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

Archive for January 2009

I'm an iPhone developer so I spend a good percentage of my time each day touching, playing with, and creating cool stuff for that shiny little device. While the amount of time I spend using an iPhone each day is probably greater than the average iPhone user, I don't think I'm alone when I say "my phone is a very personal piece of technology". I think that a device which spends an increasing amount of time by our sides should be something that reflects the person who is using it.

Smashing Magazine recently posted an article with links to a great collection of iPhone Wallpapers...that is after all the first thing we see when we press the home button to wake the phone up from sleep. :-) Of the collection one website stood out: Poolga. Poolga does what a lot of wallpaper sites fail to do, provide quality wallpapers that are well designed and inspiring. Of course all wallpapers are 320x480 so if you own a T-Mobile G1 or plan on purchasing a Palm Pre (which actually looks pretty cool) don't worry you can pimp your device too. ;-)

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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