Mar 30, 2009

Softkinetic 3D Gesture Recognition for Games and Rehabilitative Play

Taking 3D interaction further, Softkinetic has developed middle-ware that uses a 3D camera to support full-body gesture interaction with games and other applications. No controllers or devices are needed!

The following video is narrated in Portuguese, I, think, but you can understand the content in any language. I you love the Wii, you'll probably like this!

Here is a video that demonstrate how Softkinetic and Silverfit paired together to develop rehabilitative games for the elderly and others:

The following table is from the Silverfit website:
Game Movement trained
Puzzle While sitting down, bend whole body left and right, and stand up. Cognitive/visual component.
Mole Balance exercise by stepping with one leg while standing.
Catching grapes Walking movement left and right.
Walking Walking in place, while avoiding obstacles and thresholds. Activity of Daily Life (ADL) component.
Arm exercise Arm stretching and reaching in all directions with one or both arms. ADL component.
Picking flowers Walking backwards, forwards and sideways. Optionally, bending down.
Memory Arm stretching left, right, forwards and upwards. Cognitive component.


Softkinetic and Silverfit Introduce Senior-Targeted Gaming

(Danny Cowan, Gamasutra, 12/19/08)

Softkinetic's Gesture-Based Interactive TV Action:

Interesting 3D Interactive Gesture Recognition System by Atracsys: BeMerlin Product Demonstration of Nespresso Products

Via Core 77:

The following video clip is an example of BeMerlin, an infrared guesture recognition system developed by Atracsys for demonstrating 3D representations of Nexpresso's expresso machines.

The video was taken at the Home + Housewares 2009 show in Switzerland.

Mar 26, 2009

ElderGadget Blog

Via Technology-Supported Human World Interaction

Today I came across the ElderGadget Blog when I was searching for technology that might be helpful to my father, who recently spent the last few weeks in an intensive care unit.

Here are a few things I found on the blog, including what I found when I followed a link to the bindependent website:

Smart Table: A Broadband Communication System for the Elderly

ID Studiolab, Delft University of Technology, NL

"The smart system is aimed to prevent possible social isolation between elderly people and their social contacts. It consists of the Smart Table and the Smart Messenger, which provide easy and intuitive way for elderly people to benefit from the advantage of communication technology and improve the satisfaction of their social activities."

"During the design research, a working prototype is made and evaluated by a user test. The Smart Table offers people a way to use broadband communication without the need for a computer. The television will be used for video communication (web-cam) and the table as user-interface. On the table contact persons can be selected and images and video can be shared. The elderly person can capture images that will be shared instantly. The contact person can select images from his or her computer, which will be projected on the table of the elderly person". (TU Delft - Faculty Industrial Design Engineering - Master Design for Interaction - Project Interactive Technology Design - Vincent Steurs & Juin-Yi Huang)
Demy Kitchen Safe Touchscreen Reader
Photo Watch
Clarity-C900: Amplified Big Button Cell Phone
911 Guardian Phone
911 Guardian: "Tiny wearable speakerphone"

Big Digit TV remote
Extra Large TV Remote Control

SmartShopper electonic grocery-list maker

SmartShopper: Electronic grocery-list maker
Bierley's ColorMouse Video Magnifier

Voice Pod: Digital recording and playback system


Live from CES - Dakim's Brain Fitness Keeps Seniors Sharp

Dakim Brain Games

Previous post: Ubiquitous Computing - Grandpa and grandkids use a webcam and Skype across the miles

YouTube Vlogger: Geriatric1927

Geriatric Gripes and Grumbles

Mar 25, 2009

Shift Happens Update: Did You Know? 3.0 (Infographic Video) & Updated 4.0!

 Update:  Here is Did You Know 4.0!

The first version Did You Know? (Shift Happens) started out as a PowerPoint presentation by Karl Fisch, an instructional technology specialist at Arapahoe High School as part of his staff development program. The goal was to convey information about the speed of change in our world through the use of a variety of statistical facts - on a global scale, and ultimately spark a conversation about the meaning of technology and the future among the educators in the room.

As you probably know, the conversation went well beyond the walls of Arapahoe High School!

In 2007, Did You Know? was updated by some of the designers at Xplane as a volunteer effort, and as of today, 3/25/09, had been viewed by 3,026,101 times on YouTube.

Did You Know? 3.0

Did You Know 2.0 Xplane version:

Did You Know 1.0 "Shift Happens" narrated with photographs:

Shift Happens Wiki
The FischBowl Blog

I came across the Did You Know? 3.0 video clip on Antoine RJ Wright's Mobile Ministry Magazine.

I first ran into Antoine at a coffee shop about a year ago. We both happened to be checking our email's on the same device, the beloved Nokia n800 Internet tablet. n800's are a rarity in the Charlotte area.

We soon learned that we shared a fascination for touch screen interaction and UI, but Antoine focuses primarily on mobile devices, and is a deep thinker on this topic. He showed me some of work he was doing with interface design on the n800 and I was impressed. Much of what he does could be transformed to the large screen with only a few tweaks, in my opinion.

Antoine runs Nokia's Mobile Web Server on his cell phone, which enables the phone to be accessible on the Internet and provides a personal "mobsite".

FYI: Antoine will be speaking at BibleTech '09 in Seatle, Washington soon on the topic of "Mobile Technology and Connecting Communities". If you have never given a thought about the intersection of technology and religion, you might be surprised at what is going on.

Mar 24, 2009

Struktable Multi-touch Installation at TOCA ME Design Conference

Struktable Multitouch Installation from Gregor Hofbauer on Vimeo.

Strukt is a design studio in Vienna, Austria, that specializes in interactive and generative design for a variety of purposes, such as interactive environments and installations, ambient intelligent environments, games, and multi-touch tables, screens, and walls. The video is a demonstration of applications that were presented at the March 2009 TOCA ME Design Conference in Munich, Germany. The applications were developed using
vvvv. (More information regarding vvvv can be found at the end of this post.)

MT Table 01


According to information from the vvvv website, vvvv is a "toolkit for real time video synthesis. It is designed to facilitate the handling of large media environments with physical interfaces, real-time motion graphics, audio and video that can interact with many users simultaneously. vvvv is a visual programming interface. Therefore it provides a graphical programming language for easy prototyping and development. vvvv is real time, where many other languages have distinct modes for building and running programs, vvv only has one mode, run-time. vvvv is free for non-commercial use."

VVVV Screenshots

VVVV's Propaganda Page
Other projects using VVVV
Struktable: the 70-inch Multitouch Table

STRUK ON A SPHERE: Interactive installation at a Mercedes Benz conference

Pattie Maes TED Talk: Sixth Sense - Mobile Wearable Interface and Gesture Interaction (for the price of a cell phone?!)

In the following video, Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry,of MIT's Fluid Interfaces Group, demonstrate SixthSense, wearable technology that incorporates a video camera, a projector, a digital camera:

From the SixthSense website:

"The SixthSense prototype is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. The hardware components are coupled in a pendant like mobile wearable device. Both the projector and the camera are connected to the mobile computing device in the user’s pocket. The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and physical objects around us to be used as interfaces; while the camera recognizes and tracks user's hand gestures and physical objects using computer-vision based techniques. The software program processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of the colored markers (visual tracking fiducials) at the tip of the user’s fingers using simple computer-vision techniques. The movements and arrangements of these fiducials are interpreted into gestures that act as interaction instructions for the projected application interfaces. The maximum number of tracked fingers is only constrained by the number of unique fiducials, thus SixthSense also supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction."

Photo from the SixthSense website

Of course it is similar to Minority Report, but I don't consider it to be a problem, because it supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction, and it is a "mobile" application of useful technology.
The interaction that had me at "hello world".

Mar 22, 2009

Boxee and Digital Convergence

This post is an update to a previous post, Digital Convergence & Interactive Television

Have you heard about Boxee?  I first learned of it today when I came across an interesting post on the Boxee Blog of a debate with Mark Cuban, author of the post, Why Do Internet People Think Content People Are Stupid? on Blog Maverick.

This debate led me to the following related posts:
Boxee CEO: Consumers Will Get a la Carte Online
(Ryan Lawler, Contentinople: Networking the Digital Media Industry)
Bewkes Defends TV Everywhere (Post by Georg Szalai on the Hollywood Report of how Time Warner would provide subscribers to view cable TV network content online.)

What is boxee? Sort of a social-network-internet-cable-TV-Wii application....
"On a laptop or connected to an HDTV, boxee gives you a true entertainment experience to enjoy your movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Netflix, CBS, Comedy Central,, and flickr."

quick intro to boxee from boxee on Vimeo.

From the boxee blog:
"boxee is the developer of the first “social” media center. boxee plays media from your computer and other devices in your home network, as well as connect you to various Internet sources that allow you to stream or download movies, tv shows, music and photos. boxee is based on the xbmc open-source project. we have been working with team-xbmc since early 2007.
We are in the process of alpha testing boxee, so this is why you need to get an invite to participate.. sorry. the alpha is for Mac OS X 10.4 (and above), Ubuntu and Apple TV (a Windows version will come out towards the end of the year"

Mar 18, 2009

Interview of Henry Jenkins on Games-Based Learning and Importance of Collaboration, Learning Ecology, and Media Literacy

Henry Jenkins will be moving from MIT to USC Annenburg School of Communication and the Cinematic Arts School. He'll be teaching courses such as "Transmedia Storytelling" and "New Media Literacies".

"...there is a learning ecology now, one that takes place outside of the classroom in the after school world...and right now, schools are cutting themselves out of the learning ecology by blocking games, by blocking YouTube, by putting filters on the computers. They block off ways the students are technologically connected, from the best ways of learning..and they leave those students who are trapped behind the participation gap from having access to the experiences that prepare the technically literate for the future."

"..Good teachers are fighting a valiant battle just to be able to access the materials of YouTube .. the other day we discovered that students could not access online resources about Moby Dick, the great American novel, because it had the word "Dick" in it."

My high school blocks websites about games. TeacherTube is blocked, too!

In the above video, a school that integrates the use of games within the curriculum is mentioned. The school is Quest to Learn, scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year. It is known as "New York's school for today's digital kids".

"Quest supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of “systems.” Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century."

Institute of Play (A partner of the Quest to Learn school)
Quest to Learn Press Links

A Win-Win Scenario: "Game School" Aims to Engage and Educate
Eliza Strickland, Wired 8/6/07

More for Multi-touch: NextWindow Plug-in for Natural User Interface's Snowflake Multi-touch Software -and more.

Those of you have an HP TouchSmart, Dell Studio One PC, or NextWindow displays might be interested in the new NUI plug-in that supports NUI Suite Snowflake software. Here are the features of the plugin, according to information from the Natural User Interface website:
  • Detailed user manual included with FAQ
  • Developed on fast and reliable C++ platform
  • Intuitive
  • Customizable
  • Gesture recognition library
  • TUIO/OSC (Open Sound Control) support (sending and receiving events)
  • Low level API
  • Hardware accelerated rendering
  • Support for wide variety of media types
  • Advanced window handler that supports scaling and rotation
  • Suitable for Windows® XP and Windows® Vista (Mac OSX and Linux can be developed on request)
  • Audio support
  • Single, dual support
  • Multi-threaded resource handler (For fast data visualization)

"NUI has partnered up with NextWindow™, an international leader in the development of optical multi-touch technology and the manufacturer of optical multi-touch screens, overlays and OEM touch components."

"NextWindow™'s integrated technology allows for natural and intuitive interaction of digital content on flat TFT, LCD and Plasma solutions."

"The NUI NextWindow™ plug-in can be used with any programming language that supports TUIO, i.e. C/C++/C#, Java, Flash, Python, VVVV etc, meaning that software developers can run their own applications on NextWindow™, utilizing the NUI NextWindow™ plug-in."

I became a fan of NextWindow touch-screen displays in early 2007 when I worked on a couple of touch-screen projects in my HCI and Ubicomp classes at UNC-Charlotte.

I've been using my HP TouchSmart PC at work with students with disabilities. I'm experimenting with the NUI Suite SnowFlake on my TouchSmart, and found that interacting with the Particles application delighted students with severe autism. The activities provided opportunities to establish joint attention. I also noticed an increase in the number of vocalizations and/or verbalizations among the students. Of course, this was NOT a scientific study.

Definition of Joint Attention from UConn:

"Joint Attention is the process of sharing one’s experience of observing an object or event, by following gaze or pointing gestures. It is critical for social development, language acquisition, cognitive development…"

Establishing joint attention is an important step in the development of social interaction skills among young people who have autism spectrum disorders.

More about joint attention:

Joint Attention Study Has Implication for Understanding Autism
Science Daily, 9/29/07

Asperger-Advice: Joint Attention

Autism Games: Joint Attention and Reciprocity

Why is joint attention a pivotal skill in autism?
Tony Charman
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 February 28; 358(1430): 315–324.
doi: 10.1098/rstb.2002.1199.

Mar 13, 2009

User Interface and Digital Cameras: Gizmodo's Detailed Visual Tour; PMA 2009

I just love it when someone takes the time to do a detailed review of a broad spectrum of user interfaces, with loads of comments and pics. Matt Buchanan, of Gizmodo, has done so in his recent post, Click: A Visual Tour of Camera Interfaces. Matt has a nice section dedicated to cameras with touchscreen user interfaces, with all of the touch-screen pictures in one spot. He liked the Sony camera touch screen UI the best.

I liked one of the comments to Matt's post:

"Yeah, but when will they come out with a UI that my grandmother can use on her own without calling me every d--- time she wants to know how to turn on the camera and take a picture?"


More about cameras: PMA 2009

Mar 12, 2009

Dell's All-In-One Studio One 19, With Optional Multi-touch Technology Released in Japan
Via BusinessWire
Photo via Rafe Needleman/CNET

Dell's Studio One 19 All-in-One System Fits Anywhere in the Home

Here are the specs from the press release:

  • Easy multi-touch photo editing, slideshow creation, playlist compilation, notes, and even web browsing.
  • Unleash creativity with You Paint finger painting software.
  • Record videos and upload directly to YouTube with the touch of a finger.
  • Flick to Flickr – Upload photos to Flickr to share with family and friends.
  • Create a musical masterpiece with the multi-touch percussion center.

†Software is optional and works with multi-touch configurations only.

Power & performance:

  • Intel® Celeron, Dual Core Celeron, Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Duo, and Core 2 Quad Core Processor options
  • Choice of nVidia GeForce 9200 or GeForce 9400 integrated graphics[i]
  • Up to 4GB[ii] dual channel memory
  • Up to 750GB[iii] HDD
  • Slot load Optical drive
  • 7-in-1 media card reader, six USB ports
  • Optional integrated wireless, web camera, Blu-ray Disc™
  • Optional multi-touch capability
  • Optional facial recognition security (with webcam)

According to Warner Crocker, from Gottabemobile, the Studio One All-in-One will be available in the U.S. later this spring, with a starting price for the non multi-touch version around $700.00.

I'll post more information about this soon!


Here are a few more pics of the Studio One, via Darren Gladstone, PC World:

Multi-touch Drum Application on the Dell Studio One 19

Extensive PC World Review:

Dell Studio One 19: All-in-One Stunner Takes Japan


After I wrote this post, I received a comment from Nicolas (see below). If you are interested in this sort of interaction, take a look at lm3lab's touchless interaction. No fingerprints!

Mar 9, 2009

Digital Convergence & Interactive Television

The idea of interactive television was born long before the Internet era, but it never really emerged.

Why? Television programming was designed to be the opposite of interactive. The medium centered around lulling viewers into passive submission, with mesmerized minds wide open to the influence of entertainers, talking heads, and commercials. All of this helped to perpetuate our growing consumer economy, which was not really a bad thing, right?

It appears that interactive television is re-emerging. Today, DISH Network announced the premiere of HISTORY Interactive, "an enhanced 24/7 interactive (iTV) experience." A collaboration between HISTORY and Ensequence, DISH TV customers with an OpenTV-enabled receivers can watch the Battles BC series beginning Monday, March 9 ET/PT.

So now what?

To get a better understanding of this concept, I dug up some information and found myself somewhat entertained by the process. Take a look:

Interactive Television: A Short History Interactive Television Alliance
(Scroll down to the history section)

A "must-see" gem from 1998:
Welcome to Digital TV: A Cringely Crash Course, Robert X. Cringely, 1998, PBS Online

This interactive presentation includes a nice overview of the history of television. It also includes a letter written in 1998 by the late Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I love this quote:

"...Imagine how much more meaningful any television can be when children have a caring person sitting right there beside them ... someone who wants to listen to their questions or comments ... someone who encourages their careful looking and listening and learning! That's what I call "interactive."

"We're glad to be your neighbors, and we applaud all the "interactive" ways you and your family are using television." -Fred Rogers
Interactive Television Production Mark Gawlinski, 2003

The Road to Convergence: Network Transformation and IP
David Russell, Converge Digest, 5/17/06

Development and Current Issues of Interactive Television in the UK
pdf Barbara Katz, 2004(?)

Blog: bitdamaged - Mike Ryan, Interactive Television Specialist

Translation Please: Broadband cable TV technology explained by Leslie Ellis
Leslie's blog is a treasure of technical information related to trends in broadband television. The information on the blog is well-organized and newer technologies are tagged as "Translation Please 2.0". Here are a few of Leslie's posts that I found interesting:

Translation Please 2.0: Digging Deeper into DSG
A Wireless Decoder for Wired People 7/28/08
What's Up in the Upstream 2/23/09
Widget World (Widgets on your Interactive TV)

Another Gem
for techies and the tech-curious:
ODEN: The OCAP/EBIF Developer Network
"Founded in 2007, the mission of the OCAP/EBIF Developer Network (OEDN) community is to drive awareness of and development efforts using the two primary interactive cable television open standards for middleware: OCAP (known to consumers as tru2way) and EBIF."

"As interactive television application development for cable is a (relatively) young field, the initial focus of OEDN is on sharing information and facilitating communication between those "in the know" and those who are new to interactive television development - especially academic researchers and university students. As the community grows and its needs mature, this site will support deeper collaboration.

Update to this post, including information about boxee

Mar 6, 2009

Interaction with the Web of Things; LIFT '09

I recently came across the Web of Things blog and found it to be a gem. Vlad Trifa and Dominique Guinard are the brains behind the blog. They have lots of interesting ideas that are at the intersection of WSN (Wireless Sensor Networks) and HCI (Human Computer Interaction).

Vlad and Dominique recently presented at LIFT '09. If you haven't heard of Lift, take some time and visit the website:

"LIFT is a series of events to inspire and connect the community of doers and thinkers exploring the social impact of new technologies. Each LIFT conference is a three days experience made of talks, workshops, interactive art and discussions to understand and anticipate the most important social changes, and meet the people behind them."

Everything on the Web of Things blog inspired me to write two posts, back to back, on my Technology Supported Human World Interaction blog:

More cool things from the Web of Things blog

The Web of Things, Wireless Sensor Networks, Embedded Systems, and (Everyware) Health Care
(The above post was inspired by my experience at the Cleveland Clinic, spending time every day with my father, who has been in the cardio ICU since his surgery a few days ago.)

Mar 4, 2009

Microsoft and the Future of Interaction

Over the past week or so, I've heard quite a bit about Microsoft's vision for the future, across a variety of domains.

To get started, take a look at the following video from CES 2009: Microsoft Future Products Demo

Take a look at the Microsoft Office Labs Vision 2019 video, presented by Microsoft's Business Division president Stephen Elop at the Wharton Business Conference, via the istartedsomething blog:

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Stephen Elop's Keynote Powerpoint Presentation Link

The Microsoft Office Labs Vision 2019 video sparked an interesting discussion in the comments section of the istartedsomething blog post.

There is more! Coldwell Banker will be using a customized home searching application using the technology of Microsoft Surface:

Futuristic Microsoft in the News:

Microsoft aims to turn PCs into personal assistants, teachers (or robot healers).
3/3/09, Byron Acohido, USA Today

Microsoft Mapping Course to a Jetsons-Style Future
3/2/09, Ashlee Vance, New York Times

Photo by Stuart Isett for The New York Times "Eric Horvitz, left, and Dan Bohus of Microsoft with the prototype of a virtual assistant that can understand its surroundings"

Stuart Isett for The New York Times "Hrvoje Benko demonstrating a Microsoft projection system that lets people manipulate large video images with their hands"
Yet another video:
Microsoft Research: A look at tomorrow's health solutions today: Part I
Laura Foy, 8/19/08

"In this special two-part video edition of House Calls for Healthcare Professionals, Bill Crounse, MD, visits with researchers at Microsoft Research. Each program reviews three promising areas of research that may one day lead to solutions with a direct or indirect application to health and healthcare. Viewers will gain insight to advanced ideas and technologies now in the labs at Microsoft Research long before they find their way into future products, solutions, or applications."

Surface Computing in Health Care: VitraView from InterKnowlogy:

Here is a 2008 video from Microsoft: Office Labs: Future of Personal Health Concept

Interesting concepts, but will they translate to the real world? Time will tell.


Microsoft HealthVault Beta
3D Multi Touch Application for Heart Surgeries - Microsoft Surface and Health Vault
Microsoft Research Blogs