On the legality of counting cards and getting free food and drink at a casino

Gambling and magic tricks have a role in interaction design but I have trouble working them in to the syllabus without encouraging illegal behavior on campus.

The MIT Blackjack Team has a good FAQ on counting cards.  tl;dr: Yes, it’s legal to count cards but not with the aid of any external device or help.  In Las Vegas the casinos are privately owned and they are allowed to eject anyone they suspect of counting cards.

The scheme my friend used to get us free food and drinks in Tahoe casinos was to be seen as people gambling (and losing) a lot of money; we’d get vouchers for free food and drink at the house restaurant.  The (legal!) scheme was betting “Don’t Pass” at the craps table more often than not.  That is, we were betting that the person shooting dice will lose and the house will win.   This is how casinos make money — the people gambling lose more often than the house, so the house wins more money and makes a profit.  When the house notices you’re winning more often than losing (and cutting in to their profit) they change the payoff for winning a “don’t pass” bet or simply close the table.  However, we still had our vouchers for free meals and drinks!

If that doesn’t make any sense, the wikipedia page might help.

Interactive Feedback Overload

NTSB cites competing pilot warnings and flawed safety assumptions on Boeing 737 Max

After an automated feature on a Boeing 737 Max failed in the skies above Ethiopia in March, repeatedly forcing the plane’s nose downward, the pilots were bombarded with a cacophony of alarms that shook, clacked and lit up throughout the cockpit.

Boeing did not sufficiently consider the effect that such a barrage would have on those flying the plane when it designed the Max, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, which released its first wave of recommendations Thursday in response to the crash in Ethiopia and one in Indonesia under similar circumstances in October.

Cymatics: Chladni Plate

In relation to both the discussion regarding the visualization of sound/music as well as the work that Ghalya has posted about EJTECH’s work, I wanted to share this project because, well, it looks really cool. The project uses a speaker attached to a metal plate which moves sand that is placed on top of it when notes are played. It’s pretty visually interesting, and might be cool inspiration for something.

EJTECH – Soft Sound

I came across this project and thought it would be cool to share. Soft Sound combines sound with fabric in order to play with textiles as an audio-emitting surface, and to create multi-sensory interactions. For example, not only can the fabric project sound, but the vibrations caused by the sound interact with the textile, causing it to throb and move. Soft Sound creates “soft” speakers by applying laser or vinyl cut copper and silver coils onto fabric, and running alternating current through the coils.

50cm x 50 cm. Functional textiles, metallized laser cut textiles, magnet, amplifier, custom electronics.

I found this project inspiring because it was able to turn sound into a more tangible artifact, since you can feel the sound’s vibrations through the fabric. Think of all the ways this technology can be applied to a variety of different uses! It’s truly inspiring. From e-textiles for wearable technology, to more traditional applications at home and everyday, this project is really interesting.

Check out more cool work by EJTECH here.

CMU’s Own Designing for Accessibility

I was watching college football the other day and caught this commercial during one of the breaks in the action. At first, I was reminded of this class because of the content (designing for accessibility), but then I realized the woman in the commercial was walking around CMU and Pittsburgh. Chieko Asakawa is an IBM fellow and a CMU professor… and blind. She’s widely regarded for her work designing everyday objects for the visually-impaired.

She also has a TED Talk that is pretty widely cited for the benefits of “accessibility” design for the entire population.

Near Future Tech for Accessibility

There are a bunch of interesting applications of sensing with machine learning, but the most interesting to me is at 20 minutes in.

I have a friend with face blindness, and it has at times led to some awkward interactions when she sees people out of context. This would really help her (once they shrink it down a bit):

Of course we’re not really focusing on machine learning applications in this class, but the idea of using sensing to address a need for accessibility, which can have additional implications for a broader audience as well.