Queen’s University

First official visit of the NECTAR trip. I get up early to catch the train to Kingston, Ontario.

Everything seems to be fine; comfy train, grab some breakfast, check the presentation again, but…
There is some problem with the tracks. The train will be late. First 20 min, at the end, an hour and a half.
Thankfully everything is taken care of: talk is delayed and the talk goes well, with a wonderful audience making lots of meaningful questions and thoughtful comments.

After lunch I get to visit first Roel Vertegaal’s lab and then Nick Graham’s. It is not a secret that Roel and his students (I met Tim Ginn, Doug Wightman and David Holman) are focussing on the emerging area of organic user interfaces (oui!), where the most prosaic objects are embedded with intelligence and the ability to display information (check their web). They are also building themselves a pretty fancy new lab without a single straight line.

Nick’s students are working around two main topics: collaboration and games. Most often both happen together. Tad Stach’s work is trying to get your lazy uncle to exercise more, challenge you to a virtual bike race and, perhaps, beat you to the finish line. Andreas Hollatz, Banani Roy and Chris Wolfe work building the necessary infrastructure that will allow programmers to easily build games with innovative input (think from Wiifit to heart rate monitors) and allow all kinds of fancy adaptive groupware to work accross computers (check the Fiia framework), also in opportunistic situations. Rob Fletcher is working to bring realistic spatial audio to the next massively-multi-player game experience.

Summarizing, a day full of interesting people, interesting ideas and long train rides…
Thanks to everyone at Queen’s for hosting me and for taking the time to show me around!

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