Google takes aim at digital storytelling with spotlight stories

During last week’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google debuted, “Duet,” the latest in a series of interactive short films for mobile devices known as Spotlight Stories. Spotlight Stories are part of Google’s Advanced Technology Projects (ATP), and aim to “blend world-class artistry with innovative rendering and interaction technology for mobile to create a new canvas for the next generation of storytelling,” according to Blogs.IndieWire.com.

The latest offering, “Duet,” was created by famed and former Disney animator and director Glen Keane, best known for his work on classic Disney characters such as Ariel, Aladdin and Pocahontas. “Duet” is an interactive story that tells the a tale of Mia and Tosh and, “how their individual paths in life weave together to create and inspired duet,” writes Blogs.IndieWire.com. The interactivity of the story allows the viewer to follow the journey of either character from birth to adulthood.

What makes “Duet” unique in terms of the Spotlight Stories, however, is that, according to Blogs.IndieWire.com, it’s the first “traditionally animated, hand-drawn” in the series. It was made with 10,555 drawings, which was about 13.5 GB of data, but Google’s ATP team was able to compress that down into a sleek 150 MBs reports Recode.net. You can watch “Duet” below:

“Duet” will be released later this year, and it’s the third story to be release as part of Spotlight Stories. The first in the Spotlight Stories series was, “Windy Day,” which appeared on Motorola Moto X phones in October of 2013. “Windy Day” was made by ex-Pixar moviemakers, and according to Techcrunch.com, “depicts a mouse chased by a hat around a forest you can look around.” Viewers of “Windy Day” are able to rotate their body and phone, which will then rotate the scene within the animation.

The idea is to create, “an immersive experience similar to the self-directed cut scenes you can look around in that appear in some first-person shooter games like Call of Duty,” writes Techcrunch.com. And maybe the best thing about Spotlight Stories is that they aren’t violent first-person shooters. These are unique and finely crafted stories in which the user has completely control of by simply manipulating their smart phone. It’s again incredible to see how much interactivity is gaining ground in digital storytelling. The video that follows shows Motorola users viewing and interacting with “Windy Day.”:

References

Beck, J. (2014). Glen keane debuts “duet” at google I/O conference. Retrieved, 2014, Retrieved from http://blogs.indiewire.com/animationscoop/glen-keane-debuts-duet-at-google-i-o-conference-20140627

Constine, J. (2014). Google/Motorola’s new moonshot “Spotlight stories” is A mobile virtual reality movie medium. Retrieved, 2014, Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/29/google-motorola-spotlight-stories/

Gannes, L. (2014). Google brings the “Epic shit”: 3-D scanning, modular phones and digital storytelling. Retrieved, 2014, Retrieved from http://recode.net/2014/06/26/google-brings-the-epic-shit-3-d-scanning-modular-phones-and-digital-storytelling/

Watch glen Keane’s latest animated short film “Duet”. (2014). Retrieved, 2014, Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com.flagship.luc.edu/speakeasy/2014/06/30/watch-glen-keanes-latest-animated-short-film-duet/

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Patent Law Fights Are Killing Innovation

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by Lagosian

 Patent laws as currently structured is killing innovation. Whilst this might be a subjective opinion, one should look no further than the current battle going on between Apple and Samsung, two titans of the tech industry to see that if more companies begin to follow in their footsteps, there can only be disaster ahead.

Just going by market value, both these companies are worth upwards of 300 billion dollars, yet instead of keeping their battles strictly on the products they churn out, they have in recent years been involved in a nasty legal spat that will have terrible repercussions for business and the tech. industry.

Here is a timeline of the case and what has been happening.

Interestingly, both companies have worked together in the past, and still do so but to a lesser degree. Samsung was responsible for creating some of the processors that have run in the Iphones.

Apple believes Samsung copied the design of its IPhone for its flagship phone the Galaxy series. Samsung denies that, and claimed Apple was infringing on its software patents. From there on, it’s been one side claiming the other side is infringing on its patents, whilst the other side counteracts by claiming the same.

Apple was awarded more than one billion dollars in damages, a fee that was later reduced to 450 million dollars. Samsung appealed the decision, and both sides are still embroiled in court(s) all over the world trying to one-up the other. As an outsider, I can’t help but feel disappointed that these two companies continue to resort to such strategy, spending both money and time in what many view as a needless battle.

For those who might be wondering what a patent is, below is a brief definition of what it is and why it differs from copyright law.

WHAT IS A PATENT?

A patent protects inventions or discoveries. One can say it’s a form of copyright, but unlike copyright, in other to use said invention, the permission or authorization of the patent holder is required.

Also there are companies like Microsoft and Rockstar, who buy a ton of patents and then license it out to technology firms. They have no interest in creating products with some of the patents they own; rather they see them as investments that can be used to bring back money for their respective owners through procedures such as licensing.

Congress in making new copyright laws for this digital age has to think long and hard about the role of industries and corporations in deciding what’s beneficial for them and the public. One should note that just because it helps the corporation doesn’t mean it helps the public.

I have provided examples of tech giants like Apple, Samsung and even Microsoft who have used the court room and patents to generate billions instead of using the marketplace. It is very disturbing how companies now actively go out and purchase patents like we would groceries, but not because they intend on using said patents to create products that would get out into the public, but to arm themselves and prepare for any litigation and in some cases, be the ones doing the litigating. I believe when the first patent and copyright laws were created, this was not what the creators had in mind. In fact one could say this is detrimental to the economy because instead of companies and corporations duking it out in the marketplace, tossing out ideas that the public gets to decide on and benefit from, said companies and corporations would rather hoard such innovations and sue others.

A lot of the technology we rely on is only possible because of patents but if these big companies have their way, the progress that has been made in that realm is going to come to a grinding halt, as innovators will be too concerned with not getting sued rather than churning out the products required to improve the industry.

 

 

 

References

Why are Apple and Samsung throwing down? A timeline of the biggest fight in tech. (n.d.). Digital Trends. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apple-vs-samsung-patent-war-timeline/#!ZuJRK

Samsung confirmed to be manufacturer of Apple’s new A7 chip in iPhone 5s. (n.d.). Samsung confirmed to be manufacturer of Apple’s new A7 chip in iPhone 5s. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/20/samsung-confirmed-to-be-manufacturer-of-apples-new-a7-chip-in-iphone-5s

Pepitone, J. (2013, August 8). Apple vs. Samsung scorecard: a timeline of the patent battle. CNNMoney. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/08/technology/mobile/apple-samsung-timeline/

TechRadar. (n.d.). Computing reviews, news. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.techradar.com/us/news/computing/how-microsoft-makes-money-from

Backed by Apple and Microsoft, Patent Troll Makes Money Off Android | Business | WIRED. (0014, January 21). Wired.com. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2014/01/huawei/

How much is that patent lawsuit going to cost you? – CNET. (n.d.). CNET. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.cnet.com/news/how-much-is-that-patent-lawsuit-going-to-cost-you

 

Google vs. Apple Ad

Today’s technology companies have to try really hard to convince the public that they’re products are a part of the human experience. The goal is to make sure that people don’t associate their products with cold mechanism, but a friendly companion to human creativity. Both Apple and Google are corporations that have been on top of their game when it comes to making commercials that showcase their products in a positive light. The two companies aim to inspire creativity by connecting their products as essential tools. In a recent Forbes article, the question of which ad is more effective despite Apple and Google both being advertising big wigs.

This first ad came from Apple’s campaign for the iPad air. This is definitely epic and the audience can feel something. In my opinion the ad provides a call to action and leaves the viewers marveling.

This next ad is a part of Google’s search on campaign which encourages people to use Google as their search engine of choice. Google really takes their search engine to the next level and emphasizes the unlimited possibilities with their product.

While both ads are pretty excellent by my standards, one ad seems a lot more connected to the audience. In the battle advertisements, Apple vs. Google, I rule in favor of Google. The two ads both astound the public and sustain a connection with the audience, but Apple puts their product on a pedestal that the average citizen just doesn’t reach. As mentioned in the Forbes article, Apple doesn’t quite prompt that attainability where Google does (Burns 2014). Apple provides a call to action, but as a consumer, I’m almost intimidated to purchase an iPad Air. The repetition of “You may contribute a verse” really puts pressure on the consumer. At least that’s what I felt when I heard it. The whole epic feel of the ad was powerful and scary. I hope that my verse is good enough even if I don’t have an iPad. On the flip side, you have Google whose strategy was to show a bunch of people attempting to learn about the process of building a story. For me Google’s ad made me feel a lot better about myself and how my capabilities could be expanded by simply typing into a search engine. I usually fall in love with Apple ads and admire them for their genius and fresh approaches, but the similarities between the ads are too close not to compare and declare Google the winner. Apple’s ad feels a little overbearing while Google’s is approachable. However in the end, they are both jobs well done.

Sources:

Burns, W. (2014, March 06). Google beats apple at it’s own game: Advertising. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/willburns/2014/03/06/google-beats-apple-at-its-own-game-advertising/

Sibling rivalry: Siri vs Now!

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and remember watching Zack Morris of Saved By The Bell with his giant cell phone. I always thought how cool it was to be able to be talking anywhere and whenever I wanted. I remember when car phones were a luxury item to have and how expensive they were. It was cool, but I couldn’t ever use one because I was always told it was way too expensive. Today, cell phones are like fingernails. They’re extensions of ourselves and carry around our entire life.

Google has evolved beyond just a search engine. They are a powerhouse. With the Android phones they’ve created the Android OS to be our personal day planners with the incorporation of Google Now. What Google Now does is set up “cards” for you for things such as home, work, favorite sports teams, set up your TV provider and ondemand services, text or call completely by voice, ask Google to search, set up reminders, calendar events, etc. I never thought much of it until recently when I started to set things up in my Samsung Galaxy S3. I did my first phone call and sent various texts to my wife all through voice commands only!

Google Now will also provide information such as whether your flight is running late, remind you to do something downtown once you actually get downtown (not just at a time, but via location), tell you when new products comes out (such as a musician releasing a new album), list upcoming nearby events, tell you about tickets for movies/concerts you’re interested in, and more (Kahn, 2013)!

(Image courtesy of koozai.com)

Another really cool feature of Google Now is that it looks up transit information automatically based on where you are and your primary mode of transportation. This information is available before you even open the app! For instance, before I leave the house I can check Google Now and it will tell me how long it’ll take me to get from home to school at the water tower campus via public transit just by knowing where I am. It will also tell me the weather of both places so I can plan appropriately. Essentially, this sounds what iOS users think of when they use Siri. The difference is that Siri only does what you ask, but Google Now provides the cards with useful information about things you may be interested in (maybe even before you think you need to know it), in addition to doing everything by voice and doesn’t talk back like Siri does.

(Image courtesy of electricpig.co.uk)

I’m not too familiar with Siri since I’m more a Linux/Windows user, but Google Now will customize cards and various suggestions to you as it learns from you. I don’t remember Siri doing this. According to Tech Splurge, Siri is a voice assistant whereas Google Now is a personalized search application (Saket). One can think of Siri as an incredibly knowledgeable friend whereas Google Now is the Oracle at Delphi which can tell you the future and possibly see into your soul. Both have their uses and their drawbacks. Both are extremely useful for us “tech nerds” in managing our day to day lives. Maybe I should tell Google Now to remind me about when my blogs are due for Professor Yoo’s class!

Do you use Siri or Google Now? What is your experience?

References:

Kahn, J. (2013, November 05). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://9to5mac.com/2013/11/05/google-search-ios-app-gets-massive-update-w-notifications-reminders-new-cards-handsfree-voice-search-much-more/

Saket. [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://techsplurge.com/11829/apple-siri-vs-google-now-difference/

Bringing Products to Life with Blippar

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Today, several articles were written about Blippar creating a new app for Google Glass that will allow users to have augmented reality experiences with products and print pages. I found this to be really interesting after doing research for my group project on augmented reality. I was curious as to how the app would work and what it could do for brands.

Blippar is a successful start up company that creates augmented reality apps for smartphones. They have been very successful so far. Basically, the app user is able to find a product or print page that is Blippar compatible, fill their screen with the image, and the image comes to life, giving animation and information to the user that would otherwise be unknown. Some brands that are already Blippar compatible are Heinz and Coca-Cola. The technology is currently being used to find more information out about products, but it could be used for so much more with its introduction to Google Glass. In an article from Quartz, Rachel Feltman notes that the popular entertainment tool of augmented reality can serve educational purposes. During her interview with Ambarish Mitra, CEO and co-founder of Blippar, he mentions the example of being at the natural history museum and using the app to see more information about the exhibits or using the technology for medical implications.

We already know that Augmented Reality and Blippar are amazing and innovative pieces of technology, but what makes them even better is that they are now available on Google Glass, which will eliminate the smart phone that creates a barrier between user and AR. With the glasses, the user will have a seamless experience with Augmented Reality, able to view any type of information at their disposal with full integration.

Even though the technology is brilliant, Google Glass augmented reality is very much so a niche market. Google glasses are not set to hit main stream outlets until next year, but Blippar and other versions of augmented reality applications will be ready when the product is opened up to the mainstream market.

As of now, many brands are using Blippar to connect to their viewers via their smart phones. They are launching augmented reality campaigns, releasing secret information and sales, sneak previews of new collections and so on. While most of Blippar’s clients are large brands, they do not plan on bombarding people with advertising messages. The messages will not pop out at people using Google Glass or provide distraction. Users can choose to use the app by saying ‘ok, glass’, and then they will be able to view whatever it is that interests them. In the future, the company would like Blippar to become a platform for users to create their own content, like a Wikipedia for Google Glass. Personally, I am skeptical of this service. We all know how skewed information can be on the internet, so it seems risky to allow anyone to writing anything on an augmented reality platform. The product is very intriguing but only time will tell how well it plays out in the market after Google Glass becomes a more mainstream part of society.

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Facebook to track consumer mouse movements

By Matt Gillis

Advancements in technology have extended their services into the field of advertising with much success. As businesses strive to gather data analytics in an effort to more specifically target their consumer groups, seemingly private customer activities are being monitored using technological developments. While advertisers see these monitoring technologies as mechanisms for increasing profit, consumers see their privacy being invaded.

Recently, social media giant Facebook has considered implementing a technology that tracks the movements of a user’s mouse in order to aid in product development and targeted advertising for the company.

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If this new tracking software were put into action, Facebook would be the first social media network to have done so. But despite the potential benefits for the company in using this technology, Facebook’s head of analytics, Ken Rudin, admits, “It’s a never-ending phase. I can’t promise that it will roll out. We probably will know in a couple of months.”

However, other companies including Shutterstock, an Internet-based photo service, have already implemented this tracking technology to collect consumer data with much success. While the Wall Street Journal reports that the company “records literally everything that its users do on the site,” Shutterstock has not received much backlash regarding their invasion of consumer privacy due to the site’s small size in comparison to Facebook. Even larger companies including Google and Netflix have used this technology as away to target recommendations and advertisements to their customers without much resistance.

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The tracking software is able to distinguish where the mouse user placed his or her cursor and how long it was left hovered over a particular area onscreen. Facebook would also extend their mining data to determining whether a user is viewing his or her newsfeed via a mobile phone or on a traditional computer.

Because of the invasive nature of the software, Facebook is considering the risks the implementation might have on the already criticized company. Facebook has a history of upsetting users with using consumer pictures and private messages for means of data tracking and profit. I believe the social media giant must approach the installation of this technology with much precaution in an effort to retain their consumers.

But while some Facebook users view this software as an invasion of privacy, being the Devil’s advocate, I think that this technology has the potential to benefit the site’s audience. More consumer data means more targeted advertising and individualized use of the site, which allows consumers to be exposed to things that they are interested in. While the company’s ultimate goal is to generate a profit, this technology is catering the site’s information to each user’s interests to provide them with a fulfilling Facebook experience.

Reference list:

–       Kleinman, Alexis. “Facebook Wants To Track Your Mouse Cursor.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 2 Nov. 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/facebook-track-cursor_n_4178508.html&gt;.

 

–       Shead, Sam. “Facebook considers friending your mouse tracks.” PCWorld. N.p., 2 Nov. 2013. Web. 2 Nov. 2013. <http://www.pcworld.com/article/2060520/facebook-considers-friending-your-mouse-tracks.html&gt;.

Google: “We Want YOU”

While consumers are familiarizing themselves with Facebook’s new advertising changes, Google has decided to implement a similar change. It is important for Internet advertisements to seem more tailored to a specific segment; this segmentation can be enhanced through the use of a personal touch, or, in Google’s sense, shared endorsements. Shared endorsements will enable Google to use users personal information and implement that information in advertisements (Magid, Forbes). According to AdWeek’s Garret Sloane, Google has used their Google+ consumers to their benefit. When a consumer looks at a restaurant review, song to download, or video, they will see their friends endorsing the advertisement (Magid, Forbes).

The new advertising method will be implemented on November 11th (Miller, NYT). Google provides an example of this, “your friends might see that you rated an album 4 stars on the band’s Google Play page. An the +1 you gave your favorite local bakery could be included in an ad” (Miller, NYT). Google will place users’ names and profile information adjacent to ads and restaurant reviews in order to convince other consumers to try the product or service. While this advertising method is not new to many social media users, many are not embracing the change with open arms. Many find it is a violation of privacy and that previous ‘likes’ or endorsements were not made with the intention of being in an advertisement.

What does this mean for consumers? For one, mass-marketed ads will have a more personal touch. The ads will only be visible by those a Google user is connected with. It will add a personal endorsement to companies that your friends prefer. In turn, consumers will feel more comfortable with their choices and will opt for choices they may otherwise ignore. It will also allow Google users to feature in advertisements, in the sense that users have the power to recommend these products and services to their friends. This will additionally have a positive impact on the brands featured on Google. It is very important for marketers and advertisers to add a personal touch to such mass advertisements. The amalgamation of the two forms of advertisement, reaching a specific market with a personal recommendation and keeping the ads broad, will boost sales as well as advertisement prices for Google. What’s more, Google can better compete with Facebook by implementing a similar marketing strategy. This will also, however, pose a problem among Google community members. 

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References

Magid, L. (n.d.). Google May Feature You In An Ad With ‘Shared Endorsements’ (Unless You

Opt-Out) – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2013/10/11/google_feature_you_in_ad/

 

Miller, C. (n.d.). Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements – NYTimes.com. The New York Times

Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/12/technology/google-sets-plan-to-sell-users-endorsements.html?_r=0

 

Sloane, G. (n.d.). Google Updates Advertising Policies to Show User Images Next to Products |

Adweek. Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/googles-new-ads-will-include-familiar-faces-153070