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Jinha Lee: Reach into the Computer and Grab a Pixel

In a new TEDTalk, designer/engineer Jinha Lee explains how he wants to dissolve altogether the border between our physical world and the digital information surrounding us. His gasp-inducing ideas include a pen that penetrates into a screen to draw 3D models and a computer desktop prototype that lets you reach through the screen to manipulate digital objects.

Cool, right? One of Code42’s quality assurance gurus thought so, too—here’s what Jason Saxon has to say about it:

The first thought I have upon seeing touchable data is always the implications for polysensory art. Just the Microsoft labs stuff expands the boundaries for control “surfaces” in amazing ways. Modern music production, for example, is not described well by traditional tools. The notes matter less, and the production techniques shine. Being able to describe some of the traits gesturally and in real-time—rather than through existing metaphors like numbers and knobs—provides abstraction for the artist, permitting them to focus on expression over technology. It lowers the barrier to entry and raises the upper bounds on what’s possible for skilled producers.

However, adding a tactile presence to data really blows the world wide open. I see reactive art installations with floating nodes that both respond to and take control of the sound and light in the room. I see physics games and puzzles with elements that defy traditional laws. I see generative pieces where objects are added to the data field and set in motion—where their behaviors can dictate the flow of the piece naturally, or human actors can shape the experience.

Most importantly, though, I see my (partner’s) boys. Our 8 year old wants to be a game designer; his younger brothers have at least some interest in computer creativity as well. This video is a glimpse into what will be commonplace by the time they reach adulthood. Imagining what they may do when given programmable control of nearly limitless systems is the best speculative sci-fi I could ask for.

We live in exciting times. Thanks for sharing this.

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