Archive for the ‘CCS-blog’ Category

Ad-hoc workspace sharing prototype

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I’ve been IKEA-hacking. There’s a great community that does this for real – do you think mine counts? I’ll explain first.

I recently posted an idea for ad-hoc workspace sharing for under $US 500/person. The idea is simple: get one of the new LED-based micro projectors, tape it to a webcam and point them at a surface. Then everything the camera sees can be projected back onto the same surface, or more interestingly to a remote setup along the same lines. Now two people at different locations can share a workspace.

When figuring out how to prototype this, I then thought of the ubiquitous angle-poise task lamp. Apparently Anglepoise is actually a brand, which I did not know – it’s the true original, designed by George Carwardine in the UK in 1934. It’s this lamp that Jac Jacobsen found in a shipment of sewing machines, licensed and redesigned in 1937, resulting in the classic Luxo L-1 luminaire. Some version of this architects’ lamp then inspired John Lasseter to animate Luxo Jr., the short film that became the spirit of Pixar.

Now, I’m going for low-cost, ad-hoc and ubiquitous. I’m not going to use a $200 Luxo L-1 or Anglepoise Original 1227. Not unless I find a new source of funding, anyway 😉 In any case, it’s more appropriate for me to use the most low-cost, ubiquitous version of this superbly functional modern design: IKEA’s TERTIAL. $18.95 from my local IKEA in Sydney, $8.99 in the US.

The height is perfect to throw a 30cm/12″ diagonal display from the 3M MPRO110 Micro Projector, and if you remove the lamp assembly the projector fits beautifully in its place, with room to spare for a webcam. Here’s my blueprint and a shot of the design in situ. If you make one too, we can try them out.
TERTIAL blueprint Tertial Augmented Workspace

Next is to design and implement some user interaction methods. One quite nice thing is that the field of view of the camera is wider than the lightfield of the projector. This means that we can use the projected area for direct manipulation of things in the mediaspace, and use the area around it as a gestural interaction zone for anything that effects the mediaspace as a whole. Some sketches:

rosegarden1.jpgRose garden interaction sketch 2

Eight slides

Friday, March 20th, 2009

These slides are what I’m using to summarise my project these days. I’m not much of a one for bullet points though, so if you’d like the text you’ll need to come along next time I do a presentation. Or, you could start with the about page.

OZCHI 2008

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Quite a cohort from CCS went to OZCHI this year. It was my first, and I got a pretty good overview; I presented a paper, attended a workshop and participated in the Doctoral Consortium. That last was particularly excellent. Paul Dourish, Margot Brereton and Wally Smith generously gave their time to help a roomful of PhD students make a little more sense of our personal maelstroms. All of them helped me considerably. I cite Paul rather a lot, and I’m kind of a fan so that was a buzz as well.

Naturally I twittered constantly, so my stream-of-consciousness impressions of OZCHI 2008 are archived for eternity, along with everyone else’s.

Cool toys at the Games Studio

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

I’m in the UTS Games Studio, the denizens of which are demonstrating the cool toys we have there. First is Leena who has embedded various i-cubex sensors in a teddy bear (well, a dog, but she admonishes us to ignore that), a tennis racket any glove. All of these are generating audio at the moment. Greg and Daniel have been playing with our MERL Touchtable. This is a multi-user multitouch display table; its special capability is that it can distinguish between four users. Other touch tables can support lots of users and touches, but can’t tell who is who. They’ve made a simple but very engaging game called Ball Fight that used this capability nicely. The CCS mob is getting quite excited by the artistic possibilities ^_^

Slide decks – Second Life in Context / Responsive Environments for INteractive Arts

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

A couple of slide decks for talks I gave recently: last Wednesday a guest lecture for the Interactive Arts class on Responsive Environments as an art form.
Then the previous Wednesday, a presentation to UTS staff on Second Life, in the context of other available metaverses and with some focus on its uses in education.
My slides tend to be all pictures – there’s enough text with me talking over them without writing it all out again so you can read what I’m saying. It does mean though that they don’t stand alone when I stick ’em on the web. You’ll just have to look at the pretty examples :)

Mondrian’s Atelier and the 場 (ba) Principle

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Mondrian's AtelierIn this precis of Mondrian’s work, amongst the paintings is an image of this most personal creation; his atelier. A useful word to think about; an artist or designer’s studio or workshop, from the middle french astelier (woodpile). Images of this place are preserved: it has been reconstructed as well. With the reconstruction perhaps a little neater than the original – no loose parts there. This brings to mind my own virtual reconstruction of Utzon’s studio – with a similar result. The reconstruction is interesting, but sterile. It historicises its subject; you can’t inhabit it. And without an inhabitant it cannot be a 場 (ba).

Consider: if I had all the resources in the world, and could create a perfect reconstruction of Mondrian’s atelier in which to work, I would not want to. Nor Utzon’s, Hundertwasser’s, Tufte’s. They all produce wonderful work, and their studios are surely part of the process of its production; but these things are intensely personal. Once again: it’s not the result, it’s the principles that matter.

Magic Hopscotch

Monday, July 7th, 2008

We’re live! Just in time for the start of the school holidays, Magic Hopscotch is up and running and open to the public at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The timing is important because this is a prototype of an interactive artwork designed for children. Doreen Ee, my collaborating technologist, put in a magnificent effort to reconfigure the code for the floor pads that control the piece, after we were compelled to rewire them last week. Shan Weiley, my partner and constant collaborator, has started participant observations and we are already getting some wonderful insights. More later, because i’m writing on my phone and more than a few words is painful :) The launch is on thursday the 10th of July from 2-4 pm, email me if you’d like an invitation. Heartfelt thanks also to Deborah Turnbull our erstwhile beta space curator and Matthew Connell at the phm.

Update: now tracking this project at Sky Blue.

Permeating the Magic Circle

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The inimitable Doug Easterly addressed CCS today on Permeating the Magic Circle – exploring “the physical and conceptual boundaries that demarcate work and real-life from play and game activity”. He’s well known for his artistic practice with SWAMP addressing these very issues. Doug’s research looks into play, drawing on Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and Caillois‘ critiques of it, and of course Czikszentmihalyi on Flow. On that last Doug has formed a beautifully clear exposition of the standard critique of games: that they draw users into a state of Flow not for the high-minded goals of learning or self-actualisation, but instead for the baser purpose of merely keeping them in the game for its own sake, or for the sake of “coin drop” (in the parlance of the video game arcade industry). By drawing out a distinction between flow and device mesmerism, Doug shows that it’s not games, their holding power, or flow itself that is evil – but rather the purposes to which they are put.

The depth of his research is compelling him to dive down into evolutionary psychology, just to find a place to stand… bringing in references from Leda Cosmides [wp], Jared Diamond [wp] and Stephen Pinker [wp]. A PhD is certainly a great excuse to do some absorbing reading.

After the talk we got into an engrossing discussion of  hermetically sealed virtual realities (silly) vs. mixed reality (marvellous), mind/body dualism (outmoded) vs. holism (somewhat more sensible) and absolute transhumanism (fun but overblown) vs. whatever is actually going on (much more complicated, and even more fun). Doug saw an early sketch of the mixed-reality piece I’m currently installing down at the Powerhouse Museum, so I’m hoping to get the computer vision part of it working properly before he heads back to NZ at the end of the week. More about that in another blog post :)

Virtual Gardens for Prototyping

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

While looking for images of Donkey Kong (historical research for the UTS Games Studio, dontcha know) I stumbled across this gem:

Prototyping for Game Feel (v.2)

Including the faboulous step 3:

• Be Shigeru Miyamoto

There’s a nice thoughtful post here (and the rest of the site looks worth a read as well). What caught my eye was the description of Miyamoto’s virtual garden:

“Before any of the levels had been created Mr. Miyamoto had Mario running around and picking up objects in a small ‘garden’ which he uses in all his games to test gameplay elements.”

Miyamoto is noted for finding inspiration for his game designs from his other interests: playing the guitar and gardening. The gamecube game “Pimkin” was based directly on Miyamoto’s actual garden. So for him, it seems that the virtual and real garden are his ba – his own place, a creative source.

Design Transformations at CHI 2008

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I arrived in Florence last week fairly alert, considering the time difference from Sydney. I’d done the right thing and stayed awake for the last 20 hours of the flight, crashed at my hotel on arrival in the evening and got a good 10 hours sleep before the opening plenary.

It was worth it. I hadn’t heard of Irene McAra-McWilliam (Head of the School of Design at the Glasgow School of Art) before but I’m a fan now. Her speech was uplifting. She wove a tapestry of design history and theory, to come elegantly to the conclusion that designers in a connected world have a responsibility to enable others; to come to some problems not with a solution but with a box of tools.

This is just what I hope to do with my research into creativity support tools, and it’s what I’m seeing in my studies of creative place. I don’t need to design the perfect virtual studio; I need to design an environment with the right parts and the right affordances, to enable inhabitants to configure the perfect studio for their task.