Dec 29, 2012

KAPi Kids at Play Awards: Best in Children's Technology 2013 Winners Announced

The following information is from a PRWeb press release announcing the winners of the Fourth Annual KAPi Awards:

Living in Digital Times and Children's Technology Review Announce 2013 KAPi Award Winners  The Most Innovative in Children's Technology to be honored on Thursday, January 10, at the 2013 International CES ® in Las Vegas

"Collaboratively organized and produced by Living in Digital Times and Children’s Technology Review, the fourth annual KAPi Kids at Play Awards honor the best of the best in children’s technology."
- PRWeb, 12/18/12

The 2013 KAPi Award Winners Are… 
 1. Best Younger Children’s App: LetterSchool by Boreaal Publishers 
 2. Best Older Children’s App: IMAG-N-O-TRON by Moonbot Studios 
 3. Best Tech Leveraged Toy: Skylanders Giants by Activision 
 4. Best Video Game Software: Kinect Sesame Street TV by Microsoft Studios 
 5. Best Hardware or Peripheral: Kindle Fire HD with Kindle FreeTime Unlimited by Amazon 
 6. Best Technology Toy: littleBits by littleBits Electronics 
 7. Best Educational Technology: BrainPOP GameUp by BrainPOP LLC. 
 8. Innovation: The Cube by 3D Systems, Inc. (3D Printer)
 9. Pioneer: Dale Dougherty, Co-Creator, Maker Faire; Publisher, MAKE Magazine 
 10. Pioneering Team: Toca Boca 

Judges of the KAPi Awards consisted of 13 journalists and/or experts in children’s interactive media, they were: 
Warren Buckleitner, Children’s Technology Review
Chris Crowell,  Children’s Technology Review  
Dan Donahoo, Wired GeekDad and Project Synthesis 
Chip Donohue, Erikson Institute 
David Kleeman, American Center for Children and Media 
Ann McCormick, Co-Founder, The Learning Company 
Frank Migliorelli, Mig Idea 
Robin Raskin, Living in Digital Times 
Reyne Rice, Toy Expert 
Carly Shuler, PlayScience 
Andrea Smith, Mashable 
Aleen Stein, Organa 
Scott Traylor, 360 Kid

Dec 23, 2012

Interactive Tablets and Learning: One Laptop Per Child now One Tablet Per Child in Ethiopia

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a philanthropic organization that focuses on learning technologies, distributing thousands of low-cost laptops to children in developing countries.  In most cases, children have been provided access to OLPC laptops within teachers within traditional school settings.  But what about children who live in remote areas, where there are no schools, teachers, or even access to electricity?  They now have the opportunity to learn, even without teachers, through a small experiment conceived by Nicholas Negroponte, of OLCP and other researchers.  In this experiement, each child was provided with a Motorola Xoom tablet.  No teachers were around, because the children lived in a remote village that had no teachers. 

The following video provides a brief overview of what happened over the course of a few weeks and months after the children received the tablets:

To learn more, I encourage you to follow the link to a video of Nicholas Negroponte's presentation at the October 2012 EmTech conference, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  He discusses learning and how it can be supported through technology, anywhere.

"Nicholas Negroponte, founder, One Laptop Per Child, on his latest experiment with the democratization of education - can children teach themselves to read?"

In his presentation, Negroponte discusses the differences between knowing and understanding, and the importance for teachers (or learning applications) to understand the learner.  He goes on to discuss the OLPC research project Ethiopia where children living in remote villages with no teachers, no exposure to print, illiterate communities, and no access to technology, learned to use tablets without instruction or guidance.  The village was provided with a solar panel and one village member was taught how to use it to supply power for the tablets.

Each tablet provided to the children had over 100 applications.  Within four minutes, one child open the box, turned on the on-off button. Within 5 days, each child was using an average of 47 applications.  Within five months, a child hacked the Android tablet to turn on the camera capability.  According to Negroponte, the children were each using different applications, but collaborated with one another.

Maryann Wolf, Director of  the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, has collaborated with with the "OTPC" project. Other collaborators include Cynthia Breazeal and team at the MIT Media Lab, and Sugata Mitra at Newcastle University, according to Chris Ball, lead software engineer at OLPC.

The tablets include software that tracks data from all of the interactions from the children.  What a goldmine for education and cognitive/developmental psychology researchers According to Negraponte, the data is free for analysis.   (I will update this post with additional information about how the data can be accessed as soon as I can find the link.)

Although the OTPC concept is a noble idea, it does not appear to address the fact the children and their families who live in remote villages do not have access to literacy support in their own language.  


OLPC Literacy Project

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves:  A bold experiment by the One Laptop Per Child organization has shown "encouraging" results.
David Tabolt,  MIT Technology Review, 10/29/12

OLPC Project Puts Tablets in the Hands of Formerly Illiterate Children with Amazing Results John Biggs, TechCrunch, 11/1/12

Motorola Xoom hacked by Ethiopian kids who can't read; with no instructions whatsoever.
Joe Hindy, 11/4/12

Hourcade, J.P., Beitler, D., Cormenzana, F. and Flores, P. (2009). Early OLPC Experiences in a Rural Uruguayan School. In A. Druin (Ed.), Mobile Technology for Children: Designing for Interaction and Learning. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.

Growing Up With Nell:  A Narrative Interface for Literacy (pdf)
IDC 2012, June 12–15, 2012, Bremen, Germany
Authors: C. Scott Ananian, Chris J. Ball, Michael Stone
One Laptop Per Child Foundation, 222 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02142

"Nell is a tablet-oriented education platform for children in the developing world.  A novel modular narrative system guides learning, even for children far from educational infrastructure, and provides personalized instruction which grows with the child.  Nell's design builds on experience with the Sugar Learning Platform, used by over two million children around the world"

Quote from above article:
"To further promote collaboration, Nell is free and opensource and implemented in standard web technologies (JavaScript, HTML5, and WebGL) with offline caching. Resources are named by URL, even when disconnected from the internet, which simplifies the distribution of updates to story modules and the Nell system. URL-based identifiers also allow third parties to manage their own namespaces when extending Nell."

A. Chang and C. Breazeal. TinkRBook: Shared reading interfaces for storytelling. (pdf) In Proc. of the 10th Int’l Conf. on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’11), pages 145–148. ACM, June 2011.
NOTE:  The above article provides good references about early language and literacy development.

Wilox, Bruce Beyond Facade: Pattern Matching for Natural Language Applications (pdf)
Telltale Games, Feb. 2011
Note:  This paper reviews the history of Natural Language Processing (NLP) as applied to games, and includes information about AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), Facade, and ChatScript.  The author explains how string matching is no longer simply a matching of words. It now focuses matching patterns of meaning.

ChatScript Website

Note:  One of my assignments for a class in AI for Games, back in 2006, was to create a mini-game that involved the use of AIML.  I realized that a "smart" chat feature would be useful to incorporate in an educational game. In my opinion, it has the potential to support scaffolding of learning, based on the learner's responses, positive as well as errors.

Dec 19, 2012

Crafting Gorgeous User Interfaces: Rich Robinson, of Skookum Digital Works, talks about dynamic interface/experience/interaction design.

Rich Robinson, of Skookum Digital Works, gave a presentation at a recent Charlotte User Experience Meet-up

The title of the presentation, "Crafting Gorgeous User Interfaces" is slightly misleading. 

It's not just about making things pretty. It's about ideas, problem-solving, and understanding the people who will be interacting with dynamic interfaces, across devices, screens, and contexts. 

At the end of the presentation, Rich suggests that you take the time to watch the "Connecting" video, a video I featured on one of my recent posts.   

Thanks, Rich, for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

Dec 16, 2012

Updated: Links and Resources for coping with (and preventing) tragedy - Sandy Hook and beyond

I have spent much of my adult life as a school psychologist,  working with children, teens, young adults, and those who care about them. This Sandy Hill Elementary tragedy hit close to home, because among those killed was a fellow school psychologist, Mary Sherlach.  My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this event in some way, especially the families of those who lost their lives. 

Before going on to the rest of my post, I encourage you to take a few moments to listen to the children singing Silent Night in honor of those who lost their lives on Friday, December 14, 2012.



Over the past few days, members of the National Association of School Psychologists  (NASP) have been providing information and resources for the public to assist with coping with the tragedy, and Twitter and Facebook have proven to be great ways to spread the word. 

Some of the information below is appropriate for those who are directly involved with the children who attend Sandy Hook Elementary or those who attend other elementary schools in the community.   Other articles have suggestions that would be appropriate for parents, teachers, and support staff in schools around the nation (and world).  There are other articles below that are good for those responsible for planning longer-term safe school strategies

Leading School Psychologist Advises How to Talk to Kids about Sandy Hook ShootingNASP: A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope - Tips for Parents and Teachers 
NASP: Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Tips for Parents and Teachers (pdf)
NASP: Threat Assessment at School: A Primer for Educators (pdf)
NASP: Threat Assessment: An Essential Component of a Comprehensive Safe School Program (pdf)
NASP: Helping Children Cope With Crisis: Care for Caregivers (pdf)
NASP: Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety (pdf)
NASP: School Safety and Violence Prevention (Multiple links on topics such as mental health, suicide prevention, bullying, violence prevention planning, crisis prevention and intervention, and behavior/discipline). 
NASP: National Emergency Assistance Team (NEAT)
North Carolina Dept. of Justice: Keeping North Carolina Schools Safe & Secure (pdf)

If you are a parent or concerned member of your community, check your school district's website to learn more about what local safe school policies are in place. There may be a section with tips for parents. (Additional related resources can be found in the body of the comments below and at the end of this post.)


Violence prevention is a complex problem.
From my point of view, preventing or minimizing tragedies such as the one experienced at Sandy Hook Elementary will take a systems approach, and involve people from a number of disciplines. I am convinced that it will take a larger number of people, who can commit to sustaining their efforts over a long period of time. 

What troubles me in this case is that the perpetrator was homicidal, suicidal. and matricidal. He had the wherewithal to know that the school most likely had a school safety plan in place.  He did the unthinkable - he  used a powerful weapon to gain access by blasting through the entry doors. And he would not stop until he had killed 20 young children and a good handful of caring adults.

The problem of protecting schools from intruders can't be solved by making schools more prison-like. Sandy Hook school reportedly had a video surveillance system, locked front doors, a policy for visitors to be buzzed in, and a safe schools policy that required that all teachers (and students) receive training in what to do in an emergency requiring a school lock-down.  If these things were not in place, many more lives would have been lost.  

Firearms:  The Elephant in Our Nation's Living-Room
The elephant that is taking up a huge space in our country's living room?  Weapons that are appropriate for military and law enforcement use, such as the semi-automatic rifle that was in the hands of this young man, are readily available in most communities. We know that the perpetrator did not own the weapons he brought to Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We know that he had easy access to it because it was purchased legally by his mother, and apparently was kept in his home.  

This topic is a political hot potato, but worthy of serious study.  With "Big Data", advanced analytics, and some engaging information visualizations, I am sure something positive can emerge from the 'debate'.   (Nate Silver, author of the New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog, might have a few words to say on this topic, judging from his December 14th post, "In Public 'Conversation' on Guns, a Rhetorical Shift".)

Need for Research - Co-Morbidity - Identification, Evidence-based Treatment, and Prevention

At the time of this post, it was not certain if the perpetrator had a disability, a personality disorder, or a mental health disorder that may have contributed to his violent acts. We do not know if he was receiving treatment, or if he had ever been hospitalized or prescribed medication.  

Whatever the case, I am sure that the tragedy that happened at the Sandy Hook elementary school has caused additional worry for a number of parents of teens and young adults who struggle from mental health problems and other disorders.  Having worked with a number of young people with challenging mental health concerns over the years, including psychiatric patients with a history of serious violence, my heart goes out to these parents. I am sure some of them wonder if the next crisis that flashes on the news is something that was initiated by their child, no matter what the child's age.

Not everyone is aware that serious mental health disorders can crop insidiously during the early teens. The "red flags" might be attributed to puberty, and not be interpreted as precursors to something more serious.  Some mental illnesses become full -blown during the later teen years or during young adulthood, often past the age where a school psychologist or similar professional in the education system can step in to intervene, or provide resources and information for parents. 

Many families have struggled to obtain an appropriate level of care for their teen or young adult child, only to find that these services have been reduced due to budget cuts to mental health and transition-to-adulthood programs in their communities.  Many of these young people have good potential, but their mood states, unusual mannerisms, or periods of erratic thought processes make it difficult to interview for jobs and keep them unless they receive consistent support in the form of counseling, job coaching, and/or medical management. 

There is a need for more research and support that focuses on the needs of teen to young adult age group. This includes research in psychological treatment,group counseling approaches, psychopharmacology, mental health education, and more.   

For a graphic description of what this might be like for a parent of a teen who struggles with emotional/behavioral issues at time, see the blog post that has been circulating around the internet.  The mother, Liza Long, wrote the post  immediately after she learned of the Sandy Hook shootings. Her post triggered hundreds of comments, some of them critical.  In response, an anonymous school psychologist reflected on some experiences with a student in need of support.  I do not think the school psychologist's story exaggerates reality in any way. 

Role of technology in Intervention and Prevention:
Interactive digital media, such as serious games, might play a role in this effort.  For example, the Australian National University developed the MoodGym training program, an interactive, free web-based application that use a cognitive-behavior approach to cope with anxiety and depression, and E-Couch, an online program for preventing and coping with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.  

For middle-school children, the PBS ItsMyLife website provides a number of activities, games, and videos that explore topics such as emotions, school, friendships, bullying, and more. The website includes lesson plans for teachers and tips for parents. 

More research is underway to support the use of interactive digital technology to support mental health.  One example is the work of Stanford University's Calming Technology lab. Another example is the use virtual reality for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The USC Institute of Creative Technologies has been involved in this area for a number of years. MindHabits, a suite of games developed by psychologists in Canada, was based on research and aims to help people reduce stress. 

Coincidentally, Connecticut's Southwest Regional Mental Health Board is developing a web-based resource for young adults with mental health concerns, if the information from a job posting for the project is correct:

"The goal of this project is to design or adopt an electronic/virtual system to engage young adults in mental health services.  This system would assist young adults in enhancing their own mental health, and addressing mental health issues as they arise or develop via an interactive, multi-media electronic platform.  This platform would integrate social networking and information media which may include website, facebook, You-Tube, Skype, blog, chat room, texting and phone apps.  Development of this platform will be informed by Connecticut youth and young adults and advised by an advisory group of statewide young adult leaders in the mental health and addiction fields."

It is my hope that the power of the "social" web will support efforts to collaborate and tackle this problem, on many levels.


Mental Health Issues - Co-morbidities
After I learned that it was speculated (but not confirmed) that the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings may have had Asperger's Syndrome,  I thought it would be helpful to include additional on the topic of Asperger's Syndrome and co-morbid mental health disorders.  

Mazzone, Luigi; Ruta, Liliana; Reale, Laura.   Psychiatric comorbidities in Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism:  diagnostic challenges. Annals of  General  Psychiatry. 2012; 11: 16.
Published online 2012 June 25. doi:  10.1186/1744-859X-11-16
Link from publication:
Summary of studies published between 2000-2011 exploring psychiatric comorbidity in Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism:

Gagan Joshi, Carter Petty, Janet Wozniak, Aude Henin, Ronna Fried, Maribel Galdo, Meghan Kotarski, Sarah Walls, and Josephe Biederman: The Heavy Burden of Psychiatric Comorbidity in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Large Comparative Study of a Psychiatrically Referred Population
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders10.1007/s10803-010-0996-9

Taylor, Julie Lounds, Seltzer, Marsha Mailick. Employment and Post-Secondary Educational Activities for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders During the Transition to Adulthood Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 201010.1007/s10803-010-1070-3

Mental Health Issues: Funding
State Mental Health Cuts: A National Crisis (pdf) (2011) National Alliance on Mental Illness

Systems Approach/Prevention
The following resources are from various disciplines:

Systems Theory (Wikipedia)
2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (pdf)
A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention

Dec 13, 2012

Connecting: Exploration of the Future of Interaction Design and User Experience - Good for promoting CSEd!

I've been looking for a relatively short video about human-computer interaction and related fields to include in a presentation I'm planning for high school students. The presentation is my small part to promote Computer Science in Education Week (CSEd)

One of the goals of CSEd Week is to spread the word that computer science education is much more than learning how to program one. Technical and computational thinking skills are important to develop, but young people also need to know what sort of things they can do with these skills as they become adults in our technological society. As stated on the CSEd website"Computing professionals work on creative teams to develop cutting-edge products and solutions that save lives, solve health problems, improve the environment, and keep us connected."  

Coincidentally, I was pleasantly surprised by a tweet I received today that linked to Connecting, a well-produced 18-minute video about interaction and user experience design. This video would be great to share with high school students.

Connecting (Full Film) from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.

The video features a number of well-spoken, creative professionals who are passionate about their work, people, and the future.  Although the video is a bit techno-centric, it depicts people who live and breathe technology in a favorable light.  It also inspires some degree of thought and reflection on the part of the viewer.

Although much of what is discussed in Connecting is futuristic, the seeds were planted years ago.  If you are new to the HCI/UX/ID/UCD world, it might help to read
Mark Weiser's 1991 article, The Computer for the 21st Century, published in Scientific American in 1991, before viewing the video.  

After viewing the video, I encourage you to take the time to read some of the comments on the Vimeo website.  Also read  Marc Rettig's comments, posted on the IxDA website:  "A film about interaction design: what it says about us".  

Near the end of the video, there is a discussion about where we might be headed, as interconnected, technically enhanced, augmented humans.  Hopefully we will not create, and then be assimilated into a Borg-like collective, or live out our days in a Matrix-like disembodied state.

In the wrong hands, what might happen?

Is resistance futile?!

FYI: Connecting was produced by Microsoft, Windows Phone Design Studio: Mike Kruzeniski (now at Twitter), Kat Holmes, and Albert Shum, and featured interviews with the following people:

Matt Jones, BERG London
Raphael Grignani, Method
Liz Danzico, School of Visual Arts, New York
Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Architect of Bing Mobile and Bing Maps
Helen Walters,  Writer, Editor, Researcher at Doblin/Monitor
Younghee Jung, Research Leader, Nokia
Massimo Banzi, Co-Founder, Arduino
Jennifer Bove, Co-Founder, Managing Director, Kicker Studio
Robert Murdock, Principal, Method (Artefact)
Jonas Lowgren, Professor of IxD, Malmo University, Sweden
Eric Rodenbeck, CEO, Founder, Creative Director, Stamen Design
Robert Fabricant, VP of Creative, Frog Design
Andrei Herasimchuck, Twitter 

The video was first screened in Seattle, Washington, last April, with a panel discussion that included Rob Girling and Gavin Kelly, of Artefact, Bill Buxton, of Microsoft, and Scott Nazarian, of Frog Design.

Description of the "Connecting" video, from Bassett & Partners' Vimeo site:

"The 18 minute "Connecting" documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry's thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming "Internet of things." Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a "super organism" capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world." -Bassett & Partners

Selected Quotes:

Liz Danzico:
"It's understanding that ecosystem, where the human in the center, and understanding that network of things, and how they all work together, rather than of your device or thing being in the center."

Younghee Jung:
"... you can not necessarily foresee the consequences when people adopt what you see something completely different from what you created. .it is like throwing a stone in the water, and you don't know what it will cause."

Blaise Aguera y Arcas:
"....these are all augmentations of abilities as humans. And when the augmentation really works, then that extension of yourself feels natural, and beautiful and does what you want, and doesn't get in the way....The use of voice, and the use of natural gestures... you are removing the extraneous, you are removing the artificial."

Massimo Banzi:
"...Something that can do it's own thing, disappearing in the background, is correct"  (nod to Weiser)

Jennifer Bove:
" is really important to look at what the consequences are of putting these products into the world when we think about things like the phone...the way it has changed our behavior, it can be enabling, and also disrupting...for these things to change our lives for the better, or enable for them to let us do things we couldn't do before.. they have to feel natural, and feels like a conversation." 

Robert Murdock:
"How you actually design and enact a living system in UX is something that is quite have to think about patterns of desired outcomes and behaviors you want to achieve, instead of moving a user through one flow in an experience."

Jonas Lowgren: 
"...back in the day.. it was one user, one task, one computer,  its all gone now, its is much more like you are setting the stage, really,  for other people to perform, but you can never tell them what to do."

Eric Rodenbeck:
"....the map is like a living thing, that is being made up of everything we got. The idea that it is different in the morning than what it was in the evening, is a really good idea to stay connected to the idea that the world is changing."

Helen Walters:
"What we need is for designers to be embedded in the topics that are really, really important right now, so there can be a better synergy between design, and business design, and social change design, and entrepreneurship."

Andrei Herasimchuck
"That is where the future lies with us. There will be software in everything..You can take all of those (digital) pieces, and you can design all kind of things around it. People are now actually entering their lives and what is going around them, into a digital format, and so we will start do things with that in the future, and I think it will be exciting."

Robert Fabricant:
"The network is sampling the world, and knowing what is cropping up where, being able to match and find patterns...and anticipate outbreaks of diseases. ..  We are trying  now to collect from the periphery a much richer set of what is going on the world so we can learn as a society and optimize and evolve the right systems and services".

Experientia: Putting People First 
What's the Difference- IXD, IA, UXD, HCI, UCD, UX (Jon Karpoff)

Dec 12, 2012

This Exquisite Forest: Join this massive online, creative, interactive, participatory, collaborative narrative animation project, by Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin

"Right here, in your web browser, you may contribute to anyone's creation and steer it in any direction you choose, or start a story of your own, by creating a seed animation for a new tree. Our hope is through the collective creativity of the web, an ever-expanding forest of narrative paths will grow." -Chris Milk/Aaron Koblin

This Exquisite Forest is a collaborative art project by Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin, creators of the online Johnny Cash collaborative project. The Johnny Cash Project was a crowd-sourced music video for Johnny Cash's final album (see below).

What I like about this project is that it provides viewers with the opportunity to create animations that link with those of other people, online.  All of the tools to create animations and music are on the website, along with  clear instructions and FAQs.  You can even curate your own tree.

For those who take a less participatory approach to art, the project's website offers something called "The Endless Theater", where viewers can watch the most popular branches of This Exquisite Forest.

The project makes use of Google's App Engine. Google's Cloud Storage handles the accounts and data storage.   To access the project, you need Google's Chrome browser, as the project takes advantage of JavaScript and HTML5.

This Exquisite Forest Project

The Making of This Exquisite Forest

Dec 8, 2012

Sharing the Holiday Meme(s) - Christmas House Lights: 'Call Me Maybe'

It is trendy for people who love dancing Christmas lights and pop music to share their enthusiasm for both with their neighbors - and the world, via YouTube and other web spaces, as mentioned in a recent Mashable post: Battle of the 'Call Me Maybe" Christmas Lights  (Neha Prakash, 12/7/12)

Unfortunately, some of the videos I wanted to share can't be seen on my blog, because the music is UMG restricted.  Some of the other videos require viewers to sit through an ad before viewing.

Dec 5, 2012

RP-VITA, Dr. Roboto - Remote Control Telepresence Healthcare

Intouch Health, a company founded in 2002, provides remote presence solutions for health care, in the form of robots.

The latest robot developed by Intouch Health is RP Vita. It has environmental awareness that allows it to move around a hospital without bumping into people or things. The doctor controls the robot through the use of an iPad by pointing to where it should go. The patient sees the doctor's head displayed on a screen perched on the top of the robot, as depicted in the picture below:

It sounds a bit strange, but these robots are in many hospitals, and are useful in rural areas where there are few medical specialists.  

The presentation below explains the key points of the use of tele-robotics in medicine:

RP-VITA: A Glimpse at the Future of Healthcare Delivered Today: WIRED Health Conference, 10/16/12
Yulun Wang: Meet Dr. Roboto, Your New Bedside Caregiver from WIRED on

Augmented Human Conference '13 (ACM CHI) March 7th and 8th; CFP paper deadline Jan 8, 2013

Looks like a fascinating conference!

ACM SIGCHI 4th Augmented Human International Conference

Call for Papers
The 4th Augmented Human (AH) International Conference in cooperation with ACM SIGCHI will be held in Stuttgart, Germany, on March 7–8 2013, focusing on augmenting human capabilities through technology for increased well-being and enjoyable human experience. 

As in previous years, the conference proceedings will be published in the ACM Digital Library as a volume in its International Conference Proceedings Series with ISBN. 

  • Wearable Computing and Ubiquitous Computing 
  • Bionics, Biomechanics, and Exoskeletons 
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces, Muscle Interfaces, Implanted Interfaces 
  • Sensors and Hardware 
  • Smart Artifacts and Smart Textiles 
  • Augmented Sport, Health, & Well-being, Training/Rehabilitation Technology 
  • Augmented and Mixed Reality, Tourism and Games and Context-Awareness 
  • Augmented Fashion and Art 
  • Trust, Privacy, and Security of Augmented Human Technology 

Submission Categories for Papers 

Full papers 8 pages, anonymized, 30 minutes presentation 
Short papers 4 pages, anonymized, 15 minutes presentation 
Demonstration papers 2 pages, anonymized, demonstration at conference 
Poster papers 2 pages, anonymized, presented at conference 
Art pieces 1–2 pages, not published, exhibited at conference 

The four paper categories will be published in the ACM digital library and follow the ACM paper format. We encourage authors to submit supporting video material in addition to the PDF submission. 

Important Dates 
  • January 8, 2013      paper submission deadline 
  • February 5, 2013    author notification 
  • February 12, 2013  camera-ready and ACM copyright form due 
  • March 7–8, 2013    scientific conference in Stuttgart 

Art and Exhibition 

Augmented Human 2013 will feature contributions by art researchers and practitioners. Artists participating and exhibiting at Augmented Human 2013 will have to be self-funded to attend the conference. 

All art pieces will be included in a video to be published on the Augmented Human YouTube channel. Additionally, an exhibition catalog will be published on the Augmented Human website, including full-page pictures and the descriptions provided by the authors. 

Submission of Art Pieces 

Authors may choose the format to present their art pieces for submission. The submission should include the requirements of space, light, electricity, and equipment.

Organizing Committee

General Chair:  Albrecht Schmidt, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Program Co-Chairs: Andreas Bulling, University of Cambridge, UK; Christian Holz, Hasso Plattner Institute, Germany

Dec 3, 2012

Musings about still-popular Interactive Multimedia Technology blog posts from the past...

I have been blogging for over six years now, and from time-to-time I like to take a look my Google Analytics stats.   A large chunk of the visitors to this blog come from the US, 

I've noticed that the following blog posts still get hits, even though they were written a while ago. I'm not sure why, but I think it would be helpful to revisit each one, clean up any broken links, and provide new information related to each topic.  It might take me a while.

Reader input is welcome!

Games to Lift Stress Away: Flower, flOw (and Cloud), from thatgamecompany (2009)
A number of people who do a search of the word "Flower" or "Flower Pictures"  find this blog post, every day.

Interactive multimedia for social skills, understanding feelings, relaxation and coping strategies, etc. (2006)
This post gets a lot of hits from people who work in K-12 settings, looking for "free online interactive social skills games" or something similar.  

Interactive Touch-Screen Technology, Participatory Design, and "Getting It". (2008)
This is one of my rare "brain dump" posts. I noticed that in an attempt to update the post, I linked it to another post, written in 2010. 

The Children's Interactive Library: User Experience Design and the Library! (2009)
The Children's Interactive Library was a collaboration between Interactive Spaces, the Department of Computer Science, University of Aarhus, the Department for Design, Aarhus School of Architecture, and others. 

Yellowbird 6 lens 360 degree video camera creates web-based interactive videos. (2009)
I got the link from Harry Brignull, who blogs at 90 Percent of Everything

The 3D Evolution: Part I, Introduction (2010) Hmmmm 3D TV, where are we now? 
To find out, check out the 3D Guy blog.

Teliris InterAct TouchTable and TouchWall: Immersive Collaboration and Telepresence, DVE's Holographic Tele-Immersion Room
Since I wrote this post  in 2008, it has received over 7,000 page views from Malaysia.  Is it possible that I have a secret fan club there?  

Window Shopping in the Web Outside (2011)

William Forsythe's "Synchronous Objects - One Flat Thing, Reproduced" Multidisciplinary online interactive project: Translating choreography into new forms. (2009)
(I like this stuff.)

Dec 2, 2012

EpiCollect: A mobile app, useful for photo + data-collection "in the wild".

EpiCollect is an open-source project developed at Imperial College London, funded by the Wellcome Trust.  According to information posted on the project's website, "EpiCollect is a generic data collection tool that allows you to collect and submit geotagged data forms (along with photos) to a central project website (hosted using Google's App Engine) from suitable mobile phones (Android or iPhone). For example, questionnaires, surveys, etc.  All data synchronised (ie a copy sent from the phone) from multiple phones can then be viewed/charted/filtered at the project website using Google Maps/Earth or downloaded. Furthermore, data can be requested and viewed/filtered from the project website directly on your phone using Google Maps." -EpiCollect

EpiCollect Overview
(Credit:  EpiCollect Website)

EpiCollect makes use of web API's such as Google Maps, Google Charts, Google Talk, and KML Specifiction, and JavaScript Libraries such as JQuery,, ExtJS, and Mapstraction.  It runs on the Google AppEngine server, and is available for Android and iPhone.

I think that EpiCollect would be a useful interactive tool for use in education, K-12 and above.  It would be ideal for students working on group projects, such as environmental study.  For young children, a simple assignment might include taking pictures and data about  birds, animals, trees, cloud formations, or even litter, as part of a class project.  Since the data includes photographs, the students could create an end product in the form of an interactive multimedia presentation, available for other students - as well as parents- to view on the web, accessed from any web-enabled device.

HCI research teams could use these tools when observing people using various technologies in public spaces, such as malls, airports, special events, as well as in stores, eateries, and entertainment settings.  

I would be interested in learning more about the use of this application in HCI and K-12 education!

EpiCollect Website
EpiCollect Instructions
EpiCollect Instructions (pdf)
The Sight of Road Kill Makes a Pretty, Data-Rich Picture (NPR All Tech Considered)
Note: Audio from the above December 2, 2012 episode can be found on the NPR Weekend Edition Sunday website after 12:00 PM ET on 12/2/12
Mobile app sees science go global  (BBC article)
App for Android Puts Laboratories on Your Phone (Tree Hugger article)
Scientific Data Collection Goes Mobile (Discovery News article)

Paper: EpiCollect: Linking Smartphones to Web Applications for Epidemiology, Ecology and Community Data Collection (PLos One 4(9), 2009)

David M. Aanensen, Derek M. Huntley, Edward J. Feil, Fada'a al-Own, Brian G. Spratt
Conclusion from the above paper:
"Data collection frameworks utilising mobile phones with data submission to and from central databases are widely applicable and can give a field worker similar display and analysis tools on their mobile phone that they would have if viewing the data in their laboratory via the web. We demonstrate their utility for epidemiological data collection and display, and briefly discuss their application in ecological and community data collection. Furthermore, such frameworks offer great potential for recruiting ‘citizen scientists’ to contribute data easily to central databases through their mobile phone."