Sunday, December 30, 2007

Flying, swimming or shrinking car?

Searching for a new car, I selected a few options: the flying, the auto nautical and the city car.

The Skycar. Photo by Bruce Calkins

Paul Moller has been working on his Icarus dream, the Skycar M400. Thanks to its four rotating engine nacelles, the skycare takes off, lands vertically and makes short flights. Apparently this latest prototype should be ready by 2009.

"Its performance exceeds that of any light helicopter, including a top speed that is three times faster. When compared to a high-performance airplane, the Skycar has vertical takeoff and landing capability, is safer and potentially less expensive. The performance boundaries of the Skycar are much less restrictive than those of both helicopters and airplanes. These expanded operating limits are the natural consequence of combining VTOL and high-speed cruise in a single aircraft. The resulting flexibility allows many transportation applications to be addressed for the first time."

The Aquada V6 175 ch, 160km/h on the road, 57km/h on water. Gibbs Technologies

The affordable auto nautical car, the Aquada, is an amphibian car. On the road it looks like a Mazda MX-5 and on water it turns into a jet-engine outboard with a cruising speed of 30 knots.

Finally, the super convenient city car. The research group smart cities at the MIT Media Lab has more than one model in stock. They have a car model, but I particularly like their retractable scooter concept.

"The RoboScooter is a lightweight, folding, electric motor scooter. It is designed to provide convenient, inexpensive mobility in urban areas while radically reducing the negative effects of extensive vehicle use – road congestion, excessive consumption of space for parking, traffic noise, air pollution, carbon emissions that exacerbate global warming, and energy use. It is clean, green, silent, and compact."

Scooter. Image by Michael Chia-Liang Lin

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Algorithmic film assembly using toy gestures

A new input device for video capturing and editing! Designed for young children, ages five and up, it allows them to craft compelling movies through the motion analysis of their interaction with toys.

A child playing with Picture This and his Naruto action figure

Continuing my research on perspective taking and tangible video editing, I recently finished the development of Picture This, a video editing and capturing device designed for young children. It allows them to craft compelling movies through the motion analysis of their interaction with toys. Children's favorite props alternate between characters and cameramen in a film. As children play with the toys to act out a story, they conduct algorithmic film assembly.

Picture This's web site.

In my prior work, Moving Pictures, I wanted to offer children the opportunity to gather imagery from their environment in the form of short video clips captured on video camera platforms modified for the application. I wanted to provide a transparent experience for the user, in which the cumbersome process of capturing and editing becomes fluid in the improvisation of a story and accessible as a way to create a final movie.

Web site for my past work on Moving Pictures.

Tangible interfaces combine operations on physical objects with digital data. I have sought to develop interfaces where either digital data can be overlaid onto physical objects in a display space or physical objects can act as handles into the digital space. The tangible handle is more than a marker or place-holder for digital data. It has the power to materialize and redefine our conception of space and content during the creative process.

If the toy had a visual perspective immediately accessible to the child, a new world would be opened to her. The toy could potentially bring the child into exploring visual and narrative perspectives of these character props, expanding her discovery and understanding of social interrelationships.

A video snippet of Picture This and a 6 minutes video for its interaction design.

The Picture this tool is an audiovisual device that combines two digital video cameras and two accelerometers. The tool captures motions, video and sound in real-time while an algorithmic video editing system composes a movie from these inputs. A motion based editing engine fluidly assembles the film as its story is being narrated, while respecting the conventions of continuity editing, namely, a sequence of shots that appear to be continuous.

This style of film editing is made possible in Picture This by detecting turn taking behaviors between the toys. Two toy props are augmented with video cameras and custom accelerometer hardware. They use the Picture This tool both as a doll hand-bag or a doll audiovisual recorder. The tool is flexible for a child to take the perspective of props she selected for her movie.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Cultural Chicago advertisement!

Icelandic Rift by new media artist Sabrina Raaf

Cultural Chicago is a community site for the arts based in Chicago. The online journal offers the possibility for readers to contribute with local cultural news. Among other things, it advertises Chicago artists, exhibitions, art events and allows readers to create a local community by sharing similar interests through a forum, regular posts and bookmarks. I wish such a journal existed in Boston. Combining the sharing of local art events with informative interviews to a social network is kind of unique.

Reading and subscribing to the journal, I discovered the spectacular work of Sabrina Raaf on creative machines capable of generating unique and unpredictable manifestations of art.

In her interview by Cultural Chicago, Sabrina Raaf explains:
"Technology (software and hardware) is not only a means or set of tools. It does also necessitate a type of logic-based thinking in order to use it and subvert it creatively. You really have to be a person who is innately fascinated by new technologies in order to be able to suffer through the learning curves and endless upgrades. But, ultimately, new technologies offer an endless string of more and more powerful and flexible tools to make art with. Even beyond that, they offer a new language to speak to viewers with; there are nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., that artists haven’t ever strung together before in the service of art. And, that’s something really exciting."

Grower is a piece that responds to the carbon dioxide levels in the air generated by human breath. It draws individual blades of grass along a wall in varying heights in accordance to the amount of carbon dioxide present. As such it functions as a real time display on people attendance to the art space!

Dry Translator, a sculptural installation piece, is built in response to new trends in ‘smart architecture.’ Smart technology is being created for enhanced human interaction and control of one’s work and home environments. Interestingly what excites many is not the necessarily the enhancement of control, but really more the idea of intelligent responsiveness and heightened personal connection with the rooms they inhabit, dixit Sabrina Raaf.

In the journal I also enjoyed reading the interview of Colleen Plumb, Nature in Urban Spaces. The artist "examines nature in the urban environment, seeking to examine the relationship humans have with animals, how we coexist with the natural world, and the disappearance of it within the urban space."

Lobby with trees by Colleen Plumb

Being a video game addict at the same time than loving being lost in the countryside, I am always puzzled by criticism on a virtual reality that drives us from our physical reality. Reading this interview was refreshing and the following image by Colleen Plumb talks for itself. The overgrown tree squeezed within walls to provide a relief to humans, an experience of nature, recreated and artificial for the sake of us feeling/being connected to nature.


"We live in a time of games and virtual experiences which I find funny, sad, and, I guess, a reality. What effect could this be having on people? I guess representations are created due to a lack of the actual. We certainly can't walk through a forest of bamboo trees in downtown Chicago. It seems that almost real will suffice most of the time. It must provide relief, these fabrications, otherwise they would not be so popular: The Rainforest Café. Well, the trees here are real—they are in a fake habitat, a lobby, and seem to be thriving. - Colleen Plumb"

By Architectradure

A sponsored post of my favorite Japanese animes!


Anime are usually perceived either for children, teenagers or pervert adults. In fact, a lot of them are really good: cinematographically inspiring, with rich character development and epics stories. Each of them is a wellspring of interaction design ideas for innovative products. I find them refreshing. From Akira, Ghost in the Shell, to Blood: The Last Vampire. I cannot wait to watch Karas! A few manga series maintain these high standards with similar qualities.

It has been now a year that I started watching Bleach, a manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. In Bleach, a high school student, Ichigo, has the ability to see ghosts and interact with shinigami or death God. I absolutely adore the soul society made of handsome and complicated post-human characters.

The Quincy in Bleach.

I watched Death Note, an anime written by Tsugumi Ohba. A high school student decides to rid the world of evil with the help of a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it. The shinigamis in Death Note resemble apocalyptic Goths. What strikes me in these anime is the ability the characters have, good and bad, to stick proudly to their initial moral values.

L, my favorite character in Death Note

I adored Noein, a short science fiction anime television series directed by Kazuki Akane and Kenji Yasuda. Two timespaces fight with one another: La'cryma, a possible future of our own universe, and Shangri'la, a dimension intent on the destruction of all space and time. The “dragon Torque”, the child version of a character from the future, is the key to stop Shangri'la's invasion.

Karasu in Noein

One Piece presents the adventures of “the Straw Hat Pirates”, formed and led by a captain named Monkey D. Luffy. The characters try to obtain the world's ultimate treasure, One Piece. With each character’s back-story, the adventures become entwined with one another.

One Piece

I am an anime fan. I saw fans gathering at conferences with splendid anime costumes. The Halloween Costumes' web site proposes a selection of characters costumes. I must say, I was disappointed by some of them, mainly by the feminine outfits. The Nico Robbin costume looks kind of tacky while she always appear to wear the latest couture piece in the anime!

On the contrary, the Bleach’s simple shinigami costumes are quite good. I had a good laugh at the execution ground outfit for Ichigo (from Bleach). Who would want to wear a broken arm outfit while he/she could enact the bankai form!

By Architectradure

Monday, December 10, 2007

I don't need a robot

Illustration by Dean Morris Graphic Designer as part of the Humor Show (1987), I don't need a robot for ID magazine nowadays would have a different message and could demonstrate the beauty of Coronamatic Typewriters. A little nostalgic?

By Architectradure

Video scenarios of tech-enabled behaviors

Mobility platform videos for Intel by Ideo.

Visualizing high-tech's human-centered future by Ideo.
Tapping into the growing broadband access around the world, Intel has innovated a series of chipsets and mobile platforms that enable smarter, more efficient laptops, mobile phones, and PDAs. While these offerings represent new possibilities for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it's not uncommon for OEMs to need an added push to invest in unproven technology. To bring to life the potential of this technology, IDEO worked with Intel to visualize what user behaviors might be enabled by the offerings. The work, which culminated in the form of three videos, points to Intel's larger shift toward human-centered technology innovation.

In looking at Intel's next-generation products, IDEO had a clear sense of the emphasis on mobility. From a design perspective, the offerings were each exciting, offering new ways for people to live and work, but lacked the cohesion of a system. To integrate the platforms, IDEO developed user scenarios that merged product, interaction, and experience as they related to such behaviors as hands-free communication, social networking, and purchasing. These user scenarios were then fully storyboarded and scripted for video production.

In depicting user behaviors through video scenarios, IDEO created a unified vision for Intel's offerings that has served to foster alignment within Intel as well as to communicate product value to OEMs and service providers.

By Architectradure

Poetic chairs

I stumbled upon Stuhlhockerbank by Yvonne Fehling and Jennie Peiz. For a public use of architecture merging chair and stool into seat elements, the life of the sitting place becomes engraved in the artist' sculpture. The chairs are discombobulated.

By Architectradure

Friday, December 07, 2007

Children's toys

Toys always invite for reflection, but toys within the contemporary art context bring another dimension. I select these ones featured on Artnet.

I also author another blog that reflects this passion of mine!

Therapeutic children's toys by Renate Müller & Helene Haeusler, 1960.
Materials: Canvas, leather, wear

A 39cm high camel, a dice of 29.5 x 30 x 32 cm and an Hippopotamus of 35 x 75 x 34 cm.

Detail Song of the Finsh (The Bride) Jigsaw Puzzle by Isabel Samaras. The stories of Monsters and the mystical lives they lead ...

Benny and Red Bird Color Version by Kathy Olivas

(...) Many of the toys show a meticulous care in their creation; they are mechanically functional and cleverly conceived to move, lift or turn. I consider them to be truly remarkable in their abilities to function as well as being aesthetically pleasing. The enormous creative potential inherent in each piece became a challenge that I could not resist. Initially the toys were seen as individual objects, as the series developed, so did the thematic complexity. I did not realize that it would lead me on a journey of re-discovering my own childhood - Sidney Menkes

By Architectradure

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A special chandelier

Back from the ICA with Adam, I was struck by the work designer Tobias Wong a provocateur who creates the unexpected from the everyday and the everyday from the unexpected as he was being introduced during the exhibition, but I also think it is more than. What is so special about such art and craft work is to feel inspired in experiencing the work.

The object is special. It takes a refined sensitivity from the artist to make the careful design decisions exhibited by this piece. In the black shade chandelier, a classical design is made new by a switch between the form of the candelabra and the candle. These are two different objects, two different materials that create a single form in glass and insist on the simple mechanism of an oil lamp. These subtleties are the decisions that I love in this work.

In the exhibition was also presented the Disposable Crystal Cup, a sixteen-ounce paper cup printed with a trompe l’oeil crystal pattern. In this piece I felt Tobias Wong took the epidemic of the thrown away and juxtaposed it with the ultimate of luxury imagery.

Tobiad Wong also created this traditional crystal chandelier encapsulated in industrial white rubber

By Architectradure