pairs of webcams capture the gestures.
“Using one hand, they can draw, and
using the other, they can give commands
and perform a number of transformations
on the object designed,” she noted.
“DRive allows a quadriplegic person to
control a car interface using input from
just two LEDs on an over-shoulder garment,” she said. “We have tested DRive in
a virtual environment similar to the ones
used for racing games, and it works well.
We have plans to integrate a sensor jacket
with this system in the near future.”
There are numerous applications for the
“Many design professions, including architecture, fashion and engineering, can
benefit from the outcomes of this project,
since they heavily rely on sketching in the
conceptual design process,” Kavakli said.
“Other areas, such as films, computer
games, user interface design that involves
storyboarding and visualization, may also
benefit from sketching in virtual reality.”
Laura S. Marshall
Product reviews in the palm
of your hand
TOKYO – With so many options to
choose from, how do you pick the best
digital camera? You could close your eyes
and point, ask your friends for recommendations, or stand there in the store while
the salesperson drones on and on. But how
can you be sure your index finger, your
friends and your friendly neighborhood
sales associate are reliable?
You also could try checking blogs for
product reviews, but it can be daunting to
face the massive amounts of information
available online. And if you’re already in
the store, blog-surfing might not be an option.
But you could use the WOM Scouter,
which would do the surfing for you.
“WOM” stands for “word of
mouth,” and the system, developed by scientists at Toshiba’s
Corporate Research and Development Center in Tokyo,
“extracts and summarizes
from Weblogs,” according
to Shinichi Nagano, research scientist at the center.
All you have to do is
take a photo of a product’s bar code with your
cell phone, and the WOM
Scouter program sends the
bar code information to a
server, which determines
the product name and
manufacturer. Then it finds
blogs commenting on the
Once the blogs are located, the
WOM Scouter returns to the user
with information that is vital to decision-making, including an overall product rating, positive or negative, of the target
product; a list of competitive products getting buzz on the blogs; and selected useful
blogs worth reading in full.
You can even specify which features are
most important to you, and the system will
return results based on your input. “For instance, you can find the car that has the
best reputation for fuel efficiency among
Weblog communities,” Nagano said.
To run the WOM Scouter, cell phones
would have to be equipped with either embedded Java runtime or BREW runtime,
Nagano said, and they would have to be
able to take pictures. The system has been
tested in a consumer electronics store and
in a bookstore but is not yet available on
Nagano and associates don’t expect
the WOM Scouter to be a complete replacement for sales associates.
“We believe feedback that sales professionals provide to be as important as
ever,” said Nagano. “That’s because
opinions published on Weblogs are not
absolutely useful for every end user.”
Indeed, store owners and operators
could use the WOM Scouter them-
selves to aid in stocking decisions
and sales campaign planning.
“Public evaluation of the prod-
ucts that the retailers deal in
would be helpful for their mar-
keting activities like sales
strategies and product plan-
ning,” Nagano said.
Laura S. Marshall