zombie Apocalypse

Last week we continued the discussion about the recent problem with Apple’s new iPhone iOS7 making people sick. In the first post of this four-part series, I suggested that the real story is about a lesson not yet learned, in fact, about two lessons not yet learned. This week's post focuses on lesson #2.

Lesson #2: The 3D experience can provide an indicator of underlying vision problems.
Now, if you read the recent post of Christopher Mims, Hurl into this! Digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century, you would certainly imagine a new world threat has arrived on the scene; or at least, that the zombie apocalypse is upon us. He complains: “I get headaches at 3D movies and motion sick at the slightest provocation.” Apparently, the newest Apple 3D parallax feature comes right at the heels of previous and wanton 3D destruction. He warns of a new zombie apocalypse: “the 21st century is going to be one you’ll want to spend hiding from just about every kind of innovation in human-computer interfaces.” Mr. Mims is recognizing a genuine problem, but he is partially misinformed.

Perhaps Dr. Dominick Maino (OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A), an internationally recognized expert in pediatrics/binocular vision at the Illinois College of Optometry/Illinois Eye Institute, explains it best: "Vision induced motion sickness has been recognized for decades. It is frequently called "See Sickness" or Neuro-Ocular Vestibular Dysfunction. Many experience blurred vision, diplopia, headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, malaise, and drowsiness.”

Further Dr. Maino advises that such symptoms are treatable and therefore avoidable:  “It can be successfully diagnosed and treated by an optometrist specifically trained to evaluate the functional capabilities of your vision. These optometrists can be found at” He recommends reviewing an excellent presentation/discussion on this topic at:" Sometimes the solution is as simple as tweaking your contact or glass prescriptions, as is the case with many adults. Sometimes it can be resolved with vision correction (eyeglasses), vision therapy, or a combination of both.

Dr. Jeri Schneebeck (Optometrist, F.C.O.V.D), a highly respected Colorado vision expert and owner of Colorado’s only 3D vision lab, knows that this is not just about poor 3D design:  “It’s about vision,” she confirms.  In fact, the day I interviewed her about this Apple issue, she was reminded that she just had a patient complain to her today that she had a significant vision problem with her new iPhone, and had returned it to the store. Zeroing in on understanding this new Apple iPhone parallax issue, another Colorado optometrist, Dr. Jacinta Yeung (OD, MEd/VFL), observes: “I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly which part of the visual system would ‘cause’ this discomfort. It is probably a combination of factors but it would be nice to evaluate a group of these individuals to see if there is a common weakness in their visual system.”  She has also heard of patients reporting this problem. In the meantime, folks are turning off the effect.

So here we are again, revisiting the vision health issues identified in some of my past posts. Most notably, I want to point our readers to two predictions I made for the year 2013 in my post, Whither eS3D:
  • The vision health issue will struggle to receive the attention it deserves due to inability of the medical community to employ effective marketing and PR strategies.
  • The struggle to debunk 3D mythologies (3D is bad for you, it makes everyone sick, it hurts children) won’t go away. We’ll still have to wrestle with those unfortunate media-generated sound bites for some time.
Yes, we still have our work cut out for us. Mr. Mims was correct in some ways: Poorly designed 3D can cause problems, all by itself. You have to pay attention to these things, Apple. But he was totally off base in terms of the bigger picture of 3D and vision health. These hurtful zombies keep coming back to life. We just have to stop feeding them. Maybe it’s time to bite back.

December 9, 2013

Unlearned Lesson 1

Last week we talked about the recent problem with Apple’s new iPhone iOS7 making people sick. I suggested that the real story is about a lesson not yet learned. In fact, the real message is about two lessons not yet learned. I guess it’s time to re-learn these lessons. In this week's post, we will focus on lesson #1.

Lesson #1: The 3D experience requires thoughtful design
We need reminding about a number of key points here:
  • Companies creating 3D experiences must not be so entranced with their ‘cool’ technology that they forget about the user. The user experience, the human interface, should never come last. It should come first, especially when developing 3D content.
  • Companies creating 3D experiences in their products should consider the science and art of 3D communication, not be oblivious to it. In Clyde DeSouza’s Think in 3D, we see the importance of truly understanding the 3D medium before we deploy it.
Apple has tried to keep their 3D development ideas under wraps for years, but how secret are they, really? I heard beforehand about this one, and future 3D technologies Apple has in development, long ago. They did succeed, however, in secreting their 3D product features well away from the people who might have prevented this all along—the human interface experts, vision experts, and stereo experience designers. Poorly designed 3D can cause problems, all by itself. You have to pay attention to these things. It's a no-brainer.

December 2, 2013

My iPhone Makes Me Sick

Apple’s new iPhone iOS7 is making people sick. All over the country, it’s turning stomachs to the dark side. It has to do with a parallax effect (see this example) now available on backgrounds and in some apps that have been updated to iOS7. My wife has a newer phone than I do, so I tested it out right after I heard about the problem. For me, it was barely noticeable. A non-issue, really. For my wife, it was the same. But for folks with vision issues, in can quickly unravel their world. In fact--it has become so uncomfortable—a few folks are running back to the Apple store or their service provider to turn the new phones in and reclaim their old phones.  There are less drastic measures that can be taken, of course.  Instead of returning the iPhone or resetting it to an older operating system, one can:

        Choose a non-dynamic ‘stills’ background: SettingsàWallpapers & Brightnessà Stills
Turn off the effect: SettingsàGeneralàAccessibilityàReduce MotionàOn

But the increasing number of people getting sick when using the 3D-like parallax effect on the iPhone is not the real story here. The real story is about a lesson not yet learned. In fact, about two lessons not yet learned. I guess it’s time to re-learn them. We will focus on lesson #1 in next week's post.

November 25, 2013

Circle 3D Application (2)

In our last post, we introduced our Future-Talk 3D readers to "circle 3D." In this posting, we will address some of the potential educational applications for volumetric 3D.

Headquartered in Ames (IA) with a team in L.A, MICOY’s mission is to evolve the spherical 3D Market (volumetric stereo). Their ultimate goal, offers CEO Pierce, is “to create a platform for developers to build applications in all types of markets.” 

The use cases for this technology are myriad. Beyond the obvious applications within the gaming and entertainment industry, MICOY sees a real role for volumetric 3D within medical education. He believes that volumetric 3D will soon be used to provide physical therapy, treat depression, and support those suffering with PTSD. Pierce tells the story of a friend, a former NFL player, who was in an accident that left the athlete quadriplegic. Pierce placed a prototype virtual reality helmet on his friend and allowed his friend to virtually run down a bicycle path in a park, showing some live action footage they had shot. “When we took the helmet off his head, tears were running down his cheek,” The formal NFL player cried “ I haven’t sensed and had the feeling of motion since before my accident, and you just had me running through the park.”

Pierce also sees the potential for engineering departments, design and manufacturing teams, and molecular scientists to be able to ‘sculpt’ designs, parts, or biomolecules in real time 3D.

Of course, the educational applications for this technology are legion. MICOY has their eye firmly set on virtual reality training simulations, including high-stakes training that can save lives by putting anyone inside a physical environment at any time.
In terms of K12 and post-graduate education, my mind also races with the possibilities. Imagine being lifted out of your current reality and being transported into the middle of a cacophonous room in Independence Hall in the sweltering heat of the first few days of July in 1776. The debate and eventual ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress occurs all around you. Gone is the fourth wall. You are now part of the intense arguments, negotiations, and compromises that came out of that room to touch history.

None of this is really “pie in the sky.” I’ve been to the dome, been in the dome, and I’ve seen this technology first hand. 

November 18, 2013

Circle 3D

When I first saw it in L.A., my thoughts quickly raced towards the educational implications of “Circle 3D”. I entered the spherical dome in front of me, and I was suddenly picked up and literally whisked out of this world to a fascinating micro-universe. Ushered into the subatomic world inside the aging bones of a senior adult suffering with osteoporosis, a disease of the bone, I felt like I was becoming a part of the movie “Fantastic Voyage”—on a personally immersive level.            
The immersive stereoscopic 3D experience that so enveloped me was not just in front of me, on a typical flat screen. No, it was all around me. Above me. On my left side. On my right. Behind me. Somehow, it voluminously filled even my peripheral vision. I was there. No, it was here—some of the subatomic particles were now floating just above my lap. Now that was up-close learning!
Next, I found myself flying through the air on a helicopter, landing on an oil platform in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The simulation was breathtaking. The technology was providing a panoramic image, seamlessly stitched.

This surreal experience was created inside a unique dome structure, a spherical portable planetarium theater. Developed by a group of partners led by the MICOY Corporation, this technology can be described as “omni-directional 3D immersive imagery.” It can also be called spherical 3D or 360° 3D. Don Pierce, the CEO and President of MICOY, explains: “Volumetric Stereo 3d allows us to paint on a new canvas, to play on a whole new playground; it enhances visualization to the next generation.”  Pierce, who got his start when computer animation first began to be integrated into visual effects remarked: “It’s so exciting to be on the edge; to see the direction in which visualization is going.”

Volumetric stereo places the user inside the game or experience; and it is totally interactive. Pierce comfortably jests: “We should have a head start on the closest thing to the holodeck, minus tactile feeling, of course.” Pierce also believes that MICOY technology offers another unique advantage: imagine creating a stereo environment with no headaches, no convergence point, no planes, just a natural volumetric environment. “Stereo is not just in front of you from the screen, but coming from all around you,” he explains.

November 11, 2013

A Swedish Success Story

There are a lot of good things happening with educational 3D across the country, yet I find that most of the great stories about 3D in classrooms somehow seem to fly under the radar. Yes, good things are in fact happening, but often no one knows about them. That’s because educators rarely toot their own horn; it’s also because the education industry is highly isolated and successful programs are often geographically pigeonholed. Rarely do successes get the broad recognition they deserve.  It's for that reason that I provide another school success story here.

Case study trials of interactive 3D software being conducted in Sweden over a two month period last year produced impressive results.

Two Stockholm schools were involved in this  project. The first is Vällingbyskolan, which enrolls over 700 students from the ages of six to fifteen, including students with learning disorders and disabilities. The students taking part in the trials, however, were mainly ages 13 to 15. Class size at Vällingbyskolan ranges from 15-25 students. The second school, Högalidsskolan, piloted 3D with students in year 5 to year 9 (students in the 10-16 age group). Both schools were piloting The 3D Classroom, a solution offered by Sensavis, focusing on the “Human Body” series covering the heart, lungs, kidney and fertility.

The Results
According to the principals who lead these projects in their respective buildings, a number of observable academic and behavioral benefits were evidences when using 3D in the classroom. Let me present these findings in this fashion (the hierarchy is mine, not theirs):

The principals of these schools, both of whom I interviewed, are indeed bullish on 3D. “A motivated student absorbs knowledge more easily and remembers what they have been taught. We have trialed 'The 3D Classroom' for two months and I am convinced that this is the future of learning,” said Fredrik Boström, principal  of Vällingbyskolan. “This technique captures attention, engages the students, and moreover, it is cost effective.” Mattias Boström, the principal of Högalidsskolan, reflected, “We have been trialing The 3D Classroom for the past eight weeks and have been monitoring the response from teachers and students. The feedback is overly positive. We will definitely implement this program in our school.”  (Please note that, despite identical last names, these two school leaders are not relatives.)

Despite the apparent slow-dance we generally see in the educational market, high-tempo schools are not letting up. Principals like Mattias Boström see it as the future. They continue to employ and explore 3D for its educational advantage. These schools in Stockholm are swinging to an upbeat rhythm—the rhythm of 3D visualization in education—I like to call it the rhythm of the mind’s eye. It’s just another example of 3D school success stories in action.

November 4, 2013

3D Content Fall 2013

Everywhere I go, the first question educators, manufacturers, and resellers ask me about 3D in education is entirely predictable: “What kind of content is available in 3D?” Twice a year, I release a list of available stereo 3D content specific to the educational market.

I started reporting my comprehensive list in January 2010, with my first report highlighting seven software companies producing stereo 3D content for the educational market. That’s all we could find at that time. Something interesting has happened along the way. Today, three years later, our awareness of the number of 3D educational content publishers has grown to thirty two. And it’s still growing. That’s a growth trajectory in excess of 450%. An interesting development to note is the increasing emergence of more 3D content for the elementary classroom.

Here’s a link to my October 2013 list of producers of 3D educational content. The content producers are listed in alphabetic order, along with a few salient comments on each provider. Enjoy!

October 28, 2013

A New e-Book

Sensavis Visualization AB, the Stockholm-based 3D visualization company, recently released an e-book entitled “The Future of 3D Education: What every educator should know about 3D in the classroom.” This e-book features the latest research and information about 3D use in education. The e-book provides examples of successful implementation of 3D technology in the classroom and asks the key question: “Is it something that could work in your school?” In particular, the e-book explores such critical questions as:
  • How does 3D improve learning?
  • What is needed to make it successful in the classroom?
  • How does it affect the way teachers teach?
  • What benefits does it carry for promoting improved vision health?

This e-book does a very good job adding to 3D’s recent momentum in educational circles. It not only talks about the future of 3D in many educational contexts, it also explains to adults not familiar with stereo 3D that “this is not your childhood 3D.”

I am also impressed with its reference to the neuroscience that supports visual learning in education: “85% of students prefer visual and kinesthetic learning while only 15% prefer hearing about a topic as a way to learn about it.” 
If Future-Talk blog readers would like a copy of “The Future of 3D Education” e-book, just use this link to sign up up to receive a free copy:

Sensavis recently announced their flagship educational product, the 3D Classroom, their first foray into K12 education, so this e-book is timely in its release. Previously their work had concentrated 3D visualization in the corporate, university, and medical education fields.

October 21, 2013

The Tablet Context (4)

In our concluding post in this four-part series, I want to focus on where a tool like the NEO3DO fits in the grand scheme of education.

The Educational Context. In schools, mobility tools like tablets and iPads are clearly the most popular kids on the block. Educational conferences assign an inordinate amount of importance and mindshare time to these devices. In fact, all traditional educational computing has largely become ho-hum in the face of these eye-catching new arrivals. It seems everyone in education wants a piece of the mlearning revolution (mlearning = mobility learning). Although they have not yet replaced laptops and desktops in most schools, tablets and iPads are gaining ground in schools, making their way into pilot projects, shared classroom sets, the welcoming arms of innovative teachers and principals, and the desks of 1:1 schools that can afford them. The context is simple: in today’s educational environments, mobility tools matter.

The Content Context. Although there’s nothing wrong with the NEO3DO tool itself, I was discouraged by the content posture it poses. The company loaded some nice demos and loops for me to explore. That was appreciated. Thanks. But what the company doesn’t yet understand (yet soon will) is that schools have little respect for video, aka movies, flicks, cinema, film, entertainment, Hollywood, features. (A positive exception would be the short, focused video vignettes, like the well-known DesignMate resources.)
Within educational circles, the train has long since left the station in that regard. You will never widely sell a tool to schools on the basis of being able to see videos. Educators today want less passive and more active (interactive) experiences with mobility devices. They want students to be able to create, construct, design, or experience learning with mobility devices. Loops, movies and running demos just don’t cut it for demonstration purposes to educators. Anachronistic artifacts from the past century won’t do this device justice. Instead, we need to see 3D simulations and micro-simulations, 3D serious games, tethered and tightly focused 3D visualizations, and avenues for 3D content creation. (I am speaking specifically of stills, animation, shorts, and narrated machinimas.)  Now, the NEO3DO can do all the right things—but they are not yet loaded on it.

The Competitive Context. I am worried about NEO3DO’s competition. How will this tiny company fair against the likes of Apple, Microsoft, and Asus in school sales? Is autostereoscopic 3D enough to give them an edge? I believe this tool must be bundled with stellar content and steered by brilliant marketing strategy in order to carve a presence into the stubbornly resistant educational market.

October 14, 2013

What People Think (3)

What do people think about the glasses-free NEO3DO? It depends. Here is where my grand experiment has taken me thus far:

What Educators Think. Every educator I’ve shown this device to likes it, especially the autostereoscopic 3D part. The tablet gets their minds rolling with ideas and possibilities, heretofore unimaginable. The most excited educator was a large-district STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) coordinator. That makes sense. I also demonstrated the NEO3DO to the entire instructional technology leadership team (6 people) from a large urban school district on the east coast. They too liked what they saw.

What non-educators think. I have also been taking time to show the NEO3DO to non-educators. Lawyers, middle school kids, elementary school kids, college students, homemakers, business people, investors, grandmas. Here in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico. In each case, it was certainly their first experience with autostereoscopic 3D. They all liked the NEO, but had different interests in terms of how to use it: 3D movies. Look at cute boys in 3D concerts. Glasses-free enjoyment. Just having a low-cost android tablet. Enjoying the untethered freedom of portability. Again, looking at cute boys in 3D. Games du jeur. Making 3D, not just consuming 3D. I'm guessing that such diversity of perceived uses is a positive sign indeed.

October 7, 2013

Glasses-free Test Drive (2)

I’ve been working feverishly with the NEO3DO, examining it from an educator’s perspective and showing it to folks everywhere I go.  As a result, I’ve learned quite a lot. Here’s what I know so far: It works. It works very well. In fact, the most telling and consistent phenomenon I have experienced while showing the NEO3DO to educators and non-educators alike is the common reaction I see: a physical reflex reaction from folks who jerk their heads back in astonishment, peer more closely, point, or pose an enchanted second take in utter disbelief. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is taken back at what they see before them. 
Clyde Dsouza, in his seminal book Think in 3D, suggests that “the ability of 3D to influence people has still not been studied.” He reminds us that 3D is “a powerful phenomenon that can even activate our physical reflexes.” That’s what NEO3DO seems to do for people. It makes them flinch in delight. For me, it resulted in a pleasurable head rush of visual Elysium.

Enough slobbbering, however. This is a good implementation for educational purposes. A full-featured, low-cost Android tablet that does it all: ebooks, browsing, hi-def visuals, educational apps, work on-the-go. Good for reading, writing, research, media viewing, simulation, and gamification. Smooth finger controls, by the way. Oh, and did I mention it offers rich autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D to boot? From an educational perspective, this tool offers all the basics plus a bright future.

September 30, 2013

The NEO3DO Tablet

For the last few weeks I have been taking the new NEO3DO glasses-free (meaning you can see stereo 3D without 3D glasses) tablet on an educator’s test drive, critically kicking its tires and examining its potential for K-12 and university classrooms. NEO3DO is an “autostereoscopic” android-based tablet developed by a team of San Diego innovators.

I have known for some time about this new product. I was intrigued by its promise, but too invested in doubt to take any action at first. But then, driven by pure “technology director” instinct, followed by cat-like curiosity after viewing scenes from this video, and after having solicited feedback from dear friends on the West Coast who had actually played with these devices, I took the plunge. My impatience got the best of me, so I seized the opportunity to play with one, once offered the chance.

So how did the NEO3DO fare in my rigorous test drive? Stay tuned for next week’s remarkable post…

September 23, 2013

On the Road Again

I’m doing quite a bit of presenting this year on Teaching and Learning with Depth (transformative teaching and learning using stereo 3D). Here is a current list showing my speaking schedule through February, in case you are interested in attending. If you are in the vicinity, it’s also always a good excuse for an opportunity to meet and have some coffee or conversation.

Location and Date
Lakewood, CO
October 3
-       Teaching with DEPTH for Technology Educators
Orlando, FL
October 10
-       Experiences with Simulated 3D in Classrooms
zCon East
Boston, MA
October 21
-       3D in Education: Important Things to Know about Depth-defying Learning

Minneapolis, MN
December 16-17
-       Exhibit hall booth presentations (tentative)
Austin, TX
February 4
-       Depth-defying Learning with 3D (3 hour workshop)

September 16, 2013

zCon East

Here’s a free ‘happening’ event I’ll be participating in, which is scheduled for late October: zCon East.

zCon is the zSpace Developers’ Conference, a meeting place to explore immersive, lifelike and interactive technologies with the goal to accelerate the pace of innovation in manufacturing, biotechnology, architecture, government, medical, entertainment, gaming, education, and research.

zCon East brings together those at the forefront of building 3D applications on the zSpace platform. (zSpace provides a highlyrealistic visualization experience, enabling users to directly interact with virtual-­‐ holographic simulations as if they were real physical objects. For a virtual demonstration of zSpace, visit

zCon East includes sessions in technical/user experience, research/academia, and business-oriented topics, conducted by 3D industry experts.  The event is scheduled for Monday, October 21, 2013 at the Microsoft NERD Center in Boston, MA free registration is available. You can Register Here.

This event might be a fit for you if you are a (an):
  • Educator dealing with complex problems that can’t always be visualized, described and solved in two dimensions.
  • Student who aims to create applications of the future
  • Professional interested in emerging tools that allow new human-computer interface models.
  • Software company executive engaged in efforts to accelerate your company’s innovation and growth.
  • Software engineer who creates state-of-the-art and next-generation 3D applications
  • Investor or policy-maker who needs to understand where the future of 3D technology is headed.
  • Researcher who wants to be on the forefront of a major shift in human-computer interaction.

I'll be there. If you get there, please look me up.  Let’s do coffee and conversation!