Posts Tagged ‘flash’

First Skills Upgrade

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Ouch. This stuff actually happened before Christmas… I’m not that good at updating regularly. I’ll be back soon with a post about the TUI course we just finished, and hopefully that will make this site a bit more up-to-date.

Well, the last week before Christmas was dedicated to “Skills Upgrade”-courses. The class was split in two, one half was working with James Tichenor and Joshua Walton from Rockwell Group, on different proposals for interactive installations for SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The other half (which I was part of) worked with games and computer vision which was taught by Yaniv Steiner.

The scoreboard featuring "pebernødder"

We spent the week experimenting with different small things within the field of computer vision. The first project we did, was the game “Style Wars” – a reaction game, where you use your hand as the game controller. The game is very simple: you and your opponent face each other like in a classic western duel. When you hear a specific bang-sound, it’s all about being fastest to draw your gun (gun = pointing hand). If you react too early (before the right sound), you lose. The name “Style Wars” doesn’t really make much sense – but the reason for the name is, that in the game, one player has the role of a flamenco-dude, the other player is a hip-hopper. I am assuming that it’s common knowledge that flamenco-dancers and hip-hoppers don’t get along very well.

Dave Mellis captured me and Erlend dueling in the video above. After making “Style Wars” which was based on simple Flash-motion tracking, we moved on to reacTIVision, where we made our own lo-fi reactable with a standard camcorder, a window and a desklamp. We used the table for testing and having fun with both Flash and One of the applications were a “body-mixer”, that made it possible to build your own custom CIID student (or freak) by mixing the legs, torsos and heads from all of us. The controls were three “dials” with fiducials underneath.

Playing with the body-mixer

I uploaded some pics from the skills upgrade on Flickr – you should check them out if you want to see some of the other cool stuff people made, like the Dancing Game, for instance… The thumbnails are here:

The last minute light solutionDaveErlend wonScoreboardJacobFiducials
Danger! Dutch techno aheadDanger!A wallA wallStyle WarsThe camera we used for Style Wars
The camera we used for Style WarsJacob and his thingTired peopleEline explainingEline's light installationEline's light installation
Eline's light installationEline's light installationKevin catching the ballKevin catching the ballUjjval explainingUjjval's sketch with fast shutter
Ujjval's sketchYves explainingAsh checking out Jacob's thingJacob's graphics projected on the wallPlaying with Jacob's thingreactable
A view through Jason's glassesFrancesco againThe dancing gameFrancesco dancingThe dancing gameSimona
1-day reactableFast shutter = Funky colorsYves shooting fiducialsMagnus and the scoreboardSkills upgrade exhibitionIt's in the hair

GUI Part 2 – Interactive Data Visualisation

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

The second part of our GUI class was about interactive data visualisation. Again, we had an outstanding external teacher: Shawn Allen from Stamen Design in San Francisco. Along with Shawn we also had our own CIID genious David Mellis to help us with the ActionScript3 programming. We started using FlexBuilder, but quickly realised that it would be easier for the beginners to start using Flash as the environment instead. I already knew a bit of AS3 and Flash, so for me the two weeks were about upgrading my skills in this field, staying in the context of data visualisation.

We started using XML data from UN Data, which is an enormous source of information on almost anything. I started digging into data about alcohol consumption per capita for a wide range of countries, and came up with a small application that will let you filter, sort and highlight countries based on either country name or consumption. The app is just a quick one, so it’s probably buggy and hard to use, but at least I got around handling XML data in Flash. Click the screenshot below, to try the application.

Screenshot of the data visualisation of alcohol consumption per capita

Screenshot of the data visualisation of alcohol consumption per capita

 The second week, I started exploring other data formats than XML. I went with a set of datafiles in CSV-format from the Danish Statistics Bank. Here the main task was to parse and combine different files into one dataset, so that I could use it for a visualisation. The data i worked with, was about the number of fatal bike accidents in Denmark for the last ten years. Actually I was surprised to see how relatively low the numbers were, compared to the amount of cyclists here in the country. Again, usability was not my main focus, and I know there could be done a lot in this field, so please bear with me. Here my main focus lied in using layout organizers, which is why you will find three buttons, each representing a different layout.

Screenshot from the data visualisation of bike accidents

Screenshot from the data visualisation of bike accidents. Beware of the bugs!

Click the part of Denmark you want to see the statistics for, and you will get a graphical representation of the fatal accidents. Red bikes are women, black are men. Mouse over a bike to see limited details on the accident.

Btw: For some reason the swf runs fine in the external Flash player, but acts a bit strange in the embedded browser player. Do you know why?

Graphical User Interface design – Part 1

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

After having spent time with the elderly, we started thinking in concepts that could improve the life of the elderly. We had the honour of having Niels Clausen-Stuck as guest teacher for the first two weeks of our GUI design module, where he, along with Alex from CIID, helped us through the whole design process. A process looking a lot like the good old ISO13407 which I am quite familiar with after having studied product development at DTU for 5 years. Well, this post is not going to be about design processes (though it’s a topic that I’m very interested in).

After having visited the elderly, we found out that they are no longer interested in creating and sharing new memories, they are more interested in re-living old memories, with people that can help them filling in the gaps and completing their stories from the past. But it’s not always easy to find people at your own age that you can actually do this with, as almost 85% of the residents on the old folks homes have dementia to some degree. And as the course was about graphical user interfaces, we also had to create some kind of device. After lots of thinking and another visit to Plejehjemmet Aftensol, we decided to develop a “time machine”. Well, not a time machine in the traditional sense, but at least something that would help you think back in time.

Radio in BW

We decided to build a radio, that could go back in time. Instead of having a frequency scale, this radio has a time scale. Turn the knob back to the year you would like to get refreshed, and the radio will start playing content from that period. If you only want to listen to specific types of content, there is a knob for selecting that, e.g. news, radio-theater or classical music. I won’t go into the details of the UI, but we put a lot of thought into arranging the buttons and the graphical layout of the screen, to be as intuitive as possible. As this mock-up was developed in the second iteration, it is still very early – unfortunately we didn’t have time to take it to the elderly to evaluate it.

The radio set to 1978

Technically speaking the radio is just a device with a wifi connection, and access to digitalised radio archives, e.g. from Danmarks Radio or BBC. The interface is kept “old-fashioned” on purpose, to keep a higher level of familiarity to the user. Our philosophy was, that this concept is a radio and therefore it should look and feel like a radio. Not a computer or streaming mp3-player.

Electronics-wise the mock-up (or hardware sketch) was built using Flash, Arduino (+ potmeters), a hacked Nokia speaker and an Asus Eee 901, all put into a cabinet covered with sheets of paper with a wood texture printed on them. The picture below is showing the radio when it’s not covered by the fake table.

Under the hood of the radio: Arduino and Eee 901

In general the GUI class resulted in some really nice models, considering we had very short time for the projects. Take a look at some of the other mock-ups in my Flickr photostream. If you don’t want to go to Flickr, the photos from the exhibition (and some from the process) can also be found here.

Marcin's smurfFirst concept sketchPutting Post-Its on the wallMessyBrainstormingKey value
Discussing ideasGood or bad?In or out?ScenariosScenario sketchesInterviewing
Taking notesInterviewingInterviewingInterviewing EbbaSid's fist snowNordic Brainstorming
Deciding placementDeciding placementSetting up ArduinoAndreas finishing the fake woodAlmost readyCool proto. Great UI.
Cool proto. Great UI.Controlling the showNice drawingsSetting the moodAndreas demonstratingAndreas adjusting
Hmm...Singing or presenting? Or both?Memory protoTired girlsFilmingNice setup
SimonaActive wallKevin and SidUjj pretending not to have a camera aroundJust tiredTired of it
Calendar systemVisitors from JapanRadio protoThumbnail sketchesThumbnail sketchesThumbnail sketches