Tag Archives: VR

Final Freebie – 3 more days

The 6th, and last, free ebook I’m offering is the Innerscape Omnibus which includes all three books of the Innerscape trilogy.

As the title says, the Innerscape Omnibus is free for about 3 more days, depending on your timezone. The promotion ends on April 3, 2021.

US https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103285&sr=8-1

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103337&sr=8-1

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103385&sr=8-1

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103433&sr=8-1

India https://www.amazon.in/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103493&sr=8-1

If you are not in one of these Amazon marketplaces, you can find the Omnibus by going to the Amazon search box and typing:

Innerscape Omnibus acflory

While you’re there, perhaps you could check out some of the wonderful books written by Sue Vincent: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1617227018&sr=8-1


Meeks



Final Freebie – Innerscape Omnibus

The 6th, and last, free ebook I’m offering is the Innerscape Omnibus which includes all three books of the Innerscape trilogy.

If you’ve already downloaded the individual books, there’s no need to download the Omnibus, unless you want to, of course. 😉

The Omnibus is free on Amazon now, and I’ve provided some of the major links to the various Amazon market places below. As with the first five books, the Omnibus will be free for 5 days [ending April 3, 2021].

US https://www.amazon.com/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103285&sr=8-1

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103337&sr=8-1

Australia https://www.amazon.com.au/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103385&sr=8-1

Canada https://www.amazon.ca/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103433&sr=8-1

India https://www.amazon.in/Innerscape-Omnibus-Books-trilogy-ebook/dp/B0871W9YDH/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Innerscape+Omnibus&qid=1617103493&sr=8-1

I left the Omnibus until last because I intend to unpublish it on April 14, 2021 which is two days after I first published it on April 12, 2020 – an almost-anniversary. I know we’re not in the clear from Covid yet, but at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so I feel it’s a good time to retire this particular version. I may drag it out of mothballs for the odd special occasion, but for now it will enjoy a well earned rest. 😀

I would love everyone to grab a copy of the Omnibus while it’s free. I’d also urge anyone who hasn’t grabbed a copy of the other books to do so now, while they’re still 99c. On April 3, they will all return to their normal pricing.

I’ve tried not to check the Amazon reports too often so I’ve been gobsmacked by how many people have downloaded the books. I’ve also been incredibly heartened by the wonderful reviews they’ve all received. That was a very pleasant surprise as I’d only been hoping for a couple of reviews for Miira and Vokhtah. Thank you, all of you. -hugs-


Meeks



My Favourite bits…in Miira [2]

I was going to introduce you to the Innerscape assassin today, but I decided that post would work better tomorrow, when the book is actually free. For now, I’m going to show you my favourite bit of ‘tech’ in the book. It’s a bit gruesome but there is a happy ending. 🙂

So here, without further ado, is the final stage of Miira Tahn’s physical induction into the virtual world of Innerscape:

Exactly one week after entering Innerscape, Miira Tahn was ready for the most delicate and invasive part of the whole Induction process – the creation of the neural network that would link her to her new, digital home.

Before that could happen, however, her entire skull would have to be removed, including all the soft tissue of her face. Only then could her naked brain be encased in the bath of proprietary biofluids that would lead to full transition.

In keeping with the morbid humour that had named the containment modules the Catacombs, most of the medical staff referred to the biofluid as the ‘embalming fluid’, but that was a misnomer. In reality, the biofluid was seeded with self-replicating nanoparticles that would not only preserve the brain, they would invade it.

The centres for sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, gross and fine motor skills, and the finer senses like spatial awareness, all would be invaded. Some of the nanoparticles would even make their way to the amygdala because the ability to fear was an integral part of being human.

As the nanoparticles grew, they would self-organize into a network of artificial neural pathways which would interface between Miira’s organic brain and the electronic ‘brain’ of the Innerscape AIs.
Once that interface was complete, she would experience the most minute digital feedback as if it came from the real world, and in a very real sense, she would owe it all to Kenneth Wu.

Back when Innerscape first began, the neural interface had been little more than a net of microscopic sensors surgically implanted inside the skull of each Patient. The neural interface allowed them to enjoy a better quality of life than they would have done on the outside, but the experience had been less than perfect.

It had been Kenneth Wu’s idea to remove the skull completely, and it had been his ground-breaking work in nanotechnology that had been instrumental in the creation of the AI-neural interface Innerscape now used. No one alive knew more about Stage 3 of the process than he did, and even Charles McGragh deferred to him in this area.

“The team is ready to begin Stage 3, Dr. Wu,” Charles said evenly.
“My instruments are ready to begin as well,” the surgical AI added.

Kenneth Wu looked up at the image of Miira in his faceplate, but superimposed over that image was the memory of her frightened brown eyes staring up at him as the anaesthetic took effect. She had been scared, very scared, but her last look had held nothing but trust. She trusted him. He would not let her down.

“Begin.”
“Sealing external carotid arteries now,” the AI said as its tools cut through the skin with lightning speed. “External carotid arteries sealed. Initiating removal of skin.”

Even before the AI finished speaking, a fine mist began to form around Miira’s features. As the seconds ticked by it became progressively thicker until her whole head seemed to be encased in a swirling ball of white.

As Kenneth and the rest of the team watched, the mist gradually changed colour from white to a dirty pink.
When the mist was sucked away a few minutes later, all the soft tissue of Miira’s face was gone, leaving her head looking like a halloween mask. Her eye sockets gaped empty, her nose was gone, and her jaw sagged open, exposing the emptiness where her tongue had been.

“Phase 2 of Stage 3 complete,” the AI said. “Commencing removal of skull.”

Once again, a ball of liquid nanoparticles encased Miira’s head, but this time their function was to eat away at the bone protecting her brain. Bone was much denser than muscle and cartilage, and the process took a full 30 minutes. At the end of that time, the ball of liquid bore a rather disturbing resemblance to oatmeal porridge.

As the team watched, one of the tools hovering outside the ball released three drops of pale blue liquid onto the surface.
The outside of the ball quickly began to look more like dirty concrete than porridge. A few minutes later still, the concrete hardened and began to crack.

As the process accelerated, the cracks turned into shards, and the shards turned into even smaller fragments that lifted from the surface, and were drawn away like iron filings captured by a magnet. Once the hard crust was removed, the ball of liquid held in place by electromagnetic currents was perfectly clear once more. And nestled in the centre of it was Miira’s brain.

“Phase 3 of Stage 3 complete,” said the emotionless voice of the AI. “Commencing diagnostics.”

This was the moment at which Kenneth always held his breath. A great deal of computing power had gone into calculating the composition and number of nanoparticles to use, but there was always a slight element of uncertainty. If even a thin layer of unwanted cells remained around the patient’s brain, the embalming fluid would not work properly, and the team would have to take remedial action.

It could be done, but the results were not always optimal. The patients often suffered some small damage to the outer surface of the brain, or to one of the exposed blood vessels…

“Results are optimal,” the AI said.

Kenneth did not cheer like the rest of the team, but he did exhale on a very relieved sigh.

“Preparing to initiate Phase 4.”

This time, the AI inserted an array of needles into the ball of liquid cradling Miira’s brain. Each hollow needle was finer than a human hair, and dripped a measured dose of embalming fluid into the liquid. Over the next two days, the nanoparticles in the embalming fluid would grow to fill the entire ball.

Once that happened, the semi-solid surface of the ball would be sprayed with a different cocktail of nanoparticles which would grow into the interface connecting Miira’s mind to the digital world that awaited her.

“Phase 4 completed successfully.”

Now all we can do is wait, Kenneth thought with a familiar thrill of excitement mixed with trepidation. If he had done his job properly, the next time he saw Miira, it would be in Innerscape.


Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time will know that I love tech, and the life sciences, so I’m sure you’re not surprised by the technical detail that went into this part of the story. I do, however, apologise for the length of the excerpt. Miira’s induction into Innerscape is perhaps the most ‘scifi’ part of the entire story, and I wanted it to feel plausible. I believe that one day, this kind of technology, or something similar to it, will be commonplace. No more cutting through bone with a saw or making holes with a drill. Neurosurgeons will use very different tools to accomplish procedures that are currently impossible. I hope I’m around to see it.

Would I allow my body to become 100% dependent on an AI? Yes….with reservations. A digital world like Innerscape may one day provide terminal patients with a second chance at life, but wherever we ‘go’, we take our hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses with us. That means no world will ever become a paradise, but with a little lot of good will, it could turn into a home…maybe.

Thank you for staying with me. I’ve had fun and hope you have too. Miira will become free tomorrow [my time] so I’ll post the third and last favourite for this book once the Amazon clock has ticked over. You can find the complete schedule of books coming up for free, here.

cheers
Meeks

 


Free book schedule

All my science fiction books have now been reduced to 99c, and they’re now on Kindle Unlimited as well. As promised, I’ve also set up the free book schedule on Amazon. Starting January 19, 2021, Miira will be free for five consecutive days. The other five books are scheduled to be free as per the following table:

As you can see, the last book ends its free run on April the 3rd. I had to mess around with the dates a bit to make sure it didn’t finish on April Fool’s Day! -cough-

The 99c price point is so no one who wants a book misses out. If possible, though, please grab the book[s] during the free promotion. And it goes without saying that I would love reviews, any kind of reviews, even critical ones.

And finally an apology. I’ll be talking about these books a lot in the weeks ahead. I’ll try not to bore you silly, but there’s only so many ways of saying ‘read my book’. Bear with me!

-hugs-
Meeks


Eyesight & Oculus Rift

As an old[er] gamer with dodgy eyesight, I’ve been worried that I’d never be able to play VR [virtual reality] games. Well, yesterday I learned that I can. 😀

But first things first: what is Oculus Rift? Basically, it’s a very expensive piece of headgear that makes it possible to view imaginary things as if they were real. The model I tried out yesterday looks like this:

As well as the goggles and inbuilt headphones, the Oculus Rift comes with two handsets that transmit Wifi data to the two ‘receiver’ units positioned in front of the ‘player’.

All of this hardware is controlled by specialist software running on a fairly powerful pc. Without getting too technical, the software sends two, separate, high resolution images to the lens inside the headset. The appropriate image then bounces through one of the lens and into the left or right eye.

To get an idea of how this works, close one eye and look at an object. Close both eyes and move a few inches to the left. Now open the other eye and look at the object again. The object hasn’t changed at all, but the viewing angle has – i.e. you’re seeing a part of the object you haven’t seen before. Put the two images together, and you get a 3D image.

The human brain interprets these separate images all the time using a process called ‘stereopsis‘. But for some individuals, stereopsis doesn’t develop as it should. The brain still gets streams of images from both eyes, but these individuals see depth using a process called ‘motion parallax‘.

I am one of these individuals, and that’s why I worried I wouldn’t be able to see in VR. But I can! I can. My spatial awareness expanded right out, and when a bunch of very large robots suddenly turned feral and loomed over me, I instinctively threw my hands up to protect my head! I also squeaked in fear, but the less said about that the better. 😀

This is a video of a bunch of older people experiencing VR for the first time:

The headset shown in the video clip is the VIVE rather than the Oculus Rift, but the experience is much the same.

I wasn’t wearing glasses when I tried out the Rift, but apparently you can fit your normal glasses inside the goggles by adjusting the fit.

And now a word or two about the quality of the graphics. I wasn’t wearing any of my glasses [I have 3, one each for long, mid-range and close viewing] and that may have made the graphics less than optimal. Or it may be that the graphics still need to be improved. Or perhaps you simply need bleeding edge computer hardware to get the best results. Whatever the reason, I was in no danger of mistaking computer generated graphics for the real thing. But…the sensation of depth really does trick the brain into believing the images are real. One day, we may not be able to perceive the difference at all.

Finally, some unpleasant aspects of the hardware. For starters, the goggles are heavy. Whilst you’re ‘inside’, you tend to forget about the weight because there’s so much there to distract you, but it does feel a bit like carrying half a brick around on your head. It’s also hot. Yesterday was only warm, but after ten minutes playing with the Rift, my hair was wet with sweat.

A big part of the weight of the Rift comes from the glass lenses that make the magic possible. Given how young the technology is, I suspect the mechanics will be improved rapidly. One improvement I would very much like to see is in the handsets. Although they are far more intuitive than the controllers used with consoles, they’re still clunky. Gloves and a full-body suit with embedded sensors would be miles better. They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. 😉

All in all, I loved my taste of VR, and now that I know I can see despite the issues with my eyesight, I’m determined to own my own setup…one day.

cheers

Meeks


Retirement…slow down or speed up?

Not sure what your answer is, but mine is speed up! There are still so many stories I want to tell that another 50 years wouldn’t be enough, especially when I’m such a slow writer. And then there’s all that new tech coming online…

I’m not really a techie, you know. The true techies love all technology, whereas I’m pretty ambivalent about some of the innovations out there. Nevertheless, there are some gadgets I can hardly wait to use…like 3D printers for the home. Want that new top in your size? Not a problem, pay for the design and wait a few minutes while your 3D printer manufactures it for you. Or robots…I’ve loved the idea of robots since I first read ‘Door into Summer’ by Heinlein.

-laughs- I bet you thought Asimov was the only one who wrote about robots? Not so. You can find a description of ‘Door into Summer’ here.

Anyway, I’m saving my pennies for a household robot that will clean up after the cats, put the rubbish out, or maybe compost it on site? and mow the lawn. I’ve got a lot of lawn :/

But that’s not all! I haven’t had a chance to try VR yet, and it’s right up there as a ‘must do’ on my bucket list. I want to be able to travel the world from the comfort of my own home, and I want to fight monsters in glorious technicolour.

Of course, all of that depends upon how my eye-sight works with VR [I see depth via motion parallax, not stereopsis], but I’m hopeful, and this glorious track by Two Steps From Hell is how I feel at the ripe old age of 65. 🙂

The track is called ‘Unleashed’… Bring it on!

cheers

Meeks


How to digitise real world objects for 3D printing

I’m stuck at home with a bad back and feeling rather sorry for myself, so this post by SV3DPRINTER was very welcome indeed. It not only gave me something else to focus on, it also gave me the tech that would make the world of Innerscape plausible rather than just possible.

Science fiction is always speculative fiction, so I knew that much of the ‘science’ in Innerscape was actually just magic based on tech that ‘might’ develop in the future. Nevertheless, I’ve always tried to make that speculation as close to reality as possible. That’s why I get so excited whenever something in Innerscape turns out to be ‘doable’.

Today, my discovery explains how all of Petra could be scanned and re-created inside a virtual environment. In the video clip below, the section on scanning terrain is only a small part of the presentation, but it made my day. 🙂

 

And no, I didn’t know about these scanning technologies when I wrote Innerscape. I’m only an amateur techie, and I haven’t had a chance to explore the current Virtual Reality technology, so I simply assumed that a digital world would be produced the same way apps like Maya create digital models and gaming worlds now. Since watching this video clip, however, I’ve realised that re-creating the outside world for Innerscape will be a lot easier, and more accurate, than I originally thought, especially so far into the future.

Of course, the downside of each discovery is that my timescale for Innerscape becomes a little bit less likely. I mean, who would have thought ten years ago that 3D printing would become so commonplace so quickly? Or the internet. Who could have guessed that social media would become both a boon and a bane by 2018?

Honestly, the only thing any of us can say with any certainty is that the future will not be anything like what we imagine now. But that’s okay; perfect predictions would take all the excitement out of life. 🙂

Anyway, time to lever myself out of this chair and walk around a bit.

cheers

Meeks


Boomers and #VR [virtual reality]

One of the first friends I ever made online is George, of Ready, Aim Click. George is also my go-to person for info on graphics, gaming and the tech that drives both. This is the eye-popping youtube video he just sent me:

If you’re getting a bit long in the tooth, like me, and wondering what all this VR bunk is all about, this video may change your mind about the value of the technology. I know, because it’s changed mine. I WANT IT NOW! -cough- Sorry.

The VR equipment you see in the video clip is probably top of the line and so expensive I can’t see me buying it any time soon. But…prices will drop, eventually, and when they do, this little old lady is going to be at the head of the queue. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Eye-tracking for VR [virtual reality]

meeka-eyeI just found a really interesting article in my Reader. It’s about eye-tracking technology and its use in [some] games.

The current interface requires a learning curve to use without, imho, much added value. That said, I have to admit I don’t play first person shooters, or the kinds of games where speed and twitch response are key.

There is one area, however, where I can see this technology becoming absolutely vital – and that’s in VR [virtual reality]:

Eye-tracking is critical to a technology called foveated rendering. With it, the screen will fully render the area that your eye is looking at. But beyond your peripheral vision, it won’t render the details that your eye can’t see.

This technique can save an enormous amount of graphics processing power. (Nvidia estimates foveated rendering can reduce graphics processing by up to three times). That is useful in VR because it takes a lot of graphics processing power to render VR images for both of your eyes. VR should be rendered at 90 frames per second in each eye in order to avoid making the user dizzy or sick.

A brief explanation is in order for non-gamers. Currently, there are two ways of viewing a game:

  • from the first person perspective
  • from the third person perspective

In first person perspective, you do not see your own body. Instead, the graphics attempt to present the view you would see if you were actually physically playing the game.

In third person perspective, you ‘follow’ behind your body, essentially seeing your character’s back the whole time. This view has advantages as it allows you to see much more in your ‘peripheral’ vision than you would if you were looking out through your character’s eyes.

In VR, however, the aim is not just to make you see what your character sees, the idea is to make you feel that you are your character. A vision system that mimicked how your eyes work by tracking your actual eye movements would increase immersion by an order of magnitude. And, of course, the computer resources freed up by this more efficient way of rendering would allow the game to create more realistic graphics elsewhere.

You can read the full article here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/26908997/posts/1307290866

I predict that voice recognition and eye tracking are going to become key technologies in the not too distant future, not just for games but for augmented* reality as well.

Have a great Sunday,

Meeks

*Augmented reality does not seek to recreate reality, like VR. It merely projects additional ‘objects’ on top of the reality that’s already there.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: