Grounds of future play

21 09 2010

Two weekends ago I went to an education resources expo at the Brisbane Convention Centre – mainly as a bid to get freebs. I arrived a little late but still managed to catch some of a seminar, a few free posters, petted a snake and a lizard, and entered in as many lucky draws as possible (and possibly signing my boss up for swades of spam – sorry…).

Two things caught my eye in particular. And I’ll share one now – The SmartUs Digital Playground (their Finnish website).

The whole set up is very futuristic. Kids are issued with RFID smart cards that can be recognised by readers scattered throughout the playground. They login at the main portal and are assigned a task (run from point A to B via C three times, or something more complex) and the computer records their time. This time is recorded on an international online network where kids from different schools, or even different countries, can compare each others times and records.

Additional tasks and learning can also be integrated by assigning different nodes answers to a multi-choice quiz. This also comes into play by the presence of a dancepad hooked up to the main video monitor of the playground as well. This can be used for quizzes, fitness, dancing or simon-type games.

In Finland, it even became the basis of a family/children’s gameshow which involved celebrities and national atheletes, called FunTzu. Again, these TV scores were uploaded online, so schoolkids could challenge their idols. Unfortunately I can’t find any videos of the TV show – but after some searching I have found a news item of Asia’s first SmartUs playground in Hong Kong which shows how it works.

Tapping into children’s natural competitive behaviour, and then combining it with social media and massively multiplayer gaming Lappset have really hit the mark (or market). The only real downsides to it I can see are the initial outlay costs (which you can guess would be quite high) and also the pitfall of having ‘standardised cookie cutter playgrounds’ that don’t have their own individual community flavour. There also might be other hudles here in Australia given EQ’s stance on students and social networks.





Tatts amazing

19 07 2010

Given they also sell tinned unicorn meat, I’m not sure how seriously to take Think Geek’s changeable body modification tool, moodINQ, but it does look pretty cool.

Okay it’s clearly hypothetical at the moment – an implant under the skin looks like a tattoo, but wifi signals would allow it to be reprogrammed to change design at your whim. Useful for looking neat at a pool party with your uptight boss, or at the beach with your girlfriend’s parents, or grocery shopping reminders.

It may seem like a total joke now, but could it be real in the near future?

Tattoo aficionados may also like to check out last week’s Spicks and Specks (ep 25). It turns out the latest Wiggle, Sam Moran, has a couple of tatts – one of them involves an angel that is only visible under a black light.





Sixth Sense: The world is your touchscreen

21 04 2010

Here is the TED video I snuck in at the end of the previous post. It is just way too amazing to miss.Pranav Mistry from India explains the amazing potential of the “Sixth Sense” interactive media device. No psychics involved, I promise.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potentia…“, posted with vodpod





A world without paper cuts

20 04 2010

Reading with an iPod You're doing it wrong

It could well soon be the world we live in.

A world without electrical shocks and stomach burns may be another story for another day.

I will admit to a love/hate relationship with paper over the last 25 years. For the pursuit of drawings, doodles, story writing, schoolwork, reports, certificates, laboratory notes, my thesis, and, yes, I’ll even admit pen and paper roleplaying games, countless forests have been sacrificed , and in my shame I have been loathe to just throw them away. At my mother’s there still remains a suitcase filled with 3 years worth of undergraduate biomed notes and study guides that I have yet to throw away, because ‘I went to all that trouble’ and ‘maybe it will be of use one day’.

I blame my mother for not buying me a computer and exposing me to digital media. These days I have been making progress in keeping my teacher-in-the-making resources more digitally based (powerpoints, activity pdfs, and lists of links) – but I still have a growing colony of paper sheets that I have had to recently sanction a humanitarian cull of over the Easter weekend. The new heater screen and my ipod touch will try and keep my digital honour intact. Read the rest of this entry »





Vatican secrets: The original Macroscope

2 09 2009

One of my favourite sci-fi novels is Macroscope by Piers Anthony.

Note: Although Anthony is famous for his light-hearted Xanth series. This is a novel for adults, and deals with a lot of serious and heavy historical and social issues, and yes, that means violence and sex.

The macroscope is a powerful transmission receiving satelite that can detect pretty much every wave emitted in the universe. Theoretically with such a device one could observe every event in history anywhere in the universe.

With the device scientists are able to observe the demise of several distant historical alien species (one through personal greed, one through violence, and another reckless abuse of their environmental resources). Scientists also detect another special signal that only the people with high IQ (i.e. most of the scientists) can discern. Unfortunately, everyone who watches this signal turns into a catatonic vegetable. The story follows the one alleged genius who may be able to discover the secret behind this transmission.

The idea of a Macroscope is quite interesting, and is almost what our existing satelites and telescopes do already (receive various forms of radiation as it reaches Earth). So why can’t we observe what happened 40,000 years ago on Earth in real-time?

Apparently, in the 60’s, a Venetian monk, Father Pelligrino Ernetti claimed to have a device that could do just that. The device was called the “chronovisor” and apparently resembled a television.

Instead of receiving broadcasts from local transmission stations, however, the chronovisor could tune into the past to allow the viewer to see and hear events that had occurred years or even centuries earlier. Father Ernetti told [Father] Brune that the machine worked by detecting all the sights and sounds that humanity had made that still floated through space.

That’s right: Catholic scientists invented a virtual time machine. And apparently they saw the crucifixion of Christ, Napoleon’s conquests across Europe, and the penning of Thyestes by the Roman poet Quintus Ennius.

Wow.

Now here comes the unbelievable part. You can not see the device anymore because the priests destroyed it. It was too dangerous, as it might invade people’s privacy and create a dictatorship. Really? Catholic priests don’t want blind obedience and total information awareness?

Something about that just doesn’t add up.





Laboratory lettuce

16 06 2009

Let’s break off from our Pharming exploits to look at some Farming exploits.

With more evidence that the future is now, Japan is looking to set up domestic “vegetable factories” to provide clean, safe and nutritious food for all.

The boom in intensive hydroponics has been attributed to fear of tainted imported fresh foods in the wake a of a few scandals.

Some industries you wouldn’t expect are even getting in on the act (the BBC video may look irrelevant but it’s not)

[I’ve popped the video below the line because for some reason it is stuck on autoplay] Read the rest of this entry »