Ornos: Prototype 02


Here’s the first test with Ornos. The compass readings are behaving pretty well considering it’s right underneath a spinning hard drive. The 1.2Ghz processor and 512 RAM don’t seem to be enough to download and render the image quickly enough, so I’m going to have to figure out how to speed things up.

Ornos : Prototype 01


I was going to cover the lasercut masonite with a leather sleeve, but I’m going to go with cnc milled RenShape with a painted finish for the next prototype. The compass needs to be calibrated to the offsets caused by the magnetized computer hardware and I need to tweak some code to get the frames to load faster and smoother. I’ll post a video as soon as that part is worked out.

Ornos : A View from Above


Since the first hand drawn maps of the stars to satellite imagery and GPS navigation today, our frame of reference and our perception of space has been molded into a view from above. Our understanding of place is often linked to an abstract representation on a map rather than a physical relational comprehension. You could probably point out Azerbaijan on a map, but how many of us can simply point in its direction across the globe? The image of the globe projected onto a vertical surface is so pervasive, we often associate “up” with north as we project ourselves into a mental image of map.

The accessibility of GPS and online map services have continued to reinforce the “up” vector while creating a greater divide between the physical world and its virtual representations. Today, we view from above, as primarily experienced on our screens, in an elevation view without any regard to its physical context. We project our presence into the screen through multiple translations of orientation. Viewing a map on a computer screen requires one to find a location on the screen that represents a position, then the abstracted orientation of the vertical screen must be translated and scaled into the physical context of the current position. We’ve lost a step in comprehension without the compass and the horizontal map. The traditional map and compass gave an intuitive understanding of a current position in relation to physical space by rotating the map to align with the space it represented. What appeared one inch to the left of my location on the map could be confirmed by looking up to my left.

Ornos is a telescopic view from above. The horizontal screen reconstructs a view from a position directly above itself using satellite imagery and maps. Exploring your current surroundings is as simple as sliding the device on any surface to pan across the globe. Zooming is controlled by rotating the device itself. The onboard digital compass and GPS modules orient the image on the screen to reflect your physical surroundings while satellite imagery and maps are dynamically loaded from Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo.

Ornos : Prototype 01 from che-wei wang on Vimeo.

Here’s the first test with Ornos. The compass readings are behaving pretty well considering it’s right underneath a spinning hard drive. The 1.2Ghz processor and 512 RAM don’t seem to be enough to download and render the image quickly enough, so I’m going to have to figure out how to speed things up.

Trust Vision

trust.jpg ((image manipulated from original by manitou2121, an interesting composite of faces from hotornot.com))

Why should I trust you? Because you sound trustworthy? Smell trustworthy? Look trustworthy? How do we measure trust?

Trust Vision is a personally biased trust measuring video camera. As each frame is presented, a face or faces within the frame are superimposed with trust ratings based on previous faces that have been rated by the user. Over time, the computer creates a mental map of facial features of a trustworthy individual. The real-time analysis of facial features is aided by the user’s bias, as he or she discretely changes the trust ratings of individuals on the screen. Changes in the mental map may “out” a previously trusted person or improve someone’s standing.


Video chat is great, but maybe I don’t want to see your face. Or more likely, I don’t want you to see me sitting at my computer in my underwear. A less intrusive channel of communication, like IM, is often desirable but we lose several modes of expression when we only communicate with text. Could a greater sense of presence be transmitted through our most common computer interfaces (keyboard, mouse)? Many of us chat with IM, but using CAPS and emoticons to communicate, lack a level of fidelity to properly transmit a range of emotions. Without any training or instruction, we already convey a large set of emotions towards our devices to express ourselves. We often express our feelings to devices closes to us. We slap our TV, pet our computer, and slam our mouse with frustration, yet these common expressions are ignored. What if we could open a channel of communication for your mouse? What if your mouse gestures could transmit your feelings across to your friend?


TeleCursing is a chat plugin that takes your mouse cursor and simply places it on your friend’s screen. A thin line is drawn on the screen connecting the mouse cursors within proximity. With the cursors on the screen, you can flirt, scribble with frustration, hold hands, play tag, or just know when your friend is active on the other end. The cursor could be customize to be shown in a less distracting translucent cursor or in a more lively avatar-like way with animations based on mouse vector, proximity and clicks.

Other multimouse hacks: DualOsx v.1(hoax?), MPX: The Multi-Pointer X Server, SpookyAction [video]

Talking Face to Face


Talking Face to Face is a networked communication system that detects the position of two users in relation to each other anywhere on the globe. Using a combination of GPS and a compass, the audio output is modified to create the sensation of the voice’s position and proximity to the listener. If Bob is in NYC and Sarah is in LA, their voices would sound relatively distant to each other. Bob would face west and Sarah would face east so their voices would sound as if they were facing each other. If Bob turns away, Sarah’s voice would sound like they were no longer facing each other. As Bob and Sarah turn their positions the voice they hear will gain reverb, volume, and other effects to simulate their relative presence in a spacial environment.

We are curious beings that need and want confirmation of our existence and presence. We like to explore, yet we want to stay at home. We yearn for freedom, difference and change, yet we find comfort in familiarity. I believe it’s this dilemma that telepresence aims to solve.

The presence stack:
Physical sensory input of a moment,
channeled through nerve paths to the brain,
processed and compared to a set of memories of the sensation,
judgments constructed on the presence of the sensation or the realness of the input,
and predictions constructed of the next sensation.

Is what i see, smell, feel, hear, or taste, real? is it out of the ordinary? What is real and not real? Is this moment not the moment I expected to follow the last moment?

Presence deals with and persists in change. Our presence cannot be static. Presence cannot remain in the past or exist in the future. We can only continuously observe and predict changes within our current moment based on our past experiences.

Being present is a combination of sensations that confirm our prediction of where we are spatially and mentally. If I were to sense or experience a moment that is out of the ordinary and a magnitude beyond what I expect, I would question the reality of my environment in that moment. In other words, if my prediction of the near future is shattered by an extraordinary experience outside my threshold of reality, my presence comes into question. For example, if I were to approach my sink and turn on my faucet and nothing comes out, something unexpected has happened, but I’ve had similar experiences in the past, so I can imagine what had gone wrong and find a solution. On the other hand, if I go to turn on the faucet and butterflies fly out, the presence of the faucet in my reality or my presence in this reality would be questioned. Is that real? Is this real? Could this be happening now? Am I dreaming?

We are often willing to accept the presence of other people with only a fraction or glimpse of their entire presence. I often mistake a mannequin in my peripheral vision as a real person, only to be surprised when a closer look reveals its lifelessness. I can also fool myself into believe I’m somewhere else no matter how hard I try to resist when I listen to binaural recordings of a previous space and time. We are willing to complete the picture for ourselves because we try to match previous experiences to our current experience to predicting how our environment should be. Could implied presence by a mannequin persist over a long period of time? Can audio input be so convincing that we question our mismatched vision?

In each confirmation of another’s presence, i think we are looking for life. Is the other alive? The classic horror movie scenario of walking down a hall of medieval armor statues questions how we determine the presence of another being. Is someone wearing the armor and standing very still, or is it empty and lifeless? The presence of a ghost or prankster is only confirmed when something moves. Or is that enough? If their axe drops to the ground, would we assume someone deliberately dropped the axe, or did the shifting of my weight on the creaking floors cause the accident? Would a glimpse of a pair of eyes confirm our suspicions of someone’s presence? Would the sound or smell of someone’s breath convince us? Whether it is a single clue or a combination of movement, sight and sound, we are looking for a confirmation of life.

If I follow my brother into a dark basement, i would continually feel his presence no matter how dark or silent the room may be. Even if he didn’t respond to me calling his name, i would still expect him to be there when i turn the lights on. Perhaps he’s ignoring me or playing a game with me. It would be a hard stretch in our imagination and a break in our reality if we turned the lights on and he was nowhere to be found. Perhaps I would even search for him in the basement behind the shelves and behind the boxes. Without some indication of him exiting the basement like the sound of the door closing or the sound of his footsteps, his presence is automatically completed by a single instance of his existence before we entered the basement. Our imagination wants to complete our senses to detect his presence.

We want presence and will stretch our imagination to detect presence.