Friday, March 30, 2007

What if we were 11 feet tall?

Yumiko Tanaka created SpyRod, a camera connected to a long stick with fishing line. The idea is that children can see and record the world from very different view points: a very low viewpoint, as if they were little creatures, a world as if they were giant or simply discover the world from their size-view.

By exploring the potential of new small cheap cameras, and by rethinking how children might use them, they stop being cameras and become third eyes.


Children playing with Moving Pictures

Tangible artifacts have been linked to video as a way to support collaborative exploration of a video collection. More recently, Labrune and Mackay designed the TangiCam, a tangible camera made of two cameras on a circular frame to capture both the child and the video of the child. Researchers have worked on token-based access to digital information. See also pioneer research done by Hiroshi Ishii and Brygg Ullmer.

A broad range of interactive table-tops have been designed for collaboration. From Yumiko Tanaka’s Plable, a traditional looking table under which children can build an imaginary world, to the DiamondTouch table that allows the collaboration and coordination of multiple users at the same time, designers developed a new concept for movie editing to help children understand the process of editing. In Moving Pictures, children arrange tokens on a table, guided by a GUI, in order to create and visualize the storyboard of a movie.


The Plable web site has awesome videos both of the process and the final project.

This interesting concept started to take a more "card shape" with Mika Miyabara and Tatsuo Sugimoto, the Movie cards, a set of printed cards that can be re-arranged in any order. Their bar code is used to identify them on a digital screen. Regine Debatty gives more details about this very interesting project.
Also, TVS explores the manipulation of digital video clips using multiple handheld computers.

Movie Cards

Recently, Dave Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi created the Siftables, a set of small displays that can be physically manipulated as a group to interact with digital information and media. I bet that these miniature video cards will lead to very interesting projects ...
Paper on the siftables.

The siftables

Philips Design developed Pogo, a system that allows replaying visual sequences using tangible objects with a stationary computer for capturing and associating media to objects. Even though these systems invite capture and editing of the movie segments, they donnot propose the publication of the final movie created and the possibility to share it with peers remotely. For this reason, Moving Pictures integrates a videojockey mode to allow children to perform a final movie as much as inviting them to revisit the movie impact.


Allowing authorship as a design principle in most Tangible Interfaces is rare. It is probably due to the fact that it requires a very flexible interface and a software architecture that takes care of data management. This design principle can allow children to become active participants instead of simply observers. In Moving Pictures, tangible media containers can easily be integrated in mobile technology and also be combined for performance using a video jockey platform. Maybe a new version could use the potential of the siftables ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Interactive toy for autistic children

LINKX an interactive toy that stimulates the language development of autistic children. Via Idealist

Helma van RijnI designed LINKX, a language toy for autistic toddlers. Throughout the process, experts in autism were involved. She tested the prototype with three autistic children in several play-sessions.

The following is the video of her tests

Monday, March 26, 2007

The beautiful people

The American Look (1958) discovered at paper lily.
America lifestyle in the 50's with an *idealistic* sense for design. A must see for any designer.

In France, we have Mon Oncle made in 1958 by Jacques Tati who portrays magnificently a materialistic lifestyle contrasted with a Mr. Hulot who struggles with postwar France's mindless obsession with modernity and American-style consumerism. I recommend anyone to watch any of Jacques Tati's movie. Delight for sure. A must see for anybody!

The following is an extract from Playtime

Mon oncle

I'd like to finish by a welcome into modernity by Jacques Tati. Awesome.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Create your own doll

Oh, I Feel Naked!

Yes, I collect toys, toys that are charged with a period. Maybe this one is charged from the Victorian era, but I love it. It resembles a mix between a voodoo doll and a customizable one. If the author of the work, Eli Gutierrez, commercializes it, I immediately would get one!

Interview in Neo-Nomad!

Yasmine Abbas challenged me on mobile-related questions for her NID serie.
The interview.

Yasmine initiated an interview serie the NID. The NID stands for Neo-nomad ID. The concept wants to push the envelop of a classical interview by providing readers clues to reflect on mobilities, and the paradoxes engendered. These NIDs are "tranches de vies", meaning "slices of lives", rather than a questionnaire listing projects. They dwell into the intimate and the everyday life of beings to understand better our relationship to mobilities and technologies. Necessarily, because the method of investigation relates more to ethnography than journalism, I felt that visuals were essential to the NID. Also, NID in French means "nest".

Friday, March 23, 2007

The world as a palette reviewed by Pantone

Kimiko Ryokai invented I/O brush willing to use the world as a palette, well Pantone just released the Pantone's color cue, a color matching device that one can hold to any surface to know the matching paint from the Pantone library, and get it to decorate their interior. Via Metropolismag.

With the Color Cue, designers can match Pantone paint to any flat surface, including these objects from the MoMA Design Store. From top: Karim Rashid’s Kaj Watch, Frank Gehry’s cardboard Wiggle Side Chair, and Marc Berthier’s Tykho Radio. By Evelyn Dilworth

Image courtesy Pantone

A view on conventional work

At the present time there are enough cultivated entertainment and issue-oriented films, as if cinema were a stroll on walkways in a park… One need not duplicate the cultivated. In fact children prefer the bushes: they play in the sand or in scrap heaps. - Alexander Kluge

Germany in Autumn

As a medium that organizes human needs and qualities in a social form, the existing public sphere maintains a claim to be representative while excluding large areas of people's experience. Among the media that increasingly constitute the public sphere, the cinema lags behind on account of its primarily artisanal mode of production (in Germany, at least), preserving a certain degree of independence thanks to state and television funding. This ironic constellation provides the cinema with a potential for creating an alternative, oppositional public sphere within the larger one, addressing itself primarily to the kinds of experience repressed by the latter. Thus the cinema's intervention aims not only at the systematic non- or misrepresentation of specific issues—eg. family, factory, security, war and Nazism—but also the structure of the public sphere itself. - Alexander Kluge

Music sofa

Very simple input output! Via idealist

Josiah McElheny

Adolf Loos, provocative architect from the early 20th century, basically declared that ornament is a crime and that moving ornament from the world is pure. Ornament in architecture but also on people such as tattoos. To some extend, it is a very colonialist statement ... He expressed that most primitive societies use ornaments and that the most advanced ones rarely use them, basically form follows function.

I discovered the work on Josiah McElheny on art21 and I was immediately impressed by his work: through the quality of the work that is self explanatory and also his excellent presentation of his work.

In the documentary series, Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century, Josiah McElheny explains how his white glass sculptures and installations are inspired by Adolf Loos' manifesto, Ornament and Crime. By this idea that primitive people are the ones who decorate and the natural course of progress in men is to remove this decorative impulse from our psyche. He explained that it is about making the world white in the sense of a world without ornamentation, without individuation, without grayness and that almost immediately it falls apart and becomes something really horrible, especially when it becomes imposed upon the world.

“Adolf Loos’ Ornament and Crime“, 2002
Blown glass, wood, glass, and electric lighting, case dimensions: 49 x 60 x 10 1/2 inches. Collection of the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Photo by Tom Van Eynde . Courtesy Donald Young Gallery, Chicago. With Art21 Copyright Notice.

I recently saw Josiah McElheny's Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely piece exhibited at the ICA in Boston.

Modernity circa 1952, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, detail. 2004
Mirrored blown glass, chrome metal, glass, mirror, electric lighting, 30 1/2 x 56 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches
Collection Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Tom Van Eynde. Courtesy Donald Young Gallery, Chicago.

Why not?

Shay Alkalay revisited bears as tools: as bin bags and as vacum cleaner bags.

Bin Bag Bear

A simple employee at the council rubbish disposal services had a peculiar imagination: he could see teddy bears in every object he observed. As a child he would stare at the clouds imagining that he could see teddy bears in the sky… and today...everywhere, even the black bin bags looked like teddy bears to him.
No one at work could stand his excited cries every time he shouted 'look at that bear...look at that one...don't throw it into the garbage crusher… nooooo!..'
Of course he was fired from his job, lost his family and friends and became homeless. Yet even though many people thought he was strange, none of them would admit that they too saw the teddy bear bin bags dumped around the streets of London.

Hoover Bag Bears

More on the Hoover Bears by Regine on wmmna.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Duct tape wallet

A wallet that I saw in many hands. Now there is even a kit to make it. The duct tape wallet kit by db clay. Via ohgizmo

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The neo-nomads made it to the BBC!

A great article on BBC news In search of the neo-nomad. So if you think you are becoming a laptop warrior or wirelress dependant, maybe you belong to this new class of persons, the Neo-Nomads. This term was invented by Dr Yasmine Abbas and illustrated by her PhD thesis.

Abbas is especially interested in how people who work on the move retain a sense of belonging to places and organisations, and at the way new technologies open up new ways of belonging to groups and even companies.

A lot can be designed for people on the move. Technology can really serve everyday needs of us, post-cyborgs ;) Yasmine and I started with the Touch Sensitive apparel conceived in the Tangible Media Group, MIT Media Laboratory and we are developping a new trend of haptic apparel to serve "digitally geared people on the move". Keep tuned!

Also I just found that the PhD thesis of Jeff Axup on Methods of Understanding and Designing For Mobile Communities was completed.
Abstract Society is increasingly on the move, mobile devices are commonly being used to coordinate group actions, and group communication features are rapidly being added to existing technologies. Despite this, little is known about how mobile groups act, or how communications technologies should be designed to augment existing behaviour. This is partially due to minimal research being done on the topic, but also to the lack of research methods available to study the topic with. Mobile groups are challenging to study because of frequent and long-duration movement, frequent distribution, and the rapidly changing environments they operate within. To address these issues, this research focuses on methodological issues surrounding the development of mobile devices for mobile groups and communities. More specifically it addresses backpackers, who are a relevant example of this type of community. The research primarily explores the convergence of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) and the field of mobile device development. This enables the combination of emphasis on designing technologies for groups, social implications, mobile device design, and mobile settings.

Major research outcomes presented in this thesis lie in three areas: 1) methods, 2) technology designs, and 3) backpacker culture. Five studies of backpacker behaviour and requirements form the core of the research. The methods used are in-situ and exploratory, and apply both novel and existing techniques to the domain of backpackers and mobile groups.

Methods demonstrated in this research include: field trips for exploring mobile group behaviour and device usage, a social pairing exercise to explore social networks, contextual postcards to gain distributed feedback, and blog analysis which provides post-hoc diary data. Theoretical contributions include: observations on method triangulation, a taxonomy of mobility research, method templates to assist method usage, and identification of key categories leading to mobile group requirements. Design related outcomes include: 57 mobile tourism product ideas, a format for conveying product concepts, and a design for a wearable device to assist mobile researchers.

Our understanding of backpacker culture has also improved as a consequence of the research. It has also generated user requirements to aid mobile development, methods of visualising mobile groups and communities, and a listing of relevant design tensions. Additionally, the research has added to our understanding of how new technologies such as blogs, SMS and iPods are being used by backpackers and how mobile groups naturally communicate.

You can download the .pdf of the thesis.

Friday, March 16, 2007

An history on interactive design

Etienne Mineur was my graphic design professor at Paris VIII, now he is swimming in praise!

He just finished the interactive graphic piece for Issey Miyake and now he is about to travel around the world with his family to document on graphic designers, game designers, fashion designers. His focus will be Asia, so if you are extremely talented in design, live in Asia, and willing to spend some time with French people, you should contact him.

He regularly presents an history on interactive design. The last one was for les arts deco de Paris, l'ENSAD. I think he should be in this presentation, but in any case it is a very interesting document that he shares online.
Pdf of the presentation

Upgrade! Boston - Turbulence talk

Jo-Anne Green, Co-Director of Turbulence invited me to give a talk. So April 12th at Art Interactive I will present some of my work. There is a rumor that Dr Yasmine Abbas might also be available to share her latest findings on the neo-nomads.

See you there!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What's next with the web?

It seems that Google is eating itself through some kind of cannibalism

We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment! Google eats itself - but in the end "we" own it!

Google will maybe soon advertise for a Saving Google competition, stay tuned!

It seems that consumers can finally have their revenge towards the banking system. Now it is a deal between consumers. Prosper is a US online marketplace that allows consumers to lend and borrow money from others. Rewarding for everyone, the one who needs money requests it, the one who can lend, lends it! As easy as that, based on eBay, I wander how this will work as a standard - for US residents, only.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Just a post for the beauty of the eyes.
I followed the work of Anano since 2001. She designed my favorite bear characters. You can discover more pictures of her creations on her web site.

Later on she created a variety of objects and photographs, elegant, delicate, small and antique.

Two of her books on amazon

Petit a petit

Recevoir chez Anano

Friday, March 09, 2007

Digital marks

A little bit on digital marks, I selected a variety of them.

The semacode, a two dimensional code that encodes a URL. The picture below is the semacode of architectradure. Thank you Michael Surtees for the link! This tag embed the URL address of my blog, that can be read by your cell phone and send you to its page. I guess it avoids typing in the URL and you can rapidly go through a series of web sites using the respective tags.

semacode of architectradure

It is especially useful for combining physical space to digital content. The Semacode's Software Development Kit has is developed for ubiquitous computing by creating visual tags for objects and contexts, and read them using a mobile camera phone. The physical Wikipedia called Semapedia , created by Alexis Rondeau and Stan Wiechers, allows you to add place tags on places and things to link them to the relevant Wikipedia articles.

trash can with a wikipedia tag

Semacode technical paper

Urban tapestries allows public mapping and sharing by combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems. This system was linked to Natalie Jeremijenko's famous feral robots -open source robots for investigating contaminated urban sites- and called Robotic Feral Public Authoring: "Adding the sensor readings to online mapping tools, such as Urban Tapestries, suddenly brings the relationships between environment and home vividly to life. It enables people to feel they can learn about their environment and have the evidence to do something about it"

Yellow Arrow allows a community to tag places using arrows. You can post a message using the arrow and anyone could retrieve it using their cell phone. Another method to link digital content to a physical place. The community of yellow arrow is quite big. Their blog.

Elens allows anyone to create talking landmarks. Developed by the MIT Media Lab it allows anyone to tag a place by adding a sticker on a physical location, sticker that can later be scanned by a cell phone, in this case the Motorola A1000.

M-views developed at the MIT media lab in the interactive cinema group -media fabrics- with Glorianna Davenport, explores the "ideas, methods, and culture of mobile cinema, which is experienced in temporal and spatial narrative segments that can be delivered on context-aware mobile devices."

In 2002, I researched with Glorianna Davenport on technologies to allow digital information to communicate with the physical space. I worked on Passing Glances a system that enables users to create ambient urban interludes through the use of SMS text messages. Associated graphics and storytelling were projected in the urban space.
CHI'04 paper
Enarrative5 2003 paper

With these tags, the physical space is tagged to the digital space. One can think the other way around and tag the virtual space with physical content. That is what Josh Lifton told me he was working on the other day. Josh created a plug sensor/actuator network, called the dual reality lab, that links the MIT Media Laboratory space to a virtual lab space in the Second Life online virtual world.

Location of the MIT Media Laboratory in Second Life

More info technical about the plug