Yesterday I had the good fortune to be the keynote speaker at the Winter Symposium on Digital Literacy in Higher Education at the University of Rhode Island. It was incredibly energizing to spend a day and a half with a diverse group of educators across disciplines, all of them committed to the idea that improving our students’ (and our colleagues’) digital literacy.
Of course, there are few more amorphous topics than digital literacy, which made my task as keynote speaker challenging, to say the least. A quick survey of the literature yields almost as many definitions of the concept as there are authors who write about it.
Do we mean the ability to use digital technologies to accomplish a particular task? Or does it mean just being able to navigate the wilds of the Internet without being taken in by the false information floating around out there? Or does it mean being able to create digital objects, code something useful, or develop visualizations of large corpora of texts?
To help those assembled to try to find a way forward, I drew on my experiences on the Appalachian Trail, America’s oldest and still most iconic long distance hiking trail. Of late I’ve been mesmerized by Robert Moor’s On Trails (2016). Moor writes in ways I can only dream about, and in his first pages I found the quotation that I think helps us make our way through the echoing vastness of the Internet.
“To put it as simply as possible, a path is a way of making sense of the world. There are infinite ways to cross a landscape; the options are overwhelming, and pitfalls abound. The function of a path is to reduce this teeming chaos into an intelligible line.” (14)
If we think about digital literacy more as choosing a path through the mountains and less like trying to sail across the open ocean, then I think we have a chance to find a way forward as educators and as scholars.
Of course, paths impose their own tyranny. Early into their hikes, long distance hikers find themselves less and less willing to leave the path marked out for them by others. Ask anyone who has through hiked the Appalachian Trail and they’ll tell you that “Blue Blazer” is a term of derision, because it connotes that long distance hiker who leaves the white blazes of the AT for side trail short cuts with blue blazes on the trees and rocks.
Despite the risk of being labeled a Blue Blazer, I think we have to admit that there are too many options, too many platforms, too many apps, too many new ways to navigate the Internet. If we accept this premise, then instead of trying to define or to teach something called “digital literacy,” we can instead decide “I’ll just do this,” or, “I’ll just teach my students that.” And not anything else.
Do we do them or ourselves a disservice by ignoring so much? My answer is no. Too often we forget that our students are with us for only a short time in what we (and they) hope are long and productive lives. Instead of teaching them everything they need to know about things digital, it strikes me as more than enough to teach them a few useful skills, a few useful ways of knowing. We need to give them the tools to find their own paths, and we need to model the willingness to reject the notion that to be competent means always being able to do more and more. Sometimes enough is plenty.
Just a little over 100 years ago, Benton MacKaye stood in a fire tower in Vermont and gazed out over the beauty of the Green Mountains. It was there that he first dreamed up a thing he later christened the Appalachian Trail. MacKaye’s mantra for those hiking on the trail he created was “Walk, see, and see what you see.” To put it another way, stop, look around, what can I see/learn here.
Stopping is a risk, because in doing so, the Internet will swoosh past us. But that’s ok. Really.
Our most ambitious technical project of 2016 was the DinoStomp 3D interactive video wall that we developed with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The DinoStomp exhibit consists of a video wall 8’ high and 20’ wide composed of (15) LG 55” monitors, video array controllers, and three Microsoft Kinect motion sensing cameras. We’d like to share some of our experiences with the process of designing, developing, testing, and installing this immersive exhibit.
Presenting a high-resolution interactive application on a convex large-scale video wall came with complex technical and design challenges for our team to overcome. The first challenge was to ensure that we compiled a powerful enough computer system to handle the resolution of the video wall and the 3D graphics for the application. We wanted to use every physical pixel available across the video wall which meant we had to be able to output to a resolution of 9600 x 3240 pixels from a computer that was also rendering our custom application.
To run the video wall, we built a custom computer that we thought would handle the application and outputting to the displays. We found that our application ran much better across GeForce based GPU’s so we ended up with Dual GTX1080 graphics cards. We then decided to look into multi-display controllers as we could only get 8 outputs from our machine and having the GPU’s maintain the video wall configuration could potentially cause issues while they also rendered the application. There are many options for video wall controllers on the market, but we weren’t building a “traditional” video wall. One of our partners pointed us to Datapath who manufactures the Fx4 display wall controller. Each Fx4 controller was able to accept a single 4K video signal from the computer, output that signal to up to 4 displays, and maintain the video wall configuration which meant the operating system and the GPU would not need to handle setting up all 15 displays. With 5 Fx4 controllers in place, 5 video outputs from the computer, our video wall came to life.
Figuring out how to hang a matrix of 15 displays on a curved wall presented us with a number of challenging questions. How will we run the cabling? How will we access ports on each display? How will these be serviced once installation is complete? We knew that in the museum space we would be unable to get behind the displays once installed. Fortunately, our team knew about the ConnexSys mounting system from Chief Manufacturing. Each individual mount in this system can be adjusted for depth, height, and tilt and be pulled outwards for easy access to the back of the display. Once all of the displays were mounted and in place, we took the time to go through and adjust each mount to get the most seamless arrangement of the screens. We used 55” LG commercial video wall displays with ultra thin bezels – 3.5mm from active screen to active screen. At Ideum, we built our own curved wall in our Usability and Prototyping Studio to allow us to perform a full test of the video wall system. Check out the time lapse video below of the wall being built.
The DinoStomp application was developed in Unity3D. The prehistoric scene, and the dinosaurs that appear in it, took several months to design and develop in conjunction with our partners at Ft. Worth. We needed to design and create the scene along with the dinosaur characters. This work included 3D modeling, rigging and animation, textures, and lighting. There were technical challenges in development, from a performance stand point, with a nearly 10,000 pixel wide scene. As an example, due to the scale of the scene, Unity3D’s built-in lighting tools took up to 10 hours to build every time we made significant changes to the lighting environment.
Beyond developing the scene and characters, the interactive elements of the exhibit posed the greatest challenge. The primary interaction in the DinoStomp exhibit was to be accomplished by tracking people walking in front of the wall with a Kinect motion sensor so we could use that data in the application to have dinosaurs follow visitors across displays. Accurate body tracking was complicated as we had to take into account lighting conditions, varying distances between people and the wall, and the curve of the wall. In early prototyping, we used a single Microsoft Kinect device using skeletal tracking and additional qualifiers from the tracking data. The curve of the wall came into play again – we found that we couldn’t cover the entire length of the 20 foot wall with a single Kinect. Ultimately, to solve this problem we needed to add additional Kinect devices to our set up.
We ended up using three strategically placed Kinect devices to fully capture any movement. The position and orientation of each Kinect was different, so they all presented unique views of visitors in the action space. In order to persistently track visitors across the exhibit, we had to develop an algorithm to calibrate all three Kinect devices so that they agreed on the location of people in the real world. Once calibrated, we could associate a unique identifier with each tracked body. This tracking data was then passed to the artificial intelligence (AI) system we developed for the dinosaurs.
Some of the 3D dinosaurs characters in DinoStomp are looped to appear at different times, such as the Tyrannosaurus and the Brachiosaurus. However, the smaller raptors are programmed to appear when a body in motion is detected by one of the three Kinect devices. This interactive feature allows participants to have their motions mimicked by 3D raptors and makes the scene more participatory and fun. The mimicking raptors also diminish the “fear factor” for younger visitors since they are able to control the dinosaurs in the scene.
Directing the dinosaurs within the application was an interesting problem from an AI standpoint. We needed to design the application to play stage director to actors (the raptors) who each have their own personality through which to react and play with the audience. Providing the right number of raptors to accommodate interaction in a public space was a challenge. We had to ensure that the raptors wouldn’t run into each other when the scene got crowded and make sure all the dinosaurs would run in fear when the Tyrannosaurus and Brachiosaurus entered the scene.
After besting all of our hardware and software challenges in building this large large-scale video wall interactive and testing the complete experience thoroughly at Ideum, we installed the video wall at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Museum visitors really enjoyed it, as you can see, from this time lapse video shot on the day the exhibit opened to the public.
Developers Ryan Leonski and Cairn Overturf contributed to this blog post.
Increasingly, new applications designed specifically for large touch displays are becoming available. This is the second in our series of videos showing software packages that work great with our hardware. This time we focus on Bluebeam Revu, a workflow and collaboration software package that assists AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) professionals. Our inaugural post in this series focused on Live Earth software which is a situational awareness package that combines multiple global live feeds from transportation sources, weather, social media , CCTV video and more.
Bluebeam Revu is designed for large and responsive touch displays. Our line of 43″, 49″, 55″, and 65″ displays and touch tables with 3M™ touch technology are the most responsive touch screens available and can support up to 80 simultaneous touch points. Check out Ideum’s Presenter video or read our white paper to see just how responsive our latest generation of displays are. The photo below shows Bluebeam Revu on our adjustable Console Touch Desk.
Our goals for 2016 were simple: incorporate new touch technology, provide more choices for our hardware customers, and improve our entire line of multitouch tables and touch walls. As with most creative endeavors, there is always room for improvement, so the work goes on, but here’s what we accomplished in 2016 with an eye on where we are headed in 2017.
In February 2016, we announced that we were the first company to offer a 65” Ultra HD 4K 3M display (even before 3M themselves). Later that spring, we offered the world’s first Ultra HD 4K multitouch coffee table with a 55” screen. We then followed up by adding 43” and 49” Ultra HD 4K displays that led to a total of 10 new hardware models. Our white paper, published in August, outlined the technical features of these new displays, see: New 43″ & 49″ 3M Touch Displays & Multitouch Tables.
Ideum now offers 4K Ultra HD multitouch coffee tables with 43″, 46″ (HD), 49″ and 55″ sizes. Our popular Platform and Drafting tables are available in the same sizes and with 65″ Ultra HD displays. Our Pro series of touch tables is available with 49″, 55″ or 65″ displays. In 2016, we upgraded and standardized all of the components for these integrated systems. All of our table models include 3M touch technology, commercial LG monitors, Intel i7 processors, and NIVDIA GTX 1070 (or better) graphics cards. In case you missed it, please see our blog post about these components: What goes into an Ideum touch table or a Touch Wall.
Along with improving and expanding our line of multitouch tables, in September we presented a completely new form factor with the release of the Portrait touch and motion kiosk. This stand-alone vertical touch wall can be purchased with an integrated Microsoft Kinect for motion-based applications. Like our tables, it comes with an Ultra HD 4K display, 3M touch technology and our powerful, integrated computer configuration.
A prototype that we built in late 2016, the Console, will become a product in 2017. This innovative Ultra HD 55″ touch desk is designed for production environments. With the ability to transform from a flat surface to a drafting-style table, and with interlocking shelving to allow for new configurations, the Console is our most flexible touch table yet.
In addition, in 2016 we redesigned and re-released the Colossus, a giant 86″ multitouch table. In November, we announced that we were accepting pre-orders. This redesigned touch table debuts in February.
Along with all the improvements and new additions to our product line in 2016, our software group added Linux support and support for object recognition on touch tables with the release of Tangible Engine.
In 2017, watch for more new developments as we are revamping the manufacturing method for our displays and looking to redesign our bases. We are thankful for all of our amazing clients who helped make 2016 our best year ever. Thank you for your support as we strive to design and build the best quality large scale touch tables and touch displays in the world.
My very lovely wife just wrote this to Scott Mann, our local MP.
I read it, nodded so much my head nearly fell off and asked her if I could post it on my blog. She said yes.
Dear Mr Mann,
It is a year ago that I contacted you about my concerns about UK military intervention in Syria. At the time there seemed to be no certainty across those who supported UK bombing in the House of Commons about what it would achieve. In your response to me you said that your reason for supporting military action was to “defend our country and our people” (against ISIL). You also said that “we cannot sit on our hands on this issue, and I believe we must extend action to defend our country and protect the long term security of the Syrian population”.
A year on and I see THE worst scenes of horror and human suffering that I have every witnessed in my whole life time. The security of the Syrian population is now so far beyond secure that I am unable to comprehend the level of suffering taking place in Aleppo.
It seems that the UK government were not prepared to sit on their hands a year ago, but have done so for the people of Aleppo. We are standing by while a city is massacred. People like me. People like you. Young. Old. Male. Female. Children. Babies.
I have just looked on your twitter timeline and see nothing about this humanitarian crisis. I have just looked on the PM’s twitter timeline and see nothing about this humanitarian crisis. Really? You have nothing to say about this?
The civilians in Aleppo are being left to the mercy of Assad and other civilians in other cities will also suffer too if we continue to do nothing. We must act now so that other civilians in cities in Syria are spared the fate of the people of Aleppo.
As someone who felt strongly enough to vote FOR military action in Syria last year I hope very much that you attended the emergency debate on Syria in Parliament yesterday. If you did not I hope you can find a way to be involved in future debates and action. We must be looking ahead and trying to prevent such atrocities continuing. Civilians in Syria need our help. UK MPs should be focusing on this, rather than standing by and saying nothing.
I want to register my utter despair with you about the situation in Syria. I urge you to support and push for any humanitarian support the UK government can provide. I urge you to represent the many members of your constituency who feel the despair that I do as they watch the news each evening.
I urge to think about the civilians of Syria and search for ways as a Member of Parliament that you can help them.
Over the years we’ve designed (and redesigned) touch tables of all shapes, sizes, and configurations (from touch coffee tables to drafting-style touch tables) but up until now we haven’t designed a model to work like a desk. Much of our focus has been on designing touch tables for public spaces like museums, schools, labs, retail, and other demanding environments. Our new desk prototype, tentatively named the Console, has an adjustable 55″ 4K Ultra HD LG commercial display with 3M touch technology. It is built, like all of our systems, out of aircraft-grade aluminum. What is pictured below is a custom configuration for a client building an amazing futuristic command center (more on that exciting project later). Notice we have custom shelving that attaches to the multitouch tables to create multi-unit work areas.
The Console touch table has a pneumatic lift system allowing it to work as a flat multitouch table or as a drafting-style table. The table’s legs route network and power cables from the display which includes a low-profile, but full-featured computer. The computer system, on the back of the display, includes a powerful Intel i7 quad-core processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD hard drive, and a NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card. The system can be upgraded to 32GB RAM, Dual 1TB SSD, and a NVIDIA GTX 1080 graphics card. The same top quality components will go into the Console as go into our other models. Power, ethernet, audio and video plugs are accessible in the lower legs of this new model.
As I mentioned, the model pictured here is part of a custom hardware project, but we are working on further developing the Console as a product within our multitouch table line with expected availability in March 2017. With our latest generation of displays having higher touch fidelity and improved resolution, a new generation of functional applications becomes practical. We have high hopes that the Console will meet the needs of clients looking to implement a variety of productivity, design, and communication applications in the coming years.
Our sales team is often asked, “Why should I buy your touch table? What makes your products different than those offered by others?” Beyond our great service and support, and the attention to detail in our design and assembly process, it is the quality of the components that we integrate and materials that we use in manufacturing that make our touch tables and touch walls better than our competitors.
We use the best available components and with our lean and nimble manufacturing methods we are able to integrate “what’s new” much faster than our competitors. Our line of 43”, 49”, 55”, and 65” touch tables and touch walls all use the following high-quality components:
3M Touch Technology – Well known for their highly accurate and reliable touch technology, Ideum has been integrating 3M touch technology for the last several years. Our entire line of integrated displays, from 43” to 65”, uses 3M’s “3rd Generation” projected-capacitive (pcap) touch technology. This non-optical touch technology is bezel-less and impervious to light interference. The 3M touch technology supports 80 simultaneous touch points. Ideum was the first company to offer 3M touch technology in 43”, 49”, and 65” display sizes. And we are the only company that offers object recognition through our proprietary Tangible Engine software.
LG Commercial 4K Ultra HD Displays – Early in 2016, we moved our entire line to 4K Ultra HD, well-before our competitors. All of our displays and touch tables from 43” to 86” use top-of-the-line LG commercial monitors. These displays are made with top-grade components and are designed for commercial applications. They provide brightness, clarity and a great visual experience along with superior reliability.
Intel i7 Quad-Core Processors – We’ve always used the latest in high-end Intel processors in our systems and we love having “Intel Inside.” All of our systems use Intel i7 Quad-Core processors. Along with a powerful processor, our systems come standard with 16GB ram (upgradeable to 32GB), and fast 512GB SSD hard drives (upgradeable to dual 1TB drives).
NVIDIA GTX Graphics – A full-sized, dedicated NVIDIA graphics card is in every system we sell. Our Platform, Drafting Table, Coffee Table, and the integrated low-profile Presenter computer box all come standard with an NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphic card (upgradeable to a GTX 1080). The Colossus 86” touch table comes standard with the GTX 1080.
Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Case & Chassis – Our displays and the chassis for our touch tables are all built out of high-quality aluminum, crafted here in the USA. While many of our competitors have plastics or other inferior materials, we build our systems for maximum durability. Our standard units come with a durable black powder-coat, but we can make them in virtually any color (and many different finishes).
It has been amazing to see how large scale touch technology has evolved since we built our first multitouch table back in 2008. We will continue to integrate the best quality components and seek out new and improved hardware for our systems. Many of our customers and partners have provided us with feedback about our touch tables and touch walls, so many of the improvements you’ve seen over the years have come from them. If you have suggestions or questions about our systems, please let us know.
Ideum’s multitouch hardware can display a world of applications, from custom museum exhibits to packaged business software. Ideum will be featuring a number of different software packages, here on our blog, that work well with all of our hardware: the first is Live Earth.
Live Earth is a software package Ideum finds particularly compelling as it effectively brings a world of information to your fingertips. It combines multiple live feeds, such as transportation updates (planes, ships, and buses), weather, social media and CCTV video. Live Earth also has an instant-replay feature, allowing you to revisit a place in time. It’s interface is designed for large, responsive touch displays. It includes pinch and zoom, pan and tilt in 3D, and play and pause–all with the touch of a finger. All this is made even better with Ideum’s latest 3M™ touch screens–with 80 touch points, they are the most responsive touch screens available. Check out Ideum’s Presenter video or read our white paper to see just how responsive our latest generation of displays are.
Learn more and contact Live Earth for a demo at www.liveearthsoftware.com.
Ideum is excited to announce our first giveaway contest! This holiday season, one lucky entrant has the opportunity to win an Ideum 43-inch Duet Coffee Table.
The Ideum Duet 43 Coffee Table has a 4K Ultra HD display and the latest touch technology from 3M. The Duet Coffee Table comes with a powerful, integrated gaming PC that includes Windows 10 on an Intel Quad Core i7 computer system with NVIDIA graphics, and is great for use at home or in a public space. Visit our Duet Multitouch Coffee Table page to learn more about our fully featured multitouch coffee tables.
Enter below. If you refer your friends you can get additional entries!
The contest runs from Friday, November 18 – Tuesday, January 3, 2017. A winner will be announced Wednesday, January 4, 2017. Terms and conditions apply, please read the terms and conditions via Rafflecopter for full details.
One of the major decisions which one has to take in his or her life is that of career. This decision is so vital that any mistake in it can cause you a lot of trouble in the future. There have been a lot of people in this world who had wasted their talents by choosing wrong careers. Everybody is blessed with talent and this talent his hidden within us. It is our job to search out this talent and see where our future career really lies in? There is no harm in seeking professional advice in this regard as well.
In this article we plan to make things easier for you. Through this article we will let you know that whether you can become a successful architect or not? Architecture is a wonderful field and many people are very much interested in it, however this field is not for everyone. Through this article we will share with you some signs which will tell you whether you can become a successful architect or not.The Signs:
If the above mentioned traits, signs and qualities are within you then we believe that you can surely become a good architect. If you have not thought seriously about being an architect then do so, especially if the mentioned qualities are there in you.
Some people just know from their childhood that what they want to become when they grow up. However, it is a fact that is considered foolish by most people because it is impossible for a person to know in his youth that what he will be doing at the age of 50. However, when a person is in a college then he chooses a major in something and that is something that definitely helps in the later years. If you are a person who likes architecture then you must have chosen it as a major, but the question arises that what can a major in architecture get you. It certainly has its share of advantages and here you will learn a few things related to it.Career
Architecture is a field that is a combination of art and science, therefore it involves many different talents and skills. People who study architecture have the capability to solve creative problems that might not be easy to solve by other people. It is a skill that is helpful in many different professions, therefore whoever learns it will have an added advantage in their arsenal.
Including all other fields of the sort.Common Behavior
Most people who study architecture as a major subject commonly prefer to become licensed architects and that is perhaps the best thing to do. If you are become a licensed architect then you will have many opportunities to work in your field of expertise and that is something that you will like. However, in order to make sure that you are good at what you have learned you should first consider doing an internship because it is here that you will learn everything about the field and what are its requirements.What Is Architecture?
When you are learning architecture then the first thing that you should know is what is it? If you do not know the basic things about architecture then studying it can become rather difficult for you. However, this is something that is not a very big issue as there are only few people out there who select a major subject without knowing its prerequisites.
These were a few things that you should know about the architecture. It is simply a great field and has a lot career opportunities for whoever who learns it. Unlike most other fields, architecture is more a skill and less a formal education, this means that your degree will be of very less value if you do not know how to be a good architect. On the contrary, if you know your calculations, problem solving techniques then you will make a great architect.
I was very pleased to see AHA Teaching Division Vice President Elizabeth Lehfeldt take on the issue of declining enrollments in undergraduate history programs in the October edition of Perspectives. Anyone who reads this blog with regularity knows that enrollment issues have figured prominently among the topics I cover, most recently here and here.
The decline in history enrollments around the country isn’t news to anyone teaching at the post-secondary level and the AHA has done a thorough job of documenting some of the parameters of the decline. What’s lacking in this whole discussion is solid data on exactly why students have moved away from history and into other fields. We have lots of reasonable propositions, and I have offered my own suggestions in the posts linked above, but all of us are, to a degree, shooting in the dark because we don’t have actual data from students.
One obvious place to look for such data would be from our campus enrollment officers. Admissions offices, enrollment management consultants, and research centers like the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA have reams of data on student preferences, predispositions, demographic characteristics, and other factors that could be plugged into the kind of regressions that might just tell us a lot about what’s going on. At a minimum, these data would add richness to our anecdotal or surface studies of the problem. I hope the AHA will consider investing in some of this sort of analysis so that we get beyond just asking department chairs what they think is happening.
A second issue I have with what Lehfeldt writes in her essay is the assumption that doubling down on the History Discipline Core of the Tuning Project is going to be a solution to our enrollment problems. I completely agree with Lehfeldt that, as she writes, the Tuning project has “created a common, broadly accessible vocabulary about the value of majoring in history.” But to assert that “Tuning has helped allay students’ and parents’ concerns about ‘what to do with a major in history’,” based on no data to support such an assertion is really troubling. If such data exist, I’d love to see them.
So, yes, Tuning is a good step forward. But, no, I don’t see any evidence cited by anyone that adopting the framework and goals of the Tuning project has either allayed concerns in the market about the value of a history degree, or that the adoption of Tuning has helped change the enrollment trajectories of those departments who have signed on.
In previous posts on Tuning, I’ve been very critical of the fact that, at least to my mind, the Discipline Core is neither forward looking, nor aligned with the world our students live in. As evidence for my contentions, I would offer the fact that in the entire Discipline Core document the digital world our students (and we) live in shows up exactly once…toward the end, where one of the competencies students might gain is the ability to build a website on a historical topic.
Doubling down on Tuning as the solution to our enrollment problems strikes me as saying that if we just keep doing what we’re doing, but do it more, and do a better job of explaining to students why doing it the way we’ve always done it really, really is good, everything will turn out fine in the end.
The last time I checked, Professor Pangloss was teaching in a different department.
Over 100 guests came to our second Studio Party this year, held on October 25th.
Ideum has been busy since April–we have worked on local hot air balloon interactives for this year’s International Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and the Balloon Museum, among other exciting projects. These large-scale Creative Services projects will showcase Ideum’s expertise in creating custom immersive and engaging exhibits built with specially-sourced hardware and our custom software.
The up to 6 player Hot Air Balloon Target Competition app featured at this year’s Balloon Fiesta was an Open House hit!
Ideum’s elves have also been busy developing a suite of holiday themed applications that will appear in 16 different malls very soon, which were also previewed at this event.
Two young visitors trying out the holiday coloring book app.
Visitors also toured our production space and our nearly complete Industrial Design space–stay tuned for updates as the new space should be finished soon!
If you would like to be invited to a future Studio Party at Ideum, please contact us so we can add you to our mailing list!