by Andy Polaine on October 12, 2009

in General

PhotoSketch: Internet Image Montage from Tao Chen on Vimeo.

Photosketch: Internet Image Montage provides a simple way to make image composites by doodling a picture, adding labels and then letting the engine scour the Internet for suitable photos. Once it has found the most appropriate matches, it composites them together.

I can see lots of awful e-cards and Powerpoint presentations coming out of this, but it would be very useful for putting together prototype sketches for installations and services and it is a pretty remarkable bit of technology.

(Via Richard Banks)

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Sixth Sense. Only Slightly Lamer than VR.

by Andy Polaine on March 27, 2009

in General

Pattie Maes is a smart woman. She’s behind some research projects that I wish I had been part of. But the above presentation at TED of Pranav Mistry’sSixth Sense‘ system gave me flashbacks to bad VR demos in the 90s and Steve Mann’s sad exploits as a cyborg.


Sometimes the focus on technology for the sake of technology just gets in the way of thinking about how people actually live. Any mobile device I carry around will have a screen and a camera, whether it be an iPhone or a projection onto my retina. There are ample uses and opportunities for augmented reality with these, so why would I want to carry around a tiny projector too?

In the ‘Sixth Sense’ set-up, I would need to keep my body still to keep the projected image from moving all over the place and I need to have some kind of tracking blobs on my fingers too. Let’s assume the devices are combined. Again, why the projector when I already have a screen? So that I can wave my arms about as a gestural interface? In public?

Like VR, the central paradox of ‘augmenting the senses’ is that the technology cuts back the senses. We’re not just heads floating around without bodies, we interpret the world through our entire bodies. Anything that reminds you that you’re using a mediating technology gets in the way of those senses and what you’re trying to do.

The success of multitouch interfaces is that they make the interface invisible. It’s still there of course – someone has to set up the metaphors of ‘pinching’, etc. – but when it works well, you don’t think about it. But they have to work well too – the slightest lag or misinterpretation of a drag as a click soon becomes a frustration.

Clever(ish) as it is, Sixth Sense doesn’t make much sense. I get a bit sad when I see these kinds of demos get such a big response at TED, because it’s an audience who should know better and should be in front of the curve, not behind it. This should be especially true from Maes, whose MIT page quotes her as saying “We like to invent new disciplines or look at new problems, and invent bandwagons rather than jump on them.”

(And Pranav should spend some time working on his MIT Web page).


Beyond the Fold, Print Lives On.

March 6, 2009

Although newspapers are struggling to work out what to do about the decline of the printed sheet, the death of print doesn’t seem to be anywhere near happening. The rise of self-publishing and print-on-demand services like Lulu and MagCloud are probably the everlasting afterlife of traditional publishing models. Less risk, less waste. Despite Amazon’s Kindle […]

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The Network Generation is in The White House

November 7, 2008

Photo: barackobamadotcom on Flickr It is hard to overstate just how different these US elections were and what a shift in thinking Obama and his campaign signify. Is this the dawn of a fourth republic, whose cycles are “linked indirectly to stages of technological and economic development,” as Michael Lind argues? Or is this the […]

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Lost in Text

October 13, 2008

I managed to catch a few people lost in texting whilst I was in Brighton, so I made a Lost in Text Flickr group. I find the look on people’s faces, both absent and engaged at the same time, fascinating. I especially like these people who were working in these tiny booths on the pier, […]

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Enhancing Videos with Spacetime Fusion

October 6, 2008

Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene from pro on Vimeo. This technology from Pravin Bhat over at the University of Washington is pretty impressive. It uses high resolution still images to enhance video footage. It also enables dynamic masking and all sorts of other goodness. The interactive cutout video is interesting too […]

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Photojojo’s Time Capsule

May 1, 2008
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MacUpdate Promo Bundle includes Parallels

April 22, 2008

After the disaster I had with MacHeist I decided to go for the new MacUpdate Promo Bundle, mainly because of Sound Studio and Parallels. The last MacUpdate Promo worked well for me – none of the billing hassles of MacHeist, nor the arrogance of John Casasanta. There are a couple of lame apps in there […]

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I Want You To Want Me by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar

April 18, 2008

Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, who created one of my all time favourite interactive pieces, We Feel Fine, have a new piece called I Want You To Want Me commissioned for MoMA’s Design and The Elastic Mind show. I Want You To Want Me explores the world of online dating, scraping data from thousands of […]

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Podcast interview with Jason Bruges

April 17, 2008

My latest Core77 Broadcast interview with Jason Bruges from Jason Bruges Studio is now online. In a slightly echoing room in Jason’s studio, accompanied by the usual sirens and car alarms of London’s Shoreditch, he talks about his roots in architecture, the journey to interactive surfaces, sustainability and his thoughts about giving this emerging area […]

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