December 11, 2004

It's about the art, stupid.

Steve Mann says it's not about Wearable Computing, but what you do with it. If you're not aware of his various artistic endeavors, check out this PDF, it really does a good job of summarizing his patterns of deconstruction in social hierarchies, and other technological memes.

'In my ShootingBack performance I explored [the unresponsiblity] phenomenon, by asking clerks at department stores, and the like, why they had placed me under video surveillance. Their typical response externalized the responsibility to some higher and unquestionable authority such as management. When I attempted to follow the chain of responsibility upwards, management indicated the directive was from head office, and head office argued video surveillance was just policy, or for insurance purposes or the like. Thus, there was no clear accountability for the situation. If an individual carried a handheld video camera around, videotaping clerks, casino operators, police officers, customs officials and the like, the individual might be regarded as strange, rude or otherwise acting in an inappropriate manner.'

And here's a picture of "SeatSale", an expiring licence to sit:


[Existential Technology: Wearable
Computing Is Not the Real Issue!
, Steve Mann; Interrogative Art, Performances, Cultural Criticism, etc...]

Posted by nym at 12:55 PM | TrackBack

December 10, 2004

New Geo-Games

Yay, two more cool new GeoGames out there. The first is another take on Pac-Man, technically quite like the ARQuake project.


'Remember back in May when those crazy kids at NYU�s Interactive Telecommunications Program were using cellphones to play giant games of Pac-Man on the streets of Manhattan? Yeah, well they just got one-upped by the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore, which is using head-mounted displays, inertia sensors, GPS receivers, and Bluetooth to play their own real-life version of Pac-Man (except they call it �Human Pacman�). Players can roam around the streets of Singapore gobbling up virtual pellets and power pills. (Weird side note: the project was financed by the Singaporean military, which apparently is looking for new ways to prepare for a ghost invasion.) They hope to have a version that you can play on cellphones ready within two years.' [engadget]

The other is called Glofun RayGun, and is planned to be released early 2005 by GloVentures.


'A mobile loaded with RayGun software emits "spectral" energy that lets you attract and track ghosts. But that energy annoys the ghosts, so you have to "ionize" them before they get to you.

To aim the raygun at a ghost, you must physically move toward it. The faster you walk/run, the higher the raygun�s range.' [near near future]

Oh and it uses the Nextel GPS phones, so you can beta test for free if you have the i710 or i730. By the way, I own the i860, and man is it sweet, if you don't mind the shitty outgoing plans. GPS and cameraphone. I love it.

By the way... kids, don't make prank phone calls to 911, especially with a GPS cellphone.

Posted by nym at 08:58 PM | TrackBack

Seat? Laptop Bag?


Simple. Brilliant. Laptop bag doubles as portable seat.

[BodyBuddy via Engadget < PopGadget]

Posted by nym at 08:40 PM | TrackBack

December 08, 2004

The Shift from Guns to Cameras

Coats_Bags_03gif.gifThere's been this interesting trend of surveillance where guns are being replaced with cameras, and our favorite cyborg surveillance artist has some interesting thoughts on the subject:

'In today's world, the hand gun has a lesser role to play. Wars are fought with information, and we live in a world in which the appearance of thugs and bandits is not ubiquitous. While there is some crime, we spend most of our lives living in relative peace. However, surveillance and mass media have become the new instruments of social control. Department stores are protected with security cameras rather than by owners keeping a shotgun under the counter or hiring armed guards to provide a visible deterrent. While some department stores in rough neighbourhoods may have armed guards, there has been a paradigm shift where we see less guns and more surveillance cameras.' [Defn. of "Wearable Computer", Steve Mann]

As I've said before, check out the Photographer's Bust Card. Many people think there is some kind of legislation that requires that you get their permission to take photos of them, which is pretty silly when you look around at all the surveillance cameras everywhere, but knowing your rights as a photographer is important, and just like the ACLU bust card, it's worth printing up and putting in your wallet.

Posted by nym at 11:25 PM | TrackBack

Consumer Wearable Computing Shoes


'VectraSense Technologies, an MIT spin-off company, has developed a computerized shoe product �Verb for Shoe� that provides computerized shoe adjustments according to your movements...

The cost of the basic shoe is $499.99, and fully loaded with all the options, the cost would be $1000.'

Their site makes it seem like a joke, using excessive flash, but MIT has been known for their 'power-full shoes' and 'business card sharing shoes', so going to market with such a device does sound plausable.

["Verb for Shoe" via Near Near Future]

Posted by nym at 11:23 PM | TrackBack

December 05, 2004

Wearable Computer Defined

What is a wearable computer?

'A wearable computer is a computer that is subsumed into the personal space of the user, controlled by the user, and has both operational and interactional constancy, i.e. is always on and always accessible. Most notably, it is a device that is always with the user, and into which the user can always enter commands and execute a set of such entered commands, and in which the user can do so while walking around or doing other activities. The most salient aspect of computers, in general, (whether wearable or not) is their {\em reconfigurability} and their {\em generality}, e.g. that their function can be made to vary widely, depending on the instructions provided for program execution. With the wearable computer (WearComp), this is no exception, e.g. the wearable computer is more than just a wristwatch or regular eyeglasses: it has the full functionality of a computer system but in addition to being a fully featured computer, it is also inextricably intertwined with the wearer. This is what sets the wearable computer apart from other wearable devices such as wristwatches, regular eyeglasses, wearable radios, etc.. Unlike these other wearable devices that are not programmable (reconfigurable), the wearable computer is as reconfigurable as the familiar desktop or mainframe computer. Wearable computing will now be formally defined in terms of its three basic modes of operation and its six fundamental attributes.' [Steve Mann]

[From Definition of "Wearable Computer". Picture of Mann-Cyborg and Daughter.]

Posted by nym at 02:40 PM | TrackBack

December 03, 2004


�Gargoyles are no fun to talk to. They never finish a sentence. They are adrift in a laser-drawn world, scanning retinas in all directions, doing background checks on everyone within a thousand yards, seeing everything in visual light, infrared, millimeter. wave radar, and ultrasound all at once. You think they're talking to you, but they're actually poring over the credit record of some stranger on the other side of the room, or identifying the make and model of airplanes flying overhead.�

[From Becoming Gargoyle]

Posted by nym at 10:29 AM | TrackBack

December 01, 2004

You Have 10 Seconds to Comply...

For the army that would prefer soldiers without a conscience, Foster-Miller has a solution...

Okay not quite, these are just R/C toys with machine guns and soon rocket launchers, but automation isn't far away.

'The Patriot Missile system fires with no human intervention. It uses an Identification Friend-or-Foe system to track everything in the air, and shoot down anything that shouldn't be there. During the recent Iraq invasion, a glitch in this system caused it to fire upon a British fighter jet, destroying it and killing its pilot. It was about to do the same to a US jet, but that jet was armed with fast-flying radar-seeking missiles designed to take out hostile SAM sites, and was able to take out the radar component of the Patriot system before the missile reached his plane. Notably no one was injured on the ground when he did this, since there was nobody actually sitting in front of the device, or anywhere near it.

I think it'll be a long time before autonomously firing ground systems are in place, because it's hard enough doing IFF in the sky, let alone on the ground. I think the fire-finder system (used in the Balkans to take out mortar positions in the mountains firing upon cities) might do this in some limited capacity, but that's only anti-artillery, rather than telling the difference between a guerilla carrying an RPG and a farmer carrying a section of irrigation pipe. Sure, you could wait until they shoot first for all of these systems, since that's a lot easier to determine automatically, but I think it's quite obvious that waiting for the other guy to shoot first is very far from the policy of the current administration.' [ca1v1n]

...and as to the weaponized specs:

'The weapons these things are carrying are the M249 SAW. They are chambered in the 5.56mm NATO round spec and carry a 200 round box which it feeds from, but it can also use the regular 30 round magazines that the M-16 uses. The gun was developed in the 70s and has been used by the US, UK, and Isreali forces. Although the original ones could accept the M-16 magazines the latest Mk.46 mod.0 version doesn't include this option as to save weight on an already hefty 6.8 kg gun.' [NEOtaku17]

[Army to deploy robots that shoot from /.]

Posted by nym at 07:28 PM | TrackBack