Friday, 19 October 2007

LOCUS project presented at Location And Timing event

A few days ago (10/10/07) I was present at a full day event called "Flagship Projects Open Day" at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK. This full-day event, organised by the Location And Timing, Knowledge And Transfer Network presented three major research projects which reached their conclusion including: SPACE, LOCUS and AutoBAHN. I have been involved with LOCUS for the last two years running by generating all the 3D urban content used for it but also by doing consultancy on various real-time computer graphics issues and was thus called upon (along with the rest of the team) to do a short presentation on the project's workpackage I was associated with.

LOCUS is an EPSRC Location and Timing KTN research project, started in 2004 in the department of Information Science at City University. The main focus of the research is to enhance Location Based Services (LBS) by extending the current map-based approach. To satisfy these goals, LOCUS currently implements two innovative interfaces for mobile devices like PDAs and 3G phones.

LOCUS aims in enhancing Location Based Services (LBS) by extending the current map-based approach to offer an augmented reality (AR) interface and to develop routing tools based on the data mining of previous journey experiences. The main research is focused around the cognitive needs of the user for navigational information and self-localisation; the system integration of PVT data with 2D and 3D representations with minimum latency; the spatio-temporal knowledge discovery for user routing behaviour; the accurate and stable registration of the 3D AR model with real objects in real-time and the processing and integration of visualised geographic information with other LBS.

You can download my part of the presentation at the event from here.

For more information on the LOCUS project check

Samsung Q1UMPCM01 Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC)

I've done a few posts already on a number of different UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) but I've never actually been tempted to buy one despite finding the technology fascinating (a device with the computational power of a laptop which is essentially PDA-size is a notion with immense research possibilities). Samsung's Q1UMPCM01 has just changed that.

Retailing at slightly over 600 pounds (with most UMPCs still near the couple of thousand quid mark) the device is perfectly suited to use the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Operating system, featuring built-in wireless networking and Bluetooth connectivity. Sporting a Celeron M processor, an Intel 915GMS Express Video Chipset and a 7 inch display plus also a 40GB Hard Disk, the Samsung Q1UMPCM01 has plenty of storage space for digital media, documents and software, not to mention applications not normally found or associated with mobile devices.

Cellphone use in-flight finally possible in EU flights?

It's been a long-time fervent hope of EU citizens to be able to use a mobile handset while on their flight of choice and it seems that with EU regulators finally recently recommending that member states approve a plan to allow in-flight cellphone use, we'll soon be well on our way to rival American travellers in that area!

Although previous studies have shown cell radios may interfere with in-flight nav systems, the new plan involves mounting a satellite-linked "pico cell" in the passenger compartment, which will allow pilots and flight crew to selectively enable cell services like voice and SMS. The system only supports 2G connections, but if successful, can be at some point upgraded to 3G. Rollout is dependent on both individual countries and airlines approving the technology, but hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later.

What is even more exciting are the prospects this could potentially open up since in-flight mobile use is an entirely new market with both applications and research in this area severely lacking at the moment...

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Microsoft research in device pairing: The Martini Synch

For anyone involved with research in mobile devices here's a very interesting paper, called The Martini Synch, coming from Microsoft researchers and presenting an innovative way of device pairing.

According to them; "device pairing is a significant problem for a large class of increasingly popular resource-constrained wireless protocols such as BlueTooth. The objective of pairing is to establish a secure wireless communication channel between two specific devices without a public-key infrastructure, a secure near-field communication channel, or electrical contact. We use a surprising user-device interaction as a solution to this problem. By adding an accelerometer, a device can sense its motion in a Cartesian space relative to the inertial space. The idea is to have two devices in a fixed, relative position to each other. Then, the joint object is moved randomly in 3D for several seconds. The unique motion generates approximately the same distinct signal at the accelerometers. The difference between the signals in the two inertially conjoined sensors should be relatively small under normal motion induced manually. The objective is to derive a deterministic key at both sides with maximized entropy that will be used as a private key for symmetric encryption. Currently, our prototype produces between 10-15 bits of entropy per second of usual manual motion using off-the-shelf components."

It seems like an incredibly interesting idea and one that could potentially revolutionize mobile protocols and communications. Love 'em or hate 'em Microsoft today have an enormous impact on both blue-sky but also on more hands-on, application-oriented research (in SIGGRAPH 2005 one in six papers accepted came from their labs!) and this is just another piece of work that proves that.

Computer Graphics And Imaging 2008 conference

I've recently had a full paper accepted for the upcoming 10th International Computer Graphics And Imaging (CGIM) 2008 conference, this year to take place at Innsbruck (pictured below!), Austria between the 13th and the 15th of February next year. The conference, organised by IASTED (International Association of Science and Technology for Development) includes sessions on computer graphics, visualization, image processing, animation and human computer interaction.

The paper submitted and accepted for publication is titled Virtual City Maker And Virtual Navigator: A Modelling And Visualisation Solution For The Creation And Display Of Mobile 3D Virtual Cities. See you there for the talk on it and also perhaps a spot of skiing as well! I will post a full report with a selection of some of the most interesting (IMO) papers after the conference.

For more info on CGIM 2008 check the following link

SketchUp & 3D Studio Max real-world render

An interesting project I recently read about on SketchUp's official blog (at on using the Google app in combination with 3D Studio Max to create a ... real world render! Quite an impressive little project really and one that shows the potential of both apps.

SketchUp user named Andrija Posarić from Zagreb, Croatia explains:

"A couple of weeks ago I got a pretty interesting challenge in my firm. An historic building in the strict center of Zagreb was renovating, and when they put (that big thing around the building, to prevent bricks falling on the pedestrians;-) (excuse my bad English;-) around the building, it becomes most expensive place for putting the commercial ;-)Ok, since I work in the biggest corporation in Eastern Europe, we had to put some kind of a commercial up there. The idea was to take a high-resolution picture of the building, and implement our logo on it. The problem was there was no such picture, and work on the building already started, so we couldn't go there and take the new photo.Ok. "Can you make a photo-real rendering of this building, based on the partially-accurate blueprints?" my boss asked? I said, "No, I cannot ;-)". "What is the time note (deadline)?" 3 days.Ok, It would not be the problem to do the photo-real rendering of a normal resolution, but, maaaan, this is a 30 x 10 meters + 20 x 10 meters rendering. I did some calculation, and I came up with 12,000 x 4,500 pixel resolution. It took me 10 hours of modeling, 2 hours of texturing, and 20 hours of rendering to complete this giant job. The size of the TIFF was 390 MB, the size of the JPEG was 39 MB... yeah, huge pics ;-)".

Sunday, 14 October 2007

GPS and social networking: Where are we now?

With social networks such as MySpace and Facebook catching on, anxious techie socialites are now looking for a new way to interact with their friends utilising technological advances. The new fashion? GPS social networking where you can not only communicate with an acquaintance but also track their real-world position too so that a meeting in person can be arranged.

Social networking websites, including, most notably, the likes of Bliin, Trackut and Kakiloc have managed to take the whole concept of social networking one step further. The way they work at the moment is by getting users to subscribe to the service by downloading a small application, which, once activated, enables them to track the location of other social networkers in real time and see whether they are nearby or not.

The obvious dangers of this aside (security being the key word here, despite reassurances from people running these websites, it is obvious to me how many pitfalls revealing a person's constantly updated location to the rest of the world can be!) there seem to be many opportunities with this since most users already using the aforementioned applications are looking for ways to further enhance them. While I wouldn't go as far as suggesting enrolling to one of these services, they are definitely trend-setters for a new market opening up.

Check the following links for more information;

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Wi-Fi T-shirt anyone?

Difficult to believe but mobile networking has prompted people to go at extreme lengths in regards to their fashion sense these days. It seems that ThinkGeek has just developed a new T-shirt for all of those people simply too lazy to open up a laptop to see whether a hotspot is around...

The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding Wi-Fi signal strength fluctuates, showing signal strength for 802.11b or 802.11g. While I somehow would like to believe that I would not be seen dead in a T-shirt like this, perhaps it is of some use (or indeed source of amusement!) for others. Probably!

You can purchase this T-shirt at the following link,

Microsoft researchers patent new user interface for mobiles

Microsoft researchers recently presented a new patent which I personally found it very interesting since it was one in the area of user interfaces for mobile devices. The patent is titled "Extensible Filtered Lists for Mobile Device User Interface," and its documentation describes the details for improving the way mobile users interact with the data on their individual devices.

It looks like this novel application focuses on arranging information in groups or lists, each of which can include multiple items that provide access to data or tasks from multiple applications. Essentially, these customizable lists (pictured on both pics on this post) would allow users to quickly access relevant content such as commonly used data or tasks.

Furthermore, it was noted that the items could also be dynamically updated based upon changes in the underlying data or services provided by software applications.

It all sounds very interesting and it would be extremely interesting to see these changes on the traditional Windows Mobile interface implemented in a commercial version of Microsoft's operating system.

Invited poster publication at Location And Timing event

A few days ago (10/10/07) I presented an invited poster publication of some of my work-in-progress research on automatic 3D modelling at an event called "Flagship Projects Open Day" at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK. This full-day event, organised by the Location And Timing, Knowledge And Transfer Network presented three major research projects which reached their conclusion including: SPACE, LOCUS (more on this on a later post as I was part of the presentation team for this too, an EPSRC-funded project on cutting-edge mobile technologies that recently reached its three-year conclusion) and AutoBAHN. The poster itself is pictured below.

All in all it was an extremely interesting day as all three projects (but also all the posters there too) were in the same general field and there was the opportunity to interface with other researchers and also gain feedback on all aspects of my work.

For more information on the Location And Timing, its agenda and activities plus information on past and future events check this link,

Yet another combination of every day device & receiver; GPS and mouse

It never ceases to fascinate me just how much GPS receivers seem to be all the rage for innovative "combo" devices today. Deluo's latest manages to perform double duty as a mousing device while still maintaining a relatively small footprint. It has to be said that the MouseGPS isn't overtly attractive, but it does boast all the basics and includes a retractable USB cable for good measure.

In order to activitate the GPS itself users can just flip a switch on its underside and in case you're currently going without any type of mapping software, Deluo is also offering the $99.95 device up with Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008 for an extra $29.95, if desired.

So, following posts from below, after a GPS-equipped laptop, keyring(!) and now mouse what follows next? For more information on the device itself check