Archive for March, 2010

Can’t Judge a Book With No Cover

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Today's CoverSpy feed on what New Yorkers are reading.

We follow CoverSpy on Twitter, a group who describes themselves as “a team of publishing nerds who hit the subways, streets, parks & bars to find out what New Yorkers are reading now.”

Most people get their reading list through recommendations. Friends, family, or even Oprah, share what they’ve read and liked, which people automatically add to the list of “books to read.” CoverSpy takes this to the next level and tweets book titles with brief stats on readers, including gender, age, physical attributes, and what type of transportation they were spotted reading.

With e-books like the Kindle and the new iPad that’s coming out this Saturday, readers can no longer cover spy. E-books make that virtually impossible. CoverSpy’s tweets on Kindle books currently read, “Title Unknown, Author Unknown (F, 20s, mehndi on hands, fuchsia scarf, Q train).”

For people who still like knowing what others are reading, we imagine an application will be developed that addresses this problem. Perhaps an app that motivates readers to share books they’re reading in real time. Or maybe something similar to Amazon’s buyer behavior for readers, a list that shows who have read which books, and what other books they enjoy. Whatever the case, sharing is a huge component of social media, and books are one of America’s oldest forms of sharing.

Becoming Mayor

Monday, March 29th, 2010

foursquare, gowalla, google latitude, twitterWhile standing in line for the restroom at CTIA Wireless, a person joked about whether we were going to check in and become mayor of the restroom. Location-based applications are this year’s trending topic, especially at events like SXSW and CTIA. To see which ones worked best, we experimented with Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, and Twitter’s new geotagging feature. Here are the results from our study:

Foursquare: If Yelp and Twitter merged and became a game, it would be Foursquare. Foursquare is centered on letting your friends know where you are, giving tips about that location and vice versa – most times this relates to restaurants. We like Foursquare because it gives incentive to check in, not just for virtual badges and “mayor” entitlement (title earned from checking into a place the most), but for real discounts. We’d say Foursquare works the best for social foodies and people constantly on the go who are looking for tips from their wide network of friends.

Gowalla: Gowalla is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing of the four. And unlike the rest, it functions mainly as a geocaching scavenger hunt game. Checking in requires the player to be in an exact location, not just anywhere within the proximity of the venue. The objective is to collect as many stamps in your passport as possible. Gowalla works best for gamers who are out and discovering new places, not sitting in their parent’s basement staring at the computer screen.

Google Latitude: Google latitude basically pinpoints you and your friends’ locations on Google maps. It’s cool to see your friends’ actual location on a map, but why would you need to? We suppose this app would work best for paranoid parents who need to know where their children are at all times.

Twitter: Although Twitter’s geotagging function is similar to Google latitude where the location of the user is pinpointed on a Google map, we find Twitter’s function more useful since it pairs a tweet with a location.  Avid tweeters who want location sharing without the fuss should stick with Twitter.

All four applications cater to different user personalities. We’d like to see Facebook integrate location sharing, and perhaps even make a game out of it. In reality, Facebook is the most accurate representation of our real friends, which is who we want to follow. The good news is, we hear they’re already working on it.

Kyocera UFO lands at CTIA

Friday, March 26th, 2010

We’re back from CTIA Wireless where our concept movie for Kyocera’s UFO (User Friendly Object), was displayed in the Kyocera showcase.

To all smartphone users, the screen is of utmost importance. Users obsess over screen protectors, or brag about LCD technology and larger screens because that is where all functions take place. What if we didn’t need to rely on just the screen?

Our UFO concept explores the idea of a touch-sensitive, illuminated bezel that can be customized for interactions and functions. Most users can relate to the annoyance of a pop-up menu taking up the screen while using an application. By making the bezel a functional space that complements and extends upon the phone’s screen, users see the information they want clearly, with no clutter.  App-specific functions such as a camera shutter or zoom can be controlled by intuitively touching highlighted areas of the bezel.

Thinking past the restrictive screen and exploring the entire physical aspect of a phone could enhance the future of mobile interaction.

The Dot Revolution

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Having a true change in performance never hurt the industry.” – Ken Salsman, Director of new technologies at Aptina

We have to agree, and we’re excited to read that InVisage is developing a semiconductor called the quantum dot that could upgrade a three-megapixel iPhone camera to 12-megapixels, improving quality up to four times, especially in low light. Photos taken at night will no longer be misshapen blurs, not to mention our social media lives will become much easier.

One of our favorite cameras, the Canon S90, takes excellent shots in low light. The downside is it’s a heavy load in the pocket. Incorporating a high-quality camera into our phones is an overdue and much-needed upgrade for convenience. We’re looking forward to having high-quality blog photos come straight from our phones – it would take mobile blogging to the next level.

canon s90 and iphone

In a State of Flux

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Flux screening at the Hammer Museum

Flux kicked off its third annual screening series at the Hammer Museum last night, where we went to see OK Go’s elaborate music video “This Too Shall Pass,” as well as the other excellent short films offered.

Rhiannon Evans’s stop motion animated short, “Heart Strings,” charmed us with a very human love story between two rag dolls. In L’Ogre’s “Hold Your Horses – 70 Million,” band members reconstructed famous paintings in a hilariously witty performance. The program ended with OK Go’s music video. We appreciated the meticulous hard work and talent required to shoot the video. Eighty-five takes and 89 setups is no easy feat, not to mention the coordination and timing required for syncing the people, music, and machine together. The video has reached almost 10 million views on YouTube, but it was a different experience to watch it on the big screen.

Follow Us

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

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Social, Factual

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

mobile applications

This morning we were hit with a 4.4 magnitude earthquake in LA that woke and unsettled many, including myself. Instantly using the iPhone for earthquake news, I first checked the LA Times app, then the New York Times one. No reports yet. I then thought of checking the Facebook app, anxious to hear any news, which instantly showed a stream of updates from friends about the earthquake.

We’ve all been reading about the competition between Facebook and Google Buzz, Facebook and Twitter – the list goes on. However, we haven’t given much thought to Facebook vs. news sources such as the NYT or the LA Times.

Obviously Facebook and news sources fulfill different information-giving roles, however, as digital is progressively becoming a large part of our personal lives, it seems that news apps could integrate a social news function to receive news updates from our friends as well. And vice versa, Facebook could serve the latest breaking news.

Morning, Joe

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

latte art

I picked up my coffee this morning and saw this face smiling up at me. Hi little guy, you just made my day.

Eames Century Modern

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Last night we went to the Eames Office for the opening of the House Industries exhibition where they released their Eames Century Modern fonts collection. We played with the fonts on wooden blocks, looked at fonts on freestanding hand-printed installations, and watched them get screen printed onto tote bags. It was typography made 3D.

A night of font faces, Eames furniture, and a live band. So this is what typography enthusiasts do for fun– that’s pretty cool.

The Countdown Begins

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

sony rocket

Sony’s Rocket Project campaign trailer is featured on YouTube’s homepage today. With just 33 days left, the Rocket Project team shares their goals and inspirations in this video. To keep up with the team’s progress, check back on the Rocket Project web site we designed for daily updates.



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