I'm waiting for the Lucas keynote to start. Suspiciously, even though WiFi works in here, my mail & AIM connections failed, so I'm guessing they're trying to restrict outside communication. Thankfully, a little GPRS action fixes that.
First up this morning was an OpenGL performance session. I like to pop in to one of these from time to time to make sure nothing surprises me, and reassuringly enough, nothing did. I do have a little better understanding of display lists vs vertex arrays vs vertex objects, though. It was 90 minutes well spent, but didn't leave me thinking I needed to go drastically re-architect anything.
After that, I sat in on one of the Emerging Technologies panels. This one was about interfaces, and two projects in particular caught my attention.
First, The Virtual Raft Project. These guys set up three stationary machines that have three independent ecosystems, and then several Tablet PCs that serve as "rafts." When you bring a raft near an island, some of the critters on the island will jump from island to raft or vice versa. Among the interesting tricks is using the accelerometer in the Tablet PC to provide a sense of "balancing" -- if you don't hold the raft flat, the critters will fall to one end, etc. I haven't actually tried the demo of this yet, but intend to.
Second, Ton^2, which is a pretty cool twist on the whole fighting game genre. The opponents face each other across a field of (actual, not virtual) water. Each side has three big cubes that can be mashed, and said mashing causes waves of water to be emitted. There's also a white screen suspended in the water, which fluctuates as the water passes around it. They use a clever combination of measuring the screen deformation and the amount of force exerted on the cubes to virtually move a pair of avatars around a sumo ring. The avatars are projected onto the white screen.
So, basically, you're mashing big buttons to send waves crashing across and push your guy into the other guy, and knock him out of the ring before you get knocked out the ring.
What's impressive about this is (a) the clever use of real world environments to provide convincing feedback, and measuring that environment successfully so that the virtual world convincingly lives inside it, and (b) how freaking fun it is. I tried it after hearing the talk, and quickly learned that "button mashing" didn't work, but that if I did strong, forceful, rhythmic movements (in tune with the wave patterns going by) that I could kick ass. This was all extremely intuitive, and -- unlike some of the other virtual experiences, like the canoe -- made sense to me immediately, so that I could focus on the fun of playing the game.
Then I ducked out early so that I wouldn't be at the very back of the line for the keynote, grabbing some bbq for lunch. As I always learn whenever traveling, I just shouldn't bother getting BBQ outside of Texas, but I'm always tempted anyway. Because, mmmmm, BBQ. Now I'm hungry again. Boo.
Sadly, the battery is creeping down into the red. This is Echo Eight, signing off. 12:52:58 PM ()