Technology

Rain or Shine Googles Latest 360º Immersive Spotlight Story

About a year ago Google launched a new line of video shorts for YouTube called Google Spotlight Stories, a specific immersive video platform with mobile users in mind. The video below can be panned through as the action takes place, but where this really shines is when you watch the video on an Android or iOS device in the native YouTube app.

Rain or Shine directed by Felix Massie is the latest in the series of shorts and is really quite impressive beyond the technology. The story and character development are superb drawing the viewer in and engaging with them as the explore the environment as the story plays out. The story is simple yet clever. The main character, Ella puts on a pair of magical sunglasses and travels through her London neighborhood creating chaos before learning how to use the glasses for good.

This really is a better experience on your phone, so if you have a chance watch it and the other Google Spotlight Stories there.

 

To view the show in full interactive 360, use the YouTube App on a compatible Android device (https://goo.gl/7BYwRJ). For iOS, download the Google Spotlight Stories app now (https://goo.gl/eadPnO).

Subscribe to our channel here: https://youtube.com/gss

Learn more here: https://www.google.com/atap/spotlight…

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GoogleATAP

These interactive stories are optimized for a fast connection (WiFi or LTE) and a supported Android device. Also, please update your YouTube app for the best experience.

For more information on supported devices and known issues, please visit our FAQ page: https://goo.gl/7BYwRJ

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Buster the Boxer Likes To Bounce.

Every year British department store chain John Lewis goes all in on their holiday marketing campaign, and this year is no exception. From the TV commercial, “Buster’s Garden” to the extended length YouTube spot, the VR 360 companion video and the website, plus social media (they have a dedicated Snapchat filter you can get) they have pulled out all the stops. The video is a really nice blend of CG and live action with a story that ties it all together. The concept is built around the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mom and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.

If you click through to YouTube and select the more information section you will see where John Lewis has partnered with the Wildlife Trusts to help protect and restore our nation’s wildlife and natural habitat for our children today and in the future. I addition there are options to sign up for additional videos that will be posting this holiday season and the usual hooks to social media as well. The microsite does a really solid job of integrating the extended content and encouraging visitors to do more than just shop. While shopping is encouraged and there are really strong ties to product related specifically to the advertising, there are additional calls to action with Bring Skills to Life which ties the campaign to real world activities children can engage with at home.

One of the things that I think is really interesting, and I wish I were going to the UK to see it in person, is the fact that John Lewis has created Buster’s Garden at a number of their stores allowing you to explore the space using Oculus Rift technology. Like the rest of the campaign, its a nice blend of technology and the physical store environments.

Adobe’s Software Development Teams Need To Get a Clue.

adobeYesterday I finally broke down and installed all of the software upgrades that Adobe’s Creative Cloud had been pushing on me since they were announced at Adobe Max. While the process of running the upgrades wasn’t painful (at first) it was time-consuming (and still is). So let’s get to this. If you haven’t upgraded yet, be prepared to spend a boat load of time being involved with this process. Not because the initial upgrade will eat your day, but because the aftermath will. Why? because the Adobe software engineering team failed to take into account that an upgrade involves more than just their base software. It involves all the third-party plugins, presets scripts, and additional add-ons that most of use to extend Adobe’s software and make it more functional.

The new upgrade installs completely new versions of the Creative Cloud suite. That’s right it doesn’t actually upgrade your existing software base, it installs a brand new version of each piece of software you use. Adobe, this is an engineering fail and let me explain why. By installing a new version of the software as opposed to overwriting the existing software you force me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling hundreds of third-party add-ons across 14 applications that were upgraded in a single move. Now I know I am probably an exception to the rule since I use more than the average Joe when it comes to your software suite, but even for people only using, let’s say Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, this sucks. For instance, I have to now download and reinstall just for Photoshop the Nik plugin pack, Topaz Denoise, Natural HDR, Luminosity mask scripts, all of the actions I had created for previous versions, and a handful of other plugins and scripts. For After Effects it’s even worse I have to download and reinstall the entire Red Giant suite, (Particular, Light Factory, Composite Wizard, Holomatrix, Warp, Text Anarchy, Plane Space, Lux, Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Mir, Tow, Form, Looks, Colorista, Primatte, and about 8 more), not to mention scripts like Ease and Wizz and about 10 others.

This is a giant time suck, and time is money.

Adobe is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to creative software. If you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, filmmaker, typographer, sound designer, videographer, or artist you probably use at least one Adobe product if not components from the entire suite, and you are probably using Adobe’s Creative Cloud to stay current. Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with the Creative Cloud. I love that it keeps me up to date. I hate that every time there is a major upgrade I have to go through this bullshit. I get that Adobe moved to the Creative Cloud set up to combat software piracy, and control versioning across a large distribution base. What I don’t get is why after 3 or 4 years of pushing everyone to use the Creative Cloud, no one at Adobe has figured out that their upgrade process truly sucks. It’s broken. The user experience after making the upgrade is pure crap. It’s a gigantic time suck, and it could be avoided. The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base

The thing is, when you are the only game in town, you don’t have to make things right for your customer base. You just keep doing what you are doing, because the chances of being dethroned after 30 years is pretty small. Adobe if you are listening, and I doubt you are, I am going to spend the better part of a day completing the upgrade to CC 2017, because your software engineering team didn’t feel that it was important enough to create an actual “Upgrade” as opposed to a complete new install. A new install that left legacy versions of 10 applications sitting on my hard drive wasting space, and is forcing me to track down essential tools I need to complete my workflow and reinstall them.

I know there are alternative tool sets available, but like so many I have bought into the Adobe workflow, and have spent decades learning to use these tools to master my craft. For lack of a better term, Adobe has me by the balls, and they know I am too invested to give them up. Consequently, it feels as though they have stopped giving a damn about the total user experience which involves maintenance like upgrades, but hey they added some new features to Photoshop I’ll probably never use.

I wonder if I can send them a bill for the time I’ll spend installing everything else I need to make the current updates fully functional with my workflow?

 

UPDATE: Like pouring salt in an open wound, if you are a Mac user, all of the applications in your Dock no longer work so you get to spend additional time removing all of them and adding the new application updates back in.

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Plume, Solving Your WiFi Dead Zones.

I don’t live in a large house so WiFi connectivity and bandwidth really isn’t an issue for me. I know that it can be frustrating as all hell though for people in larger homes and with multiple users competing for a single signal coming off a router located in the most inconvenient spot in your home. A new solution coming to market in November wants to render this a non-issue.

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Plume is the a new Adaptive WiFi system, that takes a series of small, discrete hexagonal boxes and spreads WiFi throughout your domicile. According to the site, “Plume is the only WiFi solution powered by the cloud, which means it can adapt to real life in real-time—ensuring every room and every device has a reliably fast connection today, tomorrow, and years from now.” Sounds promising. The devices also maximize data flow on your WiFi network  by handling different types of traffic for a smooth, uninterrupted experience. Plume apparently knows the difference between different data types and allocates bandwidth according to need. And Plume doesn’t use a traditional mesh system to hop between source points which adds latency and slows data transfer. Plume uses a different channel or band for each hop, never slowing down your WiFi speed.

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Plume has a great look to it. Clean, minimal, small in scale. It is definitely designed to blend into a space and disappear. Modest in appearance, and petite in size each pod feels like a small piece of modern sculpture plugged into your power outlets. Plume can be preordered as individuals at 39 bucks a pop or sets of 6 which will set you back $234.00.

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AnyPixel from Google.

For sometime now, if you wanted to create an interactive wall, you had to have some pretty solid coding skills or know someone who did. There are a ton of open source frameworks to get the job done, but none of them are very easy to use. Thanks to Google that is changing. AnyPixel.js an an open source code and hardware library created so you can make interactive displays out of pretty much anything. The library contains a solid base of code, and schematics that can be modified for things like lights, screens and sensors. The video below shows it in action at the Google New York offices. Google used 5880 off-the-shelf arcade buttons as our pixels.

 

Get the code library here.

Lets all call Sweden and ask them something.

I’ve always wanted to go to Sweden, and since my passport just got renewed I might have to start planning a trip. So, what to do in Sweden? Where to go? What to see? What should I pack? Are they on the Euro? So many questions, and now I can get answers.  How? By calling Sweden and talking to a Swede.

This has got to be one of the better tourism ad campaigns to surface in quite some time. No cheesy landscape shots with beautiful people doing all sorts of touristy things. With this campaign you can really call Sweden, and speak to a real Swede and ask them anything you want about their country. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. I’m going to call Sweden and ask them anything and everything I can think of. Wanna ask Sweden something yourself? You can do it right here at Sweden’s dedicated Swedish Number website.

OLO, 3D printing From Your Phone for 99 bucks.

When the iPhone came out back in 2007, the idea of using it as part of a 3D printer would have probably been laughed at. Roll the clock forward 9 years and it’s pretty amazing just how far technology has come. I have had an email sitting in my in box for over a week for OLO, and had yet to open it. Today over lunch I decided to see what OLO was about and I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed. Apparently others are too, because these guys are way past their goal on Kickstarter. The video below shows how it works, so I’m not going to go into any deep details, but basically it uses the light from your phone and special polymers to print an object. The retail price is 99 bucks so it makes it a mass market item, and the fact that it works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone makes it pretty universal. I could see myself using this on a regular basis, and I can see a huge market for prebuilt 3D models emerging specifically for this printer.