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DIGITAL MEDIA FROM THE INSIDE OUT: My focus is digital content -- production, distribution, collaboration, innovation, creativity. Some posts have appeared across the web (HuffPo, Tribeca's Future of Film, The Wrap, MIPblog, etc.). To receive these posts regularly via email, sign up for my newsletter here.

Wednesday
Apr302014

A New Way to See: Shawn Hardin on Glass & Rift

Shawn Hardin is the cofounder and CEO of Mind Pirate, a tech startup delivering an application and cloud platform for the development and distribution of wearable computing apps, called Callisto. The company is focused on making it as easy as possible for OEMs and developers to deploy great apps across, and take full advantage of, a range of wearable devices. You can follow Hardin on Twitter @shawnhardin. I serve on Mind Pirate's Board of Advisors. This post appeared in today's Venture Beat

 As a technology executive since the early ’90s, I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat to the digital revolution. I’ve observed the meteoric rise of the Internet, broadband, social media, and mobile and watched their consumer adoption soar from 9 percent to 90 percent. Today, we’re on the cusp of a similar inflection point for wearable technology and augmented reality.

We all love smartphones. But it’s not realistic to assume the phones we now carry around in our pockets represent the final form factor for mobile.

In fact, the phone is about to explode. It will evolve into many different pieces, with wearable devices for many different parts of the body, including your wrist, ears and eyes. A couple years ago, an episode ofFuturama joked that the “eyePhone” would replace the iPhone. As we know now, that transition is already underway, as devices such as Google Glass and Oculus Rift demonstrate.

Yes, the devices are different. But they’re also quite closely related. And if you view Glass and Rift as steps along the same continuum, you start to see a very clear picture of the wearable-computing future.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr302014

The Story Cube

Anna Marie Piersimoni has begun teaching undergraduates at the California State University, Northridge, in their film/media program. She asked me to give a talk last week, and I've posted the presentation, which I dubbed "The Story Cube" -- an homage to another mutual colleague from our days at the American Film Institute, namely Suzanne Stefanac, who introduced me to the concept of "story cubed" as a way to encapsulate the multidimensional way we have come to understand stories in the digital era.

 

Thursday
Mar202014

Wearable Apps: Event in SF

I'm excited to share news of an event coming up on March 27 in San Francisco -- a showcase for the latest new apps built expressly for wearable tech devices (such as 'smart glasses'). Wearable tech is the next frontier of mobile media, offering intriguing opportunities to create useful and delightful experiences with entirely new form factors. 

The developers you will meet and the work you will sample has been created within a new business accelerator targeting wearable tech applications, a collaboration between the Canadian Film Center's ideaBOOST program and Bay Area start-up Mind Pirate, two of my clients. 

It would be great to see you at the event  in San Francisco. To RSVP click http://bit.ly/NTx4rP . For further assistance, ping me or Alison Hoy at the CFC <ahoy@cfcmedialab.com> Feel free to forward this invitation to colleagues whom may be interested in wearables, as well.

Wednesday
Mar192014

Quantified ME

I’ve been fat, I’ve been skinny, a roller-coaster of weight gain and loss, more of the former in recent years as I struggled with the impact of colon surgery, a late-stage scoliosis diagnosis. I didn’t seem to be able to control my food intake, and I became convinced that cardio sufficient to lose weight was now impossible for me.

Woe is me, I was thinking, self-pityingly, just as I stumbled across a post by my friend Shelley Palmer, whose blog tracks electronic devices and trends. Indeed, his post did focus on fitness gizmos from Fitbit and Jawbone, which I certainly had heard about given my recent interest in ‘wearable tech.”

I don’t know exactly what grabbed me in Shelly’s post -- dozens of similar stories have appeared across the web as the wearable health industry has taken off. I suspect it was how a person I knew described how he used a calorie counting app and a fitness tracker to lose 58.3 pounds in 189 days, or .3 pounds per day. He elaborates:

It’s not magic; it’s math. 3,500 calories = 1 lb. Every 3,500 calories you eat that you don’t burn, you gain a pound. Every 3,500 calories you burn that you don’t eat, you lose a pound. While this is not strictly true, for reasons that don’t matter here, it is a great baseline to use for changing your lifestyle based upon information you get from monitoring, or quantifying, your calories in and calories out.

Inspired, I ran out to Best Buy that afternoon and left with a Fitbit Flex and a Withings Wifi Scale. I created accounts for both products, as well as MyFitnessPal, an iOS app, and figured out how to link them together.

I’m happy to report that in 51 days I’ve lost 20 pounds, or .4 pounds per day, and along the way I’ve regained control of my food and dramatically increased my exercise, so far without any painful consequences.

This happened, pretty much as Shelly described the quantified self – being able to quantify my calories in and calories burned, and especially knowing in real time when the balance is about to go South. I know if I need to step up my exercise. I know if I need to restrict my food. No, I don’t always obey. But now I have no excuse.

To make this work, I have been diligent about recording calories in the MyFitnessPal app – it syncs between my iPad, iPhone and desktop, so there’s no excuse. The app’s database is immense and fairly accurate, so long as my estimates on portion size are honest.

I’ve also been rigorous about my exercise. I spend at least 40 minutes in the pool, vigorous water aerobics or swimming most weekday mornings. To that, I’ve added a heart-pounding walk each day, seamlessly tracked by my Fitbit, which calculates calories burned, and sends that data to MyFitnessPal. By last weekend I had nearly reached 15,000 steps per day, more than 5 miles. A few months ago, I had trouble with one mile. (Physical therapy with a miracle worker helped me “awaken” specific muscles that had not been firing properly, and that seems to have made all the difference.)

Two days ago I bought a bike, my new bike in more than 20 years, and I’m adding that to the mix.

Final word – music makes all the difference in my energy and motivation to increase my distance. Back when I was a runner, I laboriously programmed audio tape mixes with songs that drove me up hills and poured it on when I needed it. In today’s world, I make custom playlists in Spotify in a fraction of the time using the BPM Database and the All8 BPM tool. Here’s one just made for quick walking called, aptly, 120BPM

I think I’ll go try it, now. 

Saturday
Jan042014

#googleglassmovie

A month ago I blogged about initial reactions to my new Google Glass wearable computing device, mostly the back story about why I decided to dive into this new world and my initial experiences. 

Well, I've been wearing Glass for about a month now, capturing still images and videos and entertaining my friends. Brilliant of Google to get people like me to pay them for the privilege of evangelizing their product, but hey, it's been fun being the first kid on the block with a new toy. 

My experience with the device was limited to image and video capture, primarily because connectivity is so difficult, especially as I use an iPhone not an Android device. Other problems remain, and I'm sure others will solve them. I'll also leave until another time my comments on the social dimension of this new class of wearable devices, except to say that my encounters wearing Glass produced more curiosity and astonishment than fear or snearing. Subterfuge is not that easy with a glowing cube attached to your forehead.

So herein I offer my first month with the Google Glass camera, a frenetic period with lots of travel, conferences, meetings, and of course the year-end holidays. I reduced my month into five minutes, along the way remembering how to user iMovie and why media editors have a right to be crazy. 

The image quality is, to my eye, pretty damned good for an amateur like me. What's great is the sponteneity of image capture -- especially after Google introduced its "blink" function that allows you to take a still image by blinking, without needing to power up the device. You don't have to find the camera in your pocket, open the app, aim and frame. You just blink. Like one of my friends said, "it's creepy." 

The hands-free essence of the wearable camera turns your body into a steadycam or a dolly, like the shot of my hand holding catfood while following the cat, and the 360-degree pivots that are so fun when you wear the camera. It's a more fragile version of the GoPro, a product I've never used beyond trade show demos. 

The worst thing about Glass' camera is the lack of an actual viewfinder. I couldn't frame shots as easily as I do with my cameraphone. As a result, you'll notice that many of my shots slice off the tops of heads because the camera is positioned slightly above the normal field of vision. 

Now that I'm used to wearing the damned things, I'm going to try to shoot interviews at CES and see if I can create a movie with more content. 

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