Augmented (hyper)Reality

Posted on Feb 9, 2010 in Film, Information design, video

Augmented (hyper)Reality by Keiichi Matsuda

The latter half of the 20th century saw the built environment merged with media space, and architecture taking on new roles related to branding, image and consumerism. Augmented reality may recontextualise the functions of consumerism and architecture, and change in the way in which we operate within it.

A film produced for my final year Masters in Architecture, part of a larger project about the social and architectural consequences of new media and augmented reality.

A competent visualisation of an undesirable future.

Telling stories with interfaces

Posted on Jan 25, 2010 in Film, Information design, Interaction design, Media

“But where does it go from here? Is this really just a micro-genre best suited to ads for internet companies? Or does the fact that we spend so much time on this stage our selves mean that it really can be the venue for more (and more kinds of) storytelling?

via Telling stories with interfaces « Snarkmarket.

Augmented reality experiments

I’m really not a fan of the goggle/glasses/helmet variety of AR, where the user wears something in front of their eyes that superimposes 3D objects into the physical world. In my experience this has been slow, inaccurate, cumbersome, headache inducing, the worst of VR plus a lot more problems. But AR is really interesting when it’s just a screen and a video feed, it becomes somehow magical: to see the same space represented twice: once in front of you, and once on screen with magical objects. I can imagine this working really well on mobile phones: the phone screen as magic lens to secret things.

Hand drawing markers

On that afternoon we didn’t have a printer handy for making the AR marks, so we took to drafting them by hand, stencilling them off the screen with a pencil and inking them in. This hand-crafted process led to all sorts of interesting connections between the possibilities of craft and digital information.

AR nail decorations

We had lots of ideas about printing the markers on clothes, painting them on nails, glazing them into ceramics, etc. We confused ARtoolkit by drawing markers in perspective, and tried to get recursive objects by using screen based markers and video feedback.

Confusing ARtoolkit

Now as it turns out there is an entire research programme dedicated to looking at just this topic. “Variable Environment”:http://sketchblog.ecal.ch/variable_environment/ is a research programme involving partners like “ECAL”:http://www.ecal.ch/pages/home_new.asp and “EPFL”:http://www.epfl.ch. The great thing is that they are blogging the entire exploratory (they call it ‘sketch’) phase and curating the results online. The work is multi-disciplinary and involves architects, visual designers, computer scientists, interaction designers, etc. Check out the simple “AR ready products”:http://sketchblog.ecal.ch/variable_environment/archives/2006/07/ar_ready_simple.html, “sample applications”:http://sketchblog.ecal.ch/variable_environment/archives/2006/07/applications_1.html and “mixed reality tests”:http://sketchblog.ecal.ch/variable_environment/archives/2006/01/mixed_reality_t_1.html with “various patterns”:http://sketchblog.ecal.ch/variable_environment/archives/2006/03/test_01_pattern.html.

This seems to be part of a shift in the research community, to publishing ongoing and exploratory work online (championed by the likes of “Nicolas Nova”:http://tecfa.unige.ch/perso/staf/nova/blog/ and “Anne Galloway”:http://www.purselipsquarejaw.org/). Very inspirational.

Graphic language for touch

This work explores the visual link between information and physical things, specifically around the emerging use of the mobile phone to interact with RFID or NFC. It was a presentation and poster at Design Engaged, Berlin on the 11th November 2005.

Download the icons (PDF, 721KB, Gif preview).

As mobile phones are increasingly able to read and write to RFID tags embedded in the physical world, I am wondering how we will appropriate this for personal and social uses.

I’m interested in the visual link between information and physical things. How do we represent an object that has digital function, information or history beyond it’s physical form? What are the visual clues for this interaction? We shouldn’t rely on a kind of mystery meat navigation (the scourge of the web-design world) where we have to touch everything to find out it’s meaning.

This work doesn’t attempt to be a definitive system for marking physical things, it is an exploratory process to find out how digital/physical interactions might work. It uncovers interesting directions while the technology is still largely out of the hands of everyday users.

h3. Reference to existing work

Visual references

p(caption). Click for larger version.

The inspiration for this is in the marking of public space and existing iconography for interactions with objects: push buttons on pedestrian crossings, contactless cards, signage and instructional diagrams.

This draws heavily on the substantial body of images of visual marking in public space. One of the key findings of this research was that visibility and placement of stickers in public space is an essential part of their use. Current research in ubicomp and ‘locative media’ is not addressing these visibility issues.

There is also a growing collection of existing iconography in contactless payment systems, with a number of interesting graphic treatments in a technology-led, vernacular form. In Japan there are also instances of touch-based interactions being represented by characters, colours and iconography that are abstracted from the action itself.

I have also had great discussions with Ulla-Maaria Mutanen and Jyri Engestr�m who have been doing interesting work with thinglinks and the intricate weaving of RFID into craft products.

h3. Development

rfid_iconography_circles.gif

Sketching and development revealed five initial directions: circles, wireless, card-based, mobile-based and arrows (see the poster for more details). The icons range from being generic (abstracted circles or arrows to indicate function) to specific (mobile phones or cards touching tags).

Arrows might be suitable for specific functions or actions in combinations with other illustrative material. Icons with mobile phones or cards might be helpful in situations where basic usability for a wide range of users is required. Although the ‘wireless’ icons are often found in current card readers, they do not successfully indicate the touch-based interactions inherent in the technology, and may be confused with WiFi or Bluetooth. The circular icons work at the highest level, and might be most suitable for generic labelling.

rfid_iconography_circles.gif

For further investigation I have selected a simple circle, surrounded by an ‘aura’ described by a dashed line. I think this successfully communicates the near field nature of the technology, while describing that the physical object contains something beyond its physical form.

rfid_iconography_2circle.gif

In most current NFC implementations, such as the 3220 from Nokia and many iMode phones, the RFID reader is in the bottom of the phone. This means that the area of ‘activation’ is obscured in many cases by the phone and hand. The circular iconography allows for a space to be marked as ‘active’ by the size of the circle, and we might see it used to mark areas rather than points. Usability may improve when these icons are around the same size as the phone, rather than being a specific point to touch.

h3. Work in progress

This is early days for this technology, and this is work-in-progress. There is more to be done in looking at specific applications, finding suitable uses and extending the language to cover other functions and content.

Until now I have been concerned with generic iconography for a digitally augmented object. But this should develop into a richer language, as the applications for this type of interaction become more specific, and related to the types of objects and information being used. For example it would be interesting to find a graphic treatment that could be applied to a Pokemon sticker offering power-ups as well as a bus stop offering timetable downloads.

I’m also interested in the physical placement of these icons. How large or visible should they be? Are there places that should not be ‘active’? And how will this fit with the natural, centres of gravity of the mobile phone in public and private space.

I’ll expand on these things in a few upcoming projects that explore touch-based interactions in personal spaces.

Feel free to use and modify the icons, I would be very interested to see how they can be applied and extended.

h3. Visual references

Oyster Card, Transport for London.
eNFC, Inside Contactless.
Paypass, Mastercard.
ExpressPay, American Express.
FeliCa, Sony.
MiFare, various vendors.
Suica, JR, East Japan Railway Company.
RFID Field Force Solutions, Nokia.
NFC shell for 3220, Nokia.
ERG Transit Systems payment, Dubai.
Various generic contactless vendors.
Contactless payment symbol, Mastercard.
Open Here, Paul Mijksenaar, Piet Westendorp, Thames and Hudson, 1999.
Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud, Harper, 1994

Social filtering for online forums

“Yayhooray”:http://www.yayhooray.com re-launched with new features and functions, and what looks like a rich environment for writing, browsing and discussion. As far as I know it’s the first forum built to use the buddy list as a form of content filtering: to increase the signal to noise ratio in the content.

Here’s a bit of Yayhooray history:

Built by “skinnyCorp”:http://www.skinnycorp.com in 2001 as an experiment in online community. Along with “o8″:http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:1nd31d-exeAJ:www.cotworld.com/main/journal.asp%3FJournal_ID%3D539 it soaked up some of the users from “Dreamless”:http://www.dreamless.org/, the ‘design forum’ that reached critical mass and became its own “worst enemy”:http://www.shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html at the end of 2000.

Originally it was built to manage itself through a levels system; allowing users to earn administration responsibilities (similar to implicit moderation systems employed by other forums like “metafilter”:http://www.metafilter.com). It worked well at a small scale but led to cliques forming around the early adopter’s own social networks.

The levels system evolved into a points system, allowing anyone to award points to anyone, on a limited (one a day, one person a week) basis, similar to karma systems adopted at “slashdot”:http://slashdot.org/ and “kuro5hin”:http://www.kuro5hin.org/. This briefly led to multiple account scams, and ended up in the ‘point orgy’ where ‘points were swapped rather than STDs’.

In the end, both systems were abused, subverted and widely discussed, often taking over from normal discussions and swamping the site with controversy. Many regulars left to other places, some seeing closed, invite only communities (like “humhum”:http://humhum.be) as the only option left for humane, creative discussion.

Yayhooray, in this latest version, is setting itself up to deal with these problems by globally filtering the content through a buddy system, rather than explicitly administering the content and user reputations. This applies to the entire site including the categorised discussions, blogging interface, links database, buddy lists and search.

!/images/yayhooray_filter.gif!

The most obvious feature is a meter on the left hand side, which allows 4 different filtering settings:

* you and only you
* you and your buddies
* you, your buddies, and their buddies
* every user on Yay Hooray!

This applies a filter to the entire site, including user lists and search, which took me a little by suprise. The site is effectively meshing off into small, interlinked communities of interest, based on individual social networks and collaborative filtering.

In my case, buddies are mostly people that I have met, talked to, or seen invest time into making things: initiating photographic threads, dealing with social issues, administering creative collaborations, giving good design critique…

Logging in now (using ‘you, your buddies, and their buddies’) I see a small subset of the overall forum, focused on these parts of the discussion. Given that the filter is so prominent and usable, it is also possible to jump out into the chaos of the full site.

There is also a useful, if somewhat harsh, system that censors posts and links based on a list of people that you class as ‘enemies’! Being based on proper XHTML, CSS and DOM technologies means that censored posts are easily toggled on and off.

On the downside there will most likely be confusion and clashes when different groups that don’t mesh with each other, but have completely different experiences of the place, come together in a single thread. There will also be more repetition, or double posts of content gets repeated amongst different groups that are out of sync by virtue of the filters.

To fully appreciate this you need to invest time in it, and to build up a network of trusted buddies. YH can be hyperactive and annoying, it must be difficult for a new user to become engaged. The filters are perhaps most useful for long-time users looking for relief from ‘worst enemy’ problems.

Because it has become an adaptive social platform, and has the potential to be subverted and shaped into many different kinds of system, I will reserve judgement for now, and make a new report soon.

Design for television

David’s reference to 18 points as the minimum size equates to 18 pixels if you are coming from a web background.

On some iTV projects I have pushed the type down to 16 pixels, but be very careful about colours and contrast, and enquire about the production path to air: if the work is going to be transferred via DV tape, squeezed through an old composite link, or online-edited with high compression, then you might want to leave type as large as possible.

In some cases such as using white text on a red background you can add a very subtle black shadow to the type, which will help stop colour bleed and crawling effects. Even if you dislike drop-shadow effects, it will still look flat and lovely on a broadcast monitor.

Safe areas need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The default safe areas in most editing and compositing software date from years ago before the widespread use of modern, widescreen televisions.

Try extending the safe area for non-essential text in interactive projects, and consult broadcaster guidelines for their widescreen policies: many channels now broadcast in 14:9 to terrestrial boxes, and offer options to satellite and cable viewers.

The largest problem is that widescreen viewers often crop the top and bottom of the image by setting their TV to crop 4:3 to 16:9. Some cable/satellite companies remove the left and right of the image to crop 16:9 to 4:3 for non-widescreen viewers, leaving us only a tiny, safe rectangle in the centre of the image to work with.

Robert Bradbrook (maker of Home Road Movies) has a some technical but excellent information on designing graphics for 16:9 television and film formats, including a sample safe area.

There are also excellent documents on picture standards from the BBC.

But this is one thing I don’t understand: according to the BBC: “Additional [20 or 26 horizontal] pixels are not taken into account when calculating the aspect ratio, but without them images transferred between systems will not be the correct shape.” Can anyone confirm that this is the case for PAL images?

Information design books

Posted on Sep 3, 2003 in Graphic design, Information design, Reading

Visual Function: An Introduction to Information Design

Paul Mijksenaar. A small, beautiful and polemical book full of fine examples of good information design, read this before tackling Tufte.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Edward Tufte.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Envisioning Information

Edward Tufte.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Visual Explanations

Edward Tufte.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

Nicholson Baker.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Digital Diagrams

Trevor Bounford, Alastair Campbell.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Open Here

Paul Mijksenaar and Piet Westendorp.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Information Graphics: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference

Robert L. Harris.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Information Design

Robert E. Jacobsen.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

How to Lie With Statistics

Darrel Huff, Irving Geis.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Information Visualization

Colin Ware.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Readings in Information Visualization

Stuart Card, Jock Mackinlay, Ben Schneiderman.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Global Media Atlas

Mark Balnaves, James Donald, Donald Stephanie Hemelryk.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com / myriad editions

The Atlas of the Future

Ian Pearson.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com / myriad editions

The State of the World Atlas

Dan Smith.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com / myriad editions

How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization and Design

Alan M. MacEachren.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Visual design books

Posted on Jan 28, 2003 in Graphic design, Information design

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Josef Muller-Brockmann.
Magma Books / Niggli / UK booksearch

Primer of Visual Literacy

Donis A. Dondis.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Graphic Design Timeline: A Century of Design Milestones

Steven Heller, Elinor Pettit.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

6 Chapters in Design

Philip Meggs.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Pioneers of Modern Design

Nikolaus Pevsner.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design

Steven Heller.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Design Literacy (Continued): Understanding Graphic Design

Steven Heller.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art

Paul Rand.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Design, Form and Chaos

Paul Rand.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Designing Books

Jost Hochuli, Robin Kinross.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

On Book Design

Richard Hendel.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Design and Form

Johannes Itten.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Elements of Color

Johannes Itten.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Color Star

Johannes Itten.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Interaction of Color

Josef Albers.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Basic Law of Colour Theory

Harald Kueppers / amazon.com

Color for Websites: Digital Media Design

Molly Holzschlag.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Leonard Koren.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Katachi: Classic Japanese Design

Takeji Iwamiya, Kazuya Takaoka.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Dutch Graphic Design

Kees Broos, Paul Hefting.
amazon.co.uk

Experience

Sean Perkins.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Permanent: Design Is Kinky

Andrew Johnstone, Jade Palmer.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Catching the Moment

Terry Jones.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Reload: Browser 2.0

Patrick Burgoyne, Liz Faber.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Narita Inspected

Lopetz Klanten.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Mobile Minded

Miekke Gerritzen. An introduction to Mattmo’s work in motion graphics design, interaction design and print.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Design For Interaction

Lisa Baggerman. This is a very visual book – somewhat disappointing in it’s coverage of interaction, but offers many visual examples of rich web designs for inspiration.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Typography books

Posted on Jan 17, 2003 in Graphic design, Information design

Type and Typography

Phil Baines.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Signs: Lettering in the Environment

Phil Baines, Catherine Dixon.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

A View of Early Typography

Harry Carter.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Unjustified Text: Perspectives on Typography

Robin Kinross.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Karel Martens: Printed Matter / Drukwerk

Robin Kinross, Karel Martens, Jaap van Triest.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Counterpunch

Fred Smeijers.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Stop Stealing Sheep

Erik Spiekermann, E.M. Ginger.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Basic Typography

James Craig.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Typo – When, Who, How

F Friedl.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Typographic Design

Rob Carter, Philip B Meggs, Ben Day.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Elements of Typographic Style

Robert Bringhurst.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Typographica

Rick Poynor.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Dimensional Typography: Words in Space

J. Abbott Miller.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Fuck Off Typography

Gerard Saint.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Typography

Wolfgang Weingart.
Magma Books / Niggli / UK booksearch

Typography

Friedl, Ott, Stein.
Magma Books / Niggli / UK booksearch

Basic Typography: Design With Letters

Ruedi Ruegg.
Magma Books / Niggli / UK booksearch

Typography: Macro + Micro Aesthetics

Willi Kunz.
Magma Books / Niggli / UK booksearch

Information architecture books

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville. Now in its second edition, undoubtedly the best introduction to IA.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Information Architects

Richard Saul Wurman.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Practical Information Architecture

Eric L. Reiss.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web

Christina Wodtke.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Mapping Web Sites

Paul Kahn, Krzysztof Lenk. A suprisingly badly designed book, but packed full of very inspirational information architecture examples, from isometric site-maps to flow charts and wireframes.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Dynamics in Document Design

Karen A. Schriver.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Content Critical

Gerry McGovern
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Web Content Style Guide

Gerry McGovern
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Web Navigation

Jennifer Fleming.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Sorting Things Out

Geoffrey C. Bowker, Susan Leigh Star.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization

Elaine Svenonius
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Laws of the Web

Bernardo A. Huberman.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

Infosense: Turning Information into Knowledge

Keith Devlin.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com

The Social Life of Information

John Seely Brown, Paul Duguid.
amazon.co.uk / amazon.com