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Cache

March 27, 2007

[blip.tv ?posts_id=185124&dest=10024]

This video/animation is synchronized to an emotive sound that allows the viewer to enter a particular place and time.  It subtly references notions like commerce, trade, growth and stability, finance and commercialism.

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Stylistics

March 27, 2007

[blip.tv ?posts_id=185114&dest=10024]

This video deals with language and communication.  It raises the notion of how we’ve developed as a society and how branches of society use and promote different methods to communicate.

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Machine Learning

March 27, 2007

[blip.tv ?posts_id=185116&dest=10024]

 

This video/animation deals with routine and the potential assemblage of days.  It subtly references films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and photographs like Lewis Hine’s Steamfitter.

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Happenstance

March 27, 2007

[blip.tv ?posts_id=185105&dest=10024]

This video deals with immediacy and one’s inherent ability to feel rushed and hastened at another’s expense.

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The Mobility of Flash Applications

February 12, 2007

On Thursday February 08th, 2007, James Eberhardt spoke with the one year post-grad Interactive Multimedia students at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.  James Eberhardt is the 2006 Flash in the Can Programmer of the Year and has a long history developing programs that are compatible with mobile technology.  He is the Director of Marble Media, which deals with TV, interactivity and developmental technology.  He also teaches periodically at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Eberhardt made a particular note that he is not a designer.  He travels and interacts with those who have a vested interest in creating new applications for programs like Flash.  Recently, he visited the Canadian Film Centre and saw a pda (Personal Digital Assistant) system that is tied into a GPS (Global Positioning System).  This struck him as a very unique and interesting way of creating material that engages a user with his or her environment and he sees this as something that will become increasingly more popular in the future.

In the Interactive Multimedia program at Sheridan College I had the privilege of working in a team that created a website based on the technology of Steve Mann.  We worked arduously to come with ways to convey his incredibly unique technology called the ‘WearComp’.  The WearComp was a wearable computer that was used to alter or enhance the reality that one was surrounded by.  An integral piece of this technology was called the EyeTap, which was an eyepiece that was used to record what the user would see and also change what the user saw.  The EyeTap acts as a “mediator” to one’s reality.  For example, one can filter out what they want to see by removing advertisements and replacing them with images of their choice.  The user can enhance their reality by sending messages to others or posting reminders, which are triggered by visual cues.  We conceived that Mann’s technology could be used as a GPS that allows the user to gain knowledge of important historical landmarks and coincidentally this is what someone has developed at the Canadian Film Centre in collaboration with mobile technology.

 James Eberhardt went on to discuss the use and saturation of SMS and MMS messaging systems, which is otherwise known as text messaging.  SMS is text only and MMS has the ability to add images, video and audio.  This is currently the most widely used mobile application.  There are charges that apply to each text and the ability for a mobile company to profit off of this quite extraordinary.  He discussed how certain messages require additional charges and how “short codes” are approved for use across carriers; e.g. “TOR”- for Toronto.

An example of this massive profiteering by a phone company or a company that has set up an environment for people to use a short code is the television show ‘American Idol’.  In one competition there were 64 million votes caste to elect a new American Idol. This is more votes than any American President has ever received.  The charge was roughly a dollar per entry and therefore, it created quite a large revenue for those who created the carrier.

Basically, the way the system works is that a carrier has to be paid for to a phone company.  The price is set by the content provider.  The group or person requesting the carrier has to apply to have the price set by a regulatory board, which limits the possibility of fraud.  This limiting is done by constraining the number of texts an individual can get.  Eberhardt noted that Flash Lite can build icons for these texts and that SMS is great for getting the use of Flash out, but faulty at the same time.

He then went on to discuss what exactly Flash Lite is and how it can be used.  Essentially it is a scaled down version of the Flash Player, which is designed to run on devices with slow processors and limited memory.

Flash Lite 1.0 compressed information and it was released in 1999.  At this stage it didn’t support even actionscript 1.0.  There was no http access and one couldn’t load external files, such as jpg’s or xml.

Flash Lite 1.1 still used a Flash 4 code base, but introduced the use of http access.  Unfortunately though, at this stage it failed to perform well and wasn’t aware of the fact that it was being utilized for mobile technology.

Flash Lite 2.0 was introduced in 2006 and the video playback device was made specific.  It had the ability to support shared objects, such as cookies and its system capabilities were enhanced.  It supported XML Processing.  One could update information based on code used from actionscript 2.0.  Currently, only a few Nokia phones support Flash Lite 2.0 and none are pre-installed, so you have to add them in after purchasing your mobile phone, which cost about 10$.  Now, it’s apparently free.

Flash Lite 2.1 was just recently released.  It’s available through Verizon, but only to customers in the United States.

 James Eberhardt seems to think that Flash is the most promising program to revolutionize the mobile industry.  He champions Flash because it’s easy to make interfaces with Flash.  Also, many Flash designers already work with it on websites that are used for desktops.  Historically, the competition of Java vs. Flash on desktop browsers was won by Flash in 1996-98.  He also noted that it will gain popularity as the speeds go up and the prices go down.  He estimates that it will take at least 2 years for Flash to have a noticeable affect on mobile technology.

Some relative links are:

http://www.marblemedia.com/

http://www.shortsinmotion.com/

http://www.adobe.com/mobile/

http://blogs.forum.nokia.com/view_entry.html?id=220

http://www.flashmobilegroup.org/

http://www.flashmobilegroup.org/?page_id=82

http://anina.typepad.com/anina/2006/02/3gsm_flash_lite.html

 

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How we communicate in a Web 2.0 World

January 29, 2007

On Thursday, January 25th, 2007, Wayne MacPhail visited Sheridan College as a guest lecturer and provided an overview of the 2.0 web and its sociological implications and current uses. Mr. MacPhail has a varied background and is well versed in topics from programming, design and web development to fundraising, education and innovative technologies. He can interestingly enough discuss the animated work of Bill Plympton as easily as he can discuss x-ray cross sections of the human brain.

Initially, he traversed web 2.0 as a marketing term and its validity from a societal point of view. He discussed how it promotes and encourages communication and collaboration. This is a reoccurring theme in his ethos of bridging geographical gaps and bringing people together to manifest and create digital societies and environments. He also noted how Web 2.0 encourages the creation of shared content. He found current themes in interface design, mentioning that a lot of current colours appear pastelly and are seemingly retrograde. Also, he covered how 2.0 supports tagging and social book marking, which again brings people together with an emphasis on immediacy and communication.

However, he did also investigate the seemingly negative connotations associated with the Web 2.0. Some of these negative aspects involved the limited functionality and how companies can surface to be nothing more than flash in the cans, so to speak. This just puts an emphasis on the economical benefit and the pursuit of commerce that one may find in the current system. He referred to a lot of the material that these companies may produce as being mere flavors of the month and as he said ‘too hip by half’, which implies that something may be visually cunning, but lacking on value.

Mr. Macphail continued to discuss the Web 1.0 and it’s seeming drawbacks. What he found dealt a lot with how the content was very authoritative and static, what he called brochureware or shovelware. He interpreted it to be like a one-way broadcast that didn’t necessarily engage people with others, but restricted them to a passive viewership. This system allowed for little collaboration and set up a framework for poor interaction.

He then carried on discussing the importance of tags and the impact that they are having on the current web and, transcendentally, society. He valued them as a fundamental idea with strong societal implications. He noted that traditionally the ability to keyword has existed for some time and can be found in libraries for example in the form of the dewy decimal system. He also conversed how tagging allows people to come together and use organization for good. He cited how within 48hours after the devastating floods that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina, people throughout the world were united on websites like ‘flickr’ through the common word Katrina. This promulgates how human beings demonstrate an inherent ability to intuitively choose a word that would resonate collectively and bring people together to a mutual understand in a situation. As he stated, this can be beneficial because suddenly one’s intelligence is a part of a greater intelligence and that is conceptually binding.

He then proceeded to discuss the nature of RSS Feeds and the importance that everyone should be using them and its benefit in saving one’s time. RSS Feeds basically refer to ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and allow a user to have websites send information to them whenever new information arises. This again puts an emphasis on collective intelligence and raises the notion of immediacy and how information has become easily available.

In his final discussion he introduced the most recent development of ‘Second Life’, its growth and the impact that it is currently having on society. Second Life is a relatively new phenomenon that allows individuals to engage in a virtual world and mirror the activities and functions that one might in the tactile world. He mentioned how some people have profited substantially because of this and how interest in ‘Second Life’ is growing exponentially. He described its use and functionality in a multitude of ways and displayed how the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario was able to raise funds for its organization through a virtual fundraiser in which virtual people attended and donated money. The potential to reach a greater audience for beneficial causes is substantial and quite apparent. He also correlated current work that he is doing for McMaster University. This project indicates an obvious interest by educational institutes to invest in this virtual world and how Second Life has had such an impact in such a seemingly short time.

Overall, he reiterated how this is a signifier of a world that needs to create communication with efficacy, but what concerns me is the potential to lose a physical presence with one another. Yes, it’s beneficial to unite and adjoin those who may be separated by vast amounts of land, but what about engaging with those around you? Would you not be giving up the potential to interact with actual people in search of strengthening bonds with virtual people? These are some of the concerns that may be raised as a result of this heightened virtual world that is amplified with immediacy. In closing, Mr. Macphail was very informative and provided a beneficial amount of information and his understanding of society’s current and past intricacies is quite evident, but the future has yet to be paved and the ability for humanity to engage more on an inter-personal level is definitely a promising concept.

Some helpful links:

http://secondlife.com/

http://secondlife.com/whatis/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Life

http://lindenlab.com/about

http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,70909-0.html?tw=wn_culture_11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_reality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_consciousness

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consciousness

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant

 

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GestureTek Inc.

October 26, 2006

Hi Everyone,

This blog is in reference to a recent trip to GestureTek Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada through the Interactive Multimedia program at Sheridan College. As noted on their website at http://www.gesturetek.com/groundfx/press/press_ts2.php “GestureTek Inc.™, a leading edge company who owns the patent on computer human interfacing through video cameras, created GroundFX by applying their video analysis to floor projection. Their ability to track people’s movements and actions allows GroundFX™ multimedia content to be controlled and manipulated by simply stepping up to and onto the projection.”

At GestureTek we were introduced to a variety of fascinating materials that allowed the user to physically engage with their environment. As outlined above, by stepping on an image that was projected on the floor we were able to alter the image that was set at our feet. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a process and proved to be an interesting event. There were a variety of images that were displayed and that altered in some way. I suppose the one that stood out most for me was ‘The Home Depot’. The image that was projected displayed wood chips lying seemingly still on the floor. It was only until I conferred with others that I found out that it was indeed actually wood chips that were placed there, initially, I thought it was a picture of brownish leaves. Perhaps, because it is currently fall and I generally like fall, I found myself attracted to this one in particular, but I think the fact that they were wood chips doesn’t take anything away from the impact that it had upon me. As the participant walked along or through the projected image the chips scattered to the side as if being blown by a cool wind and thus revealed an underlying image of the Home Depot’s logo. I think because it was such a common occurrence and done so subtly that it stood out as the most effective to me. It was a great way of portraying something common, making it interactive and situating one in a new environment and generating a new experience that it championed my interest.

Others were, of course, very effective, such as the air hockey and the water image that rippled. I also enjoyed the spider projection. This projected a multitude of spiders on the ground, but instead of scattering when a person walked along the projection, they actually ran towards and huddled around the participant. This definitely gives a contrary reaction because for the most part, people wouldn’t appreciate being smothered in spiders, unless of course you put a monetary value on it and implement it into a game show called something like ‘Fear factor’. Regardless, it was very interesting and definitely garnered a different emotive response.

Something that I thought was lacking though, maybe it would be too complex of a function, was the ability for the objects to move more throughout the space three dimensionally. For example, the Coke cans could be kicked and shuttled across the projected landscape, but it would have been interesting to see them decrease in size and increase again, while rotating as if you were kicking them down into some abyss, only to be drawn back up again. That would have been interesting, but again, I’m not sure how feasible it is.

As far as the other technology went, it was all very interesting and foreshadows how these types of environments can and will likely exist in our daily environments in a more common way. There was an area with a green screen background that allowed people to interact in another environment and this was then displayed on a monitor. The person or persons had a camera capturing real time footage of them and then this footage was displayed on a monitor, which was about five feet in front of them. One of the environments was a soccer field and the person acted as a goalie, while soccer balls were catapulted at them and into the net. The object of the game was to stop as many balls as possible and upon completion of this interaction the camera took a still photo of the person and listed them amongst previous contenders with their score. This game was a great example of real time interactivity and engaged the participant in a seemingly realistic way.

GestureTek is a unique environment where one can interact with objects and environments in a way that eludes to how things may one day be common place and it displays how technology can impact our current and future lives.

 

 

Jeff Tallon

 

 

Some sites that deal with Gesture Technology:

 

http://ad.informatik.uni-freiburg.de/centrep/data/files/preambles_series4.pdf#search=%22Gesture%20Interactivity%22

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/23/eveningnews/main792311.shtml

 

http://www.brainfire.co.uk/blog/2004/10/gesture_technology.php

 

http://www.industrial-embedded.com/articles/id/?17

 

 

http://www.gesturetek.com/groundfx/press/press_may24.php

 

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/multimodal/GestureGRASP.html