Arm band allowing women to track their fertility in an easy and stylish way

( via twent1f by regine)


The Ovü, developed by Kathryn Bauer, is made up of a lace arm band, with a highly sensitive thermistor attached on the inside that picks up changes in the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) of a woman.This method of tracking fertility allows a dataset to be gathered of the woman’s cycle (which can be quite allusive at times.) This dataset, collected using actual sensors, allows women the tools to have more control over their bodies. There is no need to think and worry about babies all day long. Women go about their life as the temperature is tracked and uploaded to their online database.

The Ovü frees those women trying to become pregnant from having to be so focused on their cycle. The partner is involved in some way and the accuracy of the readings improves the chance of finding the right time to have a child.statistics and more research can be found in the PDF.

How it works:
1. Wear the Ovü on your upper arm.
2. The thermometer constantly takes in temperature in the underarm & tracks changes.
3. When the change is significant enough to imply a hormonal change (typically during ovulation), the device sends a txt message to your partner’s mobile phone.

Continue reading >

More on the trials and tribulations of the thesis process can be accessed on the artist’s blog.

Filed under: art, design, new media, physical computing, technology, thesis

Community Bar: Designing for Informal Awareness and Casual Interaction

» MSc Thesis: Community Bar: Designing for Informal Awareness and Casual Interaction

Grego McEwan, University of Calgary
This thesis is the culmination of several years work on the Community Bar, a system supporting casual interaction within the Commons.

The Community Bar (CB) is groupware supporting informal awareness and casual interaction for small social groups of people with a common purpose. CB’s design supports how communities of ad-hoc and long-standing groups are built and sustained: by maintaining awareness of one another and being able to casually transition into interaction. I begin this thesis by deriving design guidelines for awareness and interaction, primarily based on a comprehensive sociological theory. I then describe how CB was implemented according to the guidelines. I also describe the architectural design that supports awareness and interaction within a distributed group, including an extensible plugin architecture allowing customisation of CB’s functionality. Finally, along with some colleagues, I conducted an in-depth field study of CB. We used results from this study to reflect upon the matches and mis-matches that occurred between the theoretical usage behaviour predicted by the design principles versus the actual usage behaviours observed in the deployed implementation.
For more information

McEwan, G. Community Bar: Designing for Informal Awareness and Casual Interaction. MSc Thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4. September, 2006. Supervisor: Saul Greenberg

Contact Name saul.greenberg@ucalgary.ca

Filed under: academic, thesis

Phd Comics

Piled Higher and Deeper

Filed under: academic, research, thesis

metamanda>>weblog: being interdisciplinary



metamanda>>weblog: being interdisciplinary

So, zephoria posted about interdisciplinarity and set me off thinking about what it means to be interdisciplinary, and what is a discipline anyway. Now, given what the topology of my mind is like lately, it takes just the slightest nudge in that direction and I tumble down that slope with every-increasing velocity.

A few months ago we had a little panel/seminar on interdisciplinarity, since Informatics is a pretty interdisciplinary department, inside of a School of Information and Computer Sciences (sort of an Information School + CS program smushed together… yes, there is a little culture clash). Now of course, the terms “cross-disciplinary” and “multi-disciplinary” and maybe even “extra-disciplinary” came up, as well as these illustrations: (first image)

I doodled most of the way through, which doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not paying attention (often my class notes are just informative doodle) but I did end up a little disappointed in what some folks had to say. (People from UCI will have fun trying to guess who said what.)

One opinion expressed was along the lines of “doing anything interdisciplinary is too risky until you’ve gotten tenure,” which I think exhibits a profoundly poor understanding of what it means to be interdisciplinary. I think zephoria is right, (you DID read her post that I linked to, right?) it’s at least partly an identity thing. I would be profoundly unhappy if I tried to limit myself to mainstream CS for my whole graduate career, and also feel incomplete if I only did design, or sociology. Besides, wait till you have tenure and the methods and assumptions of whatever discipline you were in will be so thoroughly entrenched in your mind that it will be difficult to do really good interdisciplinary work.

Another guy seemed to think that some people are just constitutionally interdisciplinary. This view I can understand and appreciate. But he also tells stories like “I walked 3 miles in the snow to physics school, and then another 5 miles to art school, and then another 6 miles to the studio where I was apprenticing under a master welder who beat me daily, and it was uphill all three ways, and did i mention it was snowing that whole time and i was too poor to own shoes because of all the tuition i was paying.” He would conclude that basically if you don’t have the nads to stick it to the man the way he did, then what are you even doing trying to be interdisciplinary? He thought he was very cool. I respect his efforts a lot, but ultimately that attitude isn’t constructive. No researcher is an island. Struggle is fine, being un-mainstream is fine, but without a community or any mentorship, your research will suffer.

Another guy said that in his vast industrial experience, when someone says they’re “interdisciplinary” they really mean they are dilettantes. The classic “jack of all trades master of none” stereotype. That struck a nerve. It’s a perception that I think we interdisciplinary types struggle with a lot, and we should. It’s too easy to have breadth and no depth. I experienced that in my interdisciplinary major as an undergrad (actually, the problem there was largely breadth and no synthesis/connection). Zephoria mentions being disappointed in the job talks she saw for a high-quality interdisciplinary program. It’s too easy to make a successful career social-sciencing to computer scientists, and designing it up amongst the social scientists, and being technical amongst the designers, and looking good without knowing your shit very rigorously. I am constantly afraid that I am doing this. And I am constantly trying to avoid being like that. We are valuable bridges between disciplines and communities of practice, but I don’t think we can settle for being only that. We have to have rigor, and depth. We have to know the methods and theories used in these various disciplines… know them well and then be creative enough to understand where they can be applied that maybe no one thought to apply them before. And in order to be that good, I think we do have to be hard on ourselves, and other have to be hard on us too sometimes.

So yeah, I’m always questioning myself. Do I know enough? Is my ethnographic research just full of shit? Am I a good enough programmer? Would this prototype fly in a real design program? Have I read enough books this quarter? And that is as it should be. When I meet interdisciplinary researchers or practitioners who aren’t wigging out like this, who seem self-satisfied… well, I don’t trust them.
But the whole thing just made me call into question what a discipline is anyway. Computer Science is a young discipline, and as best I can tell it used to be one part mathematics and one part building shit. I keep thinking back to that paper I read earlier about boundary work and defining science during the Victorian Era. “Science” is not a static concept. What we mean when we say “science”, “philosophy”, and “art” has changed over the centuries. If disciplines are not static, then how do they change and form over time? And how does “interdisciplinarity” play into this changing landscape of thought? How do issues of culture, social networks and funding influence interdisciplinary collaborations?
This is what I doodled: (second image)

Of course, there’s always the danger you’ll end up hip-deep in bullshit.
Now there is a certain crass humor in likening disciplinary knowledge to piles of shit. But, it’s something we produce. And shit can be gross and stinky and make you sick… hey, so can academia. But it also makes the crops grow. So, I’m not trying to be insulting here.
In the end, I’m most at home in the in-betweens. I’m quite visibly hapa, so maybe it’s built in to my sense of self (as z guessed in her entry). It’s not (usually) an identity crisis for me, it’s just how I am.

Filed under: academic, art, new media, research, social, thesis

Lessons from Being There


Lessons from Being There

Project overview
From feburary 1999 to feburary 2000 Tom Nyvang and I worked out our thesis on Augmented Reality for computer supported cooperative work following our specialization in sociology. We had been doing some work on CSCW earlier and wanted to experiment with the possibilities of designing interfaces for these kinds of computer applications in a fundamental different way.
In the winter 1999 we did some extended theoretical research on cooperative work and the role of the physical room as context for cooperatiwe work. We also dug into the world of augmented reality. In spring 1999 we were ready to begin designing an alternative system which based on the idea of augmenteng the physical room with computer-based infoemation using transparent head-mounted displays. Following a few months of mock-up designing and experiments with this kind of display we stardet implemting the prototype in july 1999. The implementation lasted untill september 25th. (and I can assure you that HMD’s and VR-gloves are not very comfortable to wear for 6-7 hours a day in the summertime 🙂
Having build the actual system and done some usabilitytesting of the prototype as a “proof of concept” we turned to the more methodological issues of the software development process. We had experienced that it was extremly difficult to break with the traditional way of designing interfaces and found that this issue was important for the future development of good new computer systems – not only within augmented reality but also within eg. VR and mobile/wearable computing. This was where the work of architect and philosopher Christopher Alexander came into the picture. I can really recommend his classic Notes on the synthesis of form from 1964.
We then sat down and wrote the thesis in about 3 months.
Instead of concentrating human activity around traditional computer screens we should instead search for a technology that offers the flesibility of the computer technology and computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) without neglecting the quality of working and interacting in a physical room. The possibilities offered by augmented reality (AR) calls for a new paradigm in human-computer interaction that could meet both claims by enhancing the physical room with virtual objects and creating an augmented room for interaction.
Based on the implementation of the AR for CSCW prototype Being There this thesis discusses theoretical as well as methodological aspects of developing CSCW applications using AR. The methodological aspects are given a lot of attention in the need of methods that support a new paradigm instead of promoting old paradigms in human-computer interaction. The distinction between form and context in architect and philosopher Christopher Alexander’s perspective on design, and his concept of a pattern language are used as basis for such a method involving the development of a small pattern language for CSCW.
The theoretical discussion introduces activity theory and the concept of boundary objects as a framework for understanding the social and cognitive context for human-computer interaction and cooperative work. To broaden the understanding of the physical context we use Yi-Fu Tuan’s research in cultural geography and his distinction between space and place to describe the affordances of an inhabited room. The understanding of proxemics in human interaction as described by Edward T. Hall in his research on perceptual psychology and social anthropology is in relation to this used go gain insight in the physical context of cooperative work and to create a model describing the physical meeting.

Filed under: new media, physical computing, research, technology, thesis




The Platform

The CoDECK is a platform for sharing and discussing video-based content. Using it, people can upload, view, and discuss video anonymously.

CoDECK takes its physical form as a circa-1979 Sears Betavision videocassette recorder. The Betavision deck – which used to play tapes recorded using the Betamax format – has been retrofitted to run Linux and functions as the heart of the CoDECK platform; it runs the web server, the video playback system, and the video capture system. It usually resides in the lounge of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University (NYU) but was built to be semi-portable.

When you are near the CoDECK, you can view and browse content already on the deck on the attached television monitor or create your own simple piece using the integrated camera. From anywhere you have access to a web browser, you can upload and download video and view the discussions.


We didn’t think there were any existing forums that allowed a community to share and discuss video-based content in a simple, community-centric way. Sure, there are tons of web sites where you can download and comment upon video, but where can you sit on a couch with friends and colleagues and watch an always-on virtual television channel that displays content created by, and discussions among, the community itself?

We hope that the availability of the CoDECK platform will help to foster community cohesiveness and understanding and will better enable communities to share information. At ITP specifically, where it was created, we hope that the CoDECK helps the artists/students in the program to:

share and discuss creative pieces and ideas with others, (and)
share information about upcoming events and items of interest.
As to why we chose to put the hardware into the shell of a tape player for a failed video format, well, we found Betamax interesting for a few reasons:

Betamax is a format considered by many to be technically superior to VHS, but failed mostly because of some marketing mistakes by Sony.
There’s still a cult-like grassroots following of Beta that echoes the grassroots nature of the CoDECK platform.
The old box just looks cool in a retro-chic sort of way and we won it with a pretty low bid on ebay…
We consider the CoDECK platform to be an example of social software. For thoughts on social software, check out the Many 2 Many group weblog.


Mark Argo
Dan Melinger
Shawn Van Every
Ahmi Wolf

Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University

Filed under: hack, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, research, social, space/place, technology, thesis



The Bass-Station is a mobile, visually loud, and funky 1980s Boom Box. Imbedded within its shell is a modern computer and wireless networking components. By creating a locally accessible wireless network, people of an intimate community can use the Bass-Station as a hub through which they can freely and democratically exchange information. By actively observing the exchanges of a small community, you can learn things about that community that you couldn’t by talking to any one of its members. The Bass-Station is also a shared stereo that makes its presence fun and entertaining.

Filed under: hack, linux, locative, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology, thesis, urban, wifi

Tangent »





Short description

Tangent is a multi-touch research platform; a digital medium for testing and developing new intuitive interaction techniques.

In the last twenty years the classic computer interface mouse-keyboard-screen has hardly changed.
But now Tangent offers a direct interface with virtual objects by making it possible to touch and manipulate these objects.

A sensitive surface like this one asks for fundamently different interaction principles than the ones known from traditional interfaces.

In the project phase Tangent was developed and built and a range (set) of interaction principles were designed and implemented.

Filed under: new media, physical computing, research, technology, thesis