ckd


Kinect 2.0 and Choi Kwang Do

My kinect 2.0 arrived this afternoon so I got straight to trying it out. The previous Kinect was less able to cope with shoulders and some of the subtle extra s of joints.
The new Kinect 2.0 seems to be able to cope much better. Though maybe not with the speed of a martial art like Choi Kwang Do.
However, with the basics of form it is doing a very good job just in the Kinect Studio. This enables developers to turn on and off features. As I was using this out of the box it may well be doing more than it needed to do. e.g. just focusing on the skeleton might be smoother than dealing with all the point cloud data and and the ghost image.
The studio has the same thing I tried in my previous example of being able to change the view form front to side to top. The video shows this in this order. The side view is about 40 seconds in and I think is the most useful in terms of technique. We often train with mirrors or looking at another person but seldom see side on unless it is recorded and played back. This is a live mirror from the side view 🙂
I seem to confuse it with a twisting kick too 🙂

Now to look at specific code and trying to match movements to a reference move. Spotting the weight transfer etc.
Still it looks like this might be another step forward to another helpful tool for training.
Lets see how this goes. I have not seen if there is a unity3d plugin yet but thats next on the list.

The future of broadcasting via super8, Wimbledon, CKD Road Trip, twitch and tango – flush 13

Another exciting monday morning as the new edition of Flush The Fashion magazine goes live.
As usual there are loads of great articles and also some great prizes to be won in the magazine. This time Kano raspberry Pi kits 🙂
On page 74 I have my article “We go live in 3.2.1…” which once again looks great with the layout and the images that @tweetthefashion put together.
I discuss the evolution of home movies from the 70’s and super 8 film to the amazing changes in being able to broadcast live right now to everyone. On the journey are the experiences of trying to some early multi platform broadcasting and virtual worlds elements at Wimbledon (which starts today so that’s good timing) to the ability to just say xbox broadcast to share your game play with commentary to anyone anywhere. Being an emerging tech section I also have to consider the wonderful Project Tango from Google too.
The full magazine is here


The ipad version will be live very soon.
This will get you to my little article

Real life avatar

Over the years I have got very used to digital representations of physical things and have often paid attention and talked and written about the impact those avatars have on our interactions with one another. A few days ago my new Choi Kwang Do training partner arrived, a Century BOB XL.

I already have large punch bag but there is something very interesting that seems to happen when faced with a face, an avatar representing a human form. I had noticed this before training on BOB at the West End Dojang and various other places.
Bags and shields provide a good target to practice technique. We also practice target punching and kicking and defence drills with our fellow students. However in Choi we do not spar it is not a martial art to try and get hurt doing.
BOB on the other hand presents you with an interesting mental challenge. Whilst it is a monochrome coloured lump of rubber it does have human features. It makes you think whether or not you really could defend yourself against a real person and use the sort of strength of attacks we learn and practice. It also allows you to desensitise yourself to the human in front of you, to practice tuning them out. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I need to use Choi techniques to defend me or someone. However I do want to be as mentally prepared as possible.

Like all things though this can be over analysed, and it is just good fun to use the various techniques to target the right pieces of the body, the irregular shape of a human form versus the symmetry of bag provides another level of practice.
So now my Choi self, an avatar in its own right as I switch modes can interact and have a conversation with the BOB avatar. Of course this is also for the rest of the family as we are all practitioners in the art. I know the predlets really like BOB and as the mini Dojang gets a little better organised (new garage door to maximise the room there) then we shall all get to play a bit more.

I hope I can put some tech instrumentation in too to add to the fun. A proper place to put the power meter/arduino contraption and who knows the Xbox Kinect too (though still need that dev kit form Microsoft!)
For more on Choi Kwang Do check out basingstokeckd.co.uk

Got back home to some amazing news. Oculus to Facebook :)

I am just about coming around from a superb trip to the US with my Choi Kwang Do family. We took a flight to Orlando, then drove 500 miles in 2 cars up to Atlanta, Georgia. The HQ of CKD. Whilst there several of the group graded for belts, a black belt and 2 coloured belts. Also the founders of the Hampshire group of schools Mr Derek Bicknell and his son Mr Liam Bicknell graded (for 2 days ) with Grand Master Choi and achieved their 4th Degree blackbelt in CKD. A very fine achievement.
Most of the time I spent at HQ, training and helping out. It is a great time to just concentrate on the art not worry about the outside world.

I did take a trip with some of our group to the aquarium and I also spent some time with an old friend from Atlanta who very kindly took me skeet and target shooting out on the wilds near Alabama for the full redneck experience. Including firing a very loud M1 rifle.

Once the training was done we then drove 500 miles back to Tampa where we attended the 27th anniversary of Choi Kwang Do at a seminar.

So I was almost completely immersed in CKD and less in tech. However… I did speak to some people about the kinect and how that could help training and I also explored making videos on the fly. I had made some using the iMovie trailer wizard before but I attempted a couple of live ones. The first was when I took a break from driving and made this.

The second was attempting to document the aquarium experience. Atlanta aquarium provides very fast wifi which make a lot of sense so we can all share things as we are doing them. This was the result.

The wifi at the seminar let me capture and publish straight to youtube too, such as Miss Cullen’s shield attack which she gained a great 3rd place and a handshake from Grand Master Choi.

I had videos all the demo teams too, I was about to upload them when I realised that they are all performed to music that probably would get flagged by the google bot and get takedown orders on them. So that requires a bit more editing not on the iPhone 🙂
On getting back and feeling enthused by jet lagged I was pleasantly surprised to find that Facebook was buying Oculus Rift the VR headset. Now I understand the notion that a big company has just bought out something slightly cool because it was not mainstream but as a metaverse evangelist and as part of this industry I think it is very good news. That combined with Sony’s Morpheus headset and the potential combination of Google Glass and Google Tango means we have a resurgence in the very thing that people keep asking if its dead. Virtual worlds. Headsets provide another way to interact with 3d content. It may not be to everyone’s taste, there is a barrier to entry. However big tech firms showing an interest again will push things forward back up the good side of the hype curve.
Issues of identity, of immersive design, integration with existing data. New ways to explore how we communicate as humans all get brought to the fore. It will give another generation a chance to push things forward. I am of course happy to help anyone get to grips with the changes this will bring. I have been in this virtual space quite a while now, though there are other pioneers that were there before too.
So bring it on 🙂 It would be amazing to be up close and personal with digital renditions of all the wonderful Choi Kwang Do experts in an immersive 3d environment too. There are of course slight practical issues of wiring getting in the way, but it would be possible to get a complete perspective of the art from the view of a grandmaster captured digitally. Not to replace the real physical thing, but it would be great to feel that peace and excitement of the Atlanta HQ from here 🙂

Proper parcel tracking – interlink and tep

With my impending US road trip with my fellow Choi Kwang Do students and teachers I thought I best ensure I had internet connectivity on the road.

Whilst lots of hotels etc have wireless I wanted a roaming device for the long car journey. Recently my backup global roaming data service (aboradband) ceased to operate.
Instead I decided to rent a Tep Wireless device. This gives a data plan and a wireless/cellular device with a variety of tariffs.
You can pick these up at the airport if you are flying from Heathrow, but I am going from Gatwick. So instead I needed to order a home delivery.
Now home delivery is getting better, but usually we only get to know roughly the day something will arrive. Tep said that it would be 2-3 days before travel. I had not heard anything this morning (I fly thursday). I checked my spam filter and sure enough there was a very cool link to the tracking service. (I am not blaming Tep for my spam filter 🙂 )
The email said that I could track the parcel but also gave me a 1 hour window for the delivery. This is fantastic. Right at the moment the van is just down the road and the parcel is on its way.
SafariScreenSnapz033
I will post a review of the service once the trip is over, or whilst on the trip. However this is a very good start. Well done interlink for having proper tracking on parcels. Now I wonder if my baggage will get the same service 🙂

BCS Bristol – Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts

Yesterday I braved the inclement weather and headed of to a room at Bristol university to give one of my talks to BCS Bristol. I had arranged to do this some time ago, probably when we were moving house back in May so I had sent a possible title and was planning to send an abstract. However, I forgot! so the the invite just said “Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts” with Ian Hughes. I did have my usual bio in there so it was not all bad. Luckily there were lots of interested or intrigued people who came along last night and I had a great time sharing, telling the stories of my tech journey that got me to Choi Kwang Do. Explaining just how cool Rocksmith 2014 is and also showed everyone the Oculus Rift and let those that wanted to have a go. The presentation is of course a mix, match and evolution of many of my previous ones, but here is it, minus the many videos with some links to them instead. It also features links to the local Bristol CKD school as I said I urge everyone to just go and take a look at how friendly and invigorating Choi Kwang Do is.
Thankyou to everyone at BCS Bristol. Thankyou also for the very kind comments and great conversations afterwards. It means a great deal to me that I help people see things in a new light through sharing these personal experiences powered by game technology.

I should add that the 90 miles home was a good straight run in the car, hardly any “weather” to speak of. Quite a relief.

Xbox One Kinect Two

The title almost sounds like a football score but we are very close to the release of the next wave of consoles. I am particularly interested in the Xbox One for a number of reasons.
1. Most of my gaming has gravitated towards the 360 so I am geared up for the next gen franchises like the fantastic looking Forza 5.
2. The Kinect 2.0 has some features that are going to be really useful for any Choi Kwang Do applications.
3. Unity 3d has a tie in with Xbox One development.
4. Proper Cloud processing, utility computing looks like it is part of Microsofts plan. Not just streaming games from elsewhere, but farming off processing to large servers and delivering results back. (Grid computing as we used to call it 🙂 )

As a Unity developer, whilst much of what I do is private rather than publicly available I am really interested in being able to deploy to the Xbox One. It opens up a lot of possibilities from a research point of view and may lead to some extra commercial work.
I have applied for the ID@Xbox scheme which is to help developers get onboard with the Xbox One. Eventually any Xbox One will be a potential piece of development kit, which is great news, but at the moment they are still in the old console model of needing a special Xbox One to develop on. Unity3d have announced free versions of Pro to go with those kits. As a Pro licence owner already I really just need access to the kit.
In particular when you see the different in how the Kinect 2.0 can deal with the human form as in this video.
***fixed the link as it was the wrong kinect video 🙂

Having a richer skeleton, complete with real shoulders, but also the tools already in place to look at weight distribution, muscle tension, limb acceleration and interestingly too the heart rate from the face.
You can see that this provides me with a whole lot more tech vocabulary to be able to analyse what we do in Choi Kwang Do and provide a training aid, or training mirror. This is compared to where I am up to with Kinect 1.0 as in this previous post (one of my virtual/gaming technology Use Case examples)
I am not sure if I meet Microsoft’s requirements to be called a developer, but then most of what I do never fits on any of these forms that I have to fill in 🙂 If I do and I get access to dev kit that is great. Either way this is much more useful than the alternative platforms, so I am hopeful.
As it is my Xbox One has been on preorder since they were launched so I am hoping the post delivers it promptly on 22nd November, just 10 days away. That is the fun side of playing, but it as ever is also part of learning and understanding the world of technology.

Use Case 2 – real world data integration – CKD

As I am looking at a series of boiled down use cases of using virtual world and gaming technology I thought I should return to the exploration of body instrumentation and the potential for feedback in learning a martial art such as Choi Kwang Do.
I have of course written about this potential before, but I have built a few little extra things into the example using a new windows machine with a decent amount of power (HP Envy 17″) and the Kinect for Windows sensor with the Kinect SDK and Unity 3d package.
The package comes with a set of tools that let you generate a block man based on the the join positions. However the controller piece of code base some options for turning on the user map and skeleton lines.
In this example I am also using unity pro which allows me to position more than one camera and have each of those generate a texture on another surface.
You will see the main block man appear centrally “in world”. The three screens above him are showing a side view of the same block man, a rear view and interestingly a top down view.
In the bottom right is the “me” with lines drawn on. The kinect does the job of cutting out the background. So all this was recorded live running Unity3d.
The registration of the block man and the joints isn’t quite accurate enough at the moment for precise Choi movements, but this is the old Kinect, the new Kinect 2.0 will no doubt be much much better as well as being able to register your heart rate.

The cut out “me” is a useful feature but you can only have that projected onto the flat camera surface, it is not a thing that can be looked at from left/right etc. The block man though is actual 3d objects in space. The cubes are coloured so that you can see join rotation.
I think I will reduce the size of the joints and try and draw objects between them to give him a similar definition to the cutout “me”.
The point here though is that game technology and virtual world technology is able to give a different perspective of a real world interaction. Seeing techniques from above may prove useful, and is not something that can easily be observed in class. If that applies to Choi Kwang Do then it applies to all other forms of real world data. Seeing from another angle, exploring and rendering in different ways can yield insights.
It also is data that can be captured and replayed, transmitted and experienced at distance by others. Capture, translate, enhance and share. It is something to think about? What different perspectives could you gain of data you have access to?

Martial Arts Human Technology

This weekend was a very interesting one for those of us who study the Martial Art Choi Kwang Do as it was the 25th Anniversary festival and seminar. (I have written, and talked a lot about how I arrived at CKD via technology, as in the Flush The Fashion Article but as with all journeys there are always new discoveries). People from all over the globe arrived and took part in a variety of activities. Most notable was the presence of the founder of CKD Grand Master Choi.
He presented several times to various groups of us. At the age of 71 he is still incredibly flexible, physically fit and sharp of mind. Not to mention blindingly fast with his techniques.
Whilst I have been considering (as have others in CKD) the use of technology to aid training and perfecting of the techniques we use it struck me just how important our human biology is in the whole art. The way we learn, how we train, our motivations for training all need to be looked at.
That is obvious at one level, you can’t have a martial art of blocking, punching and kicking without humans. It can seem from the outside, as with many martial arts that the formality and structure is making everyone the same. Uniformity being an apparent goal. This is not the case though as I heard many times that everything has to be relative to the individual.
During the seminar we got to meet Jordan Leiva who has been practicing CKD for a long time, but who clearly also likes to use tech to improve and analyse and share his movements. To see the precision of years of practice in slow motion even if you are not part of a martial art is very poetic.

CKD is often described as being based on scientific principles but as I heard explained a few times in various ways the science has almost followed what was a gut feeling that Grand Master Choi had with a maverick view of doing things a better way. This is probably the other reason I gravitated towards this tribe of people. If the founder is a bit of a maverick, challenging the way things are done it it a natural fit.
Clearly the science of biomechanics feature a lot in being able to move and defend oneself from any attack, but it seems that the mere fact of learning the sequences, slowly and without pressure or tension offer range of other benefits to the brain and systems around it, with the ability to also ramp up the same patterns and moves to achieve different physiological effects. So how will technology help us adjust and train things going on inside our minds and bodies? I am still looking at kinect for the motion of the body, but I think I need to roll in the Neuorsky and alike to deal with mental state too.
I had always looked at exercise as something that was pretty binary. You put a lot of effort in, or you were not doing it right. I was aware that different heart rates altered the effect of exercise but still that seemed a very mechanical. Seeing the ease with which experts and Masters in CKD performed their patterns, and hearing Grand Master Choi point out that over training was not a good thing started to put my attitude to us as human pieces of technology in a different light.
A quick google to start to look at a bit of the brain science and the chemical changes we cause ourselves, which ties in with some of the anecdotal pieces of information I got to hear this weekend. This paper (though many academic papers are locked behind a paywall). It would appear there are some great chemical balancing acts that excercise causes. All related to BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Physical activity at the right level for the age and abilities of the person increases brain function and grows new neurons. However too much and it damages the ability to learn. So you can reach a tired state, just at the right level for you as and individual and then be more receptive to new information.
I have been interested for a long time in people’s motivations and why they engage with certain tasks, games etc. How something feels is as important as what something is.
I think as we blend ourselves more with technology we are all going to have to start understanding the deeper impact it may have on our physiology which means there is a lot more room for a Cyber Martial Art that CKD could become aiming at improving all our experiences of life. It is another exciting avenue to investigate, whilst also not trying to over analyse and just enjoy the journey.

Rez Day again – Reflection on 7 years of joy and pain

All the joys of trying to move physical home and my focus on training in Choi Kwang Do, plus the Predlets being on holiday meant my Rez Day in Second Life nearly passed me by! It has been just over 7 years now since diving into SL and that has been a catalyst for a great number of changes and opportunities (and quote a few threats) in my life and the lives of many of my friends and colleagues.
I am still amazed at the power of what happened back in 2006 the power of people to gather and share in a virtual space. The creativity and buzz is something that many of us will never fully experience again.
This may seem crazy but this formed part of a customer briefing on security!
moooo
We really didn’t know the potential(which is still there), we just knew that exploring code and shapes, interactions with people etc was going to take us somewhere. I mean what do you do when your scripted space hopper rolls away into someone else space?
Postcard from Second Life
There are not many pieces of software that you can look back on and say that of. Of course the software, the networks etc was just an enabler for people to communicate and explore.
I have a collection photos of real events that happened in world. These are as memorable to me as any other photo or holiday snap. Real people doing real things, just mediated through bits and bytes.
I am still amazed though at the fear and negative vibes that many of us endured, and in some cases still do from the actions we took online with one another. It is hard to see why, when something is actually so positive it needs people to act against it. Not act against Second Life but against the freeform organisation of others. I doubt anyone who as experienced this will ever be able to fully share the full details of their particular lows. Many are deeply personal. Those acting to destroy such a positive wave of energy know full well what they were doing, who knows they may think they have won some fairground prize. In reality they have lost something and probably strengthened something and in a way done us all a favour.

What do we take as a positive from that though? Well anything that generates that much passion, both for and against it is not just another fad, another niche. It is obviously tqping into some deep needs in humans to either communicate and share, to gather together, or on the other side of the virtual coin to control and break things that they do not understand.
Unfortunately as it was the people not the software that was the problem, it was the people’s potential that got attacked not the bits and bytes.
2006-2009 was a technology bubble for virtual worlds, it was also a cultural bubble. We had to go through that and experience the joy and pain of it all in order to be here for the next wave. Culture takes a while to change but we are seeing much more sharing, much more open source. A realisation the power is in people not organisational structures. You can have a balance. You can have rank, a meritocracy. You can have rules but yet creative freedom within them.
What happened for a small portion of us in Virtual Worlds back then called eightbar was that we all worked to improve our own understanding of what the potential was, but in doing that we wanted to help others who were on the same journey. It was not about money or power. It was not about glory or control. That is hard for many people to understand who were not feeling the buzz.
I am now able to reflect on what we did instinctively for the good of the art so to speak but seeing how the martial art I study works. This does not feel a tenuous link as the conversations we have resonate with 7 years ago for me.
A martial art is a meritocracy. Through your personal goals and willingness to better yourself at your own level your earn belts. In Choi Kwang Do this is not through beating people or competing. It is not through negative comments of how badly you are doing, how much you missed a target. Instead it is active encouragement to enjoy mistakes to evolve and reach a goal. Lining up in belt rank order is never to say those with the higher belt are better. They are more experienced but they still learn, they still add to their skills. This is where it may lose some people though. We have control. A person, usually with lots of experience, will run a session. They will give commands, set tasks. We do them. It may seem regimented, yet each person is aiming to improve their technique, to learn and evolve. The person in charge at the time is also improving their own knowledge through observation, helping others with positive pointers. People step up to lead and are allowed to lead because they have earned the respect of everyone. However they never, ever apply any ego to that.
If I was to head back to 2006 and the wave of awesome virtual world discoveries, the teamwork and the sense of adventure we all had I am pretty sure I would do it all again. For me now, having seen another very positive gathering of humans trying to explore something exciting, yet applying some structure, I may have been able to help us be something a little stronger to deal with those less enlightened individuals. Maybe even to help them achieve more. The martial art is focussed on defence against a threatening force though. With out the potential for threats, without a counter to all this positivity it would not need to exist. So maybe we just enjoyed such a productive and interesting time because were were up against some people who were not so interesting or productive 🙂
This year I still did some work in Second Life too. I was part of a build of a hospital experience that was about dealing with a mass influx of patients. The doctors and hospital staff (real ones) had to decide which patient to move where to make space for the sudden influx. There was a lot of code I had to design and put in place to be able to make patients deteriorate, take time to move from one place to another. Deal with multiple decisions, provide visual feedback etc. We did all this in order to help lock down the requirements. Then went on to build a web based version networked with voice too in Unity3d. We have then used it to inspire some kids too, we even added a few friendly dancing zombies. Kids love zombies. It is a fine line between playing and being serious. Virtual worlds and games bounce across that line, twist it, warp it and sometimes rub it out all together. Still they can be used for so many reasons and why wouldn’t you?