Monday, May 31, 2010

On the readings

Finally got some time to write down some thoughts for the readings.

I enjoyed reading the interview of Will Wright a lot and his philosophy for game design really inspired me. It also explains why the feeling I pay The Sims is so different from playing other games - it's more than play a game, it's about explore and discover the rules and mechanisms behind. This mental model building process makes the game so real. The games popular today on facebook lack this kind of element to attract me, I always get bored after playing with these games with less than a week. The rules are so simple and there's nothing to explore. But I still play with some of these games, sending and receiving virtual object with my friends. I think they are more of a social activity rather than a real game, at least for me.

Besides I think the mental model building process also explains why for some movies has sequel, people always feel that the first movie is the best. I guess it's because when a person view the first movie, he is building a mental model of each character and the background of the story in his mind, and this process makes him deeply involved in the story. When viewing the sequels after, people already familiar with the characters and the story setting, maybe even the certain description manner the director took, so there's no such a process for discovering every aspects of the world described in the movie.
And also, the concept of creating a game with a very large solution space for players to discover their own path might be a good solution to "create the dramatically compelling game" since it can fit different kinds of person, depending on the combination of choices that each one made in the game.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Short report.

So far I was able to control a camera node inside a jMonkeyEngine application using data received from DWI's Organic Motion stage. Additionally, I connected video goggles to the computer that renders 3D scene and now a user inside the stage can manipulate the camera and see the environment around wearing goggles. I started to work on the visual content. Right now I have a very simple scene where I have several obstacles (holes in the ground with fire and smoke coming through) and the final point (portal) that the user should reach to complete the task.

Here is a screenshot:

The next step is to check for collisions between character's feet and the holes (what?).

Friday, May 28, 2010


For my project I will be learning website design and executing a website. Though simple by todays standards with so many templates and platforms available to put a functional website up in minutes, I hope to delve in depth and develop robust web programming skills. Already for the past couple of weeks I have been working through tutorials in dreamweaver. Here is my list of milestones:
week 4:
continue training with tutorials
further flesh out site layout
mock up site design in photoshop
week 5:
continue tutorial training
have basic site functional
week 6:
finish working through all tutorials
have site fleshed out with interactive elements
have working shopping cart on site


Lots to do, I'm sure everybody is feeling the crunch.

I am researching how various image search engines work. It's really fascinating and big business. One company working on this that I found particularly interesting is idee. I'm contacting them to ask a few questions about interaction design not found on the website.

I am not abandoning my original project. Rather I plan to have script ready by Tuesday that is a discourse on design as well as performance art. This script will be set up for a performance in the REVE and I want to use pd to control the visuals.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Neural Prosthetics

Today a faculty candidate gave a talk on his research and I had little intention of sitting and listening until I read the caption "Neural Prosthetics" as he reviewed his slides. Now this would catch most peoples and make many wonder what exactly that means, so I listened.
The essence of the discovery was relatively simple. What the speaker, Dr. Opris, had done is to measure the action potentials produced by a particular group of neurons then measure the effect in a lower layer of the cortical tissue. Now the key was that according to Granger Causality the action of B, given A, is causally related if the probability of B eliciting some action is greater if A acts first. This concept is commonly used to determine neural connectivity in small arrays of neurons. So by "listening" to the neurons he was able to determine how they work together to allow the subject to accomplish a task.
The experiment consisted of a monkey equipped with the electrode implanted in his head, and trained to move a cursor to a target. Once the cursor is moved to the target he is presented with an image. Then the monkey must select the image which was presented previously, and correct selection was positively reinforced.
The portion of the study related to prosthetics devices was brief but had broad implications. Simply put, Dr. Opris, discovered he could interfere with the monkey's ability to successfully perform his task by electrically biasing the neurons involved in performing said task. The success rate dropped significantly in the study. Now this result seems like nothing special, but there are two key points of interest. The first is through modification of the initial state of the neuron he was able to achieve successful modulation of the monkey's cognitive abilities.
Although this simple application seems like just another way of messing with a monkey's head, quite literally. If you consider that one of the major symptoms of autism is hyper-sensitivity to stimulus, a treatment that can modulate stimulation can go a long way to restoring functionality. Further, if neural function can be blocked, what is to say the process can't be reversed and have function restored; hence providing treatment to diseases such as Alzheimer's.

The Benefits of Failure

In watching Will Wright's TED talk, he mentioned something that I think many people today don't agree with or don't see the importance of. Several times he mentioned "failure space." I personally think failure is one of the most important things in learning; however, today's teaching scares so many kids away from failure. I think the embracing what you can learn from failure is what makes great scientists, creators, and people in general. As someone who grew up with legos and Lincoln Logs, I was free to create structures and explore what I later came to know as physics and engineering. The ability to make something and having it come crashing down or shoot it with a nerf gun ended up being widely educational. While my kids will definitely have pounds of legos, I found it interesting to see that game designers are still thinking about failure spaces in games like the Sims and other simulators.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Problem Identification and Milestones

Rather than trying to find a complicated solution to a rather simple problem, I have redefined the problem as a need. The need is simple and can be broken up into several workable goals. The need is for a device that can repeatedly bore a small hole on the surface of a rats skull at a given x-y coordinate. This need can be broken up into several different parts, the first is to develop a system that can take a signal from a camera and translate that into a Cartesian coordinate value. The second part is to translate this value to an output that can then be used to drive a servo. Finally the system has to allow me to lower a cutter head straight down to bore a small hole that is perpendicular to the z axis with the smallest margin of error possible. Further progress to be posted with in the coming days.

A British scientist says he is the first man in the world to become infected with a computer virus.

A British scientist says he is the first man in the world to become infected with a computer virus.
Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading contaminated a computer chip which was then inserted into his hand.
The device, which enables him to pass through security doors and activate his mobile phone, is a sophisticated version of ID chips used to tag pets.
In trials, Dr Gasson showed that the chip was able to pass on the computer virus to external control systems.
If other implanted chips had then connected to the system they too would have been corrupted, he said.

New Materials in Action

Yesterday's discussion about materials reminded me of a new robot I recently saw demonstrated. The idea behind the robot was to create a robot that could squeeze into areas smaller then itself.

Workspace tracking milestones

This project was born out of the need to better track certain medical devices during surgery, specifically with the intention of reducing the likelihood of giving an incorrect medication after they have been drawn and placed with other medications drawn into similar syringes. Based on time restrictions of the course, I am laying the foundation for such a project by creating a table that can track tools on it's surface. The capabilities of this device will be shown by using it as a training device for helping users in multi-tool environments to keep their workspace organized to reduce errors.

Week 3-
Set up camera and system for tracking
Write code capable of tracking block on a table.

Week 4-
Refine code to work with more complex systems (ie capable of tracking multiple items)

Week 5-
Write code to show demonstration under two circumstances. (1) Working with simple construction tools, (2) tracking medical devices to teach proper useage and placement of surgical tools.

Week 6-
Full demonstration
Define future directions of project.

Project update

Before i post my milestones i feel i should first post an update in my projects direction. Originally I had planned to create a horn that when blown into would measure the alcohol content on your breathe and broadcast that message to facebook or twitter. Although I still plan to create this object it will be more so in my spare time as I have decided to use class time to develop a more "practical" skill. As an artist I have always been in need of a personal website, in addition my father is in need of a new website for a line of guitars he plans to bring out this fall. I feel this class focused on interaction design would be an ideal time to finally teach myself web development skills as websites inherently contain some component of interaction and design. Although creating a website is not as exciting or innovative as some of the projects I have done in the past I feel it is an important skill to have and if I do not set it as a class goal i doubt I will gain proficiency in web design.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Real Time Tablature Creator- Project Milestones

As I make progress with my project, I feel comfortable proposing the following project milestones.

Project Title: Real Time Tablature Creator and Writer

Completed Tablature of E1 string. Completion of Proof of concept.

Completed Proof of concept to differentiate tones in different strings. Explore possible solutions if sound identification is not enough (Possible distance measurements, or camera tracing)

Completed tracing of entire guitar fretboard of 6 standardly tuned strings.
(1-12 frets)

Demo Preparation

Full Demonstration

Project milestones

As promised today, we should post our project milestones. The following are goals I set for my eye tracking project for the rest of weeks, and I'll try my best to achieve them before the next week start.

Week 3
- workable tracking function and devises
- calibration interface and functions

Week 4
- interface with point as gaze position, smooth the tracking noise
- interface prototype with simple menu that can be control and selected by eyes

Week 5 & 6
- interface prototype with application like examples and functions that can demonstrate the design concept
- final presentation

Learning from the gecko's tail

The TED talk we saw today about taking inspiration from biology was so interesting so I did some search for what the development after that 2002 talk, and here is the episode 2: Learning from the gecko's tail, which is a TED talk by Robert Full in Feb 2009.

texture collect

Sorry I have not posted in awhile. I just got an internship and have been busy with that. More on that later as I think it is related to what we are covering in this course.

I have identified another design problem. While in Professor Pagano's class I was searching for images to use in collages as well as videos. I had a hard time finding textures of a high quality that are free to use. When I did find places where people had provided them, it was hard to search for them or they were not organized well. For example, if you use flickr to find them, you have to wade through what everyone else has posted - it is not specialized enough.

So my idea is to make a website with tags where people could come and search for various textures. These would be all  creative commons licensed.  This site would be aimed towards students, artists, and designers.

Another Interesting and Fun Interaction Example

A challenge that many TV talk show hosts encounter is how can they take the extra step to reach out to their audience.
I believe that Jimmy Fallon, has taken a great step to making this challenge non-existent. This week he is hosting Watch Jimmy with Jimmy, in which one is able to enter a fully interactive chat room in which Jimmy Fallon is live watching his show 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' and answering to the reactions of his audience in real time. I say Fully interactive as one is able to use twitter, Facebook and others to interact live.
Although I must say it was a little overwhelming experience to keep up with the TV show while watching the live video stream, while keeping up with the audiences reactions, while participating in the live discussion. Overwhelming or not it was something that I had never experienced before and definitely look forward on being part of the next 'Watch Jimmy with Jimmy'.

My Reaction to Experiential Art: Case Study by Luc Courchesne

After reading the aforementioned publication, I was very interested in a few points that were presented by the author.

The first point that I found interesting is how he explains that in a way interactive Art has experienced an evolution of sorts throughout the ages. Starting from perspective paintings, to murals, to still photographs, to motion pictures and beyond. This idea of what is next is one which raises my interest. The author suggests that through the advancements of technology and computer interfaces this has exhausted the known medium which we know today.
It is also widely accepted that the current computer interface is not the information display we need to reach the full potential of interactive media. Cinema and television are good storytelling devices, but will always fall short of providing a believable interactive experience. In my opinion, cinema couldn't become immersive without a deep transformation of its content's structure and development, and if it did it would have to be called something else.
With the development of 3D technology, Virtual Reality and interaction feedback, I believe that the new medium is not very far from being developed. Imagine if in a way you could insert a disc into your favorite 3d enabled Bluray player, step on a motion feedback mat (some sort of treadmill type device), and enter a museum which you can explore, open doors, and walk around the different exhibits from the convenience of your own living room.

The second point that is brought up by author is with the development of the interactive picture frames. This reminded me of a promised to be available soon technology by Microsoft. It is Project Natal. In 2009's E3 expo Microsoft demoed their new product in which a person was able to have a full conversation with an on screen character and fully interact with it as it if was just another human reacting and interaction to your every command. A short video of it can be found here: Very interesting technology in which the predecessor were those exhibits presented on the paper. Maybe this could be this evolution of interactive Art which the author embraces.

23rd Annual Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics

It was my pleasure to have participated in the 23rd Annual FCRAR. As I previously shared I presented a paper titled "Kuka Robocoaster Simulator" which dealt with an approach to understand the science and challenges of this new entertaining and thrilling technology.

To my Surprise the conference was dominated (about 30%) of the papers presented were regarding BCI's (Brain Computer Interfaces). To my understanding this essential example of interaction design, uses a helmet which upon placed on the user, reads some electromagnetic brain waves as emitted by the brain and the nervous system. These brain waves are interfaced and interpreted by a computer.

Most of the applications for BCI's were geared towards the use towards the medical fields. One example was presented by the University of North Florida, in which they plan to use the BCI to move a robotic arm which could eventually interact with various touch sensitive devices. Another example was presented by the University of South Florida, in which their goal was to create a simulation in which a BCI could be used to move a wheelchair with a robotic arm attached to it.

Brain Computer Interfaces have been explored since the late 70's and most of the programs are still relying on the same idea in which a user interacts as they look at a screen with a matrix of options. The user then selects an option and concentrates on their selection which is then interpreted by the computer through the BCI.

As an admirer of the idea of the 'Renaissance Engineer', it was refreshing to see Engineering skills and concepts used in the medical field to help those in need, and while doing that advancing our technological understanding of a powerful and yet not fully understood supercomputer 'The Human Brain'.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pure Data and Processing Communication

For my interaction design project it was discovered early on that it was going to be a difficult task to accomplish my goal using Pure Data independently. My project to construct a guitar to computer automatic tablature writer, requires simple graphic representations as the outputs. Consulting a few of my classmates and of course the professor, I was pointed to Processing as an easy program to construct graphics based on inputs. The challenge was then to find a way to make Pure Data interact with PD.

The first step was to explore the OSC libraries of patches and sketches built for Pure Data and Processing respectively as found here. I first started to establish communication between the programs by sending two values and to construct a rectangle where the width and height were controlled by the two inputs generated in PD. The OSC enabled interaction between PD and Processing allows for real time graphics produced from the real time inputs from PD.

This interaction will help my project as a graphic output is the final goal of the project. The progress as of now is a full communication between PD and processing as well as initial recognition of 2 different musical notes.

The next step is to create the desired tablature graphic out of the given inputs. The topics I am currently exploring include a blend of text with graphics, as well as time dependence of the output, as to create a timeline.

Friday, May 21, 2010

OpenCV for Processing

I've tried the PEEP eye tracking library, but it seems that the code need the specified camera device Tobii, otherwise the interaction will still be controlled by the mouse. Not sure if I missed anything, if anyone knows how to make it work please drop me some feedback.

I then looked for other computer vision libraries provided on the processing website and finally decided to use OpenCV for implementing my prototype, since it provides good documentation and examples. You can download the OpenCV library and example here.

Below are screen shot for the face detection and blob detection examples.

Because these functions are not specific for eye tracking, additional works are necessary. The plan for my prototype is to have some reflective tape stick to somewhere near eyes and have LED light to lighten it, so by adjust the contrast value, it can be detect more easily. Hope this plan will work for my project.


I will call here Synthia, although her real name is JCVI-syn1.0. The first ever synthetic life form able to reproduce and transmit its genetic code. Now, that is interaction design if there is any!:-)

Here is what she looks like:

I have been a fan of Craig Venter for a long time and been following his career and progress since I am interested in knowing more about our future brothers and sisters. You can watch this TED video, one of dozens that go back a while, to learn more about this extraordinary development, one that will probably change life as we know it in the same way that the transistor did for our information age. The paradigm is shifting, again...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interaction Design Contest

One of my favorite sites is currently conducting a interaction design contest based on interacting with gestures. The contest just requires some sketches, you don't have to build anything. The winner gets an arduino. Core77 contest.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eye tracking with Processing

some suggestions

Here is the email I sent out to about twenty people: 

I am in a class this summer called interaction design. I can do anything in this class as long as it involves....interaction and design. So, that's basically anything. And that freaks me out.

I am a fan of guerrilla style performance art used to subvert. At the same time, performance art terrifies me so much that I have trouble coming up with my own ideas. Fear blocks the process.  But I wanted some of my friends that I interacted primarily digitally with to participate. The best art is created using a series of constraints or limitations. Since I would be defining constraints arbitrarily, I am soliciting restrictions from others.

Please do not ask any questions about whether your suggestions are good enough or whether it is appropriate. I will attempt interpreting and achieving your suggestions to the best of my abilities. What would you have me do?

I have less than a month. Please respond soon.

The results will be displayed with the original suggestion text.

You will be identified using your relationship with me. 

And here are some of the responses so far: 

For you, something with yarn, and possibly explosives. In formulating the idea behind your piece, I recommend meditating on the Aristotelian unities of time, place, and action, and reading as many ancient Greek plays as possible, especially the Oresteia. Read that several times. Also, get somebody in the audience to film this, as I want to see the result.

You could burn 1000 mix CDs.

You could tie something up with Christmas lights.

Interesting, I had to explain your Master's today and was like, it’s art and science combined, ie art on the computer.  ????   my thing would be now we are really into downloading all our music to the computer, I would like to see how we can get a slide showing colours shapes etc added to our music not the stuff you would see already on the computer.   Your colours are always much more interesting.     I will think about it and let you know if I have any ideas or is this really for me??? (--- this last one is from my mom)

Mini projected featured in Make Magazine

A little blurb was written in this month's Make magazine about a project I did. I noticed that some elderly had a difficult time dialing the telephone. There were a number of problems with current solutions for this population. Voice activated dialing seemed to never work for them. They typically drastically changed their speech patterns making the voice recognition inaccurate. Phones with large buttons were viewed as inclusive, but embarrassing, bringing light to their handicap to any guests. Other people's vision had degraded so drastically they could only make out some basic shapes and colors. I decided to build a prototype of a phone dialer that could be activated by gross movements, didn't require the use of knowing a number, and allowed the user to easily select whom to dial. I constructed and coded the below prototype in about 30 minutes one morning. It works by moving a framed picture of the person you want to call near the device. I envisioned a number of picture frames sitting by the phone and the user just moves a framed picture near the phone. Additionally, the picture of a person could be replaced with a solid color for those with poor sight. This configuration would allow people with movement disorders and/or poor sight to easily use a phone. The also previously featured my iphone controlled dog feeder.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In the weird vein

STELARC is one of my favorite performance artists and although pain is inevitable in most of his work I don't think there is any emphasis in that aspect and in that respect I believe is different from what Marina Abramovic does, but in both cases it is evident that they go beyond body limitations in what could be considered normal,

Stelarc treats the body more as an sculptural medium or a point of departure for a cybernetic being, not only integrating it with mechanical contraptions (like his third arm piece) but also with biological modifications like the ear on arm.

Here are some words from the man. I recommend you check his website, both pics and videos (if you can stomach it!:-)

more weird art stuff

Performance art has been on my mind ever since I recently read a very long and beautiful article on Marina Abramovic who is currently having a major retrospective at MoMA. Abramovic's work tends to be endurance based. Some of it is not easy to look at since it involves physical pain. Since issues of performance often come into discussion within digital art, I think that this is entirely relevant. I'm not interested in doing things that harm myself or others but in areas of digital performance their is this ambiguity that could be exploited.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Opportunity Knocks

I have been looking for some way of posting something useful and until recently I had been drawing a blank. But in my daily rummaging through the various DIY and hackers sites, I ran upon something we can all enjoy, a contest to be exact. Anybody can agree that healthy competition leads to some amazing innovations and by the looks of it, this might be up our alley. Read the guidelines, but a quick sum up of the whole situation is that you have to produce a gadget, and you have to document how you did it and everything you did along the way (this should sound familiar). in the end, if you win, you get to sell your nifty little tool on the Makers Market website. Hopefully the spirit of competition can push us all to leave our comfort zone and create something new.

Nature by Numbers

The movie Nature by Numbers created by Etérea is an animation focusing on the geometrical and mathematical properties of the Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio and the Delaunay triangulation.

For the theory behind the movie see here.

Incidentally, before Casey Reas and Ben Fry created Processing, John Maeda then at MIT had created Design By Numbers (DBN), to enable non-programmers, designers and artist to visualize and generate ideas made possible by the power of computer algorithms.

Possible Project Ideas

After the conclusion of the first week of the course, I was able to identify a few ideas for possible interaction design projects.
The following were all ideas that were of interest to me as possible designs:
  • Guitar notes to Tablature Converter
  • Temperature and Water control/indicator for faucet
  • Picture Presentation to Computer
  • Next Step to Clapper using voice recognition
  • Gesture Fountain and Light Control to be used as a show

The Idea that I will be exploring for my interaction design project will be the Guitar Notes to Tablature converter

Idea/Concept: A music-computer interface that would recognize each musical note and then transcribe individual guitar notes to the standard tablature format.

Proof of Concept: test the concept by fully transcribing the entire scale from frets 1-12 of the E1 string on a standard tuned guitar.

Technology Expected to be used: Build the interface using PD Extended. Guitar(user) to Computer Interaction.

Outcome Of Project: A standalone program that will listen to a musical note produced by a guitar that will transcribe the note to the tablature format.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Don't fight forces, use them."

File:Needle Tower.JPG

Tensegrity structure "Needle Tower", created by Kenneth Snelson, who was a student of Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College in 1968, a year of many revolutionary implications.

Interacting with "art" - Subway Art Gallery Opening

I love the idea of subverting the regular life and making everything a little more playful. Playing with art world trops is something I would like to explore.

On reading "Multimodal support to group dynamics"

As a student who is interested in intelligent systems, I'm more interested in how the system interprets the dialog in the meeting and inference each person's role in the meeting and provide feedbacks. However, this part is not described in the article, so I have no idea whether the mapping between group dynamics and computer generated suggestions is appropriate. I'm not worried that inference by computer would over simplify group dynamics or human personality, social science is very complex, computer science is complex, too. I think that wether the generated suggestions will help to improve the quality of meeting depends on the mapping process and how people use the feedback to adjust their behavior.

From the interaction point of view, this article made me think of a game: The Sims. In this game, players interact with virtual characters through a computer interface, the emotions and relationships are simplified and represented in a value. Each time the sim performs an action on another sim, it will get a brief feedback in a sentence or a plus/minus sign as the result/summary of that interaction.

All the relationship and personality parameters are closely linked to form the social dynamics in the game. It is really a fun game to play with, I feel that this game makes me think a lot about interactions between humans, and it also brings me some new point of view from its over- simplified but humorous interaction and emotion representation. I think the main idea of this paper, to provide a simplified feedback for a set of interactions to let the people have a better idea of the whole picture in order to improve or adjust actions, is somewhat like the game.
However, how much is the real life like the virtual game model is a difficult question to answer, so the effects of the proposed model might still depends on it real life performance.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Once you label me, You negate me

After reading the publication "Multimodal support to Group Dynamics" by Pianesi et al it reminded me of a quote. Quoting Michael Myers in Wayne's World Quoting Soren Kierkegaard "Once you label me, you negate me." was what the argument of the proposed design reminded me of.

Designing a product which will essentially label people based on their actions is not only a difficult task but one that will only lead to another column of the many statistics. Although the implementation and the interaction method proposed could be groundbreaking, the intuition of a human being, cannot be duplicated.

Roller Coaster + Robot = Robocoaster

As an individual that thoroughly enjoys visiting theme parks and the latest and greatest in the field of amusement attractions, it is a pleasure to share it with others.

In the year of 2006 I had the pleasure to meet a great inventor and Engineer. His name was Gino De Gol and his invention was the Robocoaster. It was exactly the reason I had decided to become an Engineer which was to bring the technology and devices that we are familiar with as Engineers and implement them in the field of entertainment.

The Robocoaster is a 'BIG' robotic arm which has a chair or bench which is attached to the end effector of the robot. The Robocoaster idea is implemented using virtual reality to create the next generation of motion simulators.

The nearest Robocoaster to us Floridians is the land of Mickey Mouse. It is part of the attraction called 'The Sum of All Thrills' located inside the innoventions pavilion at EPCOT. It is a technology that will bring new thrills and is considered as a fairly new development. The next step of Robocoaster design will be unveiled with the opening of the new Island at the park of "Island of Ad
venture" with the Wizarding World of Harry potter. It is rumored to incorporate the basic Robocoaster design along with the incorporation of a track which will push the limits even further as far as thrill rides are concerned.

La Progettazione

As an Engineer it was surprising to listen how others with different backgrounds defined 'Design'.
In Engineering we are taught that design is meeting a set of criteria or requirements which define a problem. One thing that as Engineers we do not keep prominently in mind is how the overall design fits together or how elegantly it is presented.

In the book "Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design" by Mike Ashby and Kara Johnson, they divide the definition of design into two aspects: Technical Design, and Industrial Design.
Technical, or as they refer to as Engineering, Design includes the aspects of design that deals with the technical functioning of a design. Aspects such as mechanical or thermal performance.
Industrial Design includes the visual and tactile attributes, associations and perceptions. In other words attributes that describe its personality or character.

It is interesting that as Engineers we are trained to mainly focus on the technical aspect of a design and sometimes take its complement for granted. This could be one of the reasons why many products and ideas are created and developed into products, but yet so many of them fail.

The aforementioned book mentions the following interesting observation:
In Italian there is one inclusive word for design and engineering - la progettazione; a designer or an engineer is "il progettista." Translated literall "il progetto" is the plan. In English, too, the word "design" is defined as "the plan".


I thought I would introduce myself and my work. The above painting is by my friend and brilliant painter, Scott Robinson. I hope everybody can recognize the building in the painting. I chose it not only because of the obvious clash between fine contemporary art and technology but because I am familiar with Scott's artistic process. In the preparatory stages of his work he uses both analog and digital collage techniques  to create his compositions.

One of my passions is avant-garde fine art. I like art that challenges, that tells a story even if it is not an easy one to tell. This is not Thomas Kinkade. Art has long been how humans interact with the world, I think that humans are lacking art with one of the most powerful ways to interact with media - the computer. I think that's pathetic.

My problem is how to make art and the process of making art more accessible.  This does not mean dumbing down the art. I'm not interesting in explaining in some sort of pedantic way. I would like to envision new ways of displaying and viewing art combined with new media practices. This would help artists as well as viewers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More thoughts on doors

Here are some more problems and thoughts on doors I think of.

After we discussed the design of the door to make it more intuitive to open, I was thinking that why not build a door can be opened in BOTH ways so that we'll never get it wrong? A problem I think of for this design was that there might be two people at both sides trying to open the door at the same time, but I think this can be avoided by a proper design. Does anyone have some more thoughts about this?

Another problem I think of for the doors is why should we always open the doors with our hands? Sometimes we hold many things in both hands so that we don't have a hand to open the door. This problem is similar to the one I mentioned in the class: how to use computer when we're eating? They are both situations wherethe hands are not available for controlling or we can say interacting with things. For now the way I attack these two problems is that we might have to chose another body part and/or develop some mechanisms to work as our "third hand".

Welcome to any thoughts or discuss.

Im-Practical Design ideas

Safety Hammer

Gourmet utensils

Fair serving knife

Ultimate water saver

Bicycle for Divorcees

Bicycle for Lovers

All pics, except the hammer ( are from the Catalog of Impossible Objects by French artist Jaques Carelman

Projects Ideas?

Have you started to think about your project for this class? :-)

I'm a fun of Id's Quakes. Because this game is a 3D shooter, there is not much interesting about interaction: WASD + mouse control.

Yet there is one element of the user interface in the first version of the game that is interesting for me. To choose the level and the episode that you want to play, you do not use a standard menu or drop down select. You actually control a 3D character and the door you choose to walk in identifies a difficulty level, and the next door identifies which episode of the game you are going to play. So the "menu" is a 3D scene.

There are other examples of using a 3D environment as an interface to a system. In several movies about "hackers", a character uses 3D virtual environment to "administrate" the system.

I have been sceptical about usability of that kind of interface in real life, yet I would like to investigate and, probably, create a prototype of an interface that uses a 3D environment as an interface to a system (I have not decided yet what kind of system it might be... may be just an operating system).

If you have interesting examples of 3D environments used as user interfaces, please, give me a link or a brief description.

Have a good semester!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Simplicity of Complexity

Simplicity: We know it when we see it -- but what is it, exactly?
"Most of the world is self-assembly. We are self-assembled systems."
George Whitesides

Man, the Cyborg

Although the mention of tools as extensions of man goes back all the way to Aristotle, one can credit Ernst Kapp as the first who clearly expressed the notion of technology as "organ projections".

Even though McLuhan can certainly be credited with popularizing the notion that tools are the "extensions of man" Kapp spoke of language as an extension of man a century earlier.

He developed the theory that tools and weapons are different kinds of "organ projections" such as the railroad as an externalization of the circulatory system and the telegraph as an extension of the nervous system.