Monday, March 31, 2008

Resources for Large Screen Interaction

I came across this presentation by Florian Resatsch and Daniel Michelis about interaction design for digital signage:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

OpenSpime, Sensors, Internet of Things, and Technology-Supported Human-World Interaction

Have you heard of the Internet of Things? Spime? OpenSpime? I've posted some information about these future-is-now concepts for those of you who are interested in keeping up with how technology is evolving "in the wild".

Royksopp's "Remind Me" video, is full of animated information visualizations that compliment the theme of this blog. The video also sets the stage for exploring the concepts behind the Internet of Things, Splimes, and OpenSpime.

According to the Internet of Things 2008 conference website, "The term "Internet of Things" has come to describe a number of technologies and research disciplines that enable the Internet to reach out into the real world of physical objects. Technologies like RFID, short-range wireless communications, real-time localization and sensor networks are now becoming increasingly common, bringing the Internet of Things into commercial use. They foreshadow an exciting future that closely interlinks the physical world and cyberspace - a development that is not only relevant to researchers, but to corporations and individuals alike."

According to futurist Bruce Sterling,"a Spime is an object that can be digitally tracked through space and time...Six emerging technologies converge to create new user experiences that connect networked data to physical things:

radio frequency identification (rfid)
global positioning systems
search engines
computer-aided design
digital fabrication

The Spime Arrives is a good demonstration of the concept.

David Orban's OpenSpime Introduction: The World of OpenSpime: Infrastructure for an open Internet of Things, from ETech 2008

OpenSpime demonstration, using overlay on Google Maps:

Futurist Bruce Sterling, along with Scott Klinker, the 3-D Designer-in- Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art, discuss the "big ideas" from the history of technology as they relate to the Internet of Things and Splimes this 49-minute video from Google Talks:
The Internet of Things: What is a Spime, and Why is it Useful?

"World-renowned Science Fiction writer and futurist Bruce Sterling will outline his ideas ... for SPIMES, a form of ubiquitous computing that gives smarts and 'searchability' to even the most mundane of physical products. Imagine losing your car keys and being able to search for them with Google Earth."

(inspiration for this post via Andrea Gaggioli's Positive Technology Journal: Mind, brain, and emerging technologies)

Interesting concepts.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nokia's Morph Prototype and Concept

I have a Nokia n800 internet tablet that I've grown to appreciate over the past few months. Although I really wanted an iPhone or an iPod Touch, I settled for the Nokia because it had quite a few features for the price.

It looks like there will be more options for me when I'm ready for my next hand-held device.

Darren Waters, the author of the blog, covers technology from BBC news. He recently had the opportunity to visit Nokia's lab in Palo Alto to learn more about the future of mobile technology. According to Darren, the people at Nokia call cell phones and hand-held devices multimedia computers.

To get a better picture of what is going on at Nokia, take a look at this video about Morph:

"...Morph is a concept looking at the potential applications of nanosciences in future handsets."

"From nanowires that can sense the chemical properties of compounds in the air to nanowire grass that can turn the sun's rays into electrical power, and nanoelectronics with greater computing power than today's fastest computers, Morph is a beguiling vision."

Is the world ready for this? I think so.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Can the quality of education be improved by taking a user experience approach?

I think so!

End-users of various education delivery systems:

(Photo from a TechPsych post about engaged learning.)

Know your users.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quick link to Nat Torkington's blog post about interesting user interfaces

Quick post:

Nat Torkington recently wrote a post on O'Reilly Radar with links and descriptions about new interactive interfaces, such as a multi-touch Rubik's Cube, a weather map with haptic feedback, NextWindow's multi-touch screens, Cyber Goggles, NUI, and more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Positive examples of large-touch screen display interaction: Interactive touch wall at CeBIT; UBC's Shadow Reaching

I'd like to share a couple examples of interesting applications, designed for very-large interactive displays. Unlike the examples I shared previously, these examples look like they provide an engaging user experience:

The following interactive multi-user wall was showcased at the recent CeBIT 2008 conference in Germany. Although the display is busy, it looks easy and fun to use:

Shadow Reaching is a project developed by Garth Shoemaker, Anthony Tang, and Kellogg S. Booth from the University of British Columbia. It provides a unique means of interacting with very large displays.
According to information from the video, Shadow Reaching "supports natural interaction over the entire large display surface and provides strong user embodiment".

Related Article:
Shadow Reaching: A New Perspective on Interaction for Large Wall Displays (pdf)
Garth Shoemaker, Anthony Tang, and Kellogg S. Booth

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Interactive Information Visualization: UN's release of millions of data records

I want access to great interactive information and data visualization content, anywhere, anytime, on any type of display!

As more publicly-held data becomes released, ordinary people, not just scholars and university students, will want to get their hands on it, especially if it is done in a user-friendly manner.

Below is something I posted on Ryan Lanham's
Leading as Enabling blog, after learning about it from the EagerEyes website.

After I uploaded this post, I started to think about how interactive information visualization "for the people" could be played out in the day-to-day lives of people- as they shop, visit historical settings, attend cultural events, and so forth.

The optimization of web-based interactive information visualization applications for use on iPhones, PDA's, large multi-touch displays, interactive whiteboards, public kiosks, navigation systems, and the like, is something that deserves further work!


Robert Kosara, author of the Eager Eyes blog, recently posted information about the United Nation's release of data records for public download and use:

"Data is being set free: the United Nations have started a new website called UN Data to share the data collected by a number of UN agencies. 55 million data records are waiting to be explored and visualized. The search interface is very nice and usable, but still lacks power."

Why is the release of this data important?

Every day, people in leadership positions must make decisions based on the accurate interpretation of data. If the data is difficult to understand or presented in a way that might be confusing to some, the likelihood of negative consequences is high.

Those in leadership positions historically have had access to data, collected with public funds, but often inaccessible to the public. Publicly available data is often in a format that is not easy to organize, manipulate, or understand. As a result, many people do not have a means to fully scrutinize, or question, the decisions made by business, health, education, and government leaders.

The Gapminder website is one example of the movement to make data accessible and easier to understand. Hans Rosling, the director of Gapminder, provides an interesting overview about this in the video below, from his presentation at TED:

"This software unveils the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics. The current beta version of Trendalyzer is available since March 2006 as
Gapminder World, a web-service displaying a few time series of development statistics for all countries."

"Gapminder is a non-profit venture for development and provision of free software that visualize human development. This is done in collaboration with universities, UN organizations, public agencies and non-governmental organizations."

High resolution Gapcasts and video lectures can be and found on the Gapminder website. Gapcasts are also available on YouTube.

Information and Data Visualization for the People:

"Many Eyes is a bet on the power of human visual intelligence to find patterns. Our goal is to "democratize" visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis."

"Swivel: Where Curious People Explore Data"

Breakthrough Analysis: Make Your Data Tell a Story (Seth Grimes)

-Lynn Marentette

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fresh example of a "D'oh!" from Interactive Kiosk News: "Leap Day" causes problems for United check-in kiosks

Via Interactive Kiosk News:

Bill Gerba cited an article from the Chicago Business News and the AP about a snag United Airline's "Easy Check-In" kiosks.

This problem could have been easily prevented, if the programmers thought to look at calendar quirks that occur just once every four years!

"Passengers using United Airlines' "Easy Check-In" found it anything but that on Leap Day when the automated system failed, resulting in longer lines at its U.S. airport counters.

The Chicago-based carrier blamed the service interruption on software issues related to the leap year."


Think Globally, Act Locally: Exploring the Problem Space

Top-down, bottom-up, local and the global...

I've been thinking about this slogan's permutations, and how the concepts behind this slogan relate to the design, development, and deployment of interactive displays in public spaces. I've also given some thought to how the same concepts relate to the ways people interact with hand-held devices when they are out and about.

One of the biggest problems with usability, interaction, and user-experience design, in my opinion, is the failure of techies (and designers) to look at the "problem space" from multiple perspectives, levels, and ranges. (An example of this can be found in a previous post about my frustrating user-experience trying to interact with large touch screen displays at an upscale shopping and entertainment center.)

I'll be discussing this topic further in future posts.

The Norman Nielson Group's website provides a variety of examples of things that have gone wrong, and offers a variety of solutions.

I especially like Bruce "Tog" Tognazinni's article, "D'ohLT #1: Think Globally, Act Globally". Tog discusses his experience with an automatic rain sprinkler, but the points he makes apply to all forms of interactive technologies and applications.

Tog's "Interaction Design Section" is fun to browse, especially his links to articles that provide a history of design gone wrong.

According to Tog, " a D'ohLT is a person who screws up some product or service so badly that, when you attempt to use it, you end up slapping your head and yelling that famous homersimpsonian cry, "D'oh!"

I'd like to come up with a rubric-based checklist to rate applications and devices on the "D'oh!" factor!

On the Positive

Here is an example of something that might be quite useful and usable, once deployed:

InfoGallery allows users to have control over large interactive displays in order to access information available from the web. Although it can serve as web-portal, it doesn't look like a typical website.

InfoGallery's concept embodies what I'd like to see when I'm out and about and come across an interactive display. If I knew I'd have the chance to control the display to access web content for my own purposes, I could tolerate some annoying interactive digital signage content to do so!

Note: I have not tested this application.IG_postkort

From the website:

"The InfoGallery is a new media that makes digital content visible in the physical space. With this media it is possible to expose digital content other places
than on the internet, and the system is a most welcome alternative to the physical poster or billboard. The content can be changed dynamically which makes a short distance from sender to receiver."

"The InfoGallery was at first designed for libraries, but we intend to deploy it in broader contexts - such as at museums, in stores or other public places."

"Think Globally, Act Locally" , as applied to various disciplines:

W3C Quality Assurance - Web Standards
"Think globally, Act Locally"

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
"Think Globally, Act Locally for SOA Security- Strategies for Securing Applications in an Insecure World"

GIS and Data Visualization
Think Globally, Act Regionally: GIS and Data Visualization for Social Science and Public Policy Research

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Microsoft's Photosynth: How does it play on large screen displays?

I've been following the development of Microsoft Live Lab's Photosynth for some time. I posted more about the topic on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog after coming across an in-depth article MIT online Technology Review, written by Jeffery MacIntyre.

I think this application would be great to play with on a large screen display. I heard that it will be integrated with Microsoft's Virtual Earth, but I am not sure if this has occurred.

Take a look!

Credit: Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth; Technology Review

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Resources and links about touch screens, tables, and multi-touch

After reading a comment to one of my recent posts, I realized that I have several posts and links to resources about interact displays, tables, touch screens, and multi-touch on my Interactive Multimedia Technology blog that I should share with TSHWI readers here.

When I have a moment, I will update this blog with pictures, and annotations, and more resources. (I've posted some of these links on my sidebar, which I'm in the process of updating.)

NUI Group: Open source multi-touch

SethSandler: Audio Touch

Stephano Baraldi's On the Tabletop

Desney Tan: Large displays and multiple device systems

Gerd Waloszek: Interaction Design Guide for Touch Screens

Touch Usability

Microsoft Surface

Inside Microsoft's Multi-touch: Team, Demo, Lab Tour (includes a video)

Savant's Rosie Touch Table


My YouTube Playlist: Cool Technology, Interactive Multimedia, and More!

Monday, March 3, 2008

NextWindow Demos a Multi-touch Display: A more affordable "Surface".

NextWindow has a multi-touch display! This display was demonstrated at a recent digital signage expo in Las Vegas.

If you are waiting to get your hands on something multi-touch, you don't need to wait to get a Surface:

I need to get my hands on one to see/feel how my projects-in-process play out on the screen. For those of you who don't follow my blogs, I tested out several of my project prototypes for my HCI and Ubiquitous Computing classes on a variety of displays, and found that I liked the NextWindow display the best in terms of resolution and touch-response. (See poetry picture share and photo-globe explorer)

Not long after that, Microsoft unveiled the Surface, which still is out of reach for most humans. I recently came across a demonstration of the Surface with a multitouch game, "Firefly", developed by Carbonated Games. The video was produced by Sarcastic Gamer.

I imagine that FireFly would work just fine on the NextWindow, even if the display is upright, not a table.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I wish I could be Johnny Chung Lee for a Day! Tracking fingers with the Wii Remote

I've mentioned in previous posts that I am a fan of Johnny Chung Lee, a Ph.D. student in the Human-Computer Interaction department at Carnegie-Mellon University. Johnny expects to complete his Ph.D this year. Johnny recently presented his innovative work at TED 2008.

What impresses me about Johnny is the way that he has documented his intellectual journey in a very accessible way, by using YouTube and his well-organized, appealing website. Johnny has taken interesting ideas that most would dismiss as silly or impractical, and transformed them into useful, usable applications that hold great promise for future work.

In my opinion, many of Johnny's "hacks" will spark ideas related to the design and development of universally designed technologies and applications that will meet the technology needs of a wider range of people. This is important, especially now that an increasing number of "connected" interactive displays and kiosks (known by the marketing industry as interactive digital signage) in public spaces.

Johnny's research interests:
"Novel techniques that greatly enhance the practicality and reachability of interactive technology, such as projector calibration, multi-projector applications, augmented reality, physical and tactile input, multi-point interaction, head-tracking, and biometric input."

YouTube Description:

"Using an IR led array and some reflective tape, you can track fingers in thin air using the Wii Remote by Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University. The grid software is a custom program written using a C# wiimote library and DirectX. More information about the grid software can be found at"

Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote

Johnny Chung Lee's YouTube Channel

Johnny Chung Lee's Wii Projects Website

My YouTube Playlist: Cool Technology, Interactive Multimedia, and More!

About TED:

"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interactive touch displays for ordering meals at the table? Link to article from the Sunday Times Online

Photo from the Sunday Times

According to an article written by Joseph Dunn of the Sunday Times Online, some restaurants are providing diners an efficient way of ordering their meals via a touch-screen display. The system is called "e-menu", was developed by Conceptic. It connects displays located at the table with a central server.

Although this form of table-top computing is not the same as Microsoft's Surface concept, it is a move in the right direction.

Information from the Conceptic website:

"With networked LCD touch screens installed at each table, diners can - at the touch of a mouse or the screen- not only order and pay for their drinks or food, but also select music and video, play games, chat with other customers, and more."

(I'd like to test the system for usability.)


"A clever touch at the restaurant: Diners can now view and order their dishes using a touchscreen at the table"