Confessions of a researchaholic

August 18, 2019

My idea of a mixed reality device

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:03 pm
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A single device that bridges VR and AR by displaying synthetic graphics seamlessly with or without the real environment, captured by some sensor/camera without requiring optical seethrough, consumes low power, tracks eye gazes (e.g., for foveation) and locations (e.g., for overlaying geo information).

These can already be achieved programmatically on some smart phones; glasses can reach a subset of users (e.g., those already wearing prescription glasses or requiring hands-free working conditions).

Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion, conceived and written on my personal computer outside Adobe working hours.

August 4, 2019

SIGGRAPH 2019

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:20 pm
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I spent most of my time in the experience hall with the workshops and demos.
I did not attend a single paper session.
I could socialize with the paper authors a bit more, but I bump into some of them in the parties.
The more conferences I have attended, the more I believe the value of hands-on experience in trying out new things and interacting with different people than just passively listening to talks (most of which are recorded for later viewing, except for the movie production sessions).

For the entire week (from July 25 to 31) I had dinners in various parties (SIGGRAPH Asia technical papers committee meeting and SIGGRAPH conference).

\paragraph{Sunday}

The cybersickness workshop sounds relevant to my research. When I went there, I saw a presenter talking over slides full of dense texts and felt sickness without HMD already. So I left.

I know about the turtle visual programming, but this is the first time I tried hands-on with the Turtle-Stitch embroidery machine.
Basically, you control the turtle (pointer) movement via blocks and write a program by chaining the actions together. Warnings will show if any step may cause manufacturing issues, such as large strides. The program can be saved to a weaving machine to produce an embroidery.

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TurtleStitch embroidery – wow smiley face

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The VR/AR magic session much more interesting with several talks from the industry.
For stationary players, locomotion in games can be achieved via hand controllers for speed and turn.
Synthetic blinks in the rendering can be added for teleportation and turn without eye tracking.
Magic Leap presents Mica, which looks very realistic during the presentation which made me wonder if the company is considering pivoting towards content creation if the hardware does not pan out.
I made a mental note to try the demo to see how opaque the graphics really is.
Mica can be animated with the geometry model plus helper joints.
Particular emphasis is on gaze and attention simulation to focus on face social triangle for face and saccade simulation.
The game porting talk is boring to me so I did not pay much attention.
The sonic immersion talk is very good; the two presenters skillfully use non-VR demos to demonstrate the importance of sound effects for immersive ambisonics.
More information can be found about ICTUS audio.

I went to lunch at Cow Cafe (a vegetarian place near the LA convention center south hall). The egg scrambles were good.

I spent the entire afternoon in the immersive pavilion.
Heterotopias performs cinematic cuts during blinks; the idea sounds very interesting but the demo does not really work for me as my glasses might have prevented accurate eye tracking.

I forgot that I actually had no paper in SIGGRAPH 2019 and thus would have to come into the papers fast forward with everyone else, and ended up sitting on the first row.
I had some quasi-dinner in the Beijing academy and Taipei parties afterwards.
I bumped into Kurt and recommended him to look at the Shard/Glasswing demo; he said that by nature he will ask a lot of pointed technical questions, and I told him that Gavin would be there to answer.

\paragraph{Monday}

I went to register for the Mica demo, and bumped into Zhenyi in the queue. She mentioned goo.gl/x5RQHN as a related work.

I could not get into the NASA VR session, so I went to the experience art talk (AI and embodied experience) instead.
Lavin trains a junky neural network to output limited vocabulary for a person image, and renders the corresponding 3D shapes in VR.
The hugging sculpture photogrammetry is also interesting.

Cow Cafe ran out of materials for scramble eggs, so I ended up with a less tasty avocado toast. I guess they also ran out of arugula and gave me romaine lettuce instead.

Mica demo has interesting interactivity, the graphics is not as opaque as it should be (as I expected) but it is ok. I did not try to go off the script as the aim is visual not interaction. But I still managed to break the demo in 10 seconds.

On my way to the keynote Johannes told me it was really bad and unprepared. It is unscripted, but not as bad as he commented. Sometimes we can learn more about the speaker from a spontaneous talk.

The Spheres VR movie is very good; Darren Aronofsky is listed as a contributor.

The de-noising session looks interesting so I went there.
Color space sculpting seems like a simple and effective idea for color edit.
I doubt how general the neural-network de-speckle approach can be.

When I arrived at the NVIDIA party after the only electronic theater show, the hotel staff was already starting to take away the food.

\paragraph{Tuesday}

I went to the After Effects creative medium workshop. I cannot really follow due to small display text but managed to experiment with the tutorial file a bit to get the gist (usual scripting and compositing stuff over the video time line).
Basically, there are people using Ae purely for synthetic effects instead of video post processing.

I then went to the hardwearable session.
Missed most of the NVIDIA AR eyeglass talk.
The electric control plastic haptic device looked interesting and I made a mental note to try in etech.
Artificial tail and temperature control auxetic are also interesting.

The interactive street art AR workshop is fun and reminded me about Aero authoring.

Real-time live was fun as usual. Hair VR did not win the best show but Liwen and Hao did a great demo (with Jun’s head).

I skipped the Stanford reunion and went straight to the Facebook party; the venue is great!
After giving my drink tickets to Kari, he told me that the Stanford reunion got great drinks.


I did not manage to attend the Adobe party before closing.

\paragraph{Wednesday}

I spent most of the morning in the VR demos.
The guy in the autism AR app told me about how png used to support vector graphics.
The OVS + tumor VR app looked and interacted very well.
The VR redirected walking space station demo (Frank Steinickie) worked very well by simply using highly occluded environment with task distraction without even leveraging blinks or saccades.
The unreal workshop is fun; one can place geometry scene structures for a character to move around for a simple game level.
Being Henry VR movie with gaze and blink control works very well and realistically simulates the situation of someone who could not move except with eyes and a hand.

After accidentally attending the women lunch in UIST 2016, I bravely attended the Berthouzoz women lunch in SIGGRAPH and even more bravely volunteered as a discussion leader.
The speakers were inspirational but I had to cut short the lunch to attend a meeting with Illustrator guys coming all the way from India.
The meeting was very productive and I managed to come up with four potential projects.

The DreamWorks party got good food; it took place inside the convention center, so very easy to attend.

The game of thrones production session was fun even though I never watched the show.
It was too late to attend the Snap party afterwards, so I went to the Apple party. The Canadian party was right around my hotel but I was too sleepy to go.

\paragraph{Thursday}

I got up early for the Glasswing talk session at 9 am, and tried some VR stuff afterwards, such as T-Rex assembly, beach muscle building, etc.

I did not realize the physical pad (Bamboo) is actually linked with Wacom Inkspace, and had a great time experimenting with the hardware.

Autodesk fusion 360 create cad shapes to guide drawing in sketchbook, I got the idea even though I could not create complex shapes.

I bumped into Jonash and lunched with him in Cow Cafe (which kindly gave me a discount code).
I had to miss the Alita production session for flight, which was delayed for 2 hours. I plan not to cut short of the conference in the future unless I really must fit a flight schedule (not between LAX and SFO).

TODO: checkout the blackhole talk, which people told me was great and should be the keynote. Why they put these really interesting forwward looking stuff in the early mornings?

August 1, 2019

Quick still life experiment with Wacom Inkspace

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:36 am
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This is a combination of physical and digital drawings.
Install the Inkspace app on a mobile device (I used my moto x4 phone), and connect it (via bluetooth) with a Bamboo smartpad with physical papers. All my drawings on the smartpad were synchronized in real-time with the Inkspace app on the phone.
There is only pen, no eraser, on the physical pad.

I like the tactile feedback of the physical pen and paper, but would probably prefer direct drawing into a tablet for more direct editing options (layers, colors, undo/redo, strokes, etc.) without having to switch between the physical pad and virtual app.

July 27, 2019

Digital graffiti experiment

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:33 am
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I like this wall painting at the north-west corner of the 8th and Hope street intersection, and decided to try a digital Banksy.
The wings are too low for their size and span, so anatomically the carrier needs to be very stout. (The original reference is a much taller and thinner person.)

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Digital street drawing

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July 22, 2019

Quick sketch of a hairstyle

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:00 pm
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I did a quick finger sketch of this passenger hairstyle over my moto x4 phone on the train.

Later I noticed that I traced too many hair strands, so I did a simplified version from memory, still with finger over the phone.
This one took me only a few seconds, versus the original one which took me a few minutes.

July 21, 2019

Quick sketch of a park bench napper

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:59 am
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He kept on moving around so was not exactly easy to draw.

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Quick sketch of a bench mapper

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July 20, 2019

Quick sketch during a Warhol film session

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 am
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The SF MOMA Warhol film session contains short films of mostly stationary faces, from which I had a lot of fun finger sketching over a phone.

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Warhol film

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July 19, 2019

Some recent sketches

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:56 am
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I start practicing finger drawing over a cell phone as it is the most convenient device to carry around, and I might not always have a large iPad or physical sketch book.
The combination of small phone screen and obscuring finger is challenging, but I believe it can be overcome with more practice.

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Quick sketch of a live drawing session

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Finger sketch on a moto x4

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Quick sketch of a referee

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July 18, 2019

Steichen on photography

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:55 am
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Edward Steichen, a Luxembourg-born photographer who spent most of his life in the US, said that photography is both easy and hard: easy for anyone to master, and hard because, unlike other additive art mediums that start from a blank, photography starts with all the information and one has to learn how to subtract.

July 13, 2019

Get in

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 pm
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I captured this great view from SF-MOMA, in which the wall says:

So you’ve gotten very close, you’ve shared a complete experience.
And the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting anyway.
Never getting in is the most exciting, but after that, waiting to get in is the most exciting.

Don’t we all tend to be obsessed with what we cannot get in life: the dream job, the dream lover, the dream trip, which pop into reality when we finally have a chance to get in.

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