Oct 31, 2010

Microsoft is acquiring Canesta, Inc., a developer of 3-D electronic perception technology for natural user interaction, gaming, and more.

Microsoft to Acquire 3-D Chip Firm Canesta
Michael Baron, TheStreet 10/29/10

Thanks to Harry Van Der Veen, of NUITEQ, for this link!

The following video is from the Canesta3D YouTube channel. It demonstrates the 3D input sensor in action, with four people moving around in a living room. The chip used in the system depicted in the video was the precursor to the current chip, called the "Cobra 320x200".

Below is a demo of gesture interaction using Canesta3D technology to control and select information and content on a large display.  In my opinion, this will change the way we interact with our TV's, at least for those of us who hate using bad remotes!  Microsoft's acquisition of Canesta is good news, especially if they allow this technology to be used by the masses.   I'm pretty sure it has the capability of supporting  interaction with HD TV's are internet-ready, and can support GoogleTV, LeanBack, and Vimeo's Couch Mode.

Canesta Announces Definitive Agreement to be Acquired by Microsoft
Press Rease, 10/29/10, Canesta

About Canesta (From the Canesta website)
"Canesta (www.canesta.com) is the inventor of revolutionary, low cost electronic perception technology and leading provider of single chip CMOS 3-D sensors that fundamentally change the relationship between devices and their users. This capability makes possible true 3-D perception as input to everyday devices, rather than the widely understood 3-D representational technologies as output. Canesta’s 3-D input technology, based upon tiny, CMOS 3-D imaging chips or “sensors”, enables fine-grained, 3-dimensional depth-perception in a wide range of applications. Products based on this capability can then react on sight to the actions or motions of individuals and objects in their field of view, gaining levels of functionality and ease of use that were simply not possible in an era when such devices were blind. Canesta’s focus is on mass market consumer electronics, but many applications exist in other markets as well. Canesta is located in Sunnyvale, CA. The company has filedin excess of fifty patents, 44 of which have been granted so far."

Canesta Corporate Fact Sheet (pdf)
Videos: http://canesta.com/applications/consumer-electronics/gesture-controls

I posted some videos about Canesta's technologies on the following post. There are two videos that show Canesta's 3D depth camera works on a Hitachi flat-panel display: Interactive Displays 2009 Conference

For more information about interactive TV, GoogleTV, Leanback and Couch Mode, see the second section of my recent post:
Philipp Geist: Blending the Physical with the Digital;  Google TV/Leanback, Vimeo's new Couch Mode, oh..and ViewSonic's 3D (glasses-less) pocket camcorder...

Technology and Education, a Temporal Approach -Link to Dan Sutch's article, plus info about FutureLab

I'm interested in topics related to school reform and how it impacts the intersection of education/learning and emerging/innovative interactive technologies.  There are many changes going on that will impact the future of education, and I thought I'd devote a post or two to this topic on the Interactive Multimedia Technology and TechPsych blogs.

Over the past few years, I've noticed that there is a re-occurring theme, sort of a self-perpetuating "myth" - or hope, that if we just could fire/tweak/transform- the teachers, and if we just had the right kind of technologies and applications at hand, the multiple problems of education would be solved.  Of course, we know it is much more complicated than throwing innovative technologies, teaching strategies, and new, "highly qualified" teachers into the educational mix!

On this note,  I'd like to share a link to an article written by Dan Sutch on the Flux blog, hosted by FutureLab. ( I've included some links to resources from the FuturLab website.  I've also added my own "2-cents" to the topic of technology and education reform, which can be found at the top of this blog under the "My 2-cents: Innovative Technologies, Education Reform, which is in draft form.)

In his article, Dan Sutch touches on some key problems facing education. Like the little boy in the children's book, the Emperor's New Clothes, he points out that the polarizing debates regarding education blind us to what we really need to think about- and understand.  

Dan Sutch,  Flux (FutureLab)  October 7, 2010

Here are thee three "meta-functions" of education discussed in Dan's article:

  • How the world is as it is. Which requires exploration of what is already known about the world: knowledge domains, histories, cultural differences etc.  [The past] This only makes sense in relation to how learners
  • Understand their place in the world. This is a focus on the individual, their culture and context, their interests, knowledges and relationships etc. [The present] This then leads to a need to understand
  • How they act within the world and how they can change it. This is about developing personal identities and agency, and the skills to enact them – for themselves, their communities and for wider global challenges. [The future]
By using this framework, it might be possible for us to generate meaningful ways to use technology to support the business/science/art of teaching and learning. This framework might be something for university-level teacher educators to consider.

About Dan Sutch
"Dan's main research interests are in mobile learning, radical innovation and the role of the teacher in technology-rich learning environments. Dan’s current work involves investigating new models of innovation in the design and application of digital learning resources and the capacity of teachers to act as innovators in the use of digital learning resources."

Panel of Flux Contributors
I encourage you to take a look at the other people who contribute to Flux!  They are on the forefront of education and emerging technologies, and come from a wide range of disciplines.

About FutureLab
FutureLab is an organization located in the UK that focuses on "the way people learn through innovative technology and practice".   The FutureLab website has a wealth of information about interactive and immersive technologies that support- or have the potential to support- learning. 

FutureLab's Free Online Tools
One of many examples is Create-A-Scape:
"Create-A-Scape is a website that provides resources for creating digitally-enhanced learning experiences, using mobile technology to experience location-sensitive sounds and images that have been 'attached to' the local landscape. Can be used right across the curriculum with all age groups." -FutureLab

Links to FutureLab topics, from the home page of the FutureLab website:

Links to FutureLab's current projects:

Oct 30, 2010

Philipp Geist: Blending the Physical with the Digital; Google TV/Leanback, Vimeo's new Couch Mode, oh...and ViewSonic's 3D (glasses-less) pocket camcorder...

I'm thinking about getting one of the new "internet ready" TVs.  I have a serious reason to do this. I'm working on some interactive video projects, and a couple of my projects are geared for teens and young adults who have autism.*   My hunch is that many of my students would like to watch- and interact with-content optimized for Google TV and Vimeo's Couch Mode.  The content is designed to look good on larger high-resolution flat-screen displays, and I'm sure it would be great on my school's newer SMARTBoards.  I need to learn more about  developing applications for this purpose.

(Currently I use my HP 22-inch TouchSmart PC to view web-based video content, and to evaluate websites that provide "touchable" and interactive content that might work well on interactive whiteboards.)

At any rate,  I've been looking for great videos that have the potential for use at work with older students who have autism. I'm also looking for effective ways that the students can use to interact with multimedia and video content. This is important, since the students have minimal verbal communication skills, have limited reading ability- if they can read at all.  They learn about their world through visual means, and are capable of learning much more - but not through traditional means.

Since our school is focusing on globalization and learning about the cultures of other countries, I've been on the lookout for some interesting videos that might appeal to our students.  

Today I came across a great find- Philipp Geist.  Who is Philipp Geist?  According to his bioPhilipp works internationally as a light and multi-media artist in the mediums of video, performance, photography and painting. Some of his work focuses on architecture, history, and cultural heritage.  A good example of his work is the installation he created for a festival in Thailand in 2009:

"The one-hour show is the central part of the celebrations and will be seen by thousands of visitors.  It interprets artistically the king's life and his work dedicated to public welfare. The art installation combines images of the kings and his social projects in the past and present with 3D animations of Thai natural and cultural heritage and abstract painterly passages." (from the Vimeo site)

Phillip Geist's Showreel

This might boost holiday gift sales and in turn, give a little jolt to the economy. To do my duty for my country, I will continue to research Internet TV as I narrow down my selection for my new Internet-ready TV.... Below is some Information about Google TV, Google Leanback, and Vimeo's Couch mode that I've recently gathered to share with my IMT followers:

GOOGLE TV:  "The web is now a channel"

"With Google Chrome and Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Google TV lets you access everything on the web. Watch your favorite web videos, view photos, play games, check fantasy scores, chat with friends, and do everything else you're accustomed to doing online. Plus, the world's best websites are now being perfected for television -- check out our Spotlight gallery for examples."  "The worlds' favorite websites are being tweaked and perfected for the television." -Google TV

I'm not too excited about the design of the application that transforms your Android phone or iPhone into a remote control.  I hate most remote controls.  According to Google TV, multiple phones can control the same TV, and you can use your voice to search, which seems like it would be a good thing...  I wonder if they tested this out with real families, not just families of Google TV techies .

GOOGLE LEANBACK Video (Integrated into GoogleTV)

Google Leanback 
When I visited the Leanback website, I encountered the following screen with a suggestion that I type in what I was looking for.  I typed in "lynnvm", the name of my YouTube channel.  Apparently Google provides you with a randomly generated featured video that appears in the background that has nothing to do with what you are looking for.  

In this screen shot, my YouTube channel offerings are in the foreground. "Maleficent Halloween Tutorial" is what played in the background: 

VIMEO INTRODUCES COUCH MODEVimeo's version of Google's Leanback is Couch Mode.  It is optimized for use on Google TV, so that makes things less complicated in the world of videoviewingland.   According to Ryan Hefner's article on the Vimeo staff blog, "Couch Mode is a special new section of Vimeo that allows you to watch collections of videos (such as Staff Picks, your inbox, your videos, etc.) completely uninterrupted like a TV channel."
Couch Mode works on computers, but since it relies on HTML5 and CSS3, without Flash, it only works with Chrome and Safari browsers.  For more information, see the video below:

"A few of our favorites include Net-A-Porter, which lets you watch runway videos and shop for high fashion; Meegenius, a place where you can read and customize children’s books; TuneIn, a personal radio for your TV; and The Onion which always gives us a good laugh." - Google TV Blog
MeeGenius If you are a teacher, parent, kid, or lover of children's books, visit this interactive website ASAP. It is optimized for Google TV and works nicely on touch-enabled screens and devices.

As I was wrapping up this post, I came across information about Viewsonic's new 3D, glassesless pocket camcorder.  I'll update information about this new gadget when I have a chance to learn more about it. !

Comment: The idea of developing interactive multimedia apps in 3D intrigues me. At this point, the technology is too new for an "armchair technologist" like me to pursue with my incredibly busy work obligations.  I don't have the money to buy a 3D video camera.  But I might try this out, if it is true that it only costs $238.00!

Viewsonic introduces 3Dv5 3D pocket camcorder, no glasses required
Darren Murph, Engadget, 10/20/10
Film Videos In 3D for Under $250 With Viewsonic's 3DV5
HotHardware, 10/28/10

* About me:  
I presently work full time as a school psychologist at a high school and at a program for students with more severe disabilities, including autism.  The students I work with have made amazing gains through the use of interactive multimedia applications, and also have responded well to video presented on the large IWB screens.   

I went back to school to take computer courses, initially so I could make interactive multimedia applications and games. I continue to blog about interactive multimedia,  emerging/ new technologies, and topics related to post-WIMP HCI/UX/ID/IA.  Although my "spare time" is limited,  I try to keep up my technical skills whenever I can by working on projects that can support the students I work with.