This year device art and robots benefit from a special coverage. The former with a symposium held in 東京 (Tokyo), and the latter with legal considerations in South Korea.

See also: News 2005.


December 2007

[13 December 2007] NPO法人ウェアラブルコンピュータ研究開発機構定例会 (regular meeting of the Wearable Computer Research & Development NPO) held in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan)
Keywords: wearable computing, progress, , research and development, Japan.

In the frame of its regular activities, organised a 4h30 seminar entitled 離陸直前のウェアラブルの諸相 (Various perspectives on wearable computers before takeoff) at in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan) on 13 December 2007. It described the state of the art in 2007 and recent Japanese works.

During his talk ウェアラブル離陸直前 (Wearable computers before takeoff), explained that the general public uses much more pocket computers (e.g. cellular phones, digital cameras, electronic dictionaries, music players) in everyday life and may adopt head-mounted displays as soon as 2008 at home if not in public places. He evoked three critical challenges discussed afterwards by other speakers: system platforms, safety and raw materials (e.g. textiles for smart clothing). As for his research, he still designs smart clothes. As a member of his team, introduced during his talk ウェアラブルのシステム (Wearable systems) an illuminated tree controlled by worn sensors and Wearable Toolkit, a toolkit to create rules for wearables based on sensor data.

During his talk ウェアラブルの安全性 (Safety of wearables), presented in depth investigations on head-mounted displays to understand their physiological and psychological effects on humans. To study fundamentals, his group carried out experiments with young adults in laboratories and outdoors, displaying combinations of stripes, which is standard for vision-related psychological experiments. Penetrating results will require much effort and should involve children and older adults to cover the influences of growth and decline, which is not planned yet.

During his talk ウェアラブルの素材 (Materials for wearables), introduced several technologies to create color-changing clothes presented by others at Tokyo Fiber 2007 - Senseware in Paris (France) on 26-28 June 2007 or developed by his group. He then quickly evoked the potential for applications.

Finally two special talks were given: 人間のI/Oを拡張するためのインタフェース技術 (Interface technologies to extend human input/output) and 21世紀の人類は「i-borg」になる!?:常時装用インタフェースによる脳力強化人間 (21st century humans become i-borg!? Usually worn interfaces that extend human intelligence). discussed novel and sometimes artistic input/output paths for human-computer systems, with numerous illustrations from his research, and concluded with a question: "After wearables, will we really get implants?". discussed replacements for usual elements of Japanese cellular phones, with a long focus on the detection of typing shocks (using fingers or feet) to replace keyboards with systems such as FingeRing and UbiButton.

The main participants were: from , from , from , from , from , and from .

September 2007

[28 September 2007] IBM avatars to visualize and interact with medical records in 3D
Source: IBM Research <http://www.zurich.ibm.com/news/07/asme.html>
Keywords: virtual reality, avatar, medicine, research and development, Switzerland.

IBM announced on 26 September 2007 the creation of the Anatomic and Symbolic Mapper Engine (ASME), a prototype software that allows medical doctors to visualize medical records as a 3D avatar and to interact with it. The system enables intuitive anatomical queries for a specific patient, with e.g. zooming used to narrow the query space. Possible results include related text records, results of laboratory analyses or medical images such as radiographs. One IBM Researcher compared the service to Google Earth, which is currently dedicated to geographical and astronomical data.

Using advanced machine learning and state-of-the-art 3-D modeling techniques, the IBM researchers are working to overcome key technical challenges including integrating heterogeneous data sources and complex text-based information—so-called unstructured data—and linking that data to the anatomical model in a meaningful and easy-to-navigate way. ASME also uses SNOMED, the systemized nomenclature of medicine that encompasses approximately 300,000 medical terms, to create a bridge between graphical concepts and text documents... [Read the article]

[09 September 2007] 脇田研究室 第1回展示会 - 情報の官能 (Wakita laboratory 1st Exhibition - The Senses of Information) held in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan)
Source: <http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/events/2007-09_jp-tokyo_wakita-expo.htm>
Keywords: wearable computing, fashion, , research and development, Japan.

The first exhibition of textiles and garments by , entitled 情報の官能 (The Senses of Information), took place in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan) on 8 and 9 September 2007. It featured binary ("0"s and "1"s)-based compositions, tools and artistic works such as dresses based on the Fabcell technology and on the Wearable Synthesis concept.

Fabcell is a square textile created by , woven from flexible non-emissive yarns connected to electronic components, whose color can change depending on the temperature. The color of the exhibited dress (see photo) changed from green to red, controlled by the application of specific voltages to its conductive yarns. This technology can be exploited for fashion, or to provide information such as a wearer's emotional state. The application of strong voltages to quickly change the temperature–and thus color–of the textile poses a significant risk to the wearer and bystanders. Additional problems include a limited resistance to washing and the difficulty to create small cells.

The Wearable Synthesis concept defines clothes and accessories as modules with both input (e.g. temperature sensor) and output (e.g. colored LEDs), which connect to each other to provide a variety of effects. For example, a dress may change its color according to other worn items, or to the presence of an acquaintance nearby. Such a model was presented at the exhibition but did not work when I went by.

The was founded by at in 2004 to investigate the future of information design. It is therefore involved in Internet-related technologies, interactions and fashion.

[See photos]

June 2007

[05 June 2007] Remunerations of Researchers in the Public and Private Commercial Sectors
Source: European Commission's Directorate General for Research <http://ec.europa.eu/eracareers/pdf/final_report.pdf>
Keywords: research, remuneration, Europe, public, private.

The results of the study, carried out from May 2006 to March 2007, show the remuneration scheme of the researchers in Europe, and compare it against the situation of researchers in other countries [...].
High differences between the remunerations of researchers throughout the EU25 and Associated Countries, although the gap between the levels of remuneration in each country reduces when considering the cost-of-living. [...] But, even if one considers the PPS (Purchasing Power Standard), the differences between countries are extremely high in most cases and for example, a researcher working in Austria may expect a remuneration level around 60.530 EUR, whilst a researcher in France would receive 47.550 EUR (21,44% less) or a researcher in Slovakia would receive 18.282 EUR (69,80% less). [...]
Only Austria, The Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland and Luxembourg have an average remuneration similar to that of the United States, considering the cost of living in each country. [...] The EU25 average (40.126 EUR) is far below the US average (62.793 EUR). Only Austria (60.530 EUR), The Netherlands (56.721 EUR) and Luxembourg (56.268 EUR) have a similar remuneration level to the United States. If we consider the Associate Countries, only Israel (59.580 EUR) and Switzerland (59.902 EUR) have an average remuneration similar or higher to the United States. Australia, India and Japan have an average of remuneration that is higher than the EU25 in terms of PPS and which is, in the case of Australia and Japan, in a similar range to the level of the United States. In the case of China, its remuneration level is far below the EU25 level.
High differences in expected career progression throughout the EU25 and Associated Countries. [...]
In most of the countries, the remuneration for men is higher than for women. [...]
[Read the report]

May 2007

[18 May 2007] デバイスアート CRESTシンポジウム (Device Art CREST symposium) held in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan)
Keywords: virtual reality, devices, art, research, Japan.

In the frame of programs, a 1H30 symposium entitled デバイスアート CRESTシンポジウム (Device Art CREST symposium) took place at in 東京 (Tokyo, Japan) the 18 May 2007. It highlighted interactions and collaborations between artists and researchers.

The device art, art based on devices, is defined by three characteristics: (1) the body of the device is itself-part of-the content, (2) the device is playful, and (3) its aesthetics establishes a bridge between cultures of the past and of the future. Three main threads were followed during the presentations, each indicating the role of research in the development of this new form of art: the creation of interactive gadgets, the creation of functional modules reusable by artists, and techniques/methods of evaluation to foster dissemination among the young and older general public. The three threads are strongly related to three research fields in which Japan is a world leader: virtual reality, robotics, and ubiquitous systems (e.g. wearable computers, intelligent environments).

The main participants were: from , from , from , , from , from , from , and from .

Note: The device art has already been introduced in France and in the United States of America. It has notably been the focus of a session at the conference of (Laval, France) in 2006; devices such as the robots of have also been demonstrated there.

March 2007

[15 March 2007] Ethical implications of continuous life recording
Source: Engineering Ethics Blog <http://engineeringethicsblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/who-needs-digital-life.html>
Keywords: ubiquitous computing, wearable computing, ethics, research and development, society.

Inspired by the article A Digital Life published in March 2007 by Scientific American, Professor Karl STEPHAN (Texas State University, United States of America) discusses the ethical implications of life recording with ubiquitous systems in his post Who Needs a Digital Life?.

In his opinion, the ethical issues emerge from dependence and deception. Dependence concerns the user herself: reliance on computer support might reduce her memory as well as her ability to memorize. This dependence is even more dramatic if an outsider alters the data and the user believes that version instead of her own memory. Deception concerns the data: texts, photos and videos representing a whole life pose significant risks if stolen, including identity theft, blackmail, disclosure inducing social harm, etc.

To extend Professor Stephan's analysis, a third ethical problem can be added: permanence, and the associated weight of the past. Fumbles, mistakes, and other embarrassing situations are usually forgotten within days or weeks. Human memory is well done in that way; the ability to forget is a blessing. However machines may keep all data and provide it years later to answer standard queries. Sweeping the event-related data from the hard disk only partly solves the problem because (1) it creates a visible gap in the data flow, and (2) bystanders equipped with the same system may have stored similar data about the event, beyond the reach of the concerned person.

[7 March 2007] Robotic age poses ethical dilemma
Source: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6425927.stm>
Keywords: robots, ethics, government, policy, South Korea.

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea. The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007... [Read the article]