Tag Archives: Innerscape

Touch…the missing link in VR gaming

Haptic gloves that simulate touch are not new, but up till now they have been waaaaay too expensive for the tech to be integrated into gaming. That could all change with the Bifrost Pulse VR glove:

And no, that young man is not a 14 year old gamer! He is part of the project team developing the haptic glove. Bifrost are hoping to crowd fund the development of the glove via Indiegogo. If successful, they will make the glove available to gaming developers in order to speed up:

a. the use of touch in gaming, and

b. the sale of low cost gloves that all gamers can afford.

As a gamer myself, I’d love to own a pair of these gloves, and I’d love to play games in which I can feel as well as see and hear. 😀

And as a scifi writer? This development brings Innerscape one small step closer.

cheers,
Meeks


Innerscape’s robotaxi?

This is not quite how I pictured the fully automated taxi’s in the world of Innerscape, and they don’t talk, yet, but I kind of like the shape/design. And it helps that they’re real:

Zoox is not the first self-driving vehicle to be invented, but I suspect it may become the fore-runner for all taxi’s in the future. I’m just a wee bit surprised it’s happened so soon.

You can read the full, New Atlas article about the Zoox here.

cheers,
Meeks


Another win for Innerscape – real surgical robots

This is the Mako Stryker:

https://www.stryker.com/us/en/portfolios/orthopaedics/joint-replacement/mako-robotic-arm-assisted-surgery.html

I just stumbled across the Mayo Stryker in an article about ’12 Medical Miracle Technologies’ on Medium. All twelve will save countless lives, but this one made my heart skip a beat:

https://medium.com/predict/12-medical-miracle-technologies-to-watch-23e9b7b6ec52

Those of you who’ve read the first book of the trilogy – Miira – may remember the scene in which an autonomous AI controlled robot pares Miira’s body back to the bits that still work. The process is overseen by a team of surgeons who never touch the patient at all.

That scene was more or less in its finished version by May, 2015.

I don’t have a crystal ball, nor do I have the kind of expert knowledge that results in a breakthrough like the Mayo Stryker, but I am a problem solver, and it seems that my theoretical, fictional solution was logical enough to become real.

Before I get too fat a head, however, I have to acknowledge how much I get absolutely wrong, starting with the speed of development. I think a great many of these logical solutions will become reality decades before I thought they would. Ah well… I’ll take my wins where I find them. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


Wetware

https://www.reddit.com/r/MortalKombat/comments/f3q3zf/nrs_we_need_a_half_robot_face_terminator_skin_in/

In the Terminator movies, the robot played by Arnold Schwarzeneger looks like a human on the outside thanks to artificial flesh – i.e. skin and muscle. Well now the researchers at Freiburg University have made an all-protein muscle:

‘For the new study, researchers at the University of Freiburg created artificial muscles that are entirely “bio-based.” They’re made of elastin, a natural protein that gives tissues like skin and blood vessels their elasticity.’

https://newatlas.com/robotics/artificial-muscles-human-proteins/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c5257d2ee4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_02_01_11_50&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-c5257d2ee4-92416841

But wait…there’s more. The new, artificial muscle can respond to certain kinds of stimuli which means it can react to the outside world. This is huge, not just for robotics but for all sorts of prosthetics and implants.

And then there’s the development of artificial nerves.

‘Sensory nerves carry information from the outside world to our spinal cord and brain. In particular, our ability to perceive touch sensation is achieved by a type of sensory nerve ending called mechanoreceptors which are located in our skin. When pressure is applied to the skin, the mechanoreceptors respond by changing their electric voltage (i.e., a measure of electrical energy). The voltages from multiple mechanoreceptors are combined and transmitted to a single neuron, or nerve cell. At a certain voltage threshold, the neuron generates repetitive electrical pulses that are forwarded to other neurons via junctions called synapses, eventually reaching the neurons in the brain to register the touch sensation. The frequency at which the electric pulses are generated (measured in hertz, i.e., number per second) is determined by the applied pressure. Higher pressures produce electrical pulses at higher frequencies, while lower pressures produce lower frequency pulses (Figure 1). These electrical pulses are eventually transmitted to and processed by the brain to feel the pressure of the external stimulus, according to the pulse frequencies.’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

If we could make artificial skin and muscle, and then give that skin artificial nerve endings, we could create robots capable of ‘feeling’.

‘Artificial sensory nerves are at a very early stage in their development… To mimic its biological counterpart, the artificial sensory nerve is constructed using three components: resistive pressure sensors, ring oscillators, and a synaptic transistor, corresponding to the biological mechanoreceptors, neurons, and synapses, respectively (Figure 2).’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

Why am I so interested in these developments? Because there are all sorts of stories in the world of Innerscape, including that of Jaimie and Ari. Jaimie is on the ‘inside’. Ari is on the ‘outside’. They can never really be together unless Ari gets very sick and is inducted into Innerscape, not a fate either of them would wish for.

But what if Jaimie could somehow project himself outside? If he could invent a robot capable of ‘feeling’, he could ride the robot in the outside world but ‘feel’ what the robot feels via the Innerscape AI. It would be like the reverse of the gaming suits and biofluid that outsiders use to temporarily project themselves inside Innerscape.

I’ve been thinking about the possibilities for some time, but couldn’t see how I could make it happen, not without making it all up. Now I won’t have to. 🙂

I know you guys aren’t really interested in my tech posts but…I don’t write them for you. I actually write them for myself so I can find important information months or even years after I originally discover it.

Thanks for putting up with my idiosyncrasies. 😉

Meeks


Last video…promise!

The reason I’m posting this short, 1 minute video is because I’m thrilled with my new editor – the Videopad video editor. I’m only using the free version at the moment, but I will be getting the paid version very soon.

So what does this editor do? Well for starters, it allows me to:

  • create separate video and audio tracks,
  • add in still images,
  • do voice-overs after the fact,
  • add groovy transitions [I didn’t in this one, but I will next time],
  • add multiple tracks – e.g. video, music, narration etc,
  • and slow the audio and video down to an absolute crawl so I can cut stuff out at just the right moment!

Honestly, after just a few hours of concentrated play, I’m loving this editor! My thanks to Dawn for recommending it. 😀

Oh, and here’s the video I did all my learning on:

Comments are off coz I don’t want to push our friendship tooooo much. lol

Hugs,
Meeks


Proof of concept – Innerscape

Forgive the grandiose title, but I’ve just read an article on Medium that details the current research aimed at creating a computer-brain interface. And that concept, taken to an extreme level, is precisely what Innerscape is all about.

I’ve known about some of the technologies for some time, but I was truly surprised by how much, and how varied, those technologies are. Some are clearly still in their infancy, but I see great potential for others…including football fans. 🙂

No, I’m not kidding. The article below contains a video about a very special ‘kickoff’. The person doing the kickoff [first kick of the game] is wearing an exoskeleton, and he’s paralyzed. He’s moving the exoskeleton with his brain. That is little short of a miracle.

You can watch a video of that kickoff, and read about the other technologies in development here: https://medium.com/predict/brain-computer-interfaces-the-next-step-in-human-evolution-a0e0723a1791

One thing I very much like about the article is that it talks openly about the elephant in the room – the ethics of some of these technologies. We humans have a habit of jumping into new tech feet first, so enamoured of the potential for good [or profit] that we wilfully ignore the potential for harm. And there is always potential for harm.

It’s Good Friday here in Australia so I’ll wish you all a Safe and Happy Easter if you celebrate it. If not, may you have a Safe and Happy Holiday.

Much love,
Meeks


And then there were two…

This has never happened to me before: two reviews in the one day, the first in the US, the second in the UK. I’m a little stunned, but also incredibly happy. 🙂

Nabatea 5/5

This last book in the series has more unexpected plot twists, turns and surprises than an aristocrat’s hedge maze / labyrinth.
Whatever you thought you knew from the first two books, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

I think the thing that has given me the greatest joy is that both reviews ‘got it’ in different ways.

As a Resident of Innerscape, Miira is like a digital ghost; she can communicate with the real world, but she can no longer touch it. Yet in Nabatea she has to step up and become the hero, despite her fears and lack of power. So I gave her the courage and persistence to use what she did have. I guess I wanted to show that we don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzneger in order to be heroic. 🙂

And the series as a whole? I didn’t decide to make each book different. It just happened that way, possibly because I need to explore new challenges with each new book. But boy am I thrilled that the reviewer noticed!

This truly has been a red letter day, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet!

To all those who downloaded my books. Thank you.
To all those who read my books. I love you.
To those who made the time to leave a review, you are my heroes.

much love,
Meeks


And one for Nabatea!

I didn’t intend to post again so soon. I’m always a little wary of boring you guys to tears but…I just found this review for Nabatea:

Imagine living on in a virtual world when you can no longer exist in the real one. Innerscape is such a world, and I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into it. Miira is a compelling and resourceful protagonist, not to mention relatable and likable. In this final book of the series, she must use what resources she has within the realm of Innerscape to uncover the mystery behind her love interest’s downfall. Crisp, evocative prose and impressive world-building make for a thoroughly engaging read.

Given how slack I’ve been on the marketing side, I really didn’t expect to generate much interest for Nabatea so this 5-star review was a very welcome surprise. I am now set for the day, maybe the whole week. lol

cheers
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…Nabatea

Due to the difficulty of finding excerpts that don’t give too much away, I’m only going to post one favourite bit from Nabatea, and this is it:

The control room of the Innerscape facility was hushed as all eyes watched the numbers counting down on the wrap-around wall monitors.

“Any second now,” the duty tech said softly.

Standing right behind the tech, Phil Jacobs could see for himself that Alex Tang, murdered two days before by Kenneth Wu, was finally breathing his last.

The AI and specialist medical teams had done their best, but the outcome had never really been in doubt. It had simply been a matter of time. Now, all the monitors focused on Alex Tang’s vital statistics told the same story – he had put up a heroic fight, but the battle was almost over.

Relief and sadness jostled for position in Phil’s mind as he stared at the heart monitor.

“Flatline,” the duty tech said, his voice almost drowned out by the bleep of the alarm.

The heart monitor was joined a moment later by the Brain Interface Monitor.

Patting the tech on the shoulder, Phil signalled for the alarms to be turned off. In the sudden silence, the voice of the AI seemed unnecessarily loud as it confirmed brain death at 1:46 pm, Sunday the 25th of December, 2101.

Merry Christmas, Phil thought as he affixed his biometric signature to the death certificate.

“Inform the police forensic team that death is confirmed.”

“Yes, sir.”

Glancing up at the wraparound screen, Phil watched as the yellow-clad technicians waiting in the Catacombs sprang into action. They, too, had been waiting for Alex Tang to die, and now that he was gone, they were free to take possession of his containment unit…with him still in it.

Once the unit was disconnected, the forensic team would put it inside one of their huge Hospice trucks and take it away for examination.

“I don’t get it,” the duty tech said as he watched the frenzied activity on the central monitor. “Why all the portable batteries? It’s not as if they need to keep him alive during transit. And why take his AI as well?”

“They probably don’t want to miss anything,” Phil replied, his tone bleak.

“But we already know how he died.”

“No one’s ever been murdered by the common cold before,” Phil replied, his eyes never leaving the monitor. “So this is all new territory. And they don’t trust our systems.”

In fact, the police had found a great deal not to trust, from Innerscape’s reliance on the AI to Phil’s own handling of security.

Dr Jacobs, can you explain why you didn’t revoke Dr Wu’s permissions when he left Innerscape?”

Just thinking of that interview made Phil’s ears burn hot. He had been forced to explain that, as Kenneth had not, technically, been fired, he could not, technically, have his permissions revoked. It had even, technically, been true as the AI did assign security permissions automatically, based on the employee’s position in the company.

What Phil had left unsaid was that those permissions could have been changed manually, using the CEO’s executive override, had anyone foreseen the need to do so. But no one had.

Least of all me, he thought as he forced his eyes away from the monitors. If he had, Alex Tang might still be alive. But then again, who could have guessed that Kenneth Wu would turn rogue?

For those who have never read any of Innerscape, each patient’s body is kept in a containment unit, about the size of a large coffin. Each containment unit has its own AI whose job it is to keep the body alive and functioning. Once the patient is in the containment unit, nothing is allowed to enter the sealed internal environment because even a breath of outside air could introduce a virus or bacteria. Nothing deadly. Just the common cold. Opening the door to the containment unit is a death sentence.

Why did I choose this short excerpt from the very start of book 3? Because every time I read it, I’m surprised that I wrote it.

Since publishing Vokhtah in 2013, I’ve become a lot more comfortable calling myself a writer, but there are times when I still feel like a bit of a fraud. Me? A writer? Yeah, right. But when I read this bit I feel as if yes, maybe I do deserve that title after all.

I really like the epilogue as well, but I can’t tell you about that, or about Kenneth’s grandmother, or the scent of lemon, or sensory deprivation, or a host of other things. All I can do is hope that you take a chance and read Nabatea for yourselves on February 16th when it begins its five days of free on Amazon.

cheers
Meeks


My Favourite Bits…The Godsend [3]

To be quite blunt, I believe that digital innovation will be driven by three things: porn, gaming and medicine. Internet porn is already a huge industry, and so are MMO’s – massively multiplayer online games. Medicine will be the last of the triumvirate to arrive, but it will come because escaping from the real world has been a part of our DNA since early humans painted their hopes and dreams on the walls of caves.

I introduced gaming with Jaimie Watson, and the idea of gaming+porn with Leon in book 1 [Miira], but the focus remained on the purely digital world of Innerscape. In The Godsend, the gaming world of the Shogunate becomes the focus because that is where pure digital and real world escapism intersect for Miira and Jaimie.

The following is a scene that most gamers will recognize. In deference to non-gamers, I’ve kept it very short. lol

Feral Cat Whiskers And Other Junk

“I still don’t see why we have to kill all this low level junk,” Miira grumbled as she despatched her ninth wild dog. “I mean, did they even have wild dogs back then?”

“Yes, they did. Now stop complaining and hurry up,” Jaimie said. “I’m up to fifteen already.”

Miira glared at her partner but kept her mouth shut as she turned and shot an arrow at the next wild dog. Ten.

She and Jaimie had been killing low level vermin for hours, and she was bored to tears. Jaimie, however, was adamant, insisting that building their reputations with the villagers was more important than anything else.

When Miira asked why, Jaimie had simply said that a high reputation would stand them in good stead later, when they went up against bands of enemy players. Just exactly how this was supposed to work, though, he did not say.

fifteen

Given Jaimie’s knowledge of the game, Miira could not argue with his strategy, but that did not stop her from wishing she was elsewhere, doing something a bit more interesting.

Watching grass grow would be more interesting, she thought as she dispatched yet another wild dog.

“Twenty!” Jaimie announced with satisfaction. “You almost done?”

“Four more to go,” Miira said with a sigh. So far, the day’s total of useless quest items included 46 wild dog pelts, 90 rodent tails and 20 feral cat whiskers…

I’ve included this short scene amongst my Favourite Bits because ‘the grind’ – the time consuming, mindless repetition of pointless actions – has been a part of every single game* I have ever played, and I suspect it will be part of every game I play in the future. The grind also features in every LitRPG story I have ever read, so this scene is a nod to both.

For those who have never stumbled across the category of LitRPG on Amazon, it’s a subgenre of fiction based on the idea of a gamer, or a whole group of gamers, suddenly finding themselves ‘living’ in the game world. This always involves full sensory immersion – i.e. the game suddenly feels completely real – and the plot revolves around a) surviving in a game that can now kill you, and b) discovering how and why the game has become real. 

Some LitRPG is really awful because the grind is described in excruciating detail, as is the process of ranking up. At the other end of the scale, however, I’ve read LitRPG that made me want to live in that world. [see Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron or Ready Player One by Ernest Cline].

Innerscape is not LitRPG, but as a gamer, know what it feels like to become so immersed in a game that it starts to feel real…even in 2D. That feeling led me to ask ‘what would it take to make a digital world feel real?’ The answer became Innerscape.

And now, because this is supposed to be a marketing post, here’s the punchline:

The Godsend, book 2 of Innerscape, will be free on Amazon when the clock ticks around to February 2, 2021 in the US. For those of us in Australia, that’s at about 5pm today [Melbourne time]. The Godsend will remain free for five days, and then it will revert to the special promotion price of $1 until the last book comes off free on April 3, 2021. At that time all six books will revert to their pre-promotion pricing.

My aim with this long promotion is to force myself to do some marketing, give you some freebies, and help Miira and Vokhtah reach the magic 20 review mark [both are on 19 at the moment]. If you know anyone who enjoys scifi and wants some free books, please point them towards mine! Reviews are not necessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some! Of course I do, but only if my stories have managed to help people escape the mundane for a little while.

Okay, that’s it. -breathes a sigh of relief-

Thanks for sticking with me,

cheers
Meeks

…*… If anyone is interested in the gaming side of things, you can find my gaming posts on the sidebar, under the category ‘Games for big kids’.

 


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