frank's blog

VuHunt – The Next Generation Foursquare

Posted in ideas, internet, photography by aldorf on May 31, 2011

It doesn’t look pretty but it will definitely find it’s followers. VuHunt, a rewards-based location game that uses the technology on Android phones.

With VuHunt, users can duel with their friends to conquer territory in the real world, as they can with popular mobile check-in service Foursquare. But while users simply check in at a place in order to take it over in Foursquare, the process is more complex with VuHunt.

You can, for instance, take over your friend’s castle at a particular real-world location via long distance means. You can answer a trivia question correctly or solve a puzzle in order to dislodge someone. Or you may have to upload a picture of a physical location, such as a lake, or upload a few seconds of video of a car, in order to dislodge the person. The game capitalizes on location, artificial intelligence, and internet connectivity.

Your friends, meanwhile, can defend their castles by fulfilling their own challenges. If they do so, you may be forced to execute several challenges before you can take over the location.

Each action you take tells VuFind something about your behavior, and the company hopes to target ads from brands to you based on your interests.

The photos you upload can be geotagged. You can go to someone’s castle simply to find out more about that location by viewing the pictures that have been uploaded there.

“We appeal to people who want to use and see photos,” Rashad said. “It’s like a next-generation Foursquare.”

The technology uploads a photo to VuFind’s servers, which use algorithms to decipher what the image is. Then it sends a response back in near real-time, depending on whether the image is accepted or not. If it doesn’t recognize the photo, it says so and the user has to try again. Over time, the recognition should get better and better.

The company is designing more levels where users will be able to purchase virtual currency and use them to buy items in the game. The game has a news feed where you can watch what your friends are uploading. Rashad believes that players can get into pitched battles for control of castles in certain locations. Some of the tougher challenges require users to be at the actual location and check in. A leaderboard will show which users are winning.

Over time, Rashad said he hopes that advertisers will be able to put their ads into the various castles and other locations. But the company is only beginning to engage with advertisers now.

Rashad started working on the technology in 2007. He started VuFind last year and raised $420,000 from angel investors. VuFind first started to create an augmented reality social network based on the ability to recognize places in photos. But that business wasn’t easy to monetize. So the company morphed its plan and entered the game space instead. It now has seven employees and a few more consultants.

Besides Foursquare, rivals include Pixlogic, Digitalsmiths, Scvngr, Gowalla and Booyah. (via VentureBeat)

More on this and a short video at vufind.com

Fantastic Animatronics Reel by John Nolan

Posted in Animation, art, film by aldorf on May 31, 2011

Kudos John Nolan for an impressive reel here! This is incredible craftsmanship.

Imagination underpins every uniquely human achievement. Imagination led us from caves to cities, from bone clubs to golf clubs, from carrion to cuisine, and from superstition to science.The relationship between imagination and “reality” is both complicated and profound. (The Element).

Watch Reel Here.

The art of “Karakuri”. Japan has always been on the forefront of cutting edge robotics. Its roots can be traced back 200-300 years during the Edo period when skilled craftsmen created automata (self-operating machines). Using nothing more than pulleys and weights they were able to make the Karakuri (Japanese automata) perform amazing tasks.
Japans modern day robots can be traced back to the Karakuri. Today Hideki Higashino is one of the few remaining craftsmen who is determined to keep the history and tradition of Japanese Karakuri alive. (video here)

The Startup Genome Report – Patterns Of Successful Internet Startups

Posted in innovation, internet, pioneers, quality by aldorf on May 30, 2011
The Startup Genome Project team came together 3 months ago to attempt to crack the “innovation code” of Silicon Valley and share it with the rest of the world. They just released the first Startup Genome Report— a 67 page in depth analysis on what makes Silicon Valley startups successful based on profiling over 650 startups.
The report was co-authored by Berkeley & Stanford faculty members along with other contributors including Steve Blank, the Sandbox Network team & the blackbox team.

Few findings:

1. The value-add that investors claim to offer in an operational capacity has little to no effect.

2. Startups that pivot once or twice have 3.6 times better user growth than startups who pivot three times or more. Startups that never pivot under-perform startups that pivot once or twice.
3. Startups without a technical cofounder are 80% more likely to scale prematurely, have 152% less user growth and need 45% longer to reach product market fit than startups with 1 technical cofounder.
4. Founders generally underestimate how long it will take to validate a market by 100 to 200 percent.
Read more at startupgenome.cc
Or benchmark your own start-up here»

Perfect Service Innovation: Sell Your Out-of-Office Replies To Highest Bidder

Posted in ideas, innovation by aldorf on May 20, 2011

Emails will not stop rolling in just because the desk is vacant. So when art director Gustav Egerstedt went on paternity leave, Saatchi & Saatchi Stockholm sold his out of office autoreply to production company B-Reel. Those who email Gustav are primarily people who work in advertising and advertising students seeking jobs. This means that Gustav’s out of office autoreply is a good advertising channel for such production companies such as B-Reel. The advertising agency is now developing a beta service at www.outofofficead.com, where anyone can sell their out-of-office replies to the highest bidder, or donate a few lines to charity. (via The Inspiration Room)

Interactive Film “ROME” – Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin Did It Again!

Posted in Uncategorized by aldorf on May 14, 2011

Experience “3 Dreams of Black” at http://www.ro.me/

“3 Dreams of Black” is Chris Milk‘s new interactive film, created in WebGL with some friends from Google, for Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi’s ROME, featuring Jack White & Norah Jones. The project is a Chrome Experiment (http://www.chromeexperiments.com/) that showcases some of the latest web technologies in modern browsers like Google Chrome.

In building “3 Dreams of Black”, we’ve had the opportunity to build many tools, libraries, and models. We’ve fully opened up the source code and made it available for web developers to tinker with us at http://www.ro.me/tech. In addition to the code, a few other highlights include eight WebGL demos, a fun model viewer for interacting with some of the animals from the web experience, and the Three.js 3D library used for building the experience. In addition, a big part of the project was to define a good pipeline for getting all the animals and environment models right in WebGL — for this, we extended Blender with custom plugins so we could manipulate and export the data with ease.

ToneCheck – Prevent Bitchy, Angry, Evil Emails

Posted in ideas, quality by aldorf on May 12, 2011

A very cool idea. Technology creates a vacuum that we humans fill with negative emotions by default. If an email content is neutral, we assume the tone is negative. ToneCheck is a “tone spellcheck” app that scans emails for negativity and then helpfully suggests tweaks to make your communication more positive (featured in The New York Times Magazine’s annual Year in Ideas issue). (Unfortunately) requires Microsft Outlook.

Big Idea! Event-driven Programming For The Masses – ifttt.com

Posted in design, internet, quality by aldorf on May 11, 2011

ifttt – Short for “if this then that”.
New Service with the potential to make a significant impact.

In today’s time-pressured world, people are constantly looking for ways to speed up their daily tasks. Hoping to help towards that end, we recently came across ifttt — an application that allows users to exercise their creativity in automating certain online activities. Ifttt hopes to automate digital tasks so that they can trigger a function for which they were not originally designed. This is made possible through a “trigger” and “action” model. For example, a trigger could be “If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook”. When this occurs, it will automatically execute an action, such as “create a tweet on twitter”. Tibbets gives another example: “For instance, you can use Google reader starred items to share images on your Tumblr blog, or customize how and which photos from your Flickr stream show up on your Facebook wall.” These tasks can be turned on and off, with a maximum of ten being turned on at once. Ifttt ultimately relies on the creativity of its users to effectively automate their online activities. However, by making this a simple and intuitive process, Ifttt has the potential to make a significant impact.

Grow Your Own Clothes – Experiments with Kombucha-Based Material

Posted in art, fashion, food, innovation, pioneers by aldorf on May 11, 2011

Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing. The process is fascinating, the results are beautiful (though there’s still one minor drawback …) and the potential is simply stunning.

Fashion designer Suzanne Lee directs the BioCouture research project, which sprang from an idea in her book Fashioning the Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe, a seminal text on fashion and future technologies. Her research harnesses nature to propose a radical future fashion vision: Can we grow a dress from a vat of liquid?

Using bacterial-cellulose, Lee aims to address pressing ecological and sustainability issues around fashion and beyond. A Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, she is working with scientists to investigate whether synthetic biology can engineer optimized organisms for growing future consumer products

“I’m also creating new bacterial-cellulose composite swatches looking at eco-substrates like hemp. This month I’m teaching an exciting project exploring systems and synthetic biology to postgraduate textile and industrial design students alongside eminent scientists from Cambridge University.” Suzanne Lee

Astonishing! Silk, The Ancient Material Of The Future

Posted in art, conference, design, innovation, pioneers by aldorf on May 11, 2011

Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature’s most elegant materials — in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff.

Fiorenzo Omenetto is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and leads the laboratory for Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics at Tufts University. His research spans nonlinear optics, nanostructured materials (such as photonic crystals and photonic crystal fibers), biomaterials and biopolymer-based photonics. Most recently, he’s working on high-tech applications for silk.

Music Beta by Google or Noisey by Vice?

Posted in Media, music, web by aldorf on May 10, 2011

I know not exactly comparable options but both landed in my inbox today. Noisey is having a launch Party tonight in Berlin and Music Beta is handing out invitations (U.S. only).

Noisey is a new video-based platform from Vice for showcasing the most essential new music by emerging talents from all corners of the globe. Tonight is the official launch of Noisey in Germany, and one of Berlin’s own stages for new music, Tape.

Music Beta by Google. “You can get to your personal music collection at home or on the go. Listen from the web or any enabled device with the Music app available from Android Market. Not online? No problem. The songs you’ve recently played will automatically be available offline. You can also select the specific albums, artists and playlists you want to have available when you’re not connected.”

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