Pioneer power couple Brenda Laurel and Rob Tow recount their work in Virtual Environments, Emotions and Robotics at Interval Research in the 90s. Today's interview, was recorded at their home, Locus Voci, in the Santa Cruz mountains on March 27, 2015. Their ideas and prototypes are relevant now more than ever. I hope you enjoy listening.
- The Placeholder Project, video (Interval Research).
- More about Brenda, Brenda on Twitter @blaurel.
- More about Rob, Rob on Twitter @robtow.
- Visit Interval Research's original website via the Wayback Machine.
For more than 20 years, Brenda has worked as a programmer, game designer, software producer and researcher for companies including Atari and Atari Labs, Activision and Apple. Based on her research in gender and technology at Interval Research, she co-founded Purple Moon in to create interactive media for girls.
She pioneered Virtual Reality as co-founder and President of Telepresence Research (1989-91) and as co-designer and producer of the VR project “Placeholder” at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Brenda served as a professor and founding chair of the Graduate Program in Design at California College of Arts, the Graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and professor in Computer Science at U.C. Santa Cruz focusing on games, interaction design and design research.
Her books include The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design (1990), Computers as Theatre (1991), Utopian Entrepreneur (2001), Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (2004), and Computers as Theatre: Second Edition (2013). She is currently launching Neogaian, a new consulting service specializing in interactive media that incorporates progressive values.
Rob Tow is an ex-Xerox-PARC computer scientist and part-time abalone diver. He has worked at small start-ups (Skully Helmets, Compression Labs, ParcPlace Systems) and major research labs (Northrop Aviation Advanced Systems, Schlumberger Palo Alto Research, Xerox PARC, Interval Research, AT&T Labs, NASA Ames Research Center) over the course of a career that spans 38 years.
He has thirteen U.S. patents that cover amorphous silicon, image processing, robotics, wireless sensor networks, and UI. He likes to invent and build things, and is currently part of a team prototyping an embedded Android device that sees for the visually impaired. He lives with his wife Brenda Laurel at their home Locus Voci in the forested Santa Cruz mountains, high above Silicon Valley.