Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

toozlaI’ve had only the briefest of acquaintances with Toozla, a Russian-based augmented reality outfit that is using location-triggered audio to pep up experiences for tourists, but I like the idea enough to flag it up here.

Unlike most AR apps that overlay text on a camera view, Toozla uses voiced information that is tethered to proximity to places of interest.

There are Wikipedia text entries in the mix too, along with weather from Wunderground and UGC voice notes that can be anchored to a place so others can hear about individual impressions and experiences.

Audio has many advantages over text in this kind of context, both in the amount of information it can convey and because it lets people concentrate on their surroundings rather than looking at a screen, though there’s also an overhead in file download size and the ability to skim content for relevance.

For commercial companies seeking to profit from the tourist trade there are opportunities to incorporate sales and promotion activity linked to location.

There are also sponsorships like that of the Wellcome Foundation’s for a Medical London tour, written and presented by historian Richard Barnett, last year for City Stories Walks

As Broadcastr, another player in this area, states:  “It’s like a museum tour of the entire world.”

The Beta-service, which has just followed up its iPhone release with an Android app, lets users record their own content, create playlists, follow their friends, and share on Facebook.

As ever, extracting value from the mix is the hard part; hearing voices is one thing, but a cacophony isn’t helpful. The winner here will be the service that makes best use of listener time while adding real value to the experience of place.

The BBC has a seam of authoritative, expertly produced, historical audio recordings but rights issues, commercial impact considerations and the enormity of digitizing, filtering, voicing and repackaging the material is likely to stymie progress any time soon and that’s a huge shame.

In a country like the UK, with such an extraordinary history, bringing the past to life is enriching for visitors and likely to be good business too.

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taptuOld media companies still haven’t grasped that they’re going to have to forge new alliances and collaborate with once bitter rivals if they’re to survive and thrive.

Newspapers and broadcasters have always operated as walled gardens and the model has served them so well that some have come to think they have a right to exist, or that brand loyalty will see them through, or that an iPhone or iPad app will pull the fat from the fire.

   Technology is taking us into the media equivalent of fantasy football where readers can pick and choose their favourite columnists and commentators, mix and match the organizations that serve them, and all while letting their social networks do the heavy lifting by filtering the tide of new information.

In this world aggregators like Taptu, Flipboard Pulse and Zite take different approaches but they all have one thing in common, they break the boundaries that organizations put up between their content and their competitors.

Taptu talks about DJ-ing the news and mixing streams to curate them exactly as you want, by organization, or topic, or special interest.

For those who don’t want to invest the time or effort in doing this then the social graph that connects them with what friends and peers are reading, or watching, or finding interesting, is less taxing.

Is it too fanciful to think that ‘old media’ moguls might join forces to aggregate their own content on a shared platform rather than relying on third parties to do the job?  Perhaps it is, but as things stand they’re losing out.

Frederic Filoux makes the point that they’re not getting audience data from those third parties and it’s the rich learning mined from understanding new patterns of consumption that will be the foundation of future advertising models.

Getting media rivals to collaborate would be problematic, for sure.  Getting agreement on a format and ways to share and monetize material would be a Herculean task, no question. But not to even try would be foolhardy.

Flipboard has just picked up another $50m in venture capital funding; it’s lean (32 employees) it’s nimble, it’s single-minded and it’s tech savvy.

Against that, media businesses may harbor deep rivalries, but they also have rich content at local, national and international level and the potential to package their material in new ways that would better serve the audience and themselves if they could find a way to collaborate.

It’s worth remembering that before SMS became a multi-billion pound earner for mobile operators the business was Balkanised to the extent that messages couldn’t be sent to people outside individual networks.

It only took off when the restriction was removed and a business model was instituted that allowed rival operators to charge each other a small fee for passing messages to other networks.

GoPano My gadget of the week is the GoPano Micro 360-degree video lens for the iPhone 4.

Inventor Michael Rondinelli went to Kickstarter looking for $20,000 funding to get it into production and 1,600 backers have already pledged more than $90,000 with 30 days of the campaign still to go.

It’s just the job for kettled snappers needing eyes in the back of their head, and it would be a discrete way to capture events at Westminster Abbey for that wedding on the 29th – if you could lay hands on a pre-production model.

First 4 digits of a credit card

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a bad few days for the mobile money business with the rumour mill in full spate that iPhone 5 won’t be packing an NFC “wave and pay” chip when it launches In June. Well, in truth, we don’t even know if iPhone 5 will roll out then, despite all the supposed leaks from sources, industry insiders and those close to the discussions.

More substantial – and damaging – was the open letter from the boss of Verifone attacking mobile payments rival Square over what he said were serious security flaws with the mobile card reading system.

Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey hit back at the allegations saying they were neither fair nor accurate and ignored protections that come with credit cards.

Whatever the merits of their respective cases the spat sows doubt about the security of mobile payments and makes the job of rolling out the mobile wallet that much harder.

oscarappThe sycophantic slush of another Oscars ceremony is already a fading memory but there are some learnings from ABC’s two-screen, Backstage Pass coverage that are worth further reflection.

The 99 cent app for iPhone and iPad users gave users access to live streams from more than 25 cameras dotted around LA’s Kodak Theatre – TV gallery-type command in the palm of your hand – plus access to additional content.

ABC’s acknowledgement of the multi-tasking tendencies of TV audiences allowed people to flit away from mainstream coverage to the likes of the unruly paparazzi cam, another one focused on famous faces and one on fashion.

Alessandra Stanley writing in the New York Times said the extra feeds gave viewers “an all-too-vivid look at how the air leaves the theater and the night starts to drag.” Miaow!

She was talking about how the streams showed winners celebrating backstage while TV was left with losers “smiling tightly through their rancour and disappointment”.

Sounds to me like TV had the best of that carve-up, but it depends whether schadenfreude or success is your preferred measure of enjoyment in such things.

Stanley also queried whether advertisers would be happy about a network inviting viewers to spend commercial breaks watching backstage camera shots of stars.

Probably not, but the world of advertising, like journalism, is having to react to profound change and the Superbowl has shown that compelling ads can hold and engage audiences if they’re good enough.

Update: The Chrysler Born of Fire ad featuring Eminem that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago has been seen 8.8m times on YouTube.

The benefit of a fully integrated two-screen production is that it keeps viewers tuned in rather than turning off or going elsewhere when the televised action flags.

Having more options shows the audience you’re working harder to give them a better experience, and it doesn’t have to be confined to big set-piece event like the Oscars.

Imagine, for instance, being able to rate in real-time the performance of panellists on Question Time via a second screen, to see the results on the TV, distinguishable by location, and then to share them with friends.

Imagine watching Click and at each mention of a device or a technology getting a back-catalogue of reviews, features and stories on your second screen.

And imagine news packages being amplified with information – the assumed knowledge the audience is expected to bring – because there simply isn’t time to recap everything in a two-minute piece: What’s a Green Paper? How is inflation measured? What is the Monetary Policy Committee and how does it work?

Now it’s true that all the information is already available on the web if you’re prepared to search. But this is about tethering, about extending the leanback ease of television to make extra material available without effort.

In this same vein, there’s a much bigger body of work being undertaken by colleagues over at BBC R&D which is set out here by Stephen Jolly.

Do read it; it holds clues to the future of television.

The eccentric one-man-band that is Joseph Tame is taking outside broadcasting to a new level with his bizarre rig for the upcoming Tokyo Marathon.

As he runs the 26-mile course he’ll be live broadcasting on two cameras – one facing forward, one facing him – while at the same time transmitting live location, pace and heart-rate data via Runkeeper, as well as sampling pollution, humidity and noise levels.

His kit features an iPad strapped to his chest on which Twitter messages will be displayed, four iPhones and an Android device, plus three mobile wifi routers. A volunteer team of 15 will broadcast live from points along the route and all the material will be fed back to a studio for mixing and rebroadcasting via Ustream.

Joseph has a good track record in technological firsts having previously live-streamed himself climbing Mt Fuji.

You can listen to a primer on his marathon plans at 0300 Tues on Radio 5live or catch-up via the less chronologically challenging Outriders Podcast where he’s in conversation with my colleague Jamillah Knowles.

thedaily

I didn’t get it when details were first being leaked and now the wraps are off Murdoch’s The Daily I still don’t.

If it wasn’t for the Digger’s very deep pockets and obvious enthusiasm for the iPad the plug would have been pulled long ago.

As former BBC tech editor Darren Waters put it in a Tweet: A newspaper on a connected device that updates once a day? What use is that to anyone?*

Ex-Guardianista Emily Bell weighed in with: Playing with The Daily. It doesn’t look like the future of newspapers, it doesn’t even look like the future of apps.

Now that’s a bit harsh. As an editorial product it’s a curate’s egg – but the good bits are good – though it dates horribly quickly.

It has strong imagery, including some dynamic 360-degree stuff, a nice gallery on the big US snowstorm, and an interesting light-and-shade mix of stories: The Battle for Cairo, a disco for dogs in New York, and a stated mission to campaign for improved schooling in the US.

Navigation is quirky with some elements requiring you to turn the iPad through 90 degrees to get the full benefit of the content and, as a colleague put it, there are times when you’re left stubbing the screen like a caveman because you’re not sure what’s linked and what’s not.

But leaving aside the editorial components, it’s the strategy behind The Daily that seems flawed to me.

It’s iPad only and, even though millions of iPads have been sold worldwide, it’s a niche device and will remain so amid an explosion of tablets in all shapes and sizes and at much lower price points.

Paid Content founder Rafat Ali Tweeted that, for him, if The Daily was to be read daily “it needs to be on the iPhone. As a commuter read, at least in NYC, NYT iPhone app is my subway paper.”

Here in London I never see people using iPads on the Tube. It’s portable but it’s not mobile and constant orientation changes to move through content isn’t an optimal interface when you’re strap-hanging.

I think The Daily is a Murdoch hobby project, a flag-waving device, and an attempt to prove that charging for content is a viable – but on a niche tablet that’s only getting updated once a day I wonder where he’s going with this?

For the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond it’s down the pan – but I suppose he would say that, wouldn’t he.

*Update: Launch editor Jesse Angelo said it would be possible to insert breaking news updates on The Daily, which begs the question, why wasn’t it done for the launch?

I recently picked up a copy of James Burke’s book Connections, spawned from the 10-part BBC TV series in the late 70s in which he threaded together a series of disparate events, dbook coveriscoveries and achievements to highlight the inter-connectedness of the world.

The kind of thing Burke would feature would be the improbable links between, say, a failing farm equipment business, a cyclist with a puncture, and the most coveted culinary prize for chefs.

The story would unfold through a series of rhetorical questions: If the inherited farm business of brothers Andre and Edouard had been a success would they have thought twice about the fate of the cyclist?

Would that, in turn, mean they would never have patented the detachable tyre, or gone on to found the Michelin Tyre Company?

And would the now famous guide that bears their name have ever launched given that its aim was to promote motoring tourism to help them sell more tyres?

Now a world without codified cuisine excellence and Michelin-starred chefs isn’t on a par with missing out on the discovery of X-rays but it’s the linkage that is important – of knowledge and ideas affecting each other in ways that aren’t obvious.

This is happening around us all the time and the process is being accelerated by the internet.

Occasionally it’s possible to see glimpses of where things are headed and I think that’s what’s happening with real-time data, especially in the area of individual health monitoring.

It was early last year when I first saw Eric Topol’s talk: The wireless future of medicine in which he envisaged people checking their vital signs – heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen, tem perature – on their mobile device as readily as they check their emails and relaying that information to carers, doctors and family.

Then I picked up on a US hospital that was using RFID data in pill bottles to track patients’ medication compliance.

Since then there have been many more examples including health and fitness apps like R unkeeper to log and share workout data and, in the last couple of weeks, an iPhone blood pressure monitoring kit

This stuff isn’t years in the future it’s now, albeit a long way from mass market, and the changes it will set in train are enormous. Managing a condition before it becomes critical, before it requires a hospital bed, makes good sense financially as well as good sense for an individual’s well-being.

Just as medical bodies are adapting to this new way of thinking, news organisations need to move their mindsets and start pondering the kind of products and services that will need to be be offered as part of an information-rich, real-time world.

The needs aren’t being annunciated by the audience yet, or at least not in specific or coherent ways. Why would they?  As Henry Ford said about the first car he ever built: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

I recently picked up a copy of James Burke’s book Connections, spawned from the 10-part BBC TV series in the late 70s in which he threaded together a series of disparate events, discoveries and achievements to highlight the inter-connectedness of the world. 

The kind of thing Burke would feature would be the improbable links between, say, a failing farm equipment business, a cyclist with a puncture, and the most coveted culinary prize for chefs.

The story would unfold through a series of rhetorical questions: If the inherited farm business of brothers Andre and Edouard had been a success would they have thought twice about the fate of the cyclist?

Would that, in turn, mean they would never have patented the detachable tyre, or gone on to found the Michelin Tyre Company?

And would the now famous guide that bears their name have ever launched given that its aim was to promote motoring tourism to help them sell more tyres?

Now a world without codified cuisine excellence and Michelin-starred chefs isn’t on a par with missing out on the discovery of X-rays but it’s the linkage that is important – of knowledge and ideas affecting each other in ways that aren’t obvious.

This is happening around us all the time and the process is being accelerated by the internet.

Occasionally it’s possible to see glimpses of where things are headed and I think that’s what’s happening with real-time data, especially in the area of individual health monitoring.

It was early last year when I first saw Eric Topol’s talk: The wireless future of medicine in which he envisaged people checking their vital signs – heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen, temperature – on their mobile device as readily as they check their emails and relaying that information to carers, doctors and family.

Then I picked up on a US hospital that was using RFID data in pill bottles to track patients’ medication compliance.

Since then there have been many more examples including health and fitness apps like Runkeeper to log and share workout data and, in the last couple of weeks, an iPhone blood pressure monitoring kit

This stuff isn’t years in the future it’s now, albeit a long way from mass market, and the changes it will set in train are enormous. Managing a condition before it becomes critical, before it requires a hospital bed, makes good sense financially as well as good sense for an individual’s well-being.

Just as medical bodies are adapting to this new way of thinking, news organisations need to move their mindsets and start pondering the kind of products and services that will need to be be offered as part of an information-rich, real-time world.

The needs aren’t being annunciated by the audience yet, or at least not in specific or coherent ways. Why would they?  As Henry Ford said about the first car he ever built: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

satarii Take two product design guys in California, add a garage and an idea and you have Satarii – a start-up operation behind a mobile accessory for solo video shoots.

With your smartphone lodged in its pocket-sized docking station, you don a small tracking device and as you move about the dock swivels on its base and follows you.

The motorized unit works over a range of eight metres and keeps you in the image frame across a 180-degree span.

The system is designed for the iPhone4 and the latest video-enabled iPod Touch, but an accessory is promised to provide a standard tripod mount so its potential is opened up to many more devices.

The product is a long-way short of production. As I write, they are seeking funding on the IndieGoGo site having raised $15,714 of a target $20,000 with 35 days remaining to fulfil their goal so it clearly needs some manufacturer muscle and investor buy-in to move it out of the hobby project area.

It could well find a niche and Peter Nowak’s “shameful trinity of desires” comes to mind – but I’ll leave you to figure out which of three it might best serve.

The wraps have come off the Guardian’s revamped iPhone app which is being offered on a subscription basis rather than the one-off download fee of the original model.

Live-ness is at the heart of the proposition with the app costing £2.99 for six months and £3.99 for 12 months, although the US version will continue to be ad-supported and free.

There’s increased emphasis on video, free goal alerts in a revamped football service, rolling live coverage such as the Wikileaks US embassy cables coverage, comments on stories and an at-a-glance guide to hot topics.

The Guardian is gambling on these elements converting users of the existing app to the new one before closing the old one down.

For people who have already bought in, that’s probably not too much of a leap – the price of a sandwich as one endorser puts it – but it does mean the new app will be competing for eyeballs against the Guardian’s free (ad-supported) mobile site.

And there’s the further risk that it might cannibalize the daily paper’s readership and revenues.

If the free variety proves to be the more popular of the two The Guardian can, of course, always adjust its advertising rates if the market will bear it.

But highlighting the benefits of the paid-for app means drawing attention to the weaknesses of the free model which, by implication, will be slower, less frequently updated and less feature-rich.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach; there’s always been a premium on getting information faster than other people. But it does create a headache for marketing departments and for linking when you have standard and premium services stabled in the same organisation.

As for the existing app, which launched in December 2009, it will remain live for six months, according to Guardian product manager Jonathon Moore.

In a blog post he writes: “While we remain committed to offering our content for free on guardian.co.uk and our recently upgraded mobile website, it’s clear that in order to deliver the highest quality product for a single platform, considerable investment is required.”

Free or paid for? As ever, for individuals it’s a case of you pay your money and you take your chances.

The bigger question for news organisations is whether enough people will pay – or whether advertising rates can be raised to sufficient levels – to meet ever-increasing expectations of instant information.