Outrun, by Garnet Hertz: OutRun offers a unique mixed reality…

Outrun, by Garnet Hertz:

OutRun offers a unique mixed reality simulation as one physically drives through an 8-bit video game. The windshield of the system features custom software that transforms the real world into an 8-bit video game, enabling the user to have limitless gameplay opportunities while driving. Hertz has designed OutRun to de-simulate the driving component of a video game: where game simulations strive to be increasingly realistic (usually focused on graphics), this system pursues “real” driving through the game. Additionally, playing off the game-like experience one can have driving with an automobile navigation system, OutRun explores the consequences of using only a computer model of the world as a navigation tool for driving.

Intriguing concept:  iPet Companion: “iPet Companion…

Intriguing concept:  iPet Companion:

“iPet Companion employs cutting-edge technology, robotics and digital connectivity that allows you to play with your pets by controlling unique robotic toys located in your home with a few clicks of your mouse. A camera that captures all the fun lets you watch no-lag video of the cats as they chase, jump, pounce and grab at the robotic toys that are wired to respond instantaneously to your direction. There is even a way to interact with friends through a chat box making this a truly unique and engaging experience.”

“Rubber band AI”: “Rubber band AI refers to…

“Rubber band AI”:

“Rubber band AI refers to an artificial intelligence found in titles such as racing or sports titles that is designed to prevent players from getting too far ahead of computer-controlled opponents. When done well, such AIs can maintain a consistent level of challenge from the beginning of an event to the end. However, when done poorly, it becomes evident that the game is bending its own rules in the computer’s favor, either by temporarily enhancing the CPU’s abilities, inhibiting the abilities of the player’s character(s), or both.”

Why do I blog this? Writing a chapter about game controllers and hacks, I queried the search engine from Mountain View using keywords such as “rubber band”+controller and I ended up on this webpage which defines what Rubber AI is (exemplified by Nintendo GameCube game Mario Kart: Double Dash!!). The concept sounds intriguing and can be used as an interesting start point in other projects about artificial intelligence beyond video games.

“What? They’re Only Mechanical Men!” says…

“What? They’re Only Mechanical Men!” says Spock, in this old Star Trek coloring book shown on io9

Why do I blog this? This kind of behavior with mechanical creature will definitely be more common, even if the robot won’t be humanoid (see this story of how Honda found nerd robot fan disappointed after they released this lawn-mower which is far less “futuristic” than Asimo). This is also a behavior we included in the Curious Rituals project.

Two weird examples of photo manipulation that aims at converting…

Two weird examples of photo manipulation that aims at converting an “innocent” image into something erotic or pornographic in nature: (1) The now old “mormon porn” strategy, which consists in adding circular bubbles on an image in order to make people focus on certain aspects, (2) The pixellation technique, that the LA Times described in an article today:

Known as pixelization, the post-production technique, which displays a certain area of a photo or footage at a much lower resolution, came into wider use years ago largely in TV news, documentaries and reality programs. There, the practice obscured product placements, and distorted everything from a license plate number to a human face to protect privacy rights. But now television writers are using the tactic as a sight gag and a way to attract attention, in much the same way that scripted programming commonly bleeps out censored language.

Why do I blog this? I’m fascinated by how adding elements to an image can have this sort of effect.

Weird: Disney Research in Zurich, Switzerland, just developed a…


Disney Research in Zurich, Switzerland, just developed a new process of robot making that enables a physical human face to be cloned onto a robot. The process is called “Physical Face Cloning,” and it involves the scanning of a human head. Once the human head is scanned, the coordinates and expressions are recorded onto a 3D program. It uses measurements of skin elasticity and skin thickness to create a realistic mold of the face with silicon.

design linguistics

The most powerful tool in design is language, I’d argue it’s more powerful than drawing. Being able to find the exact vocabulary to define a concept or approach is vital, not only for discussion with your peers but ultimately as part of customer communication. With great power comes great responsibility, and language can also be used to cloak a concept, mislead, misguide or bedazzle through doublespeak, jargon or acronyms. In my studio, we’ve been trying to cut through this recently and are focussing on plain speak wherever possible. One of the tools we’ve used for this is Madlibs: ”it’s a —— which let’s me ——”. In a world of user-this and context-that, a simple statement about what it is we’re proposing becomes a powerful thing indeed, particularly when that thing doesn’t yet exist.

The English language is formed from just eight lexical categories: noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection, each of which has a very defined role in the communication of an idea. In this form, “the cat sat on the mat” becomes “article, noun, verb, preposition, article, noun”. When describing design proposals we must use this structure, and it can also be useful as an interrogative tool – we can use language to ask questions about our intent. It could be argued that incremental ‘adjective’ or ‘adverb’ projects form the bulk of contemporary design work (better, faster, social, cheap, lighter, sexier). Real invention falls into the noun category, something so new it needs it’s own name (helicopter, jet ski, iPad, telescope).

If we run with idea, perhaps it can be useful to define the core offering of organizations:

Apple are a noun company. They are focussed on delivering things. This can be tangible things like iPads and iPhones, or movies and music, but they start with ‘stuff’.

Google are a verb company. They are focussed on doing things. This could be search, find or plan, but they start with ‘actions’.

Facebook might be an adjective or adverb company, a qualifier. They add ‘social’ to things or actions: social pictures, social search, that sort of thing.

Perhaps a company like Belkin could be considered a conjunction company, joining together other nouns. Maybe that’s a little tenuous but you get the idea.

Now this is fragile thinking but there’s a kernel here, and it’s not just a hardware, middleware or software distinction. Apple do make plenty of software but they approach it in a noun-like way. Apple software is always a ‘thing’, not an action. Whilst we might photoshop something, or google something (verbs), we never iTune, Final Cut or Safari anything. Equally, Google are making steps into hardware and ‘things’, but it’s clear that these are designed to prop up the other verb-based focus of the organisation: search, stream or play. Facebook is an interesting one. They began by creating a noun but are now using the qualities of that noun as a qualifier. There’s a fair bit of conjecture recently about a potential Facebook phone or camera, and whether true or not, we feel like we know what it might be: a fairly standard piece of hardware working in a ‘Facebook-y’ way.

This field is fascinating and I have more questions than answers, if anyone knows Noam Chomsky, could they ask him:

1) I’ve focussed on English, but does language structure variation across cultures affect the way in which objects are designed? Many languages have masculine, feminine or neutral structures, does this affect how designers understand and approach objects? Some languages such as Japanese have verb structures at the end of a sentence. Does this affect the priority of ‘doing’ in the design process? Are they more focussed on objects than actions?

2) Is it possible to be a preposition organization, focussed on place? Is that just a map or something larger? What about an interjection company?

3) Is cloud computing evidence of the pronouning of traditional nouns?

4) Can the success or failure of an organisation be attributed to confusion over their linguistic role in the world?

Read in Freud’s Civilization and its…

Read in Freud’s Civilization and its discontents

Now let us make the fantastic supposition that Rome were not a human dwelling-place, but a mental entity with just as long and varied a past history: that is, in which nothing once constructed had perished, and all the earlier stages of development had survived alongside the latest. This would mean that in Rome the palaces of the Caesars were still standing on the Palatine and the Septizonium of Septimius Severus was still towering to its old height; that the beautiful statues were still standing in the colonnade of the Castle of St. Angelo, as they were up to its siege by the Goths, and so on. But more still: where the Palazzo Caffarelli stands there would also be, without this being removed, the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, not merely in its latest form, moreover, as the Romans of the Caesars saw it, but also in its earliest shape, when it still wore an Etruscan design and was adorned with terra-cotta antifixae. Where the Coliseum stands now, we could at the same time admire Nero?s Golden House; on the Piazza of the Pantheon we should find out only the Pantheon of today as bequeathed to us by Hadrian, but on the same site also Agrippa?s original edifice; indeed, the same ground would support the church of Santa Maria sopra Mi-nerva and the old temple over which it was built. And the observer would need merely to shift the focus of his eyes, perhaps, or change his position, in order to call up a view of either the one or the other.

Why do I blog this? Writing an essay for a new media art exhibit about location-based services and its influence on the urban environment, I was fascinated by this quote from Sigmund Freud. It seems to be an interesting quote to discuss problems related to what Adam Greenfield called the “Long here” (i.e. the persistently retrievable history of the things that are done and witnessed there over any place that can specified with lat/long coordinates.)

“Asymmetric gaming” as described here: providing…

“Asymmetric gaming” as described here:

providing players different control schemes and specialized objectives in the same game scenario. This is a departure from traditional console game mechanics. Most current games involve a discrete set of roles and strategies, and these are enabled and governed by a single (symmetrical) set of controllers. By introducing a new kind of controller and screen into this mix, Wii U opens up the possibilities for new roles and perspectives, and therefore new kinds of gameplay – asymmetric in nature

Why do I blog this? Writing a chapter about the evolution of game controllers, and the resurgence of displays, this notion is interesting to be addressed in conjunction with technical means and players’ reactions.

Found in Jay, Martin. 1993. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of…

Found in Jay, Martin. 1993. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth- Century French Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press:

If one had to summarize the contribution of the medieval and early modern struggle over the proper role of the visual in the preparation of the modern ocularcentric culture that followed, three points should be stressed. First, the medieval metaphysics of light…kept alive the assumption that vision was indeed the noblest of the senses, despite its potential for deception and the arousal of lascivious thoughts. Second, the lengthy dispute over the idolatrous implications of that metaphysics and the Church’s visual practices led to a new awareness of the difference between representation and fetishism…[Third] [t]his in turn helped prepare the way for what might be called the secular autonomization of the visual as a realm unto itself. The early modern separation of the visual from the textual…was crucial in the preparation of the scientific worldview.

Why do I blog this? Because it’s a fascinating quote to keep in mind when discussing “Augmented Reality” and its overly awkward ocularcentrism. The picture above is one I took in Seoul few years ago and that highlight the side-effect of this phenomenon.