StarCursors in ContentSpace: Abstractions of people and places

Paul Rankin, Philips Research, Redhill, UK

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 13, 1998


From supermarkets to web sites, data are being gathered on us all the time. Putting people in control of their data is key to personalize services or empower communities which share common interests. At home, on the move or at work we shift between diverse social contexts, alternative representations of content, fragmented communication aids and disconnected applications on a variety of platforms. Virtual worlds modeled on a literal representation of us and our surroundings promise intuitive navigation and communication cues, but inherit all the natural constraints and barriers.

Some recent research and design in Philips has aimed to

Two-way interactions between people and content are proposed. We continually switch between internal reflection and external observation of our environment and fellow humans. Accordingly, the attempt to unify interface designs for our inner and outer worlds in an abstract metaphor proves richly productive and provocative, challenging the more literal representations of virtual worlds and suggesting many possible areas for academic research.

This talk will show of a whole range of concepts from a universal personalized cursor, to conceptualized communication, to suggestions for simple user interfaces for profile data disclosure, to abstract representations for presence, greetings and body language in an abstract 4D virtual world of content. The talk will be illustrated by multimedia prototypes.

The reactions of researchers, users, content providers, advertisers and platform builders are needed on the feasibility of the concepts and their development for specific target users. Although the concepts and mechanisms have been developed in the setting of multi-user virtual worlds, there are important implications for the enhancement of physical products and traditional services.

Paul Rankin is a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Interactive Systems Group at Philips Research Laboratories, Redhill. Originally a physicist, he has spent 30 years researching a number of fields from magnetic field analysis and the mechanical properties of ceramics, through integrated circuit design and statistical process modeling, to advanced CAD support systems using knowledge-based techniques steered under novel user interfaces. For the last 8 years, his interests have centered around engaging consumer interaction in new forms of multimedia PhotoCD magazines, encouraging teenage consumer creativity with music videos, interactive movies, or multi-user networked games. He is currently working on the facilitation of networked communities and computer-mediated communication..


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