Invoked computing: Pizza box is too loud! I can't hear the banana

November 22, 2011 by Nancy Owano, report
'Invoked Computing' at home

( -- Mention the buzz word ubiquitous to any technology futurists and they will know what that implies. Hardware as we know it will recede. More people will communicate with words and images embedded in walls, on boxes, as part of room furniture and kitchen appliances. Pretty much the entire physical environment, not a screen, will be the canvas for carrying and sharing information. Some futurists call it computing’s third wave, following the mainframe and then the PC and mobile gadgets.

But here is an interesting recent twist. Researchers at the Ishikawa-Oku lab at the University of Tokyo are eagerly sharing their Invoked Computing . It’s about “spatial audio and video” augmented reality that is invoked through miming. At least that is one way to describe the concept. Another way is this.

Researchers taking part in the “invoked computing” project are working up a multimodal augmented reality system that can transform everyday objects into communication devices on the spot. To “invoke” an application, the user just needs to mimic a specific scenario.

DigInfo recently released a video of the demos. The presentation shows how the team puts their concept into action. There is a banana scenario where the person takes a banana out of a fruit bowl and brings it closer to his ear. A high speed camera tracks the banana; a parametric speaker array directs the sound in a narrow beam. The person talks into the banana as if it were a conventional phone.

Invoked computing: Pizza box is too loud! I can't hear the banana

“With an iPhone, for example, you have everything in a small device and you have to learn how to use it,” said project spokesperson, Alexis Zerroug, whose university work in Tokyo is focused on virtual reality and machine human interfaces. “Here we want to do the opposite; the computer will have to learn what you want to do.”

Another concept example that the team presents is “a laptop in a pizza box.” Video and sound are projected onto the lid of the pizza box. The user interacts with what he sees on the pizza box, moving a playhead and changing the volume.

Zerroug, Alvaro Cassinelli, and Masatoshi Ishikawa recently won grand prize at the Laval Virtual 2011 in France for their concept demo. They also had the concept on display at the Digital Contents Expo in Tokyo. At the expo, their entry had the following descriptive notes:”Our multimodal AR system will detect objects and augment them with images and sounds. For example, you can take a banana and use it as a phone handset, or a pizza box as a laptop computer.”

Explore further: Augmented reality in an iPhone app

More information: Researchers' website

Related Stories

Augmented reality in an iPhone app

June 20, 2011

Imagine you’re in a museum, and you can point your iPhone camera to a painting or an object in an exhibit and instantly get additional information about what you’re looking at. This is what PixLive, an iPhone app ...

Support brings network-less mobiles closer to reality

August 31, 2011

A new, open source mobile phone technology developed by Flinders University’s "digital blacksmith" Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen and which promises to revolutionize telecommunications has earned him a $400,000 Fellowship ...

iSchool prof predicts the future of search user interfaces

November 7, 2011

School of Information professor Marti Hearst predicts the future of online search interfaces in an article in this month’s edition of the Communications of the ACM. “The future of user interfaces will involve ...

Head-up display wins top navigation prize in Munich

October 27, 2011

( -- A navigation system making use of something called "True3D" technology has won the top prize in this year's European Satellite Navigation Competition in Munich, Germany. The ESNC is an international innovation ...

Nokia prototype: twist, bend, tap, steal show (w/ video)

October 28, 2011

( -- The talk of the Nokia Show in London this week was a demo that had admiring visitors wishing the little device was beyond Cool-Idea Prototype and instead a launch with dates in place for stores and online ...

Recommended for you

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a submarine?

February 15, 2018

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of traveling both through the air and under the water – transitioning repeatedly between sky and sea. ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nov 22, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
5 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2011
I see I'm not the only person with an affinity for bananaphones :)

I like where this is going. Have they tried any sort of integration with domestic animals ?
5 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2011
I always get a chuckle reading these kind of futuristic "predictions". They could be right, but lots of things I've been reading for decades in scifi just don't pan out. Sometimes, because people just really don't care all that much. I mean, I'd personally be interested in a nano-level communication system between me and everything I own, to the point of integrated sensors allowing me to "see" the hawk soaring over my house or "feel" the electricity coursing through the grid. But, that kind of thing may just not happen because, as is so often the case in a consumer economy, there's just not enough profit in it. But I can dream.
not rated yet Nov 23, 2011
If something like this goes into place, then that scene in Dreamcatcher where the guy's talking to his friend "through the gun" wouldn't seem odd at all to the generation that grows up with the technology. And kids would think that we had this technology all the way back to Maxwell Smart's generation.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.