Contextual Information Exchange

Brief Description

A design case done by Bram Knaapen

The non face-to-face communication of social and emotional experiences between people now happens through phone or other media like e-mail, IM (instant messaging), webcam (e.g. Skype) and other virtual communities such as Second Life. In the communication these experiences the context it has happened in pays an important role. Neither the technology nor our way of describing it enables us to communicate this context, in such a way that it can be “experienced” by the others, you can only imagine.

We first show a design case that tries to tackle this issue. The design concept proposes a system that is able to communicate the context of a remote (virtual) user so that the receiving (virtual) person is able to “feel” as if he/she is there without the translation steps. Often these steps are required when describing an experience. This concept enables a seamless transition between a real and virtual worlds leading to interesting scenarios.

A modular system of connectable triangles is designed. These triangles can be mounted to the wall in a pattern that can be a creation of the user, or a design by the designer. The resulting pattern generates a real-time abstract and artistic representation of a remote visual context. Essentially the receiving person is presented with a selection of the visual impressions the remote user/avatar experiences in the real/virtual environment. These visual impressions are captured by a device that is worn by the remote user in the real world or an avatar in the virtual world. The captured visual information is analyzed, processed, filtered and finally projected onto an abstract representation, then transmitted and projected through the system of triangles. The projection of the remote context should reside in the periphery of the attention of the receiving user to transfer the rough visual experience, but also when attention is paid, to give the receiving user an interesting and artistic visual experience of the remote context.

To get a sense of what the other person either in a real or virtual world experiences the receiving user should be in contact with the remote visual context and thus the system for a considerable time. Therefore this system is meant as a continuous and always-on real-time connection between two people or avatars. The triangles can be installed on any often-visited location (work, living room, kitchen, hallway, etc.). The modular character of the system allows for easy configuration on any place with some vacant space on the wall.

(description partially derived from an MPEG-V proposal by Bram Knaapen and Jun Hu)

Objectives / Specifics

(project objectives; learning goals)
Design a similar system that exchanges the contextual informaiton across realities.


Report, demonstrator/working prototype.

Information Sources

SOFIA – Smart Objects For Intelligent Applications
For this project there is the opportunity to work in the context of a European project called SOFIA. The overall goal of this project is to connect the physical world with the information world by enabling and maintaining interoperability between electronic systems and devices. The ID department is involved in the project, contributing by developing smart applications for the smart home environment and developing novel ways of user interaction. In the project there is the possibility to work with two PhD candidates working on the project and with an external client, which has expertise in the field of multimodal interaction and has developed several interaction devices.

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