Year of Data brings together Apple iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Google Android


Neat video below (Stimulant’s “XRay” project), but first, why I think it’s neat:

Every year is the year of data, I believe.

A query on any random search engine for the phrase “year of data” illustrates my point (and we’re only in January of 2009 still). There’s good reason – the flood of data increases.  That’s a good thing.  Did you know that, according to the American Physical Society, “2009 will be the Year of Data in Particle Physics“?

The LHC comes on line this summer; mature accelerator programs will continue to produce a flood of precision results from Fermilab and SLAC; numerous astro-particle experiments will be reporting increasingly impressive results; and planning will continue toward potential future facilities such as ILC, DUSEL, and Project X.  [Lewis’s note: what is “Project X”???]

Twitter, of which I’m fond, has an open API which allows access to its burgeoning flow of real-time updates from around the world; result = cool apps.  And one of my favorite projects back in the intelligence community was the “IC Data Layer,” which among other uses will be exploitable through A-Space.  As intelligence analysts and others have easier access to more data, the need increases for interfaces that expose and exploit the layers of data.

Team StimulantStimulant is a very hot software-design team creating “digital experiences for uncommon devices and contexts, inspiring wonder in unexpected places. From desktop to device, multi-touch to mobile, we employ both trusted and emerging technologies to engage users.” 

What I like most about their work is their preference “primarily for computers that don’t even look like computers. This way we can redefine the human-computer experience and add some of the magic back into software.”

They have been early adopters of Microsoft Surface as a platform, and have come up with a cool integration of the Apple iPhone with Surface. In this example, they’re exposing synchronized layers of data – architectural drawings, photo annotations and the like:


Vodpod videos no longer available.
      from blogpost “Stimulant » From the Labs: XRay” posted with vodpod

It’s easy to imagine similar government analysis uses, or defense uses. From the Stimulant blog about the project:

What you see here is a prototype that takes advantage of Surface’s object recognition capabilities to recognize the position of one or more iPhones on the Surface, and allows those phones to “see through” the images and reveal a second layer of information.

The possibilities here are fairly extensive; what’s most interesting to us is the potential for adding a layer of personalized information on top of a public computing experience. This could enable users to capture content and take it with them, or to have the system display a personalized information layer (translated text/larger-print type/private messages) for individual users of a multi-user system.


If that’s not cool enough, they also write: “iPhone was the first mobile platform we dug in to, but we’ve also got XRay working on Android-based and Windows Mobile-based phones as well.” 

The promise of data harmony is not unification, but harmonious alignment: bringing together Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and everyone else.

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8 Responses

  1. Really interesting post Lewis.

    Thanks for the link over to Stimulant.

    I like the data harmony idea – there are a lot of good ideas to develop out of an orchestra / conductor/ instrument/ music score, musician analogy.

    I’m also keen on the ideas of “invisible” computing – I’m looking forward to the OLPC OXO2 to push this further – instead of the usual keyboard and screen it has two screens, one of which could be used as a keyboard (or any other touch input) – this might move us on a bit.


  2. Martin – agree on the potential with “invisible” computing, though I’m hoping that eventually computational power and advances in speech recognition will enable much better voice input. When that (ever) happens, I think we’ll see an explosion of real-time, immersive computing utility unlike anything we’ve known. Thanks for the comment! – lewis


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