If you’ve read Ideum Blog and you’ve been keeping up with GestureWorks and Open Exhibits, you know that we’re fast moving and productive group. The unfortunate thing about being this productive is that we often don’t get the chance to share all the cool ideas, experiments, and discoveries we’ve made along the way.
Enter Ideum Labs, our new Tumblr blog. Labs was conceived as a high output, low production value home for Ideum and GestureWorks Staff to share raw ideas, UX experiments, project snippets, random acts of science, and interesting HCI + multitouch news.
Our Open Exhibits multitouch software initiative has just completed its first year. Last year, we received funding from the National Science Foundation and we launched our full community site last November. We’ve learned a lot in year one and we are gearing up for an exciting second year.
If you haven’t been following developments on the Open Exhibits site, here’s an update:
The Heist project was announced today. Heist is an experimental project that uses Open Exhibits and GestureWorks software and is powered by Sensus server technology to enable effortless networking. It allows museum visitors to “steal” digital objects; easily placing them on their smart phones or tablets.
The system uses a captive WiFi portal to push an HTML5 app to visitors so there is no need to download an iOS or Android app. The visitor just connects to WiFi and opens their browser. We are planning a testbed with ten museums this winter. Learn more and check out a video of Heist.
Open Exhibits is on the road in October and November. There are presentations and workshops planned on both coasts and in Europe. We’ll be at Association of Science- Technology Center’s (ASTC) annual conference in Baltimore, the British Museum in London, and at The Tech Museum in San Jose. We will have one of our MT55 Platform Multitouch Tables at the British Museum if you want to check it out.
Work has begun on a new version of our most downloaded software module, the multitouch-enabled Collection Viewer. We’ve posted preliminary designs and have explained the new features that will become available in the new version.
Open Exhibits surpassed 10,000 software downloads last month and our community now has over 1,700 members. If you haven’t already done so, please join us. We are looking forward to an eventful second year.
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.
The NASA Space Weather Viewer is now available in the Google Android Market. You can download it here. Becoming a Google Developer and posting the app to the market was very simple process.
Back in November, I shared some of the difficulties we encountered developing and publishing the iOS version of the application. (By the way, I still believe, long term Apple will have difficulties with their model, but certainly Android and the iPad alternatives have stumbled quite a bit with the Honeycomb release.) Still, in the end the iOS version has been very successful (see: Over 100K Downloads for NASA Space Weather iPhone App in March).
Below is a video we made showing the NASA Space Weather Viewer running on Samsung Galaxy tablet and Android phone. The video is also embedded in app listing the Android Market. A simple, but smart feature for previewing apps in the market.
We will let you know how the Space Weather app does in the Android Market and if we see anything like the success we’ve had in the iTunes Store.
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.”
With the sun currently approaching solar maximum, the most active period in the solar cycle, solar flares have become more common and powerful. This has led to some concerns about damage to satellites and electric power grids and it has also helped generate amazing and beautiful auroras.
The increased interest in “space weather” has also spiked interest in our free Space Weather Viewer iPhone app, which we developed for NASA back in November. We’ve had 107,528 downloads in the Apple App Store this month. The downloads peaked at 9,035 on March 13th although we have had more than 4,000 downloads each day this month.
Outreach efforts by our partners at Goddard Space Flight Center and the Sun-Earth Day 2011 events have also likely helped push the numbers upward. You can download the Space Weather Viewer iPhone app in iTunes store. If you’re a developer you can download the source code for the app at Github, there’s more about this release in previous blog post, Source Released for the NASA Space Weather iPhone App.
The Android version of this app will be available next month.
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.
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?
After months of development and ten nervous days in the Apple App Store approval process, we’ve just released the NASA Space Weather Media Viewer iPhone application. The Space Weather app allows you to view real-time and near-real-time imagery from a variety of NASA satellites, as well as videos and more!
Ideum, in partnership with Goddard Space Flight Center, was awarded a grant to extend the tremendously popular web-based Space Weather Media Viewer to the mobile platform. The application ships with informational videos, visualizations, NASA mission information, and enables near real-time observation and social network propagation of space weather phenomenon.
This was our first foray onto the rocky road of iPhone development, but with the help of libraries like Three20, we were able to complete a very full-featured and superbly performing application relatively quickly. We will say that the iPhone development process is not as simple as what we were promised when the iPhone first launched. Our next goal is the Android version of the application, and we’re examining other rapid development platforms, some of which, due to licensing issues, were not available for our use with the iPhone.
So, check out the app store page to download the Space Weather Media Viewer, mobile version. It’s free. You can also use the QR code to the right to access the page from your phone! Just click it to view the full size.
Just last week Adobe released Air for the Android Platform, allowing Flash applications to run on Android devices (version 2.2 is required). We’ve been checking out the pre-release, but now that it is official, we thought we’d share some demos of the GestureWorks frameworks for Flash running on Android.
Here’s a video showing two of our tutorial applications running on an HTC EVO. We start by showing them running on a desktop system with a PQ Labs overlay, then the same applications running on the phone.
Once the Android “.apk” files we’re authored, we simply had to email them or connect a phone via USB to install them. Unlike authoring for the iPhone, there is no iTunes software to deal with, you don’t need to apply for an iPhone Development Certificate, or spend $99 to join their developer community. You simply author and deploy. What a concept.
Here’s a zip file with the two Android apps, if you’d like to try them out:
GestureWorks – Android Examples (Zip file with two .apk files)