Various enterprises and personal interests, such as Man-Machine Interaction (MMI), gesture studies, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: September 2008

Me at the FG2008

I would almost forget, but I also presented some work at the FG2008 conference: Acceptability Ratings by Humans and Automatic Gesture Recognition for Variations in Sign Productions.

Abstract: In this study we compare human and machine acceptability judgments for extreme variations in sign productions. We gathered acceptability judgments of 26 signers and scores of three different Automatic Gesture Recognition (AGR) algorithms that could potentially be used for automatic acceptability judgments, in which case the correlation between human ratings and AGR scores may serve as an ‘acceptability performance’ measure. We found high human-human correlations, high AGR-AGR correlations, but low human-AGR correlations. Furthermore, in a comparison between acceptability and classification performance of the different AGR methods, classification performance was found to be an unreliable predictor of acceptability performance.

Snapshots of the three signs used in the experiment
Snapshots of the three signs used in the experiment.

Examples of three manipulations of the sign SAW
Examples of three manipulations of the sign SAW. We tested about 68 sign manipulations in total. These were run through the automatic recognition algorithms we had been working on and they were rated by human signers. The paper is about how humans and machines can be compared.

Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann at the FG2008

One of the more interesting lectures at the FG2008 conference was a keynote speech delivered by Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, director of the MIRALab in Geneva. She talked about Communicating with a Virtual Human or a Robot that has Emotions, Memory and Personality. She went far beyond the simplistic notion of expressing ‘the six basic emotions’ and talked about how mood, personality and relationships may affect our facial expressions.

Example of MIRALab's facial expression techniques
The talk by Magnenat-Thalmann focused on facial expression. (source)

By coincidence I got an invitation to write a paper for another conference, organized by Anton Nijholt and Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann (and others), called the Conference on Computer Animation and Social Agents (CASA 2009). It is organized by people from the University of Twente but held in Amsterdam. Call for papers: deadline February 2009.

Nadia also mentioned a researcher at Utrecht University called Arjan Egges. He got his PhD at the MIRALab and is now working on “the integration of motion capture animation with navigation and object manipulation”.

My BSL Books

The British are doing it again. Leading the world to a better place. This time it concern books, or stories might be a better word, in sign language, BSL to be exact. I wonder why they keep calling it books? Although my hearing kids sometimes listen to ‘Spoken Books’ on CDs, hmm. Thanks to Gavin Howard for the link.

MyBSLbooks: Welcome to – the World’s first free online library of signed books. We are delighted to share with you a range of popular children’s books, available for the first time in British Sign Language. This site offers D/deaf children, their families and schools wider access to their favourite stories in the preferred language of the Deaf Community.

Well, the site only contains about eight DVD’s so far. And it’s hardly a library since it doesn’t cover any books published by anyone else, and I don’t know if lending instead of buying is an option. The site is copyrighted by Lexicon/Signstream, so I guess they somehow own it.

Come to think of it, the Dutch site Vi-Taal – De Gebarenwinkel has had a similar offering out there for years, and also offers a lot of other sign language goodies. And the Nederlands Gebarencentrum has a few DVDs as well. But well done all the same, you wonderful Britons.

In Memoriam: Arend Harteveld

Arend Harteveld died at the age of 50 years on Sunday 7 September 2008. Much too soon and entirely unexpected he was struck down by an accident in the blood circulation. Arend was a good man and a well respected colleague at Delft University of Technology. My thoughts go out to his family, especially to his mother who lived in with him and whom Arend was taking care of.

Arend Harteveld
Arend Harteveld (source)

Arend contributed to much of the research based on which I hope to write my thesis, and these last years would not have been the same without him. He bore quite a burden in providing, more or less on his own, support to many courses and many labs, a burden he used to share with three colleagues in support who all left as a result of reorganisations. Meanwhile, his main interest was to work on research projects himself, and I found his contributions, both in creating software for experiments or for data analysis and in discussing the design of the experiments, to be very valuable. Arend always quickly grasped the ideas behind experiments and had a knack of pointing out flaws in the experimental design.

Arend also maintained a website with information that shows some of his technical prowess. The website is maintained now by one his radio amateur friends. Arend tells of radio and measuring equipment, chirps, about which he also gave lectures occasionally. From personal experience I know that if a subject gripped him he wouldn’t rest until he understood it fully, which happened during our collaboration for example with capturing response times on a laptop. He tried out several clocks of the PC and its processor and experimentally tested delays and variance in delays. As a radio amateur, a passion he picked up in his teens, he was known as PA1ARE. And now, as his brother in law said during the departure ceremony: “PA1ARE is voorgoed uit de lucht”.

Ruud de Wild as Christ on the Radio

Ruud de Wild, the barely disguised saviour of our ears?

Ruud de Wild is a DJ (and uomo universalis) who has prime time shows on the Dutch Radio. He switched to Q-Music in 2007 and this is one of their recent ads. Some people are complaining now but it is still going. There is a billboard poster too:

In the news: Brabants Dagblad: Op posters en in tv-spotjes is De Wild afgebeeld op een manier die doet denken aan een Christusfiguur. Op zijn T-shirt staat een hart omringd met stralen, net zoals Christus soms wordt weergegeven.

It took me a few moments to dig up this image of Christ that looks very similar:

Jesus and Mary Magdalene
Jesus and his wife (?) Mary posing as Ruud de Wild (source)

What is on the heart exactly? I cannot read it. Does anyone know?

Update: The heart on Ruud’s shirt reads ‘Q is good for you’ while the heart of Christ the King is adorned with the crown or a ring of thorns.

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