Oct 18, 2014

Planning to resurface!

I will resume blogging within the next few months.  My father recently passed away after many years of declining health --- and I've been busy winding up my main career as I plan my early retirement as a (tech-savvy) school psychologist.

I've had the opportunity to work in two elementary schools where all of the students have small netbook/laptops.  It has been exciting to see how they work in groups for project-based learning activities.   They are engaged, learning, creative, and most of the time, smiling!   All of the classrooms have interactive whiteboards, and the teachers make great use of interactive resources.

In the meantime, I have collected a number of photos and video clips of interactive multimedia technology "out and about".   Much of my focus looks at ways people access and use various technologies in public spaces.  My nearly four-year-old  grandson is my side kick, and following in my footsteps, he is a very good critic!

Day at Discovery Place!

Discovery Place

Apr 12, 2014

Vodafone's "Firsts" Campaign: 2 Grandmas take their first flight; Neil Harbisson's Color Conducted Concert

Vodafone, a telecommunications company, was off of my radar until an endearing video crossed my path on Facebook today.  Vodafone Firsts is part of a global brand program, led by social media, that aims to inspire people to do things for the very first time. Vodafone's strategy seems to be working.

In the following video, An and Ria, two elderly women, take their very first plane trip together to Barcelona.  It is well worth taking 10 minutes to watch it!   The video also does a good job of showing how the women approach using newer technologies, such as a tablet/video phone -- and a VR flight simulator to prepare for the flight.

An & Ria's First Flight  

In the following video, Neil Harbisson uses technology to create a concert that is based on the transformation of color into music. The interesting thing is that Neil is color-blind and has a "cyborg" apparatus that interprets colors for him by converting them into music/sounds. Vodafone provided him with an amazing creative opportunity.  

For more videos and behind-the-scenes information, see the full story on the Vodafone Firsts site, and also the TED Talk video on this post.

Neil Harbisson's First Color Conducted Concert Trailer

Neil Harbisson's TED Talk:  I listen to color

Vodafone Firsts
Vodafone Corporate Site

Vodafone Americas Foundation:  "Mobile for Good"
Vodafone's 2013 Wireless Innovation Project's competition winners pushed the envelope to create new ways of using mobile technology and sensors for health and environmental monitoring.
ColdTrace: Wireless Vaccine Monitoring
MoboSens: Mobile Water Sensor
G-Frensel Cellphone Spectrometer (optical spectroscopy)

Apr 7, 2014

A New Twist to Infoviz: iPad Magic and Card Tricks to Convey Positive Stats About Stockholm

I came across a new twist to information visualization, featuring the creativity of magicians.  They were called to create short videos to promote the city of Stockholm, Sweden.  The use of magicians to convey the "magic" of Stockholm and the economic climate in Sweden was brilliant!  

It might be difficult for "pure" capitalists to understand how Sweden, with such high taxes, can provide an economic environment that supports innovation, capitalistic ventures, and a high standard of living while maintaining an efficient "welfare state".   

For those who live in Sweden, it just might be to the "magic" of the Nordic Model, an economic approach that combines capitalism with social welfare and good stewardship among government officials.   

If everone is healthy, the economy is healthy, right?   Swedish citizens feel that their high tax dollars are well-spent, and also well-managed, which is not always the case in other countries, especially in highly populated regions.

Not all is rosy in Sweden - there were riots last by "disaffected" youth last year, as the youth unemployment rate is high.  Despite the problems, there are are a number of countries who are considering the adoption of the Nordic Model.   The Economist's special report about the Nordic model has an interesting quote:  

Goran Persson, a former Swedish prime minister, once compared Sweden's economy with a bumblebee---"with its overly heavy body and little wings, supposedly it should not be able to fly--but it does."

The following video features Charlie Caper and Erik Rosales, of D1Gits, using iPads and creative magic to convey the positive economic statistics related to doing business in Stockholm:

In their most recent video to promote Stockhomlm,Charlie and Erik take it one step further, by using visualizations that seamlessly interact between iPads and a whiteboard:

In the video below, a magician spouts out interesting facts about the multiple benefits of living in Stockholm, Sweden while performing a number of card tricks to illustrate his points.

When I think about information and data visualization and Sweden, the first person that comes to mind is Hans Rosling, of Gapminder, and his talent at telling stories through interactive, animated data visualization.  As you can see from the video, an entertaining, story-telling approach to information visualization is effective!

The secret of their success:  The Nordic countries are probably the best-governed in the world     2/2/13, Special Report, The Economist
Practical lessons for business from the Nordic Model
Anne Lise Kjaer, Futurist - 9/2013, SME Magazine
The Nordic Model (pdf) 
2007 MIT Department of Economics
What Can the United States Learn from the Nordic Model?
Daniel J. Mitchell, 11/5/07, The CATO Institute
Charlie Caper and Erick Rosales: Using Magic to Introduce Stockholm
The World By Road Collective, 3/2012
Charlie Caper, Magician
Hans Rosling's TED-talk videos 

Mar 16, 2014

MindHabits' Happy Games Paired with Pharrell William's "Happy" Music!

We all could use more smiling people and happy music!

If you are looking for a short burst of happiness, try playing the free MindHabits demo games. I recommend the Matrix Trainer for starters. You can uncheck the "email" box if you don't want to sign up for the newsletter.

The games have upbeat music playing in the background, but you can listen to your own music. In the Matrix game, the objective is to tap as many happy faces that you can find, out of a number of frowny or sad faces.   The research shows that this is an effective way of reducing stress.  I have used the on-line version for years with students who have autism, and it is a fun and effective way of "training" them to focus on facial features and expressions.

The desktop version of the suite of games is just under $20.00, and is available for Windows and Macs.   The desktop version tracks data and and allows users to customize the games with their own photos.   

I am about to explore MindHabit's new mobile apps: Psych Me Up PRO! and Happy Cat! 

If you work with young people - special needs or otherwise, try playing the on-line demo with Pharrell William's "Happy" song in the background (see music video embedded below). 

 This is something that wouldn't hurt to try at home!  

 MindHabits MindHabits MindHabits MindHabits

You are playing the MindHabits Trainer online demo. Your progress will not be logged beyond this session.
Copyright © 2008 MindHabits inc. inc l rights Reserved.

I am sharing information about MindHabits because I have been following this company since 2005, when Dr. Mark Baldwin, the lead creator of the suite of games, gave a presentation.   Dr. Baldwin is a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has devoted his career to the study of social intelligence, and more recently, how technology can help people reduce stress, build self-confidence, and development, and maintain positive states of mind.

According to the MindHabits website, the Psych Me Up Pro!   ($.99) and PsychMeUp! (free) mobile apps were developed to help people focus attention on positive social feedback. A quiz is included with the application, as well as information about the research that supports the use of the games.  The "pro" version has more options.

The children's version of PsychMeUp! is Happy Cat.  The objective is to find the happy cats and ignore the grumpy cats.  The smiling cat will meow.



MindHabits Game Tips

MindHabits FAQ

MindHabits Update
Lynn Marentette, Interactive Multimedia Technology, 2/24/08

McEwan, K., Gilbert, P., Dandeneau, S., Lipka, S., Maratos, F., Paterson, K.B., Baldwin, M. (2014) Facial Expressions Depicting Compassionate and Critical Emotions: The Development and Validation of a New Emotional Face Stimulus Set. PLOS One DOI: 10.1317/journal.pone.0088783

Dandeneau, S. D., Baldwin, M. W. (2009) The buffering effects of rejection-inhibiting training against social and performance threats in adult students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 42-50

Stephane D. Dandeneau, Mark W. Baldwin, Jodene R. Baccus, and Maya Sakellaropoulo, Jens C. Pruessner (2007), Cutting Stress Off at the Pass: Reducing Vigilance and Responsiveness to Social Threat by Manipulation of Attention (pdf) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol. 93, No. 4, 651–666 American Psychological Association 0022-3514/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.4.651

Mar 15, 2014

Graphene, Nanotechnology, and Programmable Interfaces; Samsung Galaxy Demo

I've been intrigued by graphene's multiple possibilities for the future. It is a flexible, programmable material that harness nano-technology to create flexible touch screens, "wearables", efficient energy storage systems, and more.  The following videos provide just two examples of graphene's potential.  

The details?  If you are curious, follow the links at the end of this post.  

Here is a short clip of a demo of a graphene touch screen on a Samsung Galaxy:

Graphene nanoribbons could be the savior of Moore's Law
Ryan Whitwam, Extreme Tech, 2/17/14
High-Performance Multifunctional Graphene Yarns: Toward Wearable All-Carbon Engery Storage Textiles
ACS NANO, 2/11/14
Hydrogenation-Assisted Graphene Origami and Its Application in Programmable Molecular Mass Uptake, Storage, and Release
Shuze Zhu and Teng Li, University of Maryland, ACS Nano, 2/24/14
Teng Li Group, Harvard University
Chemically and structurally functionalized graphene for real-world applications
Marko Spasenovic, Graphenea, 3/06/14
Nanoscale graphene origami cages set world record for densest hydrogen storage
Kurzweil Newsletter, 3/14/14
Auto-switchable graphene bio-interface with a 'zipper' nanoarchitecture
Onur Parlak, Anthony P.F. Turner, Ashutosh Tiwari, Nano Werk 10/31/13
Samsung files patent for graphene-based touch screen
Marko Spasenovic, Graphene Tracker, 3/7/14
Graphene: Wikipedia
Grahpene:  Flexible touch screen, made from a sheet of carbon the thickness of one atom!   
Lynn Marentette, Interactive Multimedia Technology blog, 6/23/10

Feb 25, 2014

Interactive Ear: A Guide to Human Hearing, by Amplifon, link to Pearltrees site.

The Interactive Ear: A Guide to Human Hearing

This interactive ear was created by Amplifon, a hearing aid company based in the UK and in 20 other countries.  Until recently, interactive "learning modules" were designed with Flash, and out quick reach of people with iPads.  After playing around with the Interactive Ear using my iPad, I'm pretty sure that it was designed for use with touch-tablets in mind.

If you are an educator looking for something effective to use for a unit on the senses, the Interactive Ear looks like it would be great on an interactive whiteboard or large touch-screen display.   It provides ways to explore the workings of the outer, middle, and inner ear.

The Interactive Ear
The Interactive Ear is presented by Amplifon

Thanks to e-Learning Examples for sharing this link! 

At the time of this post, I had not discovered who worked on the development of the Interactive Ear.  I'll post the information here in an update.

While looking up information about the Interactive Ear, I came across the Pearltrees website.  It is sort of like Pinterest, but in a much more interactive and playful format. Information is represented by small icons called "Pearls", which are navigational tools that designed to support organization and sharing of information. It

I think the Pearltrees interface is also a good way to support memory of the "stuff" we have come across online!  Like any free site, if you sign up, the folks at Pearltrees will have access to some of your information, most likely for future advertising purposes. Pearltrees also can be accessed via apps for the iPad/iOS  and Android.  Pearltrees is recruiting, btw.

Below is a screenshot from the someone's Pearltree page that had the Interactive Ear in as a pearl inside of a pearl:

For a number of reasons, including my work obligations-I have a consuming "day" job as a school psychologist- I have had less time to post blogs and have a huge backlog of content, ideas, and thoughts I have yet to share.  Here are some of the topics that you are likely see in the future.  

I appreciate your support and patience!

Future Topics:

Update on interactive multimedia learning modules
Update on latest interactive display technology, systems, and software, across the spectrum of uses
Interactive mobile technology in the wild and in the home 
eTextiles in art, music, and dance
Interesting conferences 
Update on human-computer interaction research and innovative technologies
Update on games for learning, serious games, and new technologies for gaming
Usability (or lack of) of systems, applications, devices across all spectrums, including education, government, health care, automobiles, mobile, etc.
Update on my own technology experiments --- I still haven't finished that interactive multimedia timeline!

Feb 12, 2014

MIT's Opera of the Future Lab and "Death and the Powers": Opera Meets Matrix

MIT's Opera of the Future Lab, part of MIT's Media Lab, has been preparing a new version of a performance of "Death and the Powers", an interactive, collaborative opera that is set to be performed on Sunday, February 16th at 2:00 PM (Central Time) at the Dallas Opera, and simulcast world-wide.  

Innovative interactive technology plays a huge role in this performance, connected to the opera's theme, singing, moving robots, sensors, and displays.

Although "Death and the Powers" opera was first performed several years ago, it has evolved and integrated new technologies over the years. What is really exciting about this upcoming performance will be simulcast in a way that will let the audience/viewers interact with the main performance through the use of cell phones or tablets, in real time.  The audience will have the opportunity to experience the opera through the points of view of different characters, including the perspective of the robots.

Video: Humanizing technology with opera-singing robots

Opera of the Future Blog
(Lots of pictures, videos, cast interviews, and information about the technologies involved in the opera's performance.)
Death and the Powers
Death and the Powers Image Gallery
Singing robots show humanity of technology in opera of the future
PBS Newshour, 2/10/14
Sci-fi opera 'Death and the Powers' is doing things differently...with robots
Ann Davenport, PBS Newshour Art Beat, 2/10/14
FYI:  The above link has several video clips about the opera as well as the innovative interactive technology t
The Dallas Opera Global Simulcast of "Death and the Powers"
Susan Calvin, The Dallas Opera News and Features, 10/1/14

Excerpts from the above press release:

DEATH AND THE POWERS, scheduled to take place in Dallas on Sunday, February 16th at 2:00 p.m. Central Time, originating in the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and being simulcast to as many as ten locations in Europe and the U.S.

The Dallas Opera is currently in negotiations with a wide-range of venues and organizations located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, New York City and its boroughs, Philadelphia, Paris, Los Angeles, London and Stockholm—as well as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the Dallas Arts District, which has already shown a keen interest in the questions raised by Machover’s “robot pageant” opera and has partnered with both the Dallas Opera and the MIT Media Lab’s “Opera of the Future” program to support this innovative approach to the art form and attract new generations to opera.

DEATH AND THE POWERS, with music by composer/inventor Tod Machover and text by librettist Robert Pinsky (one of America’s foremost living poets) received rave reviews at its sold-out 2010 Monte Carlo world premiere and subsequent engagements in Boston and Chicago.
However, this unprecedented Dallas Opera Global Simulcast offers far more than a mere stage production; patrons will experience Simon Powers’ perspective from within “The System,” as well as a “robot’s eye view” of the opera, while tapping into a variety of interactive features. Those attending the simulcast anywhere in the world will have an opportunity to interact with the main performance onstage—through cellphones, tablets and other handheld devices—in order to influence the visual elements in the Winspear Opera House in real time, as they unfold.
With the cooperation of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and The Moody Foundation, this production will incorporate the state-of-the-art Moody Chandelier as an important element of the visual and auditory experience.
“The Dallas Opera is thrilled to be collaborating with the brilliant composer and technologist, Tod Machover, on bringing this important work to Dallas,” says Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, “and presenting an unprecedented interactive global simulcast of the work. In this ‘Brave New World’ of high-tech opera, nothing is off-limits, and we are working closely and intensely with the composer, MIT and leading opera companies in the U.S., U.K. and continental Europe to add these new interactive and creative elements to an already outstanding twenty-first century masterpiece.

“All of us at the Dallas Opera are tremendously grateful to Bob Ellis and Jane Bernstein—whose generosity has brought this dream to life.”
Leading a team from the MIT Media Lab, Tod Machover produced “a challenging opera that questioned how far the human race can push technological development toward immortality.” The action centers on a terminally ill billionaire who downloads his consciousness into an artificial construct and then attempts to persuade his loved ones to join him there.
Andrew Porter of Opera magazine described Death and the Powers as “A grand, rich, deeply serious new opera.”

At the same time, critic Stephen J. Mudge of Opera News noted: “Any worry that the opera might be taking itself too seriously is answered by Pinsky’s witty and at times lighthearted libretto, which treats the situation with respect but levity.”
“It is so exciting to be bringing Death and the Powers to The Dallas Opera, and equally exciting to be collaborating with TDO – under the guidance of Keith Cerny and with the generous support of Bob Ellis and Jane Bernstein – to create an interactive streaming experience so that audiences around the world can be connected to the live Dallas performance,” says composer Tod Machover.
“Our challenge is to create extra layers and interactions for this remote viewing so that being ‘there’ will be just as compelling and powerful as being physically in the Winspear, while revealing new aspects of the opera – such as what it feels like to be ‘in The System’ with Simon Powers – for the very first time.”

Jan 22, 2014

Curt "World is Open" Bonk is on SlideShare! - Plus Emerging Interactive Tech Links

If you follow trends in technology and education, you've probably come across the work of Curt Bonk, an instructional technology systems  professor at Indiana University, and an adjunct in the School of Informatics. His book, The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education, came out in 2011 and still is a must-read in the field.

Zipping through my FB feed today, I learned that Curt Bonk mentioned that people follow him on Pinterest and SlideShare, even though he has nothing there. 

Things change.  

Although he's much more fun in person, Curt's slides provide historical overviews that put things in perspective, and in a few minutes, you'll know a bit more of something that you didn't know you didn't know.  

If you have a few more minutes, take a look at the links to about info about emerging interactive technologies.



How Do You Feel?  Your Computer Knows
Tom Geller, Communications of the ACM, 1/14
Brain Games: Move Objects With Your Mind To Find Inner Calm?
Amy Standen, All Tech Considered, 1/21/14
Coming soon:  Control your computer with your brain via open source
Serdar Yegulalp, InfoWorld, 1/13/14
Touchless Interaction in Surgery
Communications of the ACM, 1/14
Why Wearable Devices Will Never Be As Disruptive As Smartphones
Kevin McCullagh, Fast Company, 1/21/14
Apple envisions trackpad with sensors instead of click buttons
Lance Whitney, c\net, 1/21/14Robots test their own world wide web, dubbed RoboEarth
BBC, 1/14/14
Seeing things: A new transparent display system could provide heads-up data
David L. Chandler, MIT News, 1/21/14

I'll be writing a few blog posts about future tech and interactive technology news soon.

Jan 15, 2014

ThePianoGuys' Uplifting Music Videos: Over the Rainbow; Paradise (Peponi)

This delightful, uplifting music video from ThePianoGuys playing a rendition of Over the Rainbow and Simple Gifts showed up in my FB feed today.   Enjoy.

I use uplifting/calming videos in my work with students with complex special needs, including those with autism.  Although I create some of the multimedia content I use with students, my time for creativity is limited.  I appreciate coming across music videos that deliver much more than I could ever create within the confines of my day-to-day life!

The students I worked with today at Wolfe School really liked the following video, a cover of Coldplay's "Paradise".  The video featured guest artist Alex Boye, The piano and musicians were perched on the top of a 1000 ft cliff.  They also were fascinated with the "making of" video below.

I wonder if ThePianoGuys could create a music video at the cave setting at this beach in St. Maarten!   (My husband did not want to venture very far from this beautiful refuge during a recent vacation.)

A quick search on YouTube reveals thousands of videos created to uplift/relax the spirit.
If you need to take a few moments to relax - here is a time-lapse video set to calming music, from LoungeV Studio: