May 2007

Microsoft Surface

by Andy Polaine on May 31, 2007

I strangely don’t have a lot to say about the already wellblogged offer from Microsoft, Microsoft Surface. It’s obviously pretty and nice and I’d like one of course. Sort of. In any case it would be remiss of me not to blog about it.

Microsoft Surface

It’s pretty much like every other multi-touch interface plus some object recognition (actually visual code tags are attached to the objects in the demo, apparently) built-in. If it’s as smooth as it looks in the very slick videos and has no lag at all then I expect it’ll make a splash rather like plasma screens – first in expensive retail and hotel spaces (plus a few ad agency lobbies) before gradually making it’s way into homes. How much would I pay for one? Not the $5k-10k they’re asking at the moment (though kudos to them for getting an actual product released). Maybe if it could also be my media centre with some kind of wi-fi streaming to the TV (I’m sure they’ve thought of this) it’s a less ugly way to have a computer in the living room. Apart from the fact that the ‘coffee table’ looks like a Star-Trek prop.

I found some of the ideas in the demo pretty interesting, and this still from Engadget’s hands-on (is it really that hard to work out a tip? Still, the little slider is nice). It’s much more Apple-style digital lifestyle than I’m used to seeing from Microsoft and it seems to hook into the whole vista vibe in the sense that they really seem to be much more focussed on the experience and not just tool-like functionality. For me, of course, it’s great to see all of this become more playful and I have no doubt that the physical movements one makes when using it have a lot to do with it. More on that theme in a little while – I’m writing a PhD chapter on it.

Multitouch City Wall

by Andy Polaine on May 25, 2007

The CityWall is a new work by the Ubiquitous Interaction (Uix) research group in Helsinki as part of the IPCity project. It gathers tagged images and video from places like Flickr and YouTube as well as organising it into themes for events.

CityWall in action

One great thing about it is the fact that it is a mutlitouch interface that is out of the labs and ‘on the streets’. The multitouch system was developed by Uix’s John Evans and Tommi Ilmonen. The challenge, according to Evans, was that unlike Jeff Han’s very well-known work in this area, their screen had to work outside of the lab – “ambient light, dirty hands, dirty screen, day and night,” he says.

The payoff for all that hard work is how how easily people negotiate the interface without thinking about it. It’s a really nice combination of technology trends – multitouch with public installations and social content generation.

The YouTube video below shows how it all works, including the computer vision. You can view a nicer version on the CityWall site or download the MPEG4 Version (h.264 26MB).

Orbit on Creative Insecurity

May 23, 2007

Teaching is an interesting process of projection. Much like any other relationship you project your own fears, bad habits and insecurities onto your students and implore them not to do the same. I tried to be honest about this to my students and is why I wrote some thoughts on life as a creative individual. […]

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Avant-Garde Tube

May 15, 2007

Nice post from Dan Hill over at City of Sound about finding a whole host of avant-garde films on YouTube, particularly Len Lye’s film, Free Radicals (see below). Dan also mentions Malcolm Le Grice who I remember being my head of school when I was at college. Lye has been a massive influence on video […]

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An image is worth 1,000 Twitters

May 15, 2007

Flickrvision, just so much more interesting than Twittervision. Via the Nic.

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How children use the Internet

May 10, 2007

I found Richard Sarson’s piece, The Kids Are Alright Online, over at the Guardian interesting today. He interviews children about their internet usage and the role technology plays in their lives. It has a lot to do with the issues we discuss in the Omnium Project, so I’ve blogged about it there instead of double-posting […]

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Joost Invites

May 9, 2007

So, I’ve been playing with Joost a bit and it looks like it’s going to become something pretty near to an alternative to television. At the moment it’s still a bit too cable channel for me – it’s somewhere not quite as weird and wonderful as YouTube and of course not the level of normal […]

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Tiny phone. Not.

May 3, 2007

This e-mail flyer from Act Now contained this gem demonstrating not only a ridiculous fear of litigation, but also a lack of understanding of resolution (because it could be actual size depending on your screen):

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John Gruber on the iPhone

May 3, 2007

John Gruber is one of the few Apple advocates that writes with intelligent consideration rather than just being an over-enthused fanboy. He has just written a pretty smart analysis of the Apple iPhone pricing, which Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer lambasted. Before the iPhone was announced I was in a meeting with some folks at Fjord in […]

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Draw on Walls, with Light

May 3, 2007

A while ago Chris O’ Shea wrote about the Philips Simplicity Project, which had a number of mainly light-based inventions, several of them interactive. One of them was this Drag and Draw idea – it’s basically a ‘bucket’ filled with light. Aimed at children, the child can dip a stick into the bucket and paint […]

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