Join Us Virtually at #DEVCON09, Anytime

By Kate

Hi everyone,

I’ve had a whopping cup of black coffee and am ready to roll for another day of Devcon. There are still many things I’d like to blog about from yesterday, but I’m waiting to see what happens today before I commit to any content.

Meanwhile . . . are you sitting somewhere other than the Devcon breakout sessions? Fred Vacher has told me the Devcon virtual conference spaces, like the Shanghai World Expo 2010, will be open for your leisurely browsing and playing for a long time.

Fred took me on a tour of the virtual spaces this morning, and here’s what I like best:

  • The 3D objects are smart objects, meaning you can listen to that radio you see, and even change the channel if you don’t like the song playing! Go ahead, try to open all the cabinets and play all the media!
  • You can replay your favorite keynotes
  • You can interact with partner content
  • Your avatar is a Virtools person, just like in the video games
  • All the environments are made with 3DVIA Virtools, no Flash

I’m working on getting a 1 minute video of the virtual space and will add it here once obtained.

You also may enjoy Al Dean’s notes from his live Devcon experience yesterday.

Instructions to connect virtually: let ‘er rip!

To enter the conference :

1. Register by clicking here.

2. Select your Persona.

3. Enter in one of the 4 virtual rooms tagged “virtualdevcon”

To run 3D Virtual DevCon, you will need the 3dvia plug-in. In most cases the plug-in will install and execute itself automatically without any problem. If you notice a yellow bar at the top of your Internet Explorer window stating that the download is blocked, click on it and choose “Authorize the content”.

Minimal system configuration for running 3DVIA Virtual Devcon Private Beta:

  • Microsoft Windows(XP or Vista)
  • Pentium 4 1GHz(or equivalent)-512MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer (6.0+), Firefox (3.0+)
  • 128MB Video card
  • Pilot DirectX 9c or recent
  • Windows MediaPlayer 9
  • High speed Internet connection



Addendum: The number of spots for the registration link is limited.  If you try to enter after the limit is reached, use this URL instead.

Eye Tracking Super Power with Tobii

By Kate
Antoine and Nicolas from Tobii

Antoine and Nicolas from Tobii

Have you ever tried moving objects with your . . . eyes?

If you’re at Devcon you can, just pop by the Tobii booth. Granted the objects you’ll move will be photos and words, but I promise you’ll feel as if you’ve been given a new super-power.

The market for eye tracking software and devices is interesting, and the proof, Tobii’s business is growing by gallops every year. Who’s using it? There are four main industries soaking up the stuff:

Market research and usability
This is interesting for website and software usability, online marketing . . . package design and shelf placement, and sponsoring and product placement. And although just starting to peep its head out of the egg (so to speak), Dassault Systèmes is now exploring using eye tracking with its 3DVIA Virtual Shopping solution. Lifelike baby!

Scientific research
If yours eyes are the windows to your soul, Tobii is going to get pretty intimate with your subconscious. Well, the psychologists will at least. Psychology and vision researchers are mixing eye tracking into their lab kits. There are some neat things happening in terms of infant research, for example. The babes can’t talk, but you can figure out what’s happening in there by studying their gazes. Other examples of research fields cracking for eye tracking include psycholinguistics and neuropsychology.

Assistance technology
Eye tracking allows disabled people to manage artificial intelligence interfaces with their gaze. They can browse the web, write messages, and in some cases “speak” for the first time. Unassisted.

OEM technology
This is where it gets interesting for traditional product innovation. What if you could integrate an eye tracking device into medical instruments and vehicles? Imagine the lives that could be saved if all cars contained an eye tracking device that would detect driver drowsiness and then set off some sort of alarm to jolt your system into alertedness . . .

The possibilities are endless, up to us to invent them. If you were to invent an eye tracking innovation, what would it be?

A demain!



P.S. Here’s a moving video about a professor with ALS using eye tracking to get his life back on track.

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Encounter with Connex the 3D Printer

By Kate

Everyone has a first time for everything, and today was my first encounter with a 3D printer. Keep in mind I’m neither a designer nor engineer, so thanks for indulging me in my excitement.

I must confess that I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my mind around what is a “3D printer”. I’m coming from a Xerox perspective where ink gets jetted onto paper to print out text, images and occasional gag items like your hands.

After having seen some “printed” things, I’d argue that this is rather about producing objects, or as the professionals would say, prototyping objects. Replace ink jets with resin-spewing nozzles (200 per material I’m told), connect your CATIA or other CAD data to a machine like the Connex by Object, and then you let Connex purr away until it spits out items like:

This elegant decorative bowl:

How about a translucent head containing an anatomically correct brain?

Or a jaw fully equipped with teeth (notice those gorgeous roots):

Why not a gear thing-a-ma-bob to keep your fidgety fingers busy?

I find it particularly cool that with a lot of resin dots, each approximately .04 mm in size (think hair follicles), 3D printers like Connex can spew out complex, mechanically functioning objects. It’s almost like the dots are cells, but without the intelligence.

What a great way to quickly test your design concept. See if the object in question does indeed fit into your pocket, is easy to manipulate, etc.

I was hoping the resin used is biodegradable, but we’re not there yet. Maybe next year?

Many thanks to Object and their reseller from MG2 Systems who took the time to answer my questions and let me cart his “printed objects” around Devcon until I found the right photo spot. I did feel a little odd toting around the head/brain.

More to come from Devcon soon. Check out #DSDEVCON09 on Twitter if you’d like to see what people are tweeting, and please jump in the comments section if you feel inspired.



P.S. Here’s a snazzy video of Connex herself.

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