Digital-Presence

Brain-computer interface for Second Life

While recent developments in brain-computer interface (BCI) technology have given humans the power to mentally control computers, nobody has used the technology in conjunction with the Second Life online virtual world ‘ until now.

A research team led by professor Jun’ichi Ushiba of the Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory has developed a BCI system that lets the user walk an avatar through the streets of Second Life while relying solely on the power of thought. To control the avatar on screen, the user simply thinks about moving various body parts ‘ the avatar walks forward when the user thinks about moving his/her own feet, and it turns right and left when the user imagines moving his/her right and left arms.

The system consists of a headpiece equipped with electrodes that monitor activity in three areas of the motor cortex (the region of the brain involved in controlling the movement of the arms and legs). An EEG machine reads and graphs the data and relays it to the BCI, where a brain wave analysis algorithm interprets the user’s imagined movements. A keyboard emulator then converts this data into a signal and relays it to Second Life, causing the on-screen avatar to move. In this way, the user can exercise real-time control over the avatar in the 3D virtual world without moving a muscle.

Future plans are to improve the BCI so that users can make Second Life avatars perform more complex movements and gestures. The researchers hope the mind-controlled avatar, which was created through a joint medical engineering project involving Keio’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Tsukigase Rehabilitation Center, will one day help people with serious physical impairments communicate and do business in Second Life.

(For video of the Second Life BCI, check the links on the Ushida & Tomita Laboratory news page, right above the first photo.)

Via PinkTentacle. See also: Playing Dreams, Out of Body Experience.

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Boomeranged Metaphors

Human Tetris

A tribute to the virtual world boomeranging back to the physical world by Mega64. Or do you rather prefer the corny japanese gameshow version? Via Engadget,

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Calm-technology

Vanity ring

For all you self-Googlers out there. And yes.. that means you too!

Back in the old days (pre-next-nature) you used to wear gold rings and lots of bling you show off your wealth and therefor how important you are. But that was before the rappers (and Mr. T) made you look kind of silly wearing just one or two gold rings… So now we have the vanity ring showing your virtual wealth, or at least your virtual importance. The ring shows your hits on Google searching for your own name. Get it before Paris or some rapper get word…

Website. See also Biojewellery.

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Calm-technology

Information Decoration

Our Environment as an Information Carrier
Picture this: it’s 40,000 years ago, and you are an early Homo sapiens. You are standing on the savanna. Look around you. What do you see? No billboards, no traffic signs, no logos, no text. You might see grassland, a stand of trees, a bank of clouds in the distance. You are in a kind of vast, unspoilt nature reserve. Are you feeling wonderfully relaxed yet? Don’t be mistaken. Unlike the woodland parks where you sometimes go walking of a Sunday, this is not a recreational environment. This is where you live. You must survive here, and the environment is full of information that helps you to do so. An animal you are going to pursue has left tracks in the sand. Are the berries on that tree edible or poisonous? And that birdsong: does it mean there’s going to be a storm and winter is on the way? Or are the silly birds just singing for their own enjoyment? You can’t be sure: you have to interpret it all. And you are good at that. So good that you have succeeded in surviving in this environment.

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Fake-for-Real

Fake for Real: Walking Leaf

Almost by default, we associate simulation with modern media: games and virtual reality. But what about the Phyllium giganteum? It is not a leaf but an insect disguised as one. This “walking leaf” demonstrates some of the most remarkable mimicry in the entire natural kingdom. But it is surely no accident. Countless other insects, flowers, and animals use camouflage or imitation techniques to increase their chances of survival. Simulation seems to be a natural phenomenon in life.

From our Fake for Real series.

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Calm-technology

Magical Interaction

Man’s ability to control illumination is magical in itself but is seldom experienced as such because light switches are purely functional and generally don’t stir up imagination. Designer Joris van Gelder rethought the boring activity of switching on/off a light to bring out its potential to evoke wonder and surprise. The magical lamp depicted in the movie below is an example of Magical Interaction an approach towards interaction design aiming to stimulate people to use their own imagination in the interaction with a product.

[flv width=”530″ height=”398″]http://nextnature.net/data/magical_interaction.flv[/flv]

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Global-Image-Economy

Big Ass Browser

First we had the internet. We stored all our texts and images in databases. Then came search engines to locate the data. Now is the time to interconnect it all; to share knowledge and make deep content accessible in blinks of an eye. Even your daily weblog and flickr-photoalbum will not be safe from this monster of content. It is said to be screen-independent, without pop-ups, just zooms.

“Metaverse” is one database of collective memory. It is made possible in the M*soft project: Seadragon, combining Photosynth-technology and Deepfish-zoom. Seadragon is to be launched in February 2008.

My guess: When this exploring-software becomes integrated with live experience, all it takes is one Timeline to browse the Metaverse history. And when that happens, predicting the future should be piece of pie! (the url already seems to be incorporated)

TED Talk by Blaise Aguera | labs.live.com | Related posts: Surface Computing Parody | The world is not a desktop

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Biomimicry

Bone Chair

Joris Laarman’s Bone chair takes its inspiration from the efficient way that bones grow (adding material where strength is needed and taking away material where it’s unnecessary). Made using a digital tool developed by GM that copies these methods of construction, Laarman says the ironic result of his biomimetic technique is “an almost historic elegancy” that is “far more efficient compared to modern geometric shapes.”

Bye bye modernism. Hello nextnature? I’m really not sure whether this is a sneak preview into our bright future of grown objects or just an illustrative biomimicmarketing of a clever stylist. Anyhow it is a beautiful piece of furniture and I have no difficulties to image living my future primitive life in a whole bone-grown interior. Pity the production process is so incredibly expensive still.

Via Coolhunting. See also: Treetrunk Bench, Folding Chair, How to grow a Chair, Sketch furniture, Living Furniture, Dynamic Terrain.

 

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