A bathroom scale is probably the last thing you would want as a christmas present. Imagine unwrapping it and trying to NOT seem insulted and hurt? Can you imagine a worse christmas present? Well, how about bathroom scales that take a picture of you, from the worst and least flattering angle, and uploads it straight to the web through Twitter and twitpic? Yes, I know, it’s a horrible idea! Which means it simply HAS to be made. So I did, or at least a working prototype!
Research – trying to find the worst angle to take the picture from!
Check out the example photos taken with the Tweeting batroom scale.
The code is written in actionscript3 and compiles as an AIR app, and is largely based on the wonderful work of Rudy van der Blom which he was so kind as to share with me. He made an APP called Twicam that lets you log in to your Twitter account, snap a 320×240 picture and upload it to the web with the push of a button.
I first change the code a little and added a keylistener, that automated the image posting when you pressed a certain button (r) on the keyboard. My plan was to modify the bathroom scale and add a switch to it, and run wires from the switch to a usb keyboard emulator. I sent that version to Rudy, and then he made a version that was motion triggered, which ment that no wires where necessary. Gold! He also added a cycler that made a grid consisting of four 160×120 images. I then increased the size of the final image to 640×480, and made a small change so that the app only posted a new image after the fourth grid had filled up (instead of every time a new grid was filled), and that is what the code is like now. A work in progress for sure, and I was so much fun to work with Rudy on this. Cool guy!
Rudy has agreed that we can share the code with anyone who want’s it, and I will try to find time to clean it up a little and upload it here. Rudy want’s to make and AIR installer for the motion triggered version and share it from his AIR app site. So stay tuned. Leave your info in the comments below if you want to be notified when the code is online!
I have a bug in the code that makes the image uploaded to Twitpic «off» compared to what you see on the screen when the app is running, so that needs to be fixed. I also want to add the manual switch I think, so that the software only sends pictures when someone is actually standing on the scales. The motion trigger seems a little unpredictable and slow, at least it eats almost all my macbook memory for some reason. A manual switch and a key listener would make the result smoother and more predictable, but the drawback is that you need alot more hardware to set it up.
The motiontriggered webcam is of course a very affordable security solution with free storage on the web, and can be used for just about anything. But I also made a Twittering christmas calendar, that takes a picture of the «thief» if she opens the day in her calendar too early. It’s still just a prototype, but here are some pictures that might give you an idea on how it works.
1. Anything that uses the web to connect people to each other in a physical location
Any service that makes it as easy to approach people on the street etc as it is on Twitter or Facebook. There are heaps of services that touches on this field, but not many that works or have enough members to make it work. So maybe there is room for a service that connects it all, and shows you on a mobile map where people who are open to «hellos» are. It could be a facebook app (facebook has 1 million members in Norway, of 4.7 million inhabitants). Your mobile phone would simply broadcast itself with a «hello, talk to me» to a google map and perhaps bluetooth. A cross between facebook, twitter and friendfeed, but with the purpose of connecting physical beings in a physical location.
2. A web based service that lets you record video from any television channel.
It makes no sense for everyone to own their own PVR/TIVO/Mediacenter and record to disk at home, when you could do it sentralized and distribute it with bittorrent. The business model is like this: 10 gb storage for free, if you are too lazy to delete, or simply want to keep things online longer, you pay extra. Everything you program to record is automatically downloaded to your harddrive if you want to. The gold: You get access to EVERY channel on the planet. I wanted to create this in 1998, but never got around to it, so you can have that idea for free :)
3. 24/7 live streaming video from your mobile device, with a twist (object identification)
Livestreaming from a cellphone is not new, it exists today, but here is the twist: 1) a small sensor analyses your brain-response to what you see or hear, and anything that creates an «unusual» reponse is indexed and flagged for later. 2) it also has a built in visual «thesaurus» (think wikipedia meets The Terminator), that can look up information on your surroundings in semi-realtime. So if you wanted to know whether or not to eat that delicious-looking red mushroom with the white dots, the system could advise you not to.
Did you know that American kids can identify 1000 products before they start school, but only know the name of 10 local plants (according to the movie «The 11th hour«)?
My son Leo (4 years old) decided to go through my idea-box (the golden box in the picture above) and do some heavy handed editing!
Here are some of the ideas he «didn’t like»:
1. A 100-mile gallery, inspired by the 100 mile diet, to only display works from artists living with a 100 mile radius. I thought it was a great idea, but Leo does not agree. I also like the idea of the 100 mile suit, as a concept for a local clothing store. Perhaps one could put all three together?
2. Falu-korv shaped like the Batman symbol. I was sure this would be an instant hit with the kids!
3. A magnetic dinner plate for children. By placing a powerful magnet underneath the table it is harder for a child to up-end it, or even move it. If you have children you know why this would be a great idea!
4. Thing library. A very old idea of mine, that has been implemented in many libraries all over the world, but I still want to create a local one. I had a web based personal thing library for a while, it is still online, but not really updated.
5. An anthology of poetry, short stories and images with an «Outdoors» theme. You know, nature. Working title Outside.
6. A website for giving yourself carbon credits and a better environmental conscience. There are plenty of carbon calculators out there, but they all seem to focus on how much you suck. I want to create one that shows how good you are. Actions that gives you free carbon credits are borrowing things from friends or libraries, recycling, not buying something new when you could or wanted to, buying something used instead of new, buying something green instead of not, buying something local instead of imported, doing nothing at all, using energy saving appliances instead, etc. You could still buy carbon credits if you absolutely wanted to, but is is far better if you give them to yourself as a reward for being green. Perhaps you could even sell them, or simply give them to a friend who has to travel somewhere.
7. A permanent flea market in my area. There are a few overpriced second hand stores in my city, and a few one-day flea markets, but there should be something more permanent, like in Amsterdam, New York or London, a big thriving mess of a market where people could sell or swap their stuff.
8. A cute sketch for a «family crest». Forest + Beach
9. A way to make a «Hotweels track» for my kids using recycled materials. My kids love playing with them, but they are super expensive and not environmentally friendly, but if there was a locally prodused and cheaper alternative created with recycled materials I would buy 50 meters and let the kids go wild. No reason why it is should be so expensive, its just plastic!
10. Hiring myself out to people who need to develop new ideas.
So what to you think, do you agree with Leo that these ideas should be «canned»?
Update, 7th of february 2009: This photo is published under a Creative Commons Attribution lisence on flickr (as are all my pictures). It was recently used by communicatrix.com as illustration. Respect! :)
I got this idea to create a web page for offering help to people, sort of peer2peer, only real, face to face (face2face?). I suppose it is more than slightly inspired by My name is Earl. Life has been sort of … slow … lately, and I believe good old Karma has something to do with it. Perhaps by doing some good for others will help pick things up a little bit, make life a little brighter.
Anyways, I wanted to see if anyone else was «inspired by My name is Earl» so I did a strict search for it on Google, and only got two hits! I think I’ll keep an eye on that search to see if more people start getting Earl-ish. I’m sure we all have some skeletons hanging over us, big or small. Some we might be able to put on a list and fix, but some are impossible, or just to hard to atone for directly. In those cases it would be great to have some other way of «paying it forward», or paying for it backwards, or … well, you know what I mean.
I want to tell you two stories, both are real, both are very recent.
1. A collegue of mine slipped on the ice and bruiced her face badly, and had to go to the emergency room . She had to spend the whole night there without sleep, and when she was on her way home she discovered that she didn’t have any money, her glasses was broken so she couldn’t see, and she looked really terrible). So she stood there and completely lost it. So up comes a man, gives her 200 NOK for a cabride home, and when she askes for his adress, he just says «No – just help someone else one day».
2. A few weeks later another collegue gets a phone call from a former classmate she hasn’t seen in years. She had forgotten all about this, but he remembers: He once borrowed a cd-player from her, and when he returned it it was broken. When she asked him if he broke it, he said «No». Now, 10 years later, he confesses that he actually DID break it, and sends her an envelope with 1200 NOK (about 200 $). Isn’t that sweet? Perhaps he had seen My name is Earl, written his own list. It really takes guts to do that, even for such a «small» thing like this.
I guess I will have to start my own list.
If you have heard any stories like that, where people might have been inspired by Earl’s list, please drop a comment, okay?
You can write your own scripts too. Mark Pilgrim’s definitive Greasemonkey guide, diveintogreasemonkey.org will show you how.
My new brilliant idea: I haven’t used Greasemonkey that much yet but for years I’ve wanted a solution to get easy information about the ethical and environmental profile of a firm or product when I’m in a store. Unfortunatly this is not really feasible, but it could be done in the web using Greasemonkey (+ a wiki of conserned citizens, and perhaps import of existing data (?) by XML. And then the option to edit the wiki througt a greasemonkey script.)
I think I will check if there are any only databases with this kind of data, I know there used to be one in Norway. If you have any tips, just write a comment.
Found some old notes when cleaning out my network share at work, pretty neat stuff for 2001, and I still want to work more on these. Please don’t steal them, because then I would have to kill ya, and that would be really impractical :)
Here it is, unread, unproofed, and unedited.
001. Working title: «Tristessas story»
Single stream? Artistic expression. Randomgeneration of dialog and innermonolog-based short film, from a large and groving collection of structured pieces of video from a database. Possibility to set and alter parameters before or while playing, like choosing mood. the whole point to create a poetic atmosphere. It would also be interesting if the audience could deside who should speak next or at all, and what sentences should be said). It should also be possible for the audience to edit sequences and make their own story, as well as to submit text to be filmaticed. The textbase is pieced together from several different poems and shortstories, all written by different people, and each story should be presented as a separate film if the audience should desire to follow a sentence back to its origin. Example of story with two «characters» (in norwegian)
Regn , sol Skumhvitt på toppene. Sterke understrømmer. Hun jubler vilt. I høye stormbølger under stormskyer ser jeg ikke klar himmel. Hun sa: «Ikke forlat meg her alene». Jeg svarte, nølende: «Kanskje …». Jeg hviler på hennes ord. Jeg sa: «Kan du lese øynene mine?. Ikke….»! Og jeg så på henne. Jeg så at det surret et dikt like ved øret hennes. Det var der bare et sekund, så fløy det videre. Og jeg har drømt, våket, bedt, grått, søkt meg inn til synet av ryggen da hun snudde og gikk.
002. Old peoples songs.
Information documentary / artistic expression. Paralell + collage-ish? The interface would be a grid of movies, where some old people are singing songs, fading in and out perhaps. If you click that person will fill the whole screen, will sing his/her song , and after that it would start playing an interview with that person being asked questions about different things (I have a ridiculous long list). Actually, it would be interesting to just talk to them about everything, and illustrate the things they talk about in much the sam way as Chris Hales did in My twelve favorite things, and if the user indicates a certain interest in a spesific theme (first kisses for instance!) then other peoples experiences would pop up. This is actually a classical documantary, just a little interactiveised J Actually, in addition, there should be interactive rooms/appartement, where you could poke around, check out whats hanging on the walls, read a little, just poke around the memories of this person, and every object one could imagine pokable.
003. I had an idea weirdly similar to Chris’s film from the square of xxxx?
I wanted to film a street crossing for a long time, long enough in fact to be able to begin sorting and categorising people. I could use the same technique as chris and for examlpe only have people with something red on them to be in the picture at a given time, or only beautiful girls, or only old people, etc, Perhaps the audience could make their own «natural selection» of what they wanted to see.from a meny on the side, In addition to this I want to do 1) a part where actors and poets performs rinht in the camera, pluss 2) a section where the passersbys are asked similar questions as the the old people in the previous idea. I really love ordinary peoples ansvers to ordinary, everyday questions. Noting is as beautiful
004: DVD. 8 short films
Filmed separatly with their own artistic vision and separate directors. In the film there are numerous mettingplaces., some, at least one, are commen for all the stories, like a café or favorite hangout. The manuscripts to the films should be written separately, with only a few nails holding them together, (at a certain hour, this character have to be X) but there should be a lot left to chance, the directors should sit down and se how the could share actors, location, which characters should be friends or aquaitances, if there are two stories about someone in love the should be in love with each other, or perhaps the audience will see that they would be perfect for each other. Perhaps a little like short cuts, but with interactive scenes, meeting points, where one could stop the current story and follow someone else. Added «bonus». Some characters would also have ineractive artefactst, like a walkman you can listen to / hoose NOT to listen to dialog (which might piss someone off). I suppose there could be possible to put «jinxed»-like things in there as well, but I feel that that might destroy the 8 stories themselves,
005. «Little O». An interactive childrens tv-series!
Both linear episodes, and interactive ones on broadband/cdrom/dvd. It’s quite a large project, with puppets and 3d animation, but its premise is pretty simple. There is a little girl named «O» living alone on a dumpster. She is quite happy with her life, even though she is sometimes lonely. But she has a cabin, a cat, an old grammaphone, but most important of all, she has a treasure chest where she keeps all the strange and nice things she finds on the dumpster! The strange things about «O» (besides being a child living alone on a dumpster) is that she has the ability to sence the story of some of the objects she find! To her, it is both a thrilling and a scary ability. Her days are spent fiddling around in the trash, finding things to play with, making small stonepebble and broken glass mosaics, weird windchimes and other percussion instruments and skulptures etc all over the place (this are actually fully interactive sections of the game/story). But once in a while, she will find an object that speak to her, she will then fall into a dreamlike view of the forming event in that objects life (she finds a mirror, she sees a girl, crying, its her wedding day ) Little O has the choice to stop her vision at any time, if what she sees scares her. Maybe she would want to see the whole story the object has stored inside, pershaps not, the audience will decide this. The audienve will also choose to keep the object or to toss it away. In addition to all these gimmiks there is a underlying plot, whichs is of course to find out why she is there all alone, to find out where she is from, to find out what will become of here, and to HELP her be a whole and happy person. Clues will pop up, some of the objects that are in her chest when the game/story begins are actually hers, but she can’t quite know which. And sometimes she find things that she WANTS to be a part of HER true story, and of course, in time, if she brings the object home with her, it will become HER story (and a part of the audiences story as well). The clever reader will have seen that all the business with the objects is to have a framework in whick to insert new dreams/stories into the gameplay in an easy manner, each object/dream being simply ordered from someone, in the same way a broeadcaster today buys his films. The type of films could also vary according to for instance the AGE of the viewer. You could make the series cosy for the children (but a little sad as well) and genuinly SUPERCREEPY for the grownups, young people, with horrormoviemood and everything, enhanced by the soundtrack for instrance (ambulanses in the distrace). I have written a lot of the different objects and the overlying plot, as well as hundreds of Little Os small and big experiences on the dumpster, but what excites me the most about this project is the open framework, that would work like a sitcom/soap. What would happen in the next episode? Perhaps someone comes to visit. Perhaps the cat will come inside (its very shy, she leaves milk for him, but he never dares come when she watches). What also apeals to me is that unlike other childrens series its not hysteric and anoying. I don’t someone has decided that children need braindead action and noice to be attentive, it’s not the kind of input I would like to give my children. I want to make something slow and beatiful, but intersperserd with all these random and not so random stories that will come in, out of any context except the context that hopefully will start to form in the mind of the viewer and therefore also in Little Os head as well. A little about randomness: On tv, every episode will be the same. But on the net, the objects are random, and if someone chooses to store that object, only that person will have it in their treasure chest. There will be no user to user communication, since this would break the illusion of being inquisitive Little O, but I am doodeling with the idea of letting people meet inside one or more of little Os objects/dreams. So that if twho or more people enter the same object at once, the movie they see will actually change, the will SEE each other, drawn in the style of the current movie, and the may then deviate from the chosen story, and actually do something else, play a game, go to the beach and play in the sand, or just chat (textbased, and later based on ip telephony made possible through the same broadband provider )!
006. Artscape. Brancing, game, not movie.
Very ambitious idea where people may enter paintings. The idea is to base a world on famous (naturalistic) paintings, sculpture, etcetc, where one can interact with other characters, both historic and living (as well as other audience), as well as right click to learn about the art the world is built from. A field of flowers where every invividual flower is from different paintings, for instance. Or a house where every corner and wall and window is taken from different partrait painting. The world would be peiced together in 3d and photoshop. Characters should be eighter puppets or filmed actores, puppets would be easier, since it would make it easier to fit the visitors into a body. This work will also have the endless possibilities of enhancement, only limited to time and funding.
007. Interactive music/video.
I was recently in Moscow observing a parking lot right beneath me, 11 stories below, and I started imagining a grid spreading out over the parking lot, and the people and cars moving as triggering different sounds, or maybe videoclips as the moved into a new section of the parkinglot, as if the parkinglot was a piano and the people and cars fingers playing it. I them imagines a gallery situation where the autience could wander around and trigger sound and video by physically moving (fun, art and excersise in one). I have heard og things like this being done since the 70’s but I have never seen it for myself.
I have a similar idea using insects, placing a large white plate with a camera above it and mapping their movements to sounds. Its interactive movie, but the movie is controlled by ants and other bugs :)
NEW IDEAS (new to me anyway :):
009. information documentary: A subwaymap of oslo is the interface.
One or several people are interviewed at each stop about different themes on all the stops. Several people are sent out with a videocamera to document the city at a given day. I haven’t though much about the interactive elements, beside the mapinterface, exept that I would like to group reccurring answers together.I suppose I should have a spesific overlaying theme, but I am very fond of ordinary people being themselves type of tings, so …
010. Broadband portal userdriven website! Linear. Interactive video sketchbook
Chris’s sketchbook was a really cool idea. I HAVE to steal that one :) !! I have tons of dv-footage to choose from, Im really looking forward to digging into that. It would also be cool to make a site that hosts people sketchbooks, to make a system together with Bredbåndsfabrikken for instance where people could upload their clips, alphabetize them etc. Sort of like a personal homepage today, just with video, and videohosting. You could leaf through to A and get a random A someone made, and see all the A’s if you wanted to! It would be a service that really would demonstrate to people why they should get broadband in their home, and how to use it for something creative! Promotion: Pick someone half famous to start it off? Pick out someone beautiful to attract the peeker in us all? (Todays sketchbook, vinner of x ) The site could also include a cooperation with Sony, adobe, lego or some other software/hardware-companies, as well as NRK (traditional uhf broadcasting), film festivals etc. And I bet we would get a lot of clips since the are so short and to the point and easy to make. I also think it could become a very beautiful collage, maybe even an international thing, maybe even a way to learn language0 (agua, vann, water)?
«Devoted Guardian readers will have read Oliver Burkeman’s account of trying to keep track of Tony Blair in Dorset South yesterday, in which he describes how misdirection sent reporters scampering across southern England, in a ‘meandering day-trip’ in search of the prime minister.
Oliver writes: ‘Labour appears intent on pursuing a campaign strategy of severely limiting the exposure of the prime minister to media questioning, dismissing criticisms of this technique as the self-absorbed concerns of the ‘Westminster village’.’
Well, limited access means we need your help to keep up with Mr Blair. So today we announce the Blair Watch Project, where we ask you to send us your photos of the PM on the campaign trail. All pictures will appear on our Flickr account – which anyone can look at – with the best appearing here on the blog.»
The project SEVEN MILE BOOTS is a pair of interactive shoes with audio. One can wear the boots, walk around as a flaneur simultaneousy in the physical world and in the literal world of the internet. By walking in the physical world one may suddenly encounter a group of people chatting in real time in the virtual world. The chats are heard as a spoken text coming from the boots. Wherever you are with the boots, the physical and the virtual worlds will merge together.