Physical Computing and Fridges

Fridges seem like a good starting point for examples of Physical Computing. It is an object that we interact with each day, which has a number of data points that we currently work out in our heads (what food is in their, how much is there of each product and when does it go off). There have been a number of people and companies looking into this space. The following is a list of developments going on in this area. 

LG Innovation arm Smart Thinq have come up with a Fridge that will help you diet. The new Health Manager will help you build a personal profile, then suggests recipes, daily and weekly meal plans, menus, and food selections based on age, gender, weight, height, and BMI.

The Digital Strategy Agency Undercurrent have also recently had a look at updating the technology in a fridge. The working prototype had scales inside to measure how much milk is left and alert you when you were running low. They also took on the dieting issue, connecting your fridge to a fitbit to measure how much you exercise and unlocking the fridge when you had reached your quota. Read the full article as it is an interesting read as they have shown how an Agency looks at the creation process of building a physical computing prototype. 

Evian Water have also been getting involved in this area with the Evian Water Magnet. It lets people order Evian water from their fridges, I think this is a massive step from a high profile brand to do this. I am guessing the home delivery system in Europe is different to how it works in Australia and US, as I don't think the infrastructure would be set up to allow this to happen in these countries. 
There was also a similar concept done by Dubai Pizza company 'Red Tomato Pizza'. In this video you can see how the magnet is connected via bluetooth. 

Inside the fridge there has also been examples of Physical Computing Innovation. Crowd Sourced Product Innovation Company Quirky partnered with GE to create the Smart Milk Jug the 'Milkmaid'. It lets you know when your Milk is going off through measuring the PH level and temperature of the milk through sensors in the base. Read more about the technology on TechCrunch

'In MY Fridge' is a student project from the University of Applied Sciences in Schwabisch. They created a fridge with a touch screen on the front that allowed you to see what was inside the fridge and what you could make with the products. This is based on an RFID system which requires you to print off tags that you stick on the products when they go into the fridge.

Tagging items seems like the biggest barrier at the moment in the whole Physical Computing for Fridges space. However I expect that there will be some tech developments most likely around barcodes and using them as a product recognition element which should help to eliminate that issue.

10 Agency Labs making Digital Physical Projects

With the great Twitter/Arduino/Fuelband Mash Up from Stink Digital the other day, I thought I would look at the best Digital Physical projects coming out of Advertising/Media Labs. 

1. Twitter Fuel (StinkDigital)
Tweetfuel from Stinkdigital on Vimeo.

2. LikeBelt (Deeplocal
LikeBelt from deeplocal on Vimeo.

3. Like Light and Beeri (RedPepper
LikeLight from redpepper on Vimeo.

Beeri from redpepper on Vimeo.

4. Love Song Machine (Tellart)
Love Song Machine from Tellart on Vimeo.

5. Frogger (Devito Verdi)
5th Ave Frogger from Tyler DeAngelo on Vimeo.

6. Instaprint (BreakfastNY
Instaprint from BREAKFAST ny on Vimeo.

7. BakerTweet (Poke
BakerTweet from POKE on Vimeo.

8. Christmas Contraption (Ideaworks

9. Little Printer (Berg)

10. Real World Analytics Desktop (Mediacom
More about the project 

Digital Physical, Physical Computing, Ambient Intelligence, Pervasive Computing, Ubiquitous Computing, Internet of things?

Digital Physical is growing in popularity by the day, Aden Hepburn the man behind the leading blog Digital Buzz Blog even gave it a nod yesterday. 

'Lately it has actually been hard to spot an innovative project or campaign that in some way, shape or form, doesn’t use the Arduino board, and while that might seem very single minded, it’s actually a great pat on the back for a more physical-digital world, which is anything but.'

With the lowering cost of entry through the DIY community and Kickstarter being able to fund a number of these digital physical products we are seeing more people enter this space. However unlike the Social Media wave of 2008-10, there is no unifying term for this type of technology.   

I have heard this area being called a number of things from Physical Computing, Pervasive Computing, Digital Physical, Phygital, Ubiquitous Computing and the Internet/Web of Things.

Looking at Google Search Insights it does not look like there is one term that is taking precedence either. If anything I would say that it looks like Digital Physical. 

When you look at the companies who are making these types of products, there is no one solid category terming either. Take the mission statements for the following companies. 

Deeplocal - An innovation studio that creates remarkable experiences for brands 
SuperMechanical - Objects that connect us 
BreakfastNY - A physical-digital interactive agency 
Tellart - Experience Design and Engineering 

I think that it would be advantageous to all everyone involved if there was one unifying term for this technology and I am sure with time there will be. What do you think it should be called?

Eating Data - The Future of Data Visualization

Last week I went to the ITP showcase which had a number of amazing projects. I was surprised by the amount of people using Kinect in their projects. Processing and OpenFrameworks were definitely the programming languages of choice for the projects. Here are four of the projects that I liked;

1. Cupcake Index 

The Cupcake Index takes the results of the World Happiness Rankings and creates cupcakes for every country adding sugar to the cupcake depending on the countries happiness ranking. E.g The sweetest cupcakes are Denmark the happiest country in the world whereas there is no sugar in Central African Republic the least happy country in the world. 

Data visualization is a hot topic at the moment. However I think this project shows that there are more senses at peoples disposal than we are currently using to interact with data. Tasting a data point is a really unique way of getting people to interact with data. How could we hear, smell, touch, or sense data? 

2. BurritoBot 

BurritoBot marks a mix between 3D Printing and Food. Looking at the mass consumed burrito and how they can make it into an automated process. They are also taking data about the global supply and demand of the ingredients and changing the recipe depending on this data. Once again an interesting way to taste data in real time. 

3. Up! 

An interactive experience where by giving a phone call to a specified number you had the chance to blow up a balloon on screen (You blew air into the mouthpiece of your phone and the balloon on the screen blew up). I am really enjoying looking at other interaction points for the phone besides the touchscreen. What I enjoyed about this project is that it really opened up the possibility of what you can do with a mobile device. Here is how ING have been using mobiles to interact with screens. 

4. RÂșad’io’’

'RÂșad’io’’ is an interactive installation that allows the user to explore the American cultural landscape by tuning into the various radio stations playing around the country.' There hasn't really been much innovation around radio stations and the dial. I thought this was a really nice presentation of this information and it looked great! 

Physical Digtial Products in Music - 6 examples

There have been a number of cool projects/products of late breaching the physical digital space in regards to making the music experience better. Here are five that caught my eye.

1. Change the tune

Allows you to change the tune by throwing paper at a poster. It is based on a motion sensor that sits within the poster and triggers the next button on Spotify. Made by the UK Agency 'Agency Republic'

2. Spotify Box

I really like this software to hardware example, they have created a boom box which reacts to what RFID tag is on it. The RFID tags are loaded up with playlists from Spotify.

3. Coachella and Facebook Check In

Using RFID tags within the access bands, punters are able to 'Check In' on Facebook to different acts through out the festival. You need to preregister your tag online to allow permission on Facebook for this to happen. This was seen a few years ago in Israel for Coca-Cola Village.

4. Firehero

This is a great DIY from the Arduino community - Guitar Hero on Flamethrower programmed through Arduino

5. Turntable Rider

This devices allows you to make music from riding your BMX. It tracks the movement of the bike through space to create data that is then translated into sound. This project was a collaboration between hip-hop and dance artist DJ BAKU, award-winning BMX rider Kotaro Tanaka, and interactive artist Toshiyuki Sugai

6. Nike Shoes

Turntable Rider is working on the same presence of Nike Song Shoes which makes music depending on how the shoes are flexed. It seems that making instruments out of objects is big in Japan.

BF Goodrich - Awesomecross

Tracking all the data that can be tapped around movement is also something that is part of the latest project from the Physcial-Digital Agency Deep Local. Although they didn't try to create music with the output, they were able to show the intensity of driving with BF Goodrich tires.

Let me know if you have any more great examples that I have missed.

The Problem With Being A Jack-Of-All-Trades

James Aviaz moved to New York from Sydney in October 2010. He's currently Marketing Manager for music startup Songtrust , having previously helped launch operations for Uber in New York. James is also working on Records Abroad - a music discovery site highlighting new music from outside the US and England.

For the better part of my adult life, I've prided myself on being pretty good a bunch of things: writing, talking to people, drinking, the Internets, tasks involving some kind of strategic thinking. For the longest time, this seemed like a great strategy. Being kinda good at a bunch of things makes me more employable / likable, so went the theory. And then New York happened.

New York is the home of the elevator pitch. People want to know who you are, what you want, and how they can help. You see, Australia is not a country that punishes those without straight answers to these questions. We prefer to start sentences with evasive words like: 'Yeah, nah...' HONESTLY, WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Being thrown into the New York job hunt quickly jolted me out of 'yeah, nah'-ville. And if anyone's been jolted recently in any way, shape or form, you'll attest to a certain unpleasantness to the experience. Think fender bender with a Mac truck.

In order to get anyone in New York's attention, you need to very quickly and powerfully surmise WHAT THE FUCK YOU WANT.

Try not to say things like, 'yeah, I'm kinda working on this thing at the moment.' WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN TO A HUMAN BEING WITH THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A FLEA?

This is also a critical time to note that Americans ingest masses of high fructose corn syrup each day, rendering them with the patience of a hyperactive puppy. Oh look, is that another shiny thing? Yes. It always is.

The funny thing about moving to New York is the preponderance of misinformation about the city's inhabitants. One such fallacy is that: 'New Yorkers are really rude'. It was then to my surprise that 95% of all people I've met in the City have been STUPIDLY HELPFUL AND WONDERFUL. The trick is you've got to learn how to give them the best chance to help you.

The recipe for this elusive dish contains good helpings of bravado, salesmanship, and a sprinkling of razzle-dazzle. The New York Networking Moment is not a time for shrinking violets. BRING OUT THE FUCKING NUKE OF CHARM AND PIZZAZ.

New York is a city built on dreams. Entrepreneurial types are everywhere. There's not a cafe in Manhattan that at some point in the day wouldn't have a meeting about 'that big thing I'm working on that will change the world, can I have some money?' It's intoxicating. So, you best be ready to sell your dream or else get lost in the mire. Big ideas, big hopes, big shit.

Growing up in Australia systematically breeds this instinct out of you. The real winners Down Under are the guys flying below the radar pretending they'd rather drink 15 beers than work on business strategy. And if anyone dares shine above the crowd - and HEAVEN FORBID BE PROUD OF IT - they'll be cut down like a tall poppy.

And herein lies the innate difficulty of being an Aussie-come-lately in the Big Apple: everything you need to do to get people's attention, goes against the very charm of being an Australian *jolt*

Selling yourself short is bad enough, but it's even more criminal to give a confusing account of yourself. Humble should not equal bumble. Jacks-Of-All-Trades are especially bad at this. 'Yeah, I've got a bit of experience in this and that, so really I'm looking for all kinds of opportunities'. Translation to a New Yorker: "BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH."

I've distinct memories of saying things in my early 20s like: 'don't pigeonhole yourself' and 'you don't want to get pigeonholed'. Guess what, pigeonholing is how a city bursting at the seams with Attention Deficit Disorder sufferers can compute you - and more importantly, work through their cranial Rolodex to help you in your quest. Turns out, being an expert at something is REALLY FUCKING VALUABLE.

This is probably Saturn Returns talking, but I'd love to grab my 21-year-old self and say: 'Hey mate, fucking chase your dreams and be excellent at something you love. In 10 years time, you'll have an enormous network of contacts, experiences beyond your wildest dreams, and you'll be an expert - something people will PAY YOU VERY WELL FOR.'

The most amazing people I've met have all been insanely determined to achieve something great. When you talk to them, you know exactly what they're about and what they want. To use marketing parlance *stabs self in groin*, their 'brand messaging' is always on-point and consistent. Real passion, believe it or not, seems seamless. Jacks-Of-All-Trades are like a turret gun of passion, spluttering ammunition at anything that moves. Pigeonholers are badass motherfucking snipers.

Now nearing my 30th birthday, I’m preparing to build myself a nice pigeonhole in which to get comfortable. Let's hope I go 'coo coo', rather than 'cookoo'.

AFL Memes - Image based memes go mainstream

Image based (macro) memes have long been a stalwart of Internet culture. It appears that similar to l33t speak they are about to enter mainstream culture. Last month very light internet users started posting image based memes about KONY 2012. Now the second example of this is with the FB Page AFL Memes growing to over 40,000 fans in 2 days.

It appears that brands are also catching on to the image meme train with Pure Blonde posting image based memes for the last few months. The interesting thing about macros memes is that they have a really nice organic growth component to them for the owners of the meme. Image based memes have a tendency to be shared quite a lot more than other pieces of content on Facebook. This allows brands to get a nice natural growth of fans and hopefully an end to the painful 'like this' status updates that brands have been abusing lately.

6 lessons learnt from launching a Passion Project - Twantrum

On December 6th James Aviaz, Rhys Edwards and I launched a little side project, The website used the Twitter API to search for keywords of people having outbursts at brands over Twitter. It ended up with over 10,000 page views in 14 days. It also cracked into the Top 5 Most Popular Articles of the day on The Next Web with over 500 RT. . The great thing about running little side projects is that you walk away with a number of learnings from the process. Here are my top six learnings.

1. Success was in telling the story
The major reason this idea succeeded is because of the great write up that was given on The Next Web. was the kernel of the idea but it really needed someone to explain it in detail. James was lucky enough to know CBM at TNW who thought it was worth covering. I think that this is one of the biggest oversights with people launching ideas online, they don't think about locking in that big first story.

2. Double the amount of time needed
The original idea came to James in August, we thought we would be able to knock it over in 2 weeks. This project seemed simple, all we had to do was come up with the keywords, design the one page website and simply code it. It was actually a rather long process, the fact that this was a side project and we all had full time jobs, blew out the amount of time it took.

3. Line the idea with hooks
One of the things that I have noticed in my short time of getting ideas out there, is that you need to give people a number of different hooks into the idea. People love a good name. Twantrum got to the core of the idea really fast. The new old technology formula (old symptom + new technology = name) is always a winner (check Boost Mobile Textaphrenia)

The other major hook was the different levels of Twantrum, having a Mel Gibson level as the top, gave it a bit of cheek and another thing for people to talk about.

4. Talking about Twitter on Twitter is always going to be fruitful
The one thing that everyone on Twitter has in common is that they all use the technology, any story about twitter is always going to get a high propensity of RTs. This theory holds strong over other platforms too - Reddit and Redditors Wife Meme always does well.

5. International Audience
You would be surprised by people translating an article into another language how many additional views that will bring to a project. We were lucky enough to get the idea picked up by a Spanish Marketing site.

6. Ideas have a 48 hour window online
Content moves fast online and as like most ideas we had a 48 hour window where it saw a lot of eyeballs after that people moved on to the next thing. There is no real slow build with these type of projects.