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Talk: Pin n' Play

I heard three short talks by visitors from the Future Applications Lab at the Viktoria Institute in Sweden.

The first talk they gave was on Pin n' Play, which is a ubicomp project focused on putting a small amount of computation into push-pin-like devices for interaction purposes.

The hardware is basically an iButton with a power and ground pin. The iButton can store temporal info (such as the time that it was placed on the board, or a user-inputted time) and also has 4k of memory. One of the novel ideas is that you use the bulletin board as the power grid, so that when the button is plugged in it gets powered. The power grid can also act as a network uses Dallas' MicroLAN. I could see the idea of a pluggable surface being useful for a project like iRoom. If my entire desk was a pluggable surface, I could just plop down my iStuff and they would get powered. It could also eliminate the RF requirement.

The application space for the pins is somewhat lacking right now. They have been studying a bulletin board paper scheduling system that the Goteberg Film Festival uses. While they have some interesting insights from this work practice, the current system does not offer many benefits yet. A future pin n' play system will need to be able to derive positional information, and they will also need to make it easy to synchronize the pin with the piece of paper that it is pinning. I see the latter as a more critical design issue.

The current application they have implemented is "time-in-a-can," which uses the internal clock of the pin to activate an LED when a deadline is crossed.

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» Pin 'n' Play from Metamanda's Weblog
Saw this talk yesterday. Here are ken's notes on it. As always, I like improvements on and/or smooth integration of traditional paper interfaces, so this was cool. Mmmm, paper, so many nice affordances to it that we just haven't been... [Read More]

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