interview03 Masahiko Inami x Kai Kunze

EXPLORING HUMAN INTERESTS AND CURIOSITY WITH EYEWEAR

We are shifting from an era of “big data” to “deep data”. What JINS MEME could do is enormous - the glasses could indicate mental condition in addition to body movements.

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(Inami)
I’m Masahiko Inami, and I teach at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design. I research technology based on virtual reality and robotic engineering that seem to expand our abilities while enriching people’s lives.

Think about eye movement and how long we fix our gaze on something. How are eye and head movement related? A quick glance may not indicate deep interest, but a glance that brings something into the field of vision may be to observe something. I think we can understand these relationships in detail by analyzing different data as a group.

(Kai Kunze)
My name is Kai Kunze. So here you see how we use JINS MEME for interaction and for activity recognition. Now with the prototype, we were able to detect blinks and left-and-right movement of the eye.

This is, you can see now, videos for blink detection and left-and-right movement. This is the very, very simple game. You can play Flappy Bird by just using your eye blink, and this is very difficult.

More interesting is activity recognition. So in this case, we use JINS MEME to detect how long you are reading and do a word-count with it, so we then count how many words you reach during the day, so in addition to all the physical activity that you could track with it.

Subsequently also talking can be recognized. This is also based on eye movement because when we talk, our blinking frequency increases and also our head movement is very specific during talking. So these two things are very, very easy to recognize just by head-movement and eye-movement on JINS MEME.

(Inami)
In my work on creating extensions of the human body, I have focused primarily on input and output. In other words, I’ve focused on assisting our sensory organs or body movement. I think that JINS MEME can do two things that have not yet received any attention whatsoever. First, rather than giving us an outward extension, JINS MEME may expand our inner cognizance. People understand themselves and recognize the world based on what we call awareness, but a deep understand of what we are and what we are not aware of has eluded us. The first big thing JINS MEME will let us do is learn about ourselves as we never have done before. Second, if many wear JINS MEME, they would all be connected, which might give them a better understanding of each other. We could give people the ability to link up. Two extensions: one inner, and one connective. I find these two points highly intriguing.

We often hear that in the future, when Al and other technologies advance, people will have nothing to do and might get replaced by machines. I think the future will be slightly different. Even in games like chess, some say that the strongest possible player is neither a computer nor a person, but rather Advanced Chess, where a computer and a human join to compete as a powerful team. No matter how much progress computers make in the future, instead of having them do everything, we will use devices like this to make man and machines into one. We will interact with the world in many ways as new and amazing “super humans” who are greater than any computer or person. I think this is what the future could be like.

* Please note that positions/titles in the interview were current at the time of filming, yet have since changed.

Masahiko Inami

Inami currently serves as a Professor at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo; the same school where he completed his research in 1999 and earned his Ph.D. in engineering. He has served as a teacher's aide at the University of Tokyo, a professor at the University of Electro-Communications and a visiting fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a Professor at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design, and has held his current position since November 2015. Inami is involved in research relating to robotic engineering as well as interactive technology such as virtual reality. His numerous awards have included "Coolest Invention of the Year" from Time magazine and the MEXT Prize for Young Scientists.

Kai Kunze

Kai Kunze works as an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan. Beforehand, he held an Assistant Professorship at Osaka Prefecture University, Osaka. He received a Summa Cum Laude for his phD thesis from Passau University, Germany. His work experience includes research visits/internships at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), MIT Media Lab, Sunlabs Europe and the German Stock Exchange. Kai Kunze's current research interests encompass tracking of cognitive activities, cognition-aware computing, smart eyewear, and augmentation of the human mind. He got several best paper and demo awards and various nominations at UbiComp, PERCOM, and ICDAR. He is a member of the super human sports committee.

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