MaKey MaKey, developed by a couple of graduate students at the MIT Media Lab, may be be the closest thing to a “perfect” user interface ever made. Why? Because their invention can become anything to anyone by turning any object into a hyper-personalized UI. Want to play piano using bananas? No problem. How about playing Super Mario Bros. using Play-Doh? Sure thing. This opens up unlimited, highly-personalized, memorable experiences for the end user.
At its most basic, MaKey MaKey functions like a keyboard and mouse. Clip a couple of objects to the MaKey MaKey board, and plug the board into your computer via USB and when the connected object is touched, it sends a signal to the computer just like when you press a key on a keyboard or click a mouse button. The board is also highly customizable, allowing for additional inputs and customization. Any object that conducts a bit of electricity can be used, from ketchup to your best friend.
We first looked at Project Glass in February before it was even formally named (and then again, in April). The Google I/O conference today featured a real time demo with skydivers jumping out of a plane wearing Project Glass headgear – all of which was broadcast live from their glasses to the conference through Google Hangouts. Attendees watched this first-person footage as the skydivers landed on the roof of San Francisco’s Moscone Center (the site of today’s conference), jumped on to bikes, and rode on to the stage to a cheering crowd.
Sometimes we come across content that really ignites a feeling within us. BMW over the years has worked on the principle that its cars are best showcased in action. Even as far back as 2001/2002 they produced ‘The Hire’ – a series of eight short films starring Clive Owen that highlighted the performance aspects of various BMW cars.
Last week, BMW Canada released an amazing 2 minute video called ‘BMW M5 – “Bullet” – High Performance Art‘ that recreates slow-motion bullet footage on a much larger scale. The interplay of the powerful images changes to serene slow-motion footage of the M5 Sedan breaking through apples, targets and balloons on a salt flat to give a grand impression of a classy yet powerful vehicle.
This past week, we have seen indications that Microsoft is looking to strengthen its presence within the social realm – not by creating its own digital platform(s), but by potentially buying existing tools such as Yammer (a software and file-sharing service with sophisticated social integration, frequently referred to as a ‘Facebook for professionals’). With The Wall Street Journal reporting on Microsoft’s rumored $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, this is part of a growing trend to improve digital/social capabilities in the workplace environment. LinkedIn spent $119 million for SlideShare last month, and even Facebook now allows file-sharing for select groups. Should Microsoft focus their social presence through workplace integration, they will also be going up against Google’s similar efforts with Google Drive.
Can you imagine a future where you can create custom fast-food creations simply using your phone?
The future is today, and it’s the Burritobot: a 3D printer that lets users construct a fully customized bean burrito via an iPhone app. Unlike traditional 3D printers that use plastics to create objects, the Burritobot has a carousel of black beans, pinto beans, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, mild salsa, and hot salsa to dispense exact, user-controlled amounts onto a tortilla.
How do we learn?
Some say reading and thinking do the trick, and in certain circumstances they may be correct. But for many others, learning comes from experience, and the act of doing something that creates a concrete memory of the lesson learned.
Looking back on the week’s highlights in the online and social realm, from a creative standpoint.
10am One Thing Posts
The great boxer, Muhammad Ali, once said that “wars of nations are fought to change maps” but this week a war between two great tech titans broke out over the humble map. The companies? Google and Apple. This week, at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), one of the major announcements from Apple was that its mapping application in iOS 6 devices would no longer be powered by Google, maker of the competitor Android operating system, but that it would making its own – powered in part by small acquisitions made over the last few years.
Maps have always been considered a utility – Mapquest, Google, Yahoo! have all had maps as a secondary product rather than main feature – but as the mobile advertising market starts to finally mature, maps will play a crucial role. In making this bold move, it is clear that Apple wants to complement its iAd product with a compelling map offering that can hugely impact the consumer/advertiser relationship. If you’re marketing on mobile, don’t you want as few competitor distractions as possible?
Hell hath no fury like an internet comic illustrator scorned.
The quest for an audience is a prime concern for many brands. But acquiring an audience that is active, participatory, and passionate is a brand’s holy grail, and there are few brands with as much equity online as that of Matt Inman’s web comic The Oatmeal. You’ve probably seen his work, even if you’re not familiar with the name.
Last month, we looked at ZeroN – a sensor-tracking system that was developed at the MIT Media Lab by Jinha Lee, a Ph.D. student and research assistant.
MIT Media Lab students have caught our eye again – this time with an invention kit created by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum. The two graduate students’ MaKey MaKey turns everyday objects into touchpads and even allows for interaction with online games. Using alligator clips and USB cables, MaKey MaKey is a printed circuit board with an ATMega32u4 micro controller running Arduino Leonardo firmware. According to Eric’s MIT page, it “uses the Human Interface Device (HID) protocol to communicate with your computer, and it can send keypresses, mouse clicks, and mouse movements”.