A few weeks ago my housemates and I built a sculpture for Secret Garden Party festival. The brief (set by INT Works) was to make something that you would interact and have photos with. We sat in our sweaty pants for three days inflating 2,500 rubber gloves and then attached them to a scaffolding/wood/mesh frame. The gloves were arranged to read 'FEEL' but people didn't need any encouragement to run up and motorboat it.
Google partnered with Penguin to create Storytime Hangouts, enabling absent parents to place themselves within bedtime stories and read them to their children on screen, from wherever they may be. It’s a free app, available via Google+, meaning any number of contacts can be invited in and given characters. Get it here: http://ow.ly/lND9B
SIX SECOND ANDROID
Vine just launched on Android, bringing six-second fun to a whole new audience. The Twitter-owned app already has 13m iPhone users, and downloads on Android are sure to be strong – although the features differ slightly, and do not allow sharing direct to Facebook. http://ow.ly/lNEAD
But Vine creativity continues to make waves, as demonstrated at The Joy of Six: http://ow.ly/lNEFa
Facebook has followed Twitter’s lead and introduced verified pages for big entities. Currently they’re proactively choosing the biggest and most active Pages to receive the blue tick and are not taking requests. http://ow.ly/lNFNL
This month, Wired asks why Facebook has been put (back) in the Wall Street doghouse. A lot of expectation lies in the launch of video advertising, anticipated this July – will it take off and give stock a much needed lift? http://ow.ly/lNGeI
ADS IN THE AIR
In fact, Wired attributes a degree of the network’s market failing to Facebook’s ‘conventional’ ads – just as we see an Ads overhaul and streamlining. Changes are informed by marketer behavior, and cull features like Offers and Questions, bringing the current total of 27 ad variants down about 50%. Roll-out is unspecified, and will most likely be staggered, with big spenders getting the new products first. http://ow.ly/lNHkW
Burberry adds to an already extensive list of digital credentials with a new partnership with BAFTA. The fashion heavyweight will celebrate and support stars of film, television, and more interestingly gaming, through the newly formed Breakthrough Brits initiative. http://ow.ly/lNI8B
WHO NEEDS WORDS?
Why write a press release when you could make a GIF? Nike had the exact same thought. They just launched the P-Rod 7 in flashing graphic form, supposedly to reflect the ‘perpetual motion’ of skating, but mainly to look cool. Enjoy the ride here: http://ow.ly/lNK6c
Grumpy Cat is going to Hollywood. Last year’s Meme of the Year will be starring in a ‘Garfield-like feature film’ thanks to Broken Road Productions. We suspect she doesn’t really care. http://ow.ly/lNJ2R
As Sir Alex announced the end to his glittering managerial career, we set out to create our very own Lean Mean Fighting Machine tribute, by claiming to have got our hands on Fergie's last piece of chewing gum.
We built a custom display case, then hours after his final game listed 'The Last Gum' on eBay and watched the bids come rolling in.
100 bids later the highest bid stood at a monumental £150,800, until eBay stepped in and suspended our account.
Meanwhile the story had spread like wildfire. Firstly from football blogs, then major news reports from Metro, FOXSports, ESPN and Yahoo. Before we knew it global coverage was reporting that the gum had sold for just shy of £400,000. It didn't.
Football fans continued to share the story across social channels and the following day it had made page 3 of the Daily Star. Result.
As Fergie once said: "Football. Bloody Hell."
The 10th International Conference and Trade Show took place in Berlin the other week. This is what the trade show looks like.
As you can see - the buffets occupy a big part of the fair. There are two more just like the one in the picture on the other side of the room. And while you’re enjoying your Italian asparagus you are very likely to find yourself in a conversation about the differences between slot dies and spin coats, or the advantages of nano bio technologies. This blog post is not about this.
Paper electronics applications
Rainbow Waters is one of the companies worth keeping an eye on. They integrate technology with clothing design to create stuff like this:
A sound responsive dress they designed for Made in Future festival in Milan. The louder the music, the more animated the visuals.
Magnum Cute Circuit. A dress connected to Twitter. Tweet pink or black and the dress changes colour.
This is a dress displayed at the fair. It recognises when someone gets closer and changes the visuals.
Chris Jones from Novalia was there as well. We visited his studio in Cambridge some months ago was interesting to see what kept him busy lately. Unlike most companies at the fair, Novalia succeeds in bringing some design into paper technologies and create final applications themselves.
This is a poster connected via Bluetooth to an IPhone. Touch the poster and you’ll hear the drum beats on your phone.
The Energy Pet – is a poster that reflects the energy usage in a building. The electro chromic ink allows the poster to change colour when people use less energy – showing some fruits and leaves growing.
They’ve just finished a dev kit consisting of a printed capacitive touch, Bluetooth and an IPhone app. You can assemble it yourself and add your own graphics on top. Those black buttons can do whatever you want – from sending a tweet, to playing a tune on Spotify to activating your camera.
Which kind of reminds me of Makey Makey – a plug and play device created by two guys from MIT Media Lab – that turns any object into a playable’ key’.
You’ll find loads of examples online of people playing shark games online with fish ball controllers or using Star Wars figurines as music controllers.
This is a bus shelter prototype from Fraunhofer Visual Computing
The pavement detects the bus arriving and this triggers a change in the bus shelter visuals. Everything is powered by solar panels.
University of Heidelberg
is working on a disposable silicon patch that would replace the classic pulse oximentry devices. Imagine a transparent patch that you place on your skin and the colour change indicates the health of your body. They’re developing different types of patches that would work for different organs.
gastro4you is a device for restaurants that helps you order or pay a bill faster. You touch one of the icons and the waiter knows straight aways what you want. And since it doesn’t require any batteries – it would be really interesting to know what a furniture designer would make of it.
Paper electronics is a great niche for designers. The technology is already very advanced – the paper gets thinner and thinner while holding more complex technology inside. The materials bend and stretch more. Also the printers get bigger so now you can potentially print huge wallpapers or outdoor – where every inch of it can react to light, wind, temperature, touch, movement, etc.
But the applications are still far from making the best of what is out there. I’m curious to see what paper electronics will bring to the next 50 years of design – whether it’s fashion, architecture or medicine. Imagine buildings that constantly respond to the way we live, clothes that reflect the way we feel, or even our skin informing us on the health of our organs.
If you need anyone to guide you through the paper electronics world – there’s a new magazine that can make it easier for you.
I was hanging around, with my camera, in the hot city of Arequipa, sweating like a pig and exhausted by the high altitude, when a white marble building appeared as an oasis in the middle of the desert.
A resolute eye contact with the officer at the main entrance let me end up in a pretty chilled room, when, after few deep breaths, I realised that I was in an exhibition space hosting some digital cultural projects.
I was at the Centro Cultural Peruano Norteamericano, #PixelHack 2013.
I immediately smelt the enthusiasm and the positive attitude behind the 12 showcased works.
And that’s how my journey into the Peruvian digital world started.
In the past few years, artists, hackers and other professionals have got their heads down, with a problem-solving attitude, on the local cultural issues, developing a system of efficiency and independent initiatives.
While traveling through the Peruvian cities of Lima and Arequipa, my Italian and basic knowledge of some Spanish let me get around pretty well but, when I entered most remote areas, I encountered some difficulties communicating with locals who were speaking a language completely obscure to my ears.
With some Google's research and a bit of “bar talking” I discovered that in Peru over 40 languages are spoken: while Spanish has become official with the colonization, Quechua and Aymara are still largely used in the central Andes area and many others are talked in the northern Amazonian region.
Can you imagine how this could affect the education system?
In a country characterised by its geographic morphology with the Andes, lacking in transportation, with kids walking over 5 km a day or hitchhiking to get to school, or even busy on helping their parents to work the land, the huge variety of languages becomes an additional barrier for a cultural development process.
Having seen these scenarios with my own eyes, I developed a spontaneous curiosity towards the projects linking linguistic issues and open source software.
That's how I get to know Angela Delgado Valdivia, Directora de Cultura at the Peruvian North American Cultural Centre, and Kiko Mayorga, founder of EscueLab.
Finding simple solutions for complex problems is one of the main objectives for EscueLab, a not for profit organisation based in Lima that uses technology for the development of intellectual and creative freedom and has been built on the motto “No hay cultura sin cambio y no hay cambio sin experimento” / "There is no culture without change and no change without experiment".
"Amtawi" in Aymara means "Agreement" or "Memory". "Amtawi Digital" was a documentary photography workshop / experimental study in Lacachi, Puno in April 2011.
A Lacachi primary school serves a group of 44 children who have had computers since 2008 through the OLPC One Laptop Per Child program.
OLPC have an integrated camera and this has been used as a tool for digital participation on native culture.
OLPC laptops run open source software that can be programmed according to the language spoken in the area. There are blue case laptops and green case laptops hosting different programs according to the child’s school level.
Quechua is a language spoken in the most traditional and rural areas.
Young people who move from the countryside to the city discredit their indigenous language, considering it antique and useless in today’s modern life.
With this kind of introduction it’s hard to believe that this language could be linked with the future, but a team of experts worked night and day to change this perception, creating Runasimipi/Quechua software to translate over 1541 sentences.
The icon is a rip off of the famous Linux icon - now the Penguin wears a Peruvian hat and holds the famous bag containing coca leaf (which men share with each other as a sign of respect, when meeting in the countryside or in some remote islands).
There’s also a version of Word called Abiword, similar to the famous one, with the difference being that it can be copied and modified without being charged.
More infos here: http://runasimipi.org
Educational software for primary school used to teach art, math and geometry and recently translated in Quechua. It lets kids in rural areas have the same level of knowledge as the kids living in the city.
Ablamos Quechua (Let’s Speak Quechua) It’s a project described by its creators as a “techno-socio-cultural experiment to re-establish connections”
A twitter account called @hablemosquechua, generates Quechua sentences, starting spontaneous conversations online and teaching this language to the community of followers.
It's interesting to see how digital and its versatility used with a problem solving attitude can link past and future, the rural area with the metropolis and even overcome the stigma kids hold of their indigenous origin.
Ah! and alongside all of this, even gave some freshness and shadow to a tourist who enjoys getting lost in a new city.