I would rank the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art as one of the top 10 in the United States, and I’m not just saying that because I work there. I’m saying it because it has such an amazing collection that is on par with other art museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA, Cleveland Museum of Art, San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art, and so many others.
With the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing right now, no one is going to any of the museums mentioned above. That doesn’t mean you can’t get your art on though. Thanks to Google Arts and Culture you can visit hundreds of art museums and in many cases take a virtual tour. I just did a walkthrough of the Uffizi in Florence Italy. And you dear reader can take that tour as well or visit the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see why I say its one of the top ten in the country.
We might be staying home, and keeping our distance from others for the next few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel cooped up. While it’s not the same as actually being at your museum of choice, it’s a pretty good alternative.
If you haven’t seen the movie “Dunkirk” yet I highly recommend it. If you haven’t engaged with some of the marketing materials for it, I highly recommend that too. Especially the WebVR experience that was created to promote the film. the website is an immersive VR experience that requires two people to play. You can engage with someone you know, or join anyone from around the world. When you join, you become one of the allied soldiers at Dunkirk surrounded by the enemy. In order to survive, you have to work with the other player, just like you would have if you had been there in 1940. The site and VR components were created by Warner Brothers in conjunction with Google Zoo and the Chrome VR Teams to make this work. It’s a really great example of how Google VR and Immersive experiences can be used as a marketing and promotional vehicle. And not just for movies. I could see this being applied to so much more.
Google introduced their 360 Spotlight Stories a little over a year ago and they have been gaining steady traction since. If you haven’t checked out the VR tech you can see all of the videos on YouTube here, and if you have a VR headset that is connected to the internet I suggest giving it a view that way as well. The films themselves are really well done with compelling stories and solid animation to match, and while this has the opportunity to be a huge marketing tool for any number of industries it really shines as an entertainment vehicle. Case in point the video below that has been nominated for an Oscar at this year’s Acadamy Awards. Yes, Google is in the running for an Oscar for the animated short “Pearl”. The five and a half minute animated short tells the story of a girl and her father as they travel the country in their car chasing dreams and bonding over
The five and a half minute animated short tells the story of a girl and her father as they travel the country in their car chasing dreams and bonding over song, life, and the open road. To get the full experience of the short film you need to actually pan around the environment. You can get the full impact of the story by simply watching, but the experience is far greater when you actually dive into what Google offers here, which is an immersive experience that extends the story.
Google has only released a handful of these short films, all of which are available on their YouTube channel. I think that is a testament to a couple of things. How long it takes to produce quality content, and how complex crafting this kind of immersive environment can be. I’m pretty excited to see how far this can be pushed, and I’m really looking forward to Google releasing a full development kit for this. The potential is huge on so many levels.
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.
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I’m kind of surprised it’s taken Google this long to get it’s Facetime for iOS challenger up and running. If you are interested you can get it here for iOS and Android. I’ve installed the iOS version but haven’t really tried it out yet. The real killer component of this, and something Apple should have done with Facetime quite a while ago, is the fact that this app is cross platform. It works with any Android or iOS phone across carriers. In other words, everyone can use it to call anyone. The app is extremely simple and easy to use, which I like. It’ll be interesting to see how fast this takes off in the next month, and if it will force Apple to open up the Facetime walled garden.
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.
A few years back, actually almost a decade ago, companies began to take notice of the importance of design when it came to business. Since then there has been steady growth and recognition about the effect good design has on products, brands, experiences, and so much more.
“Design Disruptors” by InVision is a new documentary film set to be released later this year. It focuses on 15 disruptive companies who’s combined worth is more than a trillion dollars. The trailer below looks promising with valuable insights in the short sound bites you get to hear. The film will focus on customer centric design that is emerging, disruptive, and focused on the future. My favorite quote in the trailer is from Jenny Arden Lead UX Designer at Google, “At it’s best design is human. It’s not about does it have drop shadows, is it pretty. It’s more about the connection I have to it.”
You can sign up to find out when the movie will be coming to a town near you here.