Sep 30, 2008

Cute Little Interactive YouTube + Click Car Game: Click on the disappearing "click" button on the screen to save the car from crashing!

Raja Manohar, from Hexolabs sent me a link to his interactive YouTube + click games, and I thought I'd share it with my readers. Enjoy saving the car from a disastrous crash!

Hexolabs, located in India, is involved in a variety of projects, including mobile games for health.

Economic Sounds and Sights: Interactive Economic Timeline

As the economy spun out of control, I decided to gather information from a range of sources and disciplines, to help me understand the complexity of the events leading to the crisis.

The following post is a repository of some of I've collected so far:

The Celestial Economic Sphere, Dataviz for the Finance Biz, Truthiness, and Behavioral Finance, Gordon Gekko...

I'd like to create a collaborative interactive economic time-line someday. For more information, see the following post:

Collaborative Interactive Multimedia Timeline

Ignite08: A festival of interaction, technology, dance, the arts, and science...

I came across this interesting video clip of Audience, a "performance" of 64 mirrors programmed to move together when someone walks by, in attention. The installation was created by Chris O'Shea, author of the Pixelsumo blog, and rAndom international as part of an exhibit at Deloitte Ignite08, a three-day festival of performances and experiences created by artists and scientists at the Royal Opera in London.

Audience from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo.

Wayne McGregor, the choreographer for the Royal Ballet, was the director of Ignite08. The following is McGregor's vision behind the festival.

"Explaining the ethos behind such a diverse festival programme, McGregor reveals he was influenced by Greek philosopher Aristotle’s definition of the five senses. ‘We experience everything through our senses and, although we are by nature sight-dominated, it is through a complex network and inter-relatedness of these multiple senses that we can perceive events, artistic endeavour included,’ he says."

The "What's On" section of the Ignite08 website includes links short interviews and written profiles of the various Ignite08 participants.

For more information about Wayne McGregor, see Mind in Motion. (Times)


I found the video clip on the Create Digital Motion blog, posted by Peter Kirn:
An Attentive Flock of Mirrors, Built in OpenFrameworks If you like visualization, you'll also like Kirn's post: Code as Art: Generative Visual Inspiration and Sharing.


Sep 27, 2008

If you like Spore, you'll appreciate the Genetic Algorithm website!

Since I've been playing Spore and thinking about the the artificial life/genetic algorithm used to create the Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium (see my previous post), I thought I'd visit the
Philippe Rennard's interactive genetic algorithms website I first visited his site when I was taking a course in artificial intelligence for game design.

The first time I visited the site, I viewed it from a small laptop screen. This time, I expored the site on my 22-inch HP Touchsmart. What a difference! I can't wait until the school week to see how this looks on an interactive whiteboard.

Although the website was created several years ago, it still is fun site to visit, especially when you watch all of your little things morph according to the variables you choose.

Another website I recently revisited was the NERO website.
NERO stands for Neuro-Evolving Robotic Operatives. The original NERO project was developed at the University of Austin a few years ago. The latest version can be found on the NERO 2.0 website.

If you have some time on your hands, visit the site and download the program. You use genetic algorithms to train up soldiers in using real-time neuro evolution. See what happens if you let them evolve overnight on your computer!
"Evolve your own robot army by tuning their artificial brains for challenging tasks, then pit them against your friends' teams in online competitions"

Somewhat Related

While I was at Rennard's website, I linked to his page about a book he edited in 2006 that I want to run out and read ASAP. "Handbook of Research on Nature Inspired Computing for Economics and Management". I think this will help book might help me with my quest to better inform myself about the events surrounding the economic situation.

I'm sharing what I find on my Technology Supported Human-World Interaction blog using one of my recent posts to store my collection of pictures, media, quotes, articles, references, and links related to the quest. I hope to incorporate this, hopefully with the help of others, into a dynamic, interactive web-based time-line of the history we are living through right now. For now, here is the link to the "repository":

The Celestial Economic Sphere, DataViz for the Finance Biz, Truthiness, Behavioral Finance, and Greed

Sep 24, 2008

Link to post: Cool Interactive Whiteboard Activities for Teaching Math

Take a look at my recent post on the TechPsych blog to learn more about the math activities created by Spencer Riley for use on interactive whiteboards, then visit his website. The activities are free!

Sep 21, 2008

Resources for the (therapeutic) use of digital and multimedia storytelling and social stories for children and teens...

The most frequently visited post on this blog is Interactive Multimedia for Social Skills, Understanding Feelings, Relaxation, and Coping Strategies, and the hits are increasing. For that reason, I'm working on an extensive update, which is very involved process, given the increase in research in this area. Until then, I thought that it would be helpful to provide a mini-update.

Below are some resources and links for those of you who are interested in digital multimedia story telling or digital social stories with young people. Although some of the resources are specific to children or teens with autism spectrum disorders, I've also included information that is appropriate for use in regular classroom settings.

(If this is your first visit to this blog, it might be a good idea to first check out the resources from the above link, and then return to this post.)

Digital Storytelling and 21st Century Skills (pdf)

This nine-page primer is useful for anyone interested in learning how to create digital stories or develop digital storytelling activities with young people. The information was provided by David Jakes, an instructional technology coordinator for Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL, provides a good case for digital storytelling and an outline of the process of implementing related activities at the high school level.

David Jakes has a website,, that contains additional resources about digital storytelling, including strategies for instruction. The website also provide information about collaborative tools and a collection of extensive web resources.

Center for Digital Storytelling


Encouraging Positive Behavior with Social Stories: An Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
pdf (Shannon Crozier, Nancy M.Sileo) Teaching Exceptional Children, July/August 2005 pp. 26-31

This article provides information that supports a systematic method of implenting social stories that is integrated into a student's Functional Behavioral Assessment and IEP.


• Team identifies the need for behavior intervention.
• Functional assessment is completed.
• Social stories included in behavior plan.
• Social story is written.
• Social story is introduced and progress is monitored with data.
• Success is evaluated with data.

Note: The authors cite an article written in 1999 that mentions that the use of multimedia social stories has not been demonstrated to be effective, as little research had been completed in this area at the time. Take this with a grain of salt, as there are recent studies (see below) regarding the effective use of multimedia applications, including computer/video games and VR, for social skills training as well as counseling.

An evaluation of the integrated use of a multimedia storytelling system within a psychotherapy intervention for adolescents. (pdf)

Current Autism Research on Social Stories (Vol 2, Issue 8; August 2007) Positively Autism

Multimedia Instruction of Social Skills
(CITEd Research Center- Center for Implementing Technology in Education: Multimedia Technologies)

This link provides extensive information about on-line resources for programs that simulate social interaction. It also includes information about the use of social stories with students, and resources for putting together multimedia social stories. Included are some summaries of research about multimedia social stories and the use of multimedia for instructional activities.

Be sure to explore the rest of the CITEd site when you have the time.


Post: Special issue on Multimedia, Media Convergence, and Digital Storytelling

Digital Stories Targeting Social Skills for Children with Disabilities. Cori More (PRO-ED Journal, 2008)

Digtal/Multimedia Storytelling
from A Storied Career: Kathy Hansen's Blog to explore traditional and postmodern forms/uses of storytelling

Digital Storytelling - Katie Christo's Wiki - how-to, resources, tutorials, rubrics, lesson plans, digital storytelling across the curriculum, etc.

The Story-Centered Curriculum
- eLearn Magazine

Mind Reading: An Interactive Guide to Reading Emotions

Mind Habits: The Stress Relief Game

Sep 17, 2008

SynergyNet Project: Multi-touch tables and displays designed for education...

Rich White at Greenbush Labs is a strong supporter of interactive whiteboards and displays through his work with EduSim, an interactive 3-D virtual collaborative environment. Here is a link to one of his most recent posts about SynergyNet, a multi-touch table that is designed for use in education:

In the Classroom of the Future: Every Desk is an Interactive Surface

"SynergyNet will integrate ICT into the fabric of the classroom. The new desk with a ‘multi-touch’ surface will be the central component; the desks will be networked and linked to a main smartboard offering new opportunities for teaching and collaboration."

"Several students will be able to work together at a desk as the desks allow simultaneous screen contact by multiple users using fingers or pens. Durham researchers want to create a ‘natural way’ for students to use computers in class. The system encourages collaboration between students and teachers, and a move away from teacher-centric learning."

More about the SynergyNet project:

Smart desks make sci-fi a reality in the classroom

Research is underway at Durham University, located in the UK, to see how the interactive tables can support learning IT concepts. According to the SynergyNet project website, the goals of the research are as follows:
  • Aim 1: To create a radically new technology-rich learning environment that integrates with traditional classroom layouts and collective activities.
  • Aim 2: To design and implement a new form of user interface for educational multi-touch systems.
  • Aim 3: To formulate a new pedagogy that eases transition and movement between teacher-centric and pupil-centric interaction.
  • Aim 4: To analyse pupils’ learning strategies to inform fundamental research by capturing data as pupils use the SynergyNet environment.

"The system will also boost equal access in school. In IT, we have found that males have been the dominant actors - interactive classrooms will encourage more females to take part in lessons. It will also enable more disabled students to participate in lessons and allow more personalized learning." - Dr. Elizabeth Burd, Principle Investigator, Director of Active Learning in Computing

jME Physics - the open-source java-based physics engine used in the SynergyNet system

jMonkeyEngine - the open-source java-based game engine use in the SynergyNet system (the video below contains some clips from the SynergyNet project)

Pupils test multi-touch screens

(BBC Article)

Sep 16, 2008

Videogames, Teens, and.... Civic Education?

Videogames have become a serious target for study by researchers. If youhaven't played a video game in years, you might be surprised at the results of a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College.

Major New Study Shatters Stereotype of Teens and Video Games: Game playing is universal, diverse, often involves social interaction, and can cultivate teen civic engagement
- MacArthur Foundation

From the above article:

"A focus of the survey was the relationship between gaming and civic experiences among teens. The goal was to test concerns that gaming might be prompting teens to withdraw from their communities. It turns out there is clear evidence that gaming is not just an entertaining diversion for many teens; gaming can be tied to civic and political engagement. Indeed, youth have many experiences playing games that mirror aspects of civic and political life, such as thinking about moral and ethical issues and making decisions about city and/or community affairs. Not only do many teens help others or learn about a problem in society during their game playing, they also encounter other social and civic experiences:

  • 52% of gamers report playing games where they think about moral and ethical issues.
  • 43% report playing games where they help make decisions about how a community, city or nation should be run.
  • 40% report playing games where they learn about a social issue. "
"Moreover, the survey indicates that youth who have these kinds of civic gaming experiences are more likely to be civically engaged in the offline world. They are more likely than others are to go online to get information about current events, to try to persuade others how to vote in an election, to say they are committed to civic participation, and to raise money for charity."

Teens, Video Games, and Civics pdf
-Pew Internet & American Life

The Civic Potential of Video Games pdf

I'll post more later!

Sep 11, 2008

Special Issue on Multimedia, Media Convergence, and Digital Storytelling (RCETJ)

Mark van 't Hooft, the chair of ISTE's SIGHC, recently shared information and links to an interesting special issue of on-line publications about multimedia related topics:

An Introduction to the RCETJ Special Issue on Multimedia, Media Convergence, and Digital Storytelling (Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology, Fall 2008 Special Issue)

Video-Based Additional Instruction (Marc Franciszkowicz)

Design and Assessment of an On-line Pre-lab Model in General Chemistry
: A Case Study (Juan Antonion Llorens-Molina)

The iPod Project: A Mobile Mini-Lab
(Nikhil Sathe and Jorg Waltje)

Media Convergence in a College Newsroom: A Longitudinal Study of Identification and Commitment to a Collaborative Web Site (Fred Endres)

Sep 7, 2008

FotoViewr 3D - Nice on my TouchSmart...

I had a chance to play with my Flickr photos using the beta version of FotoViewr on my HP TouchSmart. Nice.

Here is a video from the FotoViewr website:

Sep 3, 2008

Lazybrains 3D game: Another Brain-Computer Interface!

I came across an article about the BCI (Brain-Computer Interface) 3D game, Lazybrains, on the Wired website today. "Brain Scanners, Fingercams Take Computer Interfaces Beyond Multitouch"

LazyBrains was a Digital Media Senior Project of Aaron Bohenick, James Borden, Sachary Brooks, Kenneth Oum, and Jordan Santell, students at Drexel University.

Here is a video:

Game Teaser

Description of the BCI, a fNIR:
  • "The Functional Near-Infrared Imaging Device (fNIR) is a technology that was developed at the University of Pennsylvania, but is currently being used by the Drexel University biomedical department. The device shines infrared light into the user's forehead, and records the amount of light that gets transmitted back. The change in the amount of light can be used to deduce information about the amount of oxygen in the blood. When the user concentrates, their frontal lobe needs more oxygen and this change can be detected by the device."
For more information, see the Voxel6 website.

Here is a link to a post about a similar BCI system:

Emotive System's Neural Game Controller Headset: Human-Computer Interface of the Future?

It will be interesting to see how this technology unfolds. In my opinion, it will be quite useful for cognitive rehabilitation, as well as providing access to games for people who have significant physical limitations.

Sep 1, 2008

Interactive Touch-Screen Technology, Participatory Design,and "Getting It"....

Interactive Touch Screen Technology, Participatory Design, and "Getting It", Revisited

There's been some discussion over the reasons why so many people don't understand touch screen, or "surface" computing, even though research in this area has been going on for years.

As the new owner of the HP TouchSmart, I know that I get it.

The research I've conducted in this area suggests that people will "get-it" only if there is a strong commitment to develop touch-screen "surface" applications through a user-centered, participatory design process. In my view, this should incorporate principles of ethnography, and ensure that usability studies are conducted outside of the lab.

This approach was taken with
Intel's Classmate PC. Intel has about 40 ethnographic researchers, and sent many of them to work with students and teachers in classrooms around the world. (A video regarding ethnographic research and the Intel Classmate project can be found near the end of this post.)

Where to start?
K-12 classrooms and media centers. Public libraries. Malls. Hospital lobbies and doctor's offices. Any waiting room. Staff lounges in medical centers, schools, and universities. Community festivities and events. Movie theater lobbies. Museums and other points of interests.

I believe we need to take a "touching is believing" approach.

Here are some thoughts:

When I try to explain my fascination with developing touch-screen interactive multimedia applications, (interactive whiteboards, multi-touch displays and tables, and the like), many of my friends and family members eyes glaze over. This is particularly true for people I know who are forty-ish or over.

Even if you are younger, if you never saw the cool technology demonstrated in the movie Minority Report, or if you have limited experience with video games, or if you haven't came within touching distance of an interactive whiteboard, the concept might be difficult to understand.

The reality?

Even people who have the opportunity to use surface computing technology on large screens do not take full advantage of it. Multi-touch screens are often used as single-touch screens, and interactive whiteboards in classrooms are often serve as expensive projector screens for teacher-controlled PowerPoint presentations.

Most importantly, there are few software developers who understand the surface computing approach, even with the popularity of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Most focus on traditional business-oriented or marketing applications, and have difficulty envisioning scenarios in which surface computing would be a welcome breath of fresh air.

Another factor is that not all people entrusted to market surface or touch screen computing fully understand it.
Despite a cool website showing off the goods, Microsoft's Surface multi-touch table has been slow to take off, limiting hope of bringing down the price tag to a price most families or schools could afford. (The picture above depicts an application for the Surface designed for health care professionals, not K-12 science education.)

Although you can't buy a Surface table for your family room, it is possible to buy a TouchSmart.

HP's TouchSmart website is engaging and highlights some examples of touch-screen interaction, but most people don't seem to know about it.

Unfortunately, you wouldn't have a clue that the HP TouchSmart exists browsing the aisles at Circuit City or Best Buy!

When I was shopping for my new TouchSmart, I noticed that from a distance, the TouchSmart looked just like the other larger flat-screen monitors filling up the aisles. The salespeople at both stores were not well-informed about the system. The only reason I knew bout the new TouchSmart was related to my obsession with interactive multimedia touch-screen applications- designing them, developing them, studying them, reading about them, blogging about them.... ; }

More thoughts:

After studying HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), and relating this knowledge to what I know as a psychologist, my hunch is that the "Window Icon Mouse Pointing-device" (WIMP) and keyboard input mind-set is embedded in our brains, to a certain extent. Like driving a car, it is something automatic and expected. This is true for users AND developers.

Think about it.

Suppose one day, you were told that you no longer were allowed to control your car by turning on the ignition, steering the wheel, or using your feet to accelerate, slow down, or stop the car! Instead, you needed to learn a new navigation, integration, and control system that involved waving your hands about and perhaps speaking a few commands.

For new drivers who'd never seen a car before, this new system would be user-friendly and intuitive. Perhaps it would be quite easy for 16-year-old kids to wrap their heads around this concept. For most of us, no. Imagine the disasters we would see on our streets and highways!

When we think about how newer technologies are introduced to people, we should keep this in mind.

In my mind, spreading the word about surface computing is not a "if you build it, they will come" phenomenon, like the iPhone. We can't ignore the broader picture.

From my middle-age woman's vantage point, I believe that it is important that the those involved with studying, developing, or marketing surface computing applications realize that many of us simply have no point of reference other than our experiences with ATMs, airline kiosks, supermarket self-serve lanes, and the like.

(The video clip at the very end of this post provides a good example of touch-screen technology gone wrong.)

Be aware that there are substantial numbers of people who might benefit from surface computing who prefer to avoid the ATMs, airline kiosks, and self-serve grocery shopping.

Realize that the collective experience with technology, in many cases, has not been too pretty. Many people have had such user-unfriendly experiences with productivity applications, forced upon them by their employers, that any interest or desire to explore emerging technologies has been zapped.

My own exposure to interactive "surface" related technology was somewhat accidental.

A few years ago, a huge box was deposited into the room I worked in a couple of days a week as a school psychologist at a middle school. After a week or so, I became curious, and found out that it was a SmartBoard. Until then (2002!), I did not know that interactive whiteboards existed.

The boxed remained unopened in the room for the entire school year, but no worry. I played with the only other SmartBoard in the school, and found a couple at the high school where I also worked. I hunted for all of the applications and interactive websites that I could find, and tried them out. That is when I was hooked. I could see all kinds of possibilities for interactive, engaging subject area learning activities. I could see the SmartBoards potential for music and art classes. With my own eyes, I saw how the SmartBoard engaged students with special needs in counseling activities.

(By the way, if you are working with middle school students, PBS Kid's ItsMyLife website activities work great on an interactive whiteboard.)

A few years have passed, and reflecting on all of my fun experiences with interactive whiteboards, with and without students, I now understand that many teachers still have had limited exposure to this technology.

This school year, many teachers are finding themselves teaching in classrooms recently outfitted with interactive whiteboards, scrambling along with educational technology staff development specialists, to figure out how it works best with various groups of students, and what sort of changes need to be made regarding instructional practice.

For the very first time, interactive whiteboards were installed in two classrooms at one of the schools I work at. One of the teachers I know thanked me for telling her about interactive whiteboards and sharing my resources and links.

If I hadn't let her know about this technology, she wouldn't have volunteered to have one installed in her classroom. It has transformed the way she teaches special needs students.

In the few months that she's used the whiteboard, I can see how much it has transformed the way the students learn. They are attentive, more communicative, and engaged. The students don't spend the whole day with the whiteboard - the interactive learning activities are woven into lessons at various times of the day, representing true technology integration.

Now let's see what happens when all-in-one touch-screen PC's are unleashed in our schools!

Some resources:
HP TouchSmart PC website, with demo
HP's TouchSmart YouTube videos
lm3labs (catchyoo, ubiq'window)
NUI Group (See member's links)
Perceptive Pixel - Jeff Hans
Microsoft Surface
(More can be found by doing a search on this blog or The World Is My Interactive Interface.)

Value of ethnographic research:
Ethnographic Research Informed Intel's Classmate PC
"Intel looked closely at how students collaborate and move around in classroom environments. The new tablet feature was implemented so that the device would be more conducive to what Intel calls “micromobility”. Intel wants students to be able to carry around Classmate PCs in much the same way that they currently carry around paper and pencil." -via Putting People First and Ars Technica

The video below is from Intel's YouTube Channel. Information about Intel's approach to ethnographic research in classrooms during the development of the Classroom PC is highlighted. This approach uses participatory design and allows the set of applications developed for the Classmate PC to reflect the needs of local students and teachers. Schools from many different countries were included in this study.


Need for Improvement: User-Unfriendly Information Kiosk Interactive Map

Here are some interesting pictures from lm3labs, which are in my interactive usability hall of fame:

Samsung's new Omnia SDG i900 was re-created in a much larger size, using lm3lab's Ubiq'window touchless technology.

For more about lm3labs, including several videoclips, take a look at one of my previous posts:
Lm3Labs, Nicolas Leoillot, and Multimedia Interaction