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Interaction Tyneside: Periodically Transitioning Families and Designing in Stereoscope

This month’s Interaction Tyneside went from defense families to Toy Story, but shared a common thread of being based on personal journeys.

Reunion and technology-mediated separation in periodically transitioned families

Kostas Kazakos

Kostas Kazakos of Interaction Design Lab "Reunion and technology-mediated separation in periodically transitioned families"
Kostas Kazakos. Also note the wooden box at bottom—Hugo Glover’s stereoscope!

Globe trotting Kostas Kazakos (born in Greece, spent some time in Texas, now doing his PhD in Melbourne) discussed his PhD research on HCI and periodically transitioned families. Based on his personal experience as a child in a defense family, he had noted that there hadn’t been much attention paid to this type of family (an atypical one as opposed to the separated one from divorce).

His work is specifically looking at how HCI can be involved in the reunion phase of these interactions (something which is specifically of importance for children). His research subjects (‘grounded theory, not ethnography’) is comparing a number of families that deal with periodic transitions, in defence and in academia.

So far he has noted that academics use modern networking technologies such as Skype and mobile phones in ways that those in defense do not (while one audience member asked if the families might have just been sticking to the offical line of servicemen not giving away their locations, he has found that those situated in Afghanistan and the like usually don’t have cellphone signals even if they have phones).

He also noted that defense families had an asymmetrical relationship in terms of tech use and had many more rituals related to the reunion.

Is S3D (stereoscopic imaging) a vision of the future or of the past?

Hugo Glover

Product designer turned animator turned lecturer Hugo Glover also used his own history to help shape the direction of his staff research at Northumbria University. He had stumbled on the power of stereoscopes as a graduating student: he got a lot of attention by mailing out his product design portfolio as a Viewmaster with slides.

His work uses the realisation that product design, animation, and stereovision exist in their own silos based on the relationship to the screen (around, in, and for respectively) and attempts to bring them all together in the Fourth Window project.

Hugo Glover showing product design, animation design, and stereographic space - wall project
Hugo Glover showing the different discipline relationships to the screen

He is particularly interested in looking at the role of appropriate context for stereoscope: it worked for Avatar because it already has an unreal quality, and Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams allows people to access a world that they will never be able to enter because of the risk to the cave art.

He also shared an interview he did with  Phil ‘Captain 3D’ McNally of Dreamworks (coincidentally a Northumbria graduate as well), who believes that 3D is only as much of a gimmick as film is in general, and has enabled the company to think through 3D from the sketching stage. While early stereovision (think the reviled 50s movies) suffered because the bad quality of film had nauseating effects, this is not a problem anymore and so he is able to create mini-boxes that have a higher resolution than the Apple Retina Display.

He also demonstrated his Stereoscopic Box MI.

John Vines trying out the stereoscopic box (M-I)

(As part of my stepping back from non-PhD related work, I’ve also temporarily stopped livetweeting and gone back to good old sketch-noting. For those that are interested, these are below.)