Monthly Archives: June 2009


Painting with physics – Kinetic Sketch

AnnieOK just tweeted a link to this kinetic sketch web application. Its a Flash based application that the brushes are objects that are responding to one another and acting as physical simulations. i.e. a round brush rolls and square one will tip from its corner. In addition to simple physics like gravity there are lots of creativity settings for the trails that are left behind. You can even use live video (though on my Mac I had to tell flash to use the USB video class (a right click on the background and quick menu select in settings to sort that out) in order to get me as a brush. You can then post to multiple places such as I did here with going straight to Flickr (so its suitably social media aware as to be useful too ๐Ÿ™‚ )
my kinetic sketch
I still find the most basic of physics simulations interesting, as they used to be the things I wrote with my first computer (a ZX81) intertia, collisions and gravity even just in 2D have an organic feel to them. This though takes that even further with the painting aspects leaving a digital echo of the physical movements. Wonderful stuff IMHO.

I did a little extra with it that was not camera based.
Accident in a Tetris factory evolved

It started to remind me of the recent Tate Modern show on the futurists that I went too.

Futurism postcards - Tate Modern

It is interesting what those talented and revolutionary artists may have done back in 1911 with the technology we have today.

It also reminded me I had not blogged about the wonderful sculpture that I did not get a photo or postcard of byย Umberto Boccioni (who also did the running man above) entitled “Development of a bottle in space”
Bottle in space

This was a very striking piece but also one that looked more like prim twisting in Second Life than anything else I had seen.

This is what a mobile device is for. AR

In the quest for mobile communication the telecoms companies have tended to stick with the same principles. We need a mobile phone to carry voice, we need a camera to take pictures so that we can have a video conversation (that has not quite seemed to take off). Text messages with SMS was a bit of a suprise and point to point MMS is not quite what people wanted. The rise of the social web, communicating in plain site online has more than ever driven the take up of data plans. Far more than downloading movies, or on the move TV it would seem.
Augmented reality is in a gap though. When you take the cameras which accidently evolved to show the world not show the user, you take the processing power onboard and the recent huge rise in combined device capabilities we start to see yet more Augmented Reality.
This is a great IPhone example from some guys at Oxford in the UK.

It is impressive at it is in effect markerless using the environment to figure registration points.
The new Iphone 3GS with its compass and even more ways to tell which way is up lends itself also to this sort of game control mechanism. Which is not Augmented Reality as such, though is a branch of the field. Here the real world is used as the control mechanism for the virtual world, and it does not matter where in the real world you are, but the virtual world is always “inside” on the device.

3d Printing multiple materials with Objet

I just received a sample from Objet of the results of their new PolyJet Matrix(tm) 3d printing technology. Why is this important? This particular technology means that in one pass an object can be constructed of several types and forms of material. In the example sent through, a rendering of Zebedee from the magic roundabout the various components all feel very different. Given my original 3d print sample was a small ABS plastic box from a few year ago things have really come on.
Objet 3d print sample
The hat and nose are actually made of a rubbery substance and soft to the touch, the spring flexes when you push on the sides of it and the body and head have some intricate detail and colour to them (such as the tiny buttons on his front).
It was an Object printer that was used by the creators of the Coraline movie in a very interesting way too.

Objet.com 3d printer sample

There is a whole stack of information in particular on the entry level 350 printer here and you can follow @3d_printers on twitter.
I am even more convinced than ever of the impact of this sort of technology when combined with the digital design and distribution channels we have. It will continue to get cheaper, better and faster and as in my previous post about some uses of the printers we have a whole host of new business and entertainment uses to consider over and above pure manufacturing of products. This is akin to the differences in virtual world technology usage of mirror worlds and mirror builds compared to more expressive and unusual environments. Mix that all up with Augmented Reality applications and we have one very interesting leap and trends forming.
As experts in the field of design in this space also warn such as csven on ReBang there are responsibilities in learning to design these sorts of products. Making people aware of the opportunities in their product design profession will bring along safe usuable products.
Either way, like virtual worlds and Augmented Reality, 3d printing is not going away, in fact they are on a march together it would seem. So join the march I say ๐Ÿ™‚

John Bull printing set for digital natives – gives me an AR idea

I just saw a great link from Shapeways about using the 3d printer to create a stamp of a QR code. Using ink on the stamp and pressing it on a surface leaving a valid QR code impression.

This of course works as an idea on so many levels. It did remind me of the conversation we have round the invention of the printing press and the liberation of thought through that. It also took me back to my childhood with the John Bull printing set. We had small rubber and wooden letters that we lined up in a holder to print sentences.
Metaltype.co.uk image of John Bull printing set
(Image from http://www.metaltype.co.uk/ )
It also struck me that this is a great way to place Augmented reality tags too. QR codes are great in that they encode URL information, they can even be updated live as in Andy Sc’s QR code clock. However placing the markers and tags means they need to be physically rendered somehow if your are doing AR.
The marker here from this old demo was printed via a regular printer and pasted on a board. How cool would it be to be able to place those markers using a 3d printing stamp?

That then got me thinking……
The problem with an AR code marker is that on its own there is not an indication of what it was intended to relate to. It is just a token marker. So stamping AR tags all over the place are meaningless without context. QR codes on the other hand are more detailed versions of a bar code containing things like urls and other indicators.
So without having to reinvent any standards the AR marker could also include context with a QR marker indicating the context and even where to get the model or the rendering for the AR tag. That combined stamp could then be applied. Just as with any URL then the value of what the QR code points to could be adjusted as needed, updating what the AR does with the tag. An ARRI Augmented Reality Resource indicator.

Happy 6th Birthday Second Life

Second Life is turning 6 years old, and as per usual there is a party going on. I popped in to have a quick look (just missing the preview party) but the first thing I saw I loved.
sl6b
This build is animated too. It is a blend of Pac Man, Pong, Star Wars and Tron. I will give it a proper credit when I go back but had to share this picture as I found it instantly fascinating.
It was also interesting that within minutes I bumped into a Wordle banner in there too on a Linden build. Wordle being something that seems to have swept into all sorts of places and created by Jonathan Feinberg from my old firm.
wordle in SL
There is a lot to see with a huge number of resident built exhibits. See you in there!

Its not all Android and iphone AR you know?

To keep the rolling theme of Augmented Reality going and highlight interesting applications Ron Edwards from Ambient Performance has recently posted this tagged AR demonstration but running on a Nokia N95.
So that means there have been good AR demonstrations live on Android, Iphone, S60 and a quick youtube shows some on windows mobile too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There is a definite technology way rolling based on the mass adoption of relatively powerful smartphones (probably powered by the user friendly nature of the Apple Iphone) with cameras and internet connectivity, combined with opensource development components to help build on these too.
I would say watch this space, but the space will get filled with something rendered in realtime!

Lie to me, avatars and actors

I have recently got into watching Lie to me, running on Sky 1 at the moment. It is an intriguing programme that has Tim Roth as an expert of human behavior and in particular body and facial language when they lie (apparently based on the work of Paul Elkman) . If nothing else it is worth watching for Tim Roth’s performance with his typical style of flipping intensities and focus as he talks. I do find it interested how the various elements of betraying ones true feelings are portrayed in the programme though. I have said to people that I think the show is designed to make us all feel clever. Much of what happens is made fairly obvious at the time, highlighting a crooked smile, touching an ear etc, and as humans we do many of those things and know via instinct what they mean.
There is of course an interesting loop here in that we are in fact watching actors, all of whom have a job which involves convincing us that they are something or someone else, yet at the same time they are convincing us that they are lying as part of that role.
It got me to consider the things I often say to people about engaging in virtual worlds and online and how different people have a different Neuro-linguistic Programming balance. i.e. some people refer to things with visual metaphors even in speech “I see your point of view”, or with aural references, “I here what you are saying” etc. These basics of human communication need to be considered in having the right experience for the right people online, and show why some people don’t take to some platforms.
In all this we have the overhanging spectre of people lying online. The accusation that people hide who they are online getting mixed up with people simply proxying who they are online via an avatar. It is these things that then remove our usual human facial detection systems to pick up on lies and truth. I believe the reason video conferencing in a social setting seems to be less popular that you might expect is because of the disconnect of these gestures and the direct feedback with the others on the call. However, when in avatar mediated space does the fact we have to decide on various ways to explicitly engage with people, gestures, sounds, words, position, pace, timing etc provide us with a different set of human detectors for deciding who to trust?
I know there is not an easy answer to any of this and the spectrum of usage is huge, from method acting role play, to fast talking business deals. Though I do think each of us finds a way to blend what we instictively know in a physical meeting about who we are talking too to how we interact online and give out the right signals and react to the right signals. Some people, as in physical interactions are going to be better at it than others.
I am not sure if the Lie to me script writers are going to delve into online interaction in a future show, but it would be interesting to see their take on the science applied to a very entertaining show and interesting subject.

The future is arriving even faster than we thought

Having very recently watched terminator:salvation and thought about the various permutations of the technology implications that science fiction shows us it is always even more interesting to then compare and contrast with what we actually have available today.
One such example is in augmented reality, of which I have a lot of recent blog posts. This is not about sentient machines and skynet working out we are the problem (though expect a post related to that in the near future).

(Thanks andypiper for sharing this one)
This mobile browser seems to do many of the things we need in order to be able to see the information all around us and about our world that we can’t normal see when we are actually there.
Why tie this to Terminator? Well part of the machine vision elements we see in all the films is clearly augmenting the view of the world, more precise ways to mix digital models with our location, we may well turn out to be the augmented ones rather than a technological race of robots?
Whilst on the subject there are still lots of stories about the data contact lenses.