Currently, people are becoming increasingly tired of their mobile phones, as they are constantly looking out for something new. Recently, scientists have introduced gesture navigation into the mix, meaning that people no longer need to use their fingers to select buttons or send a text; they don’t even have to come into contact with the phone!
The University of Tokyo in 2010 proposed a vision-based interface for mobile devices, utilising a 3D motion tracking system that sensed human finger motion through a single camera. Since the fingerprints near the camera moved fastest in the image, a high frame-rate camera had to be implemented for stable tracking. The binarised 3D finger trip image could then be introduced using Luca-Kanade algorithm to estimate its 3D motion and posture, resulting in a contactless clicking method, similar to that of a computer mouse. Yet, strip this back and what you do you have? A micro-Kinect.
Patrick Baudisch, Professor of Computer Science at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Postdam, Germany and his research student, Sean Gustafson also seemed to come to a similar conclusion when they took this concept one step further, developing a series of mobile prototypes that removed the use of touch screens and keyboards altogether. Simply by attaching a video recorder and microprocessor to their clothes, hand gestures could then be recognised and converted into mobile actions, such as making a telephone call or scrolling through the internet.
With these in mind, will future mobile phone developments rely heavily on such products as the Microsoft Kinect or could it be that one day we actually get bored of gesture navigation altogether and refer back to the days of touch?
Recently, Clustalabs has been working on analysing voice applications within the advertising realm. A surprising pioneer within this field is Google, who introduced a service called “Ring Back Advertising” in 2009. Here, gaps in telephone calls are replaced with audio messages, a proven success compared to its online equivalent, internet banners. So how does this work?
Users can easily use this application by selecting Google’s voice service to make a call. As a result, Google can find the user’s location through geo-technology and focus their adverts according to their online search history. In addition to advertising, voice has many other applications in games, entertainment, finance, travel and business, as it is often seen as an economically viable, flexible and convenient application.
During Cannes International advertising festival in 2011, Microsoft showcased ‘NUads’, an interactive advertising system based upon the voice application within the Microsoft Kinect. Thought the new Coca Cola advert was cool? Just say "Xbox, Tweet," and all your friends will know it. Want to sample Rihanna’s new album? Say "Xbox, More," and additional information and potential music samples could pop up on screen. Wonder where you can pick up a DFS sofa? Say "Xbox, Near Me," and you'll get a text with the location of the closest retailer. The possibilities in advertising are unless, however how came this evolve into the gaming world?
The market leader in voice application gaming is Labgoo, who recently received much publicity after developing PAH, the world’s first fully voice controlled iPhone game app. At the moment, they are currently developing a Windows 7 and Android version, enabling users the chance to control a spaceship, whilst avoiding asteroids. Shout “Ahh” to move the vehicle up and “Pah” to move it down. The volume of your voice will slide the ship higher or lower and a sharp outburst of “Pah” will fire the nose canons to destroy the asteroids in your way.
PAH and Microsoft Kinect has obviously started to pave the way for voice application software in the future, whether this is through navigating websites and apps, communicating with adverts in malls or even the beginning of voice-reactive advertising; adverts that could potentially hide when you shout at them. Don’t underestimate the power of the spoken word.
Nowadays, everybody is looking for something new and special; the same came be said for technology. Recently, ClustaLabs carried out some research into printing applications. 3D printers are basically used for the rapid development of industrial models, including razors, buildings and now clothing. The N12 Bikini is an interesting example of how 3D printing is entering into the consumer world. It was designed by Continuum Fashion and has become the first ever affordable, ready-to-wear item of clothing; surely there is more to come. This was produced using Rhino 3D CAD software and a specially written algorithm that creates a complex ‘circle packing ‘equation on an arbitrarily doubly curved surface, providing the flexibility required within the garment. Another printing application that is definitely worth a mention is the Nike Chalkbot, a recent Cannes winner. Naturally this application lends itself more closely to 2D advertising, yet with the ability to print texts, symbols and to be honest, pretty much anything, we are excited about seeing how this concept might evolve in the future.
Several other applications have arose from this relatively simple technology, including one of my favourites; the 3D Chocolate printer. Just like something that you would expect to see in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, users will soon be able to create their own pieces of confectionary; designing their own flavours, shapes, colours, anything that there stomach truly desires. Arguably, this was taken one step further with the CandyFab, an open source product that you can generally use within your own home. Although the software and hardware instructions are yet to be released, one is looking forward to tucking into my very own version of the next gob-stopper!
However, my personal favourite is Barcelona's BlablabLab, who piloted an attraction called "Be Your Own Souvenir" in Las Ramblas. The installation produced 3D-printed figurines of tourists that were scanned using 3 Kinect sensors in the dark. As a result, the user became part of the installation, whilst receiving a free gift. Custom software had to be created with open Frameworks in order to produce a full 360 degree point cloud that could then be processed by Meshlab and Skeinforge into a CNC file, creating a low resolution figure within the space of ten minutes. As this technology continues to evolve, it may become an ideal way of producing your own accessories or tailor-fitted clothes, yet with chocolate on the mind, I am going to leave it here for now and get some lunch.
Midlands-based Alison Smith of Pesky People and Birmingham’s ClustaLabs have emerged from an exceptionally strong field of creative businesses and developers as winners of Nokia’s Pitch ‘n’ Win mobile app development competition. Following an initial written application process that attracted entries from across the UK, teams behind the eight strongest ideas were invited to an exclusive one day event at Birmingham’s Zellig building at the Custard Factory, featuring top level speakers from Nokia and international creative agency, Wieden + Kennedy.
After keynote speeches from international guests including Nokia’s Head of Content and Partnerships, Keith Varty, and Wieden + Kennedy’s Interactive Creative Director, Andy Cameron, the eight teams each pitched their ideas to an expert panel, who were then faced with the difficult decision of picking just one winner. In fact, the quality of ideas presented was so strong that the judges ended up picking two.
Talking after the event, Nokia’s Keith Varty said "The panel was blown away by the breadth and quality of ideas presented at the Pitch ‘n’ Win event in Birmingham; we look forward to working with Pesky People and Clusta to deliver truly innovative apps for Nokia smart phones."
Birmingham’s ClustaLabs presented a groundbreaking app idea capitalising on Nokia’s exciting developments with NFC technology (Near Field Communication). This proved an irresistible proposal for Nokia, who decided to present a second award with an offer to take the app into further development. ClustaLabs’ Innovations Manager, Chris Harkin, said “Clusta was delighted to attend The Nokia Pitch ‘n’ Win event in Birmingham. We were proud to be announced as the winners and are now eager to continue our relationship with Nokia. As a leader in digital advertising, we understand the potential of designing NFC Apps for Nokia and hope that our concept will become a unique feature within Nokia’s Store. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and are very much looking forward to seeing how this project continues to evolve over time.”
Presenting the awards, Nokia’s Head of Developer Relations, Greg Merten, said “Alison’s Go Genie app will be a great example of ‘connecting people’ through innovation. We are also excited about developing Clusta’s innovative NFC app, and look forward to seeing both apps available to Nokia smart phones owners.” For further information, please visit: http://goo.gl/bo8Pl
$4 billion is the rumoured amount that Mark ‘Facebook Founder’ Zuckerberg will be handing over to buy out video chat site Skype. Another rumour is that it is not a buyout but a joint venture, another rumour is that Google has a bid on Skype as well. These are a lot of rumours, but what if Facebook is making too many partnerships? What does it mean for Facebook’s future?
The benefit of a partnership with Skype is obvious. Facebook can offer users video conferencing, file-sharing, screen-sharing and SMS. The confirmed partnership with Warner Bros Digital Distribution will bring a rental service to users and give a more grounded product to push their digital currency of credits. These partnerships are not just a money making deal, they connect Facebook with companies that deal in real sustainable products, such as film and video conferencing.
Established in 2003, Facebook has seen its fellow social networking site Myspace dwindle in popularity:
Venturing into online film rental, video chat and file sharing are all methods that will in evidently expand the Facebook brand; however are these all desperate attempts at preventing the inevitable; the fall of Facebook’s popularity? If we take a quick look back at the sites that have risen and fallen during the age of Web 2.0 there have been many causalities and loyalty towards a network does not seem to exist.
The hype around Facebook is stratospheric thanks to Hollywood, users and investments from the likes of Bono’s private-equity firm Elevation Partners at $210 million last year and Goldman Sachs at $450 million this year. The controversial Goldman Sachs Company, who has been accused of misleading some of its investors by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), has been encouraging others to invest within the company. The new ventures and investment for Facebook cannot protect it against its fall from grace. Just look at the lack of success obtained from Rupert Murdoch’s $580 million buyout of Myspace. So will Facebook crash and burn? It certainly looks so.