Interactive TV focus of new collaboration between major industry players and Ball State
by Kevin Burke, University Marketing and Communications
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The Center for Media Design (CMD) at Ball State University has launched its new Viewing+ initiative, a formal program of research that will explore consumer attitudes and behaviors in the emerging domain of interactive television.
Already renowned for its pioneering work in the areas of direct observation and innovative, high-tech documentation of consumers’ interactions with media and the range of modern communication devices, the CMD will endeavor with Viewing+ to address four areas key to interactive TV (iTV) development. The areas of inquiry are interactivity and programming; interactivity and advertising; interactivity in search and navigation; and the evolution of T-commerce (purchasing services or products direct from the screen via iTV applications).
“We chose the name Viewing+ for this initiative because, while we recognize that conventional viewing of TV will remain a central part of our media lives, as the TV screen evolves to deliver more interactivity as a part of an overall experience, we need to understand just what those additional functionalities will come to mean for consumers, broadcasters, advertisers and other stakeholders in the TV business,” said Mike Bloxham, director of Insight and Research at the CMD.
“There is a real need to understand which propositions will work best, with which consumers, as well as in determining which design conventions are most effective and why,” he added. The new initiative also will explore the relationship between on-screen content and interactivity facilitated through secondary devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Read the full press release here.
Students win national award for immersive learning project
by Erin Moore, EMI; video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
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Nicholas Serrano and Brittany Harvey, students in Ball State’s department of landscape architecture, accepted a 2010 Student Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in Washington, D.C. The award recognized their leadership in developing NativeSpecTM, a web-based custom seed specification tool that enables the expanding field of native planting design and ecological restoration.
The tool is a result of a partnership between Ball State’s Building Better Communities (BBC) Emerging Media Student Fellows program and JFNew, a company that provides ecological consulting and ecosystem restoration services through offices in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado. JFNew approached Ball State to develop a unique, interactive tool that would marry two of the university’s significant strengths – landscape architecture and emerging media.
Martha Hunt and Bob Koester, faculty members in Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning, assembled the student leaders to serve as project managers. Chris Turvey, a developer with the department of Emerging Technologies, handled the significant technical aspects of the project. Over the course of a year, the team developed a web-based interface that allows landscape architects access to lists of viable plant options based on specific site characteristics. The tool allows for adjustment of seed percentages in a given seed mix and provides dynamic feedback on cost implications. This efficiency of information delivery gives designers flexibility and confidence when specifying ecological restoration projects.
Although currently developed for a specific region, the NativeSpecTM framework could be expanded to include territories across North America and around the world.
Headed for “Mars”: Cutting-edge projects set Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts on a high-flying trajectory
By Kevin Burke, University Marketing and Communications
His title is associate professor of art and he works for a place with “arts” in its name. Yet, when a visitor suggests a current point cloud project is strongly reminiscent of the 19th century master Georges Seurat—he of “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grand Jatte” fame—John Fillwalk is bemused.
After all, within the cozy confines of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA), which he directs, there are no easels, no canvas, brushes, or paints. The only palettes are the electronic kind.
“What we’re about is the future of learning,” informs Fillwalk, flush with excitement about a 2010 initiative with Hawaii-based Avatar Reality, creators of the next generation 3-D virtual world platform Blue Mars.
Virtual Time Travel
Time and space twist and turn at Neil Zehr’s fingertips. On the screen in front of him, famed sculptor A.A. Weinman’s nude figure of the Rising Day—familiar to many visitors to the Ball State Museum of Art—appears in the true context of its place atop a soaring column in the middle of an enormous fountain at the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
With a few clicks of his mouse, the IDIA’s virtual world modeler and animator can change perspective, cruising blimp-like above the tall columns of the fair’s Court of the Universe. He can make minor adjustments, say, increase or lessen the amount of water splashing in the fountain, or even move the sun, making it late afternoon instead of early morning.
While many developers of multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) are focused on creating “future” scenes, a substantial part of Fillwalk and company’s work with Blue Mars has involved replicating historic buildings and spaces lost long ago. Now, historians, curators, architects, preservationists, students, and others can visit—virtually—the Court of the Universe or Amida Hall (the most famous building in Japan’s renowned Byodo-In temple complex, burned to the ground in 1336) or other significant sites.
This has opened the doors to still more opportunities for Fillwalk and team. He was invited to join the international advisory board for the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory. Based at the University of Virginia, it currently is using a half-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to digitally re-create Roman Emperor Hadrian’s second century villa in Tivoli, on the outskirts of Rome.
“Companies including Sony, Microsoft, and Google already are getting into this space,” reports Fillwalk. “Those are the types of projects, those are the kinds of partners that we aspire to and want to be involved with through IDIA.”
3-D animation studio produces “One Night Only”
by Erin Moore, EMI; video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
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Students from electronic art and animation, visual communication, music technology and operations management have designed and produced the short animated film One Night Only as part of Ball State’s 3-D Animation Short Film Studio, a competitive summer course that immerses students in an animation studio experience.
During Summer 2009, students of the 10-week course experienced all aspects of short film development, including screenwriting, 3D animation, motion capture, filmmaking, music and sound effects. They established an animation studio, Third Floor Films, and created all original content for a short film and studio website. Andy Beane, assistant professor of art, served as executive producer of the film, keeping schedules on track and providing technical help as necessary.
Production continued beyond the summer term, and the completed film was recently submitted to a variety of independent film festivals. The film is also available on Vimeo.
The immersion digital studio experience was sponsored and supported by the College of Fine Arts, the Department of Art, the Office of Information Technology and the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts.
Ball State offers professional development courses on the latest media software
By Emerging Technologies and Erin Moore, EMI; Video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
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As the only Apple Authorized Training Center in Indiana, Ball State’s department of Emerging Technologies provides unique learning opportunities not only for students on campus but also for professionals around the state. Ball State’s certified trainers offer professionals a personalized learning experience in the latest Apple and Adobe software:
- Final Cut Pro
- DVD Studio Pro
- Soundtrack Pro
Small class sizes allow for instruction designed to meet the needs of individual learners. This spring, courses will be offered at two locations: the Ball State University Fishers Center just north of Indianapolis and the L.A. Pittenger Student Center on campus in Muncie. Customized on-site training is also available for larger groups. These courses are designed to help professionals prepare for software certification exams, although the exams are optional and are not included in the cost of the course.
During courses, professionals have access to fully equipped Apple MacBook Pros, as well as course textbooks and media. A 10% discount on all courses is available for alumni and current employees of Ball State.
Frog Baby Apps releases first app
by Emerging Technologies
Bunny Bash was created by Digital Corps students as part of an immersive learning experience at Ball State University. The app is distributed through Frog Baby Apps LLC, designed to allow students and faculty to exercise collaboration, creativity, and innovation to generate real-life, revenue generating mobile apps.
Innovation Grant Spotlight
Daily Digital Dozen
Robert Yadon, Center for Information and Communication Sciences; Dom Caristi, Telecommunications
By Erin Moore, EMI; Video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design
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Since 2004, the Digital Policy Institute (DPI) has served as an interdisciplinary association of Ball State faculty with interest in the electronic communications industries and public policy around creation, storage, transmission, reception, consumption and legal protection of digital content. Funded by a Provost Initiative Grant, the institute focuses on such topics as file-sharing (i.e. software, music, and video), copyright and trademark infringement, broadband deployment, online privacy, and e-voting as well as other issues related to digital media and intellectual property.
Over the past six years, DPI has produced influential research, provided testimony in policy-making decisions at state and federal levels, and conducted state workshops and national conferences. DPI Fellows have been quoted in trade publications such as Mediaweek and Network World, as well as major media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter, and Broadcasting & Cable.
The Institute hopes to expand its reach globally through the revamping of DPI’s daily news aggregator service, originally developed by Dom Caristi, associate professor of Telecommunications. The Digital Daily Dozen is a list of 13 annotated news stories and commentaries related to digital policy and emerging media issues, currently sent to subscribers in a simple email format of web links. DPI aims to enhance the content and delivery of the Digital Daily Dozen, adding a daily or weekly video segment, commentary forums from DPI researchers and industry professionals, and other interactive content.
DPI also seeks to expand distribution of the news aggregator and to secure advertising dollars to fund ongoing production. The ultimate goal is to further establish the Digital Daily Dozen as an internationally-recognized, authoritative daily source for news headlines about digital policy.
In the News
- How to Build a Perception of Greatness (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Everyone can name the big, nationally known universities that have raised their profiles dramatically over the past couple of decades: Boston University, Drexel University, New York University, Northeastern University, and the University of Southern California, to name a few. Others might know smaller institutions that have either honed great reputations in their markets or are on the rise—places like Ball State University, Portland State University, Texas Christian University, the University of Toledo, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Some colleges have gotten mileage out of the distinctive way they deliver education. Ball State University’s immersive-learning program, which requires students to complete projects for practical experience in the off-campus world, stands out.
- Is the Next Generation of Communicators on the Right “Track”? (Stanton Communications)
As the parent of a high school senior who wants to pursue a career in communications, I recently had the occasion to participate in the obligatory campus tours of her colleges of choice. Our primary goal, of course, was to figure out which school offered the best program and represented the best fit for my daughter. As a public relations professional and former mass communications graduate myself, however, I had a secondary goal as well…specifically, I was eager to see how journalism and communications programs had adapted to reflect the new world of digital communications.
Each [school] had incorporated digital media into their curricula, each offered practical applications within each area of communications specialization and each promised to show my budding communicator how to apply her expert social media skills to communications from a much broader perspective. But only one school – Ball State University – had created a specific degree track, called emerging media journalism.
The program looks at new technology from a variety of communications perspectives. It promises to help students understand “the evolving use of technology and digital content to enhance work, play, and learning, to broaden access to information…” More importantly, assuming my daughter chooses journalism or public relations as her future career, this new program also emphasizes “digital storytelling,” which is described as exploring and incorporating the fundamentals of creating, remixing, and distributing both traditional stories (such as news/books) and emerging story forms (such as transmedia stories) using modern networked technologies. To me, that sounds like a practical approach that can translate into an actual job after graduation.
- As technology advances, deep reading suffers (Nicholas Carr, leading technology writer)
Today, a counterrevolution is under way. As the computer and cell phone become our main reading devices, the book is being pushed to the periphery of culture. According to recent studies by Ball State University and the federal government, the average American spends more than eight hours a day peering into a screen – TV, computer or cell phone (sometimes all three at once) – but devotes just 20 minutes to reading books and other printed works.
- Apps can keep shoppers in touch on black Friday (IndyStar)
For consumers, all of this means there are more ways than ever to save money and to shop more efficiently. It’s a merging of the online and offline shopping experience, allowing you to see the whole forest of the retail world on your smart phone while you’re standing amid the trees in the mall.
“It’s much more effective and efficient,” said Jonathan Huer, director of emerging technology and media development at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design.
- IDIA Lab launches IDIA in Blue Mars (Blue Mars Community Blog)
Too often history is lost and forgotten, and with it the potential for future generations to learn from the past. The Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts, or IDIA Lab, wants to not only recover the lost artifacts of history, but also to recreate exact digital replicas of them in their original environments, allowing us to experience and appreciate them in a way which has not been possible until now.
Blue Mars will be the home of IDIA Lab’s new City called IDIA, which features artifacts and art works that were recreated meticulously using 3D laser scanning (check out Hamlet’s blog on laser scanning here). What’s even more impressive is that all of the items can be experienced in their original environments, which were built with the guidance of art historians to ensure authenticity.
- Blue World Notes: Real Sculptures Imported into Virtual Museum in Blue Mars With Laser Scanning (Blue Mars Community Blog)
- A Room With A View+: Ball State Launches Real-World Interactive TV Lab, Teams With Industry Players (MediaPost)
At a time when Madison Avenue and the TV industry are still trying to get a handle on how viewers will respond and adapt to interactive TV features, a leading academic institution – Ball State University’s vaunted Center for Media Design – is teaming with industry players to launch a new state-of-the-art laboratory for resting how consumer attitudes and behaviors are affected by new forms of TV.
The initiative, dubbed Viewing+, already has some high profile backers, including CBS, Time Warner, and industry interactive TV development community OEDN, and the school’s Director of Insight and Research Mike Bloxham says other undisclosed media companies, advertisers and agencies are on board as well.
The breakthrough, Bloxham told MediaDailyNews is that the university has created a real-world testing environment – an actual house that is wired like a “cable head-end,” capable of receiving any form of interactive TV technology or features that the Viewing+ researchers would want to test. While it may not be as natural an experience as people watching TV in their own homes, Bloxham said it’s the next best thing, and that the group is looking at ways of expanding the system to cover a “wider footprint” of actual households.
To steer the initiative, Ball State has formed a Viewing+ advisory board, tapping industry expertise to guide projects and their research agenda.
- Ball State goes beyond viewing with iTV research project (Research-Live)
- #1 Food Site Launches iPad App in Time for Holiday Meal Prep (PR Newswire)
Based on a study by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, consumers who most enthusiastically embrace the iPad are those who find niches of use for it in their everyday lives. Many Allrecipes cooks claim the kitchen as their niche, and Allrecipes.com Your Kitchen Inspiration is the perfect tool for these home cooks to spice up their cooking with the advanced technology of an iPad coupled with the #1 food site’s new recipe app.
- Entrepreneurs advance sales technology with new startup (allbusiness.com)
Mike Bloxham, insight and research director at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, said e-mail has remained standard for sending sales proposals, but a product such as TinderBox could change that.
“More and more business services are moving out onto the cloud,” Bloxham said, referring to information accessible from anywhere online as opposed to viewable from a specific device.
- November 3: Matt Mullins (EM Faculty Fellow in English) performed “Highway Coda” with Mike Pound (Music) as part of the School of Music’s Faculty Composers Forum.
- November 15: Matt Wilson (EM Faculty Fellow in Geography), Brian McNely (EM Faculty Fellow in English) and Matt Mullins (EM Faculty Fellow in English) led a faculty roundtable on advancing digital humanities learning and research at Ball State.
- November 19: Emerging Media Digital Feed, 12:15 – 1:30 pm, Atrium Studio. Featuring Brad King, EM Faculty Fellow in Journalism, on his work this summer connecting emerging technology with the world of theatre, working with playwrights, actors, artists and writers at the Soho Theatre in London.
On the Road
- November 1-2: Mike Bloxham and Michael Holmes (Insight and Research) traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to meet with video games publisher EA, presenting them results from I&R’s eye-tracking work on the video game “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit” and continuing discussions about future usability projects.
- November 2-5: Kevin Klinger (IDF) presented at the 2010 American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Minnesota Annual Convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Klinger’s presentation is titled, “Manufacturing, Materials, and Making: Cases for the Midwest.”
- November 4-6: Dave Ferguson (CMD), Suzanne Plesha (CMD) and Erin Moore (EMI) attended the International Digital Media and Arts Association Annual Conference, Emily Carr University, Vancouver, Canada. Ferguson is the association’s president elect and Plesha was appointed to the organization’s advisory board.
- November 4-5: Mahesh Daas (EM Faculty Fellow in Architecture) was invited to participate in an NSF workshop “When Engineering Design Meets Architecture” at the University of Pennsylvania.
- November 5-6: Matthew Wilson (EM Faculty Fellow in Geography) co-facilitated sessions on critical GIS and technology studies within geography at the Critical Geography Mini-Conference in Milwaukee, WI.
- November 12: Matthew Wilson (EM Faculty Fellow in Geography) held a guest colloquium in the Department of Geography at Miami University of Ohio on the topic of critical geographic information systems.
- November 17: Ball State co-sponsored the TechPoint Measured Marketing Roundtable, Ice Miller, Indianapolis. Nearly 25 measured marketing leaders attended the invitation-only event, which featured Jay Baer, a social media strategy consultant who has founded 5 companies and spent 15 years running digital marketing agencies.
- November 17-18: Mike Bloxham and other members of the Insight and Research team attended the TV of Tomorrow (TVOT) conference in New York City and announced Viewing+, a new interactive TV research initiative for Ball State. To build excitement around the Viewing+ launch, the team hosted a dinner for a group of iTV industry thought leaders to discuss pressing issues that may help shape the Viewing+ research agenda and co-hosted a cocktail party with S&T, a technology company whose contributions helped equip the CMD Insight and Research Media Lab. Bloxham and Will Kreth of OEDN held a workshop at TVOT to discuss the OEDN Academic Outreach Program, Ball State’s involvement and the skills that iTV industry professionals would like to see academia address when designing curriculum for students who will be entering an increasingly interactive TV job market.
- November 17-19: Mahesh Daas (EM Faculty Fellow in Architecture) and Kevin Klinger (Institute for Digital Fabrication) attended the 15th Sociedad Iberoamericana Grafica Digital (SIGRADI) international conference in Bogota, Colombia. Daas gave a keynote speech titled “Anachronisms of Digital Fabrication: Some Questions of Relevance” and presented a peer-reviewed paper, “Deconstructing Digital Materiality.” Klinger’s paper, “Connect Globally | Make Locally: Cases in Design-Through-Production Collaboration Between the Academy and Industry” was awarded the “Top Paper” recognition.
- November 29: John Fillwalk (Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts) was a guest on Metanomics, a national virtual world technology economics show, for a one-hour live interview.
- December 5-8: Mike Bloxham (Insight and Research) will speak at Mediapost’s Email Insider Summit in Park City, Utah. His presentation, “Email: Connective Tissue in the Media Mix?”, will feature an analysis of Video Consumer Mapping Study data exploring how email is used throughout the day, addressing email’s evolving position in the media landscape and what these changes mean for marketers.
- December 8-11: Michelle Prieb (Insight and Research) will attend Mediapost’s Search Insider Summit in Park City, Utah to present “Transparent is the New Green: College Students Want it All.” The keynote will address what BSU college students say about how personalized search and privacy policies can exist in harmony as companies move toward an era of transparency and how that shift has a lot in common with the progress of the green movement in corporate America. Prieb will also moderate a panel of local college students as they answer questions about personalized search and have the opportunity to ask questions of a Google executive.
- December 13-14: Matthew Wilson (EM Faculty Fellow in Geography) has been invited to speak at a National Science Foundation-funded meeting at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to work with other specialists on the topic of “Spatio-Temporal Constraints on Social Networks.”
- Spring 2011: Intermedia Art Archive will open at U Museum Ostwall in Dortmund, Germany – the largest museum in Germany. The archive is made possible by the Hans Breder Foundation, led by John Fillwalk (IDIA).