Web 2.0 = Social Media?

•February 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

So it turns out Web 2.0 is not just a term to describe the new trend in web graphics, but rather the tendency for new websites to become communities rather than simply displaying information. Our speaker, Wayne MacPhail, a marketing and communications specialist, taught us that the websites I’m used to making are being phased out, to be replaced with more community based applications, I guess its time I changed tactics.

Basically, we learned all about the new trends in technology and how they are based off of community input and collaboration rather than corporate production. Whether it is tagging on Flickr, sharing components, with the use of embed tags for example, or simply sharing your life with people through Twitter. People are able to respond and interact with these applications more easily as they feel part of a social community, hence the birth of social media.

He also discussed the use of RSS feeds. Personally, I have not used them but I can see their potential. They allow people to stay connected to your information through different forms of media, whether that is the actual website, and RSS reader or even a desktop application. It brings a great deal or portability to the content you introduce to the web.

Even the Wikipedia article I just linked is another example of social media. It is basically a user posted encyclopedia, if an article is lacking information, it can easily be added by anyone who has an internet connection, or edited for that matter. This also brings forth a concern about moderation, but with the whole world moderating the content, it is fairly reliable.

With the introduction of higher bandwidth connections, social media is able to reach new heights. Applications like Mogulus brings live video broadcasts to the hands of millions, and it’s all free. Social media really is a new way to describe the web, and as I can see, it already has a strong footing and will only grow from here.

Budget Cuts and Cyborgs

•February 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Our trip to the ROM gave us a bit of an insight into the world outside of Interactive Multimedia. Seems as much as you would like, you can’t always have the most innovative technology, but that’s OK by me. The best software out there is open source anyways. Though they may not have the funding, they still have the possibility of being pioneers. They are doing pretty interesting things with the technology they have available to them, such as their digital gallery. Always researching new technologies, open source or otherwise, and being able to take as much from that technology as possible is an interesting proposition. Especially considering the state of Flash AS3 these days and the amount of shared code out there, we almost have limitless possibilities with not so limitless funds.

Think of things such as papervision3D, these AS3 classes provide us with easy to use 3d graphics and modeling, and its free. Even physics engines are easy to come by in the flash coding world. It may be a good idea for the ROM to look into Flash as a possible option for further development, if they haven’t already.

Now our next visit brought us into almost the complete opposite situation. Instead of using technology for its intended purpose, Steve Mann takes current technology and provides himself with a whole different reality to experience. He has been called the world’s first cyborg, due mainly to the fact that he utilizes a wearable computer that allows him to see the world differently than the rest of us, often referred to as mediated reality.

Here is a video explaining a bit about Mann’s mediated reality.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=stuB17YXTeI

Aside from being the world first cyborg, Mann is also an inventor in a more entertaining field. He has created a musical instrument he refers to as the hydraulophone. Similar to a flute, the hydraulophone creates sound by blocking passages on the device, but unlike the flute, it is powered by water instead of air. He describes his creation as bringing the final state of matter (liquid) into the musical society. These hydraulophones have been set up as centerpieces for educational institutions or simply at water parks as a musical toy. For more information on the hydraulophone, visit his site here.

Too Early For Mobile Media?

•January 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Advancements in the Mobile world are fast approaching, opening up a whole new area for multimedia developers to explore, but is it too much too soon? Sure there are advantages to this new genre of interactive media, the ability to have access to content anyway, small and easily traveled hardware, but there are impacting and sometimes debilitating disadvantages. Compatibility across multiple pieces of hardware and the enormous cost of downloading content through the cellular network are some of the major issues.

Let’s start with the advantages, the ability to access content anywhere is a really interesting realization and it goes hand in hand with easily traveled hardware. Having the entire internet at your disposal anywhere, provides use with many world scale opportunities. The invention of QR codes to read in data and relay back to you the information encoded within them is not really new technology, think store barcodes, though this application has many opportunities.

CBC’s The Border is hosting a contest based around these QR codes. But an even more interesting application is Semapedia is making great use of this, by placing the little QR codes in locations around the world; you have access to historical and cultural information about your current location at the touch of a button. This idea would also be interesting to see based off of GPS coordinates but that may be a few years down the road.

Now onto the disadvantages, compatibility is a big issue for me and I would assume for a lot of developers out there. Not only does every phone display things differently, they also support different programming languages. Java seems to be a consistent cell phone language, though Flash Lite has very little market penetration. Another issue is the fact that not even the newest version of Flash Lite supports AS3. Seems like what we are learning now in Interactive Multimedia is a little too advanced for mobile devices.

The costing structure of Rogers internet downloads/browsing is simply ridiculous. At its current 5 cents/KB or 3 cents/KB depending on your current package, it would require well over $100 for a normal 4mb song. This is simply outrageous and you won’t catch me downloading anything on my mobile device anytime soon. The reason for this is the lack of competition within the mobile industry in Canada. Until we see a real competitor to the Rogers network, we won’t see the widespread use of internet based mobile applications.

Weighing the pros and cons of the mobile industry, I can’t really see a big market, other than MMS, for mobile applications, at least here in Canada. But in the future, when prices come down (and Flash Lite supports AS3) I can definitely see some practical applications for this technology. But until then, I’ll remain a desktop based developer.

Check out the page of James Eberhardt for an inside look at the mobile industry.

Interactive Media vs. The World

•November 29, 2007 • Leave a Comment

We received another vague look into the world beyond IMM today. Simon Conlin, co-founder of Flash in the Can, came to talk to us about Interactive Multimedia and the world outside our cold concrete walls. Seems there are practical applications for the things we are doing, just few and far between. But apparently, were on the bleeding edge of a new artistic period, so keep an eye out for that.

During Simon’s hour long presentation, we saw some interesting items. One of the most interesting, to me at least, was the use of animations to sound. The most prominent being the use of massive visualization displays at concerts, instead of the usual directed light shows. It reminds me of the project I’m working on in flash right now, except on a much grander scale.

Much like Simon discussed, our world is slowly accepting interactive multimedia as a practical art form. This interactive cocktail bar…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTwcageiJnM

and this Adobe wall application…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZpTGMvDRag

are just some of the examples of how even grandiose interactive media has its practical applications.

We also viewed some interactive applications from Zachary Booth Simpson. Although they seemed very similar to the ones viewed at GestureTek, some had a certain flair to them that make them quite compelling. You can check out some examples of his Interactive Art at his website or even on location. One of his projects, www.pixelgallery.org is based right here in Toronto.

I can see many practical applications for flash work on the computer screen but these are some of the first I’ve seen in a real world example. It is definitely intriguing to see this content, which is quite similar to the content we are currently producing, used in such a way. It almost gives me a warm feeling towards my future with regards to our time spent in IMM. I know the computer screen will always be a part of my future career, but I have been given hope that I can be part of something more.

Simon’s presentation taught me a few things about my education here in IMM and beyond, I need to maintain my presence on the edge of this new media wave, but most of all… think “bigger”.

GestureTek

•October 20, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Our visit to GestureTek gave me a little bit more hope for the future of immersive technologies. They seemed to present some of the ideas I came across while doing my research. They offer a wide range of games and applications with an interesting form of interactivity. Players are able to interact with these games and applications using cameras to map the user’s movements. Take a look.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls4cM-zz6qg

One form of interactivity they utilize is the GestPOINT. This system basically records finger locations via cameras and recognition technology. It has been incorporated into their multi-touch tables, AirPoint systems, and many others. The multi-touch table provides people with access to programs through the interactive surface on top. Much like Microsoft’s version, Microsoft Surface, all interaction is controlled on the top of the table, the same space where the application is being display. It’s really just a fancy version of a touch screen monitor on a grander scale. It is quite interesting though, to interact with a program in a less traditional form.

One of the really interesting applications we saw, yet didn’t get to experience, sadly enough, was a clothing store application giving a new name to the personal wardrobe. It provided the user with the ability to search a store database of clothes through an interactive window. The really interesting part was the ability to preview how the clothes look on you through a live video capture being displayed back onto the screen. Truly an interesting alternative to traditional clothes shopping.

That being said, GestureTek is really a corporate form of the Nintendo Wii. While programs created by GestureTek and the Wii generally serve different purposes, they both use the same form of interactivity. GestureTek provides the user with interactivity through motion capture while Nintendo Wii provides interactivity through motion sensors in the hand held controller. They do have some similar applications though. The Wii presents us with Wii Fit, a way to make exercise fun while also incorporating useful applications such as a BMI (Body Mass Index) calculator, all through a small pad placed on the floor. GestureTek provides a similar environment with IREX (Interactive Rehabilitation and Exercise System) although this application is more focused on physical rehabilitation and therapy.

Capturing motion, be it through cameras or handheld devices, creates a truly interactive application as opposed to the interpassive applications of the past.

Immersive Technology…

•October 4, 2007 • 1 Comment

Immersive environments may be an emerging technology, but it is still a little lackluster for my tastes. With all the exploration and research conducted, I was expecting more. Many things are promised, others are foresighted, but little was delivered. At its current level seen in the Visual Design Institute, the so called immersive environments are not much more than movies or video games with remote controls.

Our trip to the Visual Design Institute showed me a lot of interesting applications, but very few with immersive interactivity. They’ve created applications to teach potential police officers how to read skid marks, a program to map out the trip to terminal three of the GTAA, a virtual world of the Vikings in Newfoundland 1000 years ago, and even how the city of Ottawa would look with a light rail system. These applications were neat, but not innovative, specifically as they used the usual mouse and keyboard to control user input. The one program, F.A.C.E. or Facial Animation Communication Engine, gave us our first taste of different forms of interactivity by mapping out a face through a webcam and using it to control a character. This technology looks promising but currently does not provide much functionality.

That is not to say that there is nothing interesting being developed through visualization techniques. Take this total immersion video as an example.

It is showcasing a totally immersive environment controlled interactively by motion capture techniques. This level of development is where we should be, yet we still have some applications using what would seem as “old technology”.

Studio IMC is taking the whole immersive environments and motion capture technology in an interesting direction. Using facial recognition technology, they have the ability to conduct market research simply by recording the reactions of ad viewers. Their Immersive environment seems a lot like the one presented at Visual Design Institute, only on a much grander scale and with a motion capture method of interactivity (using hand motions to control objects).

Philips is another company showcasing an innovative way of using this technology to create immersive environments. Their technology, amBX introduces a whole new way of experiencing our favorite media. It claims “games and peripherals providing surround lighting, sound, vibration, air movement and other effects work in harmony together. The result is an incredibly immersive experience bringing game play into the room.” (http://www.ambx.com/site/about/what). This is an interesting avenue of development, and I would be curious to see how well it does in the near future.

Now I agree with some who say it is an emerging technology and we must wait for technological advancements to truly bring out the greatness of the work, but until then, I can see very few practical applications for this medium.

For more information on immersive technology, check out the wikipedia page.

Multimedia Pioneering

•September 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Well, i guess everything for multimedia pioneering will appear here. Enjoy 🙂