Nevermind: a video game powered by your biometrics

Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced adventure horror game that takes you into the dark and twisted world of the subconscious.

As you explore surreal labyrinths and solve the puzzles of the mind, a biofeedback sensor will monitor how scared or stressed you become moment-to-moment. If you let your fears get the best of you, the game will become harder. If you’re able to calm yourself in the face of terror, the game will be more forgiving.

Nevermind strives to create a haunting gameplay experience that also teaches you how to be more aware of your internal responses to stressful situations. If you can learn to control your anxiety within the disturbing realm of Nevermind, just imagine what you can do when it comes to those inevitable stressful moments in the real world.

See the project page.

Magnetic fields to send data through the human body

Magnetic fields to send data through the human body

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, are working on a technology that uses human body as a communication medium as a safer alternative to Bluetooth for wearable gadgets. According to Patrick Mercier – assistant professor at UCSD and co-director of its Center for Wearable Sensors – Bluetooth radios are not that great at transferring data when there’s a body in the way requiring more power while this doesn’t apply to magnetic fields.

Read more on MIT Technology Review.

A safer driving experience through real-time car to car network

In a couple of years a new technology could help drivers to prevent collision between cars. A “simple”  car-to-car communication system will let your car broadcasts its position, speed, brake status, and other data to other vehicles within a certain distance. The idea is to create a picture of what’s around alerting drivers about potential threats.

Read the full article.

Ian Bogost: The cathedral of computing

Ian Bogost: The cathedral of computing

According to Ian Bogost, the tendency to read our present through algorithms and softwares is driven by a misleading sense of devotion rather than the “materiality” of a phenomenon. So, we end up with considering softwares as the foundation of today culture instead of one of the available abstractions  to understand  it. At odds with Manovich, Bogost writes:

[…]

The algorithmic metaphor is just a special version of the machine metaphor, one specifying a particular kind of machine (the computer) and a particular way of operating it (via a step-by-step procedure for calculation). And when left unseen, we are able to invent a transcendental ideal for the algorithm. The canonical algorithm is not just a model sequence but a concise and efficient one. In its ideological, mythic incarnation, the ideal algorithm is thought to be some flawless little trifle of lithe computer code, processing data into tapestry like a robotic silkworm. A perfect flower, elegant and pristine, simple and singular. A thing you can hold in your palm and caress. A beautiful thing. A divine one. But just as the machine metaphor gives us a distorted view of automated manufacture as prime mover, so the algorithmic metaphor gives us a distorted, theological view of computational action.

[…]

The same could be said for data, the material algorithms operate upon. Data has become just as theologized as algorithms, especially “big data,” whose name is meant to elevate information to the level of celestial infinity. Today, conventional wisdom would suggest that mystical, ubiquitous sensors are collecting data by the terabyteful without our knowledge or intervention. Even if this is true to an extent, examples like Netflix’s altgenres show that data is created, not simply aggregated, and often by means of laborious, manual processes rather than anonymous vacuum-devices. Once you adopt skepticism toward the algorithmic- and the data-divine, you can no longer construe any computational system as merely algorithmic. Think about Google Maps, for example. It’s not just mapping software running via computer—it also involves geographical information systems, geolocation satellites and transponders, human-driven automobiles, roof-mounted panoramic optical recording systems, international recording and privacy law, physical- and data-network routing systems, and web/mobile presentational apparatuses. That’s not algorithmic culture—it’s just, well, culture.

[…]

If algorithms aren’t gods, what are they instead? Like metaphors, algorithms are simplifications, or distortions. They are caricatures. They take a complex system from the world and abstract it into processes that capture some of that system’s logic and discard others. And they couple to other processes, machines, and materials that carry out the extra-computational part of their work. Unfortunately, most computing systems don’t want to admit that they are burlesques. They want to be innovators, disruptors, world-changers, and such zeal requires sectarian blindness. The exception is games, which willingly admit that they are caricatures—and which suffer the consequences of this admission in the court of public opinion. Games know that they are faking it, which makes them less susceptible to theologization.SimCity isn’t an urban planning tool, it’s  a cartoon of urban planning. Imagine the folly of thinking otherwise! Yet, that’s precisely the belief people hold of Google and Facebook and the like

 

Read the full article.