Currently, people are becoming increasingly tired of their mobile phones, as they are constantly looking out for something new. Recently, scientists have introduced gesture navigation into the mix, meaning that people no longer need to use their fingers to select buttons or send a text; they don’t even have to come into contact with the phone!
The University of Tokyo in 2010 proposed a vision-based interface for mobile devices, utilising a 3D motion tracking system that sensed human finger motion through a single camera. Since the fingerprints near the camera moved fastest in the image, a high frame-rate camera had to be implemented for stable tracking. The binarised 3D finger trip image could then be introduced using Luca-Kanade algorithm to estimate its 3D motion and posture, resulting in a contactless clicking method, similar to that of a computer mouse. Yet, strip this back and what you do you have? A micro-Kinect.
Patrick Baudisch, Professor of Computer Science at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Postdam, Germany and his research student, Sean Gustafson also seemed to come to a similar conclusion when they took this concept one step further, developing a series of mobile prototypes that removed the use of touch screens and keyboards altogether. Simply by attaching a video recorder and microprocessor to their clothes, hand gestures could then be recognised and converted into mobile actions, such as making a telephone call or scrolling through the internet.
With these in mind, will future mobile phone developments rely heavily on such products as the Microsoft Kinect or could it be that one day we actually get bored of gesture navigation altogether and refer back to the days of touch?
Recently, Clustalabs has been working on analysing voice applications within the advertising realm. A surprising pioneer within this field is Google, who introduced a service called “Ring Back Advertising” in 2009. Here, gaps in telephone calls are replaced with audio messages, a proven success compared to its online equivalent, internet banners. So how does this work?
Users can easily use this application by selecting Google’s voice service to make a call. As a result, Google can find the user’s location through geo-technology and focus their adverts according to their online search history. In addition to advertising, voice has many other applications in games, entertainment, finance, travel and business, as it is often seen as an economically viable, flexible and convenient application.
During Cannes International advertising festival in 2011, Microsoft showcased ‘NUads’, an interactive advertising system based upon the voice application within the Microsoft Kinect. Thought the new Coca Cola advert was cool? Just say "Xbox, Tweet," and all your friends will know it. Want to sample Rihanna’s new album? Say "Xbox, More," and additional information and potential music samples could pop up on screen. Wonder where you can pick up a DFS sofa? Say "Xbox, Near Me," and you'll get a text with the location of the closest retailer. The possibilities in advertising are unless, however how came this evolve into the gaming world?
The market leader in voice application gaming is Labgoo, who recently received much publicity after developing PAH, the world’s first fully voice controlled iPhone game app. At the moment, they are currently developing a Windows 7 and Android version, enabling users the chance to control a spaceship, whilst avoiding asteroids. Shout “Ahh” to move the vehicle up and “Pah” to move it down. The volume of your voice will slide the ship higher or lower and a sharp outburst of “Pah” will fire the nose canons to destroy the asteroids in your way.
PAH and Microsoft Kinect has obviously started to pave the way for voice application software in the future, whether this is through navigating websites and apps, communicating with adverts in malls or even the beginning of voice-reactive advertising; adverts that could potentially hide when you shout at them. Don’t underestimate the power of the spoken word.
Nowadays, everybody is looking for something new and special; the same came be said for technology. Recently, ClustaLabs carried out some research into printing applications. 3D printers are basically used for the rapid development of industrial models, including razors, buildings and now clothing. The N12 Bikini is an interesting example of how 3D printing is entering into the consumer world. It was designed by Continuum Fashion and has become the first ever affordable, ready-to-wear item of clothing; surely there is more to come. This was produced using Rhino 3D CAD software and a specially written algorithm that creates a complex ‘circle packing ‘equation on an arbitrarily doubly curved surface, providing the flexibility required within the garment. Another printing application that is definitely worth a mention is the Nike Chalkbot, a recent Cannes winner. Naturally this application lends itself more closely to 2D advertising, yet with the ability to print texts, symbols and to be honest, pretty much anything, we are excited about seeing how this concept might evolve in the future.
Several other applications have arose from this relatively simple technology, including one of my favourites; the 3D Chocolate printer. Just like something that you would expect to see in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, users will soon be able to create their own pieces of confectionary; designing their own flavours, shapes, colours, anything that there stomach truly desires. Arguably, this was taken one step further with the CandyFab, an open source product that you can generally use within your own home. Although the software and hardware instructions are yet to be released, one is looking forward to tucking into my very own version of the next gob-stopper!
However, my personal favourite is Barcelona's BlablabLab, who piloted an attraction called "Be Your Own Souvenir" in Las Ramblas. The installation produced 3D-printed figurines of tourists that were scanned using 3 Kinect sensors in the dark. As a result, the user became part of the installation, whilst receiving a free gift. Custom software had to be created with open Frameworks in order to produce a full 360 degree point cloud that could then be processed by Meshlab and Skeinforge into a CNC file, creating a low resolution figure within the space of ten minutes. As this technology continues to evolve, it may become an ideal way of producing your own accessories or tailor-fitted clothes, yet with chocolate on the mind, I am going to leave it here for now and get some lunch.
Mind control, of electrical objects that is, is not an all powerful technology as of yet. Ask someone on the street and they probably think that floating a ball with a large headset above your help is the extent of it, or that it is total fiction, but it’s not. In fact, two big names in the production world are developing mind control applications, right at this very moment.
Emotiv Systems have just released a number of different applications; a mind controlled photo viewer, a mind controlled synthesizer and of course, the more commercial games like Cortex Arcade and Spirit Mountain. Here players can live out the dream of having supernatural powers, without even having to lift a finger.
InteraXon takes a very different approach, examining the electrical waves emitted from your brain to levitate chairs, dodge flying discs (The Game) and even control musical outputs from instruments. Nevertheless, for the more casual gamer, InteraXon have now teamed up with Secret Exit, the game developers who brought us Zen Bound and Zen Bound 2 to create the Brainwave enabled Zen Bound 2 iPhone and iPad app, an indicator that mind control will be going mainstream in years to come.
Currently the technology can only be used to convert electrical activity into binary code; 1s and 0s. Hence, at the moment, all you have to do is relax or focus, stop or go. Nevertheless, how may this expand in the foreseeable future? Will mind control technology be restricted to the gaming world or will it break out into the social. Could this technology help to note down all your thoughts and post them up on Twitter for all to see? How would this be vetted and most importantly, could you even think in 140 characters or less? I know I couldn’t. Imagine if people could actually real your thoughts at present, like a modern day lie machine. It’s a bit scary, but the technology is there, it might be unwanted, it might be underdeveloped, but the potential is still there.
Twitter, the micro-blogging site, the lazy man’s social media or the quick thinkers tool has now been converted into power? Yes, power! The Mercedes Benz tweet race consisted of four teams ‘fuelled’ by positive tweets and hash tags, racing across the USA towards the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in 2011 for the Superbowl. Celebrity coaches such as Pete Wentz, Serena Williams and the Rev Run of Run DMC helped launch the campaign. The engines of these Mercedes were responsive to tweets and more than 150,000 were posted over the course of the race.
TweetmyMac, TweetmyPC and TwitControl are just some of the basic programs available at the moment to use tweets as a remote control for computers and laptops. The options and controls are basic, however a downside is that you might find that your laptop suddenly has a mind of its own, in fact, it is actually being externally controlled by your friend who naturally thinks that they are funny.
But why stop there? If you could tell your computer what to do via a little tweet, then why not your thermostat, or your toaster, turn on your lights or turn off the boiler. The possibilities are endless. Power your entire household with a simple tweet. Home automation through social media could lift the stigma attached to hooking up your home. The benefits of being able to unlock your doors when you lose your keys or turn off the oven if you leave without checking are endless, free, simple and ensures that you do not feel guilty about placing a segway at the top of your shopping list.
Of course you can punch holes in the idea, with almost a quarter of adults just here in the UK reported to be obese by the NHS, hence maybe it would be better to spend time searching for those keys instead of only typing in a command, but that’s no fun. Then there is the anti social perception of social media, yet surely this combats this, enabling consumers to carry out daily activities faster, efficiently and engage with one another in new and exciting ways, so maybe Twitter is even more of an essential tool than previously thought.