Virtual furniture at the right scale

Our imagination is a powerful cognitive skill. When I walked into the living room of my new apartment, I experienced a rectangular empty space with a dusty concrete floor and hollow sounding acoustics. But in my mind I was already furnishing and decorating. I imagined a blue carpet on the floor, the walls lined with bookcases, a large table on the far end, and a comfortable couch near the window. Continue reading “Virtual furniture at the right scale”

Orwell’s telescreens

Winston Smith is the main character in the famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. In his apartment there is an “oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall.” The description of this flatscreen television goes on to state that the “instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously.” This system provided a method for controlling citizens in the totalitarian society that Smith had to endure.

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Revolution in motion

Yesterday, Microsoft launched a new product called Kinect. It is an add-on for the very popular game console Xbox 360 and allows for the user itself to be the controller. No more fiddling with weirdly shaped controllers. Just step in front of your television and you can control games with your own gestures (and your own words).

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School’s looking at you, kid

This photograph was taken about a year ago and shows 15-year-old Blake Robbins asleep in his bedroom. The picture in itself is not that interesting. What is remarkable is that it was taken with the built-in iSight camera of his Apple MacBook laptop, remotely operated by technicians at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania in the United States.

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