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January 27, 2009

The Internet of Things

There's a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald discussing the possibilities of the physical Internet - that is, giving appliances, printed objects or anything else physical in our lives an IP address so that they can talk to each other over the Internet.

This got me looking at a site called Pachube. Awkward name, but the founder described it as "like YouTube but instead of sharing videos, people are sharing data that comes from sensors". It's meant to be a way of sharing all the feeds and data that's coming in from physical objects around the world that are already online.

What's all this mean? I don't know yet. But here's a cool example of what's being done with this tech right now - Siphonophora is a project that gathers live environmental data from a lake in Gunpowder, US.


Data like temperature, bacteria levels and pollution content from the lake are all transmitted live via the Internet using these devices.


This opens up some pretty nice possibilities for real-world interactions. Very cool.

January 8, 2009

Microsoft Tag : Move over QR codes..


Microsoft has introduced a mobile tagging system based on new HCCB technology called Microsoft Tag at CES 2008. Microsoft Tag allows consumers to instantly connect to information, be it URLs, phone numbers or short messages by simply snapping the tag with your mobile's camera & the Microsoft Tag reader software. To those familiar with QR Codes, this is nothing new. The key advantage of Microsoft Tag over QRCodes is they have a smaller footprint while storing more information due to the use of colour.

Microsoft has launched the Tag reader application with broad handset / OS support - including the iPhone. You can download the reader application directly to your phone from the mobi site or the App Store if you've got an iPhone.


A Microsoft Tag seen through the lense of the iPhone.
The poor framing and light conditions were no trouble for the reader application

With the launch of Tag, Microsoft is clearly looking to take mobile tagging mainstream where QR Codes have failed to achieve mass acceptance - with the exception of Japan.

In Australia, Telstra launched QRCodes as 'Telstra Codes' with much fanfare during the Beijing Olympics. The 'R U QRious' campaign could be considered a commercial flop as the advertising was Telstra customer centric and excluded those on carriers Optus, Vodafone & Three. This is despite the fact a Telstra Code was a standard QR Code.

A solution tied to one carrier lacks the mass reach critical for it's adoption. Telstra claimed that 500,000 customers had one of the seven compatible handsets required to use QRCode's at launch. A meagre number when you consider Australia has 21.2 million mobile subscribers.

With the advent of Microsoft Tag, it will be interesting to see whether Telstra continues to adopt QR Codes or abandons it in support of Microsoft Tag. As mentioned earlier, QRCodes have limited popularity outside of Japan where they are a regular fixture on billboards, magazines and products. Telstra's last adoption of a Japanese technology was DoCoMo's i-mode service which it canned in July 2007 after three years of poor subscriber numbers.

If carriers Optus/Vodafone/Three were to jointly promote Microsoft Tag as a standard offering, Telstra Code could be quickly buried in favor of a common cross-carrier platform.


Screenshot of the Microsoft Tag control panel

Microsoft Tag also has a few unique features over QRCodes. Microsoft Tags can be set to expire, which is valuable to marketers wanting to use them in a promotional campaign. The reader application also appears to be location aware / GPS enabled. This would be particularly beneficial if you were looking for the nearest retailer having just snapped a Tag on an ad. But most promising is the presence of an analytic engine that captures actions associated with your tags for reporting purposes.

For more information on Microsoft Tag, visit the website

January 3, 2009

Twitter is Shit at...


Twitter is great don't get me wrong but it's not perfect. With all the post's praising it as the next coming I thought I'd point out a few areas in which it actually is shit. Well maybe shit is a harsh term but the following are areas where it's not that well suited. I feel these are valid but feel free to correct me where my logic is broken.

1: Having a real conversation:

On Twitter you reply to the @name system and if you're not using the Twitter website or a more advanced twitter app you miss even the post they were referring to.

Also 140 characters is great for status updates but not conversations. You become shorter in replies and it's worse than email for feeling "distant and rude". People are only now working out how to send emails without sounding like demands. 140 characters means you must remove these niceties and often subtle uses of language.

Note: I said "real" conversation. If most of your conversations in real life are "I like this book" and then you get "yeah me too" then Twitter is good for you you rude bastard :)

2: Crowd Sourcing:

Crowd Sourcing or Friend Sourcing same thing.
Let's say you want to find out what the best type of laptop bag or what's the best taco place in New Orleans. (both examples I have seen asked on Twitter) this seems like a legitimate use of Twitter, however I feel this is not the case.

Main problem: No one can see or respond to other people's responses.

So you end up with heaps of the same replies (not that bad) but you also don't let people comment on other replies. Someone might say "X is awesome" another person on a blog might see this and say "X is totally shit, I used it for a week and it gave me a rash"

On Twitter you miss this analysis. If you are driving around New Orleans then you need a quick answer but if you're researching a laptop bag you don't mind waiting a few days or a week to make an informed choice. Twitter only offers you a very short time line to get an opinion. No one (sorry for the hyperbole) checks Tweets from a week ago and if you're a constant twitterer they probably cant. So you only crowd source the small percentage of your followers checking at that time.

The best addition to blogging comments in the last year has been "threaded comments." Disqus, Intense Debate, JS-kit all offer this with their comment systems and it rocks. It makes blog comments that much more like a real conversation. You can reply to a direct comment and read that comment thread instead of the usual "hey 12.34 you suck" which ends up happening on many blogs with the standard comments implemented.

Also with a blog you could jump in and say "oh I don't mind paying $500 for the bag if its good" which might help people with their comments. Twitter's 140 characters limit the amount of info you could have first tweeted.

The best way to handle this is to just Tweet to a blog post with threaded comments. Problem solved.

3: Getting to know the real person:

I thought Twitter would let me see a side of friends and people I admire that would not come across on their site.

I actually believed the Twitter in 2 minutes video that everyone would post like the video suggested. How gullible.

The majority (maybe it's who I follow?) just tweet links to their blogs like it's a news bulletin and link to articles. Very little insight, very little "so what are you doing" just link pimping.

That's normal I guess but if someone like James Cameron was on Twitter I'd want to know what he thought of the catering on the set of Avatar or what he thought of the latest episode of Lost. Not just the latest poster for the film. Which would you find more interesting?
Shaq seems to have done it right.

Note: If you run a big news based blog lets take Destructiod as an example I'd love to know what's happening at the office. Who just go drunk and pissed on a console at the xmas party. What games the editors are playing, who lost at foosball. I know it's weird but it'll be more insightful than just links to each posted article.

I guess #3 isn't the tool itself like the other points are it's the mindset of the user.

Well that's all I got. I love Twitter and I check it religiously when I get home from work (too much distraction during work hours) and I'm inspired by the number of inventive uses for it by individuals and companies. I just think it's not perfect like it has ben made out to be.

I look forward to what other people think.

Oh and you can follow me (Ashley) on Twitter @100ftzombie

November 2, 2008

Image Metrics

Kotaku posted an article on Image Metrics and their 3D capture technology and how it applies to the "Uncanny Valley" that ruins so much 3D in games and movies. Watch below as one of their representatives talks about the technology.

This was used in GTA4 and GOW.

July 19, 2008

Iphone Apps iBeer vs iPint

iBeer is the #5 top paid app on the iPhone. It's a great tool to show off to your friends and it costs $3.99 AUD

Cool. But for Free you can get the iPint App which does the same thing + has a free game. This is what picked up silver at Cannes 2008.

I always assumed Apple users were pretty smart. But this might be a case of over excited and over cashed nerds.

Many app on there are what you'd expect for free anyway. Todo lists apps for $3. C'mon.

It'll be interesting to see the new breed of apps coming for the iPhone in the future. Apple will also have to create a better way to sort through them as already it's 80% utter shite, 10% useless and 8% what you'd expect anyway and 2% inspired.

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