Pure Data

October 31st, 2005

Today Alastair convinced me to give Pure Data a go (similar to Cycling 74s MAX/MSP but free). So I’ve been downloading bits and pieces and doing tutorials all afternoon. At the moment I’m very excited at all the possibilities and feeling confident that I can get my head around it all. Haven’t made anything yet so it could be false courage. I like the fact that its available for multiple platforms and that its free which will mean I could potentially use it for my teaching at UNSW as well.

Mobile Phone Tennis

October 31st, 2005

Here is a pic of a tennis game being played on mobile phones at the ACID conference.

Gamers at Acid

ACID Innovations Conference

October 17th, 2005

Last Wednesday I attended the ACID Innovations conference. The day started with presentations by 5 PHD students who are doing research on ACID projects.

Marcus Foth presented his research on tools to facilitate communication between urban residents in apartment blocks. Marcus used action research methods in the three studies he conducted of communication in three different apartment blocks.

The next speaker, Eryn Grant, is just beginning her study into the social economies that develop during massive multi-player online games (Second Life in particular). She is adopting a sociological approach and talked about why she doesn’t find the term ‘virtual community’ very useful.

Steven Livingstone is developing musical systems that are able to respond to user’s emotional desires. He cited the case of Doom 3 where many users turned off the music because they found it too scary as a reason why video games developers might be interested in this approach. His first steps involved classifying the emotional characteristics of music and then testing this schema on users.

Inger Mewburn discussed her experiences of working collaboratively with the Keith Armstrong team on Intimate Transactions. Having been one of the test subjects during the project’s testing phase at the Performance Space, I was interested to see the haptic elements she had introduced to the project. She and her team developed a stomach vibrator out of very skin-like fabric. People who had experienced the finished work commented that the haptic elements designed by Inger had really grounded the piece.

Finally Jared Donovan discussed his research into ways to design a gestural interface for dentists to use while working on a patient. Jared argued against seeing the gestural user as a conductor who stands in one place. He thinks that the gestural user should be regarded as more like the actual orchestra in that they play many roles that are not always in the same physical location.

In the afternoon there was a presentation by Professor Pelle Ehn from Sweden who will be visiting ACID for the next 7 months. He described an interesting project he had worked on titled “Indigenous Design”. This involved mainly existing technology but was extremely innovative in terms of developing new work practices within a hospital system. Health workers were encouraged to make short tutorial videos explaining how to use the various complex machines within the hospital system. A board of experts decided whether the videos were accurate enough and if they were they got placed onto a central server. Other workers could then access these instructional videos using barcode readers and PDAs. The barcodes were placed on the actual machines so the information was delivered at the location it was needed in.

I also enjoyed Professor Brian Fitzgerald’s talk on Creative Commons and the demos of Mobile Phone games that were built using the ATR toolkit.