Archive for the ‘Virtual/Augmented Reality’ Category

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

May 24, 2017

Now you can read your Kindle books in Virtual Reality

Woo hoo!

Although, I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hoo boy…who cares?” 😉

Absolutely, the number of people who want to read books in virtual reality at this point is probably vanishingly small…even smaller than the e-book market was before the Kindle was released in 2007.

There still aren’t that many people in what I call VAM space (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed&Merged Reality). There will be a lot more before the end of the year (Google’s just announced a very interesting, stand-alone device…no phone, no computer required, but we don’t know the price yet), and within about three years, some people will be in VAM space quite often, I think. In five years, many people will be in it for special uses…I want to credit Robert Scoble and Seth Israel’s book

The Fourth Transformation (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for suggesting this timeline (and they’ve been quite accurate in the past).

Next, they need to also want to read e-books. The number of people who read books at all regularly is quite a minority in itself, so we definitely are talking about an unusual population.

I’ve been wanting to read my Kindle books in VAM space, and I hadn’t found a way. I did find a way to read some other books, but not my purchases from the Kindle store.

Why do I want to do that?

When I’m wearing my

Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

at work (at lunch, or on a break), it is uniquely isolating. It gives me a real sense of being somewhere else, which, while I love my job, can be a good mental reset.

Right now, I may watch Netflix or Hulu, and I do play some games (but gaming is not the majority of my time in VAM space, contrary to what I commonly hear people assume). However, I want to read. 🙂 If I play a game for a bit of a reset, then I may want to spend some time exercising and reading.

I do want to be clear: we aren’t where I want to be yet. I need some way to hands-free change “pages”, so I can read while doing floor work, like crunches. I can watch video that way, but with the current implementation, I tap the side of my head (really my headset) to change a page. That’s not convenient…I still expect Amazon to make a big move into VAM space before the end of the year, and while that’s most likely to be Prime Video at a minimum, a book reading “experience” is also a possibility. Audiobooks/text-to-speech would be another way to go, but in this post, I’m talking about sight reading.

Here’s how it works:

I’m using Samsung Internet on my Gear (my phone, which powers it, is a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge…one generation back, now).

I go to the Kindle Cloud Reader:

https://read.amazon.com/

This next step is what I believe is new, and is what made it work.

I select the menu in my top right corner of the main screen, then select, “Request Computer Version” (you can see the little selector circle…in this app, I tap the side of the headset to choose it…in some apps, I “eye gaze”).

Then, I was able to log into the site…and I could use it like I could on my laptop!

Well, it’s a little clunkier…I can’t go back as easily, but I can still read.

Here’s a shot of my library…I don’t usually show you the book covers, but I feel like these are small enough and the purpose is right for it to fall under Fair Use.

This is a shot of what it looks like reading a book (the public domain title The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs…I watched the Doug McClure movie recently as part of the revived Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d already seen the movie, which I want so MST3K doesn’t spoil it for me…but I must say, I really like the revival! They are doing a lot more, I think, with the production numbers, which I enjoy):

Now, this is a 360 degree environment…I can look around, even look behind me, but the book is in front of me…like it was on a movie screen, but I find it a comfortable size to read. In fact, I’d love to get more words on the page, so I didn’t have to tap so much. 🙂 Hmm…I may be able to change that, I’ll look. I’m sure Amazon could do something that would advance through the book on its own.

I can change the size of the image…that’s part of Samsung Internet, although it doesn’t change dramatically.

One nice thing is that I can change the “background” (but is it really a background when it surround me?). That could even be a 360 degree picture of my own…maybe Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

will do that. 🙂 We did an interview about VAM space, with an emphasis on Amazon and books…and I know Len makes 360 videos, so probably has images to use.

Again, this is in no way everything I want. When I’m on a plane later this year, I’m assuming I’ll be able to use my headset (I’m traveling domestically…and the headset isn’t powered, but who knows?). I’d plan on reading on my Kindle Fire, too, but I can see switching between games, videos, and books without taking off the headset (I would need to download some books before I go, unless I can connect to wi-fi…that’s what I’ve been doing so far to read, streaming it).

We are on the bottom rungs of the ladder which is the future!

Bonus deal:

I know this is likely to be too late for some of you, but I couldn’t get to this until tonight. Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is “Up to 80% off top book club picks by Goodreads on Kindle”. Check them out…there are some good deals!


My current Amazon Giveaways

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the award-winning, highly-rated mystery by my sibling, Kris Calvin!

Giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/398897583537603c

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Kris Calvin on Amazon (to my knowledge, all that you’ll get is a notification when Kris publishes a new book in the Kindle store, although I don’t know that for sure…that’s all I’ve ever seen for authors I follow, I think. Kris is working on the second book in the Maren Kane mystery series.
Start:May 20, 2017 5:20 AM PDT
End:May 27, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have entered my previous giveaways for a chance to win Kris’ book! I don’t benefit directly from Kris’ book, although we have had a lot of conversations about it. 🙂

Amazon Giveaway for And Then There Were None!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/3e6a60b4814649a3

Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winner.
Requirements for participation:
Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
18+ years of age (or legal age)

Start:May 12, 2017 6:24 PM PDT
End:Jun 11, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

===

Star Wars Day through 40 years of Star Wars!
Giveaway by Bufo Calvin
  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
  • Requirements for participation:
    • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
    • Follow @TMCGTT on twitter
    • 18+ years of age (or legal age)

Giveaway:
https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ce7b24b32a4a670

Start:May 4, 2017 6:32 AM PDT
End:Jun 3, 2017 11:59 PM PDT

It’s going on that long in part so that it covers the actual 40th anniversary of Star Wars (of the release in the USA) on May 25th 2017. Also, this book, which has good reviews and is new, is $14.99 in the Kindle edition…which is a lot for me for a giveaway. 🙂

Good luck, and may the Force be with you!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

 * I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

April 8, 2017

My interview about (and IN) VR with Len Edgerly…and giveaways!

It’s here…and the word “here” may soon have a new meaning. 🙂

I did an interview with popular podcaster Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

about Virtual/Augmented Reality…and at my suggestion, we actually did the interview in VR.

Now, I’m not an expert on VR…I’m a consumer of it. This is different from when I started my

I Love My Kindle

blog back in August of 2009. In that case, I really could bring special expertise. I had been a manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and I was a techie from way back, so I had a special insight on electronic books (e-books).

In the case of what I call VAMM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality), I’m coming at it from the point of view of an observer of and commenter on popular culture. I do think that there is a significant Amazon/book element coming to VAMM, and coming fairly soon.

However, in one of my other blogs,

The Measured Circle

I write about movies, TV shows, games (I also managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore), tech…a very wide array.

I think I’m pretty good at understanding pop culture. One year, I called eight of the last nine eliminations on American Idol in order, before any of them happened. My Oscar Prediction contest produces results which tend to be more than 90% accurate (and I do quite well myself). I called (not publicly) the successes of Jim Carrey (based on one interview on TV where he did “facial impressions”), Darryl Hannah (after seeing Bladerunner), Big Brother (before it aired one episode in the USA), and more.

Not that I’m always right…but I’m not always wrong, either, which is saying something. 😉

I’ve been on the Kindle Chronicles several times before and it’s always been a great experience. Len is a former professional journalist, and we shared an enthusiasm for the Kindle.

I noticed Len had been broadcasting in 360, and I knew he was at least dabbling in VAMM. So, a couple of months ago, I suggested that we actually do an interview in VAMM space.

I wasn’t sure at that point how we would do it, but I suggested using

vTime

One reason for that was that I knew you could record VAMM sessions there, which would mean that our audiences could see and hear us later.

Unfortunately, when the time came, that feature (vCast) had been taken offline for improvements.

That created some technical challenges. We both happened to be using Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge phones and the Samsung Gear VR headset (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). That has the built-in ability to take screenshots and record video…but not to record audio

We ended up each recording our audio separately, and then Len put them together. I had a good microphone, and tried a few apps before setting on the free version of

NowSmart

I played around with the settings, and found something I liked.

Apparently, sometimes while I was talking, I had my mouth too far away from the microphone…with the headset on, I wasn’t aware of that, but again, Len was able to boost the sound.

I loved doing the interview!

Avatar with a blue jacket sitting on a rock in a wilderness river

That’s a screenshot of my avatar sitting on a rock in a wilderness river…we were talking about how interacting in VAMM space compared to doing videocalls.

I should mention that my avatar is randomized: hair color, skin color, body type (including gender), and so on. I could have made an avatar that looked very much like me (in fact, I did that at one point), but my regular readers know that I don’t like to identify inherent characteristics…I like people to be known (online) for what they think and feel and how they express it.

My thought is that I’ll randomize a different appearance many times. That was a lot of work: I think it took perhaps half an hour. I can automate that process outside of vTime (by generating random numbers in a spreadsheet, although it would be great if they would just let people pick an entirely random avatar.

I think one error I made was making a choice in every category. I figured that “facial hair” would include a “none” choice, but I don’t think it did. That means my avatar has a hat and glasses, but I need to include a “no glasses” option (for example).

I’ll summarize some of my thoughts on what we discussed, but if you would like to listen (it’s audio only…no special equipment needed) to the whole thing (before or after), it’s here:

TKC 453: Bufo Calvin in Virtual Reality

I’d say the biggest takeaway is that I expect Amazon to get into VAMM significantly before the holidays at the end of this year.

Breaking it down more:

  • Prime Video: I would be shocked if this doesn’t happen…and perhaps by September. I spend more time in VAMM space watching videos (Hulu, Netflix, and others) than doing anything else. Amazon shouldn’t cede all that habit building lead to other services. When Amazon went years without making a profit, Jeff Bezos once said something like “Market share will never be cheaper than it is now”, and that’s the case for VAMM video market share, too
  • An experiences store: this seems pretty likely to me. “Experiences” is the term for VAMM apps. I think it probable that Amazon lets people get experiences through Amazon before the end of the year, but that can be a bit complicated. I would always rather have Amazon process my payments than anyone else…they already have all my info
  • VAMM book reading: I want, want, want this! 🙂 I showed Len a screenshot from the Chimera Reader VR app. It’s not a great way to read books at this point, and Amazon could do that. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I want to be at work and be able to read my Kindle books at lunch in a different environment with a virtual book that looks like a paperbook in my hands
  • Amazon VAMM hardware: probably not likely this year, but possible. They could make a headset (I think glasses would be a few years off for Amazon) that would be platform independent
  • Alexa in VAMM: yes! I definitely want to be able to see my calendar events, the weather from Alexa, pulled up by voice in VAMM. However, Alexa as a navigator would also be a big improvement. Getting stuff done in VAMM space, currently, is difficult. You can “eye gaze” to select things, and sometimes use voice input…but I want the latter in a lot more places. I want to be able to ask Alexa to start a specific experience and to do internet searches (I do use the Samsung VR internet browser, and it does voice input…but not as smoothly as Alexa)
  • Shopping in VR: I want a virtual Amazon store to buy things…and ideally, I’d like the option for it to be social, so I can ask other people questions and maybe have Amazon employees virtually present

Now, being in VAMM space wasn’t perfect, by any means. Len disappeared for me a few times…it seemed to me like I was able to be on consistently,  but it’s possible it looked to Len like I disappeared.

The other thing was that I couldn’t have any notes I could see…and I made two big mistakes. I’m usually good and careful about crediting people properly, but in this case, I gave the wrong title for a book and for a video series.

I want to try to make up for that for those two, even though they are properly linked on Len’s site.

What I’ve decided to do is Amazon giveaways.

The first one is for

The Fourth Transformation (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

I mistakenly called it “The Fourth Revolution”…there is a popular book by that name, but it’s entirely different. I did identify “Scoble and Israel” as the authors.

I think this a well-written and insightful book by a couple of people with an excellent track record of predicting what will happen with technology as it relates to business. I’ve recommended it to people at my company: I think if you have a major consumer presence and aren’t starting to prepare for VAMM interactions in the next five years, you are missing an opportunity.

I made it a requirement of the giveaway that people follow one of the authors, Robert Scoble, on Amazon…and I’m giving away two (one for ILMK and one for The Measured Circle…or one for Scoble and one for Israel, however you want to see it). 😉

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b079fbab9711319a

The second one is a VR specific comedy series, and I unfortunately really butchered the name (badly enough that I don’t want to repeat it here and mislead people).

The right name is

“Virtually Mike & Nora”

and they really understand what Virtual Reality means (while being funny at the same time). They completely (and intentionally uncomfortably) bring you into the experience. It is a bit racy…maybe “edgy” is better.

Since this is a video series which is part of your Hulu subscription, I needed to find something to giveaway.

I’ve decided to give the same VR headset I gave to a relative:

Blitzwolf VR Headset (at AmazonSmile*)

This is generic, simple headset…nothing fancy, but it did work for my relative. I can’t tell you for sure that you’ll be able to watch

Hulu VR

and therefore Virtually Mike & Nora, but it should be fun even if you can’t. 🙂 It’s going to depend on your phone.

To benefit that very creative duo, I’m requiring that you watch a short YouTube video (under two minutes) from them about the show before you enter.

I’m going to give away one of those, via random draw of the entries during the period.

Here is the link for the giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/0ab8bc9943c50e4f

Again, my apologies to both pairs of artists…hopefully, this will help discovery of both of these good works.

Finally, I am doing one more unrelated giveaway. I’m giving away ten Kindle versions of my sibling’s 4.6 out of 5-star (at time of writing, with over 100 customer reviews), triple Silver Falchion winning mystery

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I am requiring that people follow Kris Calvin on Amazon to enter…I want you to know when the second Maren Kane mystery is released, and other titles Kris may do.

Here is the link for the giveaway…feel free to share:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/e39ec1bca3592757

Thanks again to Len for taking the VAMM adventure with me for our interview (interVR?)!

Note: feel free to connect with me in vTime. I’m listed there as Bufo Calvin.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this, you can let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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