LifeForce, by James Tunick, turns the mobile phone into a digital paintbrush. Waving the phone allows users to "paint" with light and sound: they control the pulsing visuals on the flatscreen and push sounds across the space.

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The work is a commentary on the need in contemporary museums for more participatory art forms. Converting one's mobile phone into a paintbrush and musical instrument, LifeForce envisions a future in which such artistic tools are commonplace and city sidewalks and sides of buildings become our canvases.

The system uses Max/Jitter and other custom software powered by Studio IMC's BlackBox media player. Through a video camera and a variety of computer vision techniques, the installation tracks bright light and movement, leaving painterly trails on the screens. Lifeforce has also been used in advertising for clients such as Absolut where the tip of the paint brush was an bottle that followed the light on the participants' phones.

Currently part of the exhibition Beyond TV: New Media Art with Studio IMC at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York, until August 31, 2006. More information in NY1 TV news report video. Images courtesy of James Tunick.

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Narrowcasting TV, part of the Emotional Communication project by interaction designer Michihito Mizutani, connects the TV set in the living room with your mobile phone. When your mobile receives any message or a photo, the mobile phone forward the message to the TV. A dedicated channel will then show the message or photo. It also stores images and texts for a while and can show a slideshow of them. You may also send a message to your family TV directly, allowing, for example, your grandmother to see what your baby looked like this morning.

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The system allows you to connect to people -particularly the elderly- who are not using computer or mobile phones.

Also by Michihito Mizutani: Tasting music.

1tanaka.jpgHere's my notes of the talk that Atau Tanaka gave about Mobile Music: Creating New Musical Forms For New Infrastrucutres at Futuresonic. I was particularly thrilled to hear him talk as one of his works, Bondage, was my favourite piece at last year's edition of Ars Electronica.

Part of his current research draws on Mobile Music workshops held over three years and revolves around the concept of re-creating the experience of mobile music, making it more creative that its current market manifestations (mainly ringtones.)

Tanaka hopes to blend his expertise as an IA researcher and artist and come up with new applications for wireless infrastructures. Clearly the addition of iPod with mobile phone wasn't such a success. Motorola iTunes wasn't a commercial success, no mobile operator wanted to play, there was a lack of "vision" in the Motorola iTune product. In the 1970s, the walkman was used by many users to create a private sonic universe, it allowed them to live in their own sphere, isolated from their surrounding. Now, in the 2000s, we have the mobile phone. The device is inherently a networking tool, it facilitate communication and connection with others.

So on the one hand we have the personal sphere and on the other the networking device. What stands between the two? How can we use Human Computer Interaction, Mixed Reality technology and social software to conciate the two?

So far new mediums have led to new musics:
- the format of the 45 rmp have helped rock'n'roll bloom (Elvis);
- the 33rpm had a similar effect on the "concept album" (The Beatles);
- MTV (images) boosted music videos;
- CDs (75') allowed for longer albums with more songs (Michael Jackson, Madonna);
- MD: user editing (karaoke);
- MP3: Peer to Peer. Like MD has led to a dematerialization of music.

The iPod hasn't changed music, it has just added a convenience factor.
What characterizes the mobile element is the fact that it's on the move and is dynamically following users; it also allows to make, share, locate and listen to music. Tanaka's goal is to create a new form of music that allows the new mediums to find their "artistic voice." To give mobile music what is called in music terms "idiomatic composition" (music written for a particular instrument: composing muci for piano rather than violin, for example.)

Muci mobility calls for interaction and connectivity. These two characteristics are absent from the iPod experience, although music inherently exhibits them because we play in groups, go to concerts together, share our favourite music with friends. Music is a living form of cultural expression, not a commodity to be sold and copied in a file system.

Tanaka wants to bring "musicking" to mobility. Musicking, a term coined by Christopher Small, is the activity of living out of music, of enjoying it in an active way.

Tanaka then gave an overview of his work to illustrate how he has so far explored the concepts of interaction and connectivity.

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Sensorband

He first showed the BioMuse (1990-), a bioelectrical musical instrument that allows the performer to create music with muscular and neural activity. Tanaka was the first musician to be commissioned to work with the biomusical interface created at Stanford University. He used it during the performances of the Sensorband he formed in 1993 together with Zbigniew Karkowski and Edwin van der Heide. In this sensor instrument ensemble, there's no drummer, no singer, no guitar player. Each member uses his body as an instrument to play music. Tanaka plays the BioMuse. Karkowski plays an invisible cage of infrared beams that, when broken, trigger a sample of sounds. Van der Heide plays a MIDI conductor using joystick-like controls.

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S.S.S

Ten years later, Cecile Babiole, Laurent Dailleau, and Tanaka created a dynamic sound/image environment called Sensors_Sonics_Sights. Using sensors and gestures, the trio create a work of sound and sight, a laptop performance that goes beyond with the intensity of bodies in movement. Cécile Babiole generates images ans uses ultrasound sensors, Tanaka plays BioMuse again and Laurent Dailleau plays the theremin.

Along with performances, Tanaka also worked on installations, one of them is Constellations that connects the physical space of a gallery to the imaginary space of the internet through sound and image. "Visitors in the gallery navigate an onscreen universe of planets, invoking audio to stream into the gallery. The planetary system is the interface to a library of soundfiles existing on servers throughout the internet. Each planet represents a contribution from a different composer. The sounds coming from the network space resonate in the acoustical space of the gallery, connecting these two universes."

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Global String and Constellations

In 2002, he worked with Kasper Toeplitz on the Global String, a musical instrument wherein the network is the resonating body of the instrument, through the use of a real-time sound-synthesis server.

The musical string spanned the world. Its resonance circles the globe, allowing musical communication and collaboration among the people at each connected site. A physical string is connected to a virtual string on the network, it stretches from the floor to the ceiling of the space. On the floor is one end-the earth. Up above is the connection to the network, to one of the other ends somewhere else in the world. Vibration sensors translate the analog pulses to digital data.
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Now Tanaka wants to come up with an artistic take on mobile music experience that would be simple enough to be enjoyed by a child (a child that has never played a piano can still get a lot of fun with it) and complex enough to be appreciated by a professional musician. Unlike video games, you wouldn't be able to set its user level.

The projecy will use IA: using technology of sensors, accelerometer and gyroscope to allow for body imput. The system would use this live gesture and add it to the mobile device. All this would of course be enjoyed in a social context. Each member of a community of users would have such device and freely move (they can even be far away from each other). Three elements that form the chore of locative media will be integrated in the musical work: mobility, location awareness and social networking.

The final piece has already a name: Net_Derive and will be launched in Paris this Autumn (on October 6 and 7 at Maison Rouge, Paris). Net_Derive will be a piece of "Musicking mobility" that will extend IA music beyond stage and concert hall.

Last image from this PDF document.

MIT SENSEable City Lab (famous for Mobile Landscape Graz) is working on the Real Time Rome project for the 2006 Venice Biennale of architecture.

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The project combines different datasets in a single interface to reveal the rhythm of the city in real time. RTR aggregates mobility of people according to their mobile phone usage and visualizes it synchronously with the flux of public transit, pedestrians, and traffic to better understand patterns of daily life in Rome and show how technology can help individuals make more informed decisions about their environment.

The data of the movements of a mobile phone location will be anonymously visualized on a map. The algorithms used are able to spot the difference between a slow mobile phone in the pocket of a pedestrian or the phone of a driver stuck in one of Rome's monstruous traffic jams.

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Using this instrument, one would be able to choose the fastest street to get to lunch but also the quietest restaurant. An analysis of country codes gives detailed information about the flow of tourists: where are Germans going? how do Japanese move in the city? Combining traffic and public transport data will help understand if the number of buses available matches the density and requirements of usage. Users would be able to check on their phone screen the nearest taxi or parking space.

Rome was chosen as test bed for the project because "in 1748, Nolli's map of Rome introduced modern cartography," explains Carlo Ratti, Director of senseable. "The maps of the future will be huge database that will enable us to extract fragments that suit our needs, like we can do today on Internet".

Maps of Rome.

Via PPF and la repubblica. Second image from Roma, the 1972 movie by Fellini.

For their Metal Phone project Jack Schultze and Matt Webb (blogo-famous for their Availabot work) have been using a low-melting point alloy to cast and recast a mobile phone shell using only hot air or water.

Metal Phone comes with a machine that melts and reforms a phone around the internals of a standard Nokia handset (the 5140i). The idea is to discuss the local factory angle of personalisation: Could purchasing a mobile phone be more like a performance of manufacture? Could it be more like a vending experience?

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Recasting machine and Metal Phone melting

Using the Metal Phone is not meant to be a piece of cake. The phone is really heavy because it’s mostly lead so you’ll need strong pockets to carry it around. The metal reduces the effectiveness of the aerial so you’ll need to be closer to the transmitter. If you leave your mobile on the dashboard of your car on a hot day, you’ll come back to find the components in a pool of liquid metal. It’s not advisable to hold the phone in your hands for too long because cadmium is present in a low concentration.

The Nokia 5140i is an illusory object. Disconnected from the network when you’re underground, it becomes a lump of plastics and metals. Although safe in your hands, you wouldn’t want to eat the components. It, too, would lose its shape in an oven—in time, it would break apart anyway.

Metal Phone seeks to undermine the current experience of choosing a plastic replica fastened by a security tag to the wall of a handset outlet. The machine represents a vending model for fabrication of the phone in-store, extending the production line to the buyer’s palm. Metal Phone proposes and experience when consumers witness and participate in the fabrication of their products through novel techniques at the point-of-sale and subsequently.

Metal Phone is an extension of work for Chris Heathcote of Nokia, Insight Foresight Group (now NEXT) to develop prototypes exploring personalisation in mobile phones.

Graduation show of the IDII in Milan, project number 8.

Ana Camila Amorim's uni.me project is a mobile communication service that supports the user in the management of their social network and the definition of who, how and how much others can access to them and their information.

The main touch point of the service is the so-called "Presence Phone". Each element on the screen corresponds to a contact and its size represents the amount of communication shared between him/her and the device’s owner. Contacts are organized around tags.

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Other people availability to you is visible by the color change of the bubbles. In case a contact is not on the visible area of the screen, you can search for it based on name or related tag. Several tags can be combined in order to reduce the number of results. Once you've found the contact, you can open the contextual menu where one of the options is ‘see details’.

The notification of missed communication appears in a pop-up window listing the missed events by chronological order. Events are identified in relation to the current time (e.g. 5 minutes. ago).

Incoming calls will be notified in full screen with clear information: name, photo, company logo, most recent tags (personal, automatic, local and communication) and last communication event.

Text messages can be responded through the dedicated inbox on the contact detail, by adding a field on top of the previews message. Other people can be added to this message and copies of it also appear on their inboxes.

uni.me comprises of:

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1. Personal card

Each user is issued with a single ‘identifier’ that responds to all of his/her digital communication needs (voice, text). When initiating communication the caller/ sender uses a single ID and a distribution engine diverts it to the most convenient device according to the callee’s preferences.

Contact initiation can be done either by online invitation or card swapping. By accepting a uni.me card and approaching it to the phone, the receiver allows the link to be created. Each uni.me card has a RFID tag, that when in proximity to a NFC enabled device, validates the user in the card owner’s contact list.

2. Hot spots

uni.me also allows you to communicate their level of availability to different people according to your context and willingness to be reached. This definition can be done manually or automatically by defining different profiles that are activated during specific periods of the day, or by location awareness or other day to day events. RFID tags placed in different locations (working place, home, cinema, church, etc.) allow the phone to be aware of its environment and adjust accordingly.

Video scenarios.

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