Archive for the ‘research log’ Category

In case you’re new

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Some posts tracking my research over the last four years (newest first):

Gerhard Fischer at CCS

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

To our great delight Professor Gerhard Fischer is visiting my research group, the Creativity and Cognition Studios this afternoon, at the invitation of our own Professor Ernest Edmonds.

Earlier this morning Prof. Fischer delivered this HAIL lecture on Meta-Design and Social Creativity at the CSIRO. And as social creativity is a central research concern for many of us here, we’re quite excited to have him here.

Personally I’m hoping to talk about mixed reality and tabletop systems as opposed to immersive virtual environments for collaborative creativity at a distance. Or the role of Collaborative Place. Or whatever comes up ^_^

Sixteen slides

Friday, May 1st, 2009

A summary of where my research is up to (PDF), with some notes on metholodogy.

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.

Web3D 2008 Paper on The Design of Virtual Place for Creative Collaboration

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I managed to put together what I think is a reasonable summary of my unpublished work so far on virtual place, in time for the Web3D 2008 deadline. The writing could of course always do with some polishing, but my main concern is that Web3D tends to be an engineering-focused conference and my paper is on human factors and design. However it is the venue that I want to get into – it’s the engineers that I want to convince! Otherwise we’ll just keep seeing virtual worlds built without real consideration of what it is that is being built – why this set of affordances? Why these cultural choices? So here it is; all anonymised for review but anyone reading this blog already knows my research so no point being coy about it here 😉

A Pale Shadow of Reality: Virtuality as a Second-Best Option

Friday, March 14th, 2008

This rant kicks off with a Tech Republic article on telepresence that was linked in the February ’08 Litmus. I’m reading Litmus because the lovely people at ACID have been kind enough to chip in on my research, and they went to the trouble of putting it together, so it’s clearly something I ought to be doing. Fortunately it’s an interesting read, at least to someone of my peculiar interests.

The linked article on the other hand, while being bang-on to my research topic, only serves to annoy me. It’s not that the article is wrong; it’s more that it expresses a widely-held but misconceived view of what telepresence is for and how it should be developed.

The headline sums it up nicely: Telepresence: The next best thing to being there. This reminds me of the early Virtual Reality hype. The idea is that the aim is to perfectly replicate what we already have – perfect photo-realism! Stereo vision! Touch! Taste! It’s what Baudrillard might call the simulator’s obsession with reality. And since we’ll never quite perfectly simulate reality until we have Gibsonian neural interfaces, then whatever we make will always be second best.

No need to draw this out. I am tired of this obsession. Reality is interesting, but human minds do not need to be tricked into a full sensory illusion in order for a technology to be useful. Text is immersive, when well written. Bodies moving in space is part of it, but it’s not the whole ball of wax. We construct our everyday mixed realities as we inhabit our own minds while simultaneously modeling the minds of those around us; considering our own context and the other contexts available to other people and systems that we are connected to. And not only in the moment; we include the potential availability of other connected realities, for example when we plan to pick up the phone when we get off an aeroplane.

Telepresence is its own thing; augmenting and interoperating with our other modes of communication and interaction just like the telephone and the post. It does not need to perfectly mimic reality, any more than virtual environments must be “virtual reality” (in the sense of realism). This conflation with realism is why I don’t use the term VR. I prefer VE, or even Ivan Sutherland’svirtual worlds” when talking about a self-contained virtual place. But really the key for me is that unless you’re planning to wipe your users’ brains and create for them an entirely new self-contained context then you’re never making a new reality, you’re just making something that will be part of the rich and multifaceted realities that we already inhabit.

Creativity from users

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I tend to think about creative communities thriving in a demanding milieu; like Shakespeare’s community of playhouses around the Globe. In this TED talk, Charles Leadbeater reminds us that users themselves are creative; citing for example the user-driven collaborative invention of mountain bikes and the telephone conversation.

Loose Construing

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Listening to the novelist and lecturer Sue Woolfe talking about neuroscience and creativity on Radio National, she brought up the role of loose construing in the creative process; and it does seem that this is the equivalent in individual creativity to what might be called a “brainstorming session” in group creativity, but with the benefit of not having to express every idea and connection in language.