Showing posts from March, 2007

GPS for Dogs

Just when you thought you've seen it all, Garmin is selling a GPS for dogs. No, not to help the dogs navigate (that would be scary), but to help owners find their dogs.

WorldSpotting, A New Class of Ubicomp Apps

There's an interesting class of ubicomp apps that I'm calling WorldSpotting. These kinds of apps are mobile systems where people act both as sensors and as users of the system. Some examples WorldSpotting applications include:
Gawker Stalker, which lets you track and send updates on where celebrities are in ManhattanMobile Media Metadata, which lets you easily tag photos with place names, based on what other people have labeledWardriving, where people both collect data on the location of WiFi access points and use those, for general network access or for location positioningBustle, a system we are developing that lets you contribute information on how busy a place is, as well as query how busy places are. An example application would be to see how busy the local cafe is. The pros of WorldSpotting applications is that you can get massive scale without having to install lots of infrastructure, as has typically been done for many ubiquitous computing applications. Thus, WorldSpot…

But Capybara Aren't Fish!

If you hang around me long enough, you'll eventually hear my story about how South Americans consider capybara's, the world's largest rodent, as fish. (If you hang around me long enough, you'll also find out that Regis Philbin is my mortal enemy and that I once found myself with a black guy and two Filipinos in the middle of a KKK march, but those are stories for another time).

To wit, one of my friends (James Lin, of Lincoln Highway fame) has just forwarded me an article from the New York Times about the world's most delicious rodent (I bet Amazon's statistically improbable phrases would have fun with that one). As you can see in the picture below, it's pretty obvious that capybara aren't fish.

So here's the Gray Lady on rodent-fish:

The annual hunt comes before Easter, when capybara has a status in Venezuela similar to that of turkey during Thanksgiving. While the Roman Catholic Church generally forbids eating meat during certain days of Lent, many V…

Perceptive Pixel - Large Interactive Touchscreens

Jefferson Han, the person whose work on interactive touchscreens has been all over YouTube and featured at the TED conference, has founded a startup to commercialize his technologies.

I think it's interesting that large interactive screens have been around for quite a while. For example, Stanford's iRoom, Fraunhofer IPSI's iLand, the old Liveworks (that commercialized the LiveBoard), Smart Technologies (that sells SmartBoards), and MERL's DiamondTouch, just to name a few.

I remember being the session chair for Jefferson when he presented at UIST 2005, and thinking that there were two key differences. The first is that the technology is cheaper than anything else out there. Ridiculously cheaper by an order of magnitude. Most large interactive displays cost thousands of dollars, whereas Jefferson's work only required a cheap sheet of plexiglass, a projector, and a camera. It's cheap enough that I've been trying to encourage students in my classes to build their…

Motion Computing C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant

Looks like this is another push for tablet PCs in hospitals. The platform itself seems quite nice, in that it has wireless networking, barcode readers and a built-in camera to make it easy to get data, and has smooth surfaces all around to make it easy to clean and disinfect.

How Many People Does it Take to Change the World?

One interesting thing that happened last month was that I got to meet Alan Kay, one of the researchers at PARC that helped invent our modern conception of personal computing back in the 1970s. He said many things that struck me, but one stood out in particular, namely that it only took about 25 researchers at PARC to develop it all, from ethernet to GUIs, from Smalltalk to the laser printer. The key to it all, though, was having a shared vision that 25 really smart and independent people could agree on.

This is something I've noticed about the original Ubiquitous Computing project as well (also done at PARC), in that there was a grand shared vision that a lot of really smart people believed in and pushed for.

However, I'm not sure if this is something we could easily re-create today. It's hard enough to get 25 people to agree on anything, but there's also the funding issue, in that NSF can't fund projects that large and DARPA no longer will. I also don't think th…