Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hacking YOUR Future


You click in the areas you want to work, such as "People" "People and Data" "Ideas" etc. and it helps find the appropriate career for you.
It says I'm supposed to be a snail farmer, or maybe an earthworm or (stretching it,) frog farmer. Wow! It really picked up on those hidden desires!
Here's the link: http://www.act.org/wwm/index.html

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Robotic Book Scanner



In Vernor Vinge's "Rainbow's End" a corporation is rapidly scanning the contents of the Ted Geisel library at UCSD using innovative technology: The machines grind the books up, chopping them into tiny bits, and vacuums up this book dust. Each tiny book particle is photographed as it is disposed of, and all of the images taken by the system are later stitched back together by powerful vision software.

The video above shows us an alternative to such destructive techniques. The robot turns the pages itself and GENTLY scans two pages at a time.

I think the librarians would favor this approach much better!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Doing Face Art with RoboRealm

video

This video is one of what I'm calling "Face Art". My webcam is taking a view of me and my surroundings and then RoboRealm - a video processing program designed as a vision platform for robotics - is performing a bunch of transformations to the video. Things like motion detection, frame averaging, histogram processing, mirroring, and so on.

It's fun, and not difficult to set up.

Sorry, no sound. I have some ideas for that, but can't get to it right now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

El Arbol de la Plaza

Sony BMG disabled embedding, because they want their artists to struggle in obscurity, I guess.

But here's a link to the video. I encourage you to watch it!
VIDEO @ YOUTUBE




Wow, what is that?

It's really scary. So surreal. Those airplanes in the sky - and that clown - really freak me out!
But for some reason, I really like it.

--UPDATE--
The artist is Vicentico, from Argentina.
The song is, as the post title says, "El Arbol de la Plaza".
Here are the lyrics:

El árbol de la plaza del barrio viejo no crece más
Se ha quedado quietito todo pelado por qué será
La tierra está tan seca en cualquier momento se va a quebrar
Pareciera que el cielo se fue olvidando cómo llorar

Hay que llamar a la tormenta a ver si llueve
Para salvar al arbolito que se muere

Si es que está en nuestras manos traer las nubes y hacer llover
Y vuelvan a la vida todas las hojas que hay por crecer
Bailen toda la noche que acá tocamos hasta amanecer
Que siento el aguacero venir llegando a calmar la sed

Hay que llamar a la tormenta a ver si llueve
Para salvar al arbolito que se muere

Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Si el agua moja la plaza
La muerte se vuelve a su casa
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Que si no se lloran las penas
Se convierten en condena
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve

El árbol de la plaza del barrio viejo no crece más
Se ha quedado quietito todo pelado por qué será
La tierra está tan seca en cualquier momento se va a quebrar
Pareciera que el cielo se fue olvidando cómo llorar

Hay que llamar a la tormenta a ver si llueve
Para salvar al arbolito que se muere

Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Si el agua moja la plaza
La muerte se vuelve a su casa
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Si no se lloran las penas
Se convierten en condena
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve

Y si después de la lluvia sale la luna
Y la tierra iluminada
Abra un sendero para seguir
Andemos como soldados por el camino que el árbol vuelve a vivir
Que el árbol vuelve a vivir

Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Que el agua moje la plaza
Así la muerte se atrasa
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Que si no se lloran las penas
Se convierten en condena
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Que baile la gente que baile en la plaza
Así la muerte se atrasa
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Ahora ya siento llegar la tormenta
Así que la banda apriete con fuerza
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve
Que baile la gente que baile en la plaza
Así la muerte se atrasa
Llueve, llueve y nadie se mueve.


You can visit Vicentico's website on MySpace.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene


Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene from pro on Vimeo.
Scientists at the University of Washington are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with video by computers. They can use a series of still images taken of the same scene a video was taken, and extract some of the superior qualities of the still images to enhance the video. Lighting, resolution, texture and camera movement can all be enhanced.

Other things the software can be used for include the ability to edit a few frames of video to remove unpleasant objects, and have the computer propagate those edits through the whole video. Examples shown include removing a "no parking" sign from the foreground of a flower shop, and removing an unsightly scar from a tree.
These researchers are making progress toward what I'm looking for: the ability of a computer to watch my videos for me, and create an artificial reality populated with the people and places in those videos.

Watch the video to get an idea of all the capabilities that these researchers are working on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Excellent OpenCV Articles


A series of articles by Robin Hewitt appeared in Servo Magazine last year. I had never heard of the magazine, but I was looking for information or tutorials about OpenCV, an open-source Computer Vision library. I am trying to get my head around the capabilities and usage of this library, and others, like RAVL (the Recognition and Vision Library).
Here is the link:

Seeing with OpenCV

Have fun!

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Than "Just" The World's Oldest Cyborg


I just noticed recently that Steve Mann, formerly of MIT and now a professor at the University of Toronto, has been actively involved in some of the thing
s I am interested in, for quite a while. Not just wearable computers, which I am waiting impatiently for, but image processing and interpreting. He has developed a program - Video Orbits - for stitching together video into stills. One property of note: If the video zooms, then the image formed in that region has higher resolution. If the exposure changes, then the dynamic range of the image increases. It's like layering data upon data.
Professor Mann has been wearing a computer for almost 30 years, as shown in the above illustration. Of most interest to me is the idea of mediated reality, wherein the computer looks at and interprets what you are looking at, and modifies the scene before presenting it to you. These modifications could include directions to a destination ("follow the yellow line"), a name tag for someone you run into whose name you should remember but don't, or any other sort of context-relevant information. It could even present a wildly distorted picture of the world, if that's what you want. Or it could save you from being inundated by external media: it can replace billboards with countryside, or make crowds transparent, so that you don't feel crowded (say, at Disneyland). At the same time it could highlight obstacles you are in danger of colliding with, so you don't keep running into these invisible people!
The sensing/display device that is being studied and (hopefully) developed is called the EyeTap. Within its tiny-enough-to-wear eyeglass frame is both a camera and a display. A mirror sends incoming light to the camera, and also sends the image from a micro-display back into into your field of view. Between the camera and display, a wearable computer does all the image analysis, recognition and re synthesis, "mediating" your view of the world. One cool result of this is that head tracking is done directly from analysis of the image; the system doesn't need a gyro!
I'm not sure how far anyone has gotten with the tough problem of image understanding, but a quick Google search lists several links to universities involved with it. It involves face and object recognition, 3D perception and probably a lot more. This is all very encouraging!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Arduino


I've been playing around with a neat little micro- controller develop- ment board called Arduino. It has built in I/O for sensing and controlling the outside world. A great development environment too; it only takes moments to set up the software under Linux or Windows.
So far I've lit up LEDs, generated a waveform for display on an oscilloscope, and run a DC motor using pulse width modulation. And it has all been very easy to learn the C-based programming language.
I'm working a laser display project right now for a friend. Soon I will be working on some "Mad Scientist" display ideas for Halloween.