NUS students win 2nd place at CHI 2010

Four undergraduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Ms Vu Giang Thanh, Mr Muhammad Shafi B Rafie, Mr Muhammad Farkhan B Salleh, and Ms Tan Xiu Fang have combined popular networking tools to create a fresh interactive experience that will enable a user to walk in another man’s shoes. This idea stood out amongst [ more than 90 entries from  16 countries] to clinch second place at the CHI2010 Student Design Competition held in Atlanta, Georgia in April 2010.

The prototype, Living Avatar’s Network (LAN), opens up a unique avenue where users can interact with each other in real-time while allowing one user to gain a first-hand experience of the other user’s actions. For example, the new system will allow a physically disabled user to experience an outdoor adventure in real-time such as trekking or even sky-diving in the comfort of the home. The user can also determine and give instructions to a Living Avatar to carry out a task.

The team of four students from the Communications and New Media (CNM) programme at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences foresee that this platform can bridge more gaps of physical boundaries, such as distance between locals and tourists, physique between the young and old or even serve as a novel business solution by outsourcing an experience to a professional as a Living Avatar to carry out the task and stream it to the user via LAN .

With LAN, online users are now empowered to venture beyond the confines of a virtual environment. It is also designed for people to participate in interactive walks or other activities during which images, voice and personal experiences  are transmitted simultaneously and instantaneously between users. Mundane tasks such as supermarket shopping, catching a bus or even walking the dog, will be transformed to amusing, interactive activities as users share their actions, thoughts, memories and instructions via real-time mobile video.

Easily synchronised with existing technologies, the LAN  platform requires only four items – a laptop, web-cam, wireless internet connection and an account to a social networking site. (headset?)

CHI2010 Student Design Competition

Held from 10 to 15 April 2010, the competition is part of the prestigious international design conference – ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Participants in this year’s competition faced the challenge of designing an object, interface, system or service that would positively motivates people to take a walk. This is the first time that an NUS team has won in this seven-year old competition.

The students had originally designed LAN  for an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme on heritage and location based media, supervised by Assistant Professor Denise Kera  from the CNM programme, Dr Connor Graham, professional ethnographer of interactive media and independent researcher based in Singapore, and PhD student Ms Inosha Wickrama from the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering.