Once upon a time I juggled my interests between technology and world politics. Eventually technology won, and that’s what I do for living now.
However, I did take world politics (and geopolitics) very seriously. Back in 2006 I participated in the 36th Saint Gallen Symposium. It was the middle of the financial crisis and it was a great experience to hear bankers and politicians talk about what should be done. Even Kofi Annan gave a speech about his view on the crisis and how to get out of it. Despite the several talks on the crisis, the main topic of the conference was Europe, and the European Union, which was in the middle of an identity crisis with the constitution having been recently rejected.
For participating in the symposium I wrote a little piece titled “The European Ideological Consolidation“. In the essay I argued that for a better integration countries should walk away from nationalism and a true federation should be formed. In this respect I proposed a series of European-wide institutions and programs. Particularly important to such ideological consolidations is extending programs like Erasmus (where university students can do one or two semesters at another European country) to the older population. The way to do this, I argued, was through Country Associations. Through country associations the adult population of two countries had to engage in cultural exchanges which, ultimately, would result in a better understanding of each other. This program, ambitious enough and probably utterly expensive, would create a European narrative at the individual level.
Countries Associations: This is most controversial of all the institutions here proposed and still needs a lot of work on the idea itself. As a mean to integrate European nations with each other, targeting mainly the adult population, this work proposes to create couple of countries. Two countries would be a couple for some time period. During this time the population of the two of the countries will, by law, join special programs of cultural, economical, training, etc. The couples would be changed every 2 or 3 years. As in some countries the population has to go every single year during the entire life to give some few months military service, the European population sponsored by the government could do this as well. Indeed this is a proposal for the ideology consolidation among the older people.
What I want to stress out with this post is that this idea turned out not to be that crazy after all. In a recent piece on the Social Europe Journal, sociology Professor Ulrich Beck from the University of Munich and the London School of Economics proposed something similar:
We need to ask how an individual can become engaged with the European project. In that respect I have made a manifesto, along with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called “We Are Europe”, arguing that we need a free year for everyone to do a project in another country with other Europeans in order to start a European civil society.
I read the manifesto and WOW!!! That’s the way to go (author bias here). After having lived in Europe for many years I can see how this can really benefit the older populations, and specially people that have less exposure to the European work mobility (the Danish gardener). I will follow up closely what happens with the manifesto, it’s just great to see I wasn’t completely lost in my previous ideas
Ever since CrashAlert got covered by Rachel Metz the MIT Technology Review last week (see Safe Texting While Walking? Soon, There May Be an App for That) there has been a series of reactions on the social media. Well, negative reactions are included in the article itself with Prof. Clifford Nass describing it as “the epitome of removal from both the physical and social world.”
I don’t see CrashAlert as the best of my ideas or the ultimate solution to the texting and walking problem, but it’s certainly a solution to a real problem that we encounter everyday (if you ever bumped into something or someone while engaged in fun texting you know what I am talking about). Nonetheless, in this post I would like to collect the most interesting Twitter messages, both positive and negative, for posterity.
“CrashAlert” warnt Handy-User vor Straßenlaternen [Hightech]
— Donette Ranaware (@DonetteRanaware) April 15, 2013
Walk-and-texters now have protection from looming obstacles, thanks to CrashAlert. We should add this to Gander ripar.in/17dbYal
— Gander (@getgander) April 15, 2013
Walk-and-texters now have protection from looming obstacles, thanks to CrashAlert. We should add this to Gander ripar.in/17dbYal
— Gander (@getgander) April 15, 2013
— Jacqueline Vanacek (@JacquelnVanacek) April 15, 2013
Safe Texting While Walking? There May Be an App for That: The last time you saw someone walk into a lamppost w… bit.ly/136jDKF
— Way West Media (@waywestmedia) April 15, 2013
— Kasai Davenport (@KasaiDavenport) April 15, 2013
Have you ever bumped into a pole while texting and walking? Developing app could save you from such embarrassments. on.mash.to/17epCtN
— Magnet Media, Inc. (@MagnetMediaInc) April 15, 2013
Thou will not walk intoa lamppost anymore… fb.me/15g7GWbPU
— Ranjana Foogooa (@ranjana157) April 15, 2013
— Claire Willett (@clairedwillett) April 15, 2013
— On Ideas (@onideas) April 15, 2013
“CrashAlert could make it easier to walk and text without smacking into things”. No nos estamos pasando un poco? techre.vu/YoR3NF
— Carol Romero (@nomadkarol) April 15, 2013
— Weather Chick (@IAmWeatherChick) April 15, 2013
Tired of bumping in to objects while walking and texting at the same time?! We might have the answer for you.ow.ly/k5kHV
— Alsayegh Media (@AlsayeghMedia) April 15, 2013
— Goodmind (@GoodmindMR) April 15, 2013
Safe Texting While Walking? There May Be an App for That on.mash.to/137RLCp – after driving, now we face “safe texting while walking”.
— Yudha P Sunandar (@yudhaspiza) April 15, 2013
— Res Life at Loyno (@loynoreslife) April 15, 2013
— Young & Rubicam (@YoungRubicam) April 15, 2013
— 52 Pick-up Inc (@52PickupInc) April 15, 2013
CrashAlert app spots obstacles w/ depth-sensing camera so you can text & walk effectively without bumping into things mashable.com/2013/04/15/cra…
— Katie Artemas (@kartemas) April 15, 2013
“Safe Texting While Walking? There May Be an App for That” – That’s I lie it’s actually impossible.feedproxy.google.com/~r/Mashable/~3…
— Jonny (@Jonny5isalive1) April 15, 2013
— Kathryn Ashby (@kj_ashby) April 15, 2013
— Design4Change (@Design4Change_) April 15, 2013
Be safe you are Texting and Walking!!! fb.me/1IBLnvsM1
— nTelos Wireless(@ntelosva) April 15, 2013
I know I would……Who else would get this? ow.ly/k5Bvf
— Sound Tracks (@SoundTracksFest) April 15, 2013
— Matthew Zageris (@matthewzageris) April 15, 2013
RT (at)mashable 安全なテキストメッセージ歩きながら？ @ techreview経由でそのon.mash.to/XNi8PCのAppがあるかもしれません
— Transtter (@transtter2) April 15, 2013
Yap, hoje em dia há mesmo apps para tudo xD mashable.com/2013/04/15/cra…
— Catarina Vieito (@catvieito) April 15, 2013
— Baby Fritz! (@YoSoyFritz) April 15, 2013
— Kelly Dern (@kellydern) April 15, 2013
— Tricia Wilkerson (@twilkerstfd) April 15, 2013
Here’s an app that helps you safely walk & text, without the worry of face planting into a pole mashable.com/2013/04/15/cra…
— Initiative U.S. (@InitiativeUS) April 15, 2013
Ever walked into a wall while texting? Then this app may be for you! on.mash.to/137RLCq
— Onefatsheep (@Onefatsheep) April 16, 2013
— David Hotchkiss (@davidhotchkiss) April 16, 2013
— Jennifer Wong (@wojennifer) April 16, 2013
— Ingeborg Reiersgård (@Ingeborgar) April 16, 2013
— Priyam Chakraborty (@cpriyam) April 16, 2013
— Saad Bashir (@msaadbashir) April 16, 2013
— Shruthi (@shruthirameshan) April 16, 2013
If you’re one of those who recently banged your head against a road sign while checking your Twitter feed, this… fb.me/2lMMmG8NM
— Rantau PR (@RantauPR) April 16, 2013
— Digital_MY (@Digital_MY) April 16, 2013
No more hitting that pole when your texting and walking!ow.ly/k6kpD
— DejaVuDubai (@DejaVuDubai) April 16, 2013
Walking and texting and subsequently walking into a lampost… could be a thing of the past if this app is developed tiny.cc/v7mmvw
— Carphone Ireland (@CarphoneIE) April 16, 2013
— Horizon Blue (@HorizonEternity) April 16, 2013
CrashAlert — технология для безопасной текстовой переписки на ходу: Ученые из университета штата Манитоба (Канада… goo.gl/fb/zAkZO
— soft_komputer (@soft_komputer) April 16, 2013
People will never stop texting while walking! Technology can help.on.mash.to/13eYV7N
— Health for America (@health4america) April 16, 2013
— Holly Nielsen (@HollyNielsen) April 16, 2013
Now here’s an app that might make texting while walking a whole lot easier (and safer too!) ow.ly/k6LSb
— Delta Media Inc. (@DeltaMediaPR) April 16, 2013
But does it detect open manhole covers? => Safe Texting While Walking:There May Be an App for That on.mash.to/12hJaOH
— Michael Jones (@TulsaMJ) April 16, 2013
— Kelsey Van Vechten (@kelsveevee) April 16, 2013
— Tyler Cook (@TylerLCook) April 16, 2013
I personally LOVE this one
— Martin Weinberg (@MartinWeinberg) April 17, 2013
Safe Texting While Walking? There May Be an App for That! Great, no more walking into doors! ow.ly/kbzMz
— Chenine G(@ChenineG) April 19, 2013
In this video Aurelien Tabard presents our work on TIDE at the FITG 2012 seminar in Paris.
This is a nice take on the project!
I think this video explains it well enough!
For more details please consult the upcoming paper:
J. D. Hincapie-Ramos, M. Esbensen, and M. Kogutowska, “Rapid Prototyping of Tangibles with a Capacitive Mouse,” in The 11th Danish HCI Research Symposium – DHRS2011, November 2011. To Appear. – [pdf (6.6MB)]
This year I attended the UIST conference where I presented our first paper on InterruptMe. It was a very intensive conference I had loads of fun, and met with many interesting people. As I knew I was going to attend anyway I decided to join the student competition, and formed a group together with my colleagues Morten Esbensen and Magdalena Kogutowska.
The problem was “do something cool with the new Microsoft Touch Mouse”. Our proposal was to build a little casing for the mouse, so that it’s multitouch surface could handle multiple inputs (touches) guided to it through wires. This capability together with the wireless communication of the different touches by the mouse and the batteries makes it perfect for rapid prototyping of tangibles.
You can find the guide, the API, and other material here: http://itu.dk/people/mortenq/loki/index.html
The results: we won the first place on the best implementation category.
From an HCI perspective , a design space is a tool that signals the different possibilities for designing a certain type of artefacts, supporting and augmenting the design practice. Designers create a design space as a reflection on the properties of, and the design choices made for, existing artifacts used for a similar purpose. A design space supports the creation of new artefacts along the lines of a set of dimensions for which it proposes multiple values. It also learns from each new design experience by enhancing the existing dimensions with new design possibilities. In this way, the design dimensions respond to the realities, possibilities and concerns of the design discipline.
Just as it’s used for human-computer interaction (HCI), a design space can be built for other disciplines/areas. Today I found a great example of a design space and analysis for the characters of a comic strip I follow, Niels, according to some of their most salient characteristics: criminal tendency, sexuality, fighting skills, and transparency. See below.
In a few lines, if you want to define your design space you have to identify the relevant characteristics of what you’re designing, define them, define their possible values, match your design objects within such categories, and then analyse the whole set (don’t miss the analysis graph at the bottom of Niels’ cartoon). Good examples in my own work are the design space analysis for InterruptMe (UIST 2011 ) and The Rabbit (Ubicomp 2011 ).
 – Allan Maclean, Richard Young, Victoria Bellotti, and Thomas Moran. Design space analysis: Bridging from theory to practice via design rationale. Esprit, pages 720–730, 1991. URL: citeseer.ifi.unizh.ch/article/maclean91design.html.
 – J. D. Hincapié-Ramos, S. Voida, and G. Mark, “A Design Space Analysis of Interrupter–Interruptee Trade-Offs in Availability-Sharing Systems,” in UIST 2011, Oct 16-19, 2011, Santa Barbara, CA, USA. To Appear.
 – J. D. Hincapié-Ramos, A. Tabard, and J.E. Bardram, “Mediated Tabletop Interaction in the Biology Lab — Exploring the Design Space of The Rabbit,” in Ubicomp 2011, Sep 17-21, 2011, Beijing, China. To Appear.
With a 63% market share in the Internet search , Google’s users open their browser and surf to the search portal everyday. If they are Gmail users, they will keep that browser window/tab open for a considerable amount of time. The guys at Google+ are taking advantage of this for showing their Google+ widget in the upper-right corner, as part of the Google bar. I honestly think this idea is fantastic, it does not only integrate all of Google services into one virtual environment (conveyed by the bar), but is also a better choice for sending the notifications than building browser plug-ins.
I have been thinking about this for a few days, and it strikes me as a great idea. I am a vicious Google user, I have everything from Google Home, to Gmail, to Google Reader, etc. That means that the Google bar is on my window most of the time. Having the Google+ notifications up there provide this “awareness” about the important things I have to look at in Google+.
Then I got to think about Dourish’s embodied interaction , his point is that awareness systems (a.k.a social computing) and tangible computing are very natural to use not only because they are “familiar” or have a familiarity to the way we interact in real life. Dourish says there is a deeper connection between them, and in a few words, it’s because they are “accessible in the background”. That is, you can move from an overview or background awareness to a detailed exploration or analysis of things very easily. Then I thought of Google+’s widget as a mechanism that allows precisely that, moving very easily from an overview to a detailed interface, making it an embodied interaction (or natural if you will).
However, attending the notifications is not the only relevant thing we like to do on a social networking platform. Plenty of times I find myself opening facebook or Google+ just to check out what’s going on. Or in case of the hangouts, I open the website just to check out who’s around and try to start a hangout session. The sad thing is that these nice interactions with Google+ are not embodied; you have to go all the way to your stream to realize that there is some action going on, or that people are available to chat or hangout.
But if the Google+ widget can make some of the interactions embodied, how can it support these other two. So, I sat down and sketched some ideas, and I came up with this little add on.
The little flower has two dimensions. The color on its center communicate the activity level in your aggregated stream: a light gray color tells you that nothing has really changed in the last –say– 30 minutes (or form the last time you checked); a bright red color tells you there had been plenty of activity and you should go and check it out. The second dimension is the color of the petals. For each online contact in your friends, or in any circle (configurable), one of the petals will turn blue. That way, when you see a lot of light up petals, you can think of perhaps starting a hangout, and going for a chat!
Having this two pieces of information in the almost pervasive Google bar have the potential to make the Google+ experience more embodied, more natural.
Sparkfun sells a lot of amazing electronic parts very appropriate for prototyping, I use it a lot! One of the things I have been using lately is the ID innovations series of RFID readers (ID-12 and ID-2). They are super easy to use and to integrate with the Arduino platform.
Nonetheless, one of the problems I run into, and from my Internet searches I could see many people did too, was the antenna. While the ID-12 comes with an internal antenna, the ID-2 doesn’t. Having an internal antenna is perfect for prototypical because you just need to wire the reader to the Arduino and off you go. You are reading RFID tags in minutes. However if you start playing with the physical design of your device then you would like to move the antenna to a different place than the reader is, and then the ID-12 is not the piece you need anymore. You could, of course, buy your own reader IC, design a PCB for it and place the antennas and the respective resonance capacitors wherever you want, but… ain’t that quite some work for simply prototyping? I don’t even have an easy access to a PCB printer.
(I came across all this while working on a beefed-up 4×4 super version of the Rabbit)
Then I bought the ID-2 (which despite not having an internal antenna it does have a resonance capacitor) and set to find a matching antenna for it. Man, that’s hard! The point is that you either have to wind it yourself (which off course kills the passion of quick prototyping) or buy it from the market. There are thousand antenna providers out there, but it happens that no-one sells then small <2cm and with the needed 1.08mH inductance.
Well, almost no one, and this is the good news. I was looking into the catalogues of antenna providers until I found CoilCraft, these guys had one that almost matched what I needed (1.08mH capacitance but double axis, I needed it single axis), the 4308RV series at 1.08mH. I bought some of those antennas and they work as magic. However, I realized the antenna shape would make it difficult to build a really slim reader, so I started looking again for a Z-axis antenna. I wrote CoilCraft about it, but they didn’t saw any value in custom making those for me (I said I would buy 50 :|).
Until I found the Spanish Grupo Premo (http://www.grupopremo.com/). These guys had some Z-axis antennas but not at the require inductance for the ID-2. I went ahead and asked them to custom make the one I needed, and send me samples for free (quite a move) and to my surprise the guys said YES, and I have now received samples from two of their antennas (3 samples of each model) and they work as a dream.
(ZC1003 – SMD Z AXIS COIL LOW PROFILE)
(ZAC1203 – SMD Z AXIS AIR COIL LOW PROFILE)
So, if you are prototyping with the ID-2 and need a small and reliable Z-index antenna go to the Premo group. And don’t ask them for samples, they will be happy to sell you any amount starting from 1.
In this post I would like to discuss the circles in Google+ based on our recent experience designing InterruptMe.
When you get Google+ you have 4 default circles plus 3 more groups. The default circles, surprisingly, are friends, family, acquaintances and following. The other 3 groups are “all circles”, “extended circles” and public. Trying to match all those categories between the two works we find something like:
spouse = Google+ family
family = Google+ family
boss and trusted colleagues
friends = Google+ friends, all circles, and extended circles,
public = Google+ acquaintances, public
The extra circle “following” emerges of a different phenomenon where I am following someones that I probably don’t know, and I expect that person not to follow me. Thus it’s more of a filter for the Stream that a category to classify the data that gets shared. OK, so far, so good. This is a great step forward and other social networking sites should follow closely.
However this is not all. There is another set of features that need to be implemented in order make social media websites better systems. And it’s the fact that social media should not only be assymetric (as real relations are) but should also be accountable. That is, one should be able to know what others know about me. Facebook has a –very hidden– feature (privacy settings -> connecting on facebook -> preview my profile) where you can see how a particular person sees your profile. This capability is what I called traceability in InterruptMe, or what other have called accountability of social translucent systems. A traceable system allows you to know how another person see you, or rather what they know about you. Enabling something we humans do everyday which is to keep certain image, or change it, or adjust our behaviors to what other people know about us. This is called plausible deniability and it’s a much needed feature (like to “unavailable” or “invisible” status on IM services).
OK, that’s it. You can find more details here:
I just saw that Google+ also has the possibility to review how another person sees your profile (the text box on the right of the image below), which is very good. However, it’s missing the glance-ability that we embedded in InterruptMe’s display, that is, the capacity to see “at a glance” how all of your contacts are seeing you. Moreover, I would add the possibility to see how any member of a particular circle sees my profile.
The last week I received the notification of acceptance for the two papers we worked on so hard in the spring. The first one was submitted to Ubicomp and it’s about the Rabbit a fantastic project where I have been doing hardware, software, interaction techniques, UI design, etc. In this paper I collaborated with Aurelien Tabard and Jakob Bardram, and it’s actually part of a bigger project we’ve been working on for a while called the eLabBench (more on this later).
The second paper was submitted to UIST and it’s about the design space for availability sharing systems. These are a particular kind of awareness systems focused on sharing availability information of a user. The paper also proposes a system called InterruptMe that, based on the design space, proposes new ways to build such systems that is unique from previous attempts. In this paper I collaborated with Steven Voida and Gloria Mark, and we are working very hard to get other pieces of this research completed (surveys, evaluation, etc).
The two papers received very good reviews, and we are trying to bring the demos to the conferences. I will be making them available once I have the camera-ready version of both.
The other good part of having the papers accepted is that I will get to go to China and Santa Barbara, both of which I have never visited. And to top it all I will be an SV, at least for Ubicomp! These is loads of good news!