A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: June 2006

G-Speak selling Minority Report Promise

Gesture recognition by G-Speak was reviewed the other day. Promises, promises, Minority Report. Their own website features a remarkable lack of info. The news movies are nice though. Raytheon is mentioned as well as the US military. I guess the enemies of the USA better watch out, or Uncle Sam may shake his fist at you!

Wanna shake hands with the President? (source)

Exergames blogs about physical gaming

Exergames is a nice-looking blog on exercise and physical gaming. They do not update much though. I guess they are too busy playing with their new Nintendo Wii‘s. Or perhaps they were seriously injured from the intense physical interaction, preventing them from typing? Wanna work out with a game? (source) By the way: Wouter has a nice post on another quirk of Nintendo Wii: The controls of enthusiastic gamers are flying out of their sweaty hands and breaking their expensive TVs or windows. Every rose has its thorn.

All Blacks will Kill for Victory

In a rare display of utter sportsmanship, the New Zealand rugby team, aka the All Blacks, included a cutthroat gesture in their new Kapa o Pango haka. The old haka of the AB’s, Ka Mate, was also meant to intimidate but was not as explicit in saying ‘we will kill you’. It sparked a bit of interest, and then some, until Paul Lewis (NZHerald) sat down and treated it properly. A challenge yes, a tribute yes, but don’t insult the people that can turn off the hot water when you hit the shower after the game. Your manhood may suffer otherwise.

Which position would you like to play against these gentlemen? (PETER MEECHAM/The Press)

Napoli gestures

The people of Naples have already been the frequent subjects of gesture studies. Online you can find here something about L’arte del gesticolare a Napoli. They also keep references to various studies.

What does this gesture mean? (source)

Andrea de Jorio wrote in the nineteenth centurey about the gestures of his fellow Neapolitans in La mimica degli antichi investigata nel gestire napoletano. It was translated by Kendon in 2000, see this online review. Essentially, de Jorio was a pioneering ethnographer, he described his own people, tried to link them historically to the Romans of classical times and so gave input to the city state’s cultural identity. All that through the study of gestures.

The New Fidgeting

Fidgeting, nuisance or necessary? A good study by James A. Levine (science mag) of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), or fidgeting, links it to staying thin. Thin is good, obese is bad, mind you. Unfortunately NEAT may well be innate, according to dr. Ravussin, meaning it’s probably useless to encourage children to fidget (or else you’ll get fat, Elsie!). But you could build classrooms that cater to the hunter-gatherer within, who obviously aches for a life in the wild, not for a nice fat hamburger.

You may get these lovely kids silent but can you freeze their fidgeting? Should you want to? (news-record.com)

Meanwhile, back home, I am trying to see how well people discriminate between gestures and fidgeting. The story goes that we attend to gestures because we can see they are intended to communicate and we ignore the unimportant fidgeting (Kendon Gesture 2004, and stuff from Goffman). Mind you, it’s not a black and white thing. You can learn to attend fidgeting as well, see the Levine study for example. Sofar I have however found in my experiments that people are at least very well able to separate gestures and fidgeting, though they are sometimes temporarily ‘fooled’ by a fidget. (Submitted to Gesture last week)

I surely hope that parents and teachers do not suddenly start paying too much attention to fidgeting. If Neat is innate, then perhaps so is our need to be able to move about without arousing everyone’s curiosity. You may look at my fidgeting, as long as you don’t see it.

A new Mudra for a small lump on my leg

Learning of my interest in Mudras, colleague JM, who is also a yoga teacher, lent me his Mudra Werkboek by Gertrud Hirschi, a swiss yoga teacher (a 1999 Dutch translation of: Mudras – Yoga mit dem kleinen Finger, 1998). Hirschi published a new Mudras book in 2006, which I guess is an update.

The most intruiging bit of the book is on page 199, which shows how you can create your own mudra:

  • Study the book and the energies of your hand
  • Show respect!
  • Study the characteristics of each finger and choose the posture that fits [the selected bits?]
  • Formulate the goal of the mudra in positive terms [i.e. I have a smooth leg]
  • Speak the sentence loud and slow thrice with a breath each
  • Picture the outcome
  • Try feeling the result
  • Dedicate your mudra to a divine power or deity of your choice
  • Wish the outcome with all your heart, but remain patient and trusting

Does this sound a bit like creating your own magic spell? Well it wouldn’t be the first time magic and yoga are considered twins. Anyway, I have yet to try it out. The energies of my hands still baffle me. Some serious contemplation is in order, methinks.

The Good, the Bad and the Finger

I just rewatched Top Gun featuring young buck Tom Cruise as a feisty US fighterpilot. In the beginning he gives the finger to a mysterious bogey in a MIG. He is not allowed to pull the trigger so this is how he scares the attacker off:

Uncle Tom Scares of the Enemy How old and widespread is the classical digitus impudicus?

The event becomes part of the plot and the tension between girl Charlie and boy Maverick (scene transcript from IMDb):

Charlie: Eh lieutenant, what were you doing there?
Maverick: Communicating. Keeping up foreign relations. You know, giving him the bird!
Goose: [Charlie looks puzzled, so Goose clarifies] You know, the finger
[gestures appropriately]
Charlie: Yes, I know the finger, Goose.
Goose: I-I’m sorry, I hate it when it does that, I’m sorry. Excuse me.

Teaching an iPod New Tricks?

Instead of moving to the beat of the music, some Apple genius also patented an idea to have iPod change the beat to your pace of activities. And they filed a couple more patents for good measure. With motion sensing and an accelerometer it could even be respond to .. well, you name the movement. With a little imagination you could have it do the same as a Nintendo Wii remote. Why on earth you would want to is beyond me though.

Will your iPod bring your slippers one day? Or just waggle if it likes the tune?

It won’t be long before my iPod is my intelligent trainer instead of my humble servant:
Me: Playing tunes on the iPod while jogging
iPod: Senses that I am at a faster pace than the beat and turns it up
Me: Hearing the beat go faster I get excited and start a run
iPod: Also quickens, then we run perfect synchrony for a while
Me: Getting tired, slowing down
iPod: Tries to motivate me by keeping the pace high for just a bit longer and shouting “half a minute, Jeroen!”
Me: I go for it and then slow to a crawl
iPod: Shifts the tune to a slower one and we are in harmony for a while
Me: Heartbeat is getting good again
iPod: Notices the heartbeat and starts secretly pumping up the pace again
Me: Follow iPods lead and put in a extra mile
iPod: Tells me “good job! now hit the shower”

Will Wii Win?

The Wii is the new Nintendo gaming console that you could call a gesture interface. It’s a motion sensitive remote control with his second hand sidekick Nunchuk. Gamers appear to like the idea very much, see for example the response to this demo-video of Wii gesture-drumming. Meanwhile, Bill Gates plays it down, blowing smoke up the Xbox chimney, which features real GestureTek. It’s one up in the campaign to get gamers off of their butts.

Which golden oldie is serving which hip youngster at E3? (Buffalo News)

My Baby Just Cares .. for Milk

Hotter than hot with US Parents today: teach your nine month old baby a few signs instead of just waiting a couple of months for his words to start. Why? Well, obviously to give him an advantage. How so? According to a Californian mix of commercial and academic experts, there are many positive effects.

Does a parental investment in baby sign have the highest return?

Or would you be better of with music and rhyme sessions?

So what do babies sign? Guess what? By far the most used signs are More and Milk. A former colleague of mine from the UK mentioned had an anecdote about a signing baby: Whatever the problem was, be it hunger, thirst, a dirty diaper, etc, the baby would inevitable sign ‘milk’. Our mother’s breast, a cure for all ailments, eh?

To be honest, I tried it with my first child but my limited investment had no visible return. My youngest was spared the exercise, apart from the regular attempts at using gestures such as waving goodbye. And as I gain parental experience an approach of reactive rather than pro-active stimulation seems to me to yield the most profitable ROI anyway. It is certainly less demanding and has many other positive effects on me.

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