thoughts on art, interactivity, technology, design, culture & life

Archive for the Technology Category

I recently came across a new iPhone game called Parra Plays. The design of the application was really intriguing because of its simple design and flat shapes. It seems that most iPhone application designers prefer to add more dimension to their designs. Naturally I had to download this application to see what the rest of it looked like. I was surprised to find that the application was released by Incase, a company that makes cases for Apple products.

What the application does

The application contains three mini games inside:

Poppers It’s like a touch screen version of “Whac-A-Mole.” Touch the clouds before they pop! Sounds easy enough, right? Keep playing…

Parrot Loosely based on “Simon Says,” but with a twist. You think you can break 100? Yeah right!

Pairs Very similar to the classic “Memory” card game. Uncover the matching cards. The faster you do it, the better your score!

What's great about this application

I should preface this by saying I'm not a gamer, but for me these mini-games were casual, engaging and charming. The design was simple and well executed. It's clear some thought went into the sound design (and the sound adds a lot of value to the game). What was most impressive to me was that without any direction or indication of what to do I was able to pick up the game and immediately figure out how to play.1 I love the simplicity of this application.

Great example of a branded application

This application is part of a larger project called Curated by Arkitip that collaborates with artists/designers to create embellished cases for Incase.2  In addition to being able to purchase some awesome cases, the website allows its visitors to download wallpapers, videos, icons and other content. The Parra Plays application is a great example of how downloadable content from a brand can be extended to the iPhone.

By placing Parra's design on the iPhone in game form, Incase breathes life into graphics which are still and inactive. It is also able to extend its reach to users who didn't know Incase's curated by Arkitip project existed (like myself). Unlike a lot of other branded applications, this applications primary objective appears to be fun. It's a refreshing example of how branded iPhone applications can be fun, engaging, and a great ambassator for it's brand.

FOOTNOTES
  1. I think this probably is due to the simplicity of the game. If you only have a bunch of shapes in front of you and some of them are changing colors, there's only so many game play options available
  2. "Curated by Arkitip is a project designed for Incase, aimed at delivering artistically embellished Apple® products to users who have an appreciation for the creative arts and technology. All artists are carefully chosen by Arkitip for dedication to their respective art forms and unique points of view." -via Incase curated by Arkitip

My friend Justin recently asked me if I knew how to invert a mask in AS3. Technically of course this is not possible (at least as far as I know). You can however nest the DisplayObject you wish to mask and a copy of the original mask in a Sprite or MovieClip and use the LAYER and ERASE blend modes to create the desired effect.

You can get the source code for this HERE. I hope this helps.

As many of you know I am not the biggest fan of Microsoft's Silverlight, when I worked with it last year for Microsoft's Silverlight Challenge I found it hard to design for and the developer I worked with found it really hard to code for. At the end of the project we decided that our "application" could have been done in 1/8th of the time with Flash. Silverlight does however have its unique features, one being its digital rights management, another being high quality video -- two things Flash has yet to pull off. Since Silverlight came on the scene a little over a year ago I have been waiting to see a truly awesome application of Silverlight technology. Enter Netflix.

When Netflix launched its new Movie Viewer a couple of months ago I was really excited, finally I could get the full value out of my subscription! Their Movie Viewer is done in Silverlight and I can honestly say it is one of the best, if not the best video player I have seen online to date. Compared to a video player built in Flash it is far smoother, much quicker, buffers less, and the image is higher quality too. I've spent a ton of time testing it out on my Mac and it's a well built and solid application that is easy to use. My favorite part of the player is possibly one of the simplest: when you're in full screen you can press spacebar to pause and play your video. Below is a sample of the image quality (click to see the full-size). Let's hope Netflix starts getting some more main stream content for their online player, if they do I could be done with discs forever.

YouTube Preview ImageI spend most of my days (and nights) interacting with some form of technology, which keeps my hands teathered to input devices attempting to communicate my commands and wishes to something that simply isn't human. Here are the devices that store the things I take in and yet, I have no way of talking back aside from textual and gestural commands that strips the emotion and expression out of my communication. I have reason to believe that this era of sterile human-computer interaction and communication is coming to an end.

Some time this year Emotiv Systems will release the Emotiv EPOC neuroheadset. After some light training this device will be able to detect what you are thinking and allow your computer to react accordingly. I don't think I need to go into why this is revolutionary. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.

It's important to keep in mind the possibility that in the near future buttons won't be the primary form of input, but rather a piece of a much larger puzzle. As the spectrum of input devices gets wider I expect that the interactive and technological spaces we create will flow much more seamlessly into the tangible spaces we surround ourselves with; reacting to us much more effortlessly than they do now.

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