March 8, 2008

Shake Well Before Use gears up for SXSW 2008!

picture-25.pngBroadcasting from Austin and ready to achieve geekgasm, this year is sure to be as overwhelming as the past. Shake Well Before Use has admittedly been slacking on blogging in the last few weeks due to all the excitement and anticipation. Regardless, come join in the nerdfesticle that is SXSW at these two events:

How to Rawk SXSW: Achieving Geekgasm

16bit Pownce Party

February 28, 2008

i-Buddy attempts IRL emoticons

ibuddyct4.jpgCreated for compatibility with MSN Messenger, the i-Buddy appears to be a watered-down wannabe version of a Nabaztag. The device connects via USB and reflects emoticons received from your friends. If a happy emoticon is received, the gadget will flap its wings and light up, however if a angry emoticon is received, it will turn red. If only the device wasn't output only, we'd love to try it out as a tethered voodoo doll against our friends who are too stubborn to switch to Gtalk.

February 25, 2008

Tool creates textual landscapes

555_big01.jpgText mining for large bodies of literature, Tim Walter created Textour, an interactive tool that visualizes text in radial patterns.

" is possible to discover certain rules which show that every text is a system of words where length, position and frequency do not appear at random."

For fairly complex blocks of text, the process involves an intricate system based around sentences, words, and letters. Filters also help aid the process by providing text restrictions, lengths, and frequency.

"Every time a letter, word or sentence is entered into the program, the visualisation integrates the new item and the elements appear on the right point of intersection of line through the center and the circles and re-arranges the rest of the elements in a clockwise manner."

Walter's site includes the detailed documentation for Textour in German.

January 27, 2008

Sight for the week's end

EMS_LED_Kit.jpgInteracItive LED kit in Evil Mad Scientist Auxiliary photo pool. [via]

January 7, 2008

Massive 3D display uses balloons as pixels

moons.jpgVertically engineered, an interactive project called "Electric MoOns" produces a massive 10x10 3D physical display. The display uses 100 white balloons in a dark room to create the illusion. From Make:, "When music is played, the balloons synchronize their movements and their interiors are illuminated by dimmable super-bright LEDs". A screen-based UI allows for a user to tweak the movement and lighting of each balloon.

November 26, 2007

The future is fictional

layoutconcept7.jpgGUIs, ZUIs, and all the WIMPs in between, interfaces of the present don't meet the expectations of movies from the past. In 2006, a column by Nielsen outlined the top ten "bloopers" of using fictional interfaces in film. Highlights include "You've Got Mail is Always Good News" and "Access Denied / Access Granted". Visual designers such as Mark Coleran are responsible for what appears on the shiny computer screens for the big screen. 2007 certainly was no stranger to the foreign interfaces of the future. Ocean's 13 saw a text field with no buttons, where the user would be forced to type everything out without even the slightest usage of txtshorthand (e.g. "search for a good movie" or "zoom in to photo"). Hopefully, the interfaces of fiction don't have an IRL future.

October 24, 2007

Mobile-focused fashion makes you warm and fuzzy inside

hugshirt.jpgMade for traveling or long-distance lovers, the Hug Shirt helps you feel warm and fuzzy in more ways than one. The shirt consists of multiple sensors that react to SMS by way of Bluetooth.

"Embedded in the shirt there are sensors that feel the strength of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender and actuators that recreate the sensation of touch, warmth and emotion of the hug to the shirt of the distant loved one."

Nominated as one of the best inventions of 2006, this mobile-focused fashion line has yet to hit the mainstream, but is currently debuting new models for 2007.

[via | img via]

September 13, 2007

Hunting robbits

robbits_01.jpgMobile and multiplying, rabbits and robots have merged together. Created a couple years ago, Robbits is an interactive exploration between humans and robobunnies:

"The project aims to explore emotional qualities of interactive objects by inviting a human audience to interact play with »electronic creatures«. Robbits works as an installation consisting of a community self- and location-aware mobile robots.

Robbits is a comment to the phenomenon of »humanization« of electronic products. It refers to people’s tendency to project their idea of »life« or »personality« onto complex and thus mysterious electronic or digital devices, when they seem to carry out, what is perceived as »intelligent behavior«.


September 7, 2007

Installation creates environmental interaction

houseswarm.jpgTaking and giving information from surrounding ecosystems, an installation creates awareness among users of their immediate environment. Called HouseSwarming, the "environment-sensing device" was created for an Art Center presentation. Designed by Jenna Didier, Oliver Hess and Marcos Lutyens, their site for the display explains how it works:

"During the day, the “swarm” of green ambiguous forms, both biomorphic and geometric, accentuates the South Campus’s main entry. At twilight, the swarm comes to life, telling visitors and passersby about the current air quality around the building. Electronic sensors perceive air contaminants – such as tobacco, benzene, carbon monoxide, even perfume – and separately inform the outside and inside swarms, which sets off signals. These signals are interpreted as changes to the natural rhythm that the network has established based on the number and distribution of nodes connected to the cable net. Flashing cells on the exterior faÁade indicate air quality inside the building. Conversely, pulsating effects in the interior entry inform visitors about the outside air quality."


August 30, 2007

LED Zygote illuminates interaction

zygote_250.jpgPressure-sensitive and ready to play, an interactive ball responds to crowd participation. Called the Zygote, these inflated spheres contain LEDs that react to touch. Each time the ball is played with, the graphics change, creating a "shared experience". While watching a massive ball change colors across a crowd may only keep the attention span of the heavily induced, there seems to be potential in how the object stays connected:

"Each ball also can act as both an input and an output device by being networked to a central computer. This allows for more complex interaction, as the crowd can modify the graphics on a screen, make the balls light up in unison, or even affect the music."


August 1, 2007

Email visual reflects its repulsive nature

anymails.jpgEmail is quickly becoming one of the most hated methods of communication amongst any tech-savvy community. Perhaps by accident, a new visualization tool reflects email's repulsive nature quite accurately. Creepy and certainly crawly, bacteria-like bugs representing different types and statuses of emails infest themselves into your inbox and onto your screen. One "animal" represents one received email and one category represents one "species", while the status and age of an email affect the appearance and motion of an "animal". Called Anymails, the prototype effectively makes opening your inbox on Monday mornings feel even more vile.

See the visualization in motion.

July 17, 2007

Bodies and bots explore boundaries

0delicaboundarr.jpgInteraction between man and machine has sometimes been a contrived courtship. A new experiment aims to build the bionic bridge by exploring the boundaries between skin and screen. Delicate Boundaries (video), is an environment created by Chris Sugrue in which "lifelike digital animations swarm out of their virtual confinement onto the skin of a hand or arm when it makes contact with a computer screen...". Using infrared illuminators to openFrameworks, Sugrue claims the screen-to-skin system is not terribly complex.

July 13, 2007

Ping pong balls play with LEDs

A project originating from Burningman 2006 caught the eyes of Phil Torrone recently. Playaflies is a kinetic study in glowing orbs. By using LEDs embedded within wired up ping pong balls, the experiment captures some beautiful somewhat abstract motions. At night, the ping-orbs were placed on bicycles to outline a mimicking motion of the riders. The official site for Playaflies outlines a DIY version, in case you want to recreate some of the Burningman magic back at home.

June 29, 2007

Blubber Bots feed off cell phone signals

Experimentally interactive, Blubber Bots are sci-fi-esque helium-filled robots that seek out interaction from light, humans, other Blubber Bots, and cell phone signals. Humming through open air, the bots operate in a networked habitat. The balloon-like creatures also feature an interactive voice recognition system as a way of increasing human/bot connectivity. The video is a little on the long side, but definitely has intriguing interactions.


June 27, 2007

Graffiti goes geek

lovebike.jpgTrend Hunter recently rounded up their Top 20 Graffiti Innovations. Paired down to the top five "techie" tag trends here, it's apparent that geek goodness has penetrated the paint.

1. Geek Graffiti - vintage video games in pixelated paint
2. LED Throwies - ferromagnetic surfaces + rare-earth magnets
3. Dot Matrix Graffiti Bike - interweb connected and sidewalk suitable
4. Pixel Roller - paint-by-pixels
5. Automated Graffiti Robot - "a tele-operated field programable robot which employs a custom built array of spray cans to write linear text messages on the ground at a rate of 15 kilometers per hour."

June 26, 2007

User adapted fitness game fights Wii for weight loss

Watch out Wii, in two decades this "knockoff of Breakout" could be the new video game fitness fame. Developed by researchers at the University of Udine, the game uses a pulse oximeter sensor as a body-based controller. The pulse oximeter measures the heart rate and physical qualities of the player and adjusts the game correspondingly. What this creates is an extremely slow wayback machine to early 90s computer games. Perhaps it could transform from Breakout to Lumines as a motivator to get your game in shape.

May 15, 2007

Playing doctor with dolls

Picture%203-29.jpgProbably best that they launched this after Easter. A not-so-adorable Flash game challenges you to save a cute bunny from going to hop-hop heaven. By shocking, shaving, and slicing him open, you have 60 seconds to save his life. That's only the length of the last disappointing Super Bowl commercial you saw! Then again, 60 seconds can drag on. The play-doctor game was created by 10mg interactive, that has a client roster including:, JWT, Tribal DDB, BMW, Canon, Coca-Cola, Intel, and Sony Ericsson.


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May 7, 2007

Interactive gaming goes intimate

0gamewrtyui.jpgIntimate interaction is no longer reserved for avatars and vibrators. Jennifer Chowdhury introduces a new way to be playful with your partner's privates by placing game controllers in intimate apparel. The Intimate Game Controllers were created in attempt to bring gamers and girlfriends together in a touch-sensitive way. Chowdhury's research began with a bra padded for Pong, where groping a right or left breast controlled the game.

"The woman's controller is a bra with 6 sensors. The man's controller has 6 sensors as well but in a pair of shorts. Man stands being woman and each has access to others sensors."

Wmmna also directs us to the similar Pong Dress, aimed to "dissolute the boundaries between body and screen." Here's hoping your boyfriend doesn't treat your cleavage controllers like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

IKEA rolls over to get you in bed

IKEA shares their bed with you by sensing your position. Using an interactive projection of a sleeping man (or couple) on a mattress, he kindly rolls over when you approach to try it out yourself. Perhaps it's that Swedish charm, but some customers might claim they don't receive near the same courtesy at home. Sheet stealers and bed hogs may soon be one-upped and outed by holograms.


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May 3, 2007

Chords go from console to computer

fretsonfire4.pngWhile Guitar Hero has invaded everything from consoles to androids, it's kept the keyboard-crazed community out of the liner notes. Thankfully, Frets On Fire takes aim at the otherwise ignored audience. Frets on Fire remains open source and is able to import Guitar Hero playlists as well as offer community-composed tracks. With Windows, Linux, and a "coming soon" Mac-compatible version, the guitar game kicks "monster ass" by Transbuddha standards, and it's sure to entertain laptop lovers across the board.

April 26, 2007

Solo connects cities, commuters

bustalk.jpgConnecting distances at a push of a button, a new outdoor campaign aims to bring unfamiliar sounds to familiar sidewalks. Solo Mobile, a Canadian competitor to Virgin Mobile, placed a series of bus stop walkie talkie billboards in the public for sampling. The displays act as a real-time walkie talkies to other cities, connecting commuters across the country. Though talking to strangers is a common occurrence online, it'll be interesting to see the behaviors behind an offline conversational platform like this.

April 24, 2007

Pixels grow pubes

furry_display.jpgAs if embarking on a journey in adolescence, pixels may be sprouting hair in unusual places. Philips recently filed a patent for a screen panel of "furry pixels". Not referring to the unusual animal avatars you come across in virtual communities, these "furries" involve an intricate design of fabric that responds to electrostatic charges. The interaction allows for perceived changes in color across the fabricated pixels.

April 23, 2007

Porn: losing the popularity contest or simply penetrating the popular?

CWB251.gifOnline communities set to surpass porn? Is porn losing popularity or has the internet finally reached pressure equalization? A recent article in the Economist examines the trends in adult entertainment and online communities.

"In America, the proportion of site visits that are pornographic is falling and people are flocking to sites categorised “net communities and chat”—chiefly social-networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Traffic to such sites is poised to overtake traffic to sex sites in America any day now (see chart)."

Perhaps less about a popularity contest, porn has in fact penetrated online communities since their conception. Charts like these fail to recognize that the interweb can't be compartmentalized by just sex or information. The lack of recognition for an ongoing intimate interaction slightly skews the data, especially with the induction of communities like Second Life. To quote Kyle Machulis of Linden Labs, "if you put two people together in a game, they're going to find a way to fuck".

April 18, 2007

Veg out in virtual gallery goodness

organismuseum.jpgVirtual breathes vitality back into art. Based out of Italy, OrganisMuseum is a three dimensional art gallery online that allows users to "walk" through a gallery and focus on pieces of artwork. Like any other museum, it features exhibitions of work spanning periods of time. Supposedly the first of its kind, don't be surprised if virtual art galleries become more popular over time as artists attempt to build up their global microbrands. At the very least, no avatar is required for access.

April 10, 2007

Interweb art penetrates public space

streetnetart-732027.jpgProposing to join the real world with the "www" to create a psycho-geographic experience, Ideas On Air wants to rename streets with Net-Art web addresses. Equipped with paper and glue, the high-tech experiment would paste street plates with web addresses.

"It’d be better to cover the streets (maybe, comfortably by the taxi) with a pc equipped of wireless device to watch the websites. Anyway, you’d also walk on the streets watching at the Net-Art web address and subsequently to see the relative websites."

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April 4, 2007

Sights for Wednesday

steinhilber_apr_05.jpgKids love their mashups [ Nike: The Second Coming - via]

Experimenting with analog [ Roy Block - via ]

Tell kids to stick their heads in it [ Plastic Bag Chandelier - via ]

Sure you can take it, but can you dish it out? [ Dishmaker - via ]

[Sidenote: A guest blogger may be on the way for the remainder of this week, so stay tuned]

April 2, 2007

Joost awkwardly advertises with double-dipping

Joost, the interactive software that allows for peer-to-peer TV content sharing via web makes its debut with a bit of awkward advertising. While most commercials strive for clarity, Joost apparently wants to woo their audience with charming confusion. Attempting to enamor their viewers with special effects and aspirational gospel, the commercial involves an old man double-dipping his fingers in jar filled with Joost's hopes and dreams. Here's hoping he washed his hands before contaminating them.

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March 20, 2007

Practice for prudes, finger DDR

11738.jpgTutoring for twittering teens and prude prom queens now comes in an accessible format. The USB-driven finger DDR teaches those flirtatious fingers some moves outside of the T9 temptation. As if you didn't feel dirty enough by sliding two fingers into a cardboard cut-out, the finger DDR then prompts you to move them around. Admittedly though, the flashing lights may be more direction than you could ever weasel out of your ex-girlfriend, so take notes.


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March 17, 2007

SXSW: Afterthoughts and afterhours

416861244_a9cd99de10.jpgAs flight delays scroll across screens and text messages taper off, SXSW negates to close its doors, yet gives a swift slap to attendees as it dismounts from Interactive. As stated up front, most of the interaction happens outside of the panels and what happens in SXSW, stays on Flickr. With leftover hand-stamps from nights before, attendees gingerly, yet somehow still enthusiastically dragged their feet into morning panels over the few days. While the main word on the carpeted streets was 'overwhelming', the plethora of things to do and people to see kept the crowd's stamina.

Friday night kicked off with the traditional Break Bread With Brad ceremonial drinkfest and introductions. One would think that after a few drinks, the crowd would begin to tangent off of social technology topics, however with the circulating video bloggers stumbling within the crowd and the lively debates over Technorati and Twitter (which becomes a more flexibly applied verb with a few drinks) the physicality of all the usually online activity takes tangible form.

With Treo and Blackberry ornaments hanging from every messenger bag pocket, and laptops all in a row, it was no longer business or pleasure, personal or professional. Threadless shirts and logo-ed tattoos pwned all. While parties like Dorkbot, Fox Interactive, 8-bit, LAist, Mashup, Blogger, Lifehacker, and SXNW played venue to a meeting of interactive minds, it was the actual interaction that made and continues to make SXSW a unique, sometimes awkward, but always appreciated, online to offline experience.

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March 16, 2007

SXSW: Toys for boys, playing in Will Wright's virtual doll house

Spore.jpgWill Wright, the famed game designer behind SimCity, The Sims, and the yet to be released and highly anticipated Spore, flipped through pages of storytelling to an audience of all ears. Linking stories with the shift from passive to interactive media, Wright outlined the social and biological differences between games and film. While games utilize our basic instincts within the brain, film typically provides a rich emotional palette. Rather than push for the complete adoption of one or the other, Wright integrated the two into a cohesive experience.

Relating to a computer mainly consisting of two parts, calculation and communication, Wright's games involve the possibilities of storytelling as well as the experience of sharing it. Wright explained that people enjoy playing with boundaries and then reporting back on their experiments, a theme that had been mentioned at an earlier panel discussing hacktivism and DIY culture. Most notably, this was seen in The Sims, which was regarded as a musical instrument of a game, where people truly became the storytelling tools.

While expression plays a big role in gaming, it's just as significant that the computer also participates. In this sense, story-listening becomes just as active of a component as any other, teaching the computer how to listen to the player's story. While many love to share stories and content, there's always the issue of quality over quantity. Wright believes that by creating better tools, you can increase the quality of content in the community. Example given was Spore, where users could create their own creatures in, what used to take Pixar artists several days, nanoseconds. Wright concluded that by making the player George Lucas and no longer the protagonist Sky Walker, the experience lends towards greater creative amplification and deeper interaction.

March 15, 2007

SXSW: Tune in isn't a turn on

tveye.jpgTelevision today is no longer the elephant in the room. Similar to global warming, it has increasingly been gaining momentum and awareness as well as technological contribution. However, while content is king, the overall experience is moving in to claim checkmate. How we interact and interpret television currently is on a static plane of directional geography: surfing channels up, down, left, and right. Helping break the tangible and virtual norms, David Merkoski (Frog Design) narrated the audience through an up and coming product yet to hit the markets.

Appropriately titled Mondrian, the product set to go public next year, is a TV navigation and recommendation Zoomable User Interface (ZUI) that attempts to rethink TV user interaction. A few major differences with Mondrian is that a user no longer needs to be stuck within nested menus while navigating and it has an active anticipation engine that takes in the content, time, and environment you watch in to build a profile and recommendations. It goes without saying that Mondrian becomes an easy target for Big Brother contextual advertisers. While there have already been proposals for all-advertising channels within the ZUI grids, Merkoski remained unclear on any efforts to save the product from advertising overload.

Going more in depth with intuitive interaction, Merkoski gave an insightful overview of remote controls and interfaces. The up, down, left, right navigation is in touch with a geographical grid, while a ZUI typically tries to orient the user in a way similar to how a camera would. The up, down, left, right is not only for the living room screens, but also small screens like mobile phones as well. The original idea for this came from what some might think of as a hyper-interaction culture: gaming. Moving away from the standard, Merkoski used this to account for why people are so amazed with the Nintendo Wii and iPhone. Merkoski ended with a call to inter-action, "There won't be a choice if we don't design it."

March 14, 2007

SXSW: Tinker toys for technologists

tinkertoy5.jpgThis week, SXSW Interactive featured a keynote conversation with Limor Fried (Adafruit Industries) and Phil Torrone (MAKE Magazine). Hacking the DIY culture, Torrone and Fried discussed the techniques of tinkering with technology. With examples such as the Bacon Alarm Clock, skin-embedded RFID chips, and the recent Gummy Bear Chandelier, the panelists whetted the audience's palate with a selection of delicious DIY snacks.

Hacktivism culture has been spreading at a rapid rate as of late. Simply said, "People make weird and bizarre things," Torrone stated in response to the movement. Sharing "recipes" has now become commonplace among tinkering communities and unlike dating, you're not slapped if you show all your intimate parts too soon. Fried shared her thoughts on the subject, calling for an open hardware movement instead of simply source code. Using available tools and techniques like Google SketchUp and Creative Commons, proper documentation to hardware hacking can be applied.

Fried believes that by even leaving one component open in a piece of technology, it opens the flood gates for positive user interaction with the product. An example given was the Roomba, the vacuum to robotics platform with an open API. Passionate product interaction grew out of potential opportunities and created unexpected (to the brand, at least) outcomes: Roombas now took pictures, ported wifi, and integrated product-related modification. Another example was the Qtopia Greenphone, an open phone unlike any other that allows users to write their own applications for it. The importance for open devices is growing, as the panelists cited a survey of MIT students about their most hated technology that they used everyday. The majority answer? Cell phones.

Tinkering culture has created an ongoing debate, however, that perhaps was one thing they didn't intend to DIY. In the friction that takes place between brands/products and users, what is a more enriching experience? Should users always have to revert to hacking or should products openly allow tinkering? Fried and Torrone agreed that the more a product gives away information, the more people buy, and the more the product becomes accessible to a wider audience. "When there's enough of a movement, companies become more receptive," stated Torrone.

Sidenote: More SXSW photos here.

March 12, 2007

You don't need to be here

KathySierra.jpgUshering her audience out, Kathy Sierra questioned why interactive attendees would bother to show in person in the age of live blogging and streaming content. With an opening line of "you don't need to be here", admittedly a few poured out of the conference room doors. However, Sierra stated, that there are still elements that exist as the missing link between computer interaction and human expression. Responsiveness to software was compared to the likes of Asperger's syndrome, unintentionally rude and often narrowly focused.

Comparing portraits of human expressions, Sierra explained that basic human-computer interaction is not taking place. One such example is that software doesn't have "WTF" buttons for user experience. Attempting to tone her language down for the innocent of ears, she stated that FAQs and Help don't cater to the common user experience, an often lack interactive dialog.

While Sierra made an argument for creating software for the human expression in order to help close the gap between reactive human interaction and computers, a significant point seemed to be missing from her bullet points. Given that there will always be some sense of a gap between interacting with a person and interacting with a machine, why place the pressure on computers for being able to react to confused human faces as opposed to making people interact with people more effectively? Why not make the user experience with people a more enriching one? While it's a given that software should always be moving forward in user experience, customer service often is a pain point across all companies. Sierra stated that conversational language keeps a user's attention, as such, user experience should maintain an integration between people and machines in order to create a truly interactive and expressive environment.

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March 11, 2007

Drunk at the wheel, driving social technology

SXSWIntersection.jpgOffering no apologies for social disruption, the Emerging Social and Technology Trends panelists invite themselves into your conversation. The panel on Saturday hosted yet again a large group of speakers from diverse backgrounds. Although intimate panels tend to be more revealing, this one at least showed a little leg. Headed up by Laura Moorhead (Wired), the panelists included Andrew Blum (Wired), Robert Fabricant (Frog Design), Eliot Van Buskirk (Wired), Peter Rojas (Engadget), and Daniel Raffel (Yahoo!).

While perhaps drunk at the wheel sometimes, technology drives social change. In turn, everyday people are now enabled to be the drivers as well. Similar to the blur of how you got home the night before, there is no longer a clear sobriety line to walk between social interaction and technology. Likewise, a constant negotiation between public and private, business and pleasure, leaves many at polar realms. Understanding the integration versus isolation debate is said to help us understand ourselves, or at least what Kool-aid we drank to get there.

Tagged as disruptive technology, the panel discussed various tools, techniques, and software that continue to evolve standards and transparency. Seemingly, the term transparency is no longer valid, as the opacity is continuing to be set at zero percent. Widgets, like the beginnings of the internet, take away a sense of geographical personas, while social "tools" like Twitter take away any remaining sense of privacy. "Twitter might be the breaking point," said Peter Rojas, concerned about an inevitable backlash of technology. Explaining it similar to the subcultures that turned on CDs in favor of vinyl, Rojas believes that there will always be backlashes, but not necessarily mass rejections. "But we wouldn't know about a backlash because they wouldn't be blogging it, right?" Rojas joked to the crowd's chuckle.

Though there's an amplification of influence in self, it also penetrates brands and microbrands alike. Many brands are trying to drink the Kool-aid, letting the voice of the customer lead the way. While in no way is it a bad idea, Robert Fabricant explained that it gives a company power as well as a burden. The key, Fabricant explained, is how to interpret the learnings from the ongoing conversations, which is a responsibility strategists and planners face.

Asked the question about companies' fear of their products being hacked, the panelists concurred that the vast majority of hacks help generate interest in a product rather than serve as a huge threat to success. An offered solution to help ease the pain was for companies to commit to "upgradability" as well as learn how to monetize consumer hacks. Pushing for augmentation over customization, it was apparent that there remains a friction point between consumers and brands. The iPhone came up as a perfect example, in that the potential of the device alone generated interest, however the excitement soon turned flacid once it revealed its closed platform nature. Soon after, the lack of faith in mobile carriers and the fight for consumer enablement took over the discussion. Despite many yielding through the intersection of social and technology, it may take a new generation to legalize an American autobahn.

Sidenote: More photos here.

March 10, 2007

Hoard the hangovers, SXSW Interactive kicks off

HowToRawkSXSW.jpgSouth by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive kicked off on Friday with a panel dedicated to "pop the cherries of the SXSW virgins". The How to Rawk SXSW panel was headed up by a variety of familiar names and faces, including Min Jung Kim (Photobucket), Glenda Bautista (Agendacide), Tantek Çelik (Technorati), Nick Douglas (Look Shiny, formerly Valleywag), Andrew Huff (Gapers Block), Lynne d Johnson (fastcompany), and our friend Tony Pierce (LAist). Sharing swigs out of a bottle of Jack Daniel's the panelists calmed the crowd's expectations.

Overwhelming seems to be the sense on the street about SXSW. With hundreds of panels, speakers, and parties to attend, it's easy to lack time management. Thankfully, the panelists help tell you where to cut out the excess fat from your daily intake. Conferences are known to load up on the junk advertising, and this one is no exception. With his Jack Daniel's swigs well underway, Nick Douglas flipped through the multitude of junk. "Wired is the Cosmo of tech magazines," Douglas stated as he threw another conference magazine handout into the trash pile.

Equipped with hipster glasses and widgets, Tantek Celik educated the audience on how to effectively stalk fellow SXSW attendees. Obviously, with an array of bloggers, educators, and industry experts it can be difficult to manage the inevitable "blogasm". Dodgeball, Consumating, Twitter, and Flickr were all recommendations to keep track of the fire hose of content coming through. "What happens at SXSW, stays on Flickr", Celik grinned. Despite Celik revealing his tool to the audience, there's always secret happenings going on at SXSW that no tools can help you with. Unless of course, they're the tool managing the guest list.

Sidenote: Flickr album of my SXSW photos can be found here.

February 28, 2007

Minus the ping

pong-table.jpgNeatorama does its duty in pointing to something truly 'neat'. An interactive gaming table combines arcadia with a tangible tablet. Like a Wii for Pong (or perhaps Ping Pong for Wii), the Pong Table uses embedded LED lights along with touchpads to create the experience. When turned off, the 2500 LEDs are unnoticeable, leaving the table ready for dinner. In addition to the Pong Table, Moritz Waldemeyer created the Roulette Table for gamers who gamble, as well as the Corian Mirror which reflects a pixelated image of the onlooker in real time with 1000 LEDs.

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February 19, 2007

Giving it to us, aesthetically pleasured

15610_MotImage.jpgNeeding a cigarette after it yet again won't leave the bedroom without one more go around, Motorola insists on hearing our delight. After the short-lived hard-on went flacid with the RAZR a few years ago, Moto has been on a quest to regain it's Mojo. Not to be mistaken with a pack of birth control, the Motorola T815 is a smartphone-based gps/navigation system. Dubbed MotoNav, the device talks dirty to you with turn-by-turn directions to help get you going. Hoping to be your everything, MotoNav also features bluetooth, local search, a car and phone charger, and is of course USB-compatible. Set to launch in Q2 of 2007, Motorola hopes to build your anticipation.

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February 15, 2007

Change clothes in public

fabcell.jpgNeeding a change of scenery, or perhaps a fresh start to the post-VDay-letdown, a new type of clothing lets all eyes be on you. Breaking through the monochrome winter weather, Fabcell created the Fabcell system, consisting of color-changing modules to brighten up your outer-shell of baggage. The fabric uses flexible, color-changing textiles coupled with a controller for precision emo-matching visuals. Perhaps positioning itself as the mood ring for emo hipsters, the clothing is also able to respond to your body temperature, giving you a new, shrinkage-proof solution to changing in public.

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February 14, 2007

Guttersluts needs love, too

user1834_1158648972.jpgFeeling a lack of love lately, bowlers around the world may be hitting the lanes to help compensate. While three strikes probably won't be the only XXX's they see across a screen tonight, a new game is hoping to give some love back to the lanes.

Made for the Nintendo Wii, Brunswick Pro Bowling wants to "give gamers a detailed, realistic bowling-center experience, complete with authentic sights and sounds, and official Brunswick bowling gear. Brunswick Pro Bowling will be highly customizable, allowing players to choose everything from their character’s appearance and accessories to ball styles."

Paired with realistic physics, your balls will have a weight and movement you can feel. True guttersluts prefer 3 fingers deep inside, but some pros may tell you that you can get the job done with just the tips.

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February 5, 2007

Crafty channel surfers eliminate remote control


While television and kids seem to hit it off as a match made in heaven, the process of learning how to flip past shows like Laguna Beach and American Idol, aren't. Thankfully, Hayeon Yoo developed the Origami TV Remote Control Interface, to help educate children on the wonders of changing the channel.

"The Origami TV Remote Control enables children to learn only the essential functions such as “Channel Selection” and “Volume Control” through a paper playing method. The prototype was developed from 1-week Electronics and 1-week Software workshop and a wireless sensor board and Max/MSP are used as main tools."

Structured similar to a "cootie catcher", you can now find out which cute boys at school like you in addition to channel surfing for Saturday morning cartoons.

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January 29, 2007

Techie teddy bear, a man's best wingman

1-28-07-echo_bear.jpgEcho Robotics unveiled its latest prototype in social interaction the other day. The prototype consists of a Bluetooth-enabled teddy bear that interacts with other techie teddies to alert you when you're around someone with similar interests as yours. For some, the robot-dancing, cuddly bear may be a godsend for those lacking a wingman. However, unless you want to look like a blanket-dragging Linus, the techie teddy may be a bit more difficult to explain to a new date than the expected drunken text messages.

January 16, 2007

Sticks and stones may break my bones but...

words.jpgEverything You Thought We'd Forgotten is a series of installations exploring the sometimes violent application of words. The experimentation in language opens up space for digital graffiti, allowing users to interact with letterforms without the otherwise messy residue. Another piece of the installation, titled the Intralocutor, maps language out visually based on audible fluctuations. The "visual materiality" changes based on how users speak to one another in conversation.

Other pieces border creepiness, as they directly interact with the deepest and sometimes darkest secrets you have entrusted your computer with. I Know What You're Thinking claims to be a stream of consciousness that reanimates and splices the bored and restless texts residing on your hard drive from years ago. Obviously eerie, it's probably best to not leave this one up and running at work or around a current loved one. Clearing out your browser history is hard enough.


January 15, 2007

Online to offline, contextual landscaping

Miniboard.jpgAt what point does context replace content? Google and MINI gear up their latest in interweb domination, this time taking it to the streets.

Google plans to roll out a series of internet-based billboards that act similar to AdSense, advertising available products in local stores. The system will have the capability of switching out advertising based on the products being in stock in real-time. While advertisers will be able to manage their accounts online like AdSense, one can only hope that the CPM rate won't be as similar.

MINI, however, is taking a different route. Relying less on context and more on you, the latest campaign titled Motorby asks users to supply not-too-personal information in exchange for a key fob that alerts billboards to your presence. The interactive billboards are then able to detect your presence and give you a personal message as you drive by. The pilot boards are currently up in NY, Chicago, SF, and Miami. As MINI states, "the billboards are talking" - and this time, not AT you.

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January 11, 2007

Wii-envy no longer just for jealous girlfriends

While a seemingly obvious viral video for the physical benefits of the Wii, someone had to do it. Taking the cake, The Wii Sex Movie (they seriously couldn't come up with a Wii pun for a title!?). The premise is hot enough, but most could probably do without the chumpy boyfriend. For those already tingling about the idea, Fleshbot is offering bonus points to any adventurous couples willing to 1up the video by trying it out on Wii bowling. My mind is already in the gutter.

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January 9, 2007

Creeps infiltrate CES

elvis.jpgTaking no time in identifying the creepiness at this year's CES, Engadget reports on the latest in robotic creations. Among the creeps, a robotic Elvis. Chopped up like a Japanese snuff film, the chest-up slice is more than willing to entertain with a song-and-dance routine. As if watching The King's Michael-J-Fox-like spasms weren't enough, you can also sing along and pay tribute with your best karaoke attempts.

Previously ICYMI: Elvis the robocat

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January 5, 2007

Scantily clad woman, a waste of time

lynxblow.jpgIt's always sad when our precious minutes go unrewarded. Typically it's when we get tricked into an advertisement or we get caught one-handed with a shortage of increasingly revealing photos. Apparently wanting to shoot two birds with one stone, a British version of Axe body spray created an advergame involving a minimally dressed woman that you "blow on" to blow off her clothes. Yes, literally blow on.

"Lynx Blow doesn't have much of a setup, just a full screen video of a scantily clad woman in a barren winter landscape and an entreaty to blow into a microphone or headset "to make me hot." Indeed, constant blowing thaws out the woman and eventually blows her top off, at which point she runs off and you can start all over again."

Add to that, that you never actually see her naked and it's somewhat boring for any savvy one-handed browsers. Usually the Brits are known for their up-to-par sexual humor in advertising, but this one certainly falls short.

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Conceptual laptops provide play, pleasure and pain

2122.gifA recent project among digital media students at the Berlin University of the Arts asked to develop an analog extention of a laptop that considers its physical properties as well as computational power.

"... devices, together with their software, are nevertheless often designed without much consideration of the physicality of the laptop and its usage situation. The computer is an abstract source of energy, computation and screenspace to many such devices. The challege of this short project was to rethink the laptop as a physical object with extended functionality, and cherish these qualities in a novel and refreshing way."

A few notably refreshing ways:

i-sleep: An inflatable pillow rests above the laptop, connected to the computer fan for warming. Music begins playing automatically when you close the laptop and an adjustable "waking tone" can be set for when you'd like to wake up.

Finger Trap: Literally a finger trap created for unwanted trackpad trespassers.

The Digital Marionette: "The idea was to extend the laptop with a pair of strings to use it as a digital marionette. The application i wrote reads out the Powerbook´s motion sensor´s position data and then uses it, to move the marionette. If you tilt the notebook to the left, the marionette on the screen reacts to gravity and also swings in this direction."

via: wmmna

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January 4, 2007

Most Contagious 2006

contagious.pngContagious magazine lists their most contagious items for 2006. With the year in review, categories included gadgets, design, gaming, mobile, and viral to name a few. Highlights include Second Life, Wii, Lonelygirl15, ZeFrank, Skype, Smirnoff Raw Tea Partay, adidas adicolor (seen the Jenna Jameson one?), and Banksy. With all the 2006 contagious celebs, what unworthy soul wasn't on the list? Zune.

Download the Most Contagious 2006 pdf here.

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January 2, 2007

Sensitive to the touch screens

touchbuilding.jpg"Touch", is an urban interactive installation, controlled by a sci-fi-like touch screen dashboard. Currently live and active in Brussels, the Belgian Laboratory for Architecture and Urbanism (LAb[au]) created the 145 meter high RGB-LED bar display.

"Instead of considering this infrastructure as a flat screen (surface) displaying pre-rendered video loops, the project is working on the architectural characteristics of the tower and its urban context. The characteristics of the building; orientation, volume, scale... are used as parameters to set up a spatial, temporal and luminous concept, which moreover allows people to directly interact with the tower. On Place Rogier, at the bottom of the tower, a station is mounted where people can interact either individually or collectively with the visual and luminous display (= the tower) through a multi touch screen. "

You can currently view the project live via streaming video until January 15.

via: information aesthetics

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Guerilla projections - art or just fucking around?

miamiproj.jpgRunning amuck, guerilla projections lurked over buildings in Miami. Equipped with custom action script, animation, and a projector, Ivan Martinez, a graphic designer for MTV Latin America, painted the town red with fear.

"This custom animation and action script allows me to frantically run through the streets typing out my fears for all to know in real time. If needed my character could stop running to converse with someone on the street, but when fear strikes, its off and running again."

Photo reads "WOW! How much did this cost? Looks nice, can me and a couple hundred of my homeless friends live in it?" This video captures the midnight run (7 minutes, but I assume you have the stamina).

Wooster claims, "He continued to do them until one night he and his friends were pulled over by the Miami police with their guns pointed inches from their head through the driver and passenger side windows. After two hours of being called anarchists and that what they were doing was "not art" and just "fucking around" he decided to stop doing the projections to work on other projects."

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December 26, 2006

Sight for the slow posting week

pixelnotes.jpgPixelated walflowers and interactive post-it notes.

"A wallpaper consisting of four layers of varying grey tones on a bright primary backing. Each layer is perforated in a grid format and backed with a tacky adhesive similar to 'post-it' notes. Pixelnotes is inspired by the way we work within a space. The walls become functional, an integrated noticeboard that documents our activity within the room."

via: core77

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December 4, 2006

Hi, I'm a Mac and I'm an Imitator

Picture%2015.pngImitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. VAIO sends mixed messages our way with this spoof of a Mac ad. Asking "who do you want to play with?", your choices are between a farting PC, a smug Mac, and a red-headed hipster-girl VAIO. Making the choice clear, you can e-pinch her butt and make her giggle.

Giggling hipsters aren't the only mixed messages VAIO sends our way, though. Promoting themselves as the "Non-pc PC" makes little to no sense. So, VAIO is the Non-personal computer, personal computer? It seems VAIO may have struck gold in stabbing the hipster/emo kids with the unintentional, indirect jab of "I'm different, just like everybody else". Perhaps just taking the concept out for a test drive, it only appears as a small Flash piece on Sony's C-Series VAIO laptop site.

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November 28, 2006

Motion or motionless?


As the buzz fog dissipates from the launch of the Wii and the PS3, we're left with storytelling from our collective Thanksgivings.

Just getting back from lunch with one of the application developers on my team, we shared our perspectives of the buzz fog. The Wii and PS3 launches seem to invoke a familiar story of The Tortoise and the Hare. While the PS3 garnered a huge spike in buzz with people being trampled and shot just to get their hands on it, their buzz could almost be seens as what killed off a potentially larger demand in the larger audience. PS3 spent so much time and effort to become the foaming on the mouths of gamers, that they also created an elitism that isolated themselves. From the general perspective, Sony spent their efforts promoting the cool games you could play, rather than showing user interaction with the product itself.

Alternatively, the Wii Launched two days after the PS3. Originally, many questioned why, as the buzz cloud was so large around the PS3 that the Wii would surely be swallowed up in the midst of the chaos. Now, post-Thanksgiving, it's clear that the Wii has garnered more offline Word-Of-Mouth than jokes about trytophan. Why? Nintendo made the smart choice in promoting "why they're different", as opposed to PS3's "why they're better". From the commercials, to the stories, the simple, somewhat dorky DDR-style of interaction made the Wii friendly to gamers and first-time-gamers alike. There was no buzz about getting trampled, only buzz about people breaking their TVs by playing with the Wii so much. The developer on my team was sharing stories of his grandparents playing boxing games over the weekend, and how his girlfriend broke two glasses and part of a table from getting so into it.

While the Wii almost appears as something straight out of the 80's in silliness, it has successfully made itself accessible by all audiences. While people are no longer asking about if they saw people getting trampled on the news for the PS3, they are, however, sharing their own personal stories about the Wii. To back up the Word-Of-Mouth and advertising techniques, the Wii out-sold the PS3 on the first day and continues to by a significant amount.

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November 21, 2006

Soaking in a digital bubblebath

bubbles.pngBeta-tank enjoys popping pixels with their latest interactive interior. Bubble Screen is an organic display system using air bubbles for pixels. The pixel bubbles are then able to produce imagery and typographic visuals. While not as robust as the wet typography water-curtain, the thinking behind it is still impressive.

"Beta-tank used a highly viscous liquid similar to shampoo in order to obtain a workable refresh rate. To solve other Fluid Dynamics issues Imperial College London was drafted in to create computer analysis for each bubble it travels in space."

via: wmmna

November 16, 2006

Crying over spilled mascara

11.15.06---artadvertisement.jpgInteractive advertising often is made in consideration of the user, while guerilla advertising usually takes into account the location. Max Factor takes a different approach, allowing weather to direct the power of advertising.

Sensitive to rain, this advert turns emo with streaks of running mascara. Leo Burnett is responsible for the public display of make-up meltdowns. Perhaps this could be the beginning of a series... In San Francisco, a billboard could have a line of lipstick spread beyond the lips everytime there's an earthquake.

September 12, 2006

Typography that will make you wet

waterwrit.jpg"The german Claus Winter, a friend of mine, developed a new technique for an installation-artist, making whatever word you type into the computer visible by a "water-curtain". You can type in the text from all over the world via the web."

View the san serif water in motion.

via: Wooster Collective

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August 28, 2006

Pull out that midi player and cowboy belt buckle

Picture%2015.jpgDrunk girls and mullets, unite! Jeep offers an interactive karaoke - alas, instead of hearing peroxide-addicted women shriek out requests for "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy", you can watch this guy attempt "Oh, Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine, you blow my mind!" - which, I guess, is actually a decent trade-off.

Now, only if they offered "Forever Young" - I may be so tempted as to try my own. In the meantime, I might try and pressure Jaffe into making one since he is no stranger to his own renditions of podcast segment karaoke.

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