Twitter + Augmented Reality

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What happens when you put together Flash, Augmented Reality, Papervision3D, the Twitter API, and a bored geek? You get this little webcam demo of a Flash app that tracks a marker and displays a speech bubble with your latest tweet.

Although Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for a while now, cheap webcams, 3D on the web, and other factors have only recently enabled the field of AR to be usable by the masses.

Thanks to John Lindquist’s tutorials, I was able to quickly put together a small demo of what you can do with AR and the Twitter API.

The commercial use of AR is still in it’s infancy and people are still trying to figure out how to use it. There have been some examples in the entertainment space, namely the PS3 game Eye of Judgement and the Topps Baseball trading cards.

Here’s a cool AR idea for a conference. Your registration badge can come with a marker that can be read by a big interactive wall installation with cameras. You can then walk up to it and it would show you your sessions. Not only that, but other people who walk up to it can also see their sessions and maybe, if the person standing next to you has the same sessions as you, it would let you know that so you can connect.

Here’s another cool AR idea for the web. Webcam Poker. Each player would have a marker on their desk. The webcam can then pick up the marker and project a virtual hand on your desk, so that your opponent would see your desk as if you had cards on them and you would be able to play virtual poker in a slightly more realist fashion than just clicking cards on screen.

Popularity: 4% [?]

DIYtraffic Realtime Traffic Alerts Via SMS

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Here’s a project that my friend Dan Greenblatt has been working on. DIYtraffic is a free community based traffic alert system. Traffic updates via mobile phones have been around a while, but some of the cost money and there hasn’t been any unified platform.

DIYtraffic is an easy-to-configure application that alerts you to traffic problems in a local area as they occur. The app, which is set up to pull from Yahoo’s traffic API and send to Twitter (but can be configured to pull/push from/to any service), will send SMS messages to your phone about traffic jams from accidents, street closures, etc, for the city you configure it for.

Here’s the twitter feed for Chicago. http://twitter.com/traffic_chicago

Popularity: 2% [?]

On Corporate Mashups – Or Lack Thereof

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There’s been a lot of talk about mashups in corporations due to the creation of successful mashup applications in the consumer world. EveryBlock (formerly ChicagoCrime.org) comes to mind.
I have 2 thoughts on that:

  1. Departments are over protective of their data and are reluctant to give up control.
  2. Mashups should not require developers to make.

Let’s talk about my first thought. A department is responsible for their services and data. Making a mashup requires opening up their services to the rest of the firm. There are several reasons why departments would be resistant to that. First, there’s hording. By that I don’t mean they horde the data, but rather their sense of ownership. Creating a mashup API means relinquishing some level of control. For some people, that’s one of their biggest fears. Related to that point is transparency. Exposing services could possibly expose the fact that much of what they have running are built on sticks and stones and smoke and mirrors. Perhaps I take too grim a view on this. These reasons among others are probably why we haven’t seen that many mashups in the corporate world.

Another thought I had was that mashups, besides requiring the exposing of services (which I claimed is a roadblock), also can only be created by developers. Yet, I think the people who would benefit most from these, the types of people who are power spreadsheet users for example, are pretty much locked out of them because they lack the skill or know how to create them. What if we rethought the way mashups are? Here’s a crazy idea – RSS feeds are slowly gaining exposure. A few years ago, RSS was strictly a geek thing although now, more and more people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of blogs and news feeds. I know that RSS has permeated into non-techies when my friend in MBA school is using Google Reader. What if we exposed mashup APIs that outputted RSS? Expose corporate services as REST APIs similar to that of Flickr and output the results as RSS. I think that will lower the barrier to entry for non technical people to tinker with services and to be able to consume the results in the RSS reader of their choice.

I think by opening up mashups to everyone, we will see an explosion in its use, much like how blogs allowed the average person to have a voice on the internet.

Popularity: 1% [?]