Monday, July 28, 2008

Twittervision and Flickrvision

If you are interested in human communication in the world, take a look at TwitterVision and FlickerVision. All of the twitters and flickrs that are geo-located are displayed in near-real time on a map or globe.

TwitterVision 3D Globe
TwitterVision on a map.

FlickrVision on a map.

FlickerVision on a 3D globe.

Dave Troy was involved in the creation of TwitterVision and FlickrVision

This will keep you occupied for a while.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"We were rolling computers all day"..The Making of Radioheads "House of Cards" using imaging and info visualization software

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Doug Fox's recent post on the Kinetic Interface blog takes an interesting look at Radiohead's music video, "House of Cards", that was created without the use of video cameras. The software used for the production of the video included GeoVideo, a 3D high-resolution, real-time motion capture system from Geometric Informatics; Lidar, a high-definition 3D sensor/scanner from Velodyne, and Processing, "an open-source language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions".

A wonderful thing about this lovely song and visual production is that people can obtain the code from Google code to manipulate the data to make new creations! The Google Code site includes CSV point card data, Processing source code, Lidar scan data, from the House of Cards video, and of course, instructions. Radiohead invited fans to share their creations on the YouTube House of Cards group channel. You can also play around with the 3D Data Visualization Viewer for House of Cards.


HD Lidar Whitepaper

It is important to note that Velodyne's goal is to see Lidar sensing technology used to help eliminate automobile-related casualties.

The iterative design process behind Lidar:

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This was such a nice collaboration from so many talented people. Radiohead is one of my favorite groups, and I have a deeper appreciation of information visualization after studying the subject last semester.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Resources for Multi-touch, Gesture Interaction , and Surface Computing (and thoughts about how this might impact computer science instruction)

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Looking for more information about multi-touch, gesture interaction, and surface computing?

Here are a couple of links:

  • Post highlighting Harry van der Veen, from Natural User Interface Europe AB, with a link to a video presentation of his overview of multi-touch technologies and gesture interactions. The post contains several related links, including presentations about interaction and new technogies from the recent Business to Buttons conference.
  • Post by "tony", on the Computer Science Canada blog, about the use of vvvv and the development of an intelligent tracking system. Although the post was written a while ago, it contains some good links. The CompSci.Ca/blog contains a wealth of information useful to students and people who work in computer science and related fields.

This got me thinking a bit. How will this sort of programming impact what is taught in high school and university computer courses? Keeping Students Interested in Computer Science
is a must-read for computer science teachers and those of you who are concerned about the decline in the numbers of students pursuing further education in computer science and related fields.

I found the post on the CompSci.Ca blog. The author, Clayton Shier, is a high school student who has more than few words of wisdom about this topic.

The discussion generated by Clayton's post is worth the time exploring. I thought this comment to Clayton's post was especially interesting:

"My teacher though is a boring fellow too, and I’m not sure he’s completely up on programming. He’s not as bad as the stereotypical Computer Science teacher, but still not the best either. I was talking to him the other day, and I mentioned something about design patterns, and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about."

These high school students are probably ready to learn about programming for multi-touch applications and other emerging technologies, and others with no previous programming experience might be enticed to stay in their courses if the curriculum was meaningful. We can't afford to lose them.

If high school computer science teachers aren't up-to-date with traditional programming methods, they are not likely to explore programming methods for emerging technologies. How does this bode for the future?!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interactive Ubiquitous Maps? Not yet.. Charlotte recently spent 3.8 million dollars on STATIC city maps!

Not too long ago, I took this picture of an information and map display in uptown Charlotte, N.C., my home town. This sign is located near the basketball arena, near one of the new light rail stations.

As I approached the display, I was hoping that it was a digitally supported interactive map, since it was so shiny and new. I was disappointed to see that it was static. The display contained information appropriate to the setting, but wasn't nearly what I had expected.

I later learned that the cost of this project was 3.8 million dollars, mostly in the form of a grant from the federal government. Perhaps some of this money could have been spent on a system of interactive wayfinding displays, with multi-touch capabilities. In my dreams....

Designing and implementing this sort of system is complex, but in my opinion, important. If you are interested in this topic, take the time to read
The invisible city: Design in the age of intelligent maps. The article, posted in the Think Tank section of the Adobe Design Center website, provides an in-depth exploration of the issues related to ubiquitous, interactive, information-rich maps. The authors, Kazys Varnelis and Leah Meisterline, are from from Netlab, the network architecture lab at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture.

I guess I should be happy that the folks at the Charlotte City Hall understand the need for wayfinding solutions:

From the 7/3/08 Charlotte Observer:

"The pedestrian signs are part of a larger program to increase signage throughout the center city. The bigger chunk of the project is aimed at signs directing motorists to destinations as well as parking. Those signs are projected to go up in 2009 and 2010. Total cost for all: $3.8 million, much of which is paid through a federal grant. The city's portion is $780,000. .... "We wanted to make sure we could direct pedestrians getting off light rail," said Kimbler, the city's project manager for the wayfinding program... The first signs went up on streets, such as College, adjacent to the Lynx Blue line. A second set of signs was placed to direct people to uptown destinations, such as museums, libraries, The Square and the Charlotte Convention Center. Now 51 signs are up." -Amy Baldwin, Charlotte Observer Link

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Multi-touch - Dell's LatitudeXT upgrade is now available

Here is a link to my Interactive Multimedia Technology post about Dell's LattitudeXT's multitouch capabilities. The post includes a video from Dell.

More Multi-touch: Dell's Latitude XT tablet now comes with a multi-touch upgrade!

Mobile Multi-Touch Computer, E-Reader, Graphics Tablet: The Promise of V12's 2G Canova Dual-Screen Laptop

I want one!

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(photos from LaptopMag)

For more information and references about V12's Canova, follow the following link:

V12's Dual-Touch-screen Canova: Multi-touch could support applications for universal design, education, and assistive technology.

V12 is working with a US manufacturer to develop the next-gen version of this notebook, according to LaptopMag.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ethnography, Contextual Interviewing, and Participant Observation: Desiging Technology-Supported Interactions and Experiences in Ubiquitous Spaces

Ethnography and contextual interviewing strategies are important components in designing usable, useful products, services, interactions, and interfaces. It is apparent to me that many companies do not spend enough time on this component. Too many people must endure negative, even annoying technology-supported "user experiences" as they go about their daily lives.

Hopefully, these negative user experiences were not designed intentionally!

So how do we stamp out these problems?

I came across a very informative video that I'd recommend viewing for those of you who have an interest in user-centered design, user-driven design, usability, or user-experience design. The video provides specific examples of how to conduct user-centered interviews and ethnographic observation, highlights the importance of connecting with the user/customer/client, and includes a discussion about participant observation.

The video was created by Gabriel Biller and Kristy Scovel, graduate students from IIT, the Illinois Institute of Technology. They focused their video on a no-tech product - jeans, to highlight their key points.

The thirty minutes spent viewing the video will be well-spent.

Getting People to Talk: An Ethnography & Interviewing Primer from Gabe & Kristy on Vimeo.

I learned about participant observation techniques when I was involved in social science field research years ago, and similar techniques when I was learning about conducting home visits and observations when I was a graduate school psychology student, and more recently, in my HCI-related courses.

There is much to be said about the power of observation.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has been involved with ethnographic research and contextual interviewing related to off-the-desktop applications and technologies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Airport Technology for the Usability Hall of Fame, if only it worked!

Albrecht Schmidt is the director of the Pervasive Computing and User Interface Engineering Group at the Universitat Duisburg Essen. When he was traveling in Seoul, he took some pictures of embedded information, which he uploaded to his blog post, Embedded Information: Airport Seoul.

I was excited to see the pictures that Dr. Schmidt posted of an active computer display with a list of names of people who should contact an information desk, right in the middle of the baggage on the luggage belt.

This ALMOST made it to my Usability Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the display was broken!

High-tech example

Low-tech example

I will give this an "A" for the concept, "E" for usefulness, since it the display wasn't working at the time it the picture was taken.

I think that Dr. Schmidt's key criteria for embedded information are important components to consider for information systems encountered in public spaces:
  • Embedding information where and when it is useful
  • Embedding information in a most unobtrusive way
  • Providing information in a way that there is no interaction required*
*I feel that users should have the opportunity to opt-out of information, when possible, and when appropriate. I also think that some information displays must be interactive, depending on the needs of the user and the context of the setting.

[1] Albrecht Schmidt, Matthias Kranz, Paul Holleis. Embedded Information. UbiComp 2004, Workshop 'Ubiquitous Display Environments', September 2004

I especially like the following quote from the Ubicomp 2004 article:

"We investigate how information can be provided to users – exactly when it is needed. Our approach is based on a variety of information displays unobtrusively embedded into the user’s environment. We place the information displays in context."

Pictures and a discussion of airport technology I've recommended for the Usability Hall of Shame can be found on my previous post:

Off-the-desktop musings about future interactions: User experience, user-driven design, Universal Usability, Airports, and the "Internet of Things"

(I came across Albrecht Schmidt's blog, "User Interface Engineering: A blog on novel user interfaces, mobile applications, pervasive and ubiquitous computing- I use the blog as a note-pad" . It is interesting to note that I blog about similar topics, and use my blog as an on-line filing cabinet.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gas Station TV - I spied this at a suburban Detroit gas station!

While I was visiting relatives in the Metro Detroit area recently, I spied "Gas Station TV" flashing at a service station as I was driving about. Unfortunately, I didn't have my digital equipment nearby.

Here is information from the source:

Gas Station TV:

"GSTV features ESPN sports, CBS News and Entertainment segments, and local market weather. GSTV's 4 1/2 minute lineup is designed to maximize consumer engagement."

"Destination Media ( ), the digital out-of-home marketing leader and parent of Gas Station TV and LG Electronics ( ), a leader in digital signage displays, today announced plans for a long-term strategic technology and marketing alliance." link

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CBS News on Gas Station TV

Could it be possible to market one's place of worship through Gas Station TV?

I found this picture on Google Images. I don't know Joe Thorn, but it if you are interested, his blog post that accompanied this picture, "Does your church advertise?", sparked a discussion about marketing and churches...

Related article from msnbc.

Previous posts about gas pumps and human-world interaction:

Google Maps at the Gas Pump?! One Small Step Towards Ubiquitous Computing for the Masses

Interesting Technology: InfiniTouch Expands on the Concept of Touch-Screen Interaction