Monday, February 23, 2009

Second Light

Going Beyond the Display: A Surface Technology with an Electronically Switchable Diffuser
by Shahram Izadi, Steve Hodges, Stuart Taylor, Dan Rosenfeld, Nicolas Villar, Alex Butler, and Jonathan Westhues

Second Light is an interactable display tabletop that uses switchable diffusers for simultaneous projection on and through the surface without contamination. It uses FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy) multi-touch on the surface and on a secondary surface display above the tabletop for input.

How It Works:
The idea is there are two projectors that project two different images only out of phase with each other and the tabletop diffuser will turn opaque and clear at the same frequency of the projectors so that one projector will show up on the tabletop when the diffuser is opaque and the other projector will show up on a second cheap hand-held page above the tabletop display. Hand-held displays can have an FTIR battery operated device attached to it so that input can also be made on the separate display held above the tabletop.

My Thoughts:
I had already stumbled apon this prior to reading this article when I was "youtubeing" Microsoft Surface via the videos posted below. The technology has a lot of potential assuming developers utilize all its capabilities. My concerns right now are the expense (which is something ridiculous like $12k or something) and the fact that Microsoft has their hands on it, which typically means developers will be forced to try to develop apps for it with their hands tied behind their backs.

Eye-Candy Videos:

Open-Mic Ethnography

I decided to do an ethnography on the culture of people who attend open-mic's as well as provide some insight for someone wanting to do an open-mic for the first time. I decided to go to Revolution Cafe & Bar's open-mic, which is held every Wednesday starting around 9:30pm. I brought my Flip Video Recorder to try and document some of the people performing to get an understanding of what kind of performances were done at this open-mic. While I was there I talked to as many people as I could and basically interviewed them without their knowledge trying to get as much information about them as I could without seeming creepy.

I came in with the hypothesis that there would be a common culture among the people there and that given Revolutions reputation as a music venue there would be a lot of music snobs. I was pretty much wrong on both accounts. The only common culture among the people there is their love for music. Other than that it is a place full of the most diverse group of people you can find in College Station. There are punk rockers, emo's, rave enthusiasts, country music fans, and pretty much anyone from any group you can think of that has a love for music. And as far as the music snobs go, people were very nice to me when I performed. After I played people would come up to me to say something encouraging about my performance. This out of their way behavior more than likely was a result that I told them before I played that it was my first open-mic, but it does show how receptive they are for new comers.


Friday, February 6, 2009

The Media Equation by Byron Reeves & Clifford Nass

Posted on:

Reeves and Nass attempt to prove the idea that media = real life (The Media Equation) in this book. They set up a bunch of experiments that go about showing how people treat various forms of media (computers, TV's, etc.) like the real life things they are attempting to emulate. They address many human behaviors such as manners, personality, emotion, social roles, and form. They provide very compelling studies on human behavior with media, many of which the results are counter-intuitive.

The underlining question that this book is trying to answer is a philosophical one, "If you treat something like real life does that make it real life?". Reeves and Nass say yes and they go about demonstrating how people treat media like real life. However, this proves nothing. It just shows how people treat media like real life. The authors do do some pretty thought provoking experiments with human behavior and media and it does give some very good insight into computer-human interaction, but it is not evidence to a philosophical question. Now I'm sure someone could put together some very compelling arguments for media = real life and it would be fun to discuss, but that's not what the book discussed. Which is good because then it wouldn't be a very good source for computer-human interaction. I just found it very difficult to read because I couldn't bring myself to stop disagreeing with the conclusions they were going for. Overall it's a good book to read for computer-human interaction and I would recommend it to someone but would be very torn with whether or not to warn them about the conclusions the book tries to make.