Jul 16, 2009

Interactive Multimedia Technology Themes -Update on Travel Technologies

Over the next month or so I will be re-organizing this blog. I'll be analyzing the various themes that have emerged since I started this on 4/11/06, over three years ago, as part of an assignment for a class about distance education and on-line communication tools.

My first topic was "Games, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds". Although I continue to focus on those themes, I mostly center around off-the-desktop interactive, collaborative, and emerging technologies that support interaction and activities in public spaces.

One theme that interests me is technology that supports travel experiences. Since I've had the opportunity to travel a great deal (before the economy started to go downhill), I've had a chance to explore this arena as a participant-observer*, and have documented my findings through photographs and video.

It is a joke in my family that if I disappear from the tribe, I can usually be found nearby, poking at an interactive touch screen, photographing something related to technology, or sneaking in a few shots of other people interacting with technology, and sometimes even talking to strangers as they use technology. (I usually ask permission to take pictures of people who are in my view finder, but sometimes they just happen to be in my line of sight.)

It is amazing what an earful you can get about technology as a fellow traveller!

I came across the work of Nanonation when I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and was a little disappointed with the touch-screen content and interaction around the ship. From what I can tell from the NanoNation website, the applications have been improved somewhat, especially the way-finding application on the Freedom of the Seas:

Wayfinding Application, Freedom of the Seas

Nanonation was also involved in the development of a "Discovery Wall" at the Umpqua bank. This system incorporates tangible icons that sit on a shelf located near the Discovery Wall that trigger an interactive flash presentation on a screen. The icons represent various bank products, and are RFID enabled.

Discovery Wall, Umpqua Bank

Back to the topic of cruise ship/travel technology:
When I was on the Ruby Princess cruise in December of 2008, I was impressed with the "Movies Under the Stars" set-up. At night, the sunning decks are transformed into out-door movie viewing spots, where you can lounge around, basking under the stars at you watch the gigantic silver screen and excellent sound system.

During the day, the system is used to display games that people play on the Wii, which provides the non-playing sunbathers additional entertainment.

I recently learned that the Movies Under the Stars system was developed and installed by FUNA, an international company that focuses on marine-related industries, as well as land-based industries.

Take a look to my "Wii-OOH" Flickr set slideshow to see the Wii in action on the large screen of the Ruby Princess, and on smaller screens in the food-court of the Concord Mills (NC) mall:

(Note, the mall pictures were taken with my cell phone.)

I want to go back!

HCI Note
*I was trained in the use of participant observation long ago, when I was studying social science
and psychology at the University of Michigan. It is a method that was developed early on by anthropologists
and sociologists, and adopted later by researchers in other fields. Some human-computer interaction
researchers use this method, and related techniques, such as ethnography, in their work.

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