Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

Film assembly using toy gestures

Friday, July 11th, 2008

July 2008 Picture This! Project by Cati Vaucelle

My full paper Picture This! Film assembly using toy gestures has been accepted as a full paper for the technical conference on ubiquitous computing: UbiComp 2008. With an acceptance rate of less than 19% for technical papers in the field, it is very encouraging!


We present Picture This! a new input device embedded in children’s toys for video composition. It consists of a new form of interaction for children’s capturing of storytelling with physical artifacts. It functions as a video and storytelling performance system in that children craft videos with and about character toys as the system analyzes their gestures and play patterns. Children’s favorite props alternate between characters and cameramen in a film. As they play with the toys to act out a story, they conduct film assembly. We position our work as ubiquitous computing that supports children’s tangible interaction with digital materials. During user testing, we observed children ages 4 to 10 playing with Picture This!. We assess to what extent gesture interaction with objects for video editing allows children to explore visual perspectives in storytelling. A new genre of Gesture Object Interfaces as exemplified by Picture This relies on the analysis of gestures coupled with objects to represent bits.


We connect to our world using our senses. Every one of our senses is a knowledge shopper that grounds us in our surroundings [1]: with touch, one feels the texture of life, with hearing one perceives even the subtlest murmurs of our existence, with vision one clarifies their instincts. But human senses are not only about perception. We use gesture to apprehend, comprehend and communicate. We speak to ultimately translate and exchange with others. We visualize, record, and playback events using our memory to reflect on our history and to be immersed in experience. We as children and adults are engaged in everyday pretense and symbolic play. We embed and later withdraw from the world, using imagination to project ourselves into situations [35]. Our mental constructs are necessary to reach a deeper understanding of our relationship with our environment [3]. Children are offered stories by adults and are driven into fantasy play. They use toys to externalize and elaborate their mental constructions [8]. With character toys they create interrelationships and plots, a means to expose their social knowledge: knowing about human beings and social relationships [33]. If the toy has an immediately accessible visual perspective, a new world is opened to the child. The toy brings her into exploring visual and narrative perspectives of character props, expanding the discovery of her environment.

We imagine a world in which people play, create and exchange visual narratives with ease and transparency. Motivated by the playful improvisational environment of child storytelling with toys, we have developed a new category of video editing tools progressing towards the child’s natural expression of play. In Picture This! we combine the activity of play with the video making process. Whereas play emphasizes spontaneity and improvisation, video making necessitates structure and composition. We were inspired by the theater play of Goethe’s childhood [35], investigating what technology could add to the narrative and play experience. We use technology to offer visual feedback regarding how the scene looks like from the point of view of an imaginary audience. The child storyteller enters the world of the movie maker. Cameras become part of a toy system showing how things look from a toy’s point of view. They can be integrated in Lego people, car drivers, and even coffee mugs! The video process, supported by gesture induced editing, benefits children in practicing social interrelationships and visual perspective taking.

More about the system ->here<-

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags] project, design, toy, MIT, Media Lab, personal, technology, mobile, video, gesture object interfaces, children, play, storytelling [/tags]

A century of evolution between La Guerre des Boutons and Harry Potter

Monday, June 16th, 2008

I’d like to share the notes I wrote about a fascinating French book:
De la Guerre des Boutons à Harry Pottter by Jean-Marie Gauthier and Roger Moukakou.

In this book, two psychiatrists connect the novel of Louis Pergaud, La Guerre des boutons (English: “War of the Buttons”) written in 1906 with the best seller of Joanne K Rowling (1997-), Harry Potter. The authors present a century of evolution in the teenagers’ life: their space/time structure, their relationship to a group of peers, and their appropriation of the land. The authors analyze the progression from developing concrete skills (close to the ones of adults) to an imaginary virtual world. Based on these two influential novels, a repository for this evolution, they illustrate their clinical analysis with real life scenarios of teenagers.

La Guerre des Boutons VS Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix movie

You can read on La Guerre des Boutons flyer: “Il y a des guerres qui durent des années, celle-ci doit se terminer avant le diner” which stands for “There are wars that last for years, this one needs to be over before diner”. For the ones who do not know this French novel, I am posting some screenshots from a movie interpretation of La Guerre des boutons made in 1962 by Yves Robert.

An excerpt from the movie can be found ->here<-

La Guerre des Boutons

Notes from: De la Guerre des Boutons à Harry Pottter by Jean-Marie Gauthier and Roger Moukakou.

Essais anthropologiques

The authors observed that the ones who usually have difficulties to talk and show some reserve towards socialization, tends to spend a long period of time on internet for remote communication. With the computer, the relationship between distance and proximity, direct communication, corporeal and indirect, mediated is transformed. It is as if these teenagers privilege a communication in which the body is absent. The authors propose that this transformation induces difficulties in sharing and exchanging across generations and difficulties in the position that parents take place in the growth of their children.

The relationship to the body
- Rhythm of lives is different. We neglect the sun’s motion in our lives! Before the industrial revolution, a rhythmic life was imposed due to the constraints of working in the field, outside! Now we eat at unstable hours, find abnormal quantity of food anytime of the day, forgetting that meals can have a social function. The social function of meals is replaced by their nutritional function.

- The physical constraints related to transportation have been transformed. We walk less, thus transforming our relationship to time and space as well as our relationship to the body: feelings, feeling tired, cold/heat or being well.
At the time of “la guerre des boutons”, children were progressively learning how to build toys, hunting equipment, using the wheelbarrow under the grand father’s supervision! Now we can be a champion in Karate without moving a finger! The measure of each gesture (cause and effect) goes through an iterative process usually explored by gathering in locations & spaces.

La Guerre des Boutons

The Land
Play is key for social & individual development, a way to measure personal skills in comparison to others at the same time than measuring one’s body, a necessary step imposed by the life as an adult.


Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix movie

Urban concentration has reduced the children’s possibility to gather outside. The space for play and collective experience is disappearing. Not only that but the parents themselves lost their everyday corporeal connection, their craftsmanship and their personal space. These transformations impact our ability to measure the consequences of our actions; this can explain a come back of the magical thought in a world where the relationship between causes and effects is more and more uncertain. Not only the quantity of available land has changed but also its quality has decreased. Before one could close his house with doors and windows, now it is completely impossible. The house walls not only did become porous, but the family remains in communication with the entire world through telecommunication, TV, internet, mobile phone… thus interrupting the paternal order of things!
Distinguishing between the inside and the outside world is harder (this relationship becomes more and more ambiguous). Distinguishing between private, individual, internal and external realities becomes very hard.

The Group
Children have a predisposition to form groups in which learning by imitation is very important. This helps children leave the exclusive parental relationship to enter a more complex form of socialization: creating an identity and functional skills. In La Guerre des Boutons one practices his skills by crating weapons for hunting while in Harry Potter to compete with one another the children use magical formulas.
In psychoanalysis, authors such as Leroi-Gourhan, Winnicott, Mendal, Montagner, Gibbs show the importance of a psychic construction that needs to connect to the outside world, necessarily going through gesture and object manipulation. Playing without using the body, without manipulating objects is very different.

La Guerre des Boutons

Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix movie

Creating relationships between children is a considerable advantage as it allows children to realize early on the human’s fundamental destiny: a social being (De Waal, F. 2005). It also allows kids to find modes of learning outside of the parental relationship. The authors remark that we need to think of this child’s pleasure to group and learn in a group and reevaluate the quality of learning that can happen within the group. It is not impossible that behind this pleasure of the group, kids can rediscover values of solidarity probably essential to our humanity and that were still very present at the beginning of industrialization but that are disappearing.

With La Guerre des Boutons one would constitute a group that opposes itself to another one, but today individuals are pushed towards being identical. Solidarity as a value is the most compromised, while individuation is assimilated to the general identical. Consumer society can only live if it destroys values of sharing and solidarity benefiting individualization …

Time and space
Important for rational thinking, time and space are constituted and function via intuition. These intuitive forms of representation are constructed progressively while the child uses his corporeal skills. Corporeal exercise has a direct influence on the essential cognitive functions (Gibs, Gauthier, Montagner).
With a computer, one can be in contact with the entire world without having moved from the parent’s house. The computer is the perfect compromise between the teenager’s necessity to go outside to become independent and the necessity to keep the protection and security of the parent’s house.

La Guerre des Boutons

Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix movie

While in the 20th century, kids were riskily gathering outside, creating groups, risking their identity confronting others, now kids can just stay home while contacting the external world, protected by their parents. According to the Oedipian complex, teenagers have to develop their personal lives outside of the family environment [Winnicott & Mendel], the computer seem to be the perfect compromise as children avoid the risks of the foreign while being closely connected to this outside world. The teenagers can also escape their fears related to their own body in comparison to the severe criticisms induced by co-located peers! The narcissistic image remains idealized. The teenagers will not quit their bedrooms and will remain dependent on their parents, because this context does not offer a way to move physically away from the family house.

Communication technologies modified our relationship to space and time and this cannot be left without consequences on the development of thoughts. Instead of confronting peers using a verbal exchange, communication is now guided with icons that one needs to only “clic” in order to be projected in the other side of the globe. The relationship to speech in which the exchange is contrary to the magical icon formula, is a relationship of time.
This modification of the general relationship to space/time can explain the modification of our potential to take time to share thoughts. Language is more and more stereotypical and univocal (close to the marketing discourse) which appears in the political speech today (Chomsky, 1986, 1998).
The dialog with the computer is a series of keywords and reveal the transformation of the structure and use of language in our occidental society. Harry Potter is truly a hero of our time!

To separate themselves from their parents, children need to be a minimum aggressive to distant themselves. At the same time, children need to identify to their parents.
However, parents are questioning their role models and hesitate to propose them as references to their children. So the entire reproduction of behavior and models is questioned. Speed, technological progress and the fact that children possess higher skills in tech fields such as IT, all contributed to this change in the parental role. Harry Potter and his adventures confront us to tendencies and forces, that are modified both in the parental and social space.

The hunting land and the exploration space are restricted. It is now rather difficult to find resources outside of the parental home, parental home from which one of the two parent is usually absent. Grand parents are usually distant geographically. Living conditions have changed so much that there is an unbalanced between our human potentials and the environment in which we evolve. This can explain largely the developmental difficulties of the children. The authors question how socially we can address the educational needs of children considering that we cannot go back in time!
The conditions for education have changed because parents have changed. It happened before, but this time it happened extremely rapidly and the educational methods have not evolved as much. Harry Potter raises interesting questions on how the individual maturation of a teenager is a complex and uncertain process, because of the uncertainties that rest on the transmission mechanism across generations.
Most probably the teenagers need to rediscover the joy of living in a group, the values of solidarity and the belonging to a group of peers. Wouldn’t that be what these novels of youth are demanding from adults?

La Guerre des Boutons

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

[tags]PhD, conceptual, reading, book, inspiration, interaction-design, theory, body, psychology, books, Harry Potter, Technology, teenagers, La Guerre des Boutons[/tags]

Attachments to artifacts: Collect to connect to construct

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I am thrilled! My proposal for book chapter titled Attachments to artifacts: Collect to connect to construct has been accepted! It will be part of the first Franco-English book that will tell you all you ever wanted to know about new technologies of the self, mobilities and (co-)constructions of identities.

In this book chapter, I’ll explore the psychological trade-off between what we call virtual and tangible “attachments”: I focus on people’s attachments to things, and through things, their relations to people (virtual and digital). I address the digital object collection mechanism in relation to the way we gather artifacts in the physical world.

Edited by Fred Dervin, Senior Lecturer, Department of French Studies, University of Turku, Finland and partner in crime Yasmine Abbas, Doctor of Design, Harvard, USA, ReD Associates, Denmark. The book will be published in Autumn 2009. More info ->here<-

SYNOPSIS extraits/excerpts, in both French and English

L’hypermobilité physique comme virtuelle qui touche les individus contemporains conduit à multiplier les récits et discours sur les rencontres avec les autres, mais aussi avec soi-même. Qu’ils soient issus de migrants, membres de diasporas, réfugiés, personnes en mobilité à court ou long-terme, résidents virtuels, internautes, etc., ces témoignages sont transmis à travers différents média et espaces personnels et publics: du simple coup de téléphone au site internet et à l’e-mail, ou à travers des autobiographies, des témoignages écrits et oraux, des articles de presse, des documentaires, etc. L’avènement de nouveaux espaces relationnels tels que ceux proposés par les Webs 2.0 et 3.0 (weblogs, podcasts, vidéocasts, Facebook, Second Life, Youtube…) offre la possibilité à la fois de faire partager ses expériences de mobilité au quotidien et de construire son soi face à/avec des millions d’interlocuteurs potentiels et ce, de manière multimodale. La présence de ces témoignages de mobilité, qui s’apparentent à des actes de confession, donne accès à des données intéressantes et inédites dans plusieurs langues et cela, de façon illimitée…

The new interpersonal spaces created by web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies seem to correspond to the technologies of the self that Michel Foucault (1988) has addressed in his lectures at the Collège de France at the beginning of the 1980s. These new technologies enable the individual’s self to emerge publicly and to be worked upon with its “disciples”: be they companions in Second Life, readers (for example on a blog) or listeners (Podcasts). With high speed Internet access and increasingly generous capacities of storage (mp3, USB keys, iPhone, portable computers…), the opportunities for staging the self have become unlimited…

MEDIA TREATED blogs, forum, Life Forms, MMS, moblogging, mondes virtuels, photo et vidéo, photos et vidéos mobiles, robots de compagnie, sites Internet, téléphones portables. | Craigslist, digital artifacts, Del.ici.ous, World of Warcrafts, Facebook, Gaming, Geolocalisation, MMORPG, retail surveillance devices, SilkRoad online, Social Networking, YouTube, WWOOF, Second Life.

THEMES Photographies en mobilité, espaces relationnels, hétérogénéité culturelle, industries culturelles, identités migratoires, identité hmong, diaspora, NOTICs (Nouveaux Objets issus des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication), infoguerre, mouvement en danse, personnage virtuel, avatars, Autre imaginaire, voyage réel et virtuel | Attachment, backpacking, collection, collective identity, participatory culture, politics, rhythm, second self, tourism, tribalism, virtual nomadism. Attachment, backpacking, collection, collective identity, participatory culture, politics, rhythm, second self, tourism, tribalism, virtual nomadism.


I could not help but join this picture sent to us by Edith Ackermann, also selected by Yasmine Abbas, because it directly refers to the ideal of mobility and its beautiful sacrifice. Edith says:” i am in Switzerland moving out from my apartment: a sweet dump i had rented since i am a student, filled with paintings from my grand father, mom’s carpets, and leather coated books. i never had to let go of so many evocative objects at once. a bit overwhelming really, but i guess i will feel lighter once i am done. good i have my “final home” coat, a gift from my japanese friend noboyuki…. objects come, objects go! and so do people :) ” Edith tells us all about it ->here<-

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
Blog Jouons Blog Maison Blog Passion

Bar code revolution

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

To the question Why Has the Barcode Never Changed? the team at Bar Code Revolution proposed to study the Barcode technology standards, and invented a process that allows a design element to be integrated into the barcode.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

New interaction design for mobile phones

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Smartphone Battle by Bill Bagnall

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Mutsugoto is an interactive installation that invites couples to experience an intimate communication over a distance created by Tomoko Hayashi, Stefan Agamanolis and Matthew Karau.

Begin by laying on the bed and wearing the special ring. As you relax and think about your partner, gently move your hand around your body. These movements are traced on your own body as well as your partner laying in the other bed. Twinkling spots give a hint of where your partner is drawing. If you follow your partner’s movements and your strokes cross, the lines will react with each other and reflect your synchrony.

Don’t forget to check the beautiful video of Mutsugoto. This is the first time I’ve seen ambient remote communication being that beautifully achieved and that sensual.

In 2003 Tomoko Hayashi created Intimacy is a series of accessories for people who exist in a long-distance relationship. The accessories are a combination of ties or undergarments with jewelry such as necklace or ring. Each accessory encloses jewelry inside and is heat-pressed to make an embossed pattern of the jewelry on its surface. Lovers can take the jewelry out to give it as a gift to their lover in a distant location. This allows lovers to share the memory of the object remotely and feel close to each other. The embossed pattern will fade away little by little (through pressure, moisture or heat) with daily use. When they meet again, the lovers can recreate the pattern by pressing the piece with a very hot iron.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Finally I got an iPhone

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

This week end I bought an iPhone. I never bought a phone so far, I wanted to feel I could still be lost. As mentioned in an interview for neo-nomad, I did not own/use/carry a cell phone. I was exclusively on Trillian and Skype. It started becoming an handicap, friends want to organize things, my research group needs to reach me in a blink, I felt too unreachable!

I am still working on the design of my own gear. Well, yesterday I tested the Apple Macbook air, it feels like two sheets of paper maintains the all thing together. Too fragile. Very light. The design is too beautiful to be touched, held, hugged and smashed. When design becomes a constraint, it kind of misses the point. After all, materials are socially constructed through a sensory education and tools.

The iPhone, on the other end, looks beautiful and sturdy. The only inconvenient is its shiny screen that easily becomes a repository for oily molecules. Other than that, it is traveling in a brown sock in my bag. What better casing than a sock! It can protect anything, and I just slide the iPhone in and out of it and feels part of the smooth iPhone finger tip design! I could not help it: I took pictures of the Stuff-my-love and Terminally Juvenile-iPhone combo!

The expected features are awesome. I spent an hour at the Apple store bombarding the salespersons with questions. I am satisfied. Now that I’ve used it, I love it. One of my fear to use the roaming data versus wifi is gone. It is fast enough! I can read my pdf on it if the data comes from the mail. One thing that bothers me is that I cannot import my bookmarks from firefox, I cannot download my pics/movie from the web, etc… So to fix that problem I looked at some third parties apps. I made a list at the end of the post. If you recommend some necessary ones, let me know. Apple lists the popular ones, but unfortunately not popular to my taste.

Now the 2008 updates are pretty cool. I wanted to design a GPS system connected to an iphone. Well the map location works pretty well. The newest version of Maps allows you to find your approximate location using information from Wi-Fi networks and cell towers. Drop a pin on the map then drag it to a specific location to get directions and real-time traffic information and search for nearby points of interest. The new Hybrid map view lets you see major street names on top of satellite imagery.

A few samples to code the iPhone.

As a start I selected a good list of iPhone apps. My favorite ones so far are the Erica utilities, a collection of handy command-line utilities. picSnap snaps one picture (jpg) from the command line. sendFileByMail takes a file to send by mail. It opens the mail program, creates a new message with that attachment, snap2album snaps a picture of your screen and adds it to your Photos library on the iPhone.

The essential one seems App.Tapp. It supports installing, updating and uninstalling applications from multiple sources.

iFlickr is pretty neat too. This is an app to take pictures on your iPhone and upload to your Flickr account.

I have aim and will now install MobileChat. Also not tested yet but IM+ for Skype is now available on the iPhone …

Mobile-RSS is a native iPhone application which remembers all your feeds and give you an easy interface for viewing, adding, and removing.

Also why not the, a fully functional, feature-rich Nintendo emulator, or the Sketches, a way to sketch a simple diagram as a quick reminder. “Scribble your thoughts quickly, select a picture from your photo album to draw notes on top, you can even erase your drawing by shaking your iPhone, as if it were an etch-a-sketch!”

And to finish by a pedometer, an experimental iPhone application to measure steps as you walk. SiffyTech author of this app, also provides us with their source code.

Those will be my first try. Many more to test!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Talking with owls using mobile phones

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

This project explores technologies to augment our understanding of bird populations in order to allow these populations to speak to us about their habitat. In particular, in a collaboration between the MIT Media Laboratory and Maine Audubon, the researchers use cellular technology to augment the process by which volunteers collect information for an annual owl survey in Maine.

The core methodology was developed in a regional pilot census of Connecticut’s owl population demonstrating that the audio quality of cell phones is sufficient for the discovery and interaction with owls.

In Maine, they plan to deploy cell nodes for calling and recording owls, and provide an interface for the public to vicariously participate in the census from the internet. They hope to gain insight into the social networking processes of collaborative interpretation and annotation of a shared database; and knowledge representation for the bird-census domain.

The cellular-based survey may also provide insights into the hearing range of owls, duplication of vocalizing individual responses in adjacent experiment sites, the response rate of owls due to current weather or human presence, and comparison between trigger-based and naturally occurring responses in surveys.

The Owl project’s web site.
This work is created by Dale Joachim, Susan Gallo , Glorianna Davenport.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle

Wearable vs furniture radiator

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Another interesting design concept, the modulo radiator by Anna Gotha, discovered on Kontrastblog. Anna Gotha wanted to make more use of the heat from a radiator by designing a radiator with multiple functions. The modules are designed with an upholstered aluminium core to use the installed radiator parts as a piece of furniture to lean up against. The core is warmed up by the radiator to be used outdoor.

Apparently the radiator is made of multiple parts that can work independently from one another or connected to each others. Heating parts can be hanged on a wall, carried in a purse, or used more traditionally as a “furniture” that heats a large surface.
Existing radiators take up too much room and the design is often rather conservative. With the new radiator, Anna Gotha has made use of the heat, and at the same time given the user a more functional and simple design.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle


Mediated Social Serendipity: a new SMS system for taking care of your Facebook friends

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Mediated Social Serendipity is a report describing mobile-phone services and applications that enable users to “stumble into” friends despite being apart physically. It develops in four concept-categories for social serendipitous mobile-phone experiences.

One of the most astonishing idea presented in the report is “Nudge”, a system that recognizes patterns of everyday life and detects if a user has not send news to a friend for a long time and acts on his/her behalf accordingly. For instance, Asa’s phone registers that she is far away from home. It gathers surrounding information and will generate a text message to a good friend of hers who she has not called in several months.

The automated message would be:
Hi! Right now I’m about 3142 kilometers south-west from where you are. Felicia, Per and I are walking along the beach in Tarifa, Spain. It’s 25°C and the sun shines. We hear seagulls and waves breaking. Speak to you soon! /Asa

As she walks down to the water to dip her toes in the ocean, her phone automatically sends a message to her friend. One can immediately sees the pros and cons of such system, but what strikes me the most is the desire to have an automatic scriptwriter who kind of takes care of forgotten friends. Imagine the friend receiving an automated SMS that is kind of saying:”I am having fun at the beach, I have not contacted you for 5 years, I really don’t have time to send you any news, I don’t even think about you because my phone does the job for me, have fun in your gray Paris!”

Wouldn’t that be an awesome insulting SMS?! I seriously think this system has to be implemented and connected to Orkut, Facebook, MySpace or any social networks. This could be a new generation of text messaging system who takes care of all your social network pseudo friends. At the end of the day for a lot of people (but not me!) most of these contacts are not really your friends, you are not really honest with them, so you can take care of them in a semi-automated way. You don’t really receive news, they are not really interesting and personal, they are just Spam version 2, the kind of spam you don’t know what to do about. I am not sure what to think about it, but it is a very daring idea! This report was really exciting to read with a lot of funny, clever, and realistic visions on what mobile technology could mean within various social contexts.

Don’t forget to check another way mobile technology tries the impossible in a funny way!

More information on the report that also surveys existing systems:
Formo, J. (2007). Mediated Social Serendipity. Master thesis. The Institute of Industrial Design at Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle