ITS 2010 – Day 1

I’m attending ITS 2010 – the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany. This is a short collection of interesting stuff I’ve seen and heard on day 1 (Sunday, 6. November 2010).

(people testing the multitouch device they just built)

Sunday started with four tutorials:

Sheelagh Carpendale (University of Calgary) gave an introduction into qualitative evaluation and observation of tabletop interaction. We did an experiment where she would tell us a story and we should draw a continuous line somehow representing the mood of the characters in the story. I found it quite interesting that there were completely different looking drawings but some drawings looked quite similar. I wonder whether you could find out which persons have a similar understanding of a story. Looks like a great method for match-making.

Uli von Zadow (Archimedes Solutions) gave a very interesting overview of multitouch sensing APIs and implementation details of common processing stages (e.g. it is not a good idea to put successive processing stages on different processors as this makes the processor cache pretty much useless).

Florian Echtler (Hochschule München) presented an overview of multitouch sensing techniques [I did not attend the talk as I’m pretty familiar with his work].

And finally, Anne Roudaut (HPI Potsdam) organized a really cool “build your own multitouch” session where about 50 participants built a simple touch-sensitive surface using FTIR with visible light and a cheap webcam. You can find the instructions online on her Acrylicpad page. They got really cheap (5 EUR) webcams on eBay. However, they only worked with Windows XP – and of course Linux 🙂

Afterwards we had a nice get-together at the Ratskeller in Saarbrücken.

Photo taken from the official Facebook album:

Day 1, Day 2

Emotiv EPOC Brain-Computer Interface cracked open

The Emotiv EPOC is a relatively cheap ($300) EEG headset intended for gaming.
I have considered buying such a device for some time. Unfortunately, the device is sold out at the moment and only available in the US.
A developer headset ($500, sold out, too) is available worldwide. However, you would need to purchase an SDK, ranging from $500-$7500 in order to do anything meaningful with it. The SDK does not support Linux, of course.

However, today Cody Brocious (Daeken) has released the first version of a Python toolkit for the EPOC. For this he cracked the AES encryption and partially reverse-engineered the protocol.
There’s still a lot missing – for example, it is not clear which signal belongs to which sensor, and the signals are not yet analyzed in any way.

This seems like the right opportunity to get an EPOC and tinker with it. Thanks Daeken.

Some discussion is happening at Hacker News and Hack A Day

Update: H+ magazine has an interview with Cody, conducted by Bryan Bishop who already wrote a Python wrapper for the EPOC in June, using the official SDK, however.

Update 2: It seems the developer headset is different from the standard one. skadge is trying to get it working.

Update 3:
Emotiv responds in their forum:

We strongly oppose this kind of action. It violates the end user license and seriously threatens our viability. It is no exaggeration to say we may be forced to withdraw the consumer headset from the market or go out of business entirely. Kinda defeats the stated purpose of “opening up” the product for research users – which is frankly spurious because it IS open to properly licensed owners – and OpenViBE has a properly licensed driver already in Beta development.

It’s all well and good to demonstrate how smart you are by hacking the iPhone – Apple can afford to lose some revenue. We are a struggling company and this action has prompted our investors ask us to show cause why they should not demand repayment of our operating loan. Research licenses are a substantial part of our revenue. Thanks to this selfish action we may well have to close the doors or withdraw the consumer product, or re-price it at a significantly higher level.

That enough discussion for you?

Update 4:
Daeken has posted an unconfirmed Dev Key on IRC:

conKey = '\x31\x00\x35\x54\x38\x10\x37\x42\x31\x00\x35\x48\x38\x00\x37\x50'
devKey = '\x31\x00\x35\x48\x31\x00\x35\x54\x38\x10\x37\x42\x38\x00\x37\x50'

Computer Science Conference Domains Grabbed

Seems like someone grabbed a number of domains for upcoming computer science conferences like ITS 2011 and 2012. The (anonymous) registrations took place on July, 23rd 2010.

I’m curious whether any conference organizers will indeed buy back the domains.

The URLs registered so far are:

Sketching Wih Hardware March 2010


ChatRoulette Piano Improv


Hello world!

Hi. My name is Raphael Wimmer. I am a PhD student / research assistant in the Media Informatics Group at the University of Munich.

I just switched from to for most of my blogging. Unfortunately, lacks many nice features.

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Cleaning clogged nozzles of a Epson inkjet printer


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