Tuesday, 22 May 2012

onvert Competition Entry #3

Probably the last entry into the onvert competition - with the closing date just over a week away - takes advantage of two features:
  1. AR can highlight and modify elements of the real-world.
  2. Reading the QR code with any app other than the onvert viewer still directs you to the right page.
The idea is fairly simple.  A company sends out flyers to promote its new product.  If you scan the QR code then you're taken to a site where you can buy it.  However, if you scan it with the onvert viewer, then it also reveals a discount code that you can use on the site.

Of course the code wouldn't stay secret for long, and it would probably be on those discount code sites a couple of minutes after the flyers went out; but that's not really the point.  The aim is just to build some engagement with the brand.

The view for non-onverts:

The view in onvert viewer:

You can cheat and view it all in a browser here: http://onvert.com/9z9qr7s804/

Lessons learnt:
  • The original onvert covered most of the text with a black square to hide it.  This looked a mess when viewed through the camera because of differences of shade.  Blending an augment with real-world background is near-impossible due to real-world lighting variations.
  • I'd urge onvert to relax their policy on logo colouring.  The wording is already quite casual (http://onvert.com/legal/trademarks/), but with most companies enforcement is fairly strict.  I could have gone with the allowed monochrome option and chosen my own accent colour in this case; and that might be the option that a lot of designers go with.  If you're promoting a graphic to be added to other people's designs, then enforcing a colour scheme poses challenges.  They might allow people to set their own colour for the "on" instead - the shape of the onvert is quite recognisible on its own.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Change of Name

The profile name originally attached to this blog was Lucius Nesterov; which was my Second Life account name. If you're unfamiliar with Second Life, then I should say that originally you had to select a surname from a predefined list, so it's not as random as it seems.

Since the blog has become more general, I'm switching to my real name of Matthew Leach.

Probably like a lot of people, I've built up a legacy of weirdly named accounts across different online services. Over the past couple of weeks people have, understandably, refered to me as Lucius Nesterov, and it seemed weird.

I'm still keeping a "brand name" of Thoughtfulmonkey though - website, gmail and twitter (@thought_monkey).


Saturday, 21 April 2012

onvert Competition Entry #2

** Update: Corrected the codes on the image above. **

This example would be a poster or page in a magazine, which aims to increase awareness of endangered species.

It tries hook people through their curiosity - presenting a question, but not the answer. Basically, which are more numerous: actual Tigers, or people that support teams named after Tigers. Unless you're completely oblivious to the plight of endangered species, then the answer is probably obvious; but it still aims to shock through the scale of difference.

It uses the standard educational principle that if you just give someone an answer, then they can easily forget it, but if the are actively involved in finding an answer, then they are more likely to remember.

I originally wanted to compare the number of Black Rhinos to Chiuauas, but stats were hard to come by, and I didn't want to compare random things, like Rhinos Vs nuclear weapons.

PDF of the poster: http://thoughtfulmonkey.com/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=tigervtiger.pdf
Web-view of "Animals": http://onvert.com/698xdpoais/Web-view of "Fans": http://onvert.com/67k3m626j/

The Numbers
To be honest the figures are probably miles off. For example, there is an American baseball team called the Detroit Tigers. Their contribution was a guess based on attendance at their games - I went with 10,000. Where-as if you follow information on Wikipedia - that the majority of baseball fans in Southern Ontario support them - combined with the population of Southern Ontario, and surveys on what percentage of the US population are considered baseball fans, then you end up with just over 5,000,000 (not even including Detroit itself). But it was getting complicated, so it's more of a concept really.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

onvert Competition Entry #1

onvert seems to be a fairly new entry into the smart-phone Augmented Reality market, and they're running a competition to start things off: http://onvert.com/competition/. I'm still kicking myself for not submitting to the Layar one, so I couldn't let this one slip by.

onvert use quite a nice system where you scan a QR code to launch the augmentation - removing any chance of confusion between different people's creations. The best part though is its simplicity. You can just upload 2 images to the website (a target image and the augmentation), and you've got yourself some AR. This obviously means that you're limited in what you can do with it, but it covers a lot of what people will want to do.

Topic of Submission

I've got a few ideas, but the first one that I went with is based on toy packaging. It seemed best if the augmentation provided half of the content; not just a little bit extra. The concept was to use a transforming toy, where the AR revealed what it looked like in its transformed state.

However, I didn't want to get disqualified at some point for using copyrighted imagery. So...

Creating a Transforming Robot
Time for a lengthy diversion. I decided to create a papercraft robot for "simplicity". The basic process was:
  1. Create a rough prototype in polystyrene.
  2. Create a 3D model in Google Sketchup
  3. Convert it to a paper model using PePaKuRa Designer
  4. Add some chopped up photos and graphics

Shown below are the prototypes (the one on the right was to check face orientation before adding graphics):

And the finished result (click for larger image):

Not bad as a first attempt at papercraft, but definitely more work than I was expecting.


The diversion continues, as now it was time to create the packaging. The most important features are the onvert QR code and reference image on the back. You could pick up the box, scan it, and then see what the transformed version would be like.

Finally the OnVert

Eventually it was time for the main event. Using photographs and graphics from the previous steps it was fairly quick to put together. I went with 3 layers in the AR - a shading layer, an intermediate step, and then the final transformation - arranged in a kind of upward spiral. The images, including reference are:

With the composite image:

Experience it yourself using the tag and reference image below:

(Click for larger image)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

2 days of presentations

2 days, 2 presentations - both on Second Life. The first a joint presentation in an arts-focused seminar, based on the virtual theatre work, the second a presentation to built environment educators and trainers on the University's virtual quarry.

Common to both was the advice that anyone looking into using immersive simulations in their teaching, should make OpenSim their first choice. I'd guess that it's common advice circulating through the educational sector. At a time when funding is being cut to the point that jobs are being lost, there's no way of justifying the cost of 'trying it out'.

A model is starting to form in my mind where institutions jointly hire some hosted OpenSim land, and collaborate to produce a learning activity. And then when it's complete each institution takes a copy to use on their own local servers, run when required. We're entering times where the efficient use of resources is paramount.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Bright future for games in Second Life...

... possibly. Towards the end of last year Linden Labs officially announced that Rod Humble would become the new CEO. Having had a very successful career in the games industry, there are justified expectations that under his leadership Second Life will become more game-like. Whether that includes a focus on content or is more the "feel" of the experience, we'll wait and see.

With Mr Humble not due to actually start in the role until mid-January, I wouldn't have expected to see any impact until around the Summer. However, there are already some signs of shuffling at Linden Labs, such as the new blog post on games. It relates mainly to the category in the destination guide - which has gone from no mention of games at all, to a combined 'sports and games' category, to giving games an entry all on their own.

As I mentioned in the comments of that post, I don't see the point in separating sports and games in a virtual world like Second Life. The distinction between sports and games in the real-world is mainly due to culture and organisation - for example Kabaddi compared to British Bulldog. Currently Quackerstone Duck Racing is in the sports category; really? Categories are always tricky, which is why we shouldn't be using them anymore - see "Everything is Miscellaneous" - but for sports and games in SL I think that if you're looking for something in one, then you'll enjoy what's in the other.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Half Day Challenge: Melee

Got distracted there for a while so things ran on for more than half a day. Still, this is the last update.

Just to round things out I added in melee. Very simply when a unit activates it scans for adjacent enemy units and then distributes its melee attack across them. By rights it should also lock movement, but that's for another time.

The end result is a skeleton for a more advanced system. At the moment there are no real rules, but I've tried to use a modular system that would make it easier to expand. The visuals are also more at the abstract end of the spectrum, but they could be replaced with small figures or, maybe in an OpenSim megaregion, full-size models.