with David Santiano, Deyin Mia Zhang, Xinran Azena Fan, and Yunru Casey Pan, NYU Shanghai; Barak Chamo, New York; Paolo Salvagione, Sausalito.
We’ve developed a cheap and simple way to mount a smartphone directly above a laptop display and dedicate it primarily to “Speaker View” during live teleconferences. Though many potential audiences exist, our target audience are college students who spend hours in classes with a host teacher giving presentations or holding seminars.
We were pleasantly surprised by how well a quick prototype worked. We looked extensively into the world of smartphone clamps, brackets, and mounts, and found nothing optimized for our needs, so we designed our own. …
On the opposite end of the Media Lab complex from the Director’s office resides MIT’s Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT), a long-unrelated program which spent 30 years on opposite side of campus, by choice. In 2010, after the Media Lab tripled its size with an expansion, MIT leadership decided to move ACT into the expanded complex, presumably for more interaction with the Media Lab. While the Media Lab is about “technologies that promise to transform,” ACT is about “critical studies and production.”
Since the move, as before, there’s been little interaction. But what if, challenging as it may be, the Media Lab folded in ACT (whose faculty and fellows are over 50% female) as part of the fabric of its community and everyday activities? Would a larger (pun intended) critical mass have existed inside? Could it have tipped the scale for the exiting faculty and the concerned women? It’s tempting to speculate that the Media Lab’s balance between enthusiasm and criticality may have been more centered and that its moral compass may have been more influential in its decision making. …
more risky research, less master classes
[March 2019: This article, and the entire VR/AR Series, is now available bilingually in Chinese and English courtesy of NYU Shanghai.]
[October 2020: Additional VR/AR class projects from NYU Shanghai since publication can be found here.]
The first half-semester was pretty easy on the students. They sat back through several weeks of richly audiovisual presentations on “VR / AR Fundamentals.” They unboxed and set up all five major VR platforms, then curated and experienced dozens of VR titles. They enjoyed the buzz of our “VR / AR News of the Week” class time.
But by the last two weeks of the semester, the students were neck-deep in highly experimental production, working through sleepless weekends, and were both excited and frustrated. We were all in over our heads. I sent frantic emails to my best-and-brightest VR colleagues for advice (which also validated that we were working on hard, timely issues). …
Being immersed in live events and with other people.
Fooling the non-audiovisual senses.
Fooling two eyes and two ears, moving around, and with an unframed image.
Fooling a single static eye and a single static ear into believing that a framed representation is real.
Science with Attitude.
Greetings! And welcome to the first in a series of six weekly pieces on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality “fundamentals”. They’re meant to be fast, brief, holistic, and accessible to non-engineers.
The motivation is practical. I get calls from novice VR/AR producers and from check-writing executives worried about expensive camera stitching, or wanting awesome spatial sound, or feeling obliged to always fill the entire 360 degree view. But all too often they are unaware of zero-parallax points and computational photography, of phase differences and binaural audio, or of creative alternatives to full 360s from the arts community. It’s like, for VR and AR, no one knows, or apparently cares, what’s under the hood. …
Some Useful Distinctions
The VR community, I’ve noticed, uses the word “interactivity” to mean several distinctively different things, each with different user experiences, different technologies, and different associated costs. If you understand these distinctions and you’re involved in VR, you will make better informed decisions. This will be especially true understanding camera-based VR and its differences from model-based VR.