My Writings. My Thoughts.

Twister (networked)

// February 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Interactive Television


For last week’s class we were asked to build a web interface  to allow viewers to interactive with a 5 minute live program.  Working with Adam Harvey and Si Heun Cho, we created a networked version of twister.  The game streams live through and replaces the wheel that usually decides players moves with an interface that allows viewers to vote on the next move.  The counter resets after every move and voting opens back up.

One of the things that works well in this respect is the number of options for voting.  It creates a greater sense of impact for voters.  At the same time though, this impact diminishes as the scale of the viewership increases.  The game seems as though it would only work well on a smaller scale (say under 50 people) and even better with a viewership that has some sort of relationship with or prior knowledge of the players.  One of the other strengths of this type of idea is the sense of control it creates.  Although shared amongst the collective viewership, the concept of controlling something on the screen as an extension of  what a remote normally allows seems to bridge the gap between performer and audience.

If we were to try this again, I think it would be interesting to try a different game and see how the dynamic changes.  With this version, there is a tendency to vote for the most awkward move or for whatever move would help whoever you are hoping will win.  Instead, an interesting way of changing the dynamic could be choosing a game where the audience doesn’t control the competitors, but instead competes against them.

Daft Bodies (via SMS)

// February 9th, 2010 // No Comments » // Interactive Television

Last week in Live Experimental Interactive Television we were asked to create a site where users were able to interact with video by SMS. Teaming up with Adam Harvey, Edward Gordon and Mustafa Bagdatli we created the above video. Drawing upon the ridiculousness of the Daft Bodies meme, we thought it would be funny to give users the ability to control the characters with their phones. One of the things I thought worked well was the ability to send in a word via text and see that word acted out and sung with the typical Daft Punk vocoder sound. One of the drawbacks would be scale. It worked well with a class room full of people, but it might get out of control with thousands of viewers. A few ways to approach this problem may be to change the nature of the content, divide up the screen and then provide many more options. If this was the case, you could construct some sort of game based goal which people may be able to see the result of their actions clearer.

Two screen set ups for the Superbowl

// February 9th, 2010 // No Comments » // Interactive Television

While watching the Superbowl over the weekend, we were asked to look around for sites set up to act as a second screen to watch the game. The variety of options I came across were surprisingly slim. I went to all of the major sites I could think of (NFL, ESPN, CBS, NBC, Sports Illustrated, New York Times, etc.) and found many of the same results. Most sites would have a combination of: a chat room, a visualization of the play by plays, a blog, a photo blog, trivia and a few other similar options. The site that seemed to have the more interesting set up was actually TSN. They were using Facebook Connect to allow users to sign in and compete in games against their friends and/or the rest of the users on the site. Polls were constantly being added and users would vote on each to earn points. They would cover all sorts of questions, from who would get the next touch down to how many yards would be gained on the next play. Each option rewarding the correct answer a varying number of points. As the game went on and point tallies rose, prizes were offered to whoever finished on top.

The interesting thing I found about this game was the social aspect of it. Another observation I had was that Twitter and Facebook were sort of loosely organized second screens in themselves. All of these options seemed to me more successful in the respect that people would rather read what their friends have to say about the game than strangers (or even respected bloggers in many instances).

Making live television interactive

// January 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // Interactive Television

For Live Experimental Interactive Television (LEIT) class this week we were asked to watch a live television broadcast and think of ways that it can be made interactive.  This worked well with my plans of getting to watch one of the few Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games that are televised here.  As far as adding interactivity in to this type of programming a few things came to mind.  One is that during intermission there is often a player or two that is interviewed.  Often that is dictated by their play (someone scores a goal that period).  An alternative to this system, could be for users to send in SMS messages voting for who they would like to hear from during intermission.  Away from the television and moving on to the computer screen, I thought it could be interesting if the camera selections or commentary could be influenced by keywords that occur in conversation amongst a chat room embedded into the site displaying the game.  Those are just a few thoughts so far, but it will be interesting to shift to this frame of mind in the future and continue to think of more.

Social Instrument v2 (in the making)

// December 27th, 2009 // No Comments » // Physical Computing

Social Instrument v2

I’ve continued on work from the first social instrument I created at the beginning of the semester.  With that one I wanted to make the interaction with the device as simple as possible and let the users focus on the interaction with each other instead.  With this second iteration I wanted to maintain that relationship but at the same time push it a little further.  This version now uses Ableton Live to generate the audio (using MIDI).  The users now have some additional controls.  Each have different controls available to them with the exception of a button to trigger notes being the common element between the two interfaces.  On one side there are controls for: note, tempo, reverb and playback.  On the other side there are controls for: instrument, volume, distortion and recording.  Also new in this version is a shared space.  It acts as both a form of feedback as well as introducing a new social interaction.  In addition to lights that indicate recording status and tempo, there will be a proximity sensor that controls pitch bend.  Seeing as this will be located in the middle, it becomes a different social interaction as it is the only control that the two users have to share.

With the addition of these added controls, the two users have to work harder and place an added focus on the way they communicate in order to create interesting melodies.  I have been prototyping what I have so far and am now moving on to building a more permanent structure for the instrument.  In doing so I am designing the interface in a flexible way so that I can easily make changes as I learn more from further user testing.  I now have the laser cutting done and all of the wood cut.  At this point I have a bit more sanding to do and a clear coat to apply to the enclosure.  After that I just need to assemble everything and reconnect all of the wiring.  Once the rest of the fabrication is done I’ll post some more documentation of the final result.  In the meantime, you can see some more photos and a video that demos it’s functionality here.

Lie detecting musical instrument

// November 25th, 2009 // No Comments » // Physical Computing

lie detector

I had been struggling with indecision in regards to my final project for physical computing. This struggle led to combining a few of the ideas I had.  Namely a social game involving lie detectors and the social instrument I created for my first assignment. I recently ordered a lie detector kit from madlab to test out. The way that it works is to calibrate the device to the galvanic skin response of the user (detecting how much resistance is created by introducing the user into the circuit), and then detecting changes in resistance to determine if the person begins to sweat. Given the assumptions this technique relies on, it is by no means accurate. So instead of using the device for it’s intended purpose I am instead going to use it for what the device actually senses.

The project is going to be a musical interface that senses changes in the body and uses them to manipulate the performance. The transition to this idea is a reflection on the thought that there are many similarities in the way the body responds to lying and the pressure of performing. I want to use these responses in a way to constrain a musical performance. I find the thought interesting that an instrument can have both elements that you have control over and also ones that you don’t (I say that loosely to illustrate the point). In that regard, I plan on using the drawing relationships such sweating/temperature to volume and pulse to tempo. This creates an interesting dynamic between the performer and their instrument. As performance is something that already can illicit a sense of nervousness for many performers, users of this device will have be even more self aware to avoid the outcomes that may make them nervous in the first place.

Next, I am considering if there are any other sensors I would like to incorporate and start to build the controller that would house these sensors. For now I am going with something in the realm of a glove, but that may change as I work further through some of these ideas. More updates to follow.

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