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Posts in category 'Presence'

15 October 2007

The fifth screen of tomorrow

Bruno Marzloff
The always very well-informed Internet Actu blog has posted an article by Bruno Marzloff, a sociologist and the driving force behind the Chronos Group, a research lab specialised in mobility and dislocation. Marzloff reflects on the future of our relation with the city, with our urban environment, to better understand how we will interact with it, and how this environment itself will become the support of our media. Has the urban become the media? [The translation from French to English is by Mark Vanderbeeken]

People are the new media“, said Pierre Bellanger in a recent article in Netéconomie (“The social network is the telco’s future“). If this means extending the collaborative approach also to the mobile phone, it is not really much of a surprise. For sure, “the new culture is participative” and extending this approach to the world of mobility seems rather straightforward, even if one can only guess the shapes this culture might take once it is detached from the PC and the big stationary screens. But Bellanger, who is the founder and CEO of Skyrock radio, goes quite a bit further in this reasoning. What he has in mind is nothing less than a revolution taking place, with him sitting in the front row. Or said differently: the mobile person is the media (and the individual gets mixed up with his mobile). Therefore the mobile (individual and machine) becomes the fulcrum of his communication and his outreach. The mobile is receiver, sender and relay station.

This central role of the mobile in our media world becomes amplified, adds Pierre Bellanger, because “Who knows better what I am doing, what I am watching, what I am listening to, with whom I am talking or where I am, than the machine that carries all these activities?” The media inserts itself in the mobility of the user while at the same time giving him “full control of his exchanges. The modest size of the screen and the keyboard is no limitation: it can connect to whatever other machine, appear there as a virtual support and therefore use the connected machine, including its peripherals, as an extra resource“. The mobile takes control of its surroundings: “A bit like the iPod takes control of a stereo system to which it is connected“. Bellanger concludes: “It is the small terminal taking charge of the big one“.

The “small terminal” is the new screen that comes in the wake of others that mark the history of communication. The first screen in the history of technology was a public one: it was the big cinema screen. The second one was a collective one, but it wasn’t public: it was the television set. The third one, the computer screen, was personal but could be shared. The fourth one, the mobile, is on itself, intimate, not to be shared, and accompanying me wherever I go.

And the evolution isn’t finished yet. A fifth screen is already on the horizon. A screen perhaps without a screen, without contact even, or on the contrary connected through a multitude of extensions. A screen that will highlight the evolution towards more autonomy and more mobility (i.e. the capacity to mobilise our resources, which the English call “empowerment”).

This fifth screen covers a collection of things:

  1. public technological devices (displays, kiosks etc.),
  2. public infrastructure without screens, that enter into a dialogue with our personal terminals that have screens (mobiles, smartphones, iPod and other mp3 readers, audio-video, game consoles…),
  3. or, by extension, with other terminals which are not “enabled” (contactless cards, RFID tags…),
  4. the mobiles themselves, because “the capacity of exploitation contained in the device itself becomes the capacity of a server“, as Bellanger explained.

Now set up as a human cyborg through the mediation of the mobile, the individual enters into a dialogue with tags, that become increasingly pervasive in the city. The urban nomad navigates along the structure of his own information system; in a dialogue with real time and real places; in continuous interaction as well with other nomads.

This media complex integrates the individuals in a moving tissue. The fifth screen marks the arrival of ambient technology, of the Everyware that Adam Greenfield calls it in his book Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing (see here and here). This Everyware is the field of development of the fifth screen and the new online service and media perspective of thecity. It is also one of the open topics to be addressed in the Villes 2.0 [Cities 2.0] programme, and a challenge to understand the city of tomorrow. Everyware is a real revolution due the way extends the power of us all (but also of the various operators and of authorities) in the public realm. This is why in the city of tomorrow, the urban is the media.

The “familiarity” one can feel towards a city or a neighbourhood, even while discovering it, is the real stake of the fifth screen. We will rather speak of a “permanent process of familiarisation” in a city where everything changes and moves all the time. Or in the words of Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability, it is crucial to provide people the tools for their autonomy, their wayfinding and their choices – the author speaks of freedom that is granted to individuals (“empowering individuals with information and choice”). How? The answer to him requires a neologism: findability (which describes “a world in rapid emergence where one can find whoever or whatever, from wherever or whenever”). What does that mean concretely? One goes from the web to the city, and from the link to the place. One googles the city like one googles the Web. “Findability” applies to the existence of signs, reference marks, beacons and other types of information in the city, links as it were to real times and places, that allow us to navigation and to be secure in the city.

The goal of the fifth screen development, as some experiments are already showing, is to make the city familiar, to provide useful information and transactions, to enable a dialogue between citizens, and to allow the population access to participatory information, without forgetting of course some space for the imaginary. The fifth screen is the city. It is the urban as a media. They are waves, labels, signs, screens, traces, … A city augmented with information, information augmented with geolocalisation. One can feel the pulse of the city in real time and one can even participate in its beat, as demonstrated by the projects Real Time Rome and WikiCity.

The fifth screen is the next lever for urban governance. It allows the urbanite to express himself. The urbanite becomes the media in the city, just like the desktop user is in the world of Web 2.0. The fifth screen opens up a space to a wide range of actors that will use these opportunities of dialogue to share information, entertainment, services, and all kinds of offerings.

But if the field is wide open, so is Pandora’s box! The fifth screen can also become a tool for repression, for surveillance and for all types of intrusion. It could be the opposite of the collaborative media of sousveillance (with the system allowing us to see our voyeurs and therefore establishing a balance of reciprocal transparency, as outlined by David Brin in The Transparent Society). The history of the fifth screen will need to be written together by citizens, companies, and regional entities.

Bruno Marzloff

15 September 2007

Motorola on ambient non-intrusive displays

Motorola
Frank Bentley of Motorola recently posted his thoughts on ambient displays, i.e. devices that sit in a person’s periphery and convey information related to an information source in a non-intrusive manner.

His reflection is all about the currently very active field of presence research, though strangely he doesn’t use that word. I very much like the challenges he posts at the end:

“Over the past few decades many researchers have built devices that use light, color, sound, or motion to convey information about people, activities, and places. These devices let people see information at a glance, without the need to go to another device or navigate an interface. Particularly interesting to me has always been how our environments can keep us more aware of those that we care about and help strengthen social bonds. […]

In our research, we’ve been investigating how these sorts of displays can help people learn more about the lives of others in their close social networks. We’ve found that these devices can draw people into richer types of social media experiences by conveying social information in the home on an always-on device and can be frequently observed without any additional effort. This powerful new way to get data fits nicely into people’s routines and helps them be aware of their social network without the need to do go out of their way to check a web site or computer application to receive social information.

The power in this class of devices is in delivering information about others who are important in our lives in a way that reminds us of these people and their activities as we go about our lives. While from time to time it might be nice to see the weather or another information channel, the frequently changing information about the people in our social circle allows us to become more aware of their behaviors and have social experiences that would otherwise not occur. These are the exciting aspects of ambient devices that were not possible with existing computer and television-based interfaces. As we all continue to lead increasingly busy lives, the ability to tie into the patterns of others can help us stay social and connected.

There are two big challenges in this space from a research perspective. The first is to create displays that are truly ambient and don’t interfere with the home environment. We want to ensure that we can provide useful information without distracting people from their home lives. The second challenge is all about finding the most useful information sources for these displays. Obviously, the two are closely tied together and are a big part of our research into ambient communications. We have a few educated guesses that we’re currently testing and hopefully will have some data to report at a conference next year.”

Read full story

8 August 2007

Second thoughts on Second Life

Second Life
Lately a lot of people seem to have had second thoughts on Second Life.

A wave of articles was published recently on how marketers are not getting the returns they were expecting, how deserted it is, how it is all about sex and pranks, how it has become a virtual nanny state, and even how terrorists are using it to plan attacks.

Leaving aside for now the discussion to what extent this is just negative hype, it does make sense to see Second Life as an experimental environment where we can prototype new interaction and communication paradigms. Experimenting in these virtual worlds can also help us understand and imagine a future where a mix of real and virtual worlds will become increasingly prevalent.

I can see four good reasons for businesses, institutions and experience designers to be present in Second Life.

1. Prototyping of new participatory communication paradigms often involving very targeted and selected communities
A lot of lectures take place in Second Life. In fact, more than 300 universities, including Harvard and Duke, use Second Life as an educational tool. Some educators conduct entire distance-learning courses there; others supplement classes. Also big companies such as IBM and Intel use these graphics-rich sites to conduct meetings among far-flung employees and to show customers graphical representations of ideas and products. IBM went even as far to take the unusual step of establishing official guidelines for its more than 5,000 employees who inhabit “Second Life” and other online universes. Philips Design uses Second Life “to gain feedback on innovation concepts, engage residents in co-creation and obtain a deeper understanding of potential opportunities in this virtual environment”. And the Italian bank BNL and others are using virtual worlds to create communities to recruit some of their future employees, especially for more creative or technical job openings. Even something simple as chat is an entirely different experience on Second Life, with the other person’s presence is no longer communicated through an MSN-style presence icon with a small photograph or drawing but instead through a full three-dimensional moving avatar.

2. Prototyping of new interaction paradigms
Researchers at MIT are building realistic training simulators in Second Life, often controlled through a Wiimote. Some are even creating simulations for companies, such as a medical-devices firm, a global-energy company focused on power-plant training, and a pest-control firm — all looking to reduce training costs. In the words of one researcher, “the ability to easily integrate a wide range of psychomotor activities with simulations running on standard computer platforms will change the ways people interact with computers.”

3. Experimentation in an unconventional digital environment
These virtual worlds may be primitive still, but if we think of it, we are already living in an enriched world where our interactions with companies and banks, institutions and universities, cities and public services, are no longer just based on a physical communication paradigm. Instead they have become highly mediated by technologies. This will continue to grow. Our interactions will not only become more mobile but also more involving, more three-dimensional, and more experiential. Virtual worlds will be important, no matter what. There will be new types of interfaces – as already alluded to here and here and here – and new types of feedback, and it makes sense for forward looking companies to explore these new ways of reaching out to and involving their customers.

4. Virtual laboratories to understand human behaviour
Also researchers are exploring Second Life and other virtual worlds. A recent article in the journal Science addresses how researchers are getting insights into real life by studying what people do in virtual worlds, suggesting that virtual worlds could help scientists studying ideas of government and even concepts of self, while other researchers are looking at how behaviour peculiar to online worlds differs from that in real life. Also our colleagues from Adaptive Path are involved in this type of research.

7 August 2007

Fing: the next generation internet foundation from France

Fing
For some time now I have been following the French innovation blog Internet Actu, not realising that it was part of a bigger initiative called “Fing“. Fing stands for “Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération”, or the the next generation internet foundation, aimed at stimulating and promoting R&D and innovation in ICT uses and services. Here is how they describe themselves in English:

Founded by 3 leading Internet associations, including the Internet Society, FING is a collective and open research and development project which focuses on tomorrow’s Internet’s uses, applications and services.

FING views the future Internet as not only more reliable, mobile, fast, user-friendly – but as a different Internet: the disappearing Internet, in which broadband, mobile, pervasive, intelligent technologies make it possible to focus on the user’s needs, lifestyles and desires. We believe this technological change will unleash a new innovation cycle in applications and services. We also believe that the Internet’s decentralised design should and can scale to the next generation and is innovation’s and competition’s best chance for the future.

FING intends to help corporations, public agencies, education and research organizations be at the forefront of this new cycle. Through collective and networked intelligence, creativity and experimentation, Fing seeks to improve the efficiency of the innovation process, as well as reduce risks for all involved parties.

FING:

  • publishes Internet Actu, a weblog and media which is read by 70,000 professionals;
  • supports several workgroups and communities;
  • organises visits to research labs and innovative companies throughout the world;
  • publishes papers, books and reports;
  • moderates or takes part in foresight exercises such as Ci’Num, the Digital Civilizations Forum;
  • organises international conferences and industry events such as Mobile Monday France, or the “Crossroads of Possibilities” which showcases very early-stage innovative projects.

FING is networked with other, similar initiatives throughout Europe and the world. FING’s CEO, Daniel Kaplan, is a member of the European Commission’s eEurope Advisory Group.

FING currently has more than 165 members, including: BNP Paribas, EDF, Ericsson, Eutelsat, France Telecom/Orange, Galeries Lafayette, HP, INRIA, Microsoft, the Ministries of Education and Research, Toshiba, etc.

Some browsing around led me to interesting initiatives such as:

  • Villes 2.0 (Cities 2.0), which is aimed at helping traditional urban stakeholders (companies, institutions, social entities) and “digital actors” foresee urban and mobile transformations and work together on them. There are four focus areas: the augmented city (related to ubiquitous computing); my own city (which is about personalisation and user-centredness); service innovation (and co-creation); and social sustainability.
     
  • Active Identities, which is focused on identifying and stimulating the necessary actions to make the active management of digital identities into a resource, a tool that allows users to control their lives and realise their projects, a factor of confidence, and a source of innovation and value creation.
     
  • Innovative Interfaces, a new project which ponders the question how the fact that our direct and indirect interactions with machines and digital services, which keeps on getting better, simpler and easier, can help remove certain barriers for people with “difficulties” (e.g. non-users).
     
  • Active and autonomous living until 90

Also of interest are a series of videos including this presentation by Fing CEO Daniel Kaplan at LIFT07, as well as a huge amount of rather unorganised project videos from the Crossroads of Possibilities project.

14 July 2007

Virtual Families and Friends.com

virtualfamilies
On Virtual Families and Friends.com, parents, children, siblings, cousins, close friends, grandparents and grandchildren share experiences of virtually visiting, how they use new technologies to remain closely connected despite distance, divorce, military assignment or longterm travel.

“The Internet, including low-cost audio and video conferencing, can now break down the barriers that separate you from loved ones. Welcome to our new blog, which focuses on the experience of virtual visiting — how to maintain close relationships despite distance, divorce, military assignments, work demands, grandparents living far from grandchildren, or other obstacles. We explore how new technologies are changing family life. We also examine the legal issues involved in virtual visitation.”

Some examples:

“Lily Yulianti writes: “My husband once managed to babysit our 8-year-old son from his apartment in Orebro, Sweden. By using skype and a Web-cam, he “babysat” our son in Tokyo, more than 5,000 km away from him. On that day, our babysitter was sick, and I was on the way home from the office. Fortunately we managed to set up the emergency virtual babysitting method for 45 minutes, while I was trying to get home. The virtual babysitting worked pretty well and on that day I felt that we had solved a serious parenting issue in an emergency situation thanks to the Internet!”

“Ana Sanchez Lobo and her husband, Ramon Lobo, communicate regularly through a Web cam link. They haven’t seen each other since January 2005, National Public Radio reports in a story on family members who wish to join the one million foreigners who immigrate to the U.S. each year. “This Filipino family has endured two generations of separation to come to America…”

“Every Sunday evening, Michael Gough used to spend an hour or two with his daughter, Saige, who lives with his ex-wife. They played hide-and-seek. Mr. Gough read her bedtime stories. Saige showed him the first tooth she lost and the haircut she gave herself. All this despite the fact that the two were living more than 1,000 miles apart.”

12 July 2007

Motorola technology seeks to deepen mobile relationships

Motorola
Motorola researchers are working to extend this blending of technology and community. Using the always on, always-with-you mobile phone as a networked extension of “you,” applications are being developed that will help provide not only ways to connect with new people of similar interests, but have exciting, new communication experiences that will enrich and extend relationships with the people you already know and trust. These innovative applications will move the phone beyond supplying just the sound of voice as the core connection experience with your social network: they will add information about the user’s situation, or “context,” to the communication mix.

The vision for context-aware applications is that they will be able to automatically collect and share information about you with your established, trusted groups of friends. This is quite different from social networking websites, which are primarily geared toward finding new friends by actively searching through particular information fields about your interests or other characteristics. Mobile social networking, using context awareness, focuses on enhancing the relationships you already have, automatically alerting you and your friends about your current context – where you are, what you’re doing, what music you are listening to and more.

- Read full story
Read comment by Motorola Fellow John Strassner (bio)
Download paper “A Time to Glance: Studying the Use of Mobile Ambient Information” by Frank Bentley et al.

30 June 2007

Motion presence – a Motorola field study on sharing motion information

Motorola
Crysta Metcalf, principal staff anthropologist at Motorola’s Social Media Research Lab has been active recently. After a paper on sharing practices, her colleague Frank Bentley, a Motorola senior research engineer, now also posted an article and presentation on “Motion Presence” that he co-authored with her.

Abstract
We present the Motion Presence application, an augmented phone book style application that allows close friends and family to view each other’s current motion status (“moving” or “not moving”) on their mobile phones. We performed a two week long field trial with 10 participants to observe usage and investigate any privacy concerns that might arise. We found that our participants used the motion information to infer location and activity as well as to plan communication, to help in coordinating in-person gettogethers, and to stay connected to patterns in each others’ lives. Participants saw the motion data as mostly confirming their existing thoughts about the locations and activities of others and expressed few privacy concerns. In fact, they frequently asked for more information to be shared to make the application more compelling.

In a blog post Bentley reflects on the meaning of simplicity, which to him “centers on an alignment between the user’s mental model of a system and the actual model running inside the system.” He then expands on the concept of calm technology, introduced twelve years ago by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown of Xerox PARC.

“They saw a need for people to be aware of their environments, but without being distracted from their primary tasks. Relevant data would be ambiently displayed for people to notice through motion, sound, light, color, etc. Besides the ambient nature of these displays, I think one of the most salient points of this work was that the data being displayed was actually the raw data of bits traversing a network, and not some abstraction or inferred value that might not be as easy to understand. There was no confusion…if the wire was moving, bits were flowing. This simple piece of information could be used by the people in the room to infer whatever they needed at the time…whether it was a good time to print, check email, download a large file, etc.

We used this principle when we created the Motion Presence application. We shared fairly raw context data of if a person was moving between places or stationary at a place (we purposefully did not want to disclose actual locations). We observed that users easily understood the system and were able to use this information to infer activity, availability, location, destination, and time to destination given existing complex social knowledge about others in their close social circle. We could have tried to infer availability from location, time, motion, etc. but we believed that doing so would be confusing and frustrating for users since they would not be able to understand the complex model used to determine availability. And the second it was wrong once (which it certainly would be), users would likely lose faith in the system and not trust it in the future. The motion data was seen to be accurate and users trusted it and thus were able to trust the inferences that they made from it.

The learnings from the Motion Presence application demonstrates the power of people in applying complex social knowledge to inference problems. This is something computers are not very good at, even if they could get all of the raw data, but human brains are wired to deal exactly with these types of situations. In building social systems, let’s try to keep the system simple, and take advantage of the power of people to interpret simple, raw data in a social context.”

- Download article (pdf, 140 kb, 10 pages)
View presentation (via Slideshare, 29 slides)

29 June 2007

Alcatel-Lucent’s Alex and Lucie on user-centric experience

IMS
The website of Alcatel-Lucent, the global communications solution provider contains an entire section on user-centric experience. It is the first item of the site’s main menu, in fact.

“As end-users increasingly demand a more sophisticated communications experience tailored to meet their unique needs, putting them at center stage is what it will take to successfully compete. With Alcatel-Lucent’s user-centric applications and solutions, you will be uniquely positioned to deliver an enriched communications experience to consumers and enterprises — anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”

The section contains quite a lot of material, including:

28 June 2007

Portable objects in three global cities: the personalisation of urban places

In bag
With Daisuke Okabe and Ken Anderson. Draft of a chapter forthcoming in Rich Ling and Scott Campbell Eds., The Mobile Communication Research Annual Volume 1: The Reconstruction of Space & Time through Mobile Communication Practices. Transaction Books.

Mizuko Ito reports on her blog that a few years ago she was part of a collaborative fieldwork project with colleagues at her lab at Keio and at Intel’s People and Practices group.

They did data collection in three global cities — London, Los Angeles and Tokyo — looking at what young professionals carried around with them in locations outside of home and office. The authors were interested in issues of device convergence and how portable media players and different aspects of financial transactions were moving to the digital space and have just completed a draft of a paper on the three-city study.

Abstract

The mobile phone has become the central node of the ensemble of portable objects that urbanites carry with them as they negotiate their way through information-rich global cities.

This paper reports on a study conducted in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and London where we tracked young professionals’ use of the portable objects.

By examining devices such as music players, credit cards, transit cards, keys, and ID cards in addition to mobile phones, this study seeks to understand how portable devices construct and support an individual’s identity and activities, mediating relationships with people, places, and
institutions. Portable informational objects reshape and personalise the affordances of urban space. Laptops transform cafés into personal offices. Reward and membership cards keep track of individuals’ use of urban services. Music players and mobile devices colonise the in-between times of waiting and transit with the logic of personal communications and media consumption.

Our focus in this paper is not on the relational communication that has been the focus of most mobile communication studies, but rather on how portable devices mediate relationships to urban space and infrastructures.

We identify three genres of presence in urban space that involve the combination of portable media devices, people, infrastructures, and locations: cocooning, camping, and footprinting. These place-making processes provide hints to how portable devices have reshaped the experience of space and time in global cities.

Download paper (pdf, 300 kb, 17 pages)

Since then, Daisuke Okabe and Mizuko Ito have been conducting a longer term follow on in this work, focusing on Tokyo. They have been following a more diverse set of participants over two years, looking at how their “portable kit” changes over time. A short essay reports on where things stand at the moment.

23 June 2007

Jyri Engeström on the future of participatory media

Jaiku
Jaiku co-founder and former Nokia ethnographer Jyri Engeström (bio | Jaiku site) recently gave a presentation on the future of social media, entitled “Microblogging: Tiny social objects” at Reboot 9.0 and at Mobile Monday Amsterdam.

Why do people like microblogging? Because most people can’t write several blog posts per day/week but like to keep conversations alive around topics and they like to stay connected with each other in a simple and easy way (accessible through different interfaces and/or devices), including the mobile phone obviously.

- Presentation slides
Presentation video (49:40)

23 May 2007

Vodafone’s Receiver magazine is “at home”

Vodafone Receiver magazine
The latest issue of Vodafone’s Receiver magazine (#18) is entitled “at home” and is introduced as follows:

Digital media are entering the connectivity as a matter of course era, and they are entering the “home zone”: the home (for many young people: the bedroom) has become the centre of their connected world. Once upon a time communications technologies belonged to the world of work – they now provide people with socialising tools they have long taken for granted. Technology becoming intuitional and ubiquitous prompts sociologists to speak of a privatisation of the public through communications and a fragmentation and/or expansion of the concept of home. How come?

Some of the articles it contains:

  • Socializing digitally
    Danah Boyd
    So what exactly are teens doing on MySpace? Simple: they’re hanging out. Of course, ask any teen what they’re doing with their friends in general; they’ll most likely shrug their shoulders and respond nonchalantly with “just hanging out”. Hanging out amongst friends allows teens to build relationships and stay connected. Much of what is shared between youth is culture – fashion, music, media. The rest is simply presence. This is important in the development of a social worldview.
     
  • Homecasting: the end of broadcasting?
    José van Dijck
    The internet never replaced television, and the distribution of user-generated content via sites such as YouTube and GoogleVideo, in my view, will not further expedite television’s obsolescence. On the contrary, they will introduce a new cultural practice that will both expand and alter our rapport with the medium of television — a practice I refer to as “homecasting”.
     
  • Connected strategies for connecting homes
    Mark Newman
    Do consumers actually want a connected home? I’m not sure that many of us even understand the concept. But what we do want is the freedom to time-shift and place-shift the services we already have. We want to be able to take the services we use at work into our homes. And the services we receive at home into the office or away with us on business or on holiday.
     
  • Keeping things simple
    John Seely Brown
    Well-designed media provide peripheral clues that subtly direct users along particular interpretive paths by invoking social and cultural understandings. Context and content work efficiently together as an ensemble, sharing the burden of communication. If the relationship between the two is honored, their interaction can make potentially complex practices of communication, interpretation, and response much easier. This is the essence of keeping things simple.
     
  • Appliances evolve
    Mike Kuniavsky
    Today, information is starting to be treated in product design as if it was a material, to produce a new class of networked computing devices. Unlike general-purpose computers, these exhibit what Bill Sharpe of the Appliance Studio calls “applianceness”. They augment specific tasks and are explicitly not broad platforms that do everything from banking to playing games.
     
  • Socializing digitally
    Leslie Haddon
    There have been numerous occasions where technologies have entered our everyday lives through the influence of users, or at least some users, in ways that were unanticipated by industry. In relation to a number of important innovations it is users themselves who have developed or adapted the technology to fit into their lives and their homes. But as we shall see, that is only one side of the coin. Users can also be quite discriminating.
     
  • The new television
    Louise Barkhuus
    From ancient tragedies and comedies to theatre and, later, movies, it is evident that people enjoy being entertained by stories — regardless of the medium. Television is yet another step in the evolution of media that tell these stories, and just as television did not kill the movies (although it had an impact by decreasing their prevalence), interactive games and the internet will not render television obsolete. We will merely see innovative versions of moving pictures that can satisfy the needs of the 21st century’s embedded acquaintance with a multitude of media.
     
  • Pleasant, personalized, portable – the future of domotic design
    Fausto Sainz de Salces
    The home environment can greatly benefit from mobile technology that enhances the user’s experience through easy interaction with the immediate environment. Designing the home of the future, integrating communication devices, is not an easy task. It is a challenge that includes consideration of home dwellers’ opinions, preferences and tastes

The magazine now also comes with its own blog.

17 December 2006

Can mobile phones give you ‘presence?’ [International Herald Tribune]

Mobile phone presence
The International Herald Tribune today features serial entrepreneur Jyri Engeström and his Jaiku mobile phone software, “which allows people to learn where their friends are, what they are doing, who is with them and what time they last used the phone (and for how long). The service also alerts users when a friend posts a photograph or blog entry on the Internet.”

“For those who do share their whereabouts and activities through Jaiku, a photo and their status appears on friends’ phones. Actions like selecting a quiet ring tone will tell all friends that you cannot be disturbed.”

The article goes on to raise some important privacy and social concerns.

Read full story

22 October 2006

‘Presence’ technology building cell phones to anticipate your mind

Presence Technology
“Cell phones that know where you are, what you’re doing and can anticipate your very needs was a popular subject in 2003 and is back in the headlines following an article last week in The Chicago Tribune”, writes Emily Turrettini on her popular blog textually.org.

A new generation of cell phones that know where you are, what you’re doing and anticipate what you’ll like is being developed in labs and tested in markets around the world.

Industry designers hope to strike a balance between a gadget that will learn enough to please its owner without becoming annoying.

“We want it like having a concierge in your pocket, not Big Brother,” said Martin Dunsby, senior vice president with Openwave Systems Inc., a wireless software firm.

Called “presence” technology, the new gadgetry is intended to make portable devices easier to use.

The system will combine knowledge about where someone’s phone is with his calendar schedule so, for example, it can send incoming calls to voice mail when she’s in a conference. Eventually, the system may turn up her home heating system 10 minutes before arrival.

IBM researchers last month announced a test in collaboration with Telenor, a Norwegian telecom.

“There are a lot of sensors and information sources,” said Vova Soroka, research manager for IBM’s lab in Haifa, Israel. “They have motion sensors and biosensors of all kinds. You could even tell from a sensor in the phone whether someone is walking or bicycling.”

While there’s no simple way to design a device that will cater to owners without stalking or bugging them, Soroka said one key is allowing customers to opt in to services.

Read full story (Chicago Tribune)

19 July 2006

Real Time Rome: MIT reveals Rome’s live traffic info via mobile phones

Real Time Rome
In a two-page article, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports on “Real Time Rome“, a project by Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab that “uses aggregated data from cell phones, buses and taxis in Rome to better understand urban dynamics in real time. By revealing the pulse of the city, the project aims to show how technology can help individuals make more informed decisions about their environment [in the hope that] it [will] be possible to reduce the inefficiencies of present day urban systems and open the way to a more sustainable urban future.” [Text from project website]

[The text below is from La Repubblica, freely translated by the author of this blog]

“In large cities millions of mobile phones constantly communicate their exact location to the mobile operators. Nothing surprising: these phones function precisely because companies like Tim, Vodafone, Wind and H3G can locate them at any moment and provide them with a clear signal. MIT will use the mobile phone location data from Rome that it obtains from Telecom Italia (obviously under anonymous aggregation), to proces them in its computers in Boston, and to return them to Rome in a map that shows the movements of the inhabitants of the city.”

“The results of this processing, which involves the use of complex algorithms (that for instance can figure out the difference between a very slow mobile phone located in the pocket of a pedestrian from one of a driver stuck in traffic) will arrive nearly instantaneously, so that the city will have real time updates on its traffic situation.”

“With the availability of such a tool, people cannot only choose the least busy street to go to a restaurant, but also the least busy restaurant itself. By analysing the location of mobile phones with a particular country code, it is even possible to analyse the flows of tourists: where are the Germans going? How are the Japanese getting around? By combining the traffic data with those of public transportation, one can immediately understand if the bus distribution in a city corresponds to user density, therefore user needs. People can use their mobile phone at any moment to check the presence of the closest taxi and call it, or they can find out where they can find the nearest (and next) available parking space.”

“The “Real-time-Rome” will be presented in September at the Biennale of Venice 10th International Architecture Exhibition.” […]

“The project also involves Google, (the Rome public transport company) ATAC, Samarcanda Taxi and the City of Rome, which will provide mega screens during the testing phase so that Romans can follow their own movements throughout the city.”

19 July 2005

Presence? Mark me absent [Microsoft Watch]

Ms_office_online
With Office Communicator 2005, an IM client for business users, Microsoft is leading the charge to make ‘presence’ ever-present, and not just in instant-messaging. But is presence really progress?

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