All posts tagged ‘GPS’

by CalebSeptember 13, 2010

Mobile Crowdsourcing: Citizen Science Helps Map California Roadkill

Researchers at the University of California are embracing GPS-enabled devices to help pinpoint and map local roadkill. They've created the Roadkill Observation System, a prime example of citizen science and the ability to crowdsource information using mobile phones.

According to The New York Times:

Begun a year ago, the Web site is the first statewide effort to map roadkill using citizen observers. Volunteers comb the state’s highways and country roads for dead animals, collecting GPS coordinates, photographs and species information and uploading it to a database and Google map populated with dots representing the kills. The site’s gruesome gallery includes photos of flattened squirrels or squashed skunks.

The site’s founders hope to soon hire a software engineer to design a smartphone app. They think one would attract new and younger volunteers, speed up the process, and, with built-in GPS function, assure more accurate location information.

We first wrote about participatory sensing last November, discussing how mobile app use is helping organizations map everything from sentiment to real-time traffic reports. This same tactic has been used to track cassowaries, measure city noise levels, and locate wild-food sources. Embracing the ubiquity of networked mobile devices is something anyone in research should consider.

by CalebAugust 10, 2010

Connected Objects: Precious Bicycle Tracks Rider's Trip Across America

On August 3, writer Janeen McCrae mounted her bicycle and began pedaling West, making her way through the fog of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains. This wasn't any ordinary ride though, it was day two of a larger journey, a transcontinental trip to the West coast and part of the LIVESTRONG fight against cancer. To raise awareness, Janeen recruited Breakfast NY to create a custom bicycle. The result: Precious, a bike with a brain and a number of sensors to track and broadcast information along the way. From BreakfastNewYork's YouTube description:

Starting at the Atlantic and ending at the Pacific, Precious will spend 3 months riding across the country sharing his thoughts, experiences, body temperature and much more. Fitted with a brain of wires, circuits and whole lot of code, he'll use his new silicon senses to share what it feels like to have a sweaty chain while riding up the side of the Rockies. He'll even share his subconscious dreams from time to time, which can get a little, well, bike-freaky.

Here is the video introduction to the Yes, I am Precious website:

This is an example of a major technological trend we've been tracking called "Connected Objects" in which objects are networked and can "talk" to other computers. This means that they can be tracked as they move through space and time. In the case of Precious, the talking object is a bike. Here are some other examples from the cycling category:

  • MIT's Copenhagen Wheel, controlled via smartphone, uses sensors in the wheel to become environmentally aware.  You can use your phone to view relevant real-time information such as air and noise pollution, congestion and road conditions.
  • ITP student Robert Carlsen created MobileLogger, an iPhone application that allows cyclists to collect data about their ride. It also maps data on rider density, time of day, speed, and distance.
  • Chance Collective's connected bicycle updated Twitter automatically while riding around London's East Festival.

In August 2004, science fiction author Bruce Sterling coined these situationally aware objects as spimes. The diffusion of RFID and GPS technologies, or their increased prevalence through affordable consumer technologies, is making "smart objects" an everyday reality.

However, what do these objects have to say? Is it important? Is anyone listening? In Janeen's case, the environmentally aware bicycle is a novelty, providing friends and family with realtime entertainment. But there are other examples in which smart objects add critical value: Australian lifeguards track sharks via SMS in order to maintain beachgoer safety; Verizon's Family Locator let parents pinpoint their children's location.

It remains important to keep focus on why an object is being connected. If you are a brand, do you want this object to tell a story? Is it providing some sort of  brand utility or "utilitainment" for consumers? It certainly doesn't hurt to make something that is functional and interesting, such as Janeen's Precious.

by CalebJune 22, 2010

Loopt Enables Always On Location Awareness

With the roll out of Apple iOS 4 comes a variety of new features, one of which gives apps the ability to run in the background. Location based service Loopt has immediately taken advantage of this by offering auto check-ins.

When you check-in to a venue, there is a new “Live Location” area at the bottom of the check-in screen. This is a slider which allows you to set how long you’d like Loopt to update your location in the background without you having to do anything. This slider can be set from anywhere to a few minutes up to 8 hours. When it’s set, if the iPhone notices you’ve left an area (which it can tell by your phone switching cell towers), it will update your location on the Loopt map that is built in to the software.

This could be a natural next step for location based services. For one, there has been talk about the need for a "check-out," or notifying friends that you are no longer at a given location. Secondly, users have reported "check-in fatigue," something that services have been trying to work around with additional incentives.

Privacy is definitely still a concern, so Loopt has given users the ability to publish exact location to just a specific subset of their social graph. Surely, the way we think about privacy and control of our location data will change with time, this is just one step in the grand scheme of things.

[via techcrunch]

by CalebJune 18, 2010

Tweetworthy: iPhone 4 Subway Ad, World Cup Multitasking, GPS Security, and More

1. iPhone 4 Advertising [Concept] In The Tokyo Subway

2. Cellphones may tell you food's safe

3. Espresso Machine Personalizes Service Through Mobile Phone Identification

4. World Cup: How Are You Watching?

5. Brands Planning for a Mobile Future @ The #Promise

6. The innovative use of mobile applications in East Africa

7. GPS Device Helps Domestic Violence Victims Avoid Their Abusers

8. Mobile Social Networking Drives Rising App Usage

9. Nokia Commits To Near Field Communication

10. Check Your Badges at the Door

Tweetworthy is a weekly roundup of the most shared tweets from @MobileBehavior. You can follow us on Twitter here.

by CalebMay 25, 2010

Experience Location-Based London History With Streetmuseum

Providing users with a new way to experience history, the London Museum has released Streetmuseum.

The [iPhone] app takes hundreds of images from the Museum of London's collections and overlays them onto their real-life locations. Users can pick a location from a London map or use GPS to locate a nearby image. By holding their phone camera up to the scene, they can see the same site as it appeared years ago, along with the history behind the historical image.

Through mobile apps like Streetmuseum, our cities can now be experienced from a variety of perspectives. Timeshifting reality is now possible. Brands can "hack" our worlds to present useful and interesting information. Designers can create pervasive mobile games that turn life into a game.

[via creativity]

by CalebMay 18, 2010

Perspective: Michael Ferrare of Agency Magma on QR and The World Park

On Arbor Day Weekend, QR codes were seeded across NYC's Central Park, transforming it into a mobile interactive experience. With web-enabled smartphones and QR code readers, users could explore "The World Park" in a new way. Upon scanning a code, users were presented with educational trivia about the park. Friends could compete for the most correct answers across categories like Science, Pop Culture, Art, and History. After attending, we wanted to learn more about the project so we  spoke with Michael Ferrare, founder and owner of Agency Magma, the group that put the event together.

What is the inspiration behind the World Park, the goal?

Wow, nice to ask. I was moving to NYC after having lived in Miami for over four years. One of the first things that took me over was the history and the landmarks that people seemed to just pass over. From Washington Square Park to Union Square, most people don't know what they stand on and what they are walking over. They are walking over history. Life. Artifacts. Moments in time.

Now, take instantaneous information technology, GPS specific locations, and Wikipedia at anytime. You can learn more about where you stand, anytime you want. Although it sounds like a great opportunity, the biggest problem is information overload. So, I, Central Park is so rich in history, what if we brought all of the information in the world, boiled it down, and presented it in such a way that is was as if the park was speaking to you? Letting you 'opt into' mobile data and rich content-relevant to all people (thus the categories such as science, pop culture, history, and art).

After meeting with the Parks, they loved the idea and wanted to see it in action. The park is always looking for new ways to engage the younger, next generation park visitor with their local and international tourism destination; The World Park attempts to deliver on that concept. By taking the technology that younger consumers already use and overlaying that onto the park, you can have a very low impact (physical imprint on the park, compacted signage system) interaction with the park, yet drive a much deeper park interaction through words, images, videos, and artifacts from history.

Why QR codes?

The World Park would turn New York's Central Park into an interactive board game, that was the idea. We could have just used an app that tracks your location, then served up content like 'playing cards' for our interactive park tour board game, but budget didn't allow for it.

QR codes are a visual thing. However, they are ugly too. So believe it or not,  we spent over 100 hours designing that QR code. We wanted to be the first to introduce it on a somewhat mass scale in an memorable way, it's a digital tree. It's so much more recognizable and memorable than compared to a 2D bar code; traditional QR codes don't have a personality, we have a tree for an Arbor Day launch event. We're proud of that tree, but we know that geocaching and apps are another way to go. Tracking is a huge deal for us and the Parks.

It's also very important that we introduce the idea as a physical board game. In the world of public locations such as Central Park or The Moma (museums and park signage), people still need visual notifiers to know that they can interact, or find the bathroom.  QR codes fit our budget, allowed us to create a visual in-nature existence and make it all feel like a real Candy Land like board game.

Are you willing to share the success of your efforts?

On Saturday (one of two days), we had over 1200 particpants making at least one scan. That's huge to us. We got the local New Yorker engaged and excited to go into the park, or even put forth an idea that persuaded them if they we're strolling by. Everyone was really excited about the idea and jumped in if they had an iPhone or smartphone. The Droid/Verizon users had the best experience. The connectivity on AT&T was spotty, which is why we want a local WiFi sponsor for our next event.

Finally, does Agency Magma have any previous work related to mobile, or any coming?

Yes, of course. The World Park is a mobile interactive experience meaning it uses mobile technology, but it in fact moves from city-to-city. New York is planned through the fall, and we are currently offering the next World Park weekend event to be sponsored by a local organization. The experience is also being presented to other tourism groups particularly in major metropolitan areas, although we have received a few great calls from Oregon and a children's museum. Currently, we're looking for technology partners to make it bigger and better.

Previously, we worked on a project for Toyota Matrix which used mobile as a part of an ARG to feature the campaign alter egos in a real life experience-all while they are in the car coming to visit you . The mobile phone allowed us to make their personalities come to life, and allowed people to interact with the characters via texting and voicemail. In the past, I have done many campaigns that integrated mobile including work for Virgin Atlantic, Burger King, and Toyota. Last year we used our QR code digital tree in a small fundrasier for Central Park after a tornado destroyed 300 trees. It was small, but certainly fun. We also did a small test campaign for Sony's District 9 that used mobile as a way to unlock hidden movie content from the street via QR codes.

The World Park is our first big mobile idea that's much more than just part of an integrated advertising or marketing campaign. It's the actual experience that people come to play with, a mobile experience that takes place in the real world, in a real location. It's great that it happens while people move around. By motivating you though an interactive board game, we think that visitors will engage with the park, walk further, and discover and enjoy more of what it has to offer. It's like allowing the park to have it's own "pitch" if you will.

At the end of the day, we believe that we have an idea that can make for a next generation tourism experience. The World Park is what we think the park interaction of tomorrow could look like.

Watch the trailer for The World Park here.

More about Michael Ferrare:

Michael is founder and owner of Agency Magma, a NYC marketing company that provides "fuel for brands." Previously, he helped start the Integrated Creative Department at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and has worked with brands at a variety of agencies including Avenue A/Razorfish and Saatchi & Saatchi.

by CalebMay 13, 2010

GPS Film Provides Location Based Mobile Cinema

GPS Film is a mobile application that lets users experience a place through location-based video. Through mobile technology, it redefines "immersive content" and digital environments.

As the viewer travels by walking, bus, or taxi, the movie is assembled as he passes through different areas. By exploring a park, a neighbourhood, or even a city or country, GPS Film continually 'reads' the location of the viewer and plays scenes that are tied to those places.

This is a platform for "location based mobile cinema." The first film that supports it is Nine Lives, a Singaporean chase comedy that lets users explore nine neighborhoods, each of which tell a different part of the story.

Guided tours have been an obvious starting point for those wanting to get their feet wet in the mobile space. In 2008, we pointed to location curation as something to watch. Louis Vuitton partnered with Soundwalk for a unique portrayal of Shanghai. Sound Trip is an iPhone and iPod app that acts as an audio guide to Tokyo. Brands have provided utility through curated cities and apps like Nike True City and Foursquare. While analog park maps and museum audio tours have been around for a while, the popularity of GPS enabled mobile phones has opened up new opportunities for exploring physical space.

Watch GPS Film demonstrated here.

[via popwuping]

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