Finding Order in Sense of Place with Wearable Computing

By Laura E. Dent, Daniel Asmar, Barbara Jenkins and John Zelek.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Cultural geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, environmental psychologists, urban planners and architects study why certain spaces hold special or strong meanings to certain people. It is the landscape, physical built environment and cultural features that give rise to these feelings. A place that lacks a “sense of place” is referred to as “placeless” and could really be anywhere. Strip malls, gas stations, fast food chains, box malls are often cited as examples of being “placeless”. “Sense of place” encompasses objects, actors, events, interactivity, reactions of others and meaningfulness that influence presence. It is the “sense of place” that defines uniqueness of a geographic location and its measurement holds much interest. We have found that certain visual environments have unique statistical signatures suggesting that perhaps certain contexts can be classified and the visual signal may even encode sense of place. We report on our progress and how we intend to explore other sensing dimensions in our pursuit of trying to objectify the subjective.

Keywords: Sense of Place, Wearable Computing, Computer Vision, Physiological Sensors, Mapping, Nature of Order

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.173-180. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 854.645KB).

Laura E. Dent

Principal, University of Waterloo, Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Laura E. Dent holds a Ph.D in planning from the University of Waterloo, and degrees in architecture and affordable housing from McGill University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her areas of research include suburban development and design as well as community attachment and sense of place. Her doctoral dissertation examined the impact that original design and planning initiatives have had on current residents’ expressed ‘sense of place’ in Toronto’s post-war suburban housing developments. As a planning practitioner, she currently works in the areas of community and cultural planning as well as heritage development. She is the author of an anthology of work by Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Sadfie.

Daniel Asmar

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

Dr. Daniel Asmar, is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. His research interests include Robotics and Computer Vision. Specifically he has interests in autonomous robot navigation and mapping, environment representation and recognition, and natural feature detection and recognition. Other research interests include iris detection and recognition for the sake of biometrics, visual-based tracking of people and cars for security purposes. Dr. Asmar’s research is in the area of visual SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), a way of conducting surveying and mapping with only a camera; inexpensive and fast. The major contribution of his revolutionary doctoral research is demonstrating a proof of concept using real data of a collection of algorithms that can use a passive sensor (a camera system) to detect, localization and recognize instances of natural landmarks (e.g., trees) in order to perform SLAM.

Barbara Jenkins

Chair, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Barbara Jenkins is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Originally a political economist, she is the author of The Paradox of Continental Production (Cornell University Press, 1992) and taught in the Political Science Department at Carleton University for many years. After a leave of absence to serve as the director of an art gallery and artist-run centre, she joined the Visual Culture stream of the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. In addition to being Chair of the Department, she teaches Introduction to Visual Culture and Political Economy of Art and Architecture. Her current research focus is on design history and theory, as well as urban development schemes such as the Creative City. Her ideas on Toronto’s Creative City initiatives have been discussed in the Globe and Mail, The Wall Street Journal, and Le Devoir.

John Zelek

Associate Professor, Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. John Zelek is an Associate Professor in the Systems Design Engineering department at the University of Waterloo. His research interests can be best summarized as being in the area of intelligent Mechatronic control systems that interface with humans; specifically, the areas are (1) wearable sensory substitution and assistive devices; (2) probabilistic visual and tactile perception; (3) wearable haptic devices including their design, synthesis and analysis; and (4) human-robot interaction. He has co-founded 2 start-up companies. Dr. Zelek was awarded the best paper award at the international IEEE/IAPRS Computer and Robot Vision conference. He was awarded a 2006 Distinguished Performance Award from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He was also awarded the 2004 Young Investigator Award by the Canadian Image Processing & Pattern Recognition society for his work in robotic vision. He is also the 2001 award recipient of the E. (Ben) & Mary Hochhausen Fund for research in adaptive technology for visually impaired persons, awarded by the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), one of only 3 ever awarded. Dr. Zelek’s research has been featured on the Discovery channel, CBC Newsworld, & the Globe & Mail.

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