Monthly Archives: August 2014

10 Software Development Myths 3

Myth Pic

Software is created in a realm of intangibility. This necessary but foreign situation has given rise to common myths; some go against intuition and some stem from older technology or a misunderstanding. Let’s debunk the top 10 software myths!

1. Adding developers to a late project will get the project back on schedule.

This is a very common and intuitive response to a schedule slip in a project. Surprisingly after additional manpower is added the project actually slips later. Brooks’ Law is often cited to refute the common myth; stating ‘adding manpower to a late software project makes it later’ (Fred Brooks – The Mythical Man-Month). While an oversimplification, it is a good rule of thumb. The counter-intuitive result of a later project is due to the increase in necessary communication between the team; which increases exponentially as additional people are added to a team.


Hyperlapse – First person videos finally become watchable! 3

We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyperlapse videos: time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.

At high speed-up rates, simple frame sub-sampling coupled with existing video stabilization methods does not work, because the erratic camera shake present in first-person videos is amplified by the speed-up.


Ryan Seifert‘s insight:

We have all seen the helmet videos from skydivers (if you haven’t, Jeb Corliss has one of the best) more recently are the emergence of helmet cams for bicyclist, surfers, and even pets! I have even spotted helmet cameras on my jogs around my relatively mundane neighborhood. Normally these videos are watched at an increased speed (who wants to watch a 45 minute ride for the 30 seconds of action) but the speed change is painful to view. Hyperlapse is a newly created method to stabilize and smooth out these videos.

Johannes Koph, Michael Cohen, and Richard Szeliski developed the new method to generate the smoother video. The process (See Technical Video below) is substantially more complicated than the familiar stabilizer functionality commonly used. The new system consists of three stages, Scene Reconstruction, Path Planning, and Image-based Rendering. Scene reconstruction allows the system to build a 3D model of view, leveraging multiple frames from the video to do so. This provides the system the ability to actually change the viewpoint in the resulting rendering, moving from an abrupt viewpoint change to a smoother option. This is one of the key properties that allow the system to generate the silky smooth resulting videos. Path Planning is split into two stages, the first optimizes for smooth transitions, length, and approximation (the path should be near the input frames). The second stage optimizes for rendering quality. The resulting path can be slightly different than the path actually taken by the camera person (or pet!); but will still be approximately the same. The final step of the process is actually rendering the video. Because each new shot can be slightly different than the original video, the system merges multiple frames together; selecting the areas in each frame for the best quality of the resulting video.

The result is quite amazing; but there are still some artifacts you can notice when watching the videos. Watching or stepping through the video frame by frame you will notice that objects can suddenly appear or boundary areas where the images are merged are easily identifiable. These sections are hard to notice when viewing full speed though.

The new technique is very resource intensive. The research paper mentions that it took roughly 305 hours to process a 10 minute video! Most of the computational time is consumed during the source selection with computes at roughly one minute per frame. I suspect that cloud computing (such as Amazon Web Services and Azure) will be strongly utilized to allow even a mobile phone app to be used in the video editing process. It will be interesting to see how this video editing will be used!

Accurate real-time Indoor Localization 2


Yesterday was the long-anticipated kick-off at San Francisco City Hall. Our CEO Hannes gave a brief presentation about what has been achieved in cooperation with San Francisco International Airport and The LightHouse during the 16 week Entrepreneurship-in-Residence Program of Mayor Ed Lee.

In early 2014, we were selected to help the San Francisco Airport (SFO) create a means for assisting blind and visually challenged travelers as they move from curb-to-gate in Terminal 2.


Ryan Seifert‘s insight:

What a great idea! Audio alerts would go a long way towards providing more independence to visually-impaired travelers.

I have been waiting for this sort of update since I first heard of beacon technology last year. The open source standard ‘AltBeacon‘ should begin picking up steam soon; we will find our shopping experience changed drastically (Imagine getting a unique deal or timed special). I am happy to see it getting applied to more altruistic areas as well.

The beacons are about the size of a bottle cap, cost 20 dollars apiece, and will reportedly run about 4 years without needing to change the batteries. The devices were painted and installed above eye level in order to reduce the visual impact of the roughly 300 beacons installed to the terminal.

There is a similar system going on over-seas at Heathrow airport in London. The coverage does not seem to be quite as complete; as it limits the information it provides to only simple notifications. One interesting difference is that the beacons in Heathrow also report local data back to an integrated system. This allows the system to provide alerts back to airport personnel; such as drop in temperatures or if the beacon begins moving for any reason.

Beacons are just beginning to be adopted in general areas. Shopping centers, museums, movie theaters (Think about a partnership with RunPee!), and sports stadiums are all slowing starting to roll out beacon technology. It will be interesting when my phone can navigate me to the best price for a coffee or a specific sandwich while I am waiting for a plane or my wife to finish shopping!