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Guest Editors' Introduction: Emerging Technologies 2004

Heather Elliott-Famularo, Bowling Green State University
Paul Dietz, Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs

Pages: pp. 18-19

With more than 24,000 attendees annually, Siggraph attracts a variety of experts in industry, research, fine arts, and academia from across the globe. A unique and important part of Siggraph is the Emerging Technologies venue. While many conferences have a brief demonstration session, Emerging Technologies is much more. It runs the full length of the conference and has the feel of an art gallery or museum from some future world. This is the place to understand and experience first-hand the latest interactive technologies.


The Emerging Technologies venue of Siggraph 2004 was an eclectic mix of hardware, software, and artistic design that defies easy explanation. We received more than 115 exhibit proposals. Through a highly selective jury process, we accepted just 30. We accepted the proposals based on technical novelty, artistic design, and the overall quality of the experience for an attendee. Pragmatism also played a major role in the selection, as some proposals were simply impractical for the venue, or not sufficiently developed to assure success.

The chair's vision was to intentionally blend technical prototypes, fine art installations, and everything in between at the venue. The highly conceptual artworks provided an interesting contrast with the more practical prototypes. Each project in Emerging Technologies addressed how technology can enhance our daily lives—either logistically, practically, or conceptually.

Another interesting aspect of this year's program is that every Emerging Technologies exhibit also had a formal presentation in a separate lecture hall. In themed sessions such as "Realities: Virtual, Haptic, and Augmented" and "Immersive Art: On Our Walls and Floors," each exhibitor described the behind-the-scenes research and answered questions from the audience. We felt that these presentations were an important opportunity for attendees to learn more about the details of each project. Given the good attendance at these presentations, it is clear that many visitors agreed.


One shortcoming of Emerging Technologies is that it is ephemeral—once the event is completed there is only a modest archival record of the event. Brief descriptions of the projects are published online at and in the conference Program and Buyer's Guide. Longer articles with images are included in the conference proceedings. However, previously there was no record of the actual exhibition and its projects after the conference ended. This is sometimes problematic, as the projects often improve greatly in the several months between the February deadline and the conference. Also, interactive experiences are extremely difficult to represent in text and still images.

We addressed these issues in two ways. First, we had a team of students shoot videos of each exhibit at the conference. During the week, they interviewed the authors, artists, and attendees and thoroughly documented each project, providing a time-based description of each experience. This also is the source material for the CD-ROM accompanying this special issue.

The second way we addressed the archiving problem is by giving the contributors an opportunity to submit a technical article to this special issue of IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. Not all project leaders chose to do this. Some have already presented and published articles elsewhere, while others believe that it would be difficult for them to adequately capture the essence of their work in an article. Still, the response was great, leaving us with many more articles than could fit in this issue. We are grateful to our many reviewers who helped us select the strongest, most appropriate articles and gave helpful suggestions to the authors.

The nine articles that we selected represent an interesting cross-section of Emerging Technologies. Subjects range from the highly artistic Last Clock to the mathematically challenging GelForce sensor (for a description of these projects, see the CD-ROM guest editor's introduction on the inside cover of this issue). Despite the wide range of material, we feel that each of these articles offers a view of a unique interactive experience worthy of deeper exploration. We suggest viewing the videos on the CD-ROM first to get a general understanding of the projects, especially for those who were unable to visit the exhibition in person.


In the November/December 2004 issue's About the Cover department, the name of Rob Hubal was incorrectly spelled as Ron Hubal.


We would like to thank all of the authors and reviewers for making this issue possible. We also thank the staff of CG&A for their support and wisdom. We'd like to give a great thanks to this year's Emerging Technologies jury for offering their expertise and enthusiasm in evaluating the many great submissions for the venue. Finally, we thank ACM Siggraph for producing and supporting Emerging Technologies.

About the Authors

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Heather Elliott-Famularo is an assistant professor of digital arts at Bowling Green State University and was the Siggraph 2004 Emerging Technologies Chair. Her research interests include the merging of technology and art to create ubiquitous transformational environments. Elliott-Famularo has a MFA in art and technology from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in art media studies from Syracuse University. Contact her at
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Paul Dietz is a principal technical staff member at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work ranges from multiuser input devices to instrumented glassware. Before MERL, Dietz led the location-sensitive smart toy project at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D that ultimately produced such products as the plush tour guide, "Pal Mickey." Dietz has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. Contact him at
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