Appropriating New Technologies

Computer vision isn’t necessarily new. In fact there’s been a bit of appropriating this technology already posted on my blog earlier, but there’s a lot of room to explore and here’s an exploration using OpenFrameworks and OpenCV to recognize faces, flip them and attach them at roughly where the chin is, hence bringing new meaning to the term “double chin.”



Mime Tribe

This term I’m enrolled in a game design course that deals specifically with high level game design theory. Big Games as it’s called, is an incredibly enlightening and fun exploration into a medium I have spent an enormous amount of time in (playing games of course). Instead of just playing games (and we do play a lot of games) we also read a lot of theoretical texts to help break down what it is about games that makes them such a compelling story telling medium. In order to aid our understanding of game aesthetics, dynamics and mechanics we design and build our own games, like Mime Tribe.

Mime Tribe is a round-based social game where the participants are split into teams and then individually they play the rounds to gain points for their teams. At the start of each round the players all get a card with a word they must try to mime. The goal of the round is to try to find the other players that are trying to mime the same thing as yourself. At the end of each round teams are awarded points based on the number of their members who were able to find the correct “tribes.”

The team dynamic is what was really important to us. We wanted people to be playing for each other as well as themselves, that way we hoped we could encourage different strategies in playing the game. By the end of a few rounds we had people trying to sabotage other teams.

Mime Tribe Cards
These cards carried a variety of noun's that players would have to try to mime.

Below is the document we drafted to define the game and the rules in case you’d like to try and play it with your friends:

The group is divided into 4 color teams. Teams will have 30 seconds to strategize before each game.

Each player will receive a card designating their TRIBE.

Players look at their own card, but may not show anyone else.

Upon the instruction to begin, players have 15 seconds to silently find other members of their TRIBE

Once you are confident that someone is in your tribe you must form a circle by holding hands.

Each player in a correct tribal circle will be awarded points for their team based on the number of players in that circle. Two members of the same tribe will each win 2 points for their team. Three members will win 3 points. And so on.

If just one player is in the wrong tribal circle, everyone in that circle receives zero points. Players that are alone at the close of play will also receive zero points.

Text Viz (TV)

Here at ITP we have an email list that is constantly connecting all the students together in this massive conversation about everything from arts to technology to politics. It’s really quite wonderful and at times also very overwhelming. Many student’s don’t bother to read the list because of the sheer volume of messages that are sent, others are very protective of the list and will jump at anyone who might try to subvert the list or appropriate it for their own cause.

With this example in mind, my friend Dekunle Somade suggested we work on a project together to bring text message (SMS) based group conversations to the shared space of ITP. There were several analogues and examples of this kind of communications system before hand aside from the ITP Student List. One is the Blackboard Blogger of Liberia and the other was an internal IDEO project I remember hearing about but can’t seem to find any documentation regarding. The project was an interactive display of all the IDEO employee’s timelines and feeds, each getting a moment on screen and each allowing those who were viewing it in the common room to get a better sense of what their coworkers were working on and thinking.

Daily Talk Liberia

With those two examples in mind we set about creating a platform that would be simple to use but would allow ITP students to share and connect with other ITP students on the floor without having to know everyone’s phone number. It was a virtual billboard that you could send text messages to.

The project had two parts, the first was a PHP/MySQL web app that at first utilized the TextMarks API and then later the Twilio APIto receive text messages, associate the phone number with an ITP face and then display it on our website. You can view the current iteration of the site here.

Text Viz Web App
A view of the Text Viz Web App Interface

After the web app was complete we built a kiosk application that would take the JSON formed data from the website and present it in a manner on the kiosk.

Text Viz Processing App
An image from the Text Viz Processing Application

I plan on returning to this project shortly and improving the interaction and functionality of both the webapp and kiosk application. After the project is in a better state I will also release all of the source code. Stay tuned!