Mobile, 5 Years in the future

I was just interviewed for an upcoming book and one of the questions was:
Fast forward 5 years into the future, can you paint me picture of the mobile world?

Here is what I said:
I am going to beg out of this one and instead paint a picture of my utopia.

My mobile utopia 5 years from now:

Carriers have accepted the fact that they are too large and slow to beat the current crop of DIY wireless systems that are being built. They have realized that the cost of maintaining service such as the little used voice platform is not worthwhile when all that anyone cares about is the openness and speed of their internet connection. Besides, they are sick of battling the hackers who continually figure out how to bypass their restrictions and really sick of spending their lobbying money to battle Googlezon and the like over whether or not they have to carry 3rd party data without charge.

They have finally realized and accepted their place in the world as “dumb pipes”, wireless ISPs.

They have given up on locking down phones. Nobody will sign a 2 year contract anymore for a free phone that they can’t install any of the open source software on.

On the other side of the coin, Googlezon, DIYers, hackers and hipsters are developing and deploying game changing hardware and applications at a phenomenal pace.

A prolific open source community has introduced a kit based mobile phone with every feature imaginable and battery life that puts devices from 5 years ago to shame. Tourists are carrying around monstrous looking home built teleconferencing systems with them as they gawk at the Naked Cowboy in Time Square and talk with their relatives and friends back home.

Hipsters in Bushwick no longer carry laptops and projectors to their VJ gigs but rather bring their mobile projector enabled high-speed wireless video mixing system and no longer have to be hunched over a keyboard and mouse. They simply mingle with the crowd or dance until they drop with every movement being tracked by sensors programmed to project and mix particular clips or dynamically generated visuals.

I can’t think of anyone who uses a laptop computer anymore. Everyone seems to have adopted the projected keyboard and gesture controlled interfaces that are common on mobile devices now.

Data flows pretty seamlessly and just by pointing to a contact in the sky a voice, data or text channel is opened to that person.

Wow.. Things are different now that the networks have been broken..

(Perhaps we can dream..)

ITP End of Year Events – Thesis Presentations and End of Semester Show

ITP Spring Show 2006
A two day exhibition of interactive sight, sound and physical objects from the student artists of ITP.

This event is free and open to the public. No need to RSVP.

ITP Thesis Presentations 2006
ITP’s graduating students will be presenting a wide variety of highly creative and interactive projects that they have constructed over the course of their final project seminars.

Students have been encouraged to undertake projects that bring together the conceptual and design issues that they have engaged in during their two years of study at ITP.

Projects will include installation based work, digital video and audio pieces, interactive 3D, games and educational applications, to name only a few.

ITP will be providing a live webcast of all the thesis presentations.

ITP Artists Strike again

Wired News: Artists Burnish RFID’s Image
Go Meghan:
A far cry from Big Brother scenarios, RFID technology has recently become a medium for artists like Meghan Trainor, whose work offers a glimpse of a future in which computers will be able to scan any item and know something about it. She sculpts objects out of plaster, rubber and other materials, and embeds them with RFID chips and tags.

Tech Art January Roundup

artnet Magazine – Technical Knock-outs
Dorkbot, “Superlowrez” at vertexList and “Dewanatron” at Pierogi.
From the article:
For the show, vertexList brought aboard eight artists, among them the stalwarts of the Brooklyn art scene: Joe Amrhein, Brian Conley, Matt Freedman, Kristin Lucas, Jillian Mcdonald, Joe McKay, Akiko Sakaizumi and Jude Tallichet. All of them agreed to work with the same gadget for the project, a custom-built box of 12 x 14 electronic light-up “pixels.” Since this dimension is calculated to be just under the pixel-content of the normal computer cursor, the format is extremely constraining (additionally, each box has a chip that can hold just 1,984 “frames” of information.)

CES Wrap-up

Two weeks ago, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Here is a quick write-up regarding it:

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show was a very interesting and overwhelming event. First of all, it is by far the largest event that I have ever been to. The numbers were 150,000 plus attendees and 2500 plus vendors (booths).

As the show title indicates, it is very consumer electronics orientated. This means, home theater audio and video, in car systems, mobile phones, portable music players and video players, digital cameras and video cameras and video game systems were there in a big way. While my interests and technology applicable to my work cross all of these areas, the sheer size and number of similar items makes it very difficult to find the best of the best. Fortunately, CES in general and these areas are well covered by the media and in reviews by other bloggers as well as by awards given out at the show. Therefore, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time at this type of event to focus on them. If you are interested, CNet has good coverage online at: and from CES itself lists the award winners:

I, on the other hand was determined to find devices that enable the types of things that my research focuses on. Specifically, I went with the intention of looking at video capture devices that enable streaming as well as remote control capabilities, set top boxes that have open interfaces to allow for the development of software that runs on them, tablet computers, remote controls and phones that fit the bill to be used as a prototype platform for development of my various projects.

With these tasks in mind I shied away from the areas of the conference that dealt with in car and home theater systems (mostly audio and large screens) and started off by going to the small out of the way booths. Fortunately, this tactic paid off almost immediately. I discovered (actually I think I may have rediscovered) a device called the Pepper Pad: which is essentially a tablet PC running linux crossed with a universal remote control. It fits all of the requirements for developing a prototype for one of my projects and exceeds the capabilities (and suitability to the task at hand) of the devices that I have been using. The Pepper Pad does have a couple of drawbacks. First of all is the cost; it is in excess of $800.00, far too much for wide adoption. Second is the size; it is just a bit too large for my prototype purposes.

These drawbacks are more than made up by the devices capabilities. Also promising is the fact that I made contact with and had a good conversation with the lead technical individual at the company that makes it.

Finding the Pepper Pad was the most useful thing to happen for me at CES but a couple thoughts and notes are worth putting down as well.

1: Convergence, that nasty word from the mid 90’s has finally arrived. Fortunately, it is being done better this time. No more are the dreams of a super device that does everything. Rather, the CE industry is starting to make devices that can talk to each other and share content. Handheld devices that can get content from set top boxes and media centers that can pull up photos and music from PCs are everywhere.

Unfortunately the CE people don’t quite know what the internet is good for yet. They have realized the potential of the internet as a distribution medium but have not realized that it needs to be open. In my opinion, there is no reason to use the internet for distribution unless it is open (both on the consumption side and publishing side). They are still treating the internet as a cable network when they should just be using a cable network.

2: Yahoo, Google and Microsoft were at the show in a big way (I don’t mean sq. feet). This is interesting because they are not CE companies and don’t really have CE products yet they hold the mind share and rightfully so. They get with the CE companies don’t get (about the internet).

Microsoft’s Media Center platform is actually pretty nice and does offer the things that I would like everyone to offer (an open platform with API’s).

Google understands standards and wants interoperability. See the Google Keynote.

Yahoo is the only company there that really showed an aptitude for mixing social behavior and media. I saw prototypes of Yahoo content on a TV platform that almost encouraged social behavior (in the standard Yahoo way).

3: Still, nobody understands that the TV is not the place for interactive content. People are still trying to shoehorn the internet onto TV. It will have some limited success but in the end, it will never live up to what can be done on a PC.

Last here is a list of things that I saw with quick notes that I thought interesting enough to take a further look at. I haven’t had the time to dig yet but I wanted to get them down.

DX5 Digital Camera – Clone of Xacti ?
Microsoft TV IPTV Edition
Playstation 3 – Blueray – Interactive Java Games supported by Blueray spec
SCH-B360 Samsung compact satellite mobile tv phone – dmb – evdo – tv out
DLNA – nokia support
GE Solar Cam
Panasonic 3CCD SD Camcorder SDR S190 or S100
Excercise by playing video games = very itp like – game runner
Ant – iptv platform – not really sure what level – javascript interactivity
Philips remote control honoree 2006 innovations – TSU3500 or SRU9600
ACE LHD Professional Media Server
Lifetouch by exceptional innovation
JVC G Series HDD camera
SD PDA Camera SDC-001A (for palm and pocket pc)
Lego mindstorms nxt
VEX Robotics Design System
Akimbo = not open
Creative Webcam Live Wireless
Yahoo mirror display – in bathroom computing
Yahoo mobile
Walkview handsfree = sports dv camera
Opcom chipcam camera modules
Viiv = upnp = dlna?
Universal remotes with breakout box for devices (basically IR blaster)
Samsung sports camcorder – mpeg4 asp (dumb)
Samsung cameras ptz – see data sheets
Wisecomm wireless camera
Dlink wireless g optical zoom ptz camera
Xavix baseball golf and so on (physical interaction)
Creative Zencast = serious magic = vision
Nokia modeo
Leadtek H.264 based Triple-Play Set-Top Box

Other news:
Google video launched a pay download service
Tivo series 3 – HD and Digital broadcast tuners coming soon.
TiVo Desktop 2.3 Beta: featuring automatic transfers and support for Apple® video iPod™ and Sony PSP™ (Playstation® Portable).

Button Camera and Microphone

AVING – Global News Network
Really interesting Bluetooth button camera.
From the site:
If you wear this button-looking device on your suit, it records the situation of a spot and transmit the data to remote areas using the wireless transmit technology (Bluetooth) in real time. The device detects movements of an object and records them automatically. You can have access and communicate several Self Guard devices from anywhere you can use the internet. So, even if you are not present in the spot, you can install this model in various hidden places and take control of the situation while giving instructions. It comes up with rechargeable battery.