Saturday, February 20, 2010

5 Awesome Examples of Augmented Reality I Want To See More Of...

Do you remember this scene from Star Wars (chapter IV I believe... the first one that came out in 1977), where Luke is watching a 3D message from Obiwankenobi, relayed out of R2D2?
Well my friends... it is here. 
This foreward thinking Star Wars image, is what I think of as I am watching the exciting technology of Augmented Reality become a powerful tool.  It's been around for a few years, but at ridiculous costs and labor intensive hours.  Now however... we can download our own software and it comes in the form of a 2.5" x 2.5" code.  All you need is a computer, with monitor and a webcam.  It's being used for entertainment, as teaching tools for students, for marketing the most ordinary of products, as "thank you's" and as greetings.  The opportunities to use this jaw dropping technology are endless.  Here are a few ways I think it's going to be a lot of fun to watch... and fun to market.

Being a music lover, I am thrilled at the endless opportunities I can foresee augmented reality being used in that industry.  I would love to see my favorite band, TRAIN, code their tickets with an augmented reality concert.  Can you imagine, getting your ticket(s) in the mail, holding them up to your webcam (after quickly uploading the software from and watching a 2-3 minute recorded live concert of their latest release, in 3D !!?? Better yet, I can already imagine how the clip of "Drops of Jupiter" or "Hey Soul Sister" could look!  Getting better... what if different tickets had one of 4 different songs?!  Some live, some music videos, some studio recordings!  Of course, they'd have to put the code on the stub so we can take it home, watch it forever and enjoy TRAIN'S awesomeness in 3D at our leisure.  Ahead of the game, John Mayer's group HAS used augmented reality.  Here's a music video using the technology.  I'd like it more if John looked more "real", recorded on a green screen, or however it has to be done to not be graphicy.  Great thinking from Mayer camp.  Music video John Mayer "Heartbreak Warfare" released in Fall 2009.

Do you have a baseball crazed fan in your life?  It's just about that time of year. This Topps 3D trading card will make them squeal!  No matter what age they are...  

Robert Downey Jr. who had "Sherlock Holmes" coming out in December, teamed up with Esquire Magazine for this issue from November of 2009... viewer video:
and Esquire's video tour of what this issue can do:

Hallmark Greetings has augmented itself with their popular Hoops & Yo Yo line. Check out this augmented reality Valentine greeting that became available for purchase in January.  The thought of this type of greeting card during the Christmas holidays relieves me a bit, so we all won't have to "Elf Ourselves" one more time through Jib Jab only, anymore.  Thanks to Ryan of The Digital Lifestyle for trying this out: 
Here's my friend, Whitney Mathews, from the Social Media Club of Kansas City, demonstrating one of the Hallmark Augmented Reality Valentine cards handed out at a recent club breakfast (that I missed!).
Clothing is getting in on the game too. Adidas has come out with 5 pairs of shoes with an imprinted code on the tongue of each shoe, so you can see the augmented reality city they have created on your screen via your webcam. 
Here's the teaser they sent out in January of 2010:
Brights and Stripes has come out with KIDS CLOTHING that come to life! Check out these fun clothes for kids... talk about sparking imagination! These kids are little, but I see where teens would love to have an enhanced look... emo kids, or gothic kids, athletes who can appear to have a football helmet with pads and jersey from their favorite team on... or look as though you're on a stage, or behind the President of the United States desk... Wow!

I found augmented reality T-shirts that play you in countless games of  paper, rock, scissors with what appears to be a 3rd arm coming out of your chest!  As well, there are LEGO products, that allow you to print the coded form out on paper from their website and hold it up to your webcam for your child to admire the 3D end result.  There's even augmented reality business cards to really stand out from the crowd.

I am excited and encouraged by what I am finding with this technology.  Time is in warp speed.  We look back at the industrial revolution as the most dramatic timeframe that had the biggest changes in our world.  I dare say, the last 5 years has been our most adventureous...   I don't think we've begun to scratch the surface as to what we will have in our hands in the next 5years.  If you have found some jaw dropping augmented reality uses, pah leeeese let me know.  I can't get enough of it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chatting With a Star!

I can hardly type, I'm so excited that I had the opportunity to chat a little on Facebook today, with literary brilliance and human behaviorist extraordinaire, Jonah Lehrer.  Isn't social networking wonderful?  We can reach out and engage in conversations about something, everything... or nothing, with people who would have normally been consider unattainable.  Social networking makes us all seem a bit more "the kid next doorish" and I like that.  Please click on his name above so you can check out his home page and see not only his credentials and his articles (he writes for The New Yorker for instance) but his amazing blog called The Frontal Cortex 

Post #12
Jonah Lehrer wrote49 minutes ago
I was just talking to a scientist yesterday
(Jonathan Schooler at UCSB, who has done
some great stuff on mind wandering) and he
noted how surfing the web is a lot like mind
wandering. We simply follow the links, even
when the connections are tenuous. In other
words, the internet allows us to free associate
and make all sorts of new and unexpected
connections. So that's another way that
technology is assisting (or at least imitating)
some of the functions of the human brain.

Eager Beaver Me jumping in at this point:  

Post #13
You wrote47 minutes ago
MORE MORE MORE on how social networks 
/ social media is affecting decision lack of. LOL

Post #15
Jonah Lehrer wrote45 minutes ago
I think that still remains unclear, Alexis. It's a really important
 question, but there are few good answers. I wrote recently
on my blog, for instance, about how having lots of facebook
friends doesn't mean we have more close friends in real life.

Anecdotally, one peculiar thing about having a smartphone
is that I rarely buy anything in a store without checking with
the web first. Is this a good price? A good product? The
end result is that I'm even MORE indecisive than usual.
So that's a classic case of paralysis by analysis, which I
think is becoming more and more common, at least in my life.

Post #17
You wrote43 minutes ago
Jonah, I'm quite the opposite. I was hesitant to
 buy if I didn't have enough information. I've 
been using social networks to ask for suggestions 
or experiences regarding products and/or services... 
with huge success. It's given me confidence to
 make purchases I normally would have sat on for a while. ; )

Post #21
Jonah Lehrer wrote40 minutes ago
Well, Alexis, I think the future will help us narrow down
the overflow of information by using our social networks,
weighting information according to whether or not our
friends also found that information useful. So you're
ahead of the curve!
(Did you see that?  Jonah Lehrer says I'm 
"ahead of the curve".   I'm going to blow that up 
and stencil it on my living room wall.)

Post #30
You wrote34 minutes ago
Jonah, do you find a trend with females 
versus males as to who goes with the gut 
instinct the most? (I would guess females... 
perhaps being more intuitive... 
but just a big fat guess).

Post #33
Jonah Lehrer wrote59 minutes ago
Actually, there's little evidence that women are
more intuitive. However, there are real gender
differences in decision-making, which I wrote
about here:

Post #39
Jonah Lehrer wrote51 minutes ago
I haven't actually found any meaningful gender differences when it comes to creativity. But it's
an interesting question. One of the things that
drew me to creativity as a subject is that it's so
damn mysterious. We have virtually no idea
how the brain creates its new ideas, although
that seems to a big part of what the
human brain is doing....

Post #32
Hannah Pfeifle Harlow wroteabout an hour ago
Jonah, I'm so curious to know how you do your
research. I imagine you hanging out with scientists
 all day talking about cool research projects and
experiments. Am I glorifying it a bit? How do
you find the right people to talk to?

Post #35
Jonah Lehrer wrote55 minutes ago
Those are the fun days. The less fun days involve
 lots of time in the library, reading science
journals. But it's a true luxury getting to hang
out with brilliant researchers. I sometimes
think about the Auden quote, about how
when he's in the company of scientists he feels
like a "shabby curate in a room full of dukes"...

Post #36
You wrote54 minutes ago
LOL!!! What books do YOU read for pleasure? 
As if you have time.

Post #40
Jonah Lehrer wrote49 minutes ago
I love novels. I'm reading Wolf Hall on my
Kindle at the moment. Then I'm going to
re-read the Rabbit Trilogy by Updike.
The last book I read for research was
 an interesting book on Silicon Valley,
called "Regional Advantage". It's about
 the success of Silicon Valley (at least
when compared to Rt 128 outside Boston)
 is largely due to its social networks, and
the ease with which people can share ideas...
I love this comment about CREATIVITY ...
 it makes me think of HubSpot and 
the good things they are doing there.  
Check this out... and ask yourself 
what you're doing to encourage 
creativity in your workplace, home 
or where ever:  

Post #44
Jonah Lehrer wrote36 minutes ago
In general, creativity is accelerated by
sharing. So workplaces that
encourage "horizontal interactions"
generate more new ideas. That's
why Google puts free food in its
cafeterias. They want people to talk
while eating, and thus share all
their speculations, hypotheses, etc...
It's also why Pixar only has a single
bathroom for each gender...It's all
about designing workplaces
that maximize interactions. Cities,
by the way, seem to obey the same
principles, with cities that encourage
more interactions generating
more innovations...
(So NYC is more innovative than,
 say, Phoenix.)
Thanks to Jonah Lehrer and the other participants
of Fans of Jonah Lehrer on Facebook for
sparking my interest in decision making even more! 
on a side note from my facebook page:  
"Alexis and Jonah Lehrer are now friends."   Woohoo!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time to Repurpose People for Schools

Thank goodness we're all pretty much clever people... who can look at something we've always used one way and actually use it for something else.
If given the opportunity, we can see what else it can be... not what it "supposed" to be.

Maybe we should be more literal... like this "bookshelf"...

Let's never fail to see the beauty in something ordinary... like these milk bottles.

I love these kitchen items making up a sparkly new chandelier.
When something was useful as one thing, it might be just as useful, if not more, as something else...

Like these crates...

a suitcase as a fancy medicine cabinet

run out of room? Keep looking. There's always options...

My father taught me that there's always several solutions to one problem...

Fortunately, there's a lot of creative people out there to help us see what else we can do.  Social Media maven, Steve Crescenzo reminded me a few weeks ago to never again say or accept these words, "It's the way we've always done it."

I encourage all of the public schools throughout the United States, who are facing the beginning of a horrendous Federal budget crisis...  to rethink everything they have been doing.  In light of the economy, the landscaped has changed on a dime. The demographics have too.  Repurpose the people who are commited to the students in their district.  Reuse those resources to best fit the new and dire needs knocking on their doors. Fully utilize the parents and community that believe in what they are doing wholeheartedly... and to make what was the old way... a new and improved way.  The timing has never been better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who's Genes Are Those Anyway?

It snowed an unexpected boat load yesterday. I'm of the opinion, if it's going to snow... then it better damn well snow.  Ta da!  It did.  We got just under 7".  Wet heavy snow.  You look at it and it starts to melt.  So today,  my 7 yr old daughter and I set out to make a snowman.... or snow something.  She had been out for about 20 minutes longer than me.  Her snowthing was a just a base by the time I got to the yard, but it looked perfectly symetrical and as if it was covered with an oversized layer of fondant icing.  It was beautiful. She was on her knees, close to the ground, perfectly shaping the medium size sphere that would sit upon the base.  Who is this girl?  This neat tidy little thing that was picking the slightest bit of leaf and acorn debris from her work.  Why can't she do that to her room? 

I started in on my snowman project.  There's a KU basketball game later today, so I thought I'd make some snowcheerleaders in a 3 person pyramid.  I got the first two snowgirls set up side by side and was finishing the "flyer" snowgirl (that's cheer code for the girl that is on the top of the pyramid) when we caught my daughters eye.  She flashed a huge smile, ditched her project and asked to help me.   SURE!  I clipped some old Majestic Palms that had been in a pot and long since died, but kept their shape... perfect for hair or pom poms.  I wasn't sure yet.  We found acorns and juniper berries for eyes, sticks for arms and even some evergreens for eyelashes.  There was talk of food coloring in blue and red to make a K and a U, but we kind of forgot about that as we moved along.  

I had the flyer snowcheerleader mounted up on top of the other two bases.  They all had their hair, noses, eyes in... and then it happened. As I had my back turned I heard the thump.   Lil miss flyer fell backward to her death and creepily all that was really left, was the face... like a mask... with a plastered smile on it... 2 feet from the body.  I laughed really hard because it was a great attempt and I was actually good with leaving it like that and labeling it a cheerleading disaster.  My daughter however, was not. She bolted up off the ground and yelled "I can fix it!  We're going to fix it!  We have to fix it!"  After several attempts of packing snow in places it fell away from and putting the flyer back up... it just wasn't working. So... our cool pyramid looks more like a party pic from a sorority at KU.  Minus the alcohol punch filled red cups. 

My daughter returned to her snowthing... which turning out to be a bit steampunkish with it's quirky eyes, ponytail on top of the head, no mouth and smooth perfect shaped body.  Again... it's was like a cake covered in fondant.   I was amazed at our two different approaches to such a simple project and yet we're closely related.  Neither of us took the regular three snowballed body coal eyes path.  However, we didn't necessarily do it anything close to eachother's either!   I swear she's my child.  I know I delivered her and she looks like me at that age.  Perhaps none of my reckless, messy, let's give it a shot and see what happens genes made it into her.  She might have her daddy's DNA of simplistic, streamlined, minimalism and well thought out before attempting, thought processing.

As we finished and I took a few photos, we came inside to warm up... I saw she was still wearing her PJ's under her snowsuit.   Yep... THAT is my girl!  PJ's  might not have been the "right tool for the job" (my husband would have had all the right snow weather clothes on underneath his snowsuit) but they did get the job done and she stayed warm and cozy.  Awesome.  LOL!    

Group shot!  Parrrrr-teeeeee!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Giddy, Slightly Over Animated & Cotton Mouth

Yesterday... I met a few rock stars within the social media industry... Steve Crescenzo and Chris Brogan.  Both were passing out laughs and wisdom at the IABC Business Communicators Summit in Kansas City.  Paired with several local social media rock stars (Zena Weist, Whitney Mathews, Jason Gertzen, Matt Tidwell and Bryan Truta to name a few), I was giddy, terribly over animated and develop a bad case of cotton mouth during my short presentation.  I'm sure I left many with the feeling of shock and awe.  

Gray was the color theme apparently in our photos... LOL!  Steve Crescenzo has the "Mr. Clean" hair style and Chris Brogan has the goatee.  Steve is doing exactly what he tells corporate communications departments not to let the executives do in photos... look constipated.  So to help him overcome that... I've included another one with him smiling...  and he was all smiles yesterday.  

Despite my wild eye'd and wide open mouth appearance, I had a truly great time!  Loads of laughs and as I explained to another social media junkie friend of mine, "it wasn't earth shattering information, but it was a strong reminder that our communication is all about people and people's experiences."  Steve said "Do not say or accept this phrase ever again: That's the way we've always done it".   Amen.  Corporate Communications is no longer. It's Creative Communications from now on. Steve had wonderful examples and a few before and after's.  Incredibly inspirational!  Chris' easy going approachable style was one reminder after another ... to listen.  So we can genuinely respond.   

They both are all about PEOPLE.  All about reaching back when someone reaches out to you... and vice versa.  If you get a chance to see either of these outstanding men up front and center... do.  It's the jump start we all need in this ever changing world, to start having fun with work and play.

side note: 
Look at the Uptown Theater.  Turns out they're on Twitter too. I'd only been there for concerts the last few decades.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out there are a lot of conference rooms and wonderful full service catering.  Fanastic!  The theater decor' though, has always reminded me of the Swedish Village at Worlds of Fun