Posts about Technology

What’s Up with Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

September 7, 2017

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) don’t exist independently of each other.  Rather, both are points (or ranges) along a continuum. Augmented Reality is at one end (with low immersion, or high inclusion of physical reality) and Virtual Reality at the other end (with high immersion, or complete exclusion of physical reality).

Enhanced Reality

We may see the terms “Augmented” and “Virtual” Reality go away as more people gain experience with these technologies, and witness the overlap and connections between the two; we may see a term such as Enhanced Reality come into being as the entire spectrum with specific technologies clustering at different points along the spectrum.  Already some devices offer support for both, including the Michigan-based Immy Inc. whose headset includes an LCD panel to block vision for VR, or goes clear for Mixed Reality.

Mixed Reality

So what’s Mixed Reality?  The term is muddy and debated.  When Microsoft debuted HoloLens, they came up with the term Mixed Reality (MR) to differentiate it from previous AR technologies.  In 2017, they further tweaked the meaning of the term and at times seem to use it to refer to the entire AR/MR spectrum.  Currently their website offers the definition: “Mixed reality blends real-world and virtual content into hybrid environments where physical and digital objects coexist and interact.”  As a term created by a specific company for their products, MR may or may not catch on in a broader sense.  Other companies so far are mostly sticking to AR and VR, with a few using other terms (such as Intel’s “Merged Reality”).

Others continue to use Mixed Reality to refer to a middle point in the AR/VR spectrum.  Here’s a basic guide to the three technologies this use of the term identifies:





VR is a fully immersive environment; visual input from the real world is excluded and other kinds of input are typically minimized.


MR places virtual objects in real-world contexts to make them look truly present.  It involves an interaction between the real and virtual which AR omits. AR overlays data, images, and objects over the user’s real world view without trying to make them look seamless—essentially a “Heads-Up Display.”
HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, PSVR Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap, DAQRI Smart Helmet/Glasses Google Glass, Epson Moverio, ODG R8/R9

  • Immersive environment
    • Completely blocks physical world
    • 360-degree surround
  • Limited real-world physical movement
  • Generally tethered
  • May involve handheld controllers

  • Tightest integration with the physical world
  • Untethered
  • Captures surrounding environment
    • Can capture hand gestures
    • Can allow for safe navigation

  • Lowest-cost hardware
  • Greatest awareness of surroundings; allows safe navigation of the physical environment
  • Typically voice-controlled

  • Immersive simulations
  • In-depth experiences
  • Safe first (or repeated) exposure to hazardous situations

  • Embedded support tightly integrated with what user sees
  • Third-party coaching/mentoring
  • Overlaid diagrams/ cutaways/ guides

  • Embedded support triggered by elements in the environment
  • Context-sensitive information
  • Reference materials and task lists
  • Real-time information updates


Next time the topic of AR/VR comes up (as it does more and more these days) you can reference this table!

Come on by to our DETrealities even on Oct 6 to get an even deeper look at AR and VR. We’ll be chatting with experts on their favorite topics. Check out the topic list here.

New Detroit Startup: Jewel

June 28, 2017


Living in Detroit comes with all sorts of little-known perks. For instance, hearing about up-and-coming Detroit startups before the rest of the world. One such startup is Jewel. Founder Andrew Landau developed a clever way to connect luxury retail with online shopping, while saving shoppers money. Plus, he donates 1% of sales back to charity.

Let’s take a closer look at Jewel by talking to its founder, Andrew Landau:

What is your startup all about?

Jewel is a luxury, ecommerce, loyalty site. We help customers earn money by shopping at their favorite luxury brands. Customers who shop through Jewel earn cash-back on all of their purchases.

Cool! Is eCommerce a happening space in tech? What about luxury?

Luxury is one of fastest growing segments in the ecommerce  space –– the luxury ecommerce market is expected to be over $80B by 2025 (according to a study by McKinsey & Co). By helping customers save money and helping retailers to access new online customers, Jewel hopes to capture some of this fast-growing market.

Who is going to benefit from your model?

We hope everyone can find something they love on Jewel. We’re working with over 100 retailers, and if you’re going to shop, we’d love you to shop through us. You get cash-back every time you make a purchase. Jewel is free, there’s no membership fees and anyone can sign up.

Plus, we give 1% of all of our sales back to charity. It’s a great way to make a difference and earn money at the same time.

Jewel is working with some of the top brands and retailers in the industry. From high-end department stores to indie labels, you’ll find everything you need (and want) at Jewel.

What are your thoughts on the Detroit startup scene?

We’re fortunate to be embraced by the Detroit startup community. From Grand Circus to Detroit Startup Week –– it’s great to be part of what’s happening in Detroit. We believe that if you focus on culture and strive to create a company that’s focused on more than profit, anything can be done.

There’s no better place to start a business than in Detroit, and we can’t wait to see where the future takes us.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve been involved in entrepreneurial activities since a young age. When I was younger my brother and I started a carnival concession business (Carnival Extravaganza) and I continued my entrepreneurial drive throughout the years. Since college I spent a little over four years at Google, co-founded a Detroit based

 startup, Chalkfly, and most recently acted as a Business Development leader at It’s been great being back home and have really enjoyed exploring all that’s new in Detroit.

I’ve been fortunate to spend the majority of my life in Detroit. My grandfather had a pharmacy Downtown and from a young age our whole family spent time downtown. Over the years, it’s been incredible to see the resurgence of the Detroit. There is a unique determination, passion and energy about Detroiter that makes this city truly special.

We’re always looking for great people to join the team and if you’re looking to be part of our startup, we’d love to hear from you.

Check us out at

From UseJewel to Waymark and beyond, Detroit startups are alive and vibrant. Are you a Michigan startup looking for a space to grow? The coworking space at Grand Circus might be right for you! Meet Detroit’s movers and shakers, get access to free workshops and more. Learn about our coworking space.

Startup Spotlight: Fathom Drone

December 13, 2016

Meet the team from Fathom!

What mysteries await below the waves? Thanks to a new startup in the Grand Rapids area, exploring the depths of the sea, or just your local pond, just got easier. Fathom Drone offers the world’s first affordable modular underwater drone, allowing users to explore depths of up to 150 feet with stunning 1080p quality video. Similar to aerial drones, Fathom’s underwater model is controlled via a mobile app or a physical controller and can capture HD video and pictures that users can share directly to their favorite social media channels. Thanks to the Fathom Drone’s streamline design and the manufacturing methods, it is able to offer the Fathom One model for the price of $600.


7 Keys to Unlock Your Full Gmail Potential

September 2, 2016

These tips will make you the master of your inbox

Do unread messages make your skin crawl? Does the thought of setting up email filters make you break into a cold sweat? Did accidentally hitting ‘reply all’ send you into a mental tailspin? If you replied ‘YES!’ to any (or maybe all) of the above, you’re not alone.

With nearly 1 billion active users around the world, it’s safe to say that Gmail is one of the most popular email services out there. Google’s email powerhouse is relied upon by businesses, universities and everyday people. What is the reason for such widespread popularity you ask? With a killer mobile app and sensational plugins, features and settings, Gmail allows users to create an inbox experience that is unique to them. But true Gmail masters are few and far between. Such a feat takes years of careful practice, preparation and a borderline obsessive amount of labeling. No matter if you’re looking to become a Gmail deity or just looking to add a little extra productivity to your day, here are a few tips to help you tackle your inbox.


Decoding Diversity in Tech: A Practical Guide

August 8, 2016

Grand Circus shares insights on diversity in tech and how to make it a company priority

Diversity gets talked about a lot in tech circles.  It’s not a new issue but one that has become especially topical since Google’s famous (and damning) 2014 employee survey.  The survey results laid bare Google’s record on diversity; only 30% of Google’s workforce are women, 3% Hispanic and 2% Black.  Not good.

So why does this matter?

At Grand Circus, we think that the tech industry should reflect the diversity of our broader community.  We’ve baked this idea into our core values and it guides how we hire team members, recruit students and design programs.  I’m proud of our record but in city where 90% of the population is Black or Latino we have more work to do.


5 Michigan Companies that use .NET

August 4, 2016


At Grand Circus, we know that people want to know where they’ll be able to use their skills once the bootcamp is over. One of the awesome things about learning .NET at Grand Circus is that there are lots of local companies that use this framework every day right in our own neighborhood. Here’s a brief sample of a few companies that use .NET where bootcamp graduates could possibly work.

Quicken Loans

Located just down the road from Grand Circus, Quicken Loans is an online mortgage lender that employs hundreds of developers. Quicken Loans was recently listed as one of the top 5 places to work in America by Forbes. The company has a large development team, so there are tons of seasoned developers to learn from as bootcamp graduates grow in their careers. Dozens of Grand Circus alumni currently work for Quicken Loans in a variety of positions—everything from interns to software developers!


10 Things to Know About the .NET Framework

July 22, 2016

If you are considering becoming a .NET developer through our .NET (C#) Development Bootcamp, here are 10 things to know about the language you should know before you embark on our bootcamp:

1. I heard that .NET was only for Windows or PC users. Is that true?

Not anymore! Thanks to .NET Core, a set of tools consisting of the runtime, library and compiler components, you can create apps that run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. .NET Core runtime, libraries, and compiler are all open source on GitHub and are taking contributions. (more…)

10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript

April 22, 2016

According to a recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow, JavaScript is the most popular language on earth. What is interesting about these survey results, is that even for developers whose primary responsibility is the back-end (server-side code) they are still more likely to research questions about JavaScript than any other language. That’s largely because JavaScript is inescapable. Ask any of our Java or .NET bootcampers and they will tell you that for their final projects they had to get to a basic level of proficiency with JavaScript. This is also true in the working world. Any teams that do not have dedicated front-end developers, have to do it themselves.

build this with javascript

Atwood’s Law states that: “Any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript.”

Jeff Atwood was making a joke at JavaScript’s expense, but it has turned out to be more true than not. With advances in browser technology and JavaScript having moved into the server with NodeJS, JavaScript is capable of so much more than it was just a few years ago. Here’s a quick run-down of what you can do with JavaScript. Some of it is pretty obvious, other things less so.

10 Things You Can Build with JavaScript


Part 2: Using the Command Line for Beginners

January 11, 2016

You’ve already learned the basics of using the command line for beginners in Part 1. It’s time to get a bit more advanced. Now that we can move around and see where we are in our file system, we can use the file systems to create new files and directories. Personally, this is one set of commands that I find to be much faster than any method of creation offered by the operating system.

Typing into the Command Line

Setting up new directories & files

mkdir <new-directory-name> – This command is short for Make Directory. It may come as no surprise to you that this command creates a new directory. Like cd, mkdir needs an argument to use for the name of the new directory.

CMD-Demo - MKDIR make directory example
touch <new-file-name>
– Similar to mkdir, touch creates a new file. Also similar to mkdir, touch requires an argument to use for the new file’s name, including its suffix.