Archive for the ‘tangible computing’ Category

A User’s Special Touch

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 by

Yesterday Volker Roth came back for a visit and to give us a preview of the talk he will give next week at UIST 2010 on his work with Philipp Schmidt and Benjamin Güldenring on The IR Ring: Authenticating users’ touches on a multi-touch display. The work supports multiple users interacting with the same screen at the same time with different access and control permissions. For example, you may want to show me a document on a multi-touch display, but that does not mean you want me to be able to delete that document. Similarly, I may want to show you a particular e-mail I received, without giving you the ability to access my other e-mail messages, or to send one in my name. Roth et al. implemented hardware and software add-ons for a multi-touch display that restrict certain actions to the user wearing the IR ring emitting the appropriate signal. Users wearing different rings have different access and control privileges. In this way, only you can delete your document, and only I can access my other e-mail messages.

Roth and his coauthors frame their work as preventing “pranksters and miscreants” from carrying out “their schemes of fraud and malice.” To me, the work is most compelling as a means to avoid mistakes and to frustrate human curiosity. (more…)

pCubee: a interactive cubic display

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 by

Our friend Takashi Matsumoto, (who built the Post-Bit system with us here at FXPAL) built a cubic display called Z-agon with colleagues at the Keio Media Design Laboratory. Takashi points us at this video of a very nicely realized cubic display (well, five-sided, but still). It’s called pCubee: a Perspective-Corrected Handheld Cubic Display and it comes from the Human Communications Technology Lab at the University of British Columbia. Some of you may have seen a version of this demoed at ACM Multimedia 2009; it will also be at CHI 2010. Longer and more detailed video is here.

What a difference 200 years makes

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 by

Recently, I had an opportunity to see the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 (serial #2) in action. It’s an impressive piece of machinery, weighing in at about five tons, consisting of 25,000 parts. Mostly metal. It’s on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View through December, when Nathan Myhrvold takes it home and installs it in his living room, next to the T-Rex. Babbage built a few smaller models, but never saw the completion of the project after a falling out with his master builder and subsequent loss of funding from the government. Still, he had something like 12 years of funding to attempt to build the device. (He also made money on other inventions such as the cowcatcher at the front of steam engines.)

The Science Museum in London built Difference Engine No. 2 serial #1 in the late 1980s to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Babbage’s birth.

Front view showing the registers

Front view showing the registers


Tangible Tools for Design

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 by

We are happy to see that the summer issue of the AIEDAM journal is now published (editors:  Ellen Yi-Luen Do and Mark D. Gross). It contains our article on the electronic-paper-based Post-Bits system, “Prototyping a tangible tool for design: Multimedia e-paper sticky notes.”

So, what are Post-Bits? We were looking for new ways to use e-paper, and at the same time, we were (and are) very interested in tangible tools for enhancing all kinds of work. This project started when Takashi Matsumoto interned here at FXPAL.  You can see Takashi talking about Post-Bits in the video below the fold:


Tangibles Day at FXPAL

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 by

Last week we had two interesting visitors who each gave talks in the area of tangible computing. (Briefly, tangible computing explores ways of interacting with computers using real-world physical objects; much more info can be found online including at the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab). FXPAL has done a number of tangible interface projects over the years, including the PostBits project, the Convertible Podium, and others.