two video clips of future digital home by HP

The first one shows how one can interact with an avatar through a mirror.

The second one shows the digital coffee table with multi-touch interface. Toward the end, you will see a prototype by Nokia that renders 3D image on to the screen via 2D image on a paper.


Scratch — a wonderful open source programming platform for kids

I just came across scratch, a programming environment developed by people at MIT media lab. It is wonderfully designed, fun, pleasant and powerful program environment, specifically designed for kids to learn how to program. I downloaded it and showed it to Daniel (11 years old), in few minutes he started making his own games and animations. It is an open source environment so kids can peek into how other more mature programmers wrote their program and learn from them and try to improve them. It also has tagging and ranking feature, just like YouTube. In fact, the user interface of the web site looks just like YouTube. It also has tremendous educational possibilities for kids to express their ideas in a rich-media environment. The project was funded NSF. This is a wonderful use of the taxpayers’ money.

Wireless Philadelphia Student Project (2)

The second group in my class worked on a product for Philadelphia Tourists. They come up with a set of services that is designed to replace a tour guidebook. The mock-up user interface is shown below.


The key idea here is that this device is designed to replace tour guidebooks. Its size, weight and appearance are all based on the typical tour guidebook. Much of the contents will be integrated into Google Map service with Web 2.0 type content managements, where people can contribute and evaluate the contents. For example, restaurant guide will include feedback and pictures of foods and places from visitors, not from restaurants. The price of the device will about $250 per unit and they will be sold to hotels and travel agents. They can be rented through popular internet search engines and tourism web portals. The key challenge will be how to create an alliance with potential business partners by creating a new ecology of services that can offer a powerful experiences to many different types of tourists who come to visit Philadelphia. Also, the question is how to make it scaleable. Again, an interesting observation here is that people want pedestrian level navigation systems and leveraging physical places as information sources.

Wireless Philadelphia Student Project (1)

Yesterday was the last day of class and my students did excellent jobs of putting together their presentations. The first group was focusing on a small device for Philadelphia Residents. The name of the device is called PUC (Philadelphia Urban Communicator). It could be a Personal Urban Communicator. It is a small round device that has VoIP, pedestrian navigation service, IM and some other functions. This is a UI prototype of the device. It still has a lot of details that need more work and refinement, but an interesting concept. They suggest a partnership with Yahoo. The suggested retail price of $99 and monthly service fee of $20 through Philadelphia Wireless. Given that MIT Media Lab’s OLPC is only $100, the price of PUC should come down substantially. The price for the service plan also need to come down significantly. It can also incorporate QR bar code and interact with buildings with QR to get information (offices, shops and restaurants inside the building, for example).

Students also took video from their field research. These are three clips from them. First, why do you live in Philadelphia?

Second, what can be improved?

Third, can you design a device for Philadelphia wireless?