Professor Adrian Cheok, Keio University, Graduate School of Media Design, Japan
How we see and experience images is changing fast. Increasingly images are not just 2D visual representations, with the technology of augmented reality, they are becoming entry points for interaction, whether it’s the simple location information on our phones or more complicated interactions requiring us to enter a different world, the world of blended or mixed reality.
Adrian David Cheok is a pioneer in the field of Augmented/Mixed Reality and is currently based at the Keio University, Graduate School of Media Design, Tokyo, Japan. His works Human Pacman, Magic Land and Metazoa Ludens were each selected as one of the world’s top inventions by Wired, and invited to be exhibited in Wired Nextfest 2005 and 2007. Cheok was awarded Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008 and set up the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore to look for ways to merge the physical and virtual world more closely. We interviewed Professor Cheok while he was in Vienna for a European Union project discussing developments in the area of Human Computer Collaboration, the Internet of Things, and Pervasive Computing.
Professor Cheok believes that while we are now connected to a greater degree than we have ever been, we need to invent new forms of communication and interaction that bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world. His background is also a sign of a longer term shift in the kinds of images consumers are experiencing – images that are engineered as much as ‘created’. We asked Adrian Cheok about the future of the digital image in a mixed reality world, hyper-connectivity, those Google glasses everyone is talking about, and about a shift in communications from a world of text messages to a future of taste messages.
The Curve: You have evolved from the world of electronic engineering to design?
Adrian Cheok: I did electrical engineering as an undergraduate and postgraduate and when I finished my PhD I actually worked for Mitsubishi Electric in Japan, where I started to think about technology which can interact with humans.
The Curve: When did you begin work in augmented reality and what motivated your research?
AC: When I went to Singapore I started in augmented reality through a project that seemed such a new thing at the time, called Wearable Computers. You would have a small computer and head-mounted display so you could see digital information and the biggest application at the time seemed to be augmented reality.
I started to think more deeply about how we could bring the physical and virtual world together to become one, about new kinds of entertainment media. I wanted to do games where you play out in the real world but you could be part of the computer game using augmented reality. I did work such as the Human Pacman in the early 2000s and recently I’ve been thinking about merging the virtual and real world through all of our senses, not just via the visual in graphics, so now I am looking at touch taste and smell digital interfaces.