September 2004, Issue 68
by Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[formerly Music for New Media Newsletter]
You can find the online version at: http://www.sonaris.info
The Music, Mind and Machine Group
Recommended book: TechTV's
Catalog of Tomorrow
The Reginald Phillips Research Programme,
Laboratory of Speech Technology for Rehabilitation
code for children must apply across EU
from Ars Electronica
Conferences & events
The Music, Mind and Machine Group
The Music, Mind and Machine Group at the
Media Laboratory is developing new audio technologies for
future interactive media applications. This ranges from automatic sensing
of features in existing audio content to extremely compact representations
of sound for efficient transmission and control in a networked future.
Feature extraction is aimed at finding the relevant parameters of musical
audio that will assist web-based queries and searches of content, or
alternatively to gain sufficient understanding of specific audio examples
to enable their modification and restructuring.
We have contributed the core compact representation of the MPEG-4 audio
standard, enabling full client-side rendering of structured audio and
3D effects from symbolic audio descriptions, and are developing automatic
methods for synthesizing target sounds.
We have developed novel methods of automatic signal separation, and
new methods of directing laser-like beams of audio in specific directions.
We have developed net-based methods of music production and performance,
and are key participants in the MPEG-7 web-oriented archiving and searching
This group envisages a new future of audio technologies and interactive
applications that will change the way music is conceived, created, transmitted
and experienced, and we are active participants in every facet of this
Jones, Managing Director, MediaLab Europe speaks at the
for the Future: Science & Technology
Catalog of Tomorrow
by Andrew Zolli
From medicine to the movies, from computers to the climate, change
is everywhere around us, transforming the way we will live, work,
play, and learn. We will likely experience as much change in the next
three decades than we have in the two previous centuries.
In such a world, how do we make sense of our future, and our place
TechTV's Catalog of Tomorrow offers an exciting glimpse at
the new trends and technologies that will shape our lives, our society
and our planet in the next 15-20 years. Nearly one hundred topics
are showcased, in a clearly written and visually arresting style that
provides an overview of current and future developments, with timelines,
statistics, and pointers to online resources. Deeply researched and
beautifully designed, TechTV's Catalog of Tomorrow is more
than a book: it's a tool for thinking about the future.
Numerous futurists, visionaries, and technology commentators have
added their insights and visions of the future to the book, including:
Paul Saffo, leading futurist and
director of the Institute for the Future, Howard
Rheingold, technology visionary and author, Craig
Venter, co-decoder of the human genome, Jef
Raskin, designer of the original Macintosh computer, Christine
Peterson, expert on nanotechnology and president of the
Foresight Institute, Nathan Shedroff,
leading digital media designer, Stefano Marzano,
CEO of Philips Design, Richard Garriott,
legendary video game designer, Clement Bezold,
president of Alternative Futures, Douglas
Rushkoff, cultural critic, commentator, and author, William
McDonough, architect and environmental champion, Alex
Marshall, urban planning theorist, journalist, and author,
Martin Siegel, professor of education
and informatics at Indiana University, John
Arquilla, leading military theorist on the future of war,
Maurice Strong, Senior Advisor
to the United Nations and World Bank and organizer of the Rio Earth
Summit, Rory Stears, CEO of Freeplay,
pioneers in human-powered devices, Frank
Drake, astrophysicist and chairman of the SETI Institute.
This book is edited by Andrew Zolli,
a futurist working at the intersection of technology, design, innovation,
and futures research.
This book encourages your participation in thinking about the future
-- and in shaping your own. It is a book to ponder, argue with, revisit
often, and use as a platform for your own speculation. It helps you
stay connected to the coming changes in your world, and serves as
a gateway to a world of infinite possibilities. The future is in your
TechTV is the cable television
network for those excited by and curious about all things related
to technology. By using technology as a backdrop to entertain, amaze,
and engage viewers, TechTV is the lifestyle network that showcases
how the latest trends, products, and events enhance our lives. Check
your local television for TechTV.
The Reginald Phillips
investigating tactile graphics in the education of blind children
We are a small team of cognitive psychologists undertaking a six year
investigation into the design and use of tactile (raised line) graphics
in the education of visually impaired children. A major difficulty in
educating blind children is how to communicate diagrams, graphs, bar
charts and other non-text material. Graphics like these are used for
a purpose and lose an important part of their meaning when translated
The aim of this site is to make our research more accessible to teachers
and others involved with practice and policy making in the area of tactile
graphics. On this site you will find information about us, the research
we have completed since the programme started in 1998 and the work we
are doing at the moment. Papers we have written are available for you
to read and download, and we will update the site as further information
Laboratory of Speech Technology for Rehabilitation
The BraiLab talking computer family developed by the Laboratory of Speech
Technology for Rehabilitation (LSTR) is a set of integrated text-to-speech
tools made for the blind. The first member of this family, the BraiLab
was developed in 1985 and equipped with BASIC and Z80 assembler programming
languages. BraiLab Plus was a talking WordStar-compatible word processor
with a CP/M-compatible operating system while BraiLab PC was realized
as a portable adapter for IBM-compatible personal computers. Altogether
more than 2000 pieces of the BraiLab family have been produced and are
in use throughout Hungary which represents a 75% market share.
Advertising code for
children must apply across EU
Advertising code for children must apply across
by Helen Shaw
A new code controlling advertisements aimed at children will only cover
Irish broadcasters leaving half the TV market outside its remit. Helen
Shaw looks at the case for pan-European regulation.
The Milky Bar kid might not make the cut under the proposed new children's
advertisement code. For starters he would need a toothbrush symbol on
the screen and he certainly could not make it look like having white
chocolate bars makes you a hero, wins friends or increases your popularity.
In the new era the kid would eat a balanced dinner, then have a bite
of chocolate before brushing his teeth and heading to the gym.
Beyond cartoon characters pushing chocolate, the Broadcasting Commission
of Ireland (BCI) children's advertising code is a serious attempt to
grapple with the increased commercialisation of broadcast media - especially
television - and its impact on children. It has had a long consultative
process and tackles issues like violence, diet, and "pester power".
Under the code celebrities cannot advertise food or drink for children
and fast food will have a health warning.
The commission deserves credit for the code but the absence of European
co-ordination undermines it and may risk advertising revenue, particularly
on food products, moving to non-Irish broadcasters. While the UK is
reviewing its children's code, due to concerns over childhood obesity,
that process is just beginning. Equally the BCI's decision to define
children as everyone under 18 could make the guidelines unworkable.
For the full article: click
Shaw speaks at the Club of Amsterdam
for the Future: Media & Entertainment
: Club of Amsterdam
from Ars Electronica
Computer Animation/Visual Effects
Chris Landreth (Canada): "Ryan"
An outstanding graphic artist and a Canadian pioneer of the art of animation.
An Oscar nominee. Today, a street person begging for spare change. An
artist who lost his creativity. A fallen angel. Arrogant, shy, broken.
Not destroyed. "Ryan" is a 14-minute-long film that tells the incredible
but true story of Ryan Larkin, a man who, 35 years ago, was producing
some of the most influential animated films of the day. Now, he lives
off welfare and what he can panhandle in the city of Montreal. How could
this happen to a talented man like him? "Ryan" treats this question
from various perspectives and, in doing so, demonstrates the possibility
of creating a documentary film with animation. The audience hears the
voices of real people who accompanied Ryan as he made his way through
life. In the world of computer-animated film, these people speak through
strange, distorted, broken, disembodied beings, humans whose exterior
appearance comes across as bizarre, humorous or irritating.
The World Starts With Me (Netherlands / Uganda)
The World Starts With Me" is a sex education and AIDS prevention
project that simultaneously gives young Ugandans the opportunity to
acquire Internet and computer skills. The program is aimed at school
children and young adults. Reaching this target group is a colaborative
effort with Uganda Schoolnet, which is providing Internet access for
52 schools. The program focuses particularly on 12- to 19-year-olds,
with the objective of improving their understanding of sexuality. The
website features a very attractive, inviting design and takes a playful
approach to mediating complicated content, which is presented in a way
that enables young people to recognize situations confronting them personally
in their everyday lives. This program is very popular in Uganda and
is being used in many schools and institutions.
Mark Hansen, Ben Rubin (USA): "Listening Post?"
A darkened space, 231 fluorescent text displays attached to a taut,
vertically-strung, semi-circular net, eight loudspeakers and two subwoofers-this
is the setting for "Listening Post." An aluminum lattice on the wall
opposite the net reflects the light of the monitor screens and controls
the acoustics of the space. Several computers analyze data from thousands
of Internet chat rooms and newsgroups, and cull out 85 postings that
begin with "I am," "I like" or "I love." Gradually, the communiqués
appear on the displays, filling more and more space with their light.
The selected texts vary in length and complexity; simpler and shorter
ones come first. The beep of a telephone answering machine precedes
the appearance of each message. This setting is variously modified in
different segments. "Listening Post" sheds light on the enormous quantity
of the online discourse in the digital Tower of Babel and reveals the
absolutely unbelievable mass of human communication in the Internet.
Creative Commons (Venezuela / USA): "www.creativecommons.org"
Debates about copyright are usually played out between two extremes:
there are those who envision a tough copyright that automatically protects
all rights to a work; arrayed opposite them, advocates of a vision of
freedom in which creatives should have the right to use available material.
Reconciliation, compromise and moderate approaches have become rare
in this discussion of ever-more-restrictive measures on one hand and
the fears of draconian copyright laws on the other. The aim of Creative
Commons is to show the way between these two extremes. Authors/creators
can place their works at the disposal of the general public-to any extent
they wish-in accordance with the guidelines of Creative Commons. Instead
of "all rights reserved" as is automatically the case in classic copyright
law, a Creative Commons license provides a "certain rights reserved"
alternative. In this way, works can be released for limited use. The
jury's decision to award a Golden Nica to Creative Commons is meant
to signal its decisive approbation and encouragement of open source
projects and the free software movement that are currently embroiled
in this issue.
More at: Ars
Microsoft has eyes on IPTV
The Microsoft IPTV platform will enable broadband network operators
to deliver high-quality pay-TV services over IP-based networks and allows
network operators to bring next-generation TV services to consumers.
The Microsoft TV IPTV platform takes advantage of modern video compression
technologies, including Windows Media 9 Series Video, to efficiently
deliver TV-quality video content and services over IP networks.
The platform is designed to support standard and high definition channels,
on-demand programming, digital video recording and interactive program
guides, as well as enhanced features such as instant channel changing
and multiple picture-in-picture applications. It will also enable future
'connected home' service offerings that bring together the television
with other devices in the home such as phone call notification and caller-ID
as well as photo and music sharing on the TV set.
Microsoft TV is also gaining support from other manufacturers for the
system. The company recently announced an agreement with Lucent Technologies
to integrate Lucent Stinger IP-Enabled digital subscriber line access
multiplexers (DSLAM) and Lucent ADSL2+ modems with the Microsoft TV
IPTV platform for delivery of standard definition, high definition and
on-demand programming. Microsoft TV is also working with Swisscom/Bluewin,
SBC, Bell Canada and Reliance Infocomm to develop and trial the IPTV
services using the Microsoft TV IPTV platform in their markets.
'The broadcast flag is a sequence of digital bits embedded in a television
programme that signals that the programme must be protected from unauthorised
redistribution. It does not distort the viewed picture in any way. Implementation
of this broadcast flag will permit digital TV stations to obtain high
value content and assure consumers a continued source of attractive,
free, over-the-air programming without limiting the consumer's ability
to make personal copies.'
Facing the music: "Belgian broadcaster Euro1080 has taken the bold
step of deploying an HDTV service based on MPEG-2 MP@HL"
Peter MacAvock, executive director DVB Project, examines the role of
DVB as HDTV becomes a reality in Europe. How will this role evolve as
the next generation of technologies arrives? HDTV has a long and troubled
history in Europe. Indeed, the success of the DVB's digital television
strategies are largely based on the difficult experiences of European
HDTV. But what place does HDTV has in a strategy for DVB moving forward
- is it the future of mainstream digital television broadcasting, or
will it be a marginal service-offering, restricted to certain markets?
Today, digital television is largely based on pay-TV standard definition
television. It's also based on DVB. DVB's success has been synonymous
with that of the large pay-TV operators, who rely on DVB systems for
their day-to-day operations. As digital terrestrial television moves
to full-scale launches, so DVB and its US and Japanese competitors have
developed into mature technologies with a full range of service options
ranging from SDTV, HDTV through to interactive television. European
markets lags behind the US and Japanese markets in the deployment of
HDTV, however, and one wonders whether and how HDTV will make its mass-market
debut in Europe. DVB has a place in this, but as a facilitator, not
In Europe, HDTV is now seen as the next transition in markets which
have seen widescreen and interactive television and lately personal
digital recorders (PDRs). One shouldn't forget that HDTV services based
on DVB systems are already on-air in Australia (DVB-T), Japan (DVB-S)
and US (DVB-S).
For a standards-setting body, the challenges are clear: is the basic
architecture in DVB adapted to HDTV; which standards require updates
to ensure compatibility with HDTV services; and are the peripheral specification
to which DVB refers capable of dealing with HDTV? DVB systems have all
been overhauled in order to cope with MPEG-2 MP@HL (Main Profile at
High Level) HDTV - but the development of two key new technologies greatly
aid HDTV's case in Europe. So the most difficult question of when to
deploy HDTV and with what technology is rapidly approaching a steady
Around the corner
MPEG has finalised MPEG-4 Part 10 video, and DVB is finalising a set
of implementation guidelines for the interoperability of MPEG-4 Part
10 video and high-efficiency AAC audio through MPEG-2 transport stream
decoders. In addition, DVB continues work on SMPTE VC-9 (also known
as Microsoft Windows Media 9). Such advanced codecs promise HDTV at
a fraction of the bit-rate required to delivery it, using MPEG-2 MP@HL.
Indeed, terrestrial HDTV now becomes an attractive proposition. Add
this to the recent developments in DVB-S2 (EN 302 307), the second generation
DVB-S promising at least 30% performance improvement over the previous
generation. Together these technologies promise a more efficient use
of bandwidth, rendering satellite HDTV and even terrestrial HDTV really
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Copyright © 1997-2004 Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp. All rights reserved.
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