Archive for April, 2006

Grabbing Attention at CocoaDevHouse Amsterdam

April 22, 2006


CocoaDevHouse is an unconference, hackathon, geek meetup and make stuff event over 24 hours. We're half way through learning about Cocoa development, and starting to make some stuff that uses the varied and exceptional talents of the guys in the room. Paul is working on the application that turns the RFID events into usable data, records it and does nice stuff with it. The guys at CocoaDevHouse are pretty interested in making a simple Cocoa App, mixed in with a little WebObjects so it seemed like a great opportunity for them all (or 5 of them at least) to work together on it. We're making 2 apps; "Attention Seeker" and "Attention Grabber". The specifications are…..

Attention Seeker
Foreground application
Transparent window in kiosk mode that is above a video.
Gets RFID tag from an attached scannerProcesses this tag and brings up a message and maybe a picture (details collected by Attention Grabber). Trying to avoid using an SQL database to store pictures.
Sort of dash board effect with the application going from Transparent to translucent and then back again.
Log this somewhere.

Attention Grabber

Gets the detail for an RFID tag
User scans the tag, enters details and gets their picture taken
Log the details somewhere, which are called up by the Attention Seeker application.

The backend is going to be a simple WebObjects app which will take care of persisting the data.
Tags: rfid, , , ,
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Personal attention

April 22, 2006


Your attention is personal right? To you. It's yours, not someone else's.  So if we can make this not just about measuring and recording attention, but about YOUR attention, then we think we might be onto something.  We don't want to confuse the audience participation; and specifically 'interaction' with attention, as they are different things, but…. using these tags, we have unique identifiers – we know your attention is; well, yours.  So the revelation today is that instead of giving you an attention tag, we can link your attention to your picture.  You give the art your attention, it gives you some back?  Something like, that – and to be discussed further, but we're currently working to link you + your attention + your photo.

Image from 'evilibby' on Flickr.
Tags: rfid, , , .

Attention Please & Attention Trust

April 19, 2006

Whilst we are studying attention in the gallery, specifically with video art; we are also keenly following the work of the Attention Trust who are working with measuring, and rewarding attention online and in other spaces.
So we signed up as a member.

Verified AttentionTrust Member

Open Call

April 18, 2006

AP logo

We're seeking gallery goers in Liverpool to take part in an interactive experiment. The experiment asks nothing more than for you, the audience to give your attention. “Attention Please!” is a video installation with a difference; your attention is important and valuable, pay your attention carefully, and it will be rewarded.

Artist Sara Smith is working with technology partner Kisky Netmedia on this experiment using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. We're mixing techno tags with vivacious video. We're exploring presence and your effect on the art.

As people, ideas and hot new products compete for our attention through TVs, billboards, and the Internet, do they know if we're really paying attention? What if your attention can be measured? What happens when we pay attention to art? And if we do, will it change or react? Will it know? Does it matter? It does now.

We're looking for individuals and groups to participate in our experiment. Come alone, bring your friends or family; it's fun!

Pay attention at

The Box, FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L1 4DQ.

03 & 04 May 2pm – 6pm

Just turn up.
If you want to bring a group before 2pm or only finish work at 6pm and want to come afterwards, contact us and we would be happy to accommodate you!

Looking forward to seeing you!

Things we’ve been talking about

April 17, 2006

While I was visiting Kisky we did a lot of talking about our project and what we had to do and other ideas that could be possible now we have done the first stage of our research.


Tagging your tag (transponder)

Following on from the idea of being able to write to your tag, our minds started to wander and the ideas began to flow. What if you could tag your tag, Katie rolled off the tags she would write, and what does that leave you with, a tag that has tags on it. What can you do with this information?
They could be used like Playing flickr, where some software was developed that could receive an sms message, questions the flickr database and pulls out images tagged with the tag that was written in the message. So we could develop something similar – when the card is read it reads off the tags and pulls off photographs from flickr. Then these images could build up a montage of the installation and its users, the images could be displayed similar to the million dollar homepage or as a series of stills that create a slideshow.

The Notion of Tags

We have the ability to tag your tag (transponder) "A tag (From wikipedia) is a keyword which acts like a subject or category. A keyword is used to organize webpages and objects on the Internet. Each user "tags" a webpage or image using his/her own unique tag. An image or webpage may have multiple tags that identify it. Webpages and images with identical tags are then linked together and users may use the tag to search for similar webpages and images."

The physical (transponder) and the personal – the ability to combine them is interesting and it becomes more empowering rather than controlling.

Attention economy

My notion of the audience having an important and valuable role in experiencing art (video, performance, theater, interaction) brought us to the term attention, as it belongs to the audience and its in their control where they give it, which has a real effect. It appears we're not the only people who think attention is important, and we want to reward it!

From wikipedia "Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity, and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems."

Also check out this on Attention economy and the Net, there's an interesting bit on the effect of the audience!

Writing to tags

April 17, 2006

paul pc and mac

The software that comes with the reader enables you to write 255 blocks of 4 characters to the tags, but what can you do with this after that? Does the tag need interrogating to retrieve this information, or will it send it out whenever it is read?

The reader has to switched (using the software) between read or write mode, each tag has to be added through the inventory reader (same device just in another mode) before it can be written to.
When in write mode (ISO host write) you need to select the tag you are working with input characters you want to write then send to the tag, then the COM interface can read this information when in Scan Mode (HID). This software is only PC format and appear quite complicated but it gives you the basic facilities to use the tags.

For our experiment, we are talking specifically about attention and audience participation-is it even important that we can write to the tag? I feel its important that we investigate this process as its something that makes the tags unique other than their ID number. We have been talking about the notion of rewarding our visitor's by giving them their tag (transponder) with their name written on it.
We could add another terminal to the set-up and use a PC with the COM interface software to simply write to the tag, but this would involve either using our registration reader or purchasing a fifth reader that we simply don't have budget for.
Or if we could find someone to write a Mac application that could be linked with our registration terminal that could write to the tag, but this is a low priority gimmick, only to be added if someone (else) can come up with an easy solution!

Mediamatic meet and the secret Symbolic Table

April 17, 2006


Mediamatic live in the Post CS Building, Amsterdam, they have been running workshops on RFID since July 2005 (there next workshop is coming up in early May see Katie's pervious post RFID & the Internet of Things). We wanted to say "Hi" tell them about our project and see if any thing interesting came up. We explained our project, the ITEM brief and our progress with the technology.


My first realisation was that our project RFID DIY, and we are finding out what the technology can do and including building drivers where needed ourselves, and our first and may other peoples first conclusion is that the tags are essentially keyboard, they print out their unique ID number.The second conclusion was that to do anything really exciting with the technology your talking about the ultra high frequency readers, and several of them with is mega bucks!

They have been investigating the new Nokia phones that have RFID readers in them, for near field communication (NFC) they only work with specific tags, but its an interesting switch of the use of the technology as the user has the reader not tagged with a transponder! (more…)

Research and Development Trip

April 14, 2006

kisky hq

I'm at Kisky Netmedia HQ for the next few days doing some intense planning, development and testing of our project. We're going to find out just how far we can take RFID!
I've been very impressed with the guest services they have provided for me, very kind thank you guys xx

Dank u wel. 

The shopping list

April 14, 2006

 RFID components

So what have we bought?
We have purchased the cheaper of the readers available that are high frequency (13.56MHz) rather than ultra high frequency (915MHz), the limitations are a typical reading distance of only 18cm (max distance I have found was 1.2m), but the UHF readers require external antennas which increases the range of the reader dramatically. The FEIG reader can be supplied as either RS232 connection (with separate power supply) or USB – we chose USB version.
The tags come in all shapes and sizes that signifies the amount of data the can be written to the tags. Remember when buying the tags to make sure they are the same frequency as the readers other wise they just won't work (thanks Scott, from BuyRFID!!!!).

I got quotes from BuyRFID (US) and RFID Components Ltd (UK) both of which were very helpful, supportive and competitive quotes.

3 FEIG PR101 USB Proximity Reader
250 13.56MHz Vicinity Card Transponders (or we could have purchased White Film Tags TIT – WFL 13.56MHz, from BuyRFID)

The RFID setup!

April 10, 2006


We have been working with a test set up, trying out various software and hardware solutions, and after an initial period of not much going on, we've now got our preferred setup defined. I want to outline it here….

It may be useful to outline the issues we have faced with using RFID to impact on video content within the gallery. Firstly, our aims as the technology partner are to research what can and what cannot be done with RFID, and helping Sara translate that into a valuable audience experience. As RFID is about interaction, the audience is the experiment as much as the work is and so the audience / art interface is very transparent. By asking the audience to actively 'pay attention' they are willing participants in this data exchange.

So… we are currently using the RFID reader kit from FEIG. It is connected via USB to a Mac. (We had to use a PC to set the box up to work in that way, but it now works with a Mac). We are then using the RFID reader basically as a keyboard. It outputs the serial number of the tag, we can read that in as text.


We have made a simple Cocoa application to handle what we do with that output. So then we can use junXion from STEIM, with Isadora, or potentially use Isadora on its own.


We can assign different actions in Isadora to different events from the RFID box.




(Video before and after the Isadora effect triggered by the RFID 'attention'.) We can also potentially write to the tags. This may be a great way of 'registering' participants. The participants will then take their data away with them as they leave with their 'attention card'.

We will document the detailed set up for reference later on.
Tags: rfid, , , , .

Attention on Upcoming please!

April 8, 2006

Attention Please! on Upcoming

We like using Attention Please! An Experiment has been added to Upcoming as an event. If you're thinking of attending or just want to 'watch' the event, please add yourself on If you don't already use Upcoming, you should! It's a great way to find out about and promote events of any type in your area or interest group.

Find Attention Please! on Upcoming here.

junXion from STEIM

April 8, 2006


steim (the studio for electro-instrumental music) is the only independent live electronic music centre in the world that is exclusively dedicated to the performing arts.  I have recently been reading their site and looking at their products with interest.  They also run workshops and give performances using their technology.

From their site: "The foundation's artistic and technical departments supports an international community of performers and musicians, and a growing group of visual artists, to develop unique instruments for their work. steim invites these people for residencies and provides them with an artistic and technical environment in which concepts can be given concrete form. It catalyzes their ideas by providing critical feedback grounded in professional experience. These new creations are then exposed to a receptive responsive niche public at steim before being groomed for a larger audience."

junXion is a software application for audio/music performers, art installation makers, theatre makers etc. 

junXion is a Mac OS X data routing application that allows the connection of any USB game controller and defines, in an easy user interface, the translation of each key or joystick action into a specific MIDI event. The resulting MIDI data is then available to any audio/music software that runs on that Mac or can be send to external MIDI interfaces.

We could use steim's junXion software to output MIDI commands that allow us to manipulate video.  It may be that we use this in conjunction with Isadora.  Even if we don't use junXion this time – it is well worth taking a look at it.