Saturday, October 31, 2009

Martijn de Waal's Blog: The Mobile City - Locative & Mobile Media/Urban Culture/Identity, his post about Towards the Sentient City

I subscribe to Martijn de Waal's blog, The Mobile City:  Locative & Mobile Media/Urban Culture/Identity, partly because of my interest in ubiquitous/pervasive computing (specifically how technology can support interaction and collaboration between people across screens of all sizes in public spaces), and partly because I am interested in looking at the ways different disciplines adopt, adapt, and transform emerging interactive technologies.

Martijn is a writer and a researcher who co-founded The Mobile City conference and blog with Michiel de Lange.  He is working on a Ph.D. in new media and urban culture, as part of the New Media, Public Sphere and Urban Culture research in Groningen. Martijn spent some time as a visiting scholar at MIT between March and June of this year (2009).

I posted about Towards the Sentient City, an exhibit taking place in NYC from 9/17 through 11/7/09 in NYC, a few weeks ago:  Towards the Sentient City:  The Intersection of Ubicomp and Architecture, and....?   I was planning to write another post about my reflections about the exhibit,  but I think Martijn's reflections reach beyond anything I could have imagined.

Below is a link to Martijn's recent post about his reflections about Towards the Sentient City, along with a quote:

Three philosophical questions about the "sentient city" - a response to the exhibition Towards the Sentient City

"At certain points in the history of architecture and urban planning, the internal debate on how to apply new technologies surpasses the boundaries of the discipline.  At those times, the hopes and fears found in the disputes between architects, policy makers, engineers and planners are extended to a broader discussion about urban and societal change.  Then, the central issue is not merely how to solve a specific spatial problem with the help of new technology.  Rather, the debate starts to revolve around its possible impact on urban society at large.  What does this new technology mean for urban culture, what impact does it have on how we shape our identities and live together in the city?" 

Martijn's three questions form the framework for even more questions, all very important:

Who are we and who is acting?
What can we know?
How should we live together in the City?

At the end of his post, Martijn concludes, "Toward the Sentient City thus doesn't give us any emphatic leads about which way the technology will take us.  It succeeds in bringing up many important questions and diverting the discussion on the sentient city from a path of technological determinism to an open ended affair, a concern not just for engineers, planners and architects but for all of us."

Martijn's links at the end of his post are worth a look if this is an area that interests you:

(1) Ann Galloway's PhD thesis A Brief History of the Future of Urban Computing and Locative Media is highly informative in giving insight in different discourses around urban computing
(2) See Manuel de Landa A new Philosophy of Society for a theory of assemblage.
(3) In Smart Mobs, Howard Rheingold has also written about technology and the organization of a commons

Some of Martijn's interesting blog posts:

Picnic 09 Report 2:  The City as and Interaction Platform

Storytelling with Locative Media:  Michael Epstein's take on "terratives" 

Digital Cities 6: urban media/urban informatics and different notions of public space 

Mediated Space. Or:  How to translate the logic of media into architecture 

Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: a matter of "U-City" or "U-Citizens?"

(Refers to the book,  Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics:  The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City Marcus Foth, Institute for Creative Industries and Innovations, Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

The Mobile City website has additional information and links:

About the Mobile City

About Locative Media

The Mobile City Conference '08
(On the site you'll find links to videos and slides from the keynote speakers and additional resources.)

Conference:  Connectivity @ IABR  (NAi Rotterdam, November 5-12 2009)

The Mobile City's Recommended Readings:

The Architectural League of New York | Publications / situated_technologies publication urban_computing

Now out: Situated Technologies Pamphlets 5 - "A synchronicity: Design Fictions for Asynchronous Urban Computing" with Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova

e-cultuur weblog» Weblog Archief » report: gRig seminar on research in new media (Oslo)
Report on the gRig (Guild for Reality Integrators and Generators) seminar on research in new media in Oslo

The ghost in the field – Blog – BERG
Beautiful visualization of the active field in which an RFID chip can be read near a transponder

Digital cities highlights by Anne Galloway / digital_city wired
For those who find the Wired UK special on Digital Cities a tad long to read, Anne Galloway has highlighted some excerpts from the collection of articles.

Wired special: "Digital Cities" / digital_city wired urban_design
Wired has a series of articles about 'Digital Cities'. Topics include: 'Sense-able' urban design, Transport of tomorrow, Words on the street, Your neighbourhood is now Facebook Live

Total Immersion and the “Transfigured City:” Shared Augmented Realities, the “Web Squared Era,” and Google Wave  | UgoTrade / augmented_reality
Recommended elaborate take on Augmented Reality
jnd: An emergent vocabulary of form for urban screens « Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird / urban_screens
Interesting take on the aesthetics of urban screens: the paradigm of the just noticeable difference

Martijn also is interested in Digital Media Storytelling and New Media Journalism, topics that I hold close to my heart.  I use these techniques in my work with young who have special needs, and also incorporate digital media in my blogs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Interactive Architecture and Transdisciplinary Convergence (and Hand from Above, by Chris O'Shea)

I recently came across the Interactive Architecture blog when I was researching projects such as the Sentient City exhibition in New York City and other exhibits involving the use of large screen displays and building facades, some that interact with mobile devices. There's a lot of convergence going on, as folks from game design, mobile gaming, networking, engineering, industrial design, art, alternative reality, geography, dance, music, architecture, and other disciplines, have embraced new forms of technologies in their work.

According to the website,  "Interactive Architecture covers emerging architectural and artistic practices where digital technologies & virtual spaces merge with tangible and physical spatial experiences. An active architecture, sensing, observing, feeling, listening, thinking, reacting, proposing, adapting, learning, even sometimes interacting. It is an architecture in constant flux best suited to prototyping and semi-permanent installations."

A recent post on the Interactive Architecture blog was of artist Chris O'Shea's "Hand from Above" project, a joint co-commission between FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology), Liverpool City Council for BBC Big Screen Liverpool, and the Live Sites Network.  The installation premiered during the Abandon Normal Devices Festival.

Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo. (Written using openFrameworks & openCV. Sounds by Owen Lloyd.)

"Just imagine walking through your town or city centre, watching yourself on the Big Screen, when all of a sudden a giant finger appears and starts to play with you!...Hand From Above encourages us to question our normal routine when we often find ourselves rushing from one destination to another. Inspired by Land of the Giants and Goliath, we are reminded of mythical stories by mischievously unleashing a giant hand from the BBC Big Screen. Passers by will be playfully transformed. What if humans weren’t on top of the food chain? Unsuspecting pedestrians will be tickled, stretched, flicked or removed entirely in real-time by a giant deity"

Here are a few posts from the Interactive Architecture blog archive:
Interfacing Architecture for a Network Society - Adam Somlai-Fischer -- Aether architecture



Interactive Architecture's Recommendations

Interactive Architecture-Related Websites
Spatial Robots
This Happened
We Make Money Not Art

Interactive Architecture Courses/Programs
Adaptive Architecture and Computation Course Modules  (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
Unit 14 The Experimental Toy Factory (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture)
Design Interactions  (Royal College of Art)
MA: Architecture and Digital Media (School of Architecture and Built Environment:  University of Westminster)
Media Lab (MIT)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Link from A global network of people using mobile technology for social impact

I came across the following article via Experientia's Putting People First blog:

Deconstructing Mobiles: Myths and Realities about Women and Mobile Phones.  The article, written by Anneryan Heatwole, of,  discusses how mobile phones are utilized among women in a variety of societies, including third-world countries.  It points out some of the myths and also provides some interesting insights regarding the "access divide".  The article is worth the read. I found it  good food for thought and further discussion.

Here's some information about from the website:   " connects people, organizations, and resources using mobile technology for social change...We are committed to increasing the effectiveness of NGOs around the world who recognize that the 4.5 billion mobile phones provide unprecedented opportunities for organizing, communications, and service and information delivery...We work together to create the resources NGOs need to effectively use mobile phones in their work: locally relevant content and services, support and learning opportunities, and networks that help MobileActives connect to each other. With these things on hand, tens of thousands of NGOs will be in a better position to enrich and serve their communities....The community includes grassroots activists, NGO staff, intermediary organizations, content and service providers, and organizations who fund mobile technology projects...MobileActive is committed to expanding the knowledge and experiences about the use of mobile phones and to accelerating the use of effective strategies and tactics while reducing the learning costs for organizations." 

MobileActive Team    MobileActive Press

MobileAction's Mobile Data

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Light Blue Optics: Interactive Microprojectors in your Day-to-Day Life

Light Blue Optics(LBO)is a privately-owned company in Cambridge, UK, with a facility in Colorado Springs, USA. LBO offeres a holographic laser projection technology that maintains high-resolution images from a pico projector.  This technology looks quite useful, as it has a variety of applications that could easily support our day-to-day activities.

Here are a few pictures of the technology in action from the LBO website:


The pictures above demonstrate how a holographic laser can be projected on a windsheild or side-view mirror to provide safety information to the driver of a car.


The above picture shows how LBO's system can project pictures onto curved and angled surfaces, ideal for use in retail settings.

The mini-projector system can be used for collaborative interaction with multimedia content:

From the LBO Website:  How It Works

"LBO's novel approach to miniature projection has a range of differentiating features and benefits.  The term "holographic" referes not to the projected image, but to the method of projection.  A diffraction pattern of the desired 2D image, calculated using LBO's patented holographic algorithms, is displayed on a custom-designed phase-modulating Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) microdisplay.  When illuminated by coherent laser light, the desired 2D image is projected."


Touching the void  -(Memex 1.1, John Naughton, 9/16/09)
Head-up Displays go Holographic -(MIT Technology Review, Duncan Graham-Rowe, 10/15/09)
Interactive microprojectors -(The Economist,  6/9/09)
SID Vehicles and Photons 2009: 16th Annual Symposium on Vehicle Displays

Friday, October 16, 2009

3M Touch: Touch Topics Website - Concise descriptions of technologies, concepts, and terminology related to the touch-screen and multitouch world.

3M's Touch Topics website provides a user-friendly means of learning more about touch screen technologies, concepts, and terminology.  Take a look!


What's New? The Wearable MoveIT Senspod: 6 Axis Wireless 3D Motion Applications, from Sensaris


This looks like it will support the transmedia 2.0 applications of the future:

Sensaris Introduces 6 Axis MoveIT Sensor for Wireless 3D Motion Applications

Here is the PR information from Sensaris:
"It's your body that is alive and kicking, not your mobile phone.This pocket size Blutooth enabled Senspod tracks motion sesing information in real time...The sensor is one of the smallest commercially available wireless unit packed with high sampling rate 3 axis accelerometer, 3 axis gyroscope and GPS. The built-in Bluetooth EDR radio makes it the ideal mobile phone or PC companion."

"Its credit card size and light weight enable a wide spectrum of daily life uses as it leaves complete freedom of movement while simultaneously measuring speed, acceleration, rotation, twist, distance and position. Place the MoveIt Senspod on objects or on your body to optimize your own sports performance, explore augmented reality or challenge your friends in new urban games."

senspod 9 sm 2

"Data exploitation for online/offline analysis, coaching or even social network based challenges is done using web technologies. The provided API and platform independent SDK lets programmers develop innovative consumer applications in their favorite environment to quickly bring them to market. By just requiring a Bluetooth serial profile, the MoveIt is compatible with a very wide installed base of mobile devices."

Sensaris is located in Crolles, France, and was previously known as Cyberfab. It has a history of nearly 10 years in the sensor development business.  Sensaris sensors are used in mobile biomedical health applications.

MoveIT Brochure (pdf) "Movement the way it is supposed to be"
City Senspod Brochure (pdf)
Sensopod Base Brochure (pdf) "Connect your senses to the Web".
Leonardo (pdf) "Lets you plug analog of digital elements to the Senspod Motherboard"
SensNet User Manual (pdf)
Sensaris Unveils New Technology for Real Time Noise and Air Quality Monitoring over Mobile Internet

Thursday, October 15, 2009

From NC's RENCI: BEN - Breakable Experimental Network, Multi-touch Interactive Network

BEN, or Breakable Experiemental Network, is a mix of network visualization and multi-touch technology on a very large screen. The project aims to provide better network monitoring and management tools in a user-friendly, intuitive and efficient manner. It is also looks like great tool for learning about network engineering.

Hands-on networking!

BEN is part of the GENI project.

The music in the video is by Crystal Castles and Black Moth Super Rainbow.

10/GUI: Multi-touch Interface and Interaction

Take a look at this video and the discussion about it - food for thought!

10/GUI: Another Twist to Multitouch Interface and Interaction

Microsoft's Future Interface Visions, Original Version, Parody Version

A while ago, I posted Microsoft's video of future productivity technology. Here it is again, along with a the parody below.  Enjoy!

Parody Version from Sarcastic Gamer

I'll update this post soon with some comments and pictures. I'm missing the link to the Microsoft video that talks through the various technologies highlighted in the first video.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alternate Reality, Transmedia Storytelling...Cross-Media Film Forum Live Webcast on Power to the Pixel, from the London Film Festival

I'm watching the Cross-Media Film Forum live from the London Film Festival, on the Power to the Pixel website.  It is 10:39 Eastern time, and the next presentation is called "Extending the Experience: The New Storytellers"

Here is the description of the next presentation.

"What kind of experience does today’s film audience want and what can be done with existing technologies?
Interactive tools, emails, text and voicemail, mobile apps and geo-locational services can connect an audience to characters.  Live events and alternate reality games can bring the audience into the world of a film and extend the storytelling experience.  The more filmmakers can extend their vision into the world of the audience, the more rooted the audience becomes in the experience of the film."

"But how do you know how much to give them?  Mystery will bring people into your world, but for your cross-media audience, there is an implicit promise of a clear correlation between how much that audience gives – of their time, of their own interactions and emails and phone calls, their trips to places where they are promised live experiences – and how much they get back.  You must dazzle them with innovate storytelling techniques but you also need to reward them with meaningful emotional content and layers of reveal."

"Leading story architects of some of the world’s most successful extended story experiences – The Dark Knight, The Truth About Marika and Xi – demonstrate how to bring a fictional world into the lives of the audience."

Moderator: CHRISTY DENA, Director, Universe Creation 101
MARTIN ELRICSSON, Producer & Creative Director, The company P
STEVE PETERS, Experience Designer & Partner, No Mimes Media
DAVID VARELA, Producer, nDreams

The previous presenter said that the audience now spends about 30% of the time focused on the content, and 70% engaged in social interactions related to the content, often supported by technology. Concepts such as Pervasive Storytelling, Transmedia, and other topics are covered in this conference.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The World as a Networked Interface: GENI, the Global Environment for Network Innovations

Today I learned that Rudra Dutta, an associate professor at North Carolina State University, is participating in the GENI project.  GENI stands for Global Environment for Network Innovations, and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  Here is the information from the GENI website:

Exploring networks of the future

"Evolving technological and social networks, intertwined and wordlwide in scope, are rapidly transforming societies and economies.  The Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is open and broadly inclusive, providing collaborative and exploratory environments for academia, industry and the public to catalyze groundbreaking discoveries and innovation in these emerging global networks...GENI is a virtual laboratory at the frontiers of network science and engineering for exploring future internets at scale. GENI creatse major opportunities to understand, innovate and transform global networks and their interactions with society."

GENI at-a-glance (pdf)

GENI's mission
"The GENI mission is to:  open the way for transformative research at the frontiers of network science and engineering, and inspire and accelerate the potential for groundbreaking innovation of significant sociio-economic impact."

Press Release,  Reuters, 10/12/09
GENI Project Office at BBN Technologies Announces $11.5M in NSF Funding for 33 Academic and Industry Teams (The complete list of proposals funded in GENI Spiral 2 is listed in this press release)

About BBN Technologies
"BBN Technologies is a legendary R&D organization that leverages its substantial intellectual property portfolio to produce advanced, repeatable solutions such as the Boomerang shooter detection system. With expertise spanning information security, speech and language processing, networking, distributed systems, and sensing and control systems, BBN scientists and engineers have amassed a substantial collection of innovations and patented solutions. BBN now employs over 700 people in seven locations in the US: Cambridge, Massachusetts (headquarters); Arlington, Virginia; Columbia, Maryland; Middletown, Rhode Island; San Diego, California; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; and O'Fallon, Illinois. For more information, visit"


BBN's Boomerang State of the Art Shooter Detection

Put this in the hands of some technically-grounded artists and musicians, and just think of what could happen!
In ubiquitous computing, we need to rely on a range of networks, and not the traditional kind.  Although the Boomerang was specifically developed for military purposes, it has features that I think would be very useful in public, non-military settings.  It uses passive acoustic detection and can operate in motion and in stationary positions.   The mast is an array of microphones, and the system is programmed to detect information about incoming fire.   It works in urban terrains as well as in fields, and can quickly detect information and relative information, including information about elevation, about the "shooter.  The system can detect the differences between various sounds, such as door slams, firecrackers, and so forth.

I want one, but not to detect shooters!   (I wrote some experimental code snippets when I was studying AI for Games that might work with something like this, in real/augmented reality environments.)

Another thing about the Boomerang, it sort of looks like something that was in one of my recurring technology dreams - the one about wireless sensor networks.  Also read my loosely related posts highlighting the multi-disciplinary approach to this topic, unrelated to military settings:

"Web Meets World"  User Experience of Embedded Systems and Interactive Wireless Sensor Networks

Albrecht Schmidt's User Interface Engineering Blog:  Great Links, References, and Resources

The UX of SmartGridCity:  Control Your SmartHouse Remotely, Online

Other links of interest:

SILO Project:  Services Integration, controL and Optimization for the Future Internet

SILO Project Overview

Future Internet Information Meeting Webcasts (held on 7/29/09)

FIND: NSF's Future Internet Design Initiative

Questions from the FIND website:
  • How can we design a network that is fundamentally more secure and available than today's Internet? How would we conceive the security problem if we could start from scratch?
  • How might such functions as information dissemination, location management or identity management best fit into a new network architecture?
  • What will be the long-term impact of new technologies such as advanced wireless and optics?
  • How will economics and technology interact to shape the overall design of a future network?
  • How do we design a network that preserves a free and open society?
FIND Observer Panel Report pdf (Vint Cerf, Bruce Davie, Albert Greenberg, Susan Landau, David Sincoskie)


As I was exploring Dr. Rudra Dutta's  website, I found his resources for graduate students considering Ph.D. research.  If this is something you are thinking about, I'm sure you'll find Dr. Rudra's words of wisdom well worth it!

Introduction to the Process of Research, A Personal View
Tips on Research Reading

Monday, October 12, 2009

Towards the Sentient City: The Intersection of Ubicomp and Architecture, and....?

It seems that my recent blog posts have centered around convergence, inter-disciplinary work, and "transdisciplinarity".  Towards the Sentient City is a set of exhibits at the Architectural League of New York is a good example of this concept.

The exhibit started on September 17, 2009, and runs until November 7. This post is a collection of quotes, photos, videos, and links.


Towards the Sentient City:

"Over the past several years, as the Architectural League has become increasingly involved in exploring the proliferation of various types of ambient, mobile, and ubiquitous computer technologies, we have often been asked, what does this have to do with architecture? "

"...We are now on the cusp of a similarly fundamental reconfiguration of physical space, one in which a vast and mostly invisible layer of technology is being embedded into the world around us. Using a wide range of complex technologies and devices — from microprocessors and electronic identification tags to sensors and networked information systems — buildings and cities are being transformed, imbued with the capacity to sense, record, process, transmit, and respond to information and activity taking place within and around them."  -Gregory Wessner, Exhibitions Director,  The Architectural League of New York

Excerpt from the curator's statement:
"Today, as computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets and public spaces of the city, we increasingly find information processing capacity embedded within and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday urban space. Artifacts and systems we interact with daily collect, store and process information about us, or are activated by our movements and transactions. Ubiquitous computing evangelists herald a coming age of urban infrastructure capable of sensing and responding to the events and activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember, correlate and anticipate, this near-future “sentient” [2] city is envisioned as being capable of reflexively monitoring its environment and our behavior within it, becoming an active agent in the organization of everyday life in urban public space." - Mark Shepard, curator


Too Smart City
Video of the Too Smart City project proposal, via Katherine R.'s "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet!" blog

Too Smart City from David Jimison on Vimeo.
"Too Smart City is a set of three street furniture pieces that come to life with embedded intelligence and robotic systems. The Smart Bench is a gorgeous two-person seater that recognizes vagrancy and is capable of lifting people up and dumping them off. The Smart Sign displays the latest legal codes on its glossy video monitor, pointing at and addressing people as they walk by. The Smart Trashcan is a sleek metal bin that analyzes what is being discarded. Throw the wrong trash away, and the Smart Trashcan throws it right back at you."

Amphibious Architecture

The Amphibious Architcture project was created by xClinic Environmental Health Clinic at New York University and the Living Architecture Lab at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Network of floating tubes at Pier 35 in the East River.
Picture from the Amphiobus Architecture exhibit  webpage
"Two networks of floating interactive tubes, installed at sites in the East River and the Bronx River, house a range of sensors below water and an array of lights above water. The sensors monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem. The lights respond to the sensors and create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment. An SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment."    You can text the rivers:  “EastRiver” or “BronxRiver” to 41411

Video from Chris Woebken's Flickr.

Natural Fuse
Electronically-assisted plants that act as energy-producers and circuit-breakers.

According to information on the Natural Fuse website, "Natural Fuse creates a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plants that act both as energy providers and as circuit breakers...Every seemingly helpful device that a human being uses has its own carbon “footprint” which, in excess, can harm other living beings. “Natural fuse” is a micro scale CO2 monitoring & overload protection framework that works locally and globally, harnessing the carbon-sinking capabilities of plants...Natural fuses allow only a limited amount of energy to be expended in the system; that amount is balanced by the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by the plants that are growing in the system...In the same way that circuit-breakers are useful for preventing excessive current use, so too can the Natural Fuse plants break the CO2 footprint “circuit”."   Related Videos can be found on the Natural Fuse blog.

Trash Track
Electronically talking trash!
Diagram indicating how TrashTrack works. Wireless tags are attached to objects that are then discarded. As the objects move through the waste removal chain, the tag transmits its location to servers at MIT through short message communication. There, the data is processed to drive visualization software so as to represent the trash movements online and also by way of projected images in the exhibition.

"Imagine a future where immense amounts of trash didn’t pile up on the peripheries of our cities: a future where we understand the ‘removal-chain’ as we do the ‘supply-chain’, and where we can use this knowledge to not only build more efficient and sustainable infrastructures but to promote behavioral change. In this future city, the invisible infrastructures of trash removal will become visible and the final journey of our trash will no longer be “out of sight, out of mind”...Elaborated by the SENSEable City Lab and inspired by the NYC Green Initiative, TrashTrack focuses on how pervasive technologies can expose the challenges of waste management and sustainability. Can these same pervasive technologies make 100% recycling a reality?" - TrashTrackMIT's Senseable City Lab

Deployment example.

Trash Tag

inGeo CMA8110 CDMA tracking device by Qualcomm
How the Trash Tracker system works (pdf).

Breakout!   Escape from the office:
"Breakout! is a festival of work in the city, that explores the dynamic possibilities of a single question: what if the entire city was your office? Drawing inspiration from the shared office spaces of the coworking movement, Breakout! creates alternative venues for collaborative work outside of traditional office buildings by injecting lightweight versions of essential office infrastructure into urban public spaces." -The Sentient City
Example of a Breakout! session:
"Using the data gathered at the September 28 "Flash Mob Ethnography" session, the group will collaboratively code and analyze the field notes, sketches, photos and video. The group will employ tools from design research methods to visualize key themes from the data."

What is a Flash Mob Ethnography session?
"Taking a cue from an earlier exploration of Japanese convenience stores, we will be conducting flash-mob style ethnographic research. The session will begin with a short introduction to ethnographic research before heading out into the field. Working in teams of 3, we will explore and document the city using field notes, sketches, photography and video. Finally, we will pool our research together as a group and conduct some collaborative coding though a discussion of key themes. Please bring the following: laptop, digital camera, video camera, sketch book, pens, markers and pencils."

Situated Technologies
I'll post my reflections related to this exhibit if I have the chance to get to NYC to see it!  The closing reception is Saturday, November 7th.

Urban Screens: Greg Smith's SlideShow (About)

I've been exploring how different disciplines adopt technology over the past few years and along the way, I've come across people who are doing interesting things, bringing new perspectives to the transdisciplinary technological space. 

About Greg Smith

"Greg J. Smith is a Toronto-based designer and researcher with interests in media theory and digital culture. His work is invested in exploring how contemporary information paradigms affect representational and spatial systems. These dynamics have been explored in a range of mediums including drawing, visualization, writing and editing. Greg is a principal designer at Mission Specialist, he co-curates and edits the digital arts publication Vague Terrain and is a contributor to Rhizome."  

Greg has a Masters in Architecture and a B.A. in Philosophy.

Urban Screens

The text for this slide can be found on Greg Smith's site, Serial Consign.

In the text for this presentation,  Greg reviews how urban space has been represented over the years.  He uses Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project as a springboard.  In the middle, he talks about the turf war between the convergence of players in the Ubicompworld: "...and with microblogging of course comes the mobile nation—in case you didn't notice this is happening right now. Ubicomp is becoming less of a buzzword and more of a turf war. We've got telcos, regulatory bodies and hardware and software providers locked in a scrum with us consumers stuck in the middle."   He ends with a pausing point,  directing us to DIYcity.

Here are the image credits, as listed on Greg's website:

  1. Disturbed City - Mattia Casalegno & Michael Langeder [see Vague Terrain 13: citySCENE documentation]
  2. Parisian Shopping Arcade - photographer unknown
  3. Index of The Arcades Project (left), Walter Benjamin in the Bibliothèque National - photo: Gisèle Freund (right)
  4. OpenStreetMap, map of Parkdale
  5. twittervision - David Troy
  6. Mobile phone array - photographer unknown
  7. -
  8. GTA IV, screen capture - Rockstar Games [see previous post]
  9. Basketball Game - photographer unknown
  10. Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities & Venice
  11. CityMurmur New Orleans - Writing Academic English
  12. One Block Radius - Christina Ray & Dave Mandl
  13. EveryBlock - Adrian Holovaty [see previous post]
  14. In the Air - Nerea Calvillo & collaborators
  15. FixMyStreet Canada -
  16. New York Nearest Subway, iPhone application - Acrossair
  17. Layar Reality Browser for Android - SPRXmobile
  18. The Networked Omniscient - Evan Allen & Matthew Worsnick
  19. DIYcity - John Geraci
  20. JT Switchboard - photo: Joseph A. Carr.


About Mission Specialist
"Mission Specialist is a small Toronto-based design studio specializing in print design and web presence. Our goal is to provide elegant and efficient design solutions for small businesses and creative professionals. Beyond the expected experience in print and web, we have a diverse background in photo editing, grant and proposal writing, SEO & web marketing, usability and typesetting - we can bring a range of skills to the table that will enrich any project. We are interested in providing individuals and organizations with modular, expandable frameworks for commerce, archiving and self-publication." Mission Specialist is Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith.

About Vague Terrain
"Vague Terrain is a web based digital arts publication that showcases the creative practice of a variety of artists, musicians scholars. The project aspires to sample the focus and methodologies of academic and art journals and the tenacity and specificity of independent record labels to examine contemporary digital culture in an immediate and accessible manner. Content consists of curated visual, audio and written works, and now a companion blog. For better and worse this project is neither peer reviewed nor funded."

About Rhizome
"Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology.....

"Our cities today are relics from a time before the Internet. Services and infrastructure, created and operated by the government, are centrally managed, non-participatory and closed. And while this was once the best (and only) way for cities to operate, today it leads to a system that is inefficient, increasingly expensive to maintain, and slow to change."

"What is needed right now is a new type of city: a city that is like the Internet in its openness, participation, distributed nature and rapid, organic evolution - a city that is not centrally operated, but that is created, operated and improved upon by all - a DIY City"
DYICity Groups

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Signs, Signs, Everywhere, Signs

"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blocking out the scenery, breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?" 1970, Five Man Electrical Band

I like signs, and I appreciate good wayfinding designs.  I didn't realize until I explored Flickr the other day that I am not alone!

Here are a couple of interesting "resources" on the topic.

Sander Baumann is a professional wayfinding strategist from Amsterdam. He is interested in art, design, typography, signs, and wayfinding.  His company is designworkplan.

EGD is a Flickr group pool, and stands for Environmental Graphic Design. 94 members, and lots of cool pics, if you like signs!

If you REALLY are into signs, there is the  4,590 member S!gns group, and the 7,411-member Sign City group.

Below is a video that I like, it shows how signs can give a "sense of place", and live on in our memories:

Signs of San Francisco

Signs of San Francisco from Lindsay Tabas on Vimeo.

Posted on the Second Thoughts blog
Produced by: Lindsay Tabas
Photos by: Katie Delaney
Song: Signs by Bloc Party (buy on iTunes)

Lindsay Tabas, the producer of the video, does interface design, usability, product management, and user experience research. For a glimpse of what she thinks about, read her post, "The UI/UX Sandwich"

Tons of YouTube videos about signs

More thoughts about signs, semiotics, and the interfaced world will be shared in the future!

Somewhat related...
I just came across the Interfaced World blog. "Place, Time, and Technology".  The author of the blog is Mark J. Watts.  Interesting pictures, interesting musings.

Other posts

Some of the posts on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog might be of interest to you:

Interactive Touch Screens Out and About: Touch Screen Party Planner for ASDA, by H Squared LTD

News from NUITEQ and 3M

IntuiLab's Interfaces: Multi-touch applications/solutions for presentations, collaboration, GIS, and commerce

Visual Autopsy Table: Interactive Health Science

WIRED's Overview of Touchscreen PC's and Interface Innovations (and some links for the tech-curious)

The Transdisciplinary Design Approach to Building an Interfaced World: A smattering of ideas, food for further thought

I've noticed that number of research and commercial projects incorporate ideas from a variety of disciplines, and this trans-disciplinary approach has been the topic of a recent assortment of articles, presentations, and blog-posts:

Transcending Disciplinary Boundaries in Interaction Design
Eli Blevis and Erik Stolterman,  Indiana University at Bloomington, Human Computer Interaction Design Group

In this article, Blevis and Stolterman, both  discuss "issues of and distinctions between notions of disciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, and interdisciplinarity.", and explain why  Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and interaction design are transdisciplinary.

"HCI and interaction design are in a unique position to make a real change and to address some of the most urgent issues of our time.  We can't let issues of collaboration and disciplinary complications stand in the way of our attempts to serve these societal goals".

The Transmedia Design Challenge:  Co-Creation
Don Norman

"There is another side of this new transmedia: co-development, co-creation, co-ownership. In this new world, we all produce, we all share, we all enjoy. Teacher and student learn together achieving new understanding. Reader and writer create together. Game player and game developer work together. This is the age of creativity, where everyone can participate. Everyone can be a designer. Everyone can be involved."

"The new design challenge is to create true participatory designs coupled with true multi-media immersion that reveal new insights and create true novel experiences. We all participate, we all experience. We all design, we all partake. But much of this is meaningless: how do we provide richness and depth, enhanced through the active engagement of all, whether they be the originators or the recipients of the experience?"

Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, recently wrote a blog post on a somewhat related note, Toward urban systems design. Although Adam speaks of urban design,  Don Norman's ideas about encouraging the active engagement of everyone in the design process hold true.

Included in Adam's lengthily post is the abstract of one of his upcoming talks:

"The networked objects which are increasingly populating our lives and our cities already generate torrential, unceasing volumes of data about our whereabouts, activities, and even our intentions. How can we ensure that this data is used for the equal benefit of all? What provisions regarding such objects should citizens demand of their municipal governments? How might the juridical order respond most productively to the presence of these new urban actors?"

Adam goes on to describe what he's conceptualizing:   "’s an attempt to use the appearance of networked informatics in our cities to argue a much larger point: that our times and circumstances call for a conscious art and craft of urban systems design."
Urban systems design.  Who owns this domain?

Urban planners?  Architects?   The mobile phone companies? The Digital Out of Home folks?  Google? Clear Channel?

Adam explains that his vision of urban systems design "....would have to be able to model the role of all the interdependent actors involved in producing urbanity: from institutional and technological to climatological, animal and microbial. (The networked informatic systems I’m most personally concerned with would of course be numbered among these actors.)"

An example of a company that fits Adam's vision is Stamen Design "Big ideas worth pursuing" Stamen focuses on interactive design and data visualization projects.  It was founded by Eric Rodenbeck in 2001, and later added partners Michal Migurski and Shawn Allen.  They address a the needs of a very broad range of clients, and their transdisciplinary approach supports their ability to see the big picture and the details, and all of the relationships in-between.

Adam also mentions the work of Paul M. Torrens, who is an associate professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, at Arizona State University. Dr. Torren's work is featured in the video below.  The video + text was taken from BlipTV.  The presentation was part of the 2008 O'Reilly Where 2.0 conference.

Modeling crowd behavior

"Paul Torrens (Arizona State University)--Ambient crowds are the new distributed computing platform. Smart mobs are fashioning new architectures for social networking. Armed with cell phones and mobile gaming devices, they are the new business model for location-based services. Seditious crowds are creating havoc in urban theaters of war and at global economic forums. Crowds of shoppers, endowed with smart chip credit cards and RFID tagged merchandise are trailed by long-lasting data shadows that follow them ubiquitously. Embedded in urban infrastructure and in the very products we consume, new technologies are emerging to enable cities to think about—and process—the people that pulse through them, with a burgeoning code-space being developed to capture the actions and interactions of individuals within large dynamic crowds. This presentation will focus on our recent research work in developing models of crowd behavior and their application to theory-building and scenario evaluation in the contexts just described. We have developed a reusable modeling platform for constructing large simulations of individual and collective behavior in dense urban environments. The simulations are developed with individual agents, equipped with geospatial AI that allows them to perceive and react to their evolving surroundings with an incredible level of behavioral realism. These agents are also capable of social and antisocial interactions. The simulation architecture is coupled to Geographic Information Systems, allowing for a suite of geospatial analytics and data-mining to be performed, across a wide array of scenarios. Moreover, the models have been developed as realistic 4D immersive environments with unprecedented levels of graphical realism."

At any rate, I haven't digested all that I've put out here in this post.  I will return to this topic in the future.


Transdisciplinary Design Approach:  An Experimental Model to Project-based Teaching and Creative Problem Solving pdf   Tatjana LeBlank

Rethinking Interdisciplinarity Helga Nowotny


O'Reilly Where 2.0 2009
Location-based services, a historical view: "Look! A Map"

(I especially like the interactive map.)

Geography of the Stimulus Package -- from Stat to Stories
John Frank and John Seratts, from MetaCarta

The Emerging Geo-Web (video)


Saturday, October 10, 2009

News Flash: Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile Devices, Smartphones, and Netbooks

Imagine, touch interaction, seamlessly, on a variety of devices, with Adobe's Flash Player 10.1!

"At MAX 2009, Kevin Lynch, Adobe CTO, demos Flash Player 10.1 for mobile devices, smartphones and netbooks"

Nokia's mobile phones will use Flash Player 10.1 soon. In the video, you can see it in smooth action.  Later on in the video, you'll see how Flash Player 10.1 provides a P.C. -like experience, on netbooks.  (There is even a before and after.)

Near the end is a demo of streaming Flash Video on an HD TV, making it interactive, via a setbox.

Thanks, Seth Sandler, for the link!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Technology in Public Spaces: Piano Stairs in a Public Transit Station

What would you do if you came across this in a public transit station?

What if you were in a hurry, and the other people were not?

It is the topic of a small debate.

A Nokia n900 and an Interactive Urban Screen at the 2009 onedotzero Festival

Interactive Urban Screen
The interactive urban screen installation, also known as the 2009 onedotzero identity, was made interactive by a Nokia n900 mobile phone, as shown in the pictures and video clips below.
The 2009 Identity by I am Martin.

onedotzero interactive identity powered by Nokia N900 from onedotzero on Vimeo.

Nokia n900 onedotzero Installation- Behind the Scenes

Onedotzero - Watch the interaction with an urban screen with a Nokia n900 (Story behind the scenes story).

N900 to appear in London next week!
(JBC, Nokia Conversations, 9/4/009)
According to the article,  the application for the installation was developed by digital artists/computational designers Karsten Schmidt and Gary Birkett. (I think the ad agency Wieden + Kennedy London was also involved with this project, since Nokia is their client.)

About onedotzero
"Onedotzero  is a contemporary, digital arts organisation with a remit to promote innovation across all forms of moving image and motion arts, activities encompass public events, artist + content development, publishing projects, education, production, creative direction, and related consultancy services ... onedotzero was conceived at the start of the desktop digital revolution in the mid-1990s out of a desire to explore moving image across single screen, interactive and live audio-visual work. today, onedotzero remains committed to providing a home for visionary moving image experimentation and contemporary creative collisions."

Mobile Art && Code Workshop, November 6-8, Carnegie Mellon University.

The following information is from the MOBILE ART CODE Ning social network.

Art & & Code is an event series and online community dedicated to the democratization of computer programming for artists, young people, and the rest of us.

This November 6-8, we continue our successful workshop/lecture series with MOBILE ART & & CODE: Mobile Media and Interactive Arts - a symposium on the aesthetic and tactical potentials of mobile, networked and locative media. The three-day event will feature intimate, practical, arts-oriented programming workshops for popular mobile platforms (such as the iPhone, Android, Nokia Smartphones, Arduino, SMS, and Asterisk PBX systems) along with an all-day series of free lecture presentations that contextualizes the use of these technologies in a variety of contemporary critical, artistic and design practices.

MOBILE ART && CODE is made possible by a generous grant from Microsoft Research, with oversight by the Center for Computational Thinking at CMU. The ART && CODE symposium series is a project of the CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, directed by Golan Levin. If you have questions or concerns about MOBILE ART && CODE, please email Golan Levin at

MOBILE ART && CODE is a symposium on the artistic and tactical potential of mobile, networked and locative media: November 6-8, 2009 at CMU!

Conference Schedule
6 Nov (Fri): Three-Hour Workshops, 9am-Noon and 2pm-5pm ($75/ea.)
7 Nov (Sat): Free All-Day Artist Presentations + Evening Performances 
8 Nov (Sun): Three-Hour Workshops, 9am-Noon and 2pm-5pm ($75/ea.)

Workshop Schedule for MOBILE ART  CODE:

Friday 11/6
AM (9am-12)
Friday 11/6
PM (2-5pm)
Sunday 11/8
AM (9am-12)
Sunday 11/8
PM (2-5pm)
Introduction to Arduino
$75 + 75m
$75 + 75m

Design Tech. for Mobiles

FlashLite on Mobiles
Kam et al.


iPhone + openFrmwks.
Akten & Gage


Interactive SMS

Python + Nokia


Interactive Telephony
Van Every


Android + Arduino
Anderson & Marlinspike

$75 + $120m

$75 + $120m
Scrapyard Challenge!
Brucker-Cohen & Moriwaki

$75 + $50m. Note: 6 hours.
Master's Seminar
Behrendt, Paulos et al.

iPhone + Pure Data

How to Make Ringtones


Some of the workshops do not require any programming experience, and only two (iPhone + OpenFrameworks and Android + Arduino) recommend that participants have some programming experience.

Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.