Call for applicationsMay 20

The Interface Culture Lab at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz/Austria provides an internationally oriented master program in Interactive Media Arts. The two-year program, which is entirely organized in English language, is open to prospective students with multidisciplinary backgrounds integrating art, design, science and technology.

We are currently accepting new students for the master class of the upcoming academic year 2010/11 and would therefore like to point you to the online registration form, which will be open until June 18th 2010. The application interviews will take place in Linz on June 30th or alternatively on September 7th during the Ars Electronica Festival.

LiWoLi2010 – The Art of Doing it TogetherApril 9

Next week this year’s edition of the LiWoLi 2010 will again take place at the University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz. From April 15-17 there will be several talks, discussions and workshops around open source communities and technologies in the context of artistic production and teaching practice. I will also hold a TUIO workshop on Open Tools for Tangible Interaction, there are still a few places left if you are interested in that topic and happen to be around in Linz that time. There are several more workshops held by key developers of Pure Data and Open Frameworks for example, and the rest of the activities around the general practice of open source within artistic communities is also quite promising.

Prof. for Interface Cultures in LinzJanuary 22

During this semester I will hold an interim position as Professor for Interface Cultures at the University of Arts in Linz, appointed to act for Prof. Sommerer & Prof. Mignonneau during their sabbatical leave. The Interface Cultures department looks back to an exciting history of five years leading to the establishment of one of the most innovative master programs for digital arts in Austria. Apart from managing the continuity of the master program and student activities I am planning to give an impulse towards the research in human computer interaction and the development of open tools for creative production during my stay. Our new team is completed by senior researcher Dr. Georg Russegger, who will be responsible for the research towards a new European master program in Ludic Interfaces.

ceci n’est pas un code QRJanuary 13

ceci n'est pas un code QR

TUIO logoJanuary 7

TUIO logo

The TUIO acronym translates to “tangible user interface objects”. This logo therefore intends to symbolize the primary application field of the protocol in the context of tangible interactive surfaces. The three central letters TUI standing for “tangible user interfaces” are surrounded by the large letter O, which represents the protocol in general as a unifying fabric. Finally the letters T and I have been designed to mimic the structure of a table in order to emphasize the role of the TUIO protocol for the realization of interactive tabletop applications.

You can download the TUIO logo on its page at

TUIO 2.0 specification nearing completionJanuary 4

It took longer than expected to develop the next generation TUIO 2.0 specification, since this new protocol generation is intended to cover a much wider scope of tangible user interfaces and interactive surface environments. The present TUIO 1.1 specification has been mainly used for multi-touch surfaces, but it also included the basic component descriptors for tagged and untagged physical objects.
In addition to improved multi-touch features, TUIO2 now has an even stronger focus on tangible (=physical) interfaces. Therefore it is not only enhancing the existing components with some previously missing attributes (e.g. pressure), but also defines new descriptors for additional interface component types. Apart from extending the existing descriptors for Tokens (tagged objects), Pointers (touch and pointing devices) and Bounds (untagged object geometry), TUIO2 introduces an additional Symbol component for the encoding of arbitrary symbols, such as RFID tags or data matrix codes. Additional Geometry messages now allow the more detailed description of the full shape of untagged physical objects, while several complementary Content messages allow the transmission of additional control dimensions, data content and signals for any interface component. TUIO2 also introduces the new category of Association messages, which allow to define various Container and Connection relationships between individual interface components. The new protocol finally also includes detailed Timing information, which is essential for the realization of gesture-based interfaces.
Due to its shared OSC name space /tuio2 and its more compact message syntax, the new protocol is hopefully more open for future extensions with additional component messages. This structure also allows the incremental description of individual interface components by a series of messages. A finger touch for example can now be encoded by combining a pointer and bounds message, while several properties of a tagged physical object can be referenced through a series of token, symbol and geometry messages.
Although the documentation still might need some improvements and eventually some minor error correction, I hope that the current specification actually meets its primary goals and can be soon declared final. If there are any objections or last minute proposals for improvement, please get in touch as soon as possible. In any case it will still take some more time before we are going to see actual implementations of TUIO 2.0, since most applications and client libraries are still in the process of implementing TUIO 1.1.

nfOSC: OSC tool for RFID readersDecember 28

In order to simplify the development tasks for my Tangible User Interface class at the Interface Culture lab in Linz, I just released a new tool for tangible interaction. nfOSC adds touchatag reader. When an RFID tag is placed onto such a device, the application sends a simple OSC message to the configured UDP port, an equivalent OSC message is sent when the tag is removed. The code is based on the libnfc and liblo libraries, and is available for download on this google code project page. This page also includes an example project for Pure Data demonstrating its basic capabilities. I am planning to include this functionality into reacTIVision, as soon as TUIO2 will become available. Alternatively nfOSC already includes an experimental implementation of the TUIO2 Symbol message in order to demonstrate its capabilities.

Roboexotica 2009 – top of the botsDecember 4

Well, it is pretty difficult to stay sober at Roboexotica. Back from the opening at the old Drinkomat factory in Vienna, I am still excited by the overall quality and fun-factor of this cocktail bot exhibition. There is an award ceremony planned by the end of this week, but I reckon it will be rather hard to choose the best submission. Here are my favourites starting with last year’s winning installation “Pressoir de la Fee” or Fairy Juice Squeezer, an amazing electro-mechanical device that is capable to squeeze a tiny amount of green alcoholic juice from a fairy trapped within the device.

As you can obviously guess from its name, “Plasmastaub” is set up within a kind of spaghetti western saloon bar, where one has to arm-wrestle against the robotic bartender, who will subsequently fill and toss a glass of whisky over the bar, which is not that easy to catch actually. The “Facehugger” is an alien creature, which attacks selected visitors who are tied-up on a bed within a closed room. Apparently the lucky victims eventually can suck some liquor from an alien rubber vagina monster which drops onto their face. The “loaded question” installation on the other hand manages to place the shot (more or less) directly into the mouth of its customer … from a distance well over a meter. Bartris is a modified version of the classic Tetris game, where the composition of different block colours that are eliminated within a row, determines the final ratio of a drink made of rum, coke and water. The “Miraculous Stigmatatron” – a crucified steampunk Jesusbot – is capable of turning water into wine. But I still don’t believe … even if it happens to reboot after three days. And finally the “Corps Reviver” is a beautifully crafted alchemist machine, mixing a nicely cooled alcoholic potion in perfect proportions.

ceci n’est pas un datamatrixDecember 3

ceci n'est pas un datamatrix

playing with google insightsNovember 9

Since I have been observing an increased public interest in the topic of augmented reality, which has been most certainly caused by the various mobile AR apps that have been appearing lately, I was using the google insights feature to verify the actual trend. Interesting enough playing with the results also showed the overall decline of the interest in virtual reality for example. Adding a few other HCI trends and hypes, it seems that around 2007 there has been a shift towards some alternative HCI topics. This turnaround seems to be also supported by this selection of input devices (excluding the mouse). Finally we can also observe a similar trend comparing the various user interface paradigms. So the traditional GUI and VR are apparently out, while touch interfaces and AR show increased popularity, although both topics have already been around well before that. Apparently the limited size and increased computing power of mobile devices supported most of these alternative interfaces, taking advantage of features such as multitouch, shaking gestures, camera tracking and the location services.

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