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  Gesture-Recognition’s Immersive Potential  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Atlanta's Georgia Institute of Technology has invented "TeleSign," a computerized system that recognizes American Sign Language [tip via Smart Mobs] Using a head-mounted camera and wristband acceleration-detectors, the system aims to help deaf people communicate with hearing people, but could the TeleSign system improve human interaction in game worlds as well?

In many of today's multiplayer games, we use text-based emotes to convey the most primal of human expressions--either to be read as text by another player, or to be converted via the game engine to an animated expression. Perhaps in the near future, we will use a TeleSign-like device with game environments. Such a system could facilitate player-driven body language, allowing us to "show" instead of "tell" fellow players and AI-driven agents how we are feeling or what we want. Players could emit natural human gestures and immediately see the in-game response, thereby increasing a player's affinity with their game character, if not the entire game environment. In this case, would game players be more akin to actors or to puppeteers?
 
     
 
   
 
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  E-Paper to Reduce Consumption?  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
According to CNET, Japan's Fuji Xerox corporation has developed a new form of electronic paper that "does not need electricity to maintain its display configuration." While this might reduce the consumption of resources as it relates to the manufacture, distribution and usage of paper, it demands that electricity, petroleum products, metal, and liquid-crystal be consumed to manufacture and ship its electronic paper devices. I'm not sure that there's an overall ecological savings here. To its credit, Fuji Xerox at least has a passing interest in sustainability.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Cranking It Up  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Although summer wanes, Toronto's hot weather and its accompanying electrical-grid strain isn't over yet. Since we've been hit with rolling blackouts this year (as well as the famed outage of 2003), being prepared for darkness just makes sense. Thanks to my wife, I snagged a couple of practical wedding gifts: a hand-cranked radio with built-in LED flashlight, and a plug-in blackout radio with similar features. This way, when the power goes out, the radio automatically illuminates. For extended outages and camping trips we can hand-crank all the radio and light we want.

I'm looking forward to a universal windup charger for electronic devices. Currently, there are options for cell-phones, Game Boy SPs, and laptops.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Crocodile Smiles  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Think you can tell when someone's lying through their teeth? Take this BBC "Spot the Fake Smile" interactive quiz and put your fakespotting to the test. According to the BBC, "Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles." I spotted grin-fakery with 70% accuracy, which unfortunately only serves to bolster my over-inflated notion that I recognize bullshit when I see it. Thanks to the BBC's post-quiz roundup, I now know a few more things about how fake and real smiles differ, which will certainly come in handy during my next interaction with a stranger.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘The End of Suburbia’ Offers Few Solutions  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Oil-dependency will be the undoing of suburban sprawl and its unrealistic standard of living. So says documentary "The End of Suburbia," which I found on DVD at my local video store. An essay on the decline of the American Dream, the documentary exposes the origins of suburban life, and paints a dire picture for the future of our petrochemically-dependent world. While I appreciated the film's message, I would have preferred an in-depth (rather than cursory) look at solutions to the problem. In summary, it's suggested that on a household level, we need to become more self-sufficient, since the costs of remaining part of our existing system will eventually become too great. If you believe the "experts" in the film, we've got a much lower-tech future--and a lower standard of living (depending on your point of view)--in store for us.

For anyone interested in keeping on top of "green" developments, I highly recommend adding MetaEfficient, Treehugger, and WorldChanging to your daily reading material. These sites typically contain reccomendations that middle-class consumers can reasonably act upon.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Toronto Businesses Squandering Electricity  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Ontario, Canada has been slogging through a 3-week series of heat-alerts--8 of them designated "extreme"--resulting in official advisories to stay out of the heat, and to conserve power. Toronto, Ontario's economic center, tends to foster its own special brand of disgusting weather, sucking up humidity from Lake Ontario (which has warmed 5 degrees higher than normal) and then heating it via sun-soaked concrete. Treehugger contributor Lloyd Alter points out how locals are receiving electricity at a dangerous discount, while Toronto Hydro notes that 25% of us find our workplaces too cold. That means 25% of local businesses are not keeping their air-conditioning at the advised 26 degrees Celsius. I recall that in the city-wide blackout of 2003, some local businesses kept their billboards glowing while the rest of the city had to rub sticks together to cook pigeons.

Wise up, corporate Toronto. You're getting a bad rep.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Virtual Agents Set to Evolve  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A new virtual world promises to provide Sea-Monkey-style entertainment to science-nerds. The NEW-TIES project, which involves artificially-intelligent agents rather than human-controlled avatars, is based on a peer-to-peer computer platform on a scale "beyond any existing state-of-the-art social simulation," whatever that means. The NEW-TIES project launches September 1, 2005 with the intention of developing an artificial society with its own communication system and methods of cooperation.

The offical site contains few details on the project, but NewScientist.com reports that NEW-TIES will support only 1000 avatars across 50 computers (I assume the system scales infinitely), that agents will need to "eat" to survive, and can reproduce with opposite-sex avatars to produce offspring with inherited traits. Most curious is the ability of agents to communicate by pointing at objects and generating random words to form the basis of a new language. Doesn't sound much different from the average teenager. There's no word yet on whether or not the computerized agents can murder each other. Hey, if they can breed, they should be able to bleed.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Juicy Solar Backpack  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
HippyShopper.com brings word of the "World's first flexible solar bag," a backpack that weighs under 3 pounds, but can hold up to 25 litres, and contains a 12 volt / 6.3 watt car-style charger for powering-up compatible devices (laptops require an accessory battery). While dreadfully unstylish, the eco-friendly "Juice Bag" sports a flexible solar panel, providing more "give" than the reportedly rigid Eclipse or Voltaic products. Nature shows us that if something doesn't bend, it breaks. The Juice Bag goes for about $200 USD at several online retailers.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration
A couple of years ago, Aleks Krotoski trekked across Scotland's West Highland Way, a 95-mile route from Glasgow to Fort William. "While I was there I met up with people who were also doing this ridiculous thing for their own unique reasons," she recalls. "Some were preparing to go up Kilimanjaro, some just liked to walk, some came to find themselves, some came to celebrate, and some came to escape."

Krotoski is no stranger to escapism. The American-born UK resident was so enamoured with the pixelated world of Super Mario that she nearly flunked high-school. Ironically, her fascination with games proved to be a winning strategy in the long term. Krotoski scored a Psychology degree from Oberlin College in Ohio, USA, barely survived a stint as co-host and "strat head" of Britain's Channel 4 video game show "Bits," and ended up studying MMOGs for her Master of Science Degree in Social Psychology (with Distinction, no less) from the University of Surrey in the UK. She currently blogs game culture at the Guardian Unlimited Gamesblog, but isn't finished with academia just yet.

Continue reading: Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration
 
     
 
   
 
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  Modern Lifestyle Produces Feeble Kids  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A Canadian study has found that Canada's Old Order Mennonite kids, who commonly engage in physical activity, are more fit than children raised in typical modern environments. The 3-year study, paid for by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, compared Old Order Mennonite children from Ontario with urban Saskatchewan children and rural Saskatchewan children. Among the findings:
  • 30% of all the children in the study were classified as overweight.
  • Mennonite kids engage in 18 minutes more physical activity a day than their counterparts.
  • Mennonite kids had leaner triceps than urban Saskatchewan children.
  • Mennonite kids had a greater aerobic fitness score than rural Saskatchewan children.
  • Mennonite kids had greater grip strength than both rural and urban Saskatchewan children.
The study seems to show that a modern North American lifestyle pales in comparison to traditional living. We used to have to work harder. Thanks to technology, we not only have more leisure time, but plenty of inactive ways of spending that time.
 
     
 
   
 
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on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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