Old School Meets New School

Since I was born in the 1950’s, I am not very computer literate…yes, I use one every day at work as do most people. What I mean is that computers were not part of my daily routine until WELL after graduating high school.  I do not give much thought to how it all works, I just take it for granted that the software I need will do the tasks required for me to accomplish my goals.

This past weekend my husband and I, as owners of Adaptive Designs, Inc., had the pleasure to co-sponsor a hackathon at Bowdoin, a local college, along with L.L. Bean, Raizlabs. This is the second year that Bowdoin has hosted the CBBhacks. I watched as groups of students arrived with laptops, sleeping bags and other provisions needed to spend 36 hours creating and solving problems using code as a medium.

Presenting the Colby bus schedule app.jpg

Most teams tackled a problem that impacted them.

  •   One group, from Colby, created an app that used texting to deliver bus route schedules from each stop on the university run bus routes.
  • Another created a smartphone app that would replace antiquated equipment used by rowing teams.
  •  A PC based measurement tool was created to diagnose heart disease with 89% accuracy.
  •  A team from Bowdoin created an augmented reality app similar to Pokemon Go to help new students learn about the people and places on campus.
  • One team thought that streamlining the campus pub menu ordering and pick up work flow into an app for use by students and employees could save time waiting in line to pay for and pick up called in orders
  •  Virtual Reality was represented as one group used the HTC Vive and Web VR to create an interactive VR Game.

It was fun to see the students present their projects to the judge’s panel. I saw energetic, excited, and passionate young people using their minds, hack resources, and friendships to create something new.

Virtual Reality Team

Virtual Reality Team

CBBhacks 2017

We designed a VR KIX faceplate for the event!

We designed a VR KIX faceplate for the event!


AS part of our community involvement, Adaptive Designs Inc. is a sponsor for the 3rd annual CBBhacks hack-a-thon.  36 hours. 1 Goal. February 24-26

Other sponsors for this event are: Major League hacking, Hubspot, L.L.Bean, Microsoft and Bowdoin College.

In addition to a grand prize, they will also be offering over $2000 worth of prizes for various categories, such as "Female Founders", "Hardware Hacks", "Mobile Apps", and "Business Plans". You won't want to miss this great opportunity!

Read more about the event below:

Join your fellow students Spring of 2017 for the third annual CBBHacks hackathon, hosted at Bowdoin College. You have 36 hours to build something, anything, with your fellow entrepreneurs, artists, developers, and other students, culminating in a presentation to a panel of VCs, founders, and CEOs. Join us and be a part of the largest student hackathon in Maine! Sign-ups out now!

Don't think you're a hacker? No problem! Many of our participants are first-time hackers, so you'll be among great company learning to make apps and websites for the first time.


Students from NESCAC schools will be present to collaborate with each other, as well as to get advice and expertise from VCs, CEOs & other entrepreneurs.


Looking for something interesting to work on? Talk to local professors about their research and what they're working on. Speak with representatives from major tech companies about their experiences.


Apply what you have learned in the classroom to collaborate with others and build a marketable product or service in 36 hours. Do it well, and you might just get a prize for it!



Along for The Ride

By Lisa Elichaa, The VR Virgin

So, have you looked into virtual reality, maybe tried a tethered HMD like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, or maybe got a free Google Cardboard viewer and downloaded some apps?  Are you wondering if you should give this new technology a pass? After all, it must be a fad, like cellphones.

Remember the old “Bag phone” of the 1980’s… (don’t you laugh when you see one in an old movie?) That was the leading edge in technology for mobile phones for that time. Why were they so big and clunky? Think about this...how many cell phone towers were in existence then?

Why are we not using bag phones today? Because some people never stop improving on new technologies. They feed off the excitement of making things smaller, better, faster and more accessible.

Cell phones look and perform differently than they did in 1999.  A phone is not just a phone anymore, they have transformed from just a phone into a mini computer that happens to have a phone.

So, I expect that the same is true in the virtual reality space today…we are in the “bag phone stage”. The equipment can be big and clunky, the content delivery is sometimes unsatisfying. Both the computer tethered and the mobile headsets will evolve and transform as people keep coming up with new solutions.  They will get smaller, better, faster.

Are you along for the ride or waiting to see what happens?

Did you wait for the iPhone 7 or the Samsung S7 to come to market before you ever used a mobile phone? Of course not! Many of us have had mobile phones since the first Nokia unplugged model came to market. Can’t you still recognize that signature ringtone when you hear it?

 I advise you to get into the virtual reality movement now, don’t wait for it to be finished and perfect. We know from experience that it will never be finished…but in a constant state of perfection. Ride the train through all the stops along the way, this way you can appreciate what it took to get it there and have some fun along the way

Virtual Reality and film -- not you parents’ movies!

By Pam Loft

Have you given any thought to how dramatically virtual reality will change the process by which films are put together? The story will still be told but the participant will not be sitting outside, just viewing the action, but will be fully present in the story; able to determine how long to stay at any point in the story; which position to view it from; which direction to take the story; and how long to remain in the story.  The participant will no longer be arbitrarily confined to the standard movie time frame.

To offer the full reality immersion, photography standards will have to step up seriously as very high-resolution and 3D, amongst other elements, are needed to enable the brain to accept the full immersion into the environment that is projected.

360 Fly Camera....make your own videos and films.

360 Fly Camera....make your own videos and films.


How the VR filming will affect the actors and the characters is still unknown, as is the interaction of the participant with the actor/character and the story line. Imagine the camera moving at the behest of the viewer not just the filmmaker. So much in the development of VR projects is going to be new technology and although there will be failures, there will be successes and many yet unimaginable developments. It is a creative frontier, a wonderland for photographers, cinematographers, and other digital imaging technologists.


For those of us who prefer to be armchair travelers, in the not so distant future, virtual reality will be able to provide us with adventures into the wilds of Africa, a trip down the Colorado River, or a view from the top of Everest; as well as allow us to experience living inside history, mythology or literature. There is much yet to come and much to anticipate in this rapidly developing area of entertainment and experience.

If you are interested in more information on VR applications, these articles and discussions of the application of VR technology may also be of interest to you.




Is Virtual Reality New??

by Pam Loft

People have been working with virtual reality for many years. It is used in flight simulators for pilots and virtual space ships for astronaut training, in automobile design and other training situation. The size and costs of the units kept the units confined to training locations or the arcade and slowly faded from the public view…..why? Virtual Reality is the epitome of the reason why the video game industry is now worth over $60 billion…immersion and escapism… it only failed as a consumer gaming product. It had to await the development of consumer available technology to support it. 4K monitors graphics card that support 4K gaming …together provide high resolution VR and a springboard for Oculus Rift to bounce into the history books.  …this time around VR looks set to be a hit and given their strong position, it’s Oculus VR and Facebook’s game to lose.

Gaming is only one of the applications of VR. Currently VRTEX360 is being used in the auto industry as a means as a screening tool for applicants and for selecting and training welders and spray painters. It saves training time and reduces loss of consumables. It also allows for instantaneous feedback and proficiency scores as the trainee performs the task that he would on the job. It allows repeated proper machine setup developing efficiency that is necessary at a real workstation.  


Ford was the first auto maker to use ultrahigh definition virtual reality lab (similar to Second Life Game – online 3D virtual world) that enables designers and engineers to globally work together on vehicles in real time. This allows improvements to be made in vehicles quality ahead of the prototype stage of development. Their immersion lab was started in 2006 and allows for a full-scale 3D image enabling engineers and designers to see inside and through a vehicle…

Audi is releasing a “Dealership in a Briefcase” an immersive virtual experience using the power of the Oculus Rift headset with added sounds of doors shutting, stereo playing mimicking the experience of the cars being browsed. When it arrives later this year, the customer will have the full spectrum of the Audi model range, with respective customization options …colors, leathers, inlays infotaiment systems…and yes,  it will let you drool of the one- of-none-made, brown-on-brown station wagon with the manual transmission and the navigation-delete that you and two other customers on earth have been dreaming about.

Toyota has launched a virtual reality distracted driving simulator as part of its TeenDrive365. Participants get into an actual Toyota and put on an Oculus Rift headset. They are in a car, driving down a city street with the radio on, a couple of friends in the passenger seats and cellphone bagging to be checked while they are in motion. If a truck pulls out and the driver is not paying attention there is crunching of headlights, a cracked windshield, but no bodily harm. They get to see the impact of distractions like texting or picking up your phone would have in a real driving situation. The participants can look all around the car, the sensors on the steering wheel and the pedals translate what they are doing with their handset and feet into the experience. (Toyota used Oculus Rift and Unity software)


I’m a VR VIRGIN by Lisa Elichaa

I’m Old School, I grew up with Pong and Atari. I had not heard much about Virtual reality until last week.

Last week I put on my first pair of Virtual Reality goggles and was amazed, intrigued and found myself wanting more. I had a 360 degree view of what was going on in a music video! I was riding in a limo with my head out the sunroof and could turn and see the city unfold around me. How cool is that?!

Lots of new questions started popping up in my mind, usually when I should have been doing something else, like working. What is Virtual Reality, where is it going, who is involved and how can I enjoy it? I went to the internet to find out more and boy is it confusing! I found more new words like augmented reality and immersion that I now have to understand.

I want to learn more about Oculus Rift, (which I thought that was a Transformer character) and Google has Cardboard goggles??? And gave away the plans to anyone who wants to make their own?

I have discovered that the VR goggle world can be compared to the car industry. Features and craftsmanship define the popularity, the price level and the desirability of the product.  Models like Oculus Rift and Sony’ Project Morpheus are the luxury models...the Lamborghinis and Ferrari and the Google Cardboard is the low end, like the Ford Tempo or Chevy Aveo.

 With cars you decide which options like air conditioning, GPS systems, Sirius radio, engine size, gas mileage performance that you must have and what you can live without depending on what you can spend. It seem the same with the range of VR Goggles in the market. Look for options like adjustable head straps, large optical lenses, adjustable object distance and focal length so you can view without wearing glasses, universal or adjustable phone trays that can fit only one or several sizes of smart phones and besides options, how do they look are they aesthetically pleasing, light weight and durable.

As with buying a car, knowing what your budget is first will help you decide where you are entering the market and now it is just a matter of who has what features in that range you can’t live without.

Google Cardboard is the basic, no frills VR viewer. You build it yourself, put in the lens and use a rubber band to hold you smartphone in the viewing window. You hold it to your face with your hands. Simple. Oculus Rift is the top of the line total package with all the frills and software interface built in…you don’t need to use your smart phone with your apps downloaded from the app store. 

I started looking at the Goggles on Amazon. Why not, all models seem to be represented with good descriptions of their features and you can sort by price.