The birds and the city

April 24, 2012

Heiko, our German development guru found a passion for the birds in Sydney and he wasn’t alone. Here is the story of Wingtags told in his own words:

“Ever since my fiancée and I arrived in Sydney two years ago, there was something we particularly liked about this city. It’s probably because we both grew up in Germany, not a place exactly famous for abundance of wildlife, but we were always delighted to see these large, noisy, sulphur-crested cockatoos flying low across our heads, chasing tourists in parks and stirring up the CBD area with their distinctive raucous calls. Having had the chance to live close to the botanic garden for almost our entire stay, we started to study and eventually grow fond of these remarkable birds that turned out to be surprisingly intelligent.

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Earlier this year we started to collaborate with the University of Sydney & the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust to monitor their movements, breeding and habitat preferences with the aim to better live alongside urban wildlife. Even the SMH talked about it already here. Being both experienced mobile app developers, we couldn’t ignore the crowdsourcing potential and started to design a little iPhone app that comes with a simplified interface to report sightings of tagged birds. The App is called Wingtags and you can download it from the link here and below. Just spot the number on the wingtag, enter it into the app and feel free to attach a photo of your encounter if you get close enough for a nice shot.

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Download the app from the App Store

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We hope this project gets one or two Sydneysiders a little more curious about the feathery inhabitants of this extraordinary city. Once the database starts filling up, we’ll also be able to visualize the movements of birds right within the app. Spot a bird in Potts Point in the evening just to find out that it had breakfast in Manly – that may pretty much coincide with your own commute.

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Special thanks goes out to Robbie Tapping (Amnesiafish in Melbourne) for building the API for the database and to Amnesia Razorfish for sponsoring hosting and bandwidth. The birds do very much appreciate it.”

Let the bird catching and cataloguing begin.

@maniac13


The biggest projected capacitive display in the world

August 15, 2011

and I want one.

I finally had the time to read about this “little” screen at SIGGRAPH, the article has been open in my browser for about 6 days.

And it was well worth the wait.

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A projected capacitive display is nothing new, multiple smartphones, including the iPhone has one, but having an 82 inch one is something very special.

check out the video below and dream about having one of these puppies in your living room some day.

http://www.viddler.com/embed/33ac8f58/?f=1&offset=0&autoplay=0&disablebranding=0

Right now this kind of screen is still really expensive ($120 000) and even the  CEO said that consumers will see this in the market as soon as it is more affordable.

I am saving my pennies now.

@maniac13


The Future of Shopping: Some Retail Stores will probably look like this:

August 10, 2011

The success of Tesco’s new retail store in Korea is something to behold:

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Why? Because there is no physical store and no physical product. However the experience of the store has been fully recreated two dimensionally as a backlit poster with the products and ordering fulfilled using mobile and QR codes. It’s a neat idea and solves a number of issues:

1. The familiar supermarket experience. Tick!
2. Impulse shopping. Tick!
3. Cheap rent. Tick!
4. Open a new store in high traffic areas in one day. Tick!
5. No internal fit out costs. Tick!
6. No need to stock shelves Tick!
7. No Staff wages. Tick!
8. Open 24hrs. Tick!
The list goes on.

Personally I’d like to see NFC integration as well as QR codes. I think we can also expect to see these walls become screens rather than printed products in the very near future.

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Ultimate list of Cool Touch and Gesture Based Video Walls

February 17, 2011

So who has the best interactive walls? Here’s some of our picks below. As we move into a world which is transitioning to devices using the NUI (Natural User Interface) there’s a lot to keep an eye on. If you know any more please post them in the comments.

1.University of Groningen:
Pros: Looks awesome, very responsive. Multi-user capable.
Cons: You can’t go out and buy one off the shelf. Touch based only?


2. Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect AND Windows Phone 7, working together!
Pros: Kinect SDK on the way for PC (fingers crossed) so a very affordable way to develop. Multi user. Facial recognition. Supports second screen in this video.
Cons: None. Seriously! SDK pending, this will be the easiest entry point to start building your first video wall.


3. Toyota Vision Multi Touch Wall:
Pros: Massive 82 inch screens at high res. Very responsive.
Cons: Expensive setup.

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4. HD 18 Screen 20 ft Paint Wall with iPad integration.
Pros: Very cool. Huge. HD. Responsive. Works with a second screen (iPad)
Cons: Looks a bit like a one off application for now. Can’t go out and buy one.

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5.Yahoo’s Gesture based Video Wall. http://vimeo.com/19177169
Pros: Looks good, hi-resolution and seems responsive.
Cons: Tiled screens. Looks like only one user at a time?

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6. Microsoft LightSpace
Pros: It’s a true 3D interface for an entire toom. It projects working interfaces onto your arm/ hand.
Cons: Early days. Long way to go here (but still very cool).

7. Hard Rock Cafe Vegas:
Pros: Multi user. Smooth and responsive. Great content.
Cons: Looks expensive?

8. Ring Wall http://vimeo.com/6648869
Pros
: It’s a massive 425 square metres in size. Enough room for everyone to play.
Cons: With 15 HD projectors we’re betting the ongoing running costs might stack up? 
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9. The Schematic TouchWall with RFID
Pros: It recognises RFID cards allowing you access to personal info. Social integration.
Cons: Nothing obvious. This wall is pretty cool.
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10. The BendDesk.
Pros: It’s horizontal AND vertical.
Cons: Not quite wall sized! It’s a prototype so a little rough round the edges.

 

11. Canon’s big wall – Expo 2010
Pros: It’s looks big and multi user.
Cons: We can’t quite tell if this is a ‘smoke and mirrors’ job. This video is more about the camera than the wall itself.

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12. HP’s video wall of touch (link):
Pros: Nice tight looking tiled screens. Cons Already looking a bit dated compered to the others. Touch only. Touch looks a little laggy.
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13. The Giant iPhone – Table Connect
Pros: Pretty simple concept. Just plug in your iphone and mount it on a wall!
Cons: Do they make a wall sized one yet?

We’re pretty sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of these soon. Please send us any good ones we might have missed! 🙂


The Future of Translating

December 18, 2010

From now on if you are in a (spanish for now) restaurant and you don’t know what it says on the menu or you are in Spain and you can’t read those street signs, all you have to do is take your iPhone out and point Word Lens at it.

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It will translate on the fly and looking at the video below it is pretty amazing tech – check it out.

It tries to find out what the letters are and then looks in the dictionary. Then it draws the words back on the screen in translation.

From what I have read it doesn’t work as smooth as it does in the video and it only works on iPhone 3GS, 4 and the latest iPod, but it is still impressive. I’d love to try it, but it isn’t available on Android (hint hint).

It is available on the App store, so check it out. If you do let me know in the comments what you think

maniac13


Is you iPhone screen big enough?

November 4, 2010

If you just answered no then you should get yourself one of these:

simply connect your iPhone and start up the app (for now it is still an app, but they working on not even using that) and you can see your iPhone on a 58-inch multitouch display.

awesome – yes
fun – yes
practical – no

@manaic13


Unboxing the Parrot AR Drone

October 26, 2010

We love unboxing gadgets! …and the AR Drone from Parrot is GREAT fun. The Drone is controlled via an iPhone app which works by tilting your phone to steer whilst viewing a live video feed through a camera mounted in the Drone. It’s a truly usable Augmented Reality device.

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How to buy in Australia: We ordered it from Amazon.com. It took 3 days to be delivered to Sydney from the US and cost just under $350.00 AUD including delivery.

So here it is the unboxing through to a test flight…

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Amazon delivers it in a HUGE box…

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Slightly smaller, but still big box inside…

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The Drone is neatly packed surrounded by protective cardboard.

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No unwrapping necessary. It pops straight out. Nothing to assamble.

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Battery, battery pack and stickers for the external shell.

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It comes with the outdoor shell, and adaptors for Au, UK, US, EU.

Below: Unboxed looking at home in the studio…

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Below: @bradyohalloran takes an instagram photo of the AR Drone:

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Below: Flight Test: This a video taken from the Drone’s camera in the studio.

Below: We do like the idea of attaching a GoPro camera to the Drone to attain HD video – here’s a nice clip of someone flying the drone pretty high… (you can unlock the altitude sensor in the iphone app allowing you to go up as hi as the wifi lets you).

Below: The Promo Vid for the AR Drone.

Things you should know before you buy:

You get one battery that lasts for about 15 mins flying time.
Charger comes with four adaptors incl AUS, UK, US, EU.
You need an iphone or ipod touch to control it.
You don’t need a wifi network (the Drone creates one).
It takes about 5-10 mins to get to grips with the controls.
You need a seperate app to record video.
Onboard Video is 15fps
There is a secondary camera on the bottom of the Drone.
You need 2 of them to have a virtual dogfight.
It’s much bigger than it looks.
It’s a lot of fun.


Share pretty pictures with Instagram

October 14, 2010

Last week saw the launch of the free micro-photo-blogging (coined) iPhone/iPod app Instagram, which allows to to quickly share pictures from your iDevice to share with friends through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and the application itself. In that time, it has reportedly been downloaded over 100K times.

Instagram works like a streamlined Tumblr, managing the photo snapping, titling and even location tagging through the Foursquare API. In addition to making the whole photo-sharing thing quick and easy, Instagram lets you apply one of a whole bunch of image filters that make your shots look all arty/old and suprisingly not naff.

The shot above is one I took fairly recently.

Check it out!


The mobile phone of the future

September 24, 2010

and no, it’s not an iPhone.

This is a concept mobile phone of the future that was put together by Billy May. He gathered community feedback and followed up on some rather mundane visions for the mobile future to bring us the Mozilla Seabird.

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The big innovation is the use of dual pico projectors on the side of the handset, which can provide different functionality based on the phone’s orientation: flat on a table they pump out the two halves of a QWERTY keyboard, up on a dock they offer the dual purpose of a large viewing screen above and a seamless projected keyboard below. Other features, like the pop-out wireless pointer / Bluetooth headset are slightly less realistic but no less charming.

unfortunately Mozilla is not planning on building this phone (or any other phone for that matter)

But check out the video – what I like is that it runs Android, but when you dock it it runs Windows 7 – nice!

simply put – I want one!

@maniac13


It’s almost here: The iPhone controlled quadcopter drone

June 2, 2010

Update: I’ve been waiting  to buy one of these since I blogged it back in January. Well – the wait is almost over. June 15th sees the launch and pricing details of the AR Drone. Sick … as a Parrot. Details here

I’m planning to get one shipped over. Let me know in the comments below if you want to come and have a play with it 🙂

Here’s my original post.

Santa didn’t bring me one, but I wish he had. An iPhone controlled quadcopter drone with onboard cameras … yes really. It says it’s controlled using ‘wifi technology’ so I’m hoping you can’t just fly within a wifi zone. Big brother footage of Sydney coming soon. More here

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@handypearce


Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash. Boom.

April 30, 2010

Today, in an open letter published on Apple’s website, Steve Jobs shared his thought on Adobe Flash and its place (or lack thereof) on Apple devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Steve’s “Thoughts on Flash” can be found here. I break down his points after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tiny gadget studios

April 29, 2010

We all love gadgetry, maybe not as much as Stephan but quite a bit. I for one like making music slightly more so than acquiring gadgetry so I buy guitars at a similar rate to most gadget acquirers around here. Recently though, I’ve found that one of my gadgets in particular goes rather well with music making. That would be my iPhone.

Here’s something to listen to while you read on. It was recorded entirely on an iPhone: The Rules

Said iPhone has two pages of music apps. Some are complete gimicks (Smule’s Sonic Lighter for example which does not work under live music conditions since the noise blows the flame out – slight fail), some are only really useful on their own and don’t really work well for performance except under live conditions or using the iPhone as an instrument of sorts in an actual studio (such as FingerSound or the Thereminator) and some are amazing apps capable of being used to create a complete track (such as Beatmaker or the combo of Dopplerpad and FourTrack). In a slightly different vein are apps such as iTM MIDILab which you can easily sync with Logic to use your iPhone as a MIDI controller).

The Rules is probably over now so here’s the next one: Surely

Having grabbed these apps and had a play with them I decided that I was going to make a switch from rock/pop and industrial screecho punk metal to acoustic folk/pop and see what I could produce with the FourTrack (and later FourTrack/Dopplerpad combo). Step one, I needed an acoustic guitar since the one I already had was in rather ordinary shape – she’s over 50 now I think bless her, so I went with a Maton EML6 Mini. I’ve had a strange fascination with 3/4 size guitars recently starting with the purchase of a Gretsch Mini Diddley (which I actually bought because it looks like a cricket bat – in fact, I think there’s a photo in the Amnesiacs Flikr account showing Iain and I conclusively demonstrating that this guitar does work well as a cricket bat), took a strange turn with the purchase of two Disney guitars – one High School Musical and the other Camp Rock – they were $30 each: the defence rests, and now the mini acoustic/electric.

Another interlude I think is warranted. Note the children’s driving toy solo: 50 Miles of Blood

So, with my iPhone four track I began writing and recording. First thing I encountered was the difficulty of the FourTrack app not capable of providing monitoring the new track while recording. One can on and one can off, sorted with bonus quirkiness slash poor performance. There is a metronome but it’s nice to hear the current performance through the headphones while recording, shortcomings I suppose are to be expected with a studio the size of an iPhone. During this period, several updates were released providing audio sharing capabilities between a couple of other apps and the FourTack. One was Dopplerpad which basically is capable of creating beat and synth patterns that you can throw into FourTrack and then put down guitar and vocal tracks. Dopplerpad isn’t capable of storing any more than about one song so I won’t be doing much with that again until they get the concept of banking included.

Here’s the last song I’ll include in this post. I must also point out that the analog synths and piano in this song were added using logic after exporting from the iPhone. Once Dopplerpad supports patch banking I would most likely use that to keep the song 100% iPhone but these additions in logic were pretty minor. All of these tracks are to be re-recorded with my ‘real’ equipment BTW: Tiny Pieces

So where to now with the gadgets and the music? The iPad it seems. Korg have released a version of the Electribe for the iPad. Not surprisingly, it’s called the iElectribe. I wish it wasn’t but it is. Anyway, it looks awesome:

I think this is where I’m going next. The Korg stuff looks nice (and is on sale until the end of June therefore my prediction is that the iPad will hit Australia around July) and makes me think there could be some really good MIDI controllers built for this device and instruments would be far easier to use on the much bigger screen.

So, I’m excited. And if you were too you can hear more iPhone music of mine here: It’s Not Music and just general stuff I do here: Fat Kid Popular. Some of the iPhone stuff is really ordinary, consider yourself warned, and I chose to keep the incorrect spelling of Meme. Also, you need to visit this post once before every meal so that I win the iPad competition here at Amnesia and can update this post with the tracks I make with it.

So that I don’t instead win an award for the worst word to media ratio in a post, here is a picture of me and my new bass:


Street Fighter IV iPhone Covers are Win

April 27, 2010

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a tech, or design nerd of some kind, and if you’re a nerd there’s a pretty high chance you’ve wasted (read: appropriately utilised) a good portion of your time playing Street Fighter in its various incarnations. Regardless of whether or not that’s a broad generalisation, these Street Fight iPhone covers are totally rad.

Street Fighter iPhone Covers

Click to see that exact same picture, but larger.

Oh, and enjoy this video.

Personally, if I wielded an iPhone in my daily life, I’d have a hard time not purchasing anything that made it look like Ryu. Got a favourite?

~@tali3sin

[Source: Capsule Computers Australia]


iPhone OS 4.0: The 7 “Tentpole Features”

April 9, 2010

A few hours ago, Mr Jobs delivered a presentation introducing the next version of the iPhone operating system. Expected to be released  around the middle of the year for all existing iPhone models, its reported to bring 1500 new APIs to developers as well as more than 100 new user features, seven of which he discussed in detail.

These are the “tentpole” features highlighted briefly.

1) Multitasking

At last! Run multiple applications and swap between them on the fly. Previously only possible on jailbroken phones. This feature will only be available to the 3GS, iPod Touch 3rd Generation and later models.

2) An improved email application

The mail application is getting a major overhaul with a unified inbox, multiple exchange accounts, threaded conversations and the ability to open file attachments in applications.

3) iAds

Apple will be providing application developers access to in-app advertising to help generate revenue on cheap and even free applications. Ads are built using HTML5 and come up at the bottom of the screen like in-video YouTube ads. They can be closed by the user.

4) Game Center

Basically, it’s Xbox LIVE for iPhone games. Their are already a number of systems such as Plus+ and OpenFeint, but a single Apple-run system would likely attract a lot more users.

5) Folders

Another “about time”! With the capacity on idevices increasing yearly, users are installing more and more applications at a time. Now we will have a way to organise them into folders. Folders appear as icons with smaller icons inside.

6) iBooks

Basically, the iPhone/iPod version of the iPad ebook platform. Books can be purchased and read on the device as well as track bookmarks.

7) Enterprise features

Apple is working to make the iPhone more attractive to big companies with a number of new enterprise features such as email encryption, remote administration and application installs, Exchange 2010 compatibility and more.

Tested.com has a detailed breakdown here. Great site, too!

These all look great, but I can’t wait to see the other 93+. I’m sure some of them will give hints about the next iPhone hardware’s features. Going on previous years, we can probably expect a new phone in June and a new iPod in September.

@bradyohalloran

(via Tested.com)


Apple revealing iPhone OS 4 on April 8

April 6, 2010

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little bit sick of seeing iPad news everywhere. *Looks down at previous post*. Personally, I’m more interested in seeing what Apple has in store for the iPhone. It’s pretty obvious they’re going to be releasing another one this year and many of us that got a 3G are going to be ending our contracts soon.

Good news is, we don’t have to wait long! Apple will be revealing where OS 4 is going at an event on April 8. Strange to do such a major event so close to the iPad launch, but I’m not complaining.

There have been a lot of rumors floating around about what the next phone might have – higher resolution screens, multi-core processors, front-facing cameras for video calls. Seeing what OS4 brings will give us the best hints yet of what we might get later this year.

With all the competition catching up – and perhaps surpassing – the iPhone, they’re going to have to bring something pretty good to stay on top.

@bradyohalloran

(via Engadget)


Google Map iPhone app. Australia live traffic updates

March 17, 2010

For those who haven’t seen it here’s a quick look at ‘live traffic’ function for Sydney on the iPhone Google maps app. Screenshot below.

So how good is it? Well, it’s ok but a long way from perfect. Driving around on a busy Saturday afternoon there were a lot of yellow roads which should have been red, green ones that should have been yellow etc. I don’t blame the app or Google for the quality of the data – I’m sure pretty the info is from the RTA 

Marks out of 10 = 6

Red=congested, Yellow=slow but moving, Green=all clear.

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Tip: Google maps app with GPS and traffic updates drains your battery… make sure you have a power source in the car.


Stickybits

March 10, 2010

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This looks exciting.

It’s a network that allows you to attach photos, music text, PDFs, zips, etc to any barcode. Use existing barcodes or generate your own through the site. Think we may be seeing a whole lot more of stickybits.

@handypearce


Official promotions roll out across FourSquare

February 23, 2010

As I am sure anyone with an iPhone is currently aware, the latest darling of the social app scene is a little location based game called FourSquare. FourSquare allows a user to “check in” to locations and through doing so you can become the ‘Mayor’ (most frequent check-in’s in a designated period) and earn ‘badges’ for completing certain combination of check-in’s.

There has been a lot of conversation around the potential use of FourSquare by local businesses but until today the only Sydney based use I had seen was a cafe that gave a free coffee to the “Mayor.” However earlier this morning I was visiting Sydney creative agency Lowe Sydney and when I went to check in I was presented with an interesting little tab in the top right corner (fig. 1)

Step 1
Fig. 1

When you select this tab you are then taken to a promotion screen for a local business (in this instance the Baroque Bistro Patisserie) and you are presented with the opportunity to earn a gift if you check in 3 times. (Fig. 2)

Step 2
Fig. 2

This is a brilliant use of location based data to target users and bring a point of difference to a business. While FourSquare doesn’t have a large enough user base to work as a reach medium, it is perfect for small businesses working to increase their repeat business. Were I in area and assuming that Baroque do reasonable food and drinks this incentive offer could very well be the differentiator in where I go to get my morning coffee, after all if their coffee is just as good as the next place why wouldn’t I go there and get a free French Macaron.

From a glance it appears that the process of implementing one of these specials is a reasonably straight forward matter of filling out an online form.

The one feature I would really love to see added to the promotion page would be a ‘tell your friends’ feature, so that even if you’re not checking in there, you could push a ‘shout’ to your friends via FourSquare/Twitter/Facebook and share the promotion with others who might find it interesting.

I personally will be paying very close attention to see what kind of traction this gains with Australian businesses.

@JoelyRighteous


iPad vs Kindle vs Rock

January 28, 2010

So how does an iPad really stack up against its competitors? We did a quick analysis and compared it with the Kindle and a ten thousand year old rock. The results are in:

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Sidenote: Just for fun ok! Also full respect and homage to the original iPhone Vs Rock parody from a few years ago (author unknown) here:


Pepsi powered mobile phone

January 22, 2010

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My iphone ran out of battery last night … pesky thing. I’m too impatient to wait and see if Steve has a solution to this problem so I started searching. Anyway, I stumbled across this piece of innovation: a phone that runs on pepsi … well any fizzy pop.

This little beauty is made possible thanks to a bio battery:

Bio battery has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium batteries and it could be fully biodegradable. Meanwhile, it brings a whole new perception to batteries and afternoon tea.

Genius. More here

@handypearce