October – Emerging Media Initiative

Interactive TV apps give viewers new ways to engage with TV contentAs the lines between TV and web continue to blur, there is an increasing urgency in industry to understand how consumers will react to various types of interactivity across multiple platforms. in 2010, the Insight and Research unit at Ball State’s Center for Media Design launched its Viewing+ Initiative, a formal program of development and research dedicated to exploring consumer attitudes, behaviors and motivations as they interact with television content.

Using leading-edge technology provided by industry partners, Insight and Research’s Design and Development student team has created two applications that allow viewers to interact with TV content in new ways. Spin2Search, a gaming-inspired application allows viewers to surf channels using a slot machine-like interface. the app randomly selects three channels based on the desired genre, and for added fun viewers win a prize if all three slots display the same channel. the team has been conducting usability and eye-tracking research in the Insight and Research Media Lab to inform further refinement of the application.

the student team has also designed and developed a “second screen” application for viewers to use on an Android tablet while viewing a popular show. the app, called Screenshots, creates a highly social environment for viewers to connect and compete for fan supremacy. Users can post and comment via Twitter, play interactive games linked to a particular episode, and grab screen shots while they watch for later tagging and sharing. this synchronic interactivity is made possible through new technology provided to Ball State by Intrasonics, a UK company specializing in acoustic content recognition. the software allows audio signals contained within a television broadcast – also known as audio watermarking – to be detected by “second screen” tablet computers or mobile phones, syncing applications on the devices and enhancing viewer engagement.

Luc Jonker, CEO of Intrasonics, said Ball State was selected for the partnership due to the university’s groundbreaking research in interactive television. “Intrasonics provides unrivalled interactivity between brands and their audiences. the only limit into how the technology is used to create that interactivity is the creativity of the apps developers and the brands they work for,” Jonkers said. “Ball State’s Center for Media Design is one of the leading institutions exploring the future of TV, so we’re naturally delighted that its talented students will be getting hands-on with our technology.”

Keep up with Insight and Research’s latest news and projects at www.researchcmd.com.

In 2010, journalism professors Jennifer George-Palilonis and Brad King received a Ball State Provost Immersive Learning grant to lead students through the creation of a multi-layered fictional story integrating real-world artifacts into digital storytelling. “Transmedia Indiana,” the year-long immersive learning course, is running full speed ahead this semester with fifty students involved and an established partnership with the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. It is one of the first courses of its kind in the nation.

Transmedia narratives are an emergent form of storytelling that engage readers over time and across multiple mediums. According to Henry Jenkins, author of the book Convergence Culture: where old and new Media Collide:

“In transmedia, elements of a story are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, each making their own unique contribution to the whole. Each medium does what it does best–comics might provide back-story, games might allow you to explore the world, and the television series offers unfolding episodes (Fast Company).

For the “Transmedia Indiana” project, Palilonis, King and their students are in the midst of developing a cohesive fictional story around artifacts from the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. the story will be broken into pieces and revealed in a non-linear fashion through emails, videos, audio, text messages, blog posts and other media. the audience will be invited to further engage with the story by solving puzzles and creating small pieces of media that will be built into the narrative along the way. the story will culminate in a live event at the Indiana State Museum which will complete the story and showcase the highlighted artifacts.

In addition to the fictionalized story, the team will develop a series of non-fiction websites built around the historical artifacts related to the fictional storyline and an interactive mobile app for e-readers, like Kindle and iPad.

One of the first outcomes of the project has been a fully interactive textbook, written and developed by Palilonis and King and currently being tested by students. the textbook walks students through the history of transmedia storytelling, the conception of a transmedia project and the creation of that project. Additional class materials have been made available online, and discussions can be tracked on Twitter at #transindy.

Ball State student wins national video competition and meets Warren Buffett in new York

“Lunch with one of the wealthiest businessmen in the world” – not a typical calendar entry for most high-powered CEOs, let alone a telecommunications undergraduate student. yet Jenna Marie James, a senior at Ball State, earned the opportunity to lunch with Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most successful investors, on September 30 at Business Wire’s 50th birthday celebration at the new York Stock Exchange.

Business Wire announced the winner of its 50th Anniversary “Future of Public Relations and Communications” College Video Contest just a few weeks earlier, on September 13. Jenna’s winning video was selected by a judging committee which included Business Wire Chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz and company executives from around the globe based on originality, creativity and appropriateness to theme. the top prize was a trip to new York and lunch with Buffett and other Business Wire executives at the exclusive “opening bell” new York Stock Exchange luncheon.

Between the announcement and her trip to new York, Jenna was interviewed by Indiana television and radio stations, and the press release was featured on numerous national and international financial and business news outlets. She also created a Warren Buffett Training Video detailing her preparation for the event.

But perhaps the most revealing press about Jenna’s success was an excerpt from an article in the Business Insider after the event:

In a lunchtime interview, Buffett bluffly fielded questions ranging from how he would have fixed the financial crisis post-2008 to how he would solve Europe’s debt woes today. Nor did he shirk questions about the controversial wealth tax he has proposed (as he joked earlier with an executive from the NYSE, ‘It’s never good to have your name associated with a tax!’).

For all his twinkle, Buffett was nearly upstaged by 21 year-old Jenna Marie James, a senior from Indiana’s Ball State University who won Business Wire’s college video contest for her depiction of the future of PR and communications. James was clearly thrilled to join Business Wire’s birthday party. Sharing Buffett’s talent for playing the ukulele, she even performed a tune on the Early show today (watch that here). later Buffett signed two ukuleles for James.

Before heading to new York, Jenna traveled to new Orleans to accept the first place award for her television PSA as part of the National Association of Broadcasters Freedom of Speech Contest. in addition to scholarship money, Jenna’s PSA has been made available to television stations across the country.

“Jenna represents the best of the Department of Telecommunications,” said Tim Pollard, telecommunications department chair. “She is curious, creative, and commanding. She has taken advantage of the opportunities presented to her by Ball State University and you see the end result. we could not be more proud of Jenna Marie James.”

Immersive learning projects teach history of the National Road

By Victoria Ison, freshman majoring in Journalism and Spanish. first featured in Ball State Daily News. Video by Ben Reckelhoff, Center for Media Design

The basement once housed pioneers, ragged and tired from their journeys on what is known as the National Road. Today, the underbelly of Cambridge City’s Huddleston Farmhouse is a museum that features three interactive exhibits created by Ball State students and faculty as part of an immersive learning project.

“Immersive means ‘dunk in,’ like when Baptists baptize people and dunk them in all the way under the water,” said Nancy Carlson, an associate professor of telecommunications and the initiator and executive producer of the project. “this project is immersive because it was intense; we worked on it full time.”

Graduate student Jeff Hendrix worked on the museum exhibits. Hendrix said he became involved in the project as soon as he came to Ball State to pursue his master’s degree in digital storytelling.

“I love history; I love doing video and graphic design work,” Hendrix said, “this was an opportunity to see telecommunications work attached to a physical element, which just adds to the storytelling experience.”

Hendrix was the director of photography for the first exhibit — a covered wagon that plays video footage of actors impersonating pioneers and reciting passages from actual historical journals when visitors peer inside. He did graphic design work for the second exhibit — a touch-screen map built with Adobe Flash that teaches visitors about locations on the National Road.

The third exhibit deals with the national road in a more recent age. Hendrix directed this project, which features an antique car from the early 20th century. When visitors press buttons on the car dash and radio, video footage about the road is played on the windshield.

Hendrix said over the course of the project he had the opportunity to visit the studios of project partner Split Rock Studios, a museum exhibit designing group based in Minnesota. Hendrix and the projects’ group of primarily graduate students also worked with a scriptwriter based in Washington D.C. and received help from Ball State’s Emerging Technologies department.

Carlson said she hopes people take the opportunity to learn a little more about local history and appreciate the work students put into their immersive learning projects. She said what her students have done is immerse themselves in the work and create professional, permanent fixtures in the community.

“When our students are married and have 10-year-old kids, these exhibits will still be here.”

Ball State’s Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts (IDIA) and Hybrid Design Technologies (HDT) unit recently completed a new Blue Mars nursing interview simulator, developed in partnership with Ball State’s School of Nursing and the school’s Simulation and Information Technology Center (SITC). in this virtual environment, student nurses practice interviews via role-playing, using avatars with pre-defined health histories. Nursing professors Kay Hodson-Carlton and Linda Sweigart are working on an academic paper with John Fillwalk, Ball State’s Senior Director of Hybrid Design Technologies and director of IDIA, on the use of virtual environments in nursing education and development.

IDIA/HDT also has released new video of virtual recreations of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in the virtual world of Blue Mars, showcasing two bronze statues, “Rising Day” and “Descending Night” by artist Adolph Alexander Weinman that now reside in the Ball State David Owsley Museum of Art. the team digitally archived the sculptures using a hand-held ZCorp 3D laser scanner, which allowed them to scan in the tightest spaces and in real-time with one continuous scan. the sculptures were then placed into the Blue Mars virtual environment to simulate the locations in which the sculptures were originally displayed. in addition to being immersed in the environment of the 1915 exposition, Blue Mars visitors can also visit Amida Hall of Japan’s famous Byodo-In temple complex, which burned to the ground in 1336, to view Ball State’s “Amida Buddha” sculpture in its original context.

The unit continues work on a number of existing projects, including the virtual reconstruction of the Heliocaminus building as part of the Hadrian’s Villa project with the Virtual World Heritage Lab at the University of Virginia. in new developments, Fillwalk has connected Ball State with the German company CryTek, one of the world’s leading independent development studios for interactive entertainment. HDT is now an official developer using CryTek’s CryEngine 3 technology, the only all-in-one game development solution for the PC, Xbox 360™ and PlayStation®3. He is also overseeing the development of an international exchange program in intermedia art and design between TU Dortmund University and Ball State. He will be travelling to Dortmund, Germany this November to finalize the program.

Faculty team secures $50,000 grant to create Underground Railroad video game

“Imagine a life of constant labor, abusive masters and the inability to make even the smallest decision regarding yourself and your life. Now imagine the courage it takes to free yourself the only way possible: escaping to the North.” these are the opening words of a video game prototype created by Ron Morris, professor of history at Ball State, to help educate elementary students about Indiana’s role in the Underground Railroad. in the text-driven prototype, a player assumes the identity of a runaway slave and must make decisions about where to go and who to trust as he/she progresses toward Canada.

Morris was recently awarded a $50,000 grant from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation to flesh out the concept into a fully interactive video game. Morris is re-teaming with Paul Gestwicki, associate professor of computer science and co-creator of Morgan’s Raid, a video game for fourth graders that immerses the students in Indiana’s Civil War history. History, computer science and animation students will be involved with the project, which will start in the next few months and will extend through Spring 2013. the team is collaborating with the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and the Indiana State Museum, both in Indianapolis, and will produce curriculum for Indiana fourth-grade classrooms in conjunction with the video game.

Morris is also conducting a series of in-service workshops for elementary social studies teachers across the state to expose them to Morgan’s Raid and other digital assets from Ball State. Upcoming destinations include Brownburg, Marion, Lawrenceburg, Kokomo, Lebanon and Nappanee.

Steven Radil, Geography

As a job candidate for the assistant professor position in Ball State’s Department of Geography, Steven Radil turned to the web to preview the city that might become his new home. but he found Muncie’s online presence to be limited and less than appealing, a potentially significant hindrance to attracting students and faculty to the university. Now as a Ball State faculty member and Emerging Media new Faculty Fellow, Radil is designing classroom experiences that could help strengthen Muncie’s web presence and promote stronger engagement between the student community and the city.

In his first semester on campus, Radil is teaching an Urban Geography course in which he uses mental map exercises with his students. Mental maps, or maps drawn from memory and personal experience, reflect how people both use and imagine urban space. Radil believes that these maps reveal perceptions, prejudgments and priorities of Ball State students and can help focus efforts for subsequent projects to improve Muncie’s appeal not only for the campus community, but also for visitors, current residents and businesses. in future semesters, he plans for students to conduct interviews and other types of field research in conjunction with location-based technology such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Google Earth and Google Maps to more accurately capture the experience of living in Muncie and to help inspire creative ideas for future development.

Radil completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Geography at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and his doctorate in Geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. his research interests include political geography, urban geography, territoriality and politics, GIS, and network analysis.

The Emerging Media new Faculty Fellows program provides incentives and start-up funding for hiring faculty across the curriculum with strength and expertise in the use and study of emerging media. EM new Faculty Fellows also receive access to collaborative space, a certain measure of administrative support from the Center for Media Design and connections to a rich pool of academic and industry leaders.

October – Emerging Media Initiative

Related Websites

    Be Sociable, Share!