Here come the cyborgs

Oakley just started selling its Airwave Goggles in the Apple store. It’s an amazing product that gives you a head up display while skiing or snowboarding.

I really like how technology is getting closer to us and starts annotating reality. It’s still a bit clunky and we are looking for implementation and useful interfaces. It’s out there, and happening.

Will the world start to look like a first-person shooter game? Creating a whole new field for interface design.!

A while ago the Google’s Project Glass project made a video of the DVF fashion show entirely filmed with Google Glasses.

Interactive Storytelling Mobile

My iPad

Finally, last week I bought myself an iPad. I resisted long enough and was completely out of excuses not to buy a new iPad 2 in Austin :)

iPad 2 line Austin

I wasn’t really new to the device, Marco (my partner at SOMEHOW) brought the original iPad to the office quite quickly after it was released and I played with it a lot. Owning one is different. Like a mobile phone the device is personal, and the most interesting applications for it are personal as well.

The applications I like most are the ones where my social networks organize and select the content. I don’t need newspaper applications or magazine apps. For now, those applications are still very one dimensional. How weird this might sound, they aren’t very good in filtering, yet.

The most interesting ‘mag’-like applications for now I think are

The native Twitter application, that handles hyperlinks extremely nice (free)
Reeder, a great Google Reader application (paid) (you should also try the desktop application)
Tweetmag, a social wall/magazine (paid)
Zite, a social magazine (free)
Flipboard, a social magazine (free)

These apps are all using your social “link” networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader).

If you ask me, this is the future of the magazine.

Mobile Notes The Social Web

The last web based social network

Just a thought. Facebook might possibly be the last major web based social network.

All new social networks seem to origin from mobile. Foursquare is mobile, Ditto is mobile, Twitter is mobile, Instagram is mobile, Beluga is mobile.

Maybe I’m wrong…

Interface design Mobile

Why I want to design something for the iPad

I don’t own an iPad, actually I have never seen one in real life. I’m not even sure if I will ever buy one (I probably will).

What I know is that I really would like to design a news application for the device.

The iPad envisions something that computers or mobile phones don’t. It show us a new platform of interaction.

1. The device is made for consuming instead of producing. Personal computers were never designed for entertainment. The computer was designed for work, it was never designed for fun. People my age will remember how desktop computers invaded our houses. Your dad probably brought one home, because he used it at work.

If you wanted to relax and have fun, game consoles are designed for just that.

The iPad is all about consuming and relaxing. How you hold the device, the weight, the wireless network, the size, everything. It’s the perfect device to enjoy what a connected world has to offer on the couch.

2. No history. This device has no past, the only mistake you can make designing for the iPad is to design for a media carrier from the past, like a magazine or personal computer.

3. Newspapers and magazines love it. They probably do love it for the wrong reasons. I don’t think magazines or books will re-live on the iPad. It’s a new medium and like every new medium this one also comes with its own set of rules.

Why would you want a magazine? It’s a connected device. It’s fully interactive, social and connected. You might like the content, but you probably don’t want the form.

The fact that newspapers and magazines love the device is great though. They are spending money on innovation again and this is a good thing, it will help the platform to develop. Eventually we will find out how to tell or sell a story on the platform.

The device symbolizes hope, revenues and new opportunities. The success of the iPhone makes expectations for the iPad even higher.

This is why I want to design something for the iPad.

Interface design Mobile Projects

Content as Software

I recently worked on a large mobile project for the Volkskrant. The project contained mobile websites and numerous applications for different devices, including iPhone apps (iTunes link).

The Volkskrant on iPhone

Content as Software
I learned about the term content as software from Gerd Leonard. Not only does it sound very interesting, it’s also a very exiting development that follows from a series of events. A move from RSS, followed by widgets, API’s and standardization in platforms.

These new platforms like Adobe Air or the iPhone development platform make developing applications easier and accessible to a new and broader groups of developers.

On the other side software is being replaced by the – todays very powerful – browsers. Google is working hard to replace Microsoft Office functionality with Google Docs, and adding even more (web) functionality like working remotely together on documents.

A computer without internet connection is half the fun, or to most people useless. The computer as a communication device needs the web as much as it needs power. Todays software needs the web.

Should a media company make software?
Content as Software. Should media companies deliver content as software? We decided to with the Volkskrant iPhone application because we think an application gives a better user experience and is more effective on the iPhone platform compared to a mobile website. The New York Times released a desktop application based on Adobe Air. The content in the application isn’t unique, the presentation is.

A great advantage of distributing software for publishers is that it gives control to some extend. For example the Times Reader has free and subscription only articles in the same application. The “free” user experience is good, but they will try to persuade you to become a subscriber.

So, should a media company make software?
I don’t know. Just because we now can as easily develop software as we can develop websites doesn’t mean we should. From a pure logic perspective it doesn’t add much value to the content. It’s still the same content. From an emotional perspective it does add extra value to the experience, it’s a nice package. And that’s something you shouldn’t underestimate. An application is also more persistent, it’s always there on your startup screen, desktop or in your dock.

The best thing with content as software is to just try it. Like you would try with a website. Release soon and often. Todays software is like the web.

The Volkskrant on iPhone
Screenshots of the Volkskrant iPhone news application

Times Reader
Screenshot of Times Reader Desktop application

Interactive Video Journalism Live Web Mobile Projects

The Urban Explorers 2009 video interface

The Urban Explorers video interface (live report) from Wilbert Baan on Vimeo.

For the music and art festival Urban Explorers festival I made a special video interface. During the festival reporters uploaded video with their mobile phones. The video was categorized on artists, venues and makers based on the video title. The project used the Blip API.

Give it a try.

Video interface for the Urban Explorers festival 2009

The report was done by reporters. I was supposed to be a reporter as well, but missed the festival because of the birth of Benjamin.

The process of building the interface can be found here.

Experiments Interactive Storytelling Live Web Mobile Projects The Social Web

Mashing up the first Eclectro party, bluetooth, meeting new people and your profile

concept eclectro bluetooth kit

This saturday we have the first Eclectro party in De Unie in Rotterdam (which itself is pretty amazing). It’s the first offline event for something (a group of people blogging) that until saturday does only exist online.

To Eclectrofy this evening we started thinking about doing something extra with the location. How can we make the place visually and interactive exciting as well. Without making it too difficult to use or showing computers.

This reminded me about the Roomware project

The Roomware Project is an open-source framework for interactive spaces. It allows developers of multiple origins to enhance any venue or event using technologies such as BlueTooth and RFID.

What I’m making for this saturday
Basically Roomware turns my Mac into a server that is able to read bluetooth names and convert this data into xml. We will ask people at the party to change the bluetooth name of their mobile phone into the username of their account. With these names an application searches the API and extracts data about two random visitors and tell them how much similarity they have and which artists they have in common.

Meet new people
The project autorepeats and makes new random matches with names of people that are actually in the room. The results are projected on a screen. Showing public information about people is a gimmick, but it might encourage visitors to meet new people.

Things to do before this saturday

All the technology works. What’s left is finding a beamer, finishing the design and the timing of the interface. The application doesn’t need much time to load, but I’m thinking about adding finctional timing to make it more exiting to watch.

For example first show one player. Show the second player a few seconds later. And finally show the bar (hearth) that indicates the percentages. And maybe add some hidden messages when people have 0 or 100% similarity.

Eclectro presents Kettel (live)
The third man (live), Gastón Arévalo (live) & Starborough (dj-set)
November 15th, De Unie, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Entrance € 8,- (order tickets)

De Unie

I will make a video of the system in action for hypernarrative. You can also visit the party this saturday to play with it youself. We can have a beer :)

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