Excuse the pun but we pulled this rabbit out of the hat to remind everyone how much of an impact our first interactive floor projection had on the company, our partners and more importantly our clients.
Virtual Garden developed back in 2003, starred a virtual agent in the form of a cuddly bunny rabbit (who challenged audiences to a game of catch) and colourful flowers that mysteriously blossomed beneath your feet. Ultimately the app was more than an interactive floor projection; it was our foray into the world of conceptual environments.
The app, an excellent ice-breaker for most any setting was immensely popular with kids of all ages, immersing audiences in a wonderland all their own, and more importantly helping us realize the potential that lay in applying creativity, technology and design to countless venues. In sum, Virtual Garden was part of what led us to where we are now: a company dedicated to crafting interactive conceptual environments and experiences for audiences the world over.
The Sub-Saharan Africa pavilion, actually an entire building that housed several countries, put on an impressive out-door show, everyday.
The entire outside wall was covered by a mosaic of 15cm square plaques. These pieces were decorated with translucent silvery vinyl and were hung from the top, as if sequins, so that they would sway with the wind creating a very convincing, and soothing, building-sized water rippling effect.
At night, though, the thing would burst into light and serve as a gigantic screen, in which the plaques acted as black-and-white pixels, each powered by a set of 4 white LEDs. Of course images could only be perceived from a relatively large distance and had a CGA-comparable pixel resolution.
Content featured a long and exciting sequence of animations and real video, intended to pass some water-related awareness message, according to those who designed it.
(Allow me to say that in front of a sun-bright thousand LEDs, environmental awareness -or any kind of awareness, for that matter- isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. Nothing really pops into your mind. You just feel amazed, kind of happy, physically overwhelmed, and for those in the mood, a pure technological bliss.)
Android, the mobile phone software platform / operating system being developed by Open Handset Alliance (comprising of Google, Intel, Motorola and others), has recently announced the winners of the Android Developer Challenge.
The contest was launched by Google and provided 10 million dollars in awards for the developers of mobile applications to be used with the Android. (Let’s not forget the raging success of iPhone’s App Store, which adds much appeal to the iPhone and a nice income source for Apple).
Each one of the top ten winners got 275,000 dollars for the work and creativity they put onto their apps. Most of them incorporate location-based information of some sort, with some focusing more on social networking, marketing or gaming.
Among many intersting apps, there’s Compare Everywhere that allows you got to a physical store and enjoy all the price comparison, product review and alternate store locator that you can have online. The ecology minded have Ecorio, which let’s you calculate and assess your carbon footprint on the go; and the avid social networkers who actually do turn off Facebook / Hi5 / Twitter to go out at night, can use Wertago to find recommended locations. Full list here.
Over the summer I spent a few days in Chicago; I knew a little about the windy city by the lake, with the impressive architecture. What I didn’t know was that Chicago has a world-renowned collection of public art, which seems to abound particularly in downtown Millennium Park.
The park pretty much doubles as an outdoor gallery and concert hall with plenty of impressive stuff on display! Day or night the place was always crawling with visitors of all ages who came for concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, to laugh and pose in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture, or gawk at the massive Crown Fountain glass block towers at each end of a shallow pool, while waiting expectantly for a burst of water to spout from the mouth of the Chicagoan up on the massive screen.
Granted, Crown Fountain is pretty fantastic as is, but I couldn’t help wondering how much more immersive it would be if there was a way of displaying the grinning faces of the folks actually looking on, in real-time. Ok, call me narcissistic but yes, I would’ve gotten a kick out of having my “mug” plastered on the giant glass block, and admit it, you probably would have too.
Besides heading one of the company’s most ambitious projects – the development of new interactive surfaces – Inês Henriques is now also a prized author.
Inês was recently distinguished with the notable Rudolfs Medal from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an international not-for-profit technical and educational water quality organization, for a paper she co-authored focusing on the effects of shock loads of several organic and inorganic industrial chemicals which could disrupt the operation and performance of biological treatment systems if discharged in shock pulse patterns.
The award will be presented at ceremonies during the WEF’s 81st annual technical exhibition and conference – next month in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, visit www.weftec.org.