Vivace portable music studio - Most Awesome Controller Interface

vivacemusicstudio.jpgThe search for midi/osc controllers knows no limits around the world as everybody is struggling to get some manual control to the thousands of virtuals knobs and sliders and buttons. There are lots of wild tries to cram as many buttons in as portable rigs as possible. I think that most people would agree that there is nothing out there that is perfect. A step closer (until Apple frees us from the controller nightmare with a fully dual multitouch display or such) come the designers Young-Shin Lee & Hae-Jin Jung. They simply made a whole new computer that is just designed to be a musical instrument. I actually think they have something - if it would be ultra cheap and could be used as just a controller. I know that VJs would probably love it - imaging having a second screen with you loops and some nifty controller and some multitouch action and a keyboard in addition to your usual setup.

More info here.
More pics here.


Awesome almost portable Reality to Internet Interface.

These guys at MIT have hacked together a device that acts as a multitouchtouch interface screen on anything - and its almost wearable. You can go into a bookstore an have a camera scan the face of the book and display amazon star rating on the real life book. Then you can have it read stuff to you. Or you can make temporary graffity in the UBahn while you are bored. Or see how green a product is in the supermarket. Reality to virtual interfaces in all forms are the next big thing - the wii was just the tiny beginning.
Full article on wired.


The Story of a Runic Stone

This has to be the best museum installation I have ever seen. It presents the original exhebition piece - the runic stone Mejlbystenen. It explains its meaning - it invites to play - it looks pretty and its provides room for imagination thus making the stone itself an interface between the old and new world. Absolutely stunning.


Microsofts QRCode - epic fail

microsoftsQR_mobile-tags.jpegStaying on the bridge between real life and virtuality QRCodes have been really loved around here. We have stickers for our blogs with them and had a party in the woods that you almost only found when you decoded the QRCode puzzle in the woods.
Now Microsoft beeing Microsoft has seen that QRCodes are cool but it wouldnīt be Microsoft if they wouldnīt take a perfect solution and make their own absolute unworkable proprietary solution with big copyright written all over it.
Why unworkable? Because its color of course - not only is it harder to print out color as a long lasting printout (it fades in the sun mostly) - it is also not decipherable in the dark by crappy phone cameras which already have some problems with the current black on white high contrast QRCodes (we try to remedy that in the next iteration by printing negative QRs on self glowing paper). Epic fail as per usual - you would think they never test any of their stuff outside of the lab.



Fluid Tunes - forget multitouch, mouse and anything else.

fluidtunes.pngSometimes you come across an idea that is so intriguing that it changes the world around you and your perception of things of the future. The interface in Minority Report was such a thing. Now I stumbled across Fluid Tunes and I think that goes even further then the interface in Minority Report as it lets you control your screen without touching it and without wearing goofy gloves. The demo program is just that - a demo - you can flip through your iTunes library - but the interaction model is astonishing - you can even push buttons by tapping in the air - the possibilities are AMAZING for a performer that is on the lookout for fast easy interaction with big buttons (VJs for example ;). I know this might be old hat and I have been sitting on it for a while but I am sure there are people out there who have not heard about it. Now imagine this together with Apples patent of a screen that acts as camera (two years ago) and a screen that can detect IR 20 cm away (about 2 month ago) and you might see that this is exactly where Apple might be going with their bigger computers.

Fluid Tunes

Evolution of Game Controllers

Evolution-of-Game-Controllers.jpgIts design evolution day. Here is a very telling graphic that depicts the evolution of game controllers and the difference on how you pwn the enemy with an xbox vs. a wii vs. a ps3.
I guess you could make the company logos of the gaming consoles out of the hand gesture you use with their controllers.

Originally found here.


Wii visual Theremin

The first electronic musical instrument ever and the only instrument played without touching it? The Theremin. Now in the future you ainīt need antennas you can make it wireless and use fancy light - of course brought to you by the awesomeness of the wii controller (has there ever been a piece of computing hardware this versatile while being that cheap?)

Now with that out of the way you can read stuff and watch a movie on how it works.

Is it not the coolest interface ever for a 303?


Minority Report Interface&OS - for real

It seems science fiction is contributing more to REAL products then science of late. The ubercool interface that scientology addict Tom Cruise used in the film Minority Report when looking through the memory recordings of the uberconcious future lookers has been made a reality. Apparently the designer of the movie thing was also on board. Think real spacial handmovement interaction. Now this is how I could see myself performing a vj set for sure. Guess not a bad time to get back to kung fu training so that you movements are a bit more smooth then geeks in the movie below.

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.


Blinkenlights: iPhone App released

BlinkenLightsiPhoneSim.pngThe Blinkenlights iPhone application is released and available on the appstore so you can watch the stream of pixels as it appears (or should appear ones its working) on the house on you iPhone with different viewpoints.

iPhone BlinkenSim on the Appstore


Whats wrong with Adobe Apps?

A website lets users speak out what frustrates them with Adobe apps and the new open Adobe Company is responding in depth and length that I have not seen any other company doing ever - I think thats quite great.

Read the following part about a Linux Port of Photoshop in the discussion:

Linux - there are a lot of people there wanting Linux versions of your leading apps. And yet that's been glossed over time and again. And while it wasn't me that added that particular gripe, Photoshop and Lightroom really ARE the one and only reasons why I can't ditch this POS Windows operating system for Ubuntu.

[I can't speak for other products, nor do I want to give you false hope. Having said that, the architectural investments we're making will make the Photoshop codebase more flexible and portable over time. The fundamental problems with moving to Linux are A) sales to Linux users don't represent growth, they represent replacements of Windows units, and B) Linux use is heavily based in antipathy towards non-open-source commercial software. --J.]

I mean this is some reasonable thought on the issue that Linux users might even understand.

There is much more juice with questions and answers about prices of the Creative Suite, User Interface consistency between apps. While some answers are a bit inward looking instead of outward looking there are so many details in there its hard to recount them all here so head over first to the website and add your gripe then go to the dear adobe top 25 problems (its a must read and if you ever come into contact with adobe apps I am sure you agree with 26 of the 25 points being made.) and finally go to the official Adobe Photoshop insider blog of John Nack to see a huge company open up to the world in a way I have not seen before. Especially follow the discussion after the blog entry where there is a healthy back and forth between users and developers - I hope there are some other big time developers out there taking a cue.


Comics coming to the iPhone - a medium finds a new host

Gosh I donīt own one (and unless they are getting smaller and the dataplans cheaper it will probably stay that way) but I love the iPhone for that it shackles up so many traditions and morphes us closer to a 21st century society - also it starts to save trees which is all and about a great thing. How? Well there are starting to appear comics on the iPhone that would have been printed on dead trees beforehand. Given that especially in Japan the throw away cheap comic culture is huge this might even have a measurable environmental impact at one point. But comics coming to the iPhone is even cooler. I have noticed the rise of webcomics lately but I find reading them in a regular browser takes a away a bit of the magic that happens when you dive into a paneled layout without distractions all around it that blink and try to draw you into a different universe - you know what I am talking about if you have ever seriously used a computer. A comic on the iPhone would is different - you have the screen and the comic fills it - yes it would break with the traditional panels on page layout and is instead only serial panels scrolling but you could even mimic the move from panel to panel which sometimes goes left to right sometimes top to bottom and sometime just quirky - depending on the content - by sliding the panel out/in to the corresponding side. You could even give a "page" overview on how the panels would be arranged for every virtual physical page. Quite general I love the idea and I think with the rise of epaper readers and the iPhone and the current attention deficit society comics become a much stronger medium in itself.

Japanese Manga Comes To The iPhone (Mike Cane)
The Future Is Almost Now (Publishers Weekly)


Brain-Computer Interface

nia_angle.jpgOCZ - a modder company selling overclocking and cooling devices normally - has introduced a computer brain input interface. No its not an "coming soon product" it is apparently available to buy pretty much now for a mere US $147,00. The devices detects brainwaves, facial muscle movements and eye muscle movements to enhance your input possibilities. There is a great writeup from hothardware using it and reading that makes me very itchy. This could very well be a great additional solution to some input woes with complex programs - especially complex programs that need fast reaction time or programs were you need to push more buttons at once then you have fingers. Like VJ programs for example... Sadly the device is Windows only at the moment and mostly aimed towards gamers. But I expect this to become a common form of input if it is really working as described in the article.


Bosch Air Lever (wasserwaage) für MacBook and MacBookPro

BoschWasserwage.pngThis is the greatest software invention since the wordprocessor - well almost. Firstly why I am so exited? Well I am REALLY bad with tools of any kind - I tend to be their arch nemisis. I loose them, I break them, missuse them because of the lack of the right one. Tools and me just donīt get along with my two left hands add glue paint oil+sand to the mix and you know what the few World War II tools that I inherited from my grand dad look like. But salvation has come at last - the era of fully digital tools - tools that are virtual but interface with the real world - kind of like "mind robots". I was extremely delighted to find out today that the german tool maker company BOSCH has released an application (as in software application - a thing that I never loose even over 15years and beyond, those things that rarely break on my always running computers). The application is a full functioning Air Lever - or Wasserwaage (water scale) as we germans call it. It uses the sudden motion sensors in a Macbook or MacbookPro and has a display that looks like your good old lever with simulated airbubbles as well. And yes it works - the installation is also surprisingly simple - via a Javawebapp that you can then instruct to write out a normal .app onto you local computer (because you ainīt having much of internet on most construction sites.
Now apple just needs to release a rugged MacBook that withstands an actual construction site day without a scratch and we have a tool that ainīt going missing so easy :)

You can get it at the official Bosch site (in german but the download link is called "download" and a lever is universal in language I guess ;) Oh and its free as in beer.


Video of how to DIY a multitouch interface

Well we all know what good stuff you can do with a multitouch interface. The only problem is that there are not many commercial versions out there and the DIY versions that have been presented before a re HUGE installations rather then "take it with you" projects. The movie below shows you how to make a small multitouch box to take with you on the road.


Enter the Holographic century

There have been hundreds of devices out in the last 100 years that all attempt to bring true 3d visuals to the masses. Now I tripped over the Cheoptics360 and I think this could be the real deal. While the website and the net in general is spare on details on how it actually works it surely looks like a R2D2 style hologramic projection is what this machine does - but watch the videos (and remember the videos you see are 2d so the 3d effect is not sooo visible - yet you can make out the floating object in front of the all the backgrounds which is a good indicator that this is actually working and quietly enough (read: no rotating mirrors) to be installed in an airport lounge. And large enough to eventually give us almost immersive environments... I still suspect this to be the old mirror trick but since its visible from 360 degrees this canīt be. Expect to see you live size game characters appear holographic in your living room in the next 15 years until then enjoy the video... or visit the developers vizoo website.


Nokias futuristic Morph Concept

its a nano phone of the future.. even though I think the "handheld" metapher will not hold by the time nanotech can do the cool things this device is suppose to make some of the concepts presented are quite novel - like the hand interface that molds it could actually work.


Digital Tattoo goes mainstream

2-21-07-digital_tattoo.jpgAh its just strange when you think of a sci-fi idea that you project about 15 years into the future and then all of the sudden researches take on the idea (or comes up with it themself) just 2 years later. So it happened to my Kalkin Revelation "tattoo interface". At least this canīt be patented in a general sense as I hold the prior art :)

the "real" scientific project here:"


The movie of mine here: (save as then open with mp4 player of choice)

Update: Oh the collective minds of the internet there is also a novel which employs the idea called the Commenwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton published around the same time as I had the idea first (about 3 years ago) - no I have not read this back then - maybe humanity has a collective mind after all ;)


Edward Tufte on the iPhone interface

tufteOnTheiPhone.pngEdward Tufte is some kind of interface/information ordering hero. His books on Information Design are simply stunning. He has a commentated interface walkthrough of the iPhone on his site. It fairly balanced but you do sense a kind of excitement - even so he compares some of the apps with bad powerpoint slides.
His most important quote of the video:

To clarify add detail

So I am not so sure if his alternative weather widget is really that much better in day to day use (he makes a point that adding information is a design challange but the weather widget in my eyes fails that challange)


3rd Party WiiMote with location capable gyroscopes

darwin-white_x220.jpgMy love for the WiiMote goes way beyond Raymans Raving Rabbits and other fun games as I embrace the gyroscope filled controller for next generation interfaces and 3d tracking in various forms. 3d tracking with the WiiMote has but one big problem. While it is quite great to get the bank and roll data out of the white brick it is only possible to know where it is using infrared lights. Infrared lights tend to behave like real lights as they can get obscured or not in the right place when you need them. Sure you can try to get the location of the WiiMote by using the accelerometers and gyroscopes but the result - and I have tried that - is quite bad. You get what people call a drift very very badly especially when you move around the room with the thing and attach a camera to it.
Now the Boston USA based company Motus Corporation claim to have developed a WiiMote of their own that can be used without the infrared sensor bar and still get the location right. They developed it in the form of a Samurai sword handle and made it primary for the target group of golfers (their are known for golf training gear) but if any of their claims hold true this is the revolution of the sensor revolution. The gyro package send new data every 30 Milliseconds is called Darwin (probably because the software to read out WiiMote data on the computer is Darwin Remote?) seems semi compatible with the WiiMote (the protocol is the same but there is different data available). The firmware has error correction build in and my uneducated guess is that they slapped another 5 or so accelerometers in there to get a more accurate average reading. Surprisingly the price is "in the range" of not beeing overly gold encrusted (its going to be somewhere between $79 and $99) and if the claims hold up its a bargain because then you can build a real realtime camera tracking solution and with a couple of these also a motion capturing solution that rivals about everything out there in the price range 10k+. Lets hope they find a distributor soon (or figure out that in these days you can self distribute this and still be successful)


Legos 50th birthday

LEGO is something great and I would like to wish it happy birthday and digg out the Command Lego Interface I did some aons ago, enjoy.


Wiimote, SciFiGloves = Minority-Report-Style (without Scientology) interface?

The WiiMote has struck again. This time with a Minority Report Style "no touch" touchscreen interface. This technology will not stop to amaze us this year. My prediction: WiFit is next.


Autodesk Applications to integrate WiiMote and Multitouch?

I just had a very inspiring email exchange with Scott Sheppard from the deep underground laboratories of Autodesk Inc. - makers of two major 3D applications (Maya - Max), all major CAD Applications (AutoCad, Studio) and some much more professional application in the design and visual fx market. I stumbled across a post on the Autodesk Labs_ Blog concerning the use of the WiiMote to be used as an input device for their applications. I asked him about the possibility of making the headtracking I posted yesterday available inside Maya (and on OSX). Never expected a reply but I eventually got one. Basically he is saying that they see the WiiMote as a big step forward for a cheap revolution of interfaces and that he actively discussed this with the person responsible for MultiTouch in the lab. They come to conclusion to integrate something like this it would need an interface inside Maya that is not there yet. I kind of disagree as it probably possible to integrate this with Python - but sadly my Python skills lack "a bit" to make a proof of concept.

Anyway what was important is that a major software developer (I would say they rank in the top 10 if not even the top 5 software developing companies in the world) is understanding that the current method of interface input devices need a big overhaul, that they embrace going the "cheap" route instead of developing stupid proprietary stuff and that its not only the WiiMote that is of interest but also multitouch (they even had a mutlitouch summit). Now if the headtracking I posted yesterday together with multitouch input doesnīt make for a great input future of computing devices I donīt know what would. Just imagine how "clay like sculpturing" would work here. You move around and closer just by moving your head and use your ten fingers to sculpt the model...

I am greatly exited.

Video of WiiMote controlling Autocad
corresponding blog article
Multitouch and AutoCad Video on Youtube(A must see if you are a designer and canīt envision what wultitouch brings)
We Have the Touch introduction of Multitouch at the Autodesk Lab


Cheap Motion Capture Device to hit market soon

MotionCaptureSensorSystem.pngWow. Sensors are SOOOOO ubercool. Now the motion capture monopoly that is Vicon and its associated studios might fall - very soon. Researchers from the MIT(USA) and MERL (Zürich, Switzerland) have created a system using of the shelf motion sensors such as the one that is found in the Wii controller and ultrasonic sound to create a $3000 motion capturing system that already rivals the vicon - and its only an alpha alpha version. They say the price could easily fall to a "couple hundret bucks". For comparison - a Vicon system that is actually usable cost upward of $250.000 - and that is in no way even close to perfect as every visual motion tracking has to deal with "blind spots" - tracking points that are invisible for a couple of frames because they are obscured by body parts or other bodies. The problems come if these points are then popping up in a different place after they had been obscured leading to absolutely unusable tracking data that has to be cleaned in a very tedious manual labour process.
The Vicon system has 5+ highresolution highspeed infrared cameras (we are talking about 2000lines resoltion and 200 frames per seconds here - you know where the price comes from) so this system will not fall in price anytime soon.

So as a 3d artist I can not stress how great it would be just to slap a <$500 motion capture system on any actor, have them do their dance and then have ready to use data. Especially since this can be employed outside a studio - so to say on set!

But also this would make the Wii look like a stone age gaming device. Imagine playing a boxing game with one of these.....

read more about it at the new scientist

or watch the youtupe video explaining the system.


Funky Forest: Virtual Reality with eco shic for children

funkyforestangle.jpgImmersive Environments get more and more press over the years, as they finally become more rich and interactive. Its not only the "Goggle 3D thing" anymore its also blackboxes. One of the funkier ones I have seen and one that serves to teach children a bit about tree growth (namely that they need water to grow ;) and is generally great looking is Funky Forest. Children can create trees with their bodies, divert water with handmovements all in a immersive four walled environment that has some style.


User Interfaces Of the NowFuture

bumptop.jpgUI is one of my favorite topics - as I am pretty fed up with the user interface experience on personal computers these days. The days of the mouse keyboard combo are counted without a doubt - at least after a certain multitouch product that hit the market big this year.
I have been seeing a lot of research into modern unkonventional user interface studies that work with multitouch or 3d desktop representations or photogrammetry exploration over the last year and so I am quite happy that I donīt have to do the roundup of them but another side did that already :) As far as I can see this is the top of the crop of modern interface ideas that have the ability to make it to the mass market - so I think there could be even more radical departures - its cyperspace after all...

My personal favorite - after the awesome multitouch stuff (that is not from microsoft) is the 3d desktop - pair the 3d desktop with multitouch and you have a pretty working novel interface. Now they just need to invent an fingerprintproof glass surface...

read all about the interfaces of the future over at

PS: I am very happy that UserInterfaceDesign has become a darling of the techreporters lately - that means this is coming big time and it could not come soon enough..