Dec 08, 2009
Impact of the virtual reality on the neural representation of an environment.
Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Dec 4;
Authors: Mellet E, Laou L, Petit L, Zago L, Mazoyer B, Tzourio-Mazoyer N
Despite the increasing use of virtual reality, the impact on cerebral representation of topographical knowledge of learning by virtual reality rather than by actual locomotion has never been investigated. To tackle this challenging issue, we conducted an experiment wherein participants learned an immersive virtual environment using a joystick. The following day, participants' brain activity was monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging while they mentally estimated distances in this environment. Results were compared with that of participants performing the same task but having learned the real version of the environment by actual walking. We detected a large set of areas shared by both groups including the parieto-frontal areas and the parahippocampal gyrus. More importantly, although participants of both groups performed the same mental task and exhibited similar behavioral performances, they differed at the brain activity level. Unlike real learners, virtual learners activated a left-lateralized network associated with tool manipulation and action semantics. This demonstrated that a neural fingerprint distinguishing virtual from real learning persists when subjects use a mental representation of the learnt environment with equivalent performances. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Dec 06, 2009
I just can not wait for the new James Cameron's movie Avatar...
The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra (MoPhO) is a new repertoire-based ensemble using mobile phones as musical instrument. MoPhO's interactive musical works take advantage of the unique technological capabilities of today's hardware and software, transforming multi-touch screens, built-in accelerometers, built-in microphones, GPS, data networks, and computation into powerful and yet mobile chamber meta-instruments.
The researcher behind the idea, Ge Wang, believes cell phones are becoming so powerful that we “cannot ignore them anymore as platforms for creativity. . . . It levels the playing ground in some ways, because everyone has a cell phone.”
The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra’s performance on December 3 at Palo Alto (CA) used an Apple iPhones amplified by speakers attached to small fingerless gloves. Here is a video of the concert.
Dec 02, 2009
The World's Biggest / Largest / Longest Multi-Touch (and evidently Multi-User) Wall is installed in Nürburgring (Germany) consists of a huge LED media facade (at the top), and a multitouch information-wall (at the bottom), and impresses by its physical size, as it totals a surface of about 425 square meters, equaling more than 6000 computer displays.
The interactive interface emerges out of 34 million pixels generated by 15 high definition projectors, supported by sound produced by 30 directional speakers. The multitouch capturing itself is based on laser technology, also called Laser Light Plane Illumination (LLP).
This means more than 80 users can simultaneously get informed about news and activities around the ringworld. Now imagine the sorts of sparklines this device could display...
You can watch a documentary movie below.
(From the press release)
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research that will offer unprecedented insight into how digital games can improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes. With funding from RWJF’s Health Games Research national program, nine research teams across the country will conduct extensive studies to discover, for example, how the popular dance pad video game Dance Dance Revolution might help Parkinson’s patients reduce the risk of falling, how Wii Active might be most effectively implemented in high schools to help overweight students lose weight, how a mobile phone game with a breath interface might help smokers quit or reduce their tobacco use, or how facial recognition games might be designed to help people with autism learn to identify others’ emotions.
Health Games Research is supported by an $8.25 million grant from RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio, which funds innovative projects that may lead to breakthrough improvements in the future of health and health care. The national program, which conducts, supports, and disseminates research to improve the quality and impact of health games, is headquartered at the University of California, Santa Barbara. It is directed by Debra Lieberman, Ph.D., communication researcher in the university’s Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research and a leading expert in the research and design of interactive media for learning and health behavior change. The grants were awarded under the program’s second funding round to strengthen the evidence base in this emerging field.
“Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behavior change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies,” said Lieberman. “The studies funded by Health Games Research will provide cutting-edge, evidence-based strategies that designers will be able to use in the future to make their health games more effective.”
The nine research teams, chosen from among 185 proposals, each have been awarded between $100,000 and $300,000 to lead one- to two-year studies of digital games that engage players in physical activity and/or motivate them to improve how they take care of themselves through healthy changes in lifestyle; prevention behaviors; cognitive, social or physical skills; chronic disease self-management; and/or adherence to a medical treatment plan. Studies will focus on diverse population groups that vary by race and ethnicity, health status, income level, and game-play setting, with age groups ranging from elementary school children to 80-year-olds. The research teams will study participants’ responses to health games played on a variety of platforms, such as video game consoles, computers, mobile phones and robots.
“The pace of growth and innovation in digital games is incredible, and we see tremendous potential to design them to help people stay healthy or manage chronic conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. However, we need to know more about what works and what does not — and why,” said Paul Tarini, team director for RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio. “Health Games Research is a major investment to build a research base for this dynamic young field. Further, the insights and ideas that flow from this work will help us continue to expand our imagination of what is possible in this arena.”
The nine grant recipients are listed here
Gartner has identified the top 10 consumer mobile applications for 2012. The list is based on the impact on consumers and industry players, considering revenue, loyalty, business model, consumer value and estimated market penetration.
The top ten in 2012 will include:
No. 1: Money Transfer
This service allows people to send money to others using Short Message Service (SMS). Its lower costs, faster speed and convenience compared with traditional transfer services have strong appeal to users in developing markets, and most services signed up several million users within their first year. However, challenges do exist in both regulatory and operational risks. Because of the fast growth of mobile money transfer, regulators in many markets are piling in to investigate the impact on consumer costs, security, fraud and money laundering. On the operational side, market conditions vary, as do the local resources of service providers, so providers need different market strategies when entering a new territory.
No. 2: Location-Based Services
Location-based services (LBS) form part of context-aware services, a service that Gartner expects will be one of the most disruptive in the next few years. Gartner predicts that the LBS user base will grow globally from 96 million in 2009 to more than 526 million in 2012. LBS is ranked No. 2 in Gartner’s top 10 because of its perceived high user value and its influence on user loyalty. Its high user value is the result of its ability to meet a range of needs, ranging from productivity and goal fulfillment to social networking and entertainment.
No. 3: Mobile Search
The ultimate purpose of mobile search is to drive sales and marketing opportunities on the mobile phone. To achieve this, the industry first needs to improve the user experience of mobile search so that people will come back again. Mobile search is ranked No. 3 because of its high impact on technology innovation and industry revenue. Consumers will stay loyal to some search services, but instead of sticking to one or two search providers on the Internet, Gartner expects loyalty on the mobile phone to be shared between a few search providers that have unique technologies for mobile search.
No. 4: Mobile Browsing
Mobile browsing is a widely available technology present on more than 60 percent of handsets shipped in 2009, a percentage Gartner expects to rise to approximately 80 percent in 2013. Gartner has ranked mobile browsing No. 4 because of its broad appeal to all businesses. Mobile Web systems have the potential to offer a good return on investment. They involve much lower development costs than native code, reuse many existing skills and tools, and can be agile — both delivered and updated quickly. Therefore, the mobile Web will be a key part of most corporate business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile strategies.
No. 5: Mobile Health Monitoring
Mobile health monitoring is the use of IT and mobile telecommunications to monitor patients remotely, and could help governments, care delivery organizations (CDOs) and healthcare payers reduce costs related to chronic diseases and improve the quality of life of their patients. In developing markets, the mobility aspect is key as mobile network coverage is superior to fixed network in the majority of developing countries. Currently, mobile health monitoring is at an early stage of market maturity and implementation, and project rollouts have so far been limited to pilot projects. In the future, the industry will be able to monetize the service by offering mobile healthcare monitoring products, services and solutions to CDOs.
No. 6: Mobile Payment
Mobile payment usually serves three purposes. First, it is a way of making payment when few alternatives are available. Second, it is an extension of online payment for easy access and convenience. Third, it is an additional factor of authentication for enhanced security. Mobile payment made Gartner’s top 10 list because of the number of parties it affects — including mobile carriers, banks, merchants, device vendors, regulators and consumers — and the rising interest from both developing and developed markets. Because of the many choices of technologies and business models, as well as regulatory requirements and local conditions, mobile payment will be a highly fragmented market. There will not be standard practices of deployment, so parties will need to find a working solution on a case-by-case basis.
No. 7: Near Field Communication Services
Near field communication (NFC) allows contactless data transfer between compatible devices by placing them close to each other, within ten centimeters. The technology can be used, for example, for retail purchases, transportation, personal identification and loyalty cards. NFC is ranked No. 7 in Gartner’s top ten because it can increase user loyalty for all service providers, and it will have a big impact on carriers' business models. However, its biggest challenge is reaching business agreement between mobile carriers and service providers, such as banks and transportation companies. Gartner expects to see large-scale deployments starting from late 2010, when NFC phones are likely to ship in volume, with Asia leading deployments followed by Europe and North America.
No. 8: Mobile Advertising
Mobile advertising in all regions is continuing to grow through the economic downturn, driven by interest from advertisers in this new opportunity and by the increased use of smartphones and the wireless Internet. Total spending on mobile advertising in 2008 was $530.2 million, which Gartner expects to will grow to $7.5 billion in 2012. Mobile advertising makes the top 10 list because it will be an important way to monetize content on the mobile Internet, offering free applications and services to end users. The mobile channel will be used as part of larger advertising campaigns in various media, including TV, radio, print and outdoors.
No. 9: Mobile Instant Messaging
Price and usability problems have historically held back adoption of mobile instant messaging (IM), while commercial barriers and uncertain business models have precluded widespread carrier deployment and promotion. Mobile IM is on Gartner’s top 10 list because of latent user demand and market conditions that are conducive to its future adoption. It has a particular appeal to users in developing markets that may rely on mobile phones as their only connectivity device. Mobile IM presents an opportunity for mobile advertising and social networking, which have been built into some of the more advanced mobile IM clients.
No. 10: Mobile Music
Mobile music so far has been disappointing — except for ring tones and ring-back tones, which have turned into a multibillion-dollar service. On the other hand, it is unfair to dismiss the value of mobile music, as consumers want music on their phones and to carry it around. We see efforts by various players in coming up with innovative models, such as device or service bundles, to address pricing and usability issues. iTunes makes people pay for music, which shows that a superior user experience does make a difference.
Neurofeedback Outcomes in Clients with Asperger's Syndrome.
Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2009 Nov 12;
Authors: Thompson L, Thompson M, Reid A
This paper summarizes data from a review of neurofeedback (NFB) training with 150 clients with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and 9 clients with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seen over a 15 year period (1993-2008) in a clinical setting. The main objective was to investigate whether electroncephalographic (EEG) biofeedback, also called neurofeedback (NFB), made a significant difference in clients diagnosed with AS. An earlier paper (Thompson et al. 2009) reviews the symptoms of AS, highlights research findings and theories concerning this disorder, discusses QEEG patterns in AS (both single and 19-channel), and details a hypothesis, based on functional neuroanatomy, concerning how NFB, often paired with biofeedback (BFB), might produce a change in symptoms. A further aim of the current report is to provide practitioners with a detailed description of the method used to address some of the key symptoms of AS in order to encourage further research and clinical work to refine the use of NFB plus BFB in the treatment of AS. All charts were included for review where there was a diagnosis of AS or ASD and pre- and post-training testing results were available for one or more of the standardized tests used. Clients received 40-60 sessions of NFB, which was combined with training in metacognitive strategies and, for most older adolescent and adult clients, with BFB of respiration, electrodermal response, and, more recently, heart rate variability. For the majority of clients, feedback was contingent on decreasing slow wave activity (usually 3-7 Hz), decreasing beta spindling if it was present (usually between 23 and 35 Hz), and increasing fast wave activity termed sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) (12-15 or 13-15 Hz depending on assessment findings). The most common initial montage was referential placement at the vertex (CZ) for children and at FCz (midway between FZ and CZ) for adults, referenced to the right ear. Metacognitive strategies relevant to social understanding, spatial reasoning, reading comprehension, and math were taught when the feedback indicated that the client was relaxed, calm, and focused. Significant improvements were found on measures of attention (T.O.V.A. and IVA), core symptoms (Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome, Conners' Global Index, SNAP version of the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, and the ADD-Q), achievement (Wide Range Achievement Test), and intelligence (Wechsler Intelligence Scales). The average gain for the Full Scale IQ score was 9 points. A decrease in relevant EEG ratios was also observed. The ratios measured were (4-8 Hz)(2)/(13-21 Hz)(2), (4-8 Hz)/(16-20 Hz), and (3-7 Hz)/(12-15 Hz). The positive outcomes of decreased symptoms of Asperger's and ADHD (including a decrease in difficulties with attention, anxiety, aprosodias, and social functioning) plus improved academic and intellectual functioning, provide preliminary support for the use of neurofeedback as a helpful component of effective intervention in people with AS.
Nov 25, 2009
The “Rationalizer”, is a new concept device by Philips that is designed for “mirroring" your emotions.
The user wears an Emobracelet on his/her wrist which measures the arousal component of the user’s emotion through a galvanic skin response sensor. The EmoBracelet is wirelessly connected with the EmoBowl, a bowl with lighted patterns that displays user’s emotional status.
The range is a soft yellow, orange, or deep red.
When the user sees that the bowl is flashing red, it means that it might be good to take a breather and calm down before making any irrational decisions (i.e. risky investments).
See how the Razionalizer works in this concept video:
Nov 23, 2009
Nov 18, 2009
RAVE 2010 - Real Actions in Virtual Environments - Call for Papers
See website: http://www.raveconference.com
* When: 3rd March, 2010.
Palau de les Heures, University of Barcelona, Campus Mundet, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171 08035 Barcelona.
* Keynote Speaker - Dr Hunter Hoffman,
http://www.hitl.washington.edu/people/hunter/, University of Washington, USA
* Papers - may be submitted directly for oral presentation at the conference and a special issue of PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, to be published in August 2010.
* Abstracts may be submitted for oral presentation at the conference or will presented as posters (see website for details).
***Deadline for paper submission: 8th January, 2010*** 23.59 Central European Time (Paris, Madrid)
Nov 17, 2009
A post-doc position (funded for 3+ years) is available immediately in the field of Brain-Computer Interface/Neural Engineering research.
The successful candidate will be part of the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Research and Development Program at the Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York. The research will primarily involve the use of signals recorded from the surface of the brain (electrocorticography (ECoG)) in humans to decode specific aspects of human cognition or behavior from ECoG signals, and to use these signals for communication or control. The goal of this project is to build a system that extracts and uses these decoded signals in real time.
This real-time implementation will be based on our BCI2000 system (http://www.bci2000.org), which has become the standard in the field of BCI research and has already been provided to about 500 laboratories around the world.
Required expertise is a solid background in signal processing, in particular time series/spectral analyses, classification, and machine learning, and excellent programming expertise in Matlab. Please do not apply if you do not have this expertise. Additional desired expertise is a solid understanding of neuroscience, in particular in ECoG signals related to attentional/intentional/motor systems, and programming experience in C/C++.
Applicants should send a CV, a brief statement of background and goals, and two reference letters to Dr. Gerwin Schalk (http://www.wadsworth.org/resnres/bios/schalk.htm) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will start immediately and continue until the position is filled.
The BCI program at the Wadsworth Center is recognized world-wide for its EEG-and ECoG-based BCI research. The Wadsworth Center has been named one of the "Best Places to Work for Postdocs" and one of the "Best Places to Work in Academia" by The Scientist magazine.
Gerwin Schalk, Ph.D.
Research Scientist V
Wadsworth Center, NYS Dept. of Health
Dept. of Neurology, Albany Medical College
Dept. of Neurosurgery, Washington Univ. in St. Louis
Dept. of Biomed. Eng., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dept. of Biomed. Sci., State Univ. of New York at Albany
C650 Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12201
phone (518) 486-2559
fax (518) 486-4910
Oct 29, 2009
Oct 27, 2009
From the project's website
The project Green Watch/Citypulse aims at multiplying by 1000 the number of environmental sensors in the city, while encouraging people’s implication in measuring environmental indices, thus associating them directly to building a sustainable city.
The green watch comprizes a watch and two environmental sensors (ozone, noise). Data are regularly broadcasted via a mobile phone to an open platform called Citypulse which receives, stores and makes measure data available and anonymous. Data can then be used freely in order to be shown on maps, used in models.
30 prototypes of the green watch was tested in May 2009 by residents of the 2nd arrondissement of Paris (Digital District) and also during Futur en Seine, by highschool students of Montreuil (Maison Populaire), by researchers in the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie and by visitors of the wikiplaza, place de la Bastille.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus, which goes on sale this Friday, got the permission to use the NHS’s Change4Life logo in its advertising on television and in shops. From next year, it is possible that the logo will be used on the product itself, an unprecedented partnership between a video game and the Government.
Change4Life is a public health programme in the UK which began in January 2009, organised by the Department of Health. The campaign aims to encourage people in Britain to lead healthier lives, using the slogan "eat well, move more, live longer"
A spokesman for the Department of Health told the Telegraph: "Active video games, where kids need to jump up and down or dance about as part of the game, are a great way to get kids moving."
Oct 24, 2009
In the last days, I have been brainstorming non stop about the concept of Positive Technology.
After almost four years of gathering ideas in this blog, I feel it’s time for a summary...
As first step, I have tried to collect my thoughts in this presentation, which I gave last week at the Stensen Foundation in Florence.
Audience feedback was pretty good - nobody was sleeping - so it looks a promising start.
Oct 23, 2009
Oct 20, 2009
This interesting article, recently appeared in hplusmagazine, reviews the emerging trends in "neuroenhancement"
The 'I' and the 'Me' in self-referential awareness: a neurocognitive hypothesis.
Cogn Process. 2009 Sep 11;
Authors: Tagini A, Raffone A
The nature of the 'self' and self-referential awareness has been one of the most debated issues in philosophy, psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Understanding the neurocognitive bases of self-related representation and processing is also crucial to research on the neural correlates of consciousness. The distinction between an 'I', corresponding to a subjective sense of the self as a thinker and causal agent, and a 'Me', as the objective sense of the self with the unique and identifiable features constituting one's self-image or self-concept, suggested by William James, has been re-elaborated by authors from different theoretical perspectives. In this article, empirical studies and theories about the 'I' and the 'Me' in cognition and self-related awareness are reviewed, including the relationships between self and perception, self and memory, the development of the self, self-referential stimulus processing, as well as related neuroimaging studies. Subsequently, the relations between self and different aspects of consciousness are considered. On the basis of the reviewed literature and with reference to Block's distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness, a neurocognitive hypothesis is formulated about 'I'-related and 'Me'-related self-referential awareness. This hypothesis is extended to metacognitive awareness and a form of non-transitive consciousness, characteristic of meditation experiences and studies, with particular reference to the notion of mindfulness and other Buddhist constructs.
Inducing a virtual hand ownership illusion through a brain-computer interface.
Neuroreport. 2009 Apr 22;20(6):589-594
Authors: Perez-Marcos D, Slater M, Sanchez-Vives MV
The apparently stable brain representation of our bodies is easily challenged. We have recently shown that the illusion of ownership of a three-dimensional virtual hand can be evoked through synchronous tactile stimulation of a person's hidden real hand and that of the virtual hand. This reproduces the well-known rubber-hand illusion, but in virtual reality. Here we show that some aspects of the illusion can also occur through motor imagery used to control movements of a virtual hand. When movements of the virtual hand followed motor imagery, the illusion of ownership of the virtual hand was evoked and muscle activity measured through electromyogram correlated with movements of the virtual arm. Using virtual bodies has a great potential in the fields of physical and neural rehabilitation, making the understanding of ownership of a virtual body highly relevant.