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neXus - designing a dedicated mediascape device

Diepenmaat, Pieter; Geelhoed, Erik

HPL-2006-178

Keyword(s): mediascape; experience; location aware computing; 3D audio; gesture interaction; tactile feedback; interaction design; location based game

Abstract: Hewlett Packard Laboratories is currently working on a new generation of mobile, context sensitive and networked devices that offer novel experiences to users by linking the physical and the virtual world. This type of experience is called a mediascape and can be defined as: 'A mediascape is a mixed reality experience in which the 'visitor' is presented with digital media (such as text, images, sound, and/or video) depending on their travels through the physical world.' First examples of mediascapes, like museum tours and virtual graffiti, make use of existing devices, i.e. conventional platforms on which the mediascape experience is designed. This project concentrates on the design of a dedicated device. There is a wide variety of mediascapes and the number of mediascapes is still increasing. In this project the mediascapes are grouped in a number of genres and analysed. It is undesirable to develop a device that tries to suit the whole range of possible mediascape experiences. Therefore the project concentrates on the development of a dedicated device particularly suited for Location Based Games (LBGs). LBGs, and more specific running LBGs, offer a unique opportunity to explore the possibilities of Location aware computing, because of its highly interactive and dynamic nature. The user of a LBG interacts with the device to manipulate virtual elements and the game play evokes action and reaction. Also, the rigorous use of the device in the case of running LBGs is an opportunity to demonstrate the value of dedicated location aware devices. By optimizing the device for making game decisions while running (dynamic mobility), it will move away from static mobility gaming experiences and facilitate a gaming experience closer to playground games and sports. Two game concepts, 'Run anywhere' and 'Captivate the Crowd', were developed during the project and formed the foundation for the development of the dedicated device. These game concepts (and other ideas) led to a list of actions generic to running LBGs, and led to the decision to use arm/hand gestures to manipulate the virtual world. Arm/hand gestures make the interaction visible to other players, which enables them to react. Making manipulations of the virtual world visible in the physical world also evokes the merging of these two worlds, yielding so-called Magic Moments. The actions generic to running LBGs were translated into a design and interaction for the device, i.e. guiding and sensing these gestures and providing the player with feedback. The developed 'neXus' duo-device consists of a hand controller and a pair of headphones. The hand controller enables the player to manipulate virtual elements (objects, areas, characters and avatars) and gives tactile feedback. The headphones provide the player with 3D audio, used to guide the player through the virtual world and to give feedback as well. The neXus evokes the merging of the virtual and the physical world, provides for a pleasurable mediascape experiences, and demonstrates the potential of dedicated device design for Location Aware Computing.

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