Locative Lab

researching locative media

The Future of Data Overload as Envisioned for 2020


Global innovation firm Frog Design recently brought designers, futurists and journalists together to envision the future of computing in 2020. In 2020, the computer is not only incorporated into every aspect of our lives, but should become an integral part of ourselves. With this in mind, the workshop aimed to imagine how future technology would influence the key areas of Social, Travel, Commerce, Healthcare, and Media.

In the “Bodynet” concept scenario, future technologies will monitor our body’s vital conditions and compute the outcome of our actions on-the-fly. So this technology allows you to enjoy that McDonalds meal even more, being assured by a floating data dashboard how it will shorten your estimated lifespan with several weeks.

The “Whuffie Meter” merges your physical presence with that of your online social identity. Socializing will take on completely new dimensions when people can see everything public about a person on semi-transparent infographic displays floating over their heads, right as they are talking with them. Question of allowing people to map your faked personal ad information to your person straight away.

“ThingBook” exploits the concept of “Internet of Things” to allow people to go shopping practically everywhere and at any time. Do you like that new car you saw drive by? Just call up the floating interface and press “buy”. Want to really know how old that shirt is of your work colleague? Discover and humiliate him right there and then.

More information at Pattern Language blog and Forbes.

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Vicon Revue: Document your Life Every 30 Seconds


Vicon Revue [http://www.viconrevue.com] is the commercial reincarnation of Microsoft’s Sensecam concept: a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn. Its purpose is to support life-loggers wanting to track and document their everyday movements as digital memories. In combination with other physical sensors or additional image-recognition algorithms, the potential opportunities are enormous.

Unlike a regular digital camera or a cameraphone, Vicon Revue does not have a viewfinder or a display that can be used to frame photos. Instead, it is fitted with a wide-angle lens that maximizes its field-of-view and ensures that nearly everything in the wearer’s view is captured by the camera. Next to the 640x480px camera sensor, the device also contains several sensors, such as a temperature sensor, a light color and intensity sensor, an infra-red motion detector, a multi-axis accelerometer, and a 3-axis magnetometer (compass). Images are downloaded at the end of the user’s day, which will hopefully form the basis of some interesting visualizations.

Being promised since 2007, the Vicon Revue is finally shipping to the normal public and sells for £500 / $720 / 576€. Watch a movie consisting of 24 hours worth of images, below. Read some experience reports at

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Social Bits: The Physical Visualization of Urban Social Data


Social Bits [socialbits.org] is a research design project focused on putting digital information in a physical context. A collection of small interventions located at Istanbul aim to explore the physical display of urban data.

“Collective Data Maps” allow visitors to pinpoint the most liked and most disliked locations of İstanbul. “Fluid Data” is a spatial projection that shows real-time Twitter posts from İstanbul by highlighting and flowing past architectural elements in a fluid way. “kazamidori” is an interactive object resembling a weather vane to indicate the direction of where visitors in a website are coming from in real-time. “News Leak” is a physical printer located in the city which instantly prints a summary of the latest news and culture from around the world. “Urban Mood” visualizes the real-time mood of the citizens of İstanbul through a simple keyword projection and sound installation. Lastly “Urbansphere Wearables” is a collection of beautiful T-shirts that reflect the daily keywords of the city by utilizing the data streams of social networks as a source of fashion design.

See also Newsknitter.

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CNN Home & Away: Comparing How the Lives of Soldiers Began and Ended


CNN.com and Stamen Design have launched “Home and Away” [cnn.com], an impressive interactive data visualization that allows users to learn about and pay tribute to more than 6,000 fallen troops from more than 20 countries. Evolving from 2 separate lists of casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, Home and Away tells the story of where and how the lives of these troops began and ended. The website also allows for personal memories to be continually added by family and friends.

While tackling the many issues involved when dealing with an extremely sensitive dataset, this project attempts to exploit the power of data visualization to engage a wide audience and tell compelling and moving stories, here as an exceptional way to honor the sacrifice every single one of the deceased soldiers made.

Users can search for casualties across several different criteria, including last name, age hometown, location of death and date of death. More detail about the life of each casualty is featured on a personal memorial page, as well as memories from family and friends shared through iReport, CNN’s user-generated news community.

More information is also available at Presslift.

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Spotted on Nanoblog, an 80’s R…

80's Retro Mix Cassette Tape Gadget Case - iPhone iTouch Eris Hero Zune HD and more.jpeg

Spotted on Nanoblog, an 80’s Retro Mix Cassette Tape case for iPhone. How cool is that?

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Streetmuseum app overlays historic images on today’s streets

Strolling Through 19th Century London Today.jpeg

StreetMuseum– an iPhone app from the Museum of London – overlays four hundred years of historic images on today’s city streets, thanks to augmented reality.

“StreetMuseum makes creative use of Google Maps and geo-tagging to show users how London used to look. You can use it to check out pictures and info about nearby historic locations, which is has more of a straightforward walking tour feel. But the fun starts when you’re actually standing in front of a location in the database.”

Read full articles. More pictures.

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First Man infected with computer virus

In the future, we could all become walking computer viruses, according to Reading scientist Mark Gasson. Gasson is supposedly the first human being to be infected with a computer virus.

[The BBC via boingboing]

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Nokia launches first open source Symbian phone

Nokia N8.jpeg

“The first handset to use the Symbian operating system since it became open source has been announced by Nokia.

The N8 phone has a 12 megapixel camera and allows people to record and edit High Definition video clips, as well as watch web TV services.”

Full article in the BBC.

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Goggles search by sight software, now translates text into 15 languages

ltranslate_0517.jpeg At the Mobile World Congress last February, Google CEO Eric Schmidt showed off a new prototype of Google Goggles.

Goggles allows for search by sight, you take your phone out, point it at something of interest, take a photo then Google directs you to relevent search results.

Now a new version of the software incorporates text translation so if you take a picture of some text, you will have the option to translate it. Still in development at Google Mobile Labs, TIME tech writer Peter Ha was able to give it a try in a couple of restaurants near Google headquarters in New York and was impressed. Watch video.

” Available for Android phones it will ultimately be platform neutral. It can “read” or visually scan words in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and translate them into any other of those languages plus about 10 more, including Afrikaans and Albanian — with additional languages coming soon.”

Related:Google Goggles to translate text in photos

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Google debates face recognition technology

Face.gif Google executives are wrestling over whether to launch controversial facial recognition technology after a barrage of criticism over its privacy policies. The FT reports.

“Facial recognition has the potential to be the next privacy flashpoint. Google already uses the technology in its Picasa photo sharing service. This lets users tag some of the people in their photos and then searches through other albums to suggest other pictures in which the same faces appear.

However, Google has held back on launching the technology more broadly. It was not included, for example, in the Google Goggles product, launched last year. This allows people to search for something on the internet by taking a picture of it on a mobile phone.

Privacy campaigners have raised fears that adding facial recognition to Goggles would allow users to track strangers through a photograph, making it into an ideal tool for stalkers and identity fraudsters.

Google’s dilemma is that other companies, such as Israeli start-up Face.com, are developing face-recognition tools, and Google fears that it could lose an important advantage by further delaying a product launch.”

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Cityscape LocativeLab.org is Ronald Lenz's research website on locative & mobile media. This is mostly an archive of blogposts I find inspiring and interesting and an overview of my work. I'm a strategist, technologist and researcher in the field of Location-Based Mobile Services and work at Waag Society, a medialab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands where I head the Locative Media research program and at 7scenes, a platform for GPS games and tours as creative director. Picture 4 Find me at Twitter, LinkedIn or via ronald [at] waag [dot] org.

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