post MIT Media Lab

February 27th, 2008

We caught the train up to Boston and now our home is in the lovely and dull holiday inn, Beacon Hill. Pablo has caught my flu, so we have been up all night with him. found myself walking the pram through the corridors of the Holiday inn last night in my pyjamas. I am exhausted. Matt went to the pharmacy to get some medication for his flu. He took the lightest one that was available and was knocked out. Scary stuff. We have been filled up with bad fast food and I am already missing access to a kitchen and some fresh food.


matt and pablo hanging out at the holiday inn.


pablo getting ready to face the cold

So, feeling a little bit thick in the head today _ I had my first meeting at the MIT media lab. Last year in London I met with Rosalind Picard, head of Affective computing. She was talking at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She invited me to be visiting artist at the MediaLab. Also, Over the last couple of years, I began discussing ideas with Rana El Kaliouby, one of Picards senior research fellows, which lead to my current project, CHAMELEON. The Media Lab seems like a chaotic, creative, busy congested and inspirational place. All groups seems to be together on the 4th floor – prototypes, computers, displays, mock ups are scattered over desks, floors, ceilings. A lot of good thoughts go on there.

I Met with Roz and Rana today. Rana is developing real time facial recognition software and is a key partner in the CHAMELEON project. She began this investigation through out her phd at Cambridge. She worked with Alexa Write and Alf Linney on the “Alter Ego” project in 2003. She has since further discerned the software, and is now interested in its uses with people with autism disorder.


Had a look at how the technology is working – was great to see it. Is quite subtle. This aim of this project is to push the technologies uses – more naturalistic interaction and spontaneous movement, working in darker lighting, working with multi-participants. She whowed me a galvanic skin conductance sensor they are developing – wireless version – could be great for Feel Series. We talked about methodologies, common language, visual ideas, timelines, and how we see ourselves working together over the next few years. Rana is actually based in Cairo, but flies into MIT once a month. We talked about how to build the stages of the project. What are the best tools to build at this stage? What are the best areas to focus on?

At the moment we have the project working with no interaction. The next stage is integration. We need to get the non interaction version, (which is simulated emotions built on a mac using max MSP) working with her software which will shoot out information every 5 seconds or so to Max MSP. I have bought another laptop, which I will run as a PC and will get it speaking to each other. So stage 2, working with Max MSP or C++. These choices have to be made pretty soon. We talked about the possibilities of hiring an undergraduate to work on the project over summer.

I am meeting up with more of the group tonight for dinner. Will be interesting to see what everyone is working on. I will be giving a talk on Friday.



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