Next Tuesday we will be release a new version of GestureWorks, our multitouch framework for ActionScript. GestureWorks 3 is an entirely new build, we started over and rebuilt it from scratch.
GestureWorks developers will have access to the most advanced multitouch authoring environment yet developed. It includes a comprehensive Gesture Visualizer, a built-in multitouch simulator, and it introduces the world’s first markup language for multitouch; Gesture ML with definitions for scores of gestures. ActionScript developers in Flash, Flash Builder, Flash Develop, and FDT can creating powerful gesture-driven apps that can be published as SWF files, exe, or AIR apps.
In a year where there has been seemingly no positive news about Adobe Flash, we think GestureWorks is great news for Flash developers. We believe that ActionScript and Flash are important and powerful tools for application development. While HTML5 has a great deal of promise, and it will likely be increasingly important in the future; it lacks the power and flexibility that ActionScript and Flash currently provide. We need to make applications now and we’re not alone.
GestureWorks 3 was major effort here at Ideum and it represents almost a year of development. GestureWorks is primarily self-funded, however, the project did receive some important help and we are very thankful to have received $100,000 from the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) launched by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The software and the new website will be unveiled next Tuesday, November 29th. We’re excited, we hope you are too.
We’ve just released the source code for the NASA Space Weather Viewer app that we developed for the Android platform. The app allows you to see today’s images of the sun along with videos and other materials from a variety of NASA science missions. The application was created in Adobe Flex and it requires Adobe AIR. You can get the source code on github (see Gestureworks/NASA Space Weather Media Viewer).
The app works on a variety of Android phones and tablets. We’ve tested the application using Android 2.2 all the way up to 3.0 (Honeycomb). The amazing NASA solar images really look great on larger tablets like the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy.
If you want to try the free app for Android it is available in Google Android Market and in the Amazon App store. There is also an iOS native version of the Space Weather Media Viewer available on iTunes. The source code for the iOS version is also available on github (see Ideum/NASA Space Weather Media Viewer).
Finally, if you want to learn more about both of these mobile apps, we have a description and a video in our portfolio site.
We’ve just completed our first release of the Android version of the NASA Space Weather Media Viewer. Like the version we developed last fall for the Apple iPhone & iPod, the Space Weather Viewer for Android features near-real-time imagery from a wide variety of NASA missions, as well as video interviews with prominent scientists.
The new Android version will be available in the Google Android Market Place and on the Amazon App Store later this month.
f you’d like to get a sneak peak of this new NASA app, you can download the alpha version right here: NASASpaceViewer.apk (4.6 mb) Update: May 31: It’s now live in the Google Market Place: NASA Space Weather Viewer
The NASA Space Weather Viewer is now available in the Google Android Market.
You can download it here.
It requires Android 2.2 or greater and Adobe AIR 2.6. We’ve run it with Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and it runs great.
The app is optimized for phones or tablets and we’ve tested it on the following devices: HTC EVO, Motorola Xoom, Nexus One, Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and the Samsung Galaxy Epic. Please let us know what you think. We will be making the source code for this Android app later this summer.
If you’re looking for more information about the Apple iOS version and source code, see our last blog post on that version, “Over 100K Downloads for NASA Space Weather iPhone App in March.”
Over on Open Exhibits, we’ve just released a new template called the Magnifier Viewer. The template has an integrated multitouch-enabled magnifier object that can be used with a variety of media items such as images and Google Maps. We’ve been looking to integrate this magnifier into Open Exhibits and make it available to the community ever since we developed it for the California Mapping exhibit with Oakland Museum last year.
The Magnifier Viewer has different styled magnifiers (round or square, brass or silver, handles or no handles) that can be changed via XML settings. This flexible template can be used to create a variety of custom exhibits. Just add media and customize the XML and you’re ready to go.
This template and a dozen other software modules are available free on the Open Exhibits site. Museums, students, universities, and non-profits can get the Open Exhibits Core SDK for free too. Comercial users will need the GestureWorks framework to use the free modules. Open Exhibits and GestureWorks require Adobe Flash or Flex.
We’ll be showing how to use this template and other software modules at an Open Exhibits bootcamp workshop next week at Museums and the Web conference in Philadelphia.
This video demonstrates the results of a recent collaboration between SENSUS and our own Open Exhibits software initiative. The concept is simple: make networking and sharing transparent across multitouch devices and operating systems. The demo video shows an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy), a Multitouch Table (our own, new MT55), a Windows 7 multitouch kiosk, and an iPod–all sharing media items (images, video, and a Google Map) effortlessly. This easy sharing is made possible with Konnectus software which is a new cloud-computing platform developed by SENSUS.
The Konnectus software and the Open Exhibits modules will be available later this summer. And, Yes! These “network friendly” software modules will also work with our GestureWorks multitouch framework.
Here’s a bit more about Konnectus and our partners at SENSUS…
KonnectUs is a new cloud-computing software platform by SENSUS designed to make sophisticated networking functions easy and intuitive for users across a range of devices including multitouch tables, desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. KonnectUs “Natural Networking Technology (NNT)” empowers users to connect seamlessly across all major platforms – from Windows to Android to iOS. The new software aims to deliver a desktop user experience for key cloud-based services such as file sharing, social networking and location-relevant distribution of content. Additionally, KonnectUs APIs allow developers the opportunity to leverage the power of SENSUS networking technology through integration into third party applications.
You can read the full-press release on the SENSUS Website.
Our module for Kinect provides a simple solution for authoring gesture-based applications in Flash. Lately, we’ve been using it in conjunction with our other free Open Exhibits software modules. While the Kinect device itself doesn’t have the necessary precision for use with every module, we have successfully paired it with our gigapixel image viewer, our new VR Panoramic image viewer, and with our Google Maps module.
Our free Kinect module works with Community Core Vision (CCV) software, an open source software package for computer vision. We’ve used this software in the past with various multitouch tables and other installations. Our Kinect module is a “directshow” source filter, a virtualized webcam device that reads data from the drivers released by OpenKinect.
Here’s a video showing the Kinect module working with other Open Exhibits software.
The Kinect module and the others are all free and open on the Open Exhibits website. The Open Exhibits core software is free for students, educators, nonprofits, and museums. (Commercial users can download a free GestureWorks trial.) Add a $150 Kinect 3D Motion Controller to our software and you have a very cheap and flexible authoring solution.
There are photographs of the Kinect and Open Exhibits modules on the OE Flickr site.
This article is cross-posted on the Open Exhibits Website.In the video, the gigapixel image of El Capitán that appeared in the example was provided by xRez Studio. The cubic VR image of Chichen Itza was taken by Ideum back in 2005 and is part of the Traditions of the Sun project.
As we announced yesterday, we recently partnered with Touch Revolution to create a series of GestureWorks applications for their hardware demos. We’ve been lucky enough the past few weeks to get to play around with the new 21.5″ TRū Touch monitors, which Touch Revolution will be debuting at CES. The TRū Touch monitors are full HD (1920 x 1080), bezel-less, and, like these concept screens, you can tilt them to horizontal angles to make tasks like typing and drawing easier.
We’ve been testing our apps for CES on the TRū Touch, including an amazing gigapixel image viewer that allows you to zoom in close enough to see rock climbers on El Capitan in Yosemite and a 3D object viewer, but so far the hands-down favorite has been Astrotouch, our multitouch version of Asteroids.
The game has a series of old school-style arcade controls at the bottom, and we’ve been nothing but impressed with the screen’s responsiveness and accuracy. Some of the other hardware we had in-house had trouble with ghost points on the controls, but the TRū Touch screen handled it flawlessly every time.
Check out the video above for a sneak peek at the new Touch Revolution hardware, and be sure to visit us at CES. We’ll be at the Touch Revolution Booth, #21755, South Hall Lower Level with a full set of great multitouch applications on display and free gesture illustration posters to give away.
I’m very happy to announce the release of a major update to our GestureWorks multitouch authoring frameworks for Adobe Flash and Flex. The new version has some great new features, most notably over 200 built-in gestures and the ability to incorporate Open Exhibits software modules. A GestureWorks 2.0 commercial license costs $249. We are providing free upgrades to any GestureWorks 1.x users.
In addition to the new software release, we’ve also redesigned the GestureWorks website. The front page is now multitouch-enabled. The support system and documentation areas of the website have been completely revamped, with an expanded FAQ, a new issue tracking system, and a comprehensive GestureWorks manual. We’ve also added Google Checkout to the options for payment in the store.
In addition, we’ve updated our popular gesture poster to reflect the gesture support in the new release. The poster and the gesture artwork are released under a Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike license.
You can download the Open Source Gesture Library poster and illustrations on the GestureWorks site.
As the so-called Apple vs. Adobe war continues, the consensus that Apple is winning out and that Adobe (Flash in particular) is in trouble has begun to crumble. A recent New York Times article, Will Apple’s Culture Hurt the iPhone?, raised some very interesting questions about Apple and the long-term prospects for its closed development environment. They (and we here at Ideum) are wondering:
Can Apple, which insists on tight control of its devices, win in an intensely competitive market against rivals that are openly licensing their software to scores of companies?
Back to the Future
If history is any judge, the long-term prospects might not be so great for Apple facing such intense and wide-spread competition. As the Times article also mentioned . . .
“In the early 1980s, the Macintosh faced an onslaught of competition from an army of PC makers whose products ran Microsoft software. The fight did not end well for Apple.”
I agree. I’ve been an Apple user and enthusiast since the 1980s. Not even counting my family’s Apple II, I’ve owned a dozen Macintosh computers since the release of the Mac Plus back in the 1980s. I’ve seen a lot of highs and lows in the 25 years that I’ve followed Apple.
Besides using history as a guide, my recent move from an iPhone to an Android phone has further convinced me that Apple will likely be a niche player in a market that they now dominate. My HTC EVO with Android 2.2 does most of the things my iPhone did and it does many things better. It also runs Flash. (Yes, I can actually see the entire Internet now and am glad to have the option.) Apparently, my Android phone purchase was part of a larger trend as Android has now passed both BlackBerry and iOS in recent purchases.
Development: iPhone vs. Android
Our recent experience in developing our first iPhone App and Android “tests” with Flash have further reinforced my belief that even with Apple’s huge lead, in the long-term, it may be in trouble. The iPhone development environment was challenging. Although ultimately workable (check out our Space Weather Media Viewer app), it was a frustrating process with many seemingly unnecessary bureaucratic hoops that we had to jump through. And the majority of our frustrations with iOS have to do with publishing.
iPhone development required an official iPhone Development Certificate, iTunes software to connect to, and other restrictions. We had a ten day wait until our application was released in the Apple iTunes store. We needed to make a simple text change to our icon, and are currently in our second ten-day waiting period (and counting) just to make that one change. The application is, by the way, free and public domain, but still the store is the only way (short of jailbreaking) to distribute it.
When we did some test authoring using Flash on the Android platform, we could try out the application by emailing it or installing it via USB. There weren’t development certificates or other restrictions to deal with. We could author in Flash, make some adjustments in the Android SDK, and we were good to go. While we haven’t put anything into the Android market place yet, we’ve heard that the process is simpler (although the grass is always greener). But judging simply by the nature of the authoring environment, it seems that there are alternatives for distribution that simply aren’t available when authoring for iOS.
Many arguments against Flash have to do largely with performance. This is not a real issue on my HTC EVO; Flash performs reasonably well. Perfect, no, but again I’m glad to have it. Battery use is another issue, but lots of activities (wireless, screen brightness, playing audo, etc.) can contribute to reduced battery life.
As mobile processors continue to improve and Adobe (slowly, painfully slowly) improves Flash performance, I think we’ll see more choices for authoring for smart phones and tablets. And Flash will have a role to play; its developer base is just too vast and it’s too versatile a tool for it not to be a major player. Many people thought Flash video was dead back in the mid-2000s when it faced competition from Apple QuickTime, RealMedia, and WindowsMedia. Remember how that turned out?
Certainly HTML 5 could be an authoring solution in the future, but right now there are plenty of questions surrounding it. The W3C themselves said it was “Not Ready for Production Yet.” Also, it may be that in the future you’ll author HTML5 using Adobe Flash.
Going forward, I have a hard time seeing how iOS can continue to dominate. As I mentioned earlier, it is not so much about iOS authoring, but rather how things are published. A byzantine publishing platform that requires Steve’s way (iTunes) or the Highway, coupled with a tightly controlled and proprietary hardware platform, is hardly a progressive model.
If this model didn’t work for Apple back in the 80s, why should it now?
This week we put together a quick test using QR Codes to extend a multitouch exhibit that we developed last year. QR Codes are an easy way to incorporate a mobile exhibit component that allows visitors to view and share more information about exhibit objects or media items. Any user with a smartphone can use a barcode scanning app to scan a QR code, which can then navigate to websites, source materials, teacher guides, commenting; basically, the possibilities are endless. Users can also choose to share the link with friends via social networking sites or email.
We reworked the EM Spectrum multitouch, multiuser exhibit that we developed with Adventure Science Center last year to include QR codes with links to Wikipedia entries for each area of the spectrum. Check out the video below to see the updated EM spectrum exhibit.
This experiment has proved useful enough that we’ve decided to add a QR Code generator to our Open Exhibits software modules. You’ll be able try these for yourself when the redesigned Open Exhibits site launches and the software is released on November 15th! Open Exhibits core multitouch and multiuser software is free for educational use. All Open Exhibits modules are free for any user and they also work with the commercially available GestureWorks software framework.