Virtual Insanity

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By Channel NewsAsia – 31 Mar 2017

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnaconnect/virtual-insanity/3642738.html

VR (virtual reality) is one of the hottest buzzwords on the media scene today.

Together with AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality), the number of products and platforms boasting such technology has been on the rise.

We explore how the technology is being used across Asia for work and play.

MALAYSIA – Can you smell the roses, virtually

This episode takes a look at the Kissenger device, produced by Malaysian engineer and inventor Dr Adrian Cheok who believes that the future of mixed reality – the integration of the virtual and physical world – means adding smell, taste and touch. The Kissenger device attaches to one’s smartphone and allows the user to send virtual kisses. We check out what other zany VR tricks the mad scientist has up his sleeve…

Robots may change the sex industry but could they replace intimacy?

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By  – 5th April 2017 – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/05/robots-may-change-the-sex-industry-but-could-they-replace-intimacy?CMP=share_btn_tw

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The fourth industrial revolution promises to unleash all sorts of dark visions upon society: mass unemployment and social unrest from automation, the Internet of Things spying on everything we do, babies gently rocked to sleep by machines.

There will also be sex robots.

As we whittle away our obsolete lives as technology zooms past human capabilities, those unproductive hours should at least be enjoyable, thanks to lifelike androids fitted out for machine-precise sexual proficiency, teledildonics allowing long-distance partners to pleasure each other from across the world, and virtual reality interactions that will make low self-confidence, physical impairment or even the laws of physics no obstacle to realising one’s fantasies.

Then again, sex workers could be put out of a job, people might give up on human relationships entirely, companies are already gathering data from internet-connected dildos, and an app has just been released that encourages people to perform cunnilingus on their phones.

If anywhere is positioned on the frontline of the march of the sexbots it is Barcelona, home to a love-doll brothel that opened its doors in February only to be shut down by local authorities, in the same city where the engineer Sergi Santos released an android that can be seduced via a gamified system which has drawn criticism for sending men the wrong messages about consent.

Oliver Bendel, ‎the professor of information systems and ethics at the ‎University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, expects “perfect” sex robots capable of reading “every wish from our eyes” in as soon as 20 years’ time.

He says they could come in all shapes and sizes, not just in human form but also “abstract” constructions built purely with function in mind.

Kathleen Richardson, fellow in the ethics of robotics at De Montfort University and founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, is decidedly against the technology, warning that masturbation could become the dominant form of sexual experience by 2050 thanks to consumer capitalism supported by “techno-utopians who commercialise our relationships”.

The prospect of a boom in self-servicing doesn’t overly worry Norway’s Charles Melvin Ess, the special scientific adviser at Digmex (Digital Media and Existential Issues). “As Woody Allen pointed out long ago, it’s sex with somebody I love,” he says.

Ess does not believe sex robots will genuinely threaten the primacy of human-to-human relationships, owing to our desire to be loved: “I have a hard time imagining how anyone who owns or uses such a device will be able to forget, except perhaps very temporarily (and with the help of a lot of alcohol), that it is ‘just a machine’ and that all the appearance of desire and care is a fake,” he says.

He does concede that ubiquitous use of such devices could lead to an “ethical and emotional de-skilling” from lack of exposure to what Ess describes as the patience, perseverance, empathy and forgiveness required of a real relationship.

“By contrast, sex with a robot that I design and control down to the last detail should be trivially easy – thereby making no demands on me whatsoever,” he says.

Where convincingly humanesque sex robots are decades off, according to most experts, immersive experiences integrated with internet-connected devices are coming along much faster.

One early-phase example is the Kissinger, a mobile phone attachment that transmits accurate replications of people’s kisses online via a lip-shaped device. The creators claim it can be used for internet dating to ascertain someone’s kissing proficiency, help connect long-distance partners, or even allow a remote parent to peck their child on the cheek.

A PhD student who helped develop the device, Emma Yann Zhang, says: “It aims to fill in the missing dimension of touch in traditional digital communication, which largely focuses on verbal and audio information.”

If the intentions of the Kissinger team appear wholesome enough, the full potential of the attachment has not gone unnoticed.

Cristina Portalés of the Institute of Robotics and Information and Communication Technologies at the University of Valencia has been working on a immersive cinema that incorporates robotised platforms, aromatisers, smoke generators, water dispensers, 3D projectors and immersive sound systems.

Originally developed as a driving simulator for motorists, the platform was promoted as a potential sex simulator at the Love and Sex with Robots congress in London last year. Portalés says the Kissinger could be integrated into the system to allow users to kiss AI simulations of their favourite movie stars, for instance.

The futurologist Trudy Barber says for the most part it won’t so much be a case of technology improving sex as it will be sex improving technology. “It is a geek’s heaven to try out these things,” she says.

“I’ve always said deviation leads to innovation – our sex drive helps develop new forms of tech.”

Will it impact on real-time sexual identity, will you be cheating on your partner?

Barber argues that virtual reality connected with “innie and outie devices” will soon improve to the point that they allow people to live out whatever they wish under the cover of virtual avatars, in a more immersive version of current-day simulators such as Second Life.

“I think for people who have specific problems with identity and self-esteem, it will enable them to play around with ideas of identity,” she says.

Barber warns there are plenty of problems, such as virtual reality experiences involving sexual harassment.

“Then there [is the issue of whether] it is going to be specifically gender-orientated, will it impact on real-time sexual identity, will you be cheating on your partner – the same old questions we’ve been asking about sex since the internet came along,” she says.

Virtual reality pornography is already widespread and sex workers are embracing IoT-connected sex toys to allow clients to interact with them from afar over webcams.

Sharon Jennings, manager of the Sex Industry Network in South Australia, a state where sex work is criminalised, says the technology as it improves will enable people in her industry to navigate “draconian” laws.

“It is quite exciting, the potential – it would also allow sex workers to access clients in remote areas where anonymity is limited,” she says.

“People can increasingly operate as sex workers in their own bedroom and the other people in the house might not have a clue.”

Jennings sees the potential for IoT toys but laughs off the idea that sex robots could prompt a jobs wipeout in her industry. “Seeing sex workers is about more than penetrative sex – clients want to be held and touched,” she says.

“If sex toys could replace human intimacy, I’d have traded my husband in years ago for a Sybian. It would be expensive, sure – but not as expensive as a husband.”

El móvil ya permite hasta besar en tiempo real

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By VEGA S. SÁNCHEZ – Miércoles, 21 de diciembre del 2016 – eXtra el Periodico

 

http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/extra/beso-tiempo-real-con-movil-5704745

 

El móvil ya permite hasta besar en tiempo real
Una chica utiliza la funda para besar a distancia en tiempo real.

 

Un ‘besador a distancia’. Así podría definirse el nuevo ‘gadget’ presentado en el ‘Segundo Congreso Internacional de Amor y Sexo con Robots‘, celebrado los pasados días 19 y 20 en Londres. El artilugio consiste en una especie de funda en la que se inserta el móvil y a la que se besa, en tiempo real, para que la persona amada reciba el ósculo. En la parte delantera de la funda, los creadores han incorporado una almohadilla de plástico por la zona inferior de la pantalla que, a la hora de dar el beso, simula que se está besando la boca de la otra pesona.

Según los creadores, es el complemento perfecto para las parejas que mantienen relaciones a distancia y son asiduos a las videoconferencias. “Besar es la forma de expresión más directa y universal de intimidad y afecto”, ha asegurado en el congreso internacional EmmaYann Zhang, que ha trabajado en el prototipo.

Los desarrolladores de este ‘gadget admiten que todavía hay un largo camino por recorrer, puesto que la almohadilla no está diseñada en forma de boca -aunque los sensores están alineados como si lo fueran- y no ha simulación de la lengua, órgano muys presente en los besos ardientes y apasionados de los amantes. El punto bueno es que acostumbra a los usuarios a ‘besar’ un artilugio.

Pese a que la idea en sí no es nueva, y ha habido prototipos similares presentados con anterioridad, la ventaja de este nuevo aparato es su simplicidad, tanto de uso como de aplicación. Los antecesores de este aparato posibilitan el ‘telebeso’ a través del ordenador o de un objeto externo que se sincroniza con él.

Mixed Reality und Stars der Digital-Szene geben Input

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By Invidis – 14th March 2017.

https://invidis.de/2017/03/cebit-2017-mixed-reality-und-stars-der-digital-szene-geben-input/

– Neue Technologien wie Augmented Reality und Virtual Reality sowie umfangreiche Vorträge und Diskussionen mit raren und begehrten Gästen und das Thema IT Sicherheit: Wen das interessiert, der ist auf der in der kommenden Woche stattfindenden CeBIT gut aufgehoben. VON THOMAS KLETSCHKE

Hacking ist nicht schwer - umso bedrohlicher für Unternehmen (Foto: invidis)

HACKING IST NICHT SCHWER – UMSO BEDROHLICHER FÜR UNTERNEHMEN (FOTO: INVIDIS)

Teil 2 unserer Anregungen zur Vorbereitung auf den Besuch der CeBIT (hier geht es zu Teil 1). Mit Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality und Mixed Reality haben sich neue Medienformen entwickelt, die in Consumer- und Business-Anwendungen sehr unterschiedlicher Branchen gefragt sind. Bei der CeBIT 2017 werden sie in vielerlei Hinsicht ein Thema sein.

Einen sehr guten Überblick über diese Vielfalt dürfte die bereits 10. Serious Games Conference (Halle 6, Stand A54 Future Talk) auf der Messe geben. Hier werden internationale Experten zum Thema vortragen. Fest steht, dass Roger Walkden, Senior Director & Commercial Lead for Microsoft HoloLens, über die Entwicklung der Mixed Reality-Brille und die dahinterstehende Vision eine gute Quelle ist. Auch unabhängig vom Eco System Windows 10 gibt es Spannendes zu entdecken. Grundsätzlich wird es bei Prof. Björn Bartholdy vom Cologne Game Lab der Technischen Hochschule Köln. Er beleuchtet, welche Rolle die Wissenschaft beim Vorantreiben und Anwenden der neuen Technologien spielen.

Einen Schwerpunkt des Programms legt die Serious Games Conference auf Anwendungsfälle in der Medizin- und Gesundheitsbranche. So diskutieren Dr. Keith Grimes , Gründer von VR Doctors, und Dr. Jonas Schild von der Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, inwieweit Mixed Reality bereits ausgereift genug für den praktischen Einsatz in der Medizin ist, welche Leistungen inzwischen von Krankenkassen gedeckt werden und wie die Entwicklung der deutschen Branche im internationalen Vergleich zu bewerten ist. Manuel Staber, Geschäftsführer von be!columbus innovations, wird anschließend die psychologischen Wirkungsweisen von AR beleuchten. Zum Abschluss des Programms wird Manouchehr Shamsrizi, Gründer und Geschäftsführer von RetroBrain Fragen zum therapeutischen Einsatz von Augmented und Mixed Reality beantworten. Weitere Gäste und Programmpunkte sind geplant, aber noch nicht veröffentlicht.

Rechtzeitig Sitz- oder Stehplätze sichern – das ist bei einigen weiteren Veranstaltungen sicherlich angezeigt. Sicherlich auch bei den kostenpflichtigen CeBIT Global Conferences 2017 (Halle 8), zu der allein mehr als 200 Speaker aus aller Welt angekündigt sind. Wer selbst keine Karte ergattern konnte (bis Ende 2016 gab es sie für 460 Euro, eventuelle Rest-Karten kosten nun stolze 1.000 Euro), muss nicht frustriert und un-informiert sein. Denn man kann sich das überwiegende Gros der Veranstaltung (Agenda unter vorherigem Link) auch über die CeBIT Website im Live Stream anschauen, wie es auf Nachfrage bei der Deutschen Messe AG hieß.

Das Themenspektrum hier ist teilweise ziemlich ab-gespaced: Virtuelle Realitäten, humanoide Roboter, Künstliche Intelligenz, Iot und das Leben auf dem Mars. Zu den Speakern gehören Atari-Gründer Nolan Bushnell (war sogar mal Boss von Steve Jobs und Steve Wozniak). Bushnell entwickelt mit seiner aktuellen Firma Brainrush Lern-Software mit Elementen aus VR und Videospielen.

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, Direktor des Intelligent Robotics Laboratory an der Universität in Osaka, gilt als internationaler Popstar der japanischen Roboterforschung. Auf der CeBIT kommt er doppelt: einmal als er selbst sowie mit seinem maschinellen Doppelgänger, den er via Web steuert, ihm so seine Bewegungen vorgibt und ihn über eine Sprach-Software mit seiner Stimme reden lässt.

Einer der Experten für KI ist Toby Walsh von der Universität New South Wales in Sydney. Walsh war Initiator eines offenen Briefes, der ein Verbot von autonomen Waffen beziehungsweise „Killerrobotern“ fordert. Er setzt sich für Regulierungsmaßnahmen ein, die sicherstellen, dass Künstliche Intelligenz unser Leben verbessert, statt uns zu schaden.

Kann man Geschmacksnerven so stimulieren, dass Gemüse nach Schokolade schmeckt? – Adrian David Cheok, Professor für Pervasive Computing an der City University London und Direktor der Mixed Reality Labs in Singapur, hat herausgefunden, dass jeder Geschmackssinn durch eine bestimmte elektrische Frequenz stimuliert werden kann. Derzeit forscht Cheok daran, wie man virtuellem Essen Geschmack und Textur verleihen kann.

Noch höher hinaus möchte der Niederländer Bas Lansdorp mit seiner Stiftung Mars One. Ehrgeiziges Ziel: Ab dem Jahr 2027 sollen Menschen auf dem Mars angesiedelt werden. Sie sollen dort in einer speziellen Siedlung leben. Und zwar ohne Rückkehrmöglichkeit zur Erde – manchmal geht man eben doch für immer.

Für ebenfalls sehr wahrscheinlich immer hat Edward Snowden die USA verlassen. Auf der gleichen Konferenz ist er per Video zugeschaltet. Unter dem Hashtag #AskSnowdenCeBIT können Interessierte via Twitter und auf der Facebook Page der CeBIT ihre Fragen an den Whistleblower einreichen. Möglichst viele davon wird Moderator Brent Goff auf der Bühne der internationalen Digital-Konferenz an den Ex-Geheimdienstmitarbeiter weitergeben.

Womit wir auf dem Boden der Tatsachen gelandet und beim Thema IT Sicherheit beziehungsweise Cyber Security wären. Das ist auf der CeBIT garantiert umsonst zu haben (natürlich nicht bei Kauf entsprechender Lösungen). Zahlreiche große, aber auch kleine und spezialiserte Aussteller informieren über die verschiedenen Aspekte und Herausforderungen, die heute jedes vernetzte System betreffen. Eine Auswahl jenseits der auf der Messe ebenfalls mit aktuellen Lösungen vertretenen bekannten Anbieter wie Trend Micro, Acronis oder Kaspersky Lab.

Thema Cloud: Firmen lagern Daten und Anwendungen dorthin aus, müssen aber mit Ausspähversuchen, Industriespionage oder Erpressungen rechnen. Das deutsche IT Sicherheitsunternehmen genua – auf der CeBIT 2017 Standpartner der Bundesdruckerei (Halle 7, Stand E17) – präsentiert in Hannover das neue Cloud Security Gateway genugate. Es analysiert den gesamten Datenverkehr auf Anwendungsebene. Einzelne übertragene Daten-Pakete werden wieder zu ganzen Datensätzen zusammengefügt und auf Schad-Code hin überprüft – auch mit SSL verschlüsselte Daten werden dazu decodiert und analysiert. Auf diese Weise kann Malware erkannt und blockiert werden. Auch Bot-Systeme sind so anhand ihres Verhaltens identifizier- und ausschaltbar.

Auch die Intel Deutschland GmbH wird sicheres Cloud Computing zum Thema machen (Halle 2, Stand B30). Angekündigt sind hier bislang aber keine bestimmten Produkte oder Features.

Künstliche Intelligenz und Datenschutz: Künftig werden Unternehmen immer mehr auf KI setzen. Eine Alternative zu Black Box Lösungen wie Amazons Alexa, Apples Siri oder Microsofts Cortana hat die SemVox GmbH (Halle 11, Stand C20) entwickelt: SemVox ODP S3. Mit der Ontologie basierten Dialogplattform, wollen die Saarbrückener dafür sorgen, dass Big Brother garantiert zu Hause bleibt – und zwar seinem eigenen. Lösungen, die auf ODP S3 basieren, sollen in allen Parametern der vollen Kontrolle durch den SemVox-Kunden unterliegen und cloudbasiert, embedded (also nur lokal auf dem Device selbst) und auch hybrid (also je nach Situation cloudbasiert oder embedded) realisierbar sein, ohne die Qualität der natürlichen Interaktion und proaktiven Assistenz zu verringern.

Mit All in One Sicherheits-Lösungen wird auch die T-Systems International GmbH Flagge zeigen (Halle 4, Stand C38). Als (unter anderem) Managed Security Service Provider stellt das Unternehmen auf der CeBIT Lösungen für Network Security, Cyber Defense, Endpoint Security oder Identity Access Management vor. Hohe Security Standards, sehr sichere Rechenzentren und Konformität mit deutschem Datenschutz schreibt man sich auf die Fahne. Auch für mittelständische Kunden sollen dabei flexible Angebote zu fairen Preisen ergattern können.

Sicherlich bringen die Frankfurter, die zur Telekom gehören, auch den ein oder anderen ihrer hauseigenen Experten mit, die einem per Live Hack zeigen, wie schnell man bei einem Onlineshop eines großen Fußballclubs der Bundesliga die Preise manipulieren und auf 0 setzen kann, Daten der Smartphones in der Nähe abgreift, oder mit ein paar Klicks und ebenfalls vollkommen ohne Programmierkenntnisse im Dark Web einen Erpressungstrojaner zusammenstellt, wahlweise auch in anderen Sprachen. Auf der EuroShop konnte man dies in der vergangenen Woche erleben (vgl. Aufmacherfoto) – und zwar jeweils bis zu der Grenze, ab der es wirklich strafrechtlich relevant würde.

 

Nikola Tesla Chatbot is Launched!!

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Nikola Tesla Chatbot is Launched!!

Have FUN with Nikola Tesla bot!!! An artificial intelligence chatbot that uses formal English to chat with you. Everyone can try it for free 24 hours a day 7 days a week! You can also subscribe to the chatbot to get the latest scientific news every morning at 9am (GMT+8). Click the link https://www.facebook.com/nikolateslabot/ on Facebook and press ‘Like’. Then, message and chat with it on https://www.facebook.com/messages/t/414236662260204 now!!! This Chatbot was developed at the Imagineering Institute, Johor, Malaysia (www.imagineeringinstitute.org).

Design For Behavioural Change

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By Predrag K Nikolic, Adrian David Cheok

Design in its different appearances such as for objects, services, environments etc. has potential to influence human behaviour and could create desirable as well as undesirable change. Design has long history in its intentions to act upon positive changes in human perception and lifestyle. Hence, Designing for Behavioural Change can be perceived through early understanding of behavior where person’s behaviour is reflection of his or her own personality, or other ‘internal’ factors and the physical and social environment.

Design for Behaviour Change as an approach is already accepted in several key areas such as ecology, safety, health, and well-being as well as widely adopted in social design. This project explores potentials of interactive media technology, public spaces and interaction media art and design as potential drivers for behaviour changes and social innovations. For this purpose, we developed interactive installations InnerBody and Before and Beyond that aims to provoke behaviour change and design aesthetic and emotional users’ experience, by allowing them to “escape the limitations of existing structures of meaning and expectation within a given practice”. Throughout this projects, we are proposing usage of Interactive Media Art & Design as part of design method capable of transforming public space into the environment for user behavioural change and lead to sustainable design choice for future development of living environments.

Design for Behaviour Change

 

Meeting Points

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By Predrag K. Nikolic, Adrian David Cheok, Sasa Arsovski, Ruhiyati Idayu, Murtadha Bazli

 

 

Project Meeting Points is conceptualize as set of philosophical discussions between two robots . In its first appearance, conceptual pillars for the discussions are philosophical stand points of Aristotle and Nietzsche considering various topics. We used several criteria to select them for our first Meeting Points; importance of the historical periods they were belonging as leading thinkers of their time, improbability to compare their opinions about virtues and human characters, significant influence on revolutionary Renaissance and Dadaistic art movements. As such, It is historical and epical discussion between Aristotel’s Ethical Robot (Magnanimous) and Nietzche’s Overman Robot (Übermensch).

The Interactive Installation Meeting Points does not have any pretensions to be classified as artwork but rather “anti-art” as tends to criticize contemporary aesthetic, cultural and social changes as result of mutual interaction between people and technology.

Central characters of this interactive socio-critical drama are Ethic Robot and Overman Robot. The first one is feed with knowledge collected from some of Aristotle’s main publications such as Nicomachean Ethics, Poetics, Politics, Metaphysics and second one from Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil , The Birth of Tragedy and Ecce Homo.

We are trapped in circles of information, without facts only with interpretations, as Ethical Robot and Overman Robot are trapped on the roundabout of meanings, symbols, and metaphors they are mixing but do not understand, without facts only machine interpretations. As such tragedy in the installation Meeting Points: Übermensch and Magnanimous is all about how to destroy and rebuild our knowledge and technology addicted society till something good come up.

Key technical novelty presented in Interactive Installation Meeting Points is the combination of chatbot technologies and Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) models that will enable reinforcement learning in order to create artificial conversational agents who will achieve human level performance. The fact, that things can communicate with each other and with the humans enables unsupervised learning and reinforcement learning and knowledge multiplying opportunities.

The Neural Conversational Agent technologies allows us to transform everyday “things” into “smart objects” that can understand and react to their environment. A step further in defining the architectural principles of “smart objects” are cloud speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies that allow increasing the interactivity and raise the level of interaction between people and “smart objects”. Motivated by the technological era in Interactive Installation Meeting Points, we will use two Neural Conversational Agents. In order to create philosophical discussions between two robots, we will use Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) models [5]. RNN are a character-level language models.

We will train RNN with a Nietzsche and Aristotle chosen texts and RNN will model the probability distribution of the next character in the sequence given a sequence of previous characters. Hence, this will allow us to generate new text one character at a time as shown on (Figure 1). An example RNN with 4-dimensional input and output layers, and a hidden layer of 3 units (neurons) from [5] We will use standard Softmax classifier [6] and RNN will be rained with mini-batch Stochastic Gradient Descent [7]. Applying the chatbot technology using as conversation base created Neural Network Nietzsche and Aristotle models we will create a Neural Conversation Nietzsche cyber clone and Neural Conversation Aristotle cyber clone (Figure 2).

Those avatars will be deployed to the two separated internet access points. Using a Raspberry pi devices, we will connect robots (smart objects) with Neural Conversation clones access points (robot brains) and enable philosophical discussions between two robots using a Neural chatbots, speech recognition and speech synthesis technologies.

By applying this concept, things converted to the “smart objects” will obtain a distinctive personality, intelligence, and decision-making ability. Key novelties in the Installation Meeting Points: Übermensch and Magnanimous are:

    • Humanless creative process conducted by Artificial Conversational Agents.
    • Using Cyber Clones as creative and artistic medium.
    • Art of AISense or Machine-Context Art.
    • Robot-Robot Interactions as new interaction phenomena and Human Third-Party Neo Technological Experience.
    • Unsupervised and reinforcement learning of conversation agents.

 

Meeting Points: Übermensch and Magnanimous

Touching technology in the flash

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By GOVTECH SINGAPORE – 15 March 2017

https://www.tech.gov.sg/TechNews/Innovation/2017/03/Touching-technology-in-the-flash

 

140317_emtecharvr_main-min

Dr Anders Ynnerman moves his hands over the images on the touchscreen, slicing, dicing and rotating, revealing layer upon layer of skin, muscle and bone.

The audience watches in awe.

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Dr Anders Ynnerman, director of Sweden’s Norrköping Visualisation Centre, is a scientific visualisation expert.

They’re looking at a full-body scan of a traffic accident victim, and they can see every injury in larger-than-life detail, including the cause of death: a broken neck, caused by a blow to the head.

Dr Ynnerman, a scientific data visualisation expert and the director of the Norrköping Visualisation Centre in Sweden, was speaking at a session on virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) at EmTech Asia.

The conference, organised by the MIT Technology Review to explore global emerging technologies, was held in Singapore from 14-15 February 2017.

These full-body scans or ‘virtual autopsies’, he said, are treasure troves of medical data; he takes great care to present them with the utmost respect for the persons who died under tragic circumstances.

Touched by Data

The datasets are generated through computerised tomography (CT) scans, which produce around 25,000 slices of data that together form a full virtual replica of the human patient.

Dr Ynnerman uses mathematics and computer graphics to combine these slices into a huge block of data that can be visualised in three dimensions, and manipulated using touch interfaces.

140317_emtecharvr_anders2-min
Dr Ynnerman dissecting the appeal of touching datasets in the form of 3D graphics.

The technology is clearly a huge boon for medical schools and hospitals.

But he quickly realised its potential for communicating science to the general public. His team has gone on to scan all manner of museum artefacts, including Egyptian mummies, fossils and a wide range of animal specimens.

They have placed touchtable devices in museums around the world — including the Science Centre Singapore —  for visitors to interact and play with the data.

“We’ve gone from very basic mathematical principles all the way out into the museum gallery. I see children exploring scientific data. When they interact with it they’re getting interested in the content, but they’re also getting interested in the technology.”

Dr YnnermanìI added: ” That’s the best reward you can get as a professor. Seeing kids playing with your stuff is much more important than getting citations and papers!”

Kissed by innovation

Also speaking at the session was Dr Adrian David Cheok, director of the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia and Chair Professor of Pervasive Computing at the City University of London.

(Dr Cheok was formerly a professor at the National University of Singapore, where he founded the Mixed Reality Lab; it has since moved to London.)

140317_emtecharvr_adrian2-min
Dr Adrian Cheok, Director of the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia.

Because non-verbal interactions make up a large part of how humans communicate, talking to someone over the internet still pales in comparison to meeting him or her in person, said Dr Cheok.

Thus, his goal is to develop tools that let us perceive the world through the internet using all of our five senses including touch, taste and smell.

“In the future, we’ll move from the age of information, where we are today, into the age of experience,” he said.

“You can share any experience through the internetóyou can feel, taste and smell what it’s like to be anywhere in the world.”

His group has developed a range of devices aimed at letting you do just that.

For those who crave touch, there is the Huggy Pajama, a wearable device that lets parents and children exchange virtual hugs.

More recently, the group introduced the Kissenger, which does exactly what you think it does — the silicon lip-like device connects to your smartphone and lets you kiss someone over the internet.

Smells like Tech spirit

Besides touch, the senses of taste and smell are also powerfully evocative.

“Taste and smell are directly intermingled with the limbic system of the brain, which is responsible for emotion and memory,” said Dr Cheok.

“For example, smell can trigger a memory of your grandmother, or trigger an emotion — it can make you feel happy or sad if the same smell has done that in the past.”

Engineering taste and smell, however, is no trivial task.

140317_emtecharvr_adrian1-min
An audience member getting up-close with one of Dr Cheok’s devices for a multi-sensory experience over the Internet.

Dr Cheok’s team has developed smartphone devices that let users send their friends smells over the internet; these involve the use of an atomiser and scent cartridges. But such devices have drawbacks — only one smell can be sent per cartridge, and cartridges have to be replaced once they run out of scent.

Thus, instead of resorting to chemicals, Dr Cheok is working on ways to directly stimulate the tastebuds or olfactory (smell) receptors.

By placing an electrode on your tongue, for example, he can deliver electrical signals that make you taste something sour; yet another device generates a sweet taste by stimulating the appropriate receptors on the tongue with heat.

Similarly, the team has also tried to electrically stimulate the olfactory receptors inside the nasal cavity to recreate smells.

Wearing this device, however, is still a little uncomfortable.

Although such devices may not be available on the mass market just yet, Dr Cheok believes that it is only a matter of time before they find their way into our homes.

“People really want to experience all of the five senses — they want to be able to have dinner with their grandmother even if she’s on the other side of the world.”

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