Glowscarf: usage

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In an attempt to understand more fully cell phone behavior, and what our expressions our cell phones enable us to make, I’ve come across some interesting bits of research:

From this article, it seems Motorola commissioned a study called On the Mobile. One interesting (if obvious) finding:

Women see their cell phone as a means of expression and social communication, while males tend to use it as an interactive toy. Some men view the cell phone as a status symbol – competing with other males for the most high tech toy and even using the cell phone to seduce the opposite sex. The study found two types of cell phone users- “innies,” who use their phones discreetly, and “outies,” who are louder and less concerned with the people around them.

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Video Sensing: Final Project idea

Scene Detection

For my final project I am going to work with scene detection on pre-recorded video. I intend to explore not just cut or shot detection, but scene detection (or at the very least an approximation of it). More simply, I also intend to explore commercial detection techniques, in order to mark and remove commercials from recordings of television broadcasts.

My goal is to generate a list of timestamps for the in/out markers of scenes (or commercial breaks), which can then be used for a variety of purposes

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GlowScarf: The Cellular Scarf

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The GlowScarf is a scarf that reacts to your cellular phone; when you receive a call the scarf begins to glow. By giving the cell phone’s ring an external signal, the wearer is free to embrace the status of being in-demand, without necessarily needing to answer the call. The glow of the scarf says, “I’m important”; the wearer can then decide to take the call or to merely bask in its glow.

The detection of the cell phone’s ring will be accomplished with a simple circuit (diagram here) which will then activate the glow. Initially I will use the circuitry from a novelty pen, to ensure operability and robustness for the initial prototype(s).

My current plan is to knit the scarf myself. I am interested in light colored and iridescent yarns that will enhance the glowing effect.

In order to create the lighting effect, I plan to use fiber optics in conjunction with super-bright LEDs. I looked into using EL wire, but the general consensus is that it is difficult to work with (also expensive), and probably not the most conducive for the comfort factor I’m looking for. Instead, I will use several strands of thin fiber optics which will be etched (most likely with a laser cutter) in order to refract the light along the length of the fiber. I have seem samples of this type of fiber optic application, and it produces a subtle yet noticeable effect. I have not determined how many LEDs or how many fiber optic strands I will need.

More illustrations to come.

(related links can be found here)

wearables: trucker hat – a photoset on Flickr


For this week’s project the assignment was to hack a toy or some other piece of consumer electronics. I decided to incorporate an X10 wireless home automation remote control into this trucker hat (which I bought from a homeless guy at SXSW for $2). The idea came from wanting to do something with the gesture of tipping the hat — so I put soft switches on the corners of the bill; when you squeeze the bill you can turn on (or off) whatever device is plugged into the wireless transceiver.

There wasn’t a whole lot of hacking involved — basically soldering some magnet wire to the contacts of the switches in the remote. I created some simple soft-switches with conductive fabric and a leather barrier between each piece, et voila.

Reacting to Marie-Laure Ryan’s narrative as Virtual Reality

“It is the ability to tell stories that will decide whether hypertext will secure a durable and reasonably visible niche on the cultural scene or linger on for a while as a genre consumed mostly by prospective authors and academic critics” — chapter 8, Can Coherence Be Saved?

One element of hypertext that gets thrown in the storytelling mix which I find most interesting is how the reader can quickly become the author, imbuing new facets to a story, or creating an altogether new meta-story. Continue reading

On Paul Valery’s ‘Some Simple Reflections on the Body’

In the section ‘On the Blood and Us’, Valery raises questions surrounding the essence of life; What if our blood were pumped in directly without all the prerequisite processes of nutrition, oxygenation, etc, were removed and only the system of the blood remained? It’s sort of a paradox, to think about it; our blood system is certainly the ‘central’ and most important, but only because it exists to replenish and satiate the rest of our organism.

I’m reminded of Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, where he argues that in the future our bodies will be replaced by hardware smart enough to emulate their functions. The question boils down to, what is life? What is our essence that makes us ‘us’ — is it biological, or spiritual, or somewhere in between?

Apple’s Latest…

…intern. Yup. I’m going to intern with Apple in Cupertino this summer, working with the .Mac web team. If you know me, you know how excited I am. I haven’t mentioned it here on the blog for fear of jinxing it, but now that it’s official (well, just about official. They still have to do a background check on me. Hmmm, will that traffic violation come back to haunt me? Hope not!), I thought I’d write a little bit about the experience of interviewing for the position.

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Oscar Hates Technology.

Was I the only one who noticed the scolding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave to those of us who enjoy films on DVD in our home theater instead of going to the multiplex?

The president of the AMPAS took a convoluted side track from his empassioned speech about movies and the art of storytelling in order to remind everyone that going to the movie theater is different than watching a DVD at home. Well, duh. He even said, “I know that none of the artists nominated tonight finish shooting a scene and say ‘That’s gonna look great on the DVD.'” Don’t tell that to someone like Peter Jackson, who knows that DVD is a perfect opportunity to tell your story in a more robust and expanded form than what can be toelrated in the theater.
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Regarding Andrea Zittel

On Saturday I visited the New Museum of Contemporary Art to see Critical Space, a retrospective of the works of Andrea Zittel.
Zittel’s work is an exploration of the mundane made profound. But not in the Dadaist sense, of taking ordinary objects and calling them ‘Art’; Zittel explores and refines aspects of our routine existence and produces comprehensive reevaluations of daily life.

Much of her work has the refinement and craftsmanship of superior industrial design — for instance, the ‘Escape Vehicles’ are custom designed and built trailers, for lack of a better word, which have been decked out to the specifications of individual patrons (one was like a luxury car inside, another, a hot tub).

Without describing her work to much, several things stood out: One, the commercial polish that was applied to all of her ‘products’ — everything is branded ‘A-Z Adminstrative Services’, making each work appear to be a commercial product…which in a sense they are, but it also becomes commentary on the abundance of commercialism we see day-to-day.

Two, the virtuosity of her abilities. From custom designed ‘uniforms’ (which she wore every day each fashion season, to various takes on portable living spaces, to paintings and illustrations surrounding and introducing her work, her ability to create not only unique, but refined objects in various media is astounding and inspirational. To what degree she does this herself or contracts construction to others I am not sure, but it is clear that she has a grasp and undertanding of design and construction that adds to the fit-and-finish of all her pieces.

It was disappointing that the work was off-limits to touching/walking on/interacting. I assume this is a weakness of nature of a museum show, and not Zittel’s requirement for the display of her work. It begs to be crawled around, lived in, worked with, and only then, I imagine, is it’s true artistry apparent — by reshaping the spaces around us she attemptes to reshape the way we live and think.



For my midterm I’m playing continuing with the idea of self-censoring vis-a-vis voyeurism. Right now my code is working (Barely) allowing you to grab a freeze frame of your face (or another object) and then have that re-mapped to your face.

Conceal your identity. Always put on your ‘best face’…

some of the next steps: store multiple freeze-frames and be able to toggle through them, to have different visages throughout your day.

better tracking of the face. right now using the Skin class, but it could be better.

grab images from external sources (flickr anyone?)

better masking of the image so that it isn’t just a rectangle.

non-mousebased user-input.