The History of the Car Computer

The car is a very complicated thing in the modern world, with a whole host of mechanical and electronic systems working together to keep the car running, and to keep its levels of operation at maximum efficiency. The engine control unit is the centerpiece of a car’s electronics, which makes millions of processes each second to make slight adjustments to the actuators depending on the information the central CPU gets from the various number of real-time sensors. This goes alongside the transmission control unit, which ensures that gear changes within automatic cars are most efficient. These car computers not only keep the car running, but minimize the amount of fuel wasted, which keeps efficiency and economy high, whilst helping to protect the environment with minimal emissions.

The cars of today present a marked contrast between now and the early days of the automobile. From the turn of the century when the first commercial automobiles emerged, to the end of the 1960’s, there were obviously no electronic components, and vehicles were designed simply and included simple and robust mechanical control parts and basic methods of control. Back then a better car meant a car with a bigger engine, more speed and more horsepower, and little heed was paid to efficiency, economy, and the environment. However, the issue of the environment, and certainly the issue of economy became more and more pronounced in the 1970’s, with the inclusion of mandates, and the notable fuel crisis of the mid 70’s.

Around the same time, electronic technology was reaching the point where it was physically able to be included in automobiles, alongside the transmission from carburetors to fuel injection, but is wasn’t until the 1980’s that electronics became practical and economic enough to be included. Control over the ignition in the interests of minimizing fuel usage drove car electronics. The first pieces of circuitry used to control spark timings where large pieces of solid state circuitry, and would need replacement every few years. By the middle of the 80’s, the industry would be founded on fuel injection completely controlled by electronics.

Naturally, as commercial electronics boomed in the 80’s and on through the 90’s, becoming smaller, cheaper and more sophisticated, on-board car computers would take on more and more functional responsibilities, sensing more and more data and controlling more and more aspects of the car engine, among other things such as braking and climate control. Indeed it was not long before the computer became the central and integral component in the car.

With the rise of the computer came the potential for customization, with access to a programmable computer providing immense control other a vehicle’s power and other variables.

What Is the Difference Between Multimedia and Animation?

So what exactly is the difference between Multimedia and Animation?

The word multimedia is, in itself, explanatory. It refers to the practice of using multiple forms of media, which may or may not include animation, simultaneously, within a given product or project. Multimedia products will often combine text, still images, video, film, animation and sound within one package.

Multimedia products are often interactive in nature and can only generally be created on, and accessed by, a computing device.

Multimedia now encompasses a vast array of products, projects and services. Familiar examples are the Computer Based Training courses (CBT”s) used in education or the typical instructional CD-ROMs so often favored by the learner driver.

The CV of an artist for example, containing, a headshot, biography and a portfolio of work, which is then burned to, and delivered on CD-rom, would also be considered multimedia in nature and multimedia is very often used in the corporate setting in the form of presentations.

Even the video gaming enthusiast is not immune to the onslaught of the multimedia revolution as he or she battles within the evermore complex multi-player gaming arena known as MMORPGs.

One of the most important features of the multimedia product or service is that it is more often than not, interactive in nature. The learner driver training CD mentioned previously would be a prime example as it would require the user to engage with the content throughout.

This type of educational platform also serves as a classic example of the non-linear forms of multimedia which requires interaction and input from the user over the control and delivery of the content. Multimedia in its linear form – a simple example being Cinema – offers little or no scope for such interaction or control.

The use of the term multimedia has changed over the years and it was only during the 90’s that it acquired its current meaning. Multimedia can be live or pre-recorded and with the advent of computer tablets, smart phones, advanced gaming platforms and the like, multimedia is now an all pervasive force.

Animation on the other hand is a ‘specific cinematic medium’ which often utilizes hundreds, sometimes thousands of still images. These images are combined in sequence over a specific time period (cinematically speaking) usually 24, 25, or 30 frames per second. When these images, which will all vary slightly from one another, are recorded and replayed in rapid succession, they create the illusion of movement.

Animations can be 2D or 3D. Can be hand drawn or computer generated. Involve clay models, puppets, shadows or cut-outs. Some animation may involve all these elements and more. Good cinematic examples of 3D animations are Toy Story, Shrek, The Incredibles and The Croods.

3D animation is a very complex area with a terminology that is uniquely its own. Essentially 3D animation starts with the creation or modelling of a 3D mesh of the object or character to be created. The mesh can then be refined by the modeller before being rigged and programmed for movement. 3D animation does require some basic drawing skills at least, is very technical, and relies heavily on the use of 3D textures and lighting.

Traditional 2D animation on the other hand involved the processing of thousands of individual images copied from original paper drawings onto transparent acetates known as Cels. Each Cel was then carefully coloured and set against a painted background before being photographed one by one with the aid of a rostrum camera.

This method of film-making bought us classics such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians and the Lady and the Tramp.

Stopmotion animation is similar to the above the only difference being that a physical object such as a doll or puppet will appear to move on its own when it is manipulated bit by bit between photographed frames.

Nowadays the process of animation is much less cumbersome as much animation is created and edited on computers using vector or bitmap images with sophisticated software used for coloring and camera movement.

Will Google Glasses Price Be Affordable?

You probably have seen many of the promotional videos for the Google Glasses now. This piece of kit is kind of amazing and futuristic with all the cool features it possesses. Think about being able to film your life as it happens and later view it back as if it was a recording from your memory bank? Pretty cool? Or are you more worried about the affects of walking around with a computer on your head all day?

Many gadget enthusiasts will be waiting with anticipation for the Google Glass to be released and it has already been said that this kind of technology could take over the dominant smart phone market. The device will be able to function just as a smart phone does, you will be able to make calls, take video and use the integrated sat nav, and all of these features hands free with voice commands. This is already beneficial to people, as it will make tasks and journeys easier and quicker to complete. Just like smart phones the Google Glasses will have endless app support meaning the apps will be coming thick and fast, so you can expect many different uses for the Glasses from the get go.

Augmented reality technology is set to be one of the biggest upcoming new instalments into this technology craving society we all live in, with Google Glass set to be the first gadget which will bring it all into the main stream. You can already go out now and get yourself some augmented reality glasses. The technology is brand new but is already being developed and released for leisure and industrial purposes by a company called Vuzix. The reason that you may not have heard of them yet is that they do not have all the marketing power of the big G, but if you do your research you can pick up some of this new technology now and put it to use. Many app developers are also working with Vuzix to bring some software to the innovative hardware.

The Google Glasses price has to be affordable in order for this technology to catch on as Google has plans to take over the consumer gadget market and dominate over other bands like Apple, but can they do it? They say the augmented reality glasses will cost around $1,500 but that was the price offered to developer’s way before a public release, so when the Google Glass release date comes we should expect to see the price set at around $1,000 or under.