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MWC 2012 – Software March 13, 2012

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, mobile, new technologies.
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Second part of my MWC-Report:

(own image)

The App-Planet was not at all what its name promised – in fact, there were hardly any apps being shown at this year’s MWC. Talking to my colleague Johannes Landstorfer we assume that this is related to the fact that today more and more app vendor do not have to sell through the large telcos, but through the app stores directly to the customer.

As Apple did not participate, the MWC felt like a big Android party – (sorry guys at Nokia…)

(own video)

Actually, the only booth, which showed Apps, was Android.However, for somebody in the field, it was not really exciting. The presentation also lacked any form of excitement: no new releases etc:

(own image; I am not sure, why Google presented this material exploration wall, as nothing is less haptic than the smartphone world…)

A large part of the software offerings were related to easy-creation and easy-portation of apps:

iTude is one of these companies. They have a good description of why they do what they do: Mobile apps are coming of age. Simple brand presence apps no longer captivate consumers. Consumers expect mobile apps to have the same functions as online services. At the same time, companies are struggling to catch up with developments in mobile apps. Lulled by a decade of stable internet technology, they now find it hard to adapt to the fast changing mobile world. iTUDE has developed mobile apps and mobile websites since 2006 and has a proven track record of professional, successful apps and websites. (source)

AppSpotr was one of these service providers: their claim at MWC was: “Build your native app in 5 minutes”.
Their apps run on iPhone and Android and can be update “anytime, anywhere for everyday changes.”

(own image)

Additionally to the easy-development of simple apps, specialized easy-to-use app kits were presented:

AR was very prominent amongst these specialized kits. The best I saw was Metaio, a software, which could recognize and augment (in real time) 3.d-situations. The demo was a model city, where augmented fires started a various buildings. This technology could be very interesting for a lot of use cases, unfortunately most AR-applications presented at MWC were around augmenting ads, packages or magazines…

(image source)

Ads seems to be the driving force in a lot of offerings at the MWC:

Smaato is offering the integration of ad in your apps.

Mobile Marketing was also a huge topic, even though I never really understood, what it is. I guess these companies make it very easy to send out your message via all available mobile chanels, be it SMS, Bluetooth, App or Websites. CyTech is such a company.

IFA: Mixed Impressions September 14, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, gadgets, innovative interfaces, media art, poetic.
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This is my friend Julia Leihener, who is proudly presenting here work “E-Etiquette” at IFA 2011.

(own images)

Drum Machines June 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, innovative interfaces, media art, music, physical interaction design.
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Last weekend I went to the since 2001 abandoned Berlin amusement park Lunapark. One of the most avangartisitic theaters in Belrin, HAU, opened the park for a weekend to work with the visitors on the question, what kind of amusement parc suits to Berlin.

Since living in Japan I love ruined amusment parcs – and the Berlin version is no exception. The atmosphere is so wonderfully morbid.

Anyways, there were lots of art installations and performances. The one I like most was a sound installation by an artist group called “Tobia Euler und Freunde” (unfortunately I could not find anything about this group online except a website under construction). They build a whole range of digitally triggered, but mechanically performed musical instruments as drums,mouth organs (powered by old fans) or boom boxes. The noise, which these machines made was quite cool and actually danceable!

(images by author)

This project reminded me at a very nice project within the course “Musical Interfaces“, which I supervised with my colleague Boris Müller in 2007 and which was shown at the Ars Electronica: my student Marcus Paeschke developed “MC Hammer 2.0”, a drum computer with mechanical outputs. He called it “everything is a drum”:

(image source)

Plakatzeichner June 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, making the invisible visible, media art, new technologies, Uncategorized.
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I went to DMY 2011 last night and saw a couple of nice installations, one which I like for its poetic approach to robotic art. It was done by Simon Deeg and Andreas Picker (from milz) and supervised by my friend Claudius Lazzeroni. Simon and Andreas created a robitc arm, which drives a pen – “by an interaction between the user and the machine: You tape – he draws”. So, the user sticks tapes in three different colors on a piece of paper and then the arm draws based on some secret algorithm lines between the tapes. I liked the simplistic, yet very poetic approach of this work.

(I didn’t take pictures, because I was sure I would find pictures online – but I was wrong. So this is a picture of the printout, which was handed out at the event)

I am sure that this work was inspired by the wonderful analog drawing machines by Claudius, which he calls solographs. Claudius defines solographs as “physical situations which leave their marks”- in face they are machines, which move a pen more or less randomly.

(image source)

They are not only beautiful to watch (as here), but also creat quite aesthetic results, which are a nice antipole or addendum to Claudius’ other passion, Generative Gestaltung.



Report on Microsoft Research Summit 2011 in Paris May 10, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, gadgets, innovative interfaces, new technologies, physical interaction design.
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Besides the post I already wrote about the Microsoft Research Summit (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)I report in my talk about the following inspiring projects:

I met with Sharam Izadi, who was – with our friend Nic Villar the organizer of TEI 2009 in Cambridge. At the Summit he presented a couple of his works, which I think are very inspiring:

He worked on the Second Light Project, which was first shown to the scientific community in 2008, but which they are now preparing for launch for research institutions. The team presented a new idea for SecondLight: using IR-light to track the second layer and therefore being able to display images onto tilted surfaces without distortion.

Sharam was very proud about his first product out on the market: He is the inventor of the Microsoft Touch Mouse, which can interpret multitouch gestures:

(image source)

I think the mouse looks really cool and has a couple of interesting features, e.g. the ability to read three-fingers-gerstures. Sharam is particularly proud on the fact that the capacitive sensor is just printed on the shell – and is not a PCB. With this sensor technology one can make basically any shape a multi-touch-environment.

In his talk Ashram also mentioned another mouse project he did, the SideSight, which allows a multi-touch-input at the side of the phone, using infrared-sensors.

(image source)

Besides Sharam’s work I was inspired by the following presentations:

Microsoft’s new academic search engine, which – similar to a dick lendth comparison – allows ranking of researchers.

The Worldwide Telescope controlled with the Kinect:

Last, but not least the XML VM: This open-source-initiative developed a system, which translate Android apps to other platforms, as iPhone or (at least in near future) to Windows Mobile. They use Android as a well-documented SDK and from a debugging perspective a powerful tool. The cross-compiling seems to work fine, even for quite complex games.

Another nice talk was from Jamie Shotton, who showed his impressive work on Body Part Recognition and Human Pose Estimation. I really like the way they taught the computer all these poses through machine learning. The created millions of poses as the image below and the computer had to learn them… (Jamie showed a slide with all these poses, which was really impressive and beautiful – too bad, that I couldn’t find it online)

(image source)

Playing with Light April 19, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, light, making the invisible visible, physical interaction design.
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The former RCA-students Ortkrass, Wood and Koch – working together under the lable Random International – have been playing around with light for quite a while (the pixelroller in all its forms is well known to all of us): their latest devlopment – just presented at the Salone di Mobile in Milan – is a more poetic peace of art, again related to light and "leaving traces": the Pendant Lights

More on Random Internation at the Salone on one of my favorite blogs: WMMNA 

do it yourself media April 4, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, media art, physical interaction design, social computing.
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Some observations from theTAKEAWAY festival in London. Topic of this year’s festival was “DO IT YOURSELF MEDIA”, which I think is quite interesting, but which still needs more development. Or – as Armin Medosh – the opening speaker said: We need to work on the manual for DIY media. (This was based on the observation that open source only works on the following principle: “Read the fucking manual – and only then steal somebody’s time).

Karel Dudesek showed – as announced in the program – “The design of conflicts in the era of political correctness.” Karel quoted only examples from the real world, which I very much enjoyed. As the first example came from architecture – even though Karel “hates architecture”: The group SITE from NY designed a couple of projects, which are very surprising:


In this building for example, the broken corner is actually the door and slides out, when open…

Karel’s talk ended with the claim: Go There – Be There – PERSONALLY! To show, what he means by that, Karel showed some projects from his past, e.g. the “Kultur Polizei”, where they went to the documenta and arrested the director in public (actually he was quite proud to be arrested!) What a wild past…

Michael Breidenbruecker, who planned to talk on “Mainstream of Minorities”, changed his plans and talked instead about his experience building up (and selling his shares of) the company LAST FM. LAST FM is a community website based around music. Businesswise LAST FM is build on the philosophy of the “long tail” by Chris Anderson (WIRED): The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. And of course there is good money being made at the end of the tail…

So, with LAST FM Michael managed to build up such a service, which helps people finding music in this long end.

The experience Michael made were quite interesting, but even more interesting was his basic philosophy, which he was once teaching (he was Karel’s predessesor) and which he then put into reality: We are designing media, not for media!


One of LAST FM information designer, Dirk Waldik, was teaching a workshop on information mapping. He developed visualizations of the community of LAST FM and invented the term “neighborhoods” for people with similar taste. Quite interesting: he has the same academic background (Kartography) as my colleague at the FHP, Prof. Frank Heidmann. There seems to be a lot, which can be learned from maps for information visualization…Dirk shows an impressive selection of work on his website.


Talking about Information Visualization: Dr. Gernot Tscherteu is developing a tool, which shows how information is flowing through the web. He uses the blog-world to visualize the ways of information. What I found interesting in his talk, was that not only the web is mostly self-referrencial, but also our brain: for every brain-cell receiving information, there are more than 100.000 cells, which work with this information.

Talk in London March 31, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, physical interaction design.
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As I mentioned in a previous post, I am giving a talk on "Physical Interaction Design" in London at the TAKEAWAY festival for DO IT YOURSELF MEDIA. Here are the slides of my talk.

The illustrations of my talk have been created by Marek Plichta, who did a wonderful job. The image above is showing the Unvergessliche Handtasche by a former student of my university, Stefanie Koch.

LONDON IS CALLING March 16, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, media art.
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This month, NODE.LONDON is organizing a season of media arts with lots and lots of events and exhibitions. The Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, where I am teaching once in while, is organizing a small festival within this event called “TAKE A WAY FESSTIVAL – DO IT YOURSELF MEDIA“. The festival is organized with the DANA CENTRE at the museum of science and will take place between March 29 and 31.

I will also give a talk on this festival on Physical Interaction Design and how creative people can prototype their ideas and concepts. My talk will be on the last day, time not decided yet.

Bericht über meine Ausstellung in Tokyo auf PingMag January 12, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in exhibitions, privat.
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Meine Partnerin Michaela Vieser und ich waren eingeladen, in Tokyo unser Projekt “Übersehene Sehenswürdigkeiten” auszustellen. In meinem Lieblingsblog zum Thema Design und Japan, PingMag, ist jetzt ein Bericht darüber erschienen.