Locative Interfaces and Social Media
DOI link for Locative Interfaces and Social Media
Locative Interfaces and Social Media book
The contemporary era of computing is social. However, the social practices in the digital world don’t always translate well into face-to-face encounters. As Pattie Maes notes, when you first meet a new person in a face-to-face interaction, “You don’t shake somebody’s hand and then say, ‘Can you hold on for a moment while I take out my phone and Google you?’ ”1 Maes, who is a professor in MIT’s Media Arts and Science Program, has sought to develop technologies that are both social and context-aware to address the gap between how we interact with each other in digital spaces and how we interact in everyday, face-to-face encounters. Her solution, which was developed with several graduate students led by Pranav Mistry, is called SixthSense. SixthSense is a gesture-based mobile technology that is worn around the neck and looks like a pendant. It is comprised of a camera and a batterypowered projection unit. It interacts with the environment and with other people through prescribed gestures such as holding your fingers in front of you in a square, which instructs the device to take a picture. These pictures can then be projected onto any surface and interacted with. The device also responds to each user individually. For example, when a user picks up a book at the store and looks at the cover, SixthSense recognizes the cover from an image database and then draws on user reviews of the book to then project an overall rating that is customized to each user’s tastes and preferences. Addressing Maes’ concern that we wouldn’t pull out our smartphone to Google someone in front of them, SixthSense is also able to detect the person you are interacting with and project a word cloud onto them that gives their name and a variety of words that characterize them (Figure 3.1). These can be words that the person decides ahead of time or can even be their latest updates on a social networking site. Similar to the landscapes that are transformed into information interfaces as discussed in the previous chapter, here, the human body becomes inscribed (quite literally) as a surface and becomes an
information interface. This form of embodied inscription shows clearly the ways that the material world, including our bodies, can become (and, arguably, always were) information interfaces, revealing data that more fully informs the phenomenological engagement with the material world.