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Emerging Technologies: The Millennium Motel
 
Conference
8-13 August 1999
 
Los Angeles Convention Center
Los Angeles, California USA
 
Enter The Millennium Motel and take an interactive journey into our collective future. Create three-dimensional surfaces by moving your hands in space, interact with intelligent objects to construct complex computer models, conduct a virtual orchestra with only your gestures, and enjoy talking to friends by placing interactive images of them on your desk top.
 
"The Millennium Motel will showcase provocative research projects from some of the world's top scientists. All of the projects are interactive and are designed to allow attendees to tinker, experiment, and explore the installations," said Kathryn Saunders, Royal Ontario Museum Digital Media Services and Emerging Technologies Chair. "In addition to these projects, there will be theme areas that integrate performance-related exhibits with research projects to create such experiences as Check-In, The Pool, and NightLife."
 
Check-In to the Motel by scanning your data and have it transform into a lifeform. Relax in The Pool and play with digital water under a canopy of floating spheres or checkout the NightLife and become a DJ of interactive sound and graphics. And don't forget to look both ways before entering the Intersection (you might get hit by a virtual car).
 
The entrance is designed as a desolate landscape, projected onto a huge screen that provides a backdrop and context for the Motel. Radical interface devices, including car parts, will be used to dynamically change the weather in front of the Motel. Visitors will be able to send wind, rain, fog, lightning (even aliens) to the scene as the program automatically syncs the graphics to music. An interactive Motel marquee will draw people into the venue as it syncs in real time to the manipulation of the music.
 
New this year are discussion topics that will take place in an area by The Pool. These mini-panel discussions, which include places to sit, relax, and meet new people will fulfill the promise of SIGGRAPH 99 as a powerful vehicle to generate and foster new ideas.
 
The Millennium Motel Highlights
 
Curlybot
Phil Frei, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Would you like to play with a toy that remembers where it's been? Recent trends of embedding digital technology in toys have led to greater possibilities for manipulation and interaction. Curlybot is a toy that can exhibit complex behavior in response to simple physical manipulation. The two-wheeled toy has been embedded with electronics that can record and playback motion. As one plays with the toy, it remembers its change in position and can replay its movement forward or backward with all the intricacies of the original gesture. Every pause, and even the shaking in the user's hand, is recorded. For the SIGGRAPH 99 installation, projecting trails behind each Curlybot will augment the interactive toy. The trails will give participants a chance to play not only with composing a movement or a dance, but also with creating graphical patterns out of simple gestures.
 
Ensphered Vision
Hiroo Iwata, University of Tsukuba
Ensphered Vision, an immersive environment for one, is an image display system for wide-angle spherical screen. Visual immersion plays an important roll in virtual environments. A head-mounted display (HMD) provides full solid angle views of virtual spaces. However, the field of view of an HMD is limited because of its optical system. In this system, a large screen is used for the virtual environment as an alternative to an HMD. The sphere is an ideal shape for a screen that covers the human visual field. The distance between eyes and screen should be constant as the viewer's head is rotated. A single projector and a convex mirror are used to display a seamless image. The optical system employs two mirrors: a plain mirror and a spherical convex mirror. The spherical convex mirror diverges the light from the projector in the spherical screen. The plain mirror bends the light so that the viewer can see the image from the center of the spherical screen. This optical configuration generates a seamless wide-angle image in a very limited space. The field of view of the screen is 270 degrees horizontally and 100 degrees vertically. The image totally surrounds the viewer. The viewing angle of the image is much larger than a dome screen with a fish-eye lens.
 
Life Spacies
Christa Sommerer, ATR Media Integration and Communications Research Lab
Interact and communicate with artificial life organisms. Life Spacies is an interactive process in which a visitor's SIGGRAPH 99 badge is scanned, and the data are sampled transformed into a living digital creature complete with behaviors, likes, and dislikes. As the various creatures are created, they are dumped into a large digital underwater conservatory that is projected onto two large screens. In this environment, the creatures are free to eat, swim, and hide. They even reproduce when visitors group two creatures together with their hands. On the exterior of The Millennium Motel, visitors can see the various Life Spacies organisms as they are born...in liquid-filled incubators.
 
A Luminous Room: Some Of It, Anyway
John Underkoffler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Enter a world of ubiquitous computing in which the objects of everyday life become part of a computer program. In A Luminous Room, a light source projects a data field onto the surfaces of a room. The placement of all objects in that room, including humans, has an interactive affect on the data that are projected. For example, objects in this intelligent room cast computer-rendered shadows and emit graphic lasers that bounce off of other objects while dynamically measuring the distances and angles between them. One of the many applications for this project is urban design and architecture. Entire cities could be prototyped by designers who can dynamically move structures, checking the distances between the buildings and creating shadow studies.
 
metaField Maze
Bill Keays and Ron MacNeil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In this familiar maze game, a marble rolls on a flat surface, its direction determined by two knobs that control the level on perpendicular axes. Imagine a three-dimensional model of the maze projected onto a human-scale interactive projection floor with an imaginary pivot point at the center. The model tilts, seemingly under the weight of the players, according to where they stand on the game surface. As the projected surface tilts, the marble moves through the maze and appears to obey the laws of gravity.
 
Human-scaled interactive systems succeed when a tight feedback loop is established between the actions of the player and computer-generated images and sounds. The metaField Maze achieves this by providing a fast-paced, continuous activity that demands skillful initiative. A game strategy is developed intuitively over the full surface without any specific orientation. This ambi-directional, kinetic quality hints at the elusive feeling of being inside a computer application and is enhanced by the slight tilting of the computer-generated model. The uncanny effect of challenging the player's sense of balance further contributes to a heightened sense of immersion.
 
musicBottles
Hiroshi Ishii, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The musicBottles project presents a tangible interface for interaction with a musical composition. The core concept uses bottles as graspable containers and controls for digital information. Physical manipulation of the bottles is the primary mode of interaction with this information. The installation consists of a specially designed table with a translucent surface upon which corked bottles of various shapes are placed. Each bottle represents a component part in the musical composition.
 
Custom-designed electromagnetic tags embedded in the bottles enable each one to be wirelessly identified and sensed. The movement and uncorking of the bottles control the different sound tracks and the patterns of colored light that are projected onto the table's surface.
 
Shared Space: Collaborative Augmented Reality
Mark Billinghurst, University of Washington
Imagine if the ornaments on your desktop could interact and pictures of your friends could talk. Shared Space: Collaborative Augmented Reality takes you into a world of augmented reality in which objects placed in certain combinations and proximity will elicit various behaviors, including sound. Small pieces of paper become video images of your friends and colleagues when viewed through a head-mounted display. Talk with these remote users, face them towards other objects so everyone can see each other. The Shared Space Project supports many users in one location wearing the head-mounted displays. All participants are able to see the same virtual scene as well as many remote users who see the scene through their computer displays.
 
Surface Drawing
Steven Schkolne, California Institute of Technology
Create three-dimensional forms by rubbing the palm of your hand over imaginary shapes. Wearing a CyberGlove, the user starts the drawing process by moving the thumb close to the hand. Moving it outward stops the process. The surfaces automatically join together to make a fluid, coherent three-dimensional form. Made a mistake? Not to worry. There is also a hand signal for an eraser. Additional functionality is achieved by holding a stylus in the left hand, pointing it at the model, and rotating the model in space. The stylus color and texture also can change by selecting one of the "shaders" from menus that "hang" in the air. Since the user is wearing stereoscopic glasses and "surface drawing" over an Immersadesk, the 3D model appears as a holographic image, sublimely floating in space as it is being created.
 
(void*): A Cast of Characters
Bruce Blumberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Interactive synthetic characters whose main interface consists of real buns on forks. (void*) is a novel gathering place that unites the physical and the digital, allowing people and a cast of directable and autonomous characters to interact with each other. The interactions focus on movement, groups, and body language. By combining these technologies in a comfortable lounge setting, the installation is a compelling venue in which to explore social behavior and interaction among SIGGRAPH 99 participants and a mixed cast of autonomous animated characters.
 
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