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SIGGRAPH To Unveil Enhanced Rome Reborn

SIGGRAPH 2008 New Tech Demos (formerly Emerging Technologies) present creative, innovative technologies and applications in many fields including displays, robotics, input devices, and interaction techniques. These New Tech Demos will be unveiled this August during SIGGRAPH 2008 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

To broaden the scope and increase the quality of the attendees' interactive experiences at SIGGRAPH, a combination of curated demonstrations and juried interactive installations will be presented. Only the most innovative 35 of the more than 180 juried submissions were selected and will be on display and available for interaction with attendees. There will be an additional nine curated pieces.

"Many of these cutting-edge technologies exemplify how our past informs our future and how it affects the upcoming opportunities and challenges of computer graphics and interactive techniques," said MK Haley, SIGGRAPH 2008 Conference Director of Encounters with Disney-ABC Digital Media. "The technologies and installations in New Tech Demos encourage people to engage with the future, as well as celebrate our past, as we invigorate, explore, and define our potential."

Following are highlights of this popular venue:

Rome Reborn


Bernard Frischer, Dean Abernathy, University of Virginia; Gabriele Guidi, Politecnico di Milano; Joel Meyers, Past Perfect Productions; Cassie Thibodeau, Antonio Salvemini, mental images; Pascal Müller, Procedural; Cole Krumbholz, MITRE Corporation

The largest virtual historical reconstruction, cultural heritage, and digital archeology project undertaken to date. Approximately 7,000 reborn buildings recapture Rome at the peak of its glory, in 320 A.D., at the time of Constantine the Great.

Rome Reborn revolutionizes the way we explore, discover, research, and publish in archeology. It offers new approaches for exhibiting historical findings in museums. It opens new channels for collaboration within a community of research scientists, and for the public at large. And it could transform the way history is taught in our schools.

MDS (Mobile-Dexterous-Social) Robot for Human-Robot Teamwork


Cynthia Breazeal, Mikey Siegel, Matt Berlin, Jesse Gray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rod Grupen, Patrick Deegan, University of Massachusetts Amherst; John McBean, Kailas Nerendran, Xitome Design; Jeff Weber, Meka Robotics

Featuring an amazingly life-like humanoid robot with a novel combination of mobility, dexterity, human-centric communication, and interaction abilities.

In the near future, personal robots will assist people as capable partners in tasks that require cognitive, physical, and social competence. By integrating mobile manipulation with human-centric interaction abilities, this project aims to develop partner robots that enhance health, education, and home environments.

Copycat Arm


Kiyoshi Hoshino and Tomida Motomasa, University of Tsukuba

Copycat Arm is a robot system that imitates the human motions without time delay, by visually estimating the human hand and arm postures at high accuracy with a processing time of 100 fps or more.

A robot communicating with sign language can be developed by teaching it different motions and their meanings. An information input device in which the contents on the screen change depending on the motions of the user's hand can be realized, eliminating the use of a mouse and a keyboard. For inputting three-dimensional models such as clay art, the user has to move his/her hand or arm in the desired manner and form a particular shape. Further, the virtual objects in computer games can be operated using different hand and finger motions such as kneading, twisting, or crushing.

Matsumoto-jo: A Virtual 16th Century Japanese Castle


Jonathan Amakawa, Studio Amakawa

This new technology provides an interactive virtual exploration of feudal Japan via a reconstruction of a 16th Century Japanese castle. It utilizes video game media in new, novel ways in order to present the rich complexity of historical subject matter.

At its essence Matsumoto-jo is a new media work of art that utilizes interactive 3-D and video game media to present a convergence of art, architecture, artifacts, history and culture. This medium represents an important development for museums and cultural institutions in presenting complex and multidisciplinary content.

Latte Art Machine


Oleksiy Pikalo, OnLatte

Presents a new method of displaying images on the surface of premium espresso-based drinks. This standalone machine uses inkjet technology to compose stunning latte art designs by infusing the foam layer of the beverage with the tiny droplets of colorant.

The latte art machine explores the new medium by combining the existing inkjet technology with the freedom of artistic expression.

Maglev Haptics! Butterfly Haptic's New User-Interface Technology


Ralph Hollis, Peter Berkelman, Bert Unger, Dan O'Halloran, Matt Pucevich, Joey Liang, Mark Dzmura, Kei Usui, Carnegie Mellon University; Beth Hollis, Butterfly Haptics

Magnetic levitation haptic devices allow users to interact with computed environments by manipulating a handle that is levitated by magnetic means. Users can translate and rotate the handle while feeling forces and torques from the virtual environment. The motors, encoders, linkages, gears, belts, cables, and bearings of traditional haptic devices are simply dispensed with in favor of a direct electrodynamic connection to the handle by the user.

Haptic interaction with 3-D virtual environments mediated through magnetic levitation provides unprecedented fidelity. In addition to many research applications, this approach can be used in computer-aided design, medical and dental training, visualization and interaction with multi-dimensional data, microsurgery, control of remote robot manipulators and vehicles, arcade games, and character animation.

Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display


Takayuki Hosh, Takayuki Iwamoto, Hiroyuki Shinoda, Mari Tatezono, The University of Tokyo

Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display will substantially improve the usability of 3-D CADs or stereoscopic displays by superimposing a high-fidelity pressure field onto the graphic objects presented in 3-D free space, and enable the users to physically handle these objects with their bare hands.

The hand tracking system used in this prototype is a simple system comprised of a single camera. However, if the Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display is combined with more sophisticated hand tracking systems, it would be a more practical haptic interaction system. It can also be expected that by superimposing acoustic radiation pressure onto the 3-D graphic objects presented with stereoscopic displays, it effectively enhances the reality of the 3-D virtual objects.

For more information on SIGGRAPH 2008 New Tech Demos, visit: