The California Academy of Sciences and Odopod came together to make a pretty awesome iPhone app to navigate all the great features, wildlife and landmarks inside Golden Gate Park. It's called the Golden Gate Park Field Guide and you can pick it up in the App Store.
Last weekend I decided to test it out for an adventure. The thing about the park is that it's massive and if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going, it's very easy to get lost. There are museums and lakes, bison and waterfalls, plants and animals, gardens and playgrounds. Having an app like this one to know where all these hidden gems are is incredibly useful.
The app is filled with all kinds of activities. You've got Sightings where you can report exact locations of the wildlife you've seen. There are Scavenger Hunts where you try your luck at finding specific species at varying degrees of difficulty and Nature Walks to choose from. You can also simply browse a list of all the species in the park and learn about their histories.
I chose the Nature Walk, "Around Stowe Lake" (with handy Time, Distance and Difficulty indicators) and went on to explore and learn the lay of the land.
With the app in hand, arriving at the location was super easy - especially since it's location aware and knew exactly where I was within the park at all times. The trail and all of the way points were marked clearly on the map indicating start and end points and all the really neat landmarks along the way. I started at the Boathouse and made my way along the route.
Each milestone marker in the interface offered a bit of history about that location. Some points had little tips, others had insights and trivia. I walked around the lake finding things I never even knew were there, hiked up hills with stunning views of San Francisco, came back down again snapping tons of pictures, and managed to spot turtles and birds and fish and other creatures that I failed to report in the app, but I could have.
In total, I spent about two hours on the walk, exploring, taking pictures and enjoying nature, giving a proper moment to each of the waypoints along the tour. I could have easily stayed all day as there are so many other adventures to take - some on bikes, some on foot, some long, some short - all available in this remarkable app for those with a sense of curiosity and adventure. I will be back to use it again soon.
If you've never been to SXSW before, then you probably don't know about the overwhelming quantity of content available to attendees. There's a lot to see among a lot of people. Equally so, you're probably unaware of the underwhelming quality of content available to aforementioned attendees. The trick, as I have learned in my second year, is to find someone you really respect and just follow them around to all the panels they go to and you'll probably run into the really great sessions.
However, I didn't actually follow that advice. My experience was mostly hit or miss. I got really, really jealous of other people tweeting about panels I wanted to hit and since I've never mastered the art of sneaking out of a panel while sitting in the front row, I had to sit tight, awaiting the promise of a shinier new session of speakers.
That said, I did see some great content, participated in engaging conversations about digital agencies, design thinking and the future of museums, and met some interesting people including strangers, clients and friends from other SoDA agencies. In no way could anyone retain everything, so here's my best attempt at outlining some of my own personal highlights.
This weekend marked the 8th annual Flash in the Can (FITC) festival in Toronto where designers, developers and enthusiasts came together to get inspired, learn a little something, and nerd out on all things digital - from code as art, to process, to agency infrastructure and everything in between.
There were endless sessions to choose from making it difficult to pick any one to attend. Some of the usual suspects included a red bull infused presentation on "space" by Joshua Davis, a behind the scenes view into creative exploration from Big Spaceship, and an audience controlled game of breakout presented by Balazs Serenyi of sourcebinder.org.
What was most interesting about FITC was the intense amount of community surrounding the event. With a new site launch, constant twittering, blogging and a newly founded Ning community, there were endless ways to connect both online and offline with new faces, old friends and interesting people.
To top it off, Odopod walked away with two FITC Award honors - 3D Flash for NVIDIA Speak Visual, a collaboration with our friends at Cutwater SF and Flash Animation for White Gold, another collaboration with the team at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
At the end of the day, it wasn't just about Flash or Flex or Air or anything else in the arsenal. It was about the energy around innovation and what we're able to do with the toolkits that made us all excited to be working together within the digital space.
Nike Skateboarding scooped an American Design Award, winning first place in the 2008 Winter Semi Annual Design Contest in the Web Design/ Flash category. So far this year, the website (our third for Nike Skateborading) has been a finalist for a Cannes Lion (clothing, footwear & accessories) and a Webby Award (best sports website).
We built the new site in Flash for fluid interactivity, yet it’s designed and built for speed—to be responsive and fast-rendering like HTML. The focus is mostly on great content, but we also wanted the site to be useful for skaters and Nike Skateboarding. For example, we made a Yahoo! map mash up that shows every skate store that carries NikeSB. Then we hooked everything up to a CMS that makes it simple for either Odopod or Nike Skatebarding to add to the site: new photos, videos, products, stories… whatever. This is what really keeps it fresh.
1. The site was built entirely in AS3. We’ve found it fairly easy to transition from AS2.
2. We used the CASA AS3 framework, which standardizes the code across a project. This increases efficiency and becomes a great plus when you have several developers collaborating on a project.
3. Eclipse + SVN. Eclipse is our development environment of choice. It makes our development easier and more efficient. Using SVN is an indispensable requirement on a project of this magnitude.
4. Video played a big role on the site. We used Sorenson Squeeze as a compression suite, especially for video shots requiring alpha channel.
5. Bitmap data and math was used to create the kaleidoscope. Performance is far better than running different videos at the same time.
6. Built-in Perlin Noise algorithm in Bitmap data (combined with a Blur Filter) was used to create fog found drifting across the site. This coded fog ended up being more dynamic and lightweight than creating fame-by-frame animations or videos.
7. The particle system in The Infinite Solo was code-generated. Again, more efficient and dynamic than a heavy animation or video.
8. A Displacement Map Filter was used to create the rippling effect in the Chamber of the One-Gallon Axe ceiling.
9. Adobe JPEG Encoder was used in the Vanity’s Lens to compress the bitmaps into JPEG data before sending the image to the server. What this means is that the image compression is done on the client side reducing server processing and bandwidth needed.
10. Amps in Balloon Scene in the Interactive video where built using BOX2D, an open-source 2D physics engine for games.
SoDA’s premiere sponsor, Adobe, asked Jay to shares his thoughts on SoDA and how it intends to help move our industry forward. “SoDA will be focusing on the issues that are truly unique to the digital space, that need to be addressed for everyone to prosper, and that threaten—if unchecked—to take the whole system down. These uniquely digital issues are: Ever-increasing technical complexity. Most of our clients want us to produce in a few weeks what it took YouTube, Facebook or Google to do over many months. Flattering, but unrealistic.” Read the interview >>
Here’s a peek into the epic production that was shooting White Gold’s first interactive rock video: Is It Me, Or Do You Love My Hair? It went down on a sound stage at The Culver Studios.
This Wednesday, April 23, Odopod is hosting this month’s IxDA-SF event. It’s entitled, “Playfulness in Design.” Matt Jones, co-founder and lead designer at Dopplr, will talk about 3 recent projects: (Nokia Play Research, Howies Instorematic, Dopplr.com) and theme of “playfulness” that connects them.
This event is free and open to everyone!