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kottke.org posts about VR

A Mobile Tabletop Shape Display for Tangible and Haptic Interaction

posted by Patrick Tanguay   Apr 30, 2018

We’ve seen this before with the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group inFORM but that was a (super impressive) table, this one is movable, much smaller, seems to be higher resolution and multiple units can be combined.

We explore interactions enabled by 2D spatial manipulation and self-actuation of a tabletop shape display. To explore these interactions, we developed shapeShift, a compact, high-resolution (7 mm pitch), mobile tabletop shape display. shapeShift can be mounted on passive rollers allowing for bimanual interaction where the user can freely manipulate the system while it renders spatially relevant content. shapeShift can also be mounted on an omnidirectional-robot to provide both vertical and lateral kinesthetic feedback, display moving objects, or act as an encountered-type haptic device for VR. We present a study on haptic search tasks comparing spatial manipulation of a shape display for egocentric exploration of a map versus exploration using a fixed display and a touch pad. Results show a 30% decrease in navigation path lengths, 24% decrease in task time, 15% decrease in mental demand and 29% decrease in frustration in favor of egocentric navigation.

(Via prosthetic knowledge)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 17, 2017

George Saunders has written his first novel and it’s just as unusual as his short stories. Lincoln in the Bardo is historical fiction about Abraham Lincoln mourning the death of his son Willie, who is caught between lives.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

Buzzfeed has an excerpt of the novel, which takes the form of a collection of quotes.

The boy, frustrated at being denied the attention he felt he deserved, moved in and leaned against his father, as the father continued to hold and gently rock the—
the reverend everly thomas

Sick-form.
hans vollman

At one point, moved, I turned away from the scene and found we were not alone.
roger bevins iii

A crowd had gathered outside.
the reverend everly thomas

All were silent.
roger bevins iii

As the man continued to gently rock his child.
the reverend everly thomas

While his child, simultaneously, stood quietly leaning against him.
hans vollman

Then the gentleman began to speak.
roger bevins iii

Time to bust out the Google Cardboard: the NY Times VR team adapted a part of the novel into a 10-minute VR film.

Here’s a good interview with Saunders about the book and a review by Colson Whitehead. The book has been hovering near the top of the Amazon best sellers list since its release — it was #2 when I looked yesterday but is currently 6th, right after Orwell’s 19841 — and I’ve seen several people in my Instagram feed reading it…or at least socially signaling that they’re reading it. ;)

  1. The current #1 is a hardcover strategy guide for a new Legend of Zelda game that doesn’t come out until next month.