GeoCity – Behind the Scenes

Fr 4.9. 16:00 – 18:15

Ars Electronica Center
GeoCity (Level -1)

16:00 – 17:30
Intro: Urban Interfaces (Michael Badics, Ars Electronica Futurelab, AT)

16:30 – 17:00
Real-time tracking with Anoto and the possibilities for tracking large surfaces (Michael Haller, Peter Brandl, Media Interaction Lab, AT)

17:00 – 17:30
Procedural City (Simon Schubiger, CTO Procedural Ing., CH)

17:30 – 18:15
Open Sailing (Cesar Harada, JP, FR, UK, Hiromi Ozaki JP, UK)

Moderation: Michael Badics

Intro: Urban (Inter)Faces

“Cities are the greatest creations of humanity” – Daniel Libeskind

The city is the subject of the 21st century. All over the world, populations are shifting towards urban centres. In 1900, 150 million people lived in the world’s cities. Now more than half of the people on earth live in cities and by 2050 it will be more than 2/3 of us. We need to understand the after-effects of this unprecedented urban shift. Questions about labour market and work places, public life and urban space, infrastructure, energy consumption and distribution, waste management, water use/quality/sources, etc. had to be answered.

Accordingly to that GeoCity puts our living space – the world – in the centre. The staging of GeoCity stretches a curve from “Outside” to “Inside”, of the global view of the world over the interlinking of this global view with a local context to the local, “Linzer” view. A natural access arises from this local approach on the subject of urban development.
With GeoCity a lab is opened for the examination of the past, present and future of our planet. It creates a platform to discuss solution scenarios for existing and coming problems especially for the urban space with the help of interactive visualisations, new interface technologies and the repertoires of converging and green technologies.

Michael Badics studied Computer Science at the University of Linz. He worked as software engineer at Fabasoft AG, where he later established the business of Professional Services in several countries. Since 2004 he holds the position of the director of Business Development at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Linz (A).

Real-time tracking with Anoto and the possibilites for tracking large surfaces
Until recently, the limitations of display and interface technologies have restricted the potential for human interaction and collaboration with computers. For example, desktop computer style interfaces have not translated well to mobile devices and static display technologies tend to leave the user one step removed from interacting with content. However, the emergence of interactive whiteboards has pointed to new possibilities for using display technology for interaction and collaboration. A range of emerging technologies and applications could enable more natural and human centered interfaces so that interacting with computers and content becomes more intuitive. This will be important as computing moves from the desktop to be embedded in objects, devices and locations around us and as our “desktop” and data are no longer device dependent but follow us across multiple platforms and locations. The impact of Apple’s iPhone and an increasing number of multi-touch surfaces, show that users’ expectations about using these devices in their daily lives have increased. The reaction to these natural interface implementations has been very dramatic. With the increasing development of interactive walls, interactive tables, and multi-touch devices, both companies and academics are evaluating their potential for wider use. These newly emerging form factors require novel human–computer interaction techniques which will be discussed in this presentation. Our research goal is to design, develop, and evaluate natural user interfaces that will enable everyone, not just experts, to use our interactive surfaces. In this presentation, we will describe particular challenges and solutions for the design of tabletop and interactive wall environments and present several solutions by using Anoto as a tracking interface.

Michael Haller (AT) Michael Haller is a professor at the department of Digital Media of the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences (Hagenberg, Austria), head of the Media Interaction Lab (, head of the Austrian Research Center NiCE, and responsible for computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and augmented reality. His core areas of expertise are visualization and interaction. He received Dipl.-Ing. (1997), Dr. techn. (2001), and Habilitation (2007) degrees from Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria. He is active in several research areas, including interactive computer graphics, augmented and virtual reality, and human computer interfaces. His current focus is on innovative interaction techniques and interfaces for next generation working environments. Currently, he leads a team of over 10 researchers and students. In 2004, he received the Erwin Schrödinger fellowship award presented by the Austrian Science Fund for his visit at the Human Interaction Technology Laboratory (HITLabNZ), University of Canterbury (New Zealand), and the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC), University of Southern California (USA). Since 2008, Haller is head of the Austrian Research Studio NiCE, designing natural user interfaces for collaborative environments.

Peter Brandl (AT) Peter Brandl is a Research Associate at the Media Interaction Lab (MIL) and a Ph.D. candidate at the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences. He is interested in designing natural and multimodal interfaces and applying new technologies in that context. Coming from the Ars Electronica Futurelab, his other interests are interactive live performances and installations. His projects include collaborations with research institutes such as Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) as well as internationally featured live performances.

Procedural Cities
Creating digital content for virtual worlds remains a significant challenge, especially for urban environments, which are among the largest and most complex. Procedural modeling techniques are becoming an increasingly important supplement to traditional modeling software. But procedural modeling is not limited to virtual worlds – based on real world data, cities of the past, present and future can be efficiently modeled, simulated and explored.
This talk gives a behind-the-scenes look at the “Generative City” installation. Furthermore, it presents the underlying methods for the efficient creation of urban environments and their applications in architecture and urban design. Some recent projects in architecture are presented which are using procedural techniques to design environmental friendly cities as well as new city-scale applications.

Simon Schubinger (CH) Dr. Simon Schubiger-Banz is co-founder and CTO at the ETH spin-off company Procedural Inc. located in Zurich, Switzerland. He was lecturer for mobile systems architecture at ETH Zurich, and is an associate researcher of the Pervasive and Artificial Intelligence group (PAI) at the University of Fribourg (DIUF). His research interests include mobile computing, knowledge representation, programming languages, computer graphics, user interface design, and multimedia performance systems. He is a co-developer of the procedural 3D modeling software CityEngine, the Soundium2 multi-media platform and the NOVA voxel-display. Simon Schubiger-Banz received a Ph. D. in computer science from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is a member of the ACM and president of the Corebounce Association.

Open Sailing
“Open Sailing” is an open-source, globally coordinated community of about 50 people that aims to design a new platform to overcome any possible natural or man-made disaster, stimulating people’s ingenuity and sense of solidarity: an “open architecture”, a drifting village of solid and comfortable shelters surrounded by flexible ocean-farming units.
The ultimate mission of “Open Sailing” is to take on challenges like overpopulation, climate change and energy conflicts with do-it-yourself technologies: “Instinctive_Architecture”, “Energy_Animal” and “Life_Cable” are some of the new approaches that are being developed and tested. The collective making of the International Ocean Station is our first community fostering objective.

Cesar Harada (FR, JP, UK) Cesar Harada is a French – Japanese artist and designer based in London, educated at the Ecole Boulle, ENSAD animation, ENSCI product design Paris, Central Saint Martins London. He recently completed the Royal College of Art Design Interactions with a dissertation on “open architecture” and is now coordinating the Open_Sailing workgroup. (

Hiromi Ozaki (JP, UK) Hiromi Ozaki is an English – Japanese artist and developer based in London. She graduated in 2006 with a BSc Mathematics and Computer Science from Imperial College, London and is currently doing research at MA Design Interactions, Royal College of Art, London. (

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