Category Archives: Experiments

Using iBeacons to connect things to people

Yesterday we received Gimbal proximity beacons. These beacons – or iBeacons as Apple calls the technology – have a small battery and submit a low energy bluetooth signal. This signal can be used within apps to detect if someone (a smartphone) is close (proximity) to a beacon. The app can trigger actions based on the signal.

Currently these beacons are used at the SXSW conference to connect the audience during a presentation. You can also find them being used in Apple stores and at stadiums.

The most exciting part is that it connects you to objects and places. And it’s opt in. Beacons can only be reached if you use a pre-designed app. You won’t be a walking target for unwanted messages.

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I just paid 0.00662 Bitcoins for a cup of coffee. Are Bitcoins the future of money?

This week I paid my first coffee with Bitcoins at the Border Sessions festival using a BitMyMoney counter.

I’m not sure if Bitcoins are “the future of money”, I’m pretty sure they aren’t the only future and that there is a need for digital money with the freedom that we know from coins and paper money.

Bitcoin is a system that can perfectly co-exist with current systems out there. Although it can use some user experience enhancements. It is still quite difficult to understand and you pay with long strings you can’t understand, complex applications and QR-codes. Bitcoins could use a bit of Square Register to make it really work.

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What Twitter could look like

Some sketches I made a while ago to illustrate what I think a web-based twitter client could look like. I really like the Tweetdeck application, because it integrates lists in the most obvious way, showing all the posts like a dashboard. I think the basics of Tweetdeck could be very well made into a web-based dashboard.

What it would look like in your browser
Twitter Dashboard design concept (screenshot)
Bigger image [+]

The entire page
Twitter Dashboard design concept
Bigger image [+]

Photographs and other media links should be displayed inline. Like Twitstat does.

Reply and retweet should be inline as well.

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The Eclectro Last.fm Lovewall installation (video)


Eclectro Last.fm Lovewall (interactive bluetooth installation) from Wilbert Baan on Vimeo.

Yesterday we had the first Eclectro party. As written in the last post I was working on a bluetooth/last.fm application. And it worked :)

The Eclectro Last.fm lovewall is an interactive installation that uses bluetooth to scan for mobile phones. Visitors are asked to change the bluetooth name of their phone into their Last.fm username.

A laptop scans the room using the open source Roomware software. It connects to random visitors and searches the Last.fm database for similarity. It then shows the similarity on a big screen by showing the profiles. A percentage and five artists both have in common.

Review
The installation worked well and I got a lot of very positive feedback by enthusiastic visitors. A few things I learned.

  • It is possible to have a zero percent match but still have artists in common.
  • Similar artists are often Gorillaz, U2, Muse, Air.
  • It is very easy to join, people see something happen and they think it’s too difficult to join. If you tell them that all it takes is changing the bluetooth name of their mobile phone they are really surprised.
  • Explain, explain, explain.
  • People like seeing their avatars on a screen. Only showing avatars would probably make a successful application by itself.
  • Make the screen dark. I used grey photographs and still the brightness of the beamer lightened up the entire place.
  • The internet connection at public places is almost always difficult (unstable/low signal).

The interface with testdata (working demo)

Open in new window

And the photographs

Last.fm + Roomware installation
on Flickr

Last.fm + Roomware installation
on Flickr

Opbouwen
on Flickr

Poster Eclectro loves Last.fm bluetooth friendfinder
on Flickr

Zaal
on Flickr

Standby3
on Flickr

Starborough test de dj-tafel
on Flickr

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Mashing up the first Eclectro party, bluetooth, meeting new people and your Last.fm profile

concept eclectro bluetooth kit

This saturday we have the first Eclectro party in De Unie in Rotterdam (which itself is pretty amazing). It’s the first offline event for something (a group of people blogging) that until saturday does only exist online.

To Eclectrofy this evening we started thinking about doing something extra with the location. How can we make the place visually and interactive exciting as well. Without making it too difficult to use or showing computers.

This reminded me about the Roomware project

The Roomware Project is an open-source framework for interactive spaces. It allows developers of multiple origins to enhance any venue or event using technologies such as BlueTooth and RFID.

What I’m making for this saturday
Basically Roomware turns my Mac into a server that is able to read bluetooth names and convert this data into xml. We will ask people at the party to change the bluetooth name of their mobile phone into the username of their Last.fm account. With these Last.fm names an application searches the Last.fm API and extracts data about two random visitors and tell them how much Last.fm similarity they have and which artists they have in common.

Meet new people
The project autorepeats and makes new random matches with names of people that are actually in the room. The results are projected on a screen. Showing public information about people is a gimmick, but it might encourage visitors to meet new people.

Things to do before this saturday

All the technology works. What’s left is finding a beamer, finishing the design and the timing of the interface. The application doesn’t need much time to load, but I’m thinking about adding finctional timing to make it more exiting to watch.

For example first show one player. Show the second player a few seconds later. And finally show the bar (hearth) that indicates the percentages. And maybe add some hidden messages when people have 0 or 100% Last.fm similarity.

Eclectro presents Kettel (live)
The third man (live), Gastón Arévalo (live) & Starborough (dj-set)
November 15th, De Unie, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Entrance € 8,- (order tickets)

De Unie

I will make a video of the system in action for hypernarrative. You can also visit the party this saturday to play with it youself. We can have a beer :)

More drafts
draft

draft

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Analyzed what Twitter votes (graphic)

Based on Twitterpoll by Erik Borra I made this visualization. The animation is created form filtering tweets on content. If someone says he or she voted for Obama or McCain this information is stored and turned into numbers. This creates an election poll based on tweets.

You can say Twitter is pretty much in favor of Obama. To update the results refresh the page.

A point goes to Obama if the regular expression /vote.*?obama/i succeeds, it goes to McCain if the regular expression /vote.*mccain/i succeeds, else it is undecided / unrecognized.

The animations that led to this animation
1. http://www.hypernarrative.com/wordpress/2008/11/02/i-voted-storytelling-with-public-databases/
2. http://www.hypernarrative.com/wordpress/2008/11/03/we-say-twittertalk/

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We Say, twittertalk

A second version of the first experiment. In this window you can sort Twitter messages on certain words. Try to work with two words or use the more obvious words like McCain / Obama if you want to use more words. Otherwise you won’t get any results.

Another great polling service
Erik Borra created a polling service based on what people say on Twitter. With the service you get results on what people say they voted on Twitter. I’m trying to make a bar graph for this.

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I voted, storytelling with public databases

I’m a big fan of public databases, the live web and storytelling. I think they all give new opportunities for interactive and online storytelling. Twitter itself a very interesting database. Because it tells you what is going on and the API is very good.

About “I voted”
The next days American citizens will vote for either McCain or Obama. My guess is a lot of Twitter users will say on Twitter when, and on who they voted. This Flash application uses Twitter Search to see who voted on who. The animation automatically updates with the most recent tweet.

Queries
For this animation I use search.twitter.com (used to be summize.com)
The query: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%22i+voted%22+%2B+McCain+OR+Obama+-twitvote

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