Friday, March 30, 2007

Perttu Rulez!

I just came from Perttu Hämäläinen's defence of a doctoral thesis. His thesis "Novel Applications of real-time audiovisual signal processing technology for art and sports education and entertainment" describes his innovative and inspiring works from the viewpoint of UCD (HCI). Opponents Prof. Aaron Bobick (GeorgiaTech) and PhD Tony Manninen (Oulu University) chivvied the debater for a couple of hours. At the end they stated that the work Perttu has done is more significant that he (debater) understands -- and I definitely agree! There are so many anecdotal notions (as Perttu calls them) and observations to learn from. I suggest everyone dealing with novel HCI technologies and spatial/haptic interface designers to read his papers/thesis. Also do check out his HCI experiments from: KickAssKungFu, QuiQui and Animaatiokone.

Friday is just a perfect day to chill and relax. For Finnish speaking readers, I suggest to check out (7th episode). At least I laughed my head off while watching (Seppo was hilarious!)! For those more in the mood of meditation and stocktaking, check Did You Know? clip from YouTube.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Management consultant goes Blarp

...Blarp! Is someone clearing one's throat? Nope, Blarp is an acronym for 'Business Live Action Role Play' -- a solution developed by Satama for Trainer's House. Trainer's House is a Finnish company offering coaching and marketing aid for companies to put things short.

Trainers' House seem to have understood and adopted the weighty message delivered by Xerox and Forrester. Millenials have already take in operations model from online (game) communities. They want to have fun, do things proactively, fast and/or with the aid of their peers. Blarp seems to be a gamelike solution to fortify people's motivation and ability to digest new information.

Blarp very much links with the ideas related to serious games. Exergame developers talk about 'stealth exercise'. That way Blarp would be conceived as stealth learning.

Let's see what Urban Dictionary says about Blarp:

"The blarp is the act of deficating in a bathtub. Before returning the key to his ex-girlfriend's house, Mike got revenge with a blarp in every bathroom."

"A word some old friends use to use during odd silence. From the movie "Lost in Space" a little creature later in the movie makes the noise. *odd silence* "Blarrrrp!"

"The difference between soy sauce, and the sauce that has yet to be soyed. Does this sauce contain blarp?"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Consumer goes digital

Last week I was privileged to spend a whole day with one of the most clued-up consumer researchers in Finland, Minna Autio. We discussed with a Finnish magazine publisher about young consumers, digital trends and technologizing youth in general. When talking about youth as consumers (of media) Minna brough up interesting issues such as the relevance of speed, cross media attitude, brands and new type of visual "language" of media. According to TNS Gallup / Atlas, Finns spent seven hours per day with media (2006). According to the survey tv takes 43% out of that seven hours, radio 32%, internet 10% and newspapers/magazines the rest.

I would like to question the results as today people are multitaskers. Many youngster watch tv at the same time they surf the Internet or play web games on their laptops. Also I would quess music phones (where you can download songs) and iPods/MP3 players have already gobbled up part of radio's share. I am sure the results would be different if the survey would be addressed to e.g. 15- 25 year olds. The media scene is way more interactive, spontaneous or reactive than before.

Related to digitalizing youth, did you know that Microsoft has hired Gaming Specialists to highlight the insights of gamers and gaming? There is one specialist in every Nordic country. In Finland Mr. Jarno Kallunki is the fortuitous one. I met him this morning at the tv channel MTV3's Morning Show. I am sure he will be an excellent "role model" for kids and a great link between a multinational cooperation and the gaming scene. But the big challenge is to find ways to communicate the big picture of digital gaming/consumerism to the general audience. Gaming is nothing but violence and waste of time for many. Jarno will be working as a specialist for 6 months (5 months remaining). Let's see how he (or Microsoft) is able to turn upside down the public image of gaming ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Some notes from GDC07

GDC07 was a lot of fun as well as somewhat enlightening though most of the sessions were very basics or/and down to earth. From researchers viewpoint the speakers were not really bringing out some bewildering news, vision or ideas but nicely linking topical issues with developers' experiences. There were several Agile/Scrum sessions, all crowded. I have complained earlier how developers can't use their full potential and/or excellent ideas due to the lack of organizing skills and knowledge of being an entrepreneur. Thanks to the great hype around Agile, game developers really seem to take agile software development and project management (especially Scrum) seriously and the results are already turning up.

After Agile experiences the second most interesting thing was future visions of gaming provided by Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo) and Phil Harrison (Sony). Mr. Miyamoto focused on Nintendo's strategy, fun and the creative side of gaming (Wii). He highlighted the role of expanded audience, risk and balance in the development of games for Nintendo. I just wish other developers could also think of non-typical target groups (and I am not only talking about girls) and take more risks.
Of course that is more easily said than done -- but hopefully investors/publishers understand the need to innovate in able to actually expand the business.

Mr. Harrison was delivering more solid vision to the audience. PS3 is "all you need" hightech entertainment package in a shiny cover (Finns can check out my views on PS3 from It is about to challenge PC/online world and services such as Second Life and alike with their "Home" service. Even though they definitely have huge challenges with the PS3 Home, I truly adore their way of looking at gaming not only as guys'n'games thing but as spare time experience linking fun, games and movies with UGC and wide range of [digi]social activities. I have been complaining that the first releases for PS3 haven't been that inspiring (except MotorStorm) but now I am in love! A company named Mediamolecule presented their LittleBigPlanet at the GDC. It was fantastic, innovative, exiting, cute and definitely a reason to buy PS3.


LEGO is putting up their own MMO, cool! It'll be out in 2008 (by NetDevil). It is to be made for children and will enable Lego fans to become active members of an online community. It is seen as a way for the brand to engage with its fans in a way which appeals to their current habits. I liked the idea of linking online worlds with creative activities. I kinda like the idea though I am not yet convinced how well the idea will eventually turn out.

Another somewhat interesting online community for kids is WebKinz which seems to be popular in the US. The sort of funny thing about WebKinz is that... "2005-2007 GANZ — PATENT PENDING"! So they are about to patent the toy > MMO idea? Or something else. Oh well... In any case MMOs seem to be the way to go when creating "new" toys for children. The linkage between real object and virtual is nice though.