Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Concert catchup

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

As long-time TCW watchers know, we do love the concert scene. In the last 3 months we’ve had the good fortune to be up close for 3 very different shows:

Red Hot Chili Peppers in Oakland, CA. This was originally slated for April but was postponed to August after Anthony Kiedis broke his foot. Fantastic show, hey oh!

The Tedeschi-Trucks Band in Saratoga, CA. They brought a big band and a big noise. Some of Susan’s material, some of Derek’s and some from the togetherness band. DTB is one of my favorites this year, and this show did not disappoint.

Peter Gabriel Back to Front Tour, San Jose, CA. Still one of the most creative artists in the world, even if he does look like a portly elder statesman these days. Fabulous show, as seen from 3rd row center. Bonus tech-relevant item: each musician had a Kinect mounted at their position, used to capture & project new-aesthetic-vibe imagery on the screen behind.

AR photography

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Last week at Where 2.0 and Wherecamp, the air was full of AR augments. Between the locative photos in the Instagram layer, the geotagged tweets in TweepsAround, and the art/protest layer called freespace, there were many highly visual, contextually interesting AR objects being generated, occupying and flowing through the event spaces. These were invisible of course, until viewed through the AR lens. I found myself becoming very aware of this hidden dimension, wondering what new objects might have appeared, what I might encounter if I peered through the looking glass right here, right now. And then I found myself taking pictures in AR, because I was discovering moments that seemed worth capturing and sharing.

Larry and Mark weren’t physically at Where 2.0, but their perceived presence loomed large over the proceedings. Those are clever mashups on the Obey Giant theme as well; what are they trying to say here?

At Wherecamp on the Stanford campus, locative social media were very much in evidence. Here, camp organizer @anselm and AR developer @pmark were spotted in physical/digital space.

The freespace cabal apparently thought the geo community would be receptive to their work, although it seemed some of the messages were aimed at a different audience. The detention of Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei is a charged topic, certainly.

So you’ll note that although these are all screenshots from the AR view in Layar, I’m referring to them as photographs in their own right. It’s a subtle shift, but an interesting one. For me, this new perspective is driven by several factors: the emergence of visually interesting and contextually relevant AR content, the idea that AR objects are vectors for targeted messages, and the new screenshot and share functions which make Layar seem more like a social digital camera app. I’m finding myself actively composing AR photos, and thinking about what content I could create that would make good AR pictures other people would want to take. Oh, and that awkward AR holding-your-phone-up gesture? I’m taking pictures, what could be more natural?

AR photography feels like it might be important. What do you think?


augmented hypersocial media

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Christopher and I had this funny exchange the other day. Physical, digital and social worlds interwoven, with many border crossings; I guess this would be an example of what @anthropunk calls “polysocial reality.”

It started when I found @jewelia‘s Instagram pic from the Where 2.0 stage in the new Instagram AR layer in Layar. I took a screenshot:

and shared it on Twitter:

A bit later, I saw my tweet in the TweepsAround layer, and I took a screenshot:

and shared that one to Twitter too:

Then Christopher @endurablegoods got in on the fun:

Of course that was bait, so I snapped a photo in Color:

and shared it on Twitter:

But Christopher was not to be outdone:

And in the end:

We live in interesting times.


hello world: Mobile AR with Layar & Hoppala

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Welcome! This tutorial will show you how to create mobile AR using the Layar platform and Hoppala CMS service, with no programming required. I’ve kept it simple on purpose — both Layar and Hoppala have additional capabilities you should take the time to explore; for the technically inclined, the Layar developer wiki is a good place to start.

Mobile Augmented Reality for Non-Programmers
A Simple Tutorial for Layar and Hoppala

1. What you need to create your first mobile AR layer:

* A smartphone that supports the Layar AR browser. This means an iPhone 3GS or 4, or an equivalent Android device that has built-in GPS and compass. As of March 2011, Symbian S3 and S60 devices should also work, as should the Apple iPad2.
* The Layar app, downloaded onto your device from the appropriate app store.
* A computer with web access.

2. Get connected:

You’ll need to create a developer account with Layar and an account on the Hoppala Augmentation content management system (CMS). This should only take a few minutes:

* The Hoppala website:
* The Layar developer website:

Once you have your accounts, sign in to both sites and to the Layar app on your device.

3. Get started:

When you log into Hoppala, you should see the Dashboard, a simple list of your layers with Titles, Names and Overlay URLs.

Hoppala dashboard

At the bottom right of the page, click Add Overlay to create a new layer. A new entry will be added to the list, with Untitled, noname and a long, ugly URL. On the far right of that entry line, click the pencil icon to edit and give your layer a new title and name. The name needs to be all lowercase alphanumeric. Click the Save button.

Next, click on the name of your new layer. This will open a Google Map-based page. Use the map controls or enter your address to navigate to your current location and zoom in.

Hoppala map view

To add a point of interest (POI), click Add augment at bottom right of the page. This will add a basic POI called Untitled in the center of the map. You can drag it to the location you want.

To customize your new POI, click on the red map pin and a popup will open. The popup has 4 tabs, labeled General, Assets, Actions and Location. Each tab is a form we will use to enter data about the POI. For now, don’t worry about the Location tab.

Hoppala POI menu (click for larger view)


* The title and description fields can be whatever text you want. The title is limited to 60 characters, and each description line can be 35 characters. Note that long text strings may not display fully on a small device screen. Try typing HELLO WORLD as your title.
* Thumbnail is the picture that is displayed in the POI’s information panel in the mobile app view. You can upload your own thumbnail from your computer by using Choose File and then Add.
* You can ignore the Footnote and Filter value fields for now.
* BE SURE TO CLICK THE SAVE BUTTON and wait for the confirmation.


* Icons are the small graphics that show up in the AR view for basic POIs. Choose default (you can create custom icons later if you like).
* Assets are 2D images or 3D objects that appear in the AR view. You can upload your own assets using Choose File and then Add. Images can be .jpg or .png; 3D objects must be in Layar’s .l3d format.
* Note that Hoppala supports some non-Layar AR browsers. You can ignore any sections for “junaio” and “Wikitude”.
* BE SURE TO CLICK THE SAVE BUTTON and wait for the confirmation.


* In the Layar browser, you can have actions triggered from POIs. These can include going to a website, playing an audio or video, sending a tweet, an email or text, and making a phone call.
* Hoppala allows you to include up to 8 actions per POI.
* Actions can appear as buttons for the user to click, or they can be auto-triggered based on the user’s proximity to the POI location.
* Try adding a link to a website. For Label, type Google. Select ‘Website’ in the pulldown menu. Type for the URL.
* BE SURE TO CLICK THE SAVE BUTTON and wait for the confirmation.

You can add more POIs, or move on to configuring and testing the layer.

4. Configure your layer:

Log into the Layar developer site. At the top right of the page, click My Layers and you will see a table of your existing layers, if any.

Layar Developer Site (click for larger view)

To add your new layer, click the Create a layer button. You will see a popup form.

* Layer name must be exactly the same as the name you chose in Hoppala.
* Title can be a friendly name of your choosing.
* Layer type should be whichever type you have made. If you used a 2D image or 3D model as an asset, select ‘3D and 2D objects in 3D space’.
* API endpoint URL is the URL for your layer, which you can copy from the Hoppala dashboard (the long ugly one).
* Short description is just some text.

Click Create layer and you should be done!

(There are lots more editing options, but you can safely ignore them for now).

5. Test your layer:

Start up the Layar app on your mobile device. Be sure you are logged in to your Layar developer account, or you will not see your unpublished test layer. Select LAYERS, and then TEST. You should see your test layer listed. Note: older versions of the Layar app may put the TEST listing in different places, so you may need to poke around a bit. Select your layer and LAUNCH it. Now look for your POIs and see if they came out looking the way you had expected.

Congratulations, you are now an AR author!

hijacking the here and now: my first Ignite talk

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Excited (and a bit nervous ;-) about doing my first ever Ignite talk, next Monday 3/28 in SF. I’ve got 5 minutes to get through 20 auto-advancing slides on the subject of “Hijacking the Here and How: Adventures in Augmented Reality.” Here’s what I said in my submission:

Augmented reality is all about webcam marketing gimmicks and filling the world with geotagged logos, right? Nope, wrong. Instead, we’re learning that the natural mode of expression for AR, is enabling people to *hack time and space*. In 5 minutes, I’ll show you ~20 solid examples of how artists, journalists, historians and citizen activists are using augmented reality to hijack the here and now.

If you’re in San Francisco on Monday, come by and check it out — there are loads of fun speakers lined up, and it would be great to see some familiar faces! Details here:

je mixe ce soir!

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

In honor of Facebook’s announcements today about making mobile more social, I’d like to remind you of this visionary portrayal of what it will be like when Facebook is truly mobile. Looks like we’ve got a long way to go.


That’s right AR fans, it’s the Toxic Avenger feat. Orelsan performing last summer’s monster Internet dance hit, N’Importe Comment. So slip on your mindglasses, turn up the bass in your earplants, and prepare to “Like” this french fratboy fantasy from the future. Watch carefully, because this is a precious, fleeting snapshot of the way our connected culture felt, circa mid-2010. Someday, cyborg anthropologists are going to have a field day with this thing. Je mixe ce soir!

Experience Design for Mobile AR: my Web2Expo slides

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

immerse yourself

Friday, February 19th, 2010

In order to think creatively about the impact of the connected world, you need to immerse yourself in the culture, practices and intellectual perspectives that define and exemplify the connected worldview. Here are some suggestions for you and your friends, family and colleagues to try out in the next few months.


Daniel Suarez’ novels Daemon and Freedom (TM), and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Makers are four excellent near-future science fiction novels that I recommend highly. Both Suarez and Doctorow are savvy observers of today’s high tech scene, and they use their knowledge of technology to extrapolate our common experience of the Internet and personal computing into imaginative and entertaining stories of the future to come.

(The links above are to Amazon; if you buy there I receive a small commission which I donate to a reputable charity. You can also download Makers for free from Cory’s site. Little Brother too).


O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 (3/30 – 4/1, 2010 in San Jose, CA) is the best conference to intersect with experts in mapping, mobile social location services, geoweb, GIS, and more. Also don’t miss the open unconference WhereCamp SF 2010 on April 3&4 hosted by Google.

New thinktank Council have declared April 9th Global Internet of Things Day, an unstructured, self-organizing event aimed at discussion of the notion of an Internet of Things. If you’re in Silicon Valley that day, I’m organizing an informal workshop focused on the Internet of People, Places and Things. If interested, ping me on twitter or email

If you’re in Europe in May, Lift10 will convene a delightful community of future thinkers with a definite slant toward humanistic design. Geneva, May 5-7, 2010.

Augmented Reality Event 2010 is an industry conference about, well, augmented reality. It runs June 2-3, 2010 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. The always provocative Bruce Sterling will keynote. I’ll be speaking there, along with a very bright roster of technical and business folks. If you’re going, get in touch and we’ll find the best parties together.

Get Your Game On

EVOKE is a game about learning to change the world through social innovation. It was developed by the World Bank Institute, the learning and knowledge arm of the World Bank Group, and directed by alternate reality game master Jane McGonigal.

EVOKE is free to play and open to anyone, anywhere. The game begins on March 3, 2010, and players can join the game at any time. Players who successfully complete ten game challenges in ten weeks will be able to claim their honors: Certified World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010. Top players will also earn online mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world, and scholarships to share their vision for the future at the EVOKE Summit in Washington DC.

I’m part of the team helping to run the game, along with some truly amazing people from around the world. I hope you’ll check it out, sign up to play, and see firsthand how games might just change the world.