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I Know You Grasp Me

posted Jan 30, 2013, 9:54 PM by Ellen Pearlman

I Know You Grasp Me

No Place Like “Om” - Your body itself as touch recognition

Disney Research, based in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (Andy Warhol Museum take note) is working on a touch recognition product called Touche.  The research lab is big on haptics, or touch technology as evinced by their participation at theTEI Conference (tangible, embodied and embedded interaction), and have also embedded themselves into Carnegie Mellon University. 

Using something called “Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique” it allows for gesture recognition with a 99% accuracy. The implications are both liberating and bone chilling.

Normal touch sensing works with a basic on or off

In the parlance of scientific research this “on” “off” ability is referred to a “binary.” Touche goes way beyond binaries by sampling a range of frequencies, sort of like a sonic sound blast.

Range of frequencies and behaviors - pinch my doorknob please!

All these gestures get passed to a “recognition engine.” that resembles a wide variety of gestures. However, I wonder if they can deconstruct and unscramblegangland handshake codes.

The back end device only needs one wire to be connected to, let’s say, a doorknob. But here is where the freaky part comes in. Remember growing up and being told “Don’t put your elbows on the table?” Well now who needs your mother to tell you that. Toche takes over.

Table Manners Please - no elbows on the table!

Touche can even tell if you stick your hand inside a tank of water - which is great for either seeing if your fish is behaving or you child is sticking their unauthorized toe in a pool.

No flipping please

In fact, the video suggests later on that kids be monitored in their use of tools for eating breakfast - so if they dip a chopstick in their cornflakes instead of a spoon they are assaulted by a loud buzz - a genuine wake up call if I ever heard one.

This level of control makes Michel Foucault’s pan-opticon prison seem like a daydream. Here is authorized control with no controller around - just preset parameters of invisible and inflexible algorithms.

On the other hand, there are some really cool uses for this technology that are not so bone chilling. Here is a guy walking down a hallway controlling his mobile device by just tapping his forearm. This implicitly turns the body into a music or video controller, an area of inquiry where the art world could really stretch its wings.

Touch me and I sing for you

And  for the ultimate couch potato, which a lot of these programmers seem to be enthralled by, a couch that senses when you sit on it (turn the TV on), lay back (dim the lights) or fall asleep (turn the TV off). This is the ultimate killer app for Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson Take Note - lights dimming as user reclines on the couch while watching what appears to be a TeleNova soap opera

Video link

TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2012

Human as Digital Dust

Daniel Franke and  Cedric Kiefer have created a moving digital sculpture from the recorded motion data of a dancer.

She was recorded using three separate Kinect cameras, whose combined images were put together re-forming a complete 3D image with a number of software programs. Sound is also an integral part of the performance, and the dancer moves in a “noise field” that is constantly changing.

First it was assembled in Kinect and brought into VRay

Then it was brought into Krakatoa, a particle multiplication program

 The question here is this just an animation dressed up in cool morphing effects? Is this a sculpture? Is this visual pyrotechnics?

What takes this into the realm of sculptural, digitized art is the implied dimensionality, and live time sonic and motion interactivity of the subject. Though what is viewed is the recording of a live-time event, the actual event is a stand-alone. It can never be repeated exactly, because its subject is a real kinetic body in space.

What makes this different from pure animation is  although it can be manipulated in a computer, it is live time performance using a real human. In that sense the animation is kinesthetic in that it detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. This kinesthetic brings it from the realm of animation into a digitized performance sculpture.