My previous employed Fraunhofer FIT along their fellow TOTEM project partner Institut Telecom (France) are organising a summer school on location-aware games development. Knowing the team involved in the project I can thoroughly recommend going, they are not only tech savvy people but also very creative. Also the TOTEM projects focuses on making games development even more accessible.
Students will gain experience in all aspects for location-aware games development including graphics and sound design and user testing. The summer school will be based on the Android platform with server side work being undertaken in Python.
Applications Deadline: 22nd June 2012
When: Sunday July 22nd- Sunday July 29th (arrival/departure)
Where: Sankt Augustin (near Bonn), Germany
For who: Master students, although PhD and Bachelor students are also welcome.
We are looking for six graduate students based at UL to help us with two funded research projects I-GEAR and LiveCity. Students will be expected to spend about 25% of their time working on the projects and will receive payment for doing so. More information can be found in the attached job adverts.
In 2007 some colleagues and I developed and tested a location-based augmented reality game known as TimeWarp Cologne. TimeWarp was a game that aimed to let people see what the City of Cologne would look like in the past and future. Below I present a brief overview of some of the guidelines that we developed, the full paper citation is below. If you have time you should look at the paper that we published as this contains much more information than is presented here. In 2010 the game was significantly modified based on our results and a new version tested, check out the Youtube Video for more information.
These are summaries of what appeared in the real paper, please consult the original text for more information.
Understand Attention Allocation, certain augmented reality content e.g. animations will draw the users attention. Therefore be aware of how such content will draw people away from being aware of reality or other game based elements.
Simplify Interaction Scheme, in common with general HCI practice avoid overly complex devices and interaction schemes. Keep the number of devices and interaction types to a minimum.
User Safety, this should probably be the first item but avoid creating experiences near roads or other areas which may cause accidents.
Design appropriate paths through the environment, make use of the underlying environmental structure when placing AR content. For example terminate certain journeys at interesting locations.
Understand the Locale, understand what real world aspects are around e.g. cafes, bars or other areas which could be used within the game, or even avoided.
Interaction with Others, where appropriate integrate non-game players into the experience.
Seamful Design, check out the work of Chalmers on seamful design which basically argues that technical problems can be built into the gaming experience. For example, lack of GPS or 3G signal could play a part in the game.
Use a combination of real and virtual objects, do not obsesses about using only virtual objects. Where possible and more appropriate try to use a combination of real and virtual objects. Also since writing the paper computer vision techniques have improved significantly and RFID is more readily available. These could be used to recognize objects or proximity to them.
Provide a continuous experience, maintain a constant gameplay. It is important to avoid making people walk large distances between augmented reality content.
The work was partially funded by the EC and was part of the IPCity project. Special credit should be given to the following people who worked extensively in the project during this version of TimeWarp: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Broll, Richard Wetzel, Anna-Kathrin Braun and Iris Herbst. Thanks to all those who are mentioned plus the many others who worked on IPCity. This publication also won “Best Paper” at MobileHCI 2008.
The guidelines presented above are drawn from the following paper and therefore should be cited as coming from:
Braun, A, Herbst, I., Broll, W., and McCall R. Timewarp. Interactive Time Travel with a Mobile Mixed Reality Game. In the Proceedings of Mobile HCI 2008. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Some colleagues and I from SnT and Glasgow Caledonian University are hosting a workshop at ICEC 2012 in Bremen, Germany. Our workshop will be on ethics, privacy and trust in serious gaming. We would very much welcome contributors who not only have conducted thorough research in this area but also those who are now encountering these issues in their own areas of work.
In my session today at the Business Meets Research Event here in Luxembourg was Prof. Dr. Didier Stricker of DFKI in Kaiserslautern (Germany). For readers on here Prof. Dr. Stricker has been involved in the augmented reality community for some time where in addition to focusing on solving technical problems he has explored using augmented reality in real world “consumer” situations.
Following on from my recent post on augmented reality clothing, his work in the Micro-dress project should be of interest to people. One aim is to help reduce the amount of clothing returns that people make to online stores – which can apparently be as much as 70% of the garments that are sold. A system such as micro-dress should help avoid returns but also will allow people to customise their clothing online, with the details then being sent to the manufacturer. As a result the supply chain management aspects in such enterprises can also be improved.
Another of his projects which caught my attention is AR-Handbook, essentially this involves using a mobile phone to capture a task (e.g. installing ram on a computer). Editing the file and add in some augmented reality content then uploading or sharing this file with others. The system has been designed to automate as much of the process as possible, therefore making producing what could previously have been a set of manuals much easier. The result is that instead of vast bulky paper manuals people can see how to complete the task by overlaying the augmented reality view onto their own environment. This should in theory make completing certain kinds of repetitive standard tasks much easier.
I am quite often intrigued by the Facebook world that we now live in and not having a Facebook account often makes me wonder if I am some form of social outcast? However, many people I know seem to have forgotten the art of the phone call, and some are even now forgetting the art of the text message – which lets face it seems to feel a bit like a thing of the past. Especially when you look at things such as iMessage and WhatsApp – which in the case of the latter is texting in a kind of social network.
I do kind of have a nicer view of LinkedIn – “the professional persons social network”, well at least we like to think so. However, what I like about Linkedin is that it is so dull you really only use it for personal stuff. This means that although I do have friends on it, we rarely discuss anything vaguely personal through it which means unlike Facebook and Google+ they don’t as yet have the equivalent amount of information as the East German Stasi on me. Which come to think of it is one reason I find the Facebook fetish so interesting. We volunteer so much work, personal and even drunken information to Facebook that it makes the Stasi paper files and manual system look really quite pathetic. People do it on the basis of getting something in return e.g. the ability to stay in touch (with often) remote friends. That idea I like, but really we do give a lot away for the right to do that? Also with Facebook now being listed on the stock exchange one can only imagine the returns that investors expect. This can only mean that Facebook will more readily use personal data in ways that we may or may not find acceptable. Right now the average US Facebook user generates around $9 of income for the company, I would imagine this can only grow; so if you find it invasive or worrying now, imagine what it would be like when we are worth $100 or even more?
The power of social networking is no doubt clear to many, but increasingly we in research who are developing the next generation of concepts will rely on platforms such as Facebook as a backdrop to many of our systems. In future therefore Facebook may be the store for almost everything we do from our car journeys, to financial data through to shopping and work. It will essentially be our living history, a list of our deeds or misdeeds. Also as has already been seen it has been used by employers to screen people who are up for promotion or who have applied for a job. In essence it is already doing the same thing that the Stasi and many other similar organisations did e.g. making it easier to keep out undesirables.
If the East German leaders of the past were still alive I am sure they would have loved Facebook; although they would probably only have allowed users from inside East Germany to use it.
Smart clothing and systems that let you try out new clothes and accessories are not that new and a quick scan online will find systems going back a number of years. However, the advent of cheap hardware such as the MS Kinect system coupled with improved knowledge of aspects such as computer vision means that augmented reality clothing is now more viable. There are many forms of “AR” clothing, take for example the first system above and the one below which lets people try accessories such as handbags. The last system I find a little more interesting, it lets you augmented your existing clothing. This in itself is not that tricky, you just need to track the clothing aspect that you want to change. However, what I find interesting is the potential of others to augment your clothes. For example, I am sure we all have some clothes our friends don’t really like. Well if it offends them that much then with Google’s new glasses why not let them change it? Now they don’t look quite so disgusted by your dress sense.
Also I often wonder how things will work out in future, for example could we just cut to the chase and buy cheap €10 t-shirts from H&M and instead let others augment us? Or alternatively H&M let us buy the cheap T-shirt then rent us our augmented clothing as and when we need it (everyone can then see your new style through AR glasses). Then each day you could have different clothes for a fraction of the cost and that harm the environment far less. Not forgetting another benefit – fewer clothing sweatshops in the far East.
The possibilities are quite amusing, other people could in theory dress us according to their preferences. Alternatively you broadcast a little signal that lets others see you as you want to be seen – of course they don’t see the cheap H&M t-shirt. Obviously there is much more to clothing that its look, take its feel and form for example. However, these aspects are also being worked on in the area of smart textiles.
One small problem though a set of clothes could last for months and the lazy among us may prefer not to wash it…
I am delighted to say that for the business meets research event I plan to give a high-level and hopefully accessible talk on urban mixed realities that will explore:
An introduction to mixed reality from multi-touch to augmented reality
What mixed realities can do for your business?
Urban mixed reality projects I have worked on
Some design issues for mixed realities
Current projects that I am involved in here at UL from games to cars.
Towards Live Cities
I will draw on my experiences over the last 15 years in anything from virtual reality for crisis management simulation through to more recent work on urban mixed reality gaming. The aim of the talk is to give you something to take away and use.
For those interested in participatory sensing you should come and listen to the talk by Prof. Dr. Charles Max of the University of Luxembourg who has worked extensively on social media and other related topics. We will also be joined by Prof. Dr. Didier Stricker of DFKI (Saarbrucken) who is a recognised expert in the area of augmented and virtual realities. He also leads the Augmented Vision Group at DFKI.
Good news! After becoming increasingly frustrated with the Xelio’s inability to officially use the Play store I realised it is possible and very easy. You don’t need to do anything as nasty as reflashing the device or editing random text files. The tip originally comes via the Android Forum in Germany and is from Peter, so thanks to him.
For those who would like an English translation, here goes:
I will give you the instructions exactly as I carried them out, it may be possible for example to download the software directly to your Xelio. You will however need to have your Xelio and other computer on, plus the USB cable handy. You must also have a Google account and have enabled the downloading and installation of apps outside of the Play store. You can do this from inside the Apps, settings menus.
This is quite literally a step by step guide, if you are familiar with Android you can probably skip directly to downloading the Google Play file and installing it on your device. As for the deletion of the Google account, this is listed purely as it was the advice that was posted online. I have not tried installing Google Play without doing that so have no idea whether it also works without doing it.
If you follow these instructions then you do so at your own risk!
Go to your Settings->Apps menu on the Xelio and look for Google Play. Click on it and erase all data and cache information.
Returning to the settings options, now select your Google Account. Delete the account from the list of those that are being syncronised.
Download the following file, which is a later version of the Play Store App to your computer.
Now plug in the Xelio to your computer
Turn on USB Storage when asked to do so
Copy the file you downloaded to the SDCard -> Download folder
Now eject he Xelio from the computer
Click on “Turn off USB device” on the Xelio
Now to go the download folder in the EZ File manager programme. If you cannot see it click on the top icon furthest to the left in the file manager, then the screen should change to include the download folder.
Click on the com.android.vending.x.x.x… This should now install, simply follow the on-screen instructions. For example enter your Google account details.
To check that it is working with the same files as me, some Apps may not work anyway due to genuine incompatibility. Now go to the recommendations for tablets then download Google Maps.
Click on install and wait for the Google Maps install to complete.
Now run Google maps.
If you plan on installing software again via direct download rather than via the Google Play system please note that this opens your system up to vulnerabilities.