I had a few minutes to experiment with the new environment feature in After Effects CS6. This was just a quick attempt to composite a "3d" image using HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) texture maps on top of 360-degree equirectangular video footage which is used to control reflections and lighting in After Effects. Keep in mind that the camera "moves" are just a 2.5d illusion – the physical camera never moves in the source footage which was captured by a single, stationary camera array. Compare the original flattened footage with the final result to see if you can figure out how the camera "moves" through space in After Effects. You notice it most visibly when the camera looks straight down at the people in front of the stage (heavily distorted in the source footage). The text and soda can object were only added as visual reference points. Thanks to Stereo Total for providing the source footage.
All together now...
"Interactive NY subway maps – yeah!!"
This came to me from a fellow student. It's a recent Gizmodo post about the new interactive kiosks that will soon appear on platforms in NYC. It's worth noting that these kiosks are not being paid for by the MTA and and while they will undoubtedly fill a need – it's also worth noting the very last paragraph of the Gizmodo article:
"This contextual advertising, as we've learned from the web, is way more valuable than the advertising we see every day. And in an effort make the ads even more lucrative, Control Group might implement some crazy (and privacy addling) video-tracking technology. The company has proprietary tech that can track demographic information about people as well as information about their mood. Bad news: creepy. Good news: maybe lower fares?"
For those of you who think "sentiment tracking" sounds "futuristic" and/or "conspiratorial" check out SceneTap (tracking gender and age) and Affectiva (tracking your emotional response). Megabuck$ will be made silently tracking who you are, where you are, how you feel (big pharma, anyone?) and how you respond to stimuli – biologically.
Some recent polls show the average American doesn't seem to mind the digital invasion of privacy but I think it depends on how you ask the questions. I'm all for an open and informed debate as we enter a new age of technological empowerment. The real question is: Who will be more empowered?
I suggest most people don't have a problem with "digital privacy" for many reasons, but here are my top three observations:
1. The average citizen can't fully comprehend the true speed and power of digital innovation. Even the clunky old zip code is still put to good use and it's an ancient technology compared to the algorithms and technologies that will be invented and deployed before next Thursday.
2. As citizens, we haven't fully contemplated or prioritized a discussion about the distinctions between the rights of a digital citizen and those of an analog citizen. Here's what's going on the rest of the world.
3. We have whole-heartedly welcomed the exchange of privacy for convenience.
I can't help but wonder – (WWDDS) What Would Don Draper Say? – about the position of the modern consumer in this new equation of advertising? It's an open question in a time of rapid change.
See also, insidious.
See also, acquiescence.
Not only can you print parts and easily share design files, you can also build the 3d printer at home. The relationship between the consumer and the manufacturer is changing much faster than most realize. As we breathlessly – and most often, unquestioningly – accept technology into our lives, you have to wonder what role technology will/should play in our discussions and debates moving forward and at what point we risk losing a shared understanding of what's really possible.
"We must always exert the full strength of our imagination to examine where the full use of our new modalities may lead us." – Norbert Weiner (1894 – 1964) Father of cybernetics and inventor of the first radar controlled anti-aircraft gun
My multi-touch table is finally up and running. I carefully embedded the LCD touch screen components in the table last week and I can now test my game code using the actual interactive touch surface – very exciting! I'm simultaneously constructing and programming the rest of the exhibit components (a mechanical donation box, a thermal receipt printer and some external lighting effects). Every minute counts with my thesis exhibition just around the corner (May 8-24). Here you can see the various parts and pieces in different stages of development.
This is a quick prototype of the donation mechanism that will live next to my multi-touch table. This is where participants drop their donations when they engage with the test. The servo is a little jittery at the moment but this prototype is helping me work out some of the final design and engineering issues. I wired a rotary knob and a reset button so I can control the movements during testing. The final version will be controlled by the multi-touch table and a signal will be sent to the donation box to tilt the floor according to the outcome of the game. I'm planning to have all of the pieces laser cut so everything should move as smooth as silk when finished.
The donation box will be divided down the middle – if you win, the floor of the donation box will tilt to drop your money into the “matched donations” side of the canister and if you lose, the floor will drop your money into the “unmatched donations” side.
I'm collaborating with classmates to build a "data toy" to be tested by a live audience during an upcoming taping of WNYC's Radiolab. The episode will be dedicated to "cooperation" and our design intervention will demonstrate the prisoner's dilemma, a theory which explores the balance between cooperation and competition in business, politics and social settings.
(btw, if you've never listened to Radiolab, do so immediately – one side of your brain will thank the other.)
We spent time exploring the issue with Dr. David Rand, a specialist in the realm of human cooperative behavior. His lab at Yale explores "why people are willing to pay costs to benefit the greater good, and what we can do to promote this kind of cooperative behavior in the world around us. He asks (i) what prosocial and antisocial decisions will people make in particular situations and social environments?; (ii) what are the cognitive mechanisms that determine how these decisions are actually made?; and (iii) why have our decision-making processes come to function as they do (considering both genetic and cultural evolution/learning)?"
We also spent some time with Radiolab's Robert Krulwich this week, and he showed us a few videos which will serve as our inspiration for this particular project. Pay attention to the various methods of persuasion used by the contestants in all three videos and think twice (or three times) the next time someone asks you to trust them. This is gonna' be fun!
Who would have guessed that New Jersey ranks highest in a study about state integrity? The Center for Public Integrity created this interactive scorecard based on open datasets so you can see for yourself where your state ranks. It's interesting to see how sharing such detailed information with citizens and journalists can put pressure on states to change their behavior.
This is vital in an era where we see traditional "news" organizations dismantling their investigative reporting teams in favor of a much cheaper model of news gathering that increasingly relies on tweets, social media updates and other unverified sources.
The State Integrity Investigation mobilized a highly qualified network of state reporters to generate quantitative data and qualitative reporting on the health of the anti-corruption framework at the state level. To score each state, reporters combined extensive desk research with thousands of original interviews with experts from state government, the private sector, and local civil society and good government organizations.
How much personal information are people willing to give up for a slice of free pizza?
I finally built my own full-scale multitouch surface and have it up and running. The calibration is a little off but the touch sensors are tracking my fingers properly. I'll have some time to work on the details during my winter break but this is a huge step for me as I prepare to build my thesis project this spring.
I'm experimenting with natural user interfaces and multitouch surfaces and came across Seth(cerupcat)'s tutorial on the NUI Group site that shows how you can construct your own multitouch device using a cardboard box, a piece of glass and an inexpensive webcam. This homebrew prototype is useful when you don't have access to a full size table to test your code and interactions.