Makego

Makego is a new iPhone app from interaction artist and designer, Chris O’Shea that turns your iPhone / iPod Touch into a toy vehicle.

The app is basically a little animation of a top-down view of a racing car, ice-cream van or a boat. You make a vehicle in paper, LEGO, etc. and then put the iPhone it it to add the driver character, animation and sounds. Colours, etc. can be customized and when you move the vehicle around, the motion sensors in the iPhone trigger sounds, such as the racing car engine roaring. See the video for more.

Chrome Experiments

ball_droppings.jpg

Josh Nimoy has made a version of his (unpleasantly named) Ball Droppings piece for Google’s Chrome Experiments site. Simple and addictive, you basically draw lines and adjust the dropping rate to set the balls in bouncy, musical motion. The Javascript version doesn’t work in Safari (sigh), but Firefox on the Mac does the job.

The whole Chrome Experiments site is worth poking around – there are some nice interactive toys there. Casey Reas’ Twitch is a fun set of little challenges that move from browser window to browser window:

Twitch.png

Christoph Résigné’s Amiga Workbench Emulator is ridiculous, but very well done too.

Browser Ball is a ball that you can throw around different browser windows. Its author, Mark Mahoney asks, “If I tell you it’s less lame than it sounds, will you give it a shot?” It is, indeed, less lame than it sounds and strangely compelling (though it send my CPU crazy).

There are plenty more of these little experiments with the technology. It will be great to see if Google Chrome is actually any good once it comes to the Mac (I haven’t tried it in BootCamp yet), but many of these experiments work in other browsers.

Exploring these ideas will, no doubt, lead to some interesting applications, but they’re fun in their own right too, so take them in that spirit. The comments say it all:

By Bill the non computer geek on April 01, 2009
Saw the demo. So just what does this do? I see a ball bouncing to different windows……so?

By sam on April 29, 2009
you shouldnt be here

(Thanks to Rachel for the heads up).

The Playmakers

I’ve just been introduced to a wonderful book.

Timeless Toys

It’s called Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them, by Tim Walsh and documents the history and development of classic toys.

The original, self-published, book was called The Playmakers: Amazing Origins of Timeless Toys and Tim has a website and blog of the same name. I’m still waiting to receive my copy, but there are several excerpts on the Playmakers site that document the history the Super Ball, The Slinky, Jenga, Pez and Play-Doh (did you know it was wall cleaner?).

All the stories are inspiring examples of people thinking totally outside of the box and putting everything they had into an idea that they were sure would work, even if they had huge fears about it. Most of them are incredibly simple too and plenty were the result of accidents or of playing with materials. There seems to be a real sense of inventing things and then seeing what they might be useful for, rather than the other way around. It’s quite a Google approach to working and a real antidote to all the marketing/functional specification driven projects that are so often part of our daily jobs.

For extra, slightly nerdy thrills, there are also some fascinating patent diagrams Tim managed to dig up. The G.I. Joe one is particularly weird.

Thanks to my PhD supervisor, Ross Gibson, for the heads up.