Is Computational Media important and why?
I am not sure where to draw the line for computational media. As a computer science major, I feel like computational media could be a wide range of things and I would be biased to think it is important since it relies on computers. Yet, I don’t think I really thought about computational media in my studies, but more so about learning code and implementing algorithms. If I was asked this question last semester, I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about. Computational Media isn’t really emphasized in the Computer Science curriculum, at least not in New York. But from what I understand it to be, after taking this course, it can be anything from videogames to digital artwork, a form of art or a visual experience generated by a computer. In that context, yes I do believe Computational Media is important. Computational Media brings together technology and art in such a way that, if done right, creates an experience and it’s been a part of my life for longer than I realize. My childhood literally consisted entirely of videogames like the original PlayStation and GameCube up till now where I own an Xbox One. In that sense, Computational Media has been really important to me. It was my escape from reality, my way of socializing (finding people with common game interests and playing with them), and even bringing the family together. In this sense, Computational Media is extremely powerful. It’s no longer just fancy graphics on a screen, it’s a means of bringing people together and creating shared experiences. Much like art, it leaves a lasting impression that’s unique to each user. I think I forgot this somewhere along the way and I don’t think I would’ve come to appreciate it again if I hadn’t taken this course. This course did a good job of taking me out of my comfort zone and learning things (like hardware) that I never would have in New York. You should’ve seen me in the beginning of the semester, I was mortified when I realized there was hardware involved (soldering especially..). But as we’ve moved on to Computational Media concepts, I’ve come to reappreciate what kind of impact it can have. This is kind of why my final project is hopefully turning out to be some kind of fun experience that will leave an impression on the players! 🙂
The Interactive Media that I’m going to talk about is Microsoft’s Kinect. I’ve followed it since it was still dubbed “Project Natal” back in 2009 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_txF7iETX0). It’s one of the most innovative pieces of technology as of late and has revolutionized video game playing ever since its release. Its technology consists of a horizontal bar with a motorized pivot that can be repositioned. It has an RGB camera, depth sensor, and multi-array microphone that provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition. The depth sensor consists of an infrared laser combined with a monochrome CMOS sensor that captures video in 3D in ambient light. The software enables advanced gesture recognition, facial and voice recognition, and can track up to six people simultaneously, but only two are active players. It can also track 20 joints per player body. Although great for gaming, the Kinect has extended to further depths of development and programming. Microsoft released a software development kit that allows developers to build applications with features like: raw sensor streams, skeletal tracking, and advanced audio capabilities. MIT’s Philipp Robbel combined Kinect with iRobot Create to create a 3D map of a room and a user control a robot using gestures. The Kinect can also impact the medical field, for example researchers at the University of Minnesota used Kinect to measure symptoms in children that can detect conditions like autism, ADD, and OCD. The Kinect is a great example of Interactive Media. By definition (from a reading we did in the beginning of the semester I believe), for something to be interactive it must be able to take in your input, think about it (process), and give you something back based on that. Kinect has so many forms of input (gestures, voice, facial recognition) and has so many applications that it is one of the best tools in the development of interactive media.