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

Month: March 2008

Pirate ‘Hand’ Gestures

I was wrong. Wrong about the necessity of hands for gesturing (actually, for waving, to be exact).

Pirate Sign Language
(source: ShoutWire)

Apparently, any old hook will do instead of hands. Or should we say that this case is a special case of projection? Perhaps it is the placement of the hook on Pirate Arm’s End that enables the illusions? We have no problem seeing gestures because the hook is clearly a substitute hand?

Would the magic disappear if the hook was alone, without an arm attached? Perhaps it will and perhaps it won’t. One thing is for sure though, my hopeless over-analyzing of anything gestural is killing this otherwise decent joke.


The 2008 8th IEEE International Conference on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition is upcoming. It will be held in De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam, September 17-19, 2008.

FG2008 logo

22 March is the deadline for the submission of regular papers. There will also be a workshop on the ‘Psychology of Face and Gesture Recognition’. That should be interesting. And Paul Ekman is one of the keynote speakers.

Detailed instructions for paper submission are provided. It should be six pages (unless you want to pay them $100 extra 🙂 ). I am told that getting accepted is not easy, but I will try nevertheless. You have to subscribe to an online submission system, it appears.

I hope to be contributing with two papers. The first I will write together with JL and covers our experiment with acceptability judgments (man vs. machine). The second will be written by GH and me and will be more of an overview of how we try to link perception to automatic recognition.

Herman Roodenburg’s Eloquence

With great delight I read Herman Roodenburg’s 2004 book called ‘Eloquence of the Body. Perspectives on gesture in the Dutch Republic’. I already posted about it earlier with respect to Jelgerhuis and a lovely video about ‘Welstand’. Roodenburg is a scholar based at the Meertens Instituut, who has written on various topics where history and sociology meet.

Cove of Eloquence
Cover of the book (source)

Some of his works have been translated into many languages. I previously read ‘A Cultural History of Gesture from Antiquity to the Present Day, red. J.N. Bremmer en H.W. Roodenburg (Cambridge, 1991)’, of which I found a 1993 Dutch translation in my local bookshop. But his documentations of the histories of honour, humor and corsets also captured my imagination.

The current work, Eloquence of the Body, is a time machine. It took me, a young Dutch man, back to the days of Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), an important man in the history of the Dutch Republic. And Roodenburg makes it happen because he seems to have developed an ear for the stories that books tell about their previous owners. He scrutinizes the library lists of the Huygenses and compares them to their correspondence and is deeply engrossed in his studies of the old texts on civility (Castiglione, Erasmus, etc.). And from all this scholarly groundwork rises a clear picture of the role of gesture and bodily memory in the minds of the people at that time.

The chapters:
– Castiglione’s Paradox
– Civility and the Dutch Republic
– Incarnating Civility
– Painting and Civility
– Acting and Civility
– Preaching and Civility

There are also many notes and a large bibliography, which unlock the old writings on gesture for any novel student such as myself. It is a guide to thoughts of the past. To stimulate the imagination many images illustrate the points made by the author. For me, it was also a free lesson on art history and in how painting and acting (and preaching) are related to gesture.

Sadly, what is lacking is a bridge from the past to the present. I would have loved to read whether the ‘welstand’ for example is still practised today in the Netherlands. Or how children are taught manners today. Or perhaps some remarks about the ‘Dutch Identity’, a vague term that has been hijacked by nationalistic politicians. I would hope that Roodenburg can make more sense of what is typically Dutch (from a historical perspective) than them.

Gesture Interaction for Window Displays

Orange, the phone company, is exploring and developing a nice new niche market for gesture recognition: The Interactive Shop Window.

Could it be one of the killer apps for gesture recognition? I think it is possible. The advantages are quite clear. As a unique selling point gesture recognition offers the possibility to interact through existing windows, simply because a camera can see through them. I do not think any other interaction technique can do that. Voice recognition doesn’t travel through windows. Touchscreens need to physically available, as any other haptic device (mouse, keyboard, etc.).

Review by Gizmodo

Made by The Alternative
Update Feb 3: Reviewed by the Dutch Marketing Facts

Soldier Hand Signals

Just for a laugh, here is a caricature of soldiers’ hand signals:

Soldiers hand signals
(Source: Geenstijl Dumpert)

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