Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I'd like you to meet Milo

During the recent E3 press conference three weeks ago in Los Angeles, a new type of computer interaction was unveiled. Meet Milo.

Milo is a virtual character that can recognise faces, voices and emotions! That’s almost like ‘real’ artificial intelligence. Put this algorithm into a physical metallic body and voila, you’ve got yourself a Terminator! Ok, I’m kidding... but still. The kind of interactivity shown in this video is truly groundbreaking. There have been similar technology in the past but none as seamless as this. Hard to imagine that 20 years ago, computers were giant cabinet sized machines, and now we have this? Is it real or is it just hype?

A selected number of journalists were invited to demo Milo. Wired has reported that Milo is real. During a test, when Game Informer magazine editor Andy McNamara stood in front of Milo and said his name, Milo responded ‘Hi Andy. I see you’re wearing green today’ (Source: Wired). Others have reported that it’s fake (Source: Gamer). But real or not, everyone who's into interactive gaming just can’t stop talking about it.

Milo is a part of Project Natal. No release date has been confirmed but it will probably be within the next year and a half, most probably sooner. I’m really interested to see how this will work out... it's all pretty cool, don't you think?

Monday, 22 June 2009

Sydney Vivid Festival - Part 2

I went back to the Sydney Vivid Festival on the evening of Saturday 13 June and did the entire Smart Light walk from the Opera House to Observatory Hill. Again, I took photos of the Opera House, this time from the forecourt area as well. The Opera House exhibit was titled Lighting the Sails, by artist and musician Brian Eno from the UK.

I then went to the Passenger Terminal near the Rocks and took more photos from across the water. The two photos below were taken from the same spot, one at max wide angle (27mm) and the other at max zoom (486mm). This new camera has almost double the zoom of the one I took to Amsterdam. :)

Next stop was Janus, a display of lights suspended over an alley in the Rocks which resembled a face. Janus was by Tom Barker and Hank Haeusler from Australia. Public interaction controlled the changing mood of the face each night. You could even send emails of your face to be used as a display.

Human Tiles was by Carole Purnelle and Nuno Maya from Portugal. The projection of tiles was made from the colours of people’s clothing, which were video captured in real time and projected unto the wall.

I then headed towards Observatory Hill and passed a tunnel with lighted ceiling. This was Rocklights by Ingo Bracke from Germany.

Next was a display of used plastic Coke bottles lighted from the inside to resemble Fireflies. This exhibit by Francesco Mariotti from Switzerland was the most difficult to photograph, mainly due to my stubborn refusal to buy a tripod for night photography! I dislike carrying camera equipment with me (even though I love photography) and for this exhibit, there was no place for me to rest the camera so I ended up taking hand held shots with speeds as slow as 2.5 seconds. The tiny green lights were also flickering on and off really fast (they’re fireflies, after all), making focusing difficult. This was taken hand held at 2.5 seconds but I absentmindedly started to lower the camera before the time was up, creating the streaks which I ended up liking :)

Then it was up to Observatory Hill for a final display of Weather Projection by Alex Haw from the UK, where a virtual sky was projected unto the ceiling of the Rotunda on the hill.

I also took a few photos of the Sydney skyline at night. The photo below shows the skyline of North Sydney. The Opera House is behind the Harbour Bridge on the right (outside the frame).

All in all, it was an interesting festival featuring some impressive displays (25 in total - I visited only about half of them). I hope they have this festival again next year, I’d love to go again.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Barclay (Ads Part 2)

Back in January, I posted the Hovis ad from the UK which I thought was very well made. This is another ad, a funny one by Barclay, also from the UK. Whenever I see something like this, I'm always interested to know how they did it, so I'm including a behind-the-scenes pic for those who feel as curious as I do! :)