Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Touch form filling...idea #54/100

Previously, I had mentioned the idea of drag and drop of content from the mobile phone to the desktop. I received a comment that suggested flicking of files from the phone, which is an interesting variation on the gesticulation interface theme.

These kinds of applications could be grouped under the rubric of machine-to-machine (M2M), even though there is human intervention. There need not be of course. Simply entering within the proximity of another device could trigger communication. For example, the idea of spatial messaging - leaving content in space - can be extended to include videos, perhaps filmed at the location itself (see last post). However, it might not be a good idea to upload the video over the WAN. Costs would be prohibitive in addition to data bottlenecks on the uplink. However, a "pending" URI could be posted and this points to the video content that is yet to be uploaded. As soon as the device enters the proximity of an accessible WiFi cloud, the clip can be duly sent up the pipe.

In the M2M category I have postulated the idea of allowing federated identity to be made available from a mobile device. This is nothing new, but the particular application I had in mind was when dealing with online forms, especially at registration points like hotel lobbies and conference desks. Instead of going through all that form filling tedium, "beaming", "dragging", "flicking" the content from the device is a whole lot easier.

This particular method would imply some kind of local link between the device and the computer displaying the empty form. Various solutions of varying degrees of feasibility could be imagined. However, perhaps there is a simpler approach.

It would be a lot easier if a standard existed for downloading the personal content from the device, especially over a wide-area connection because the computer would definitely be able to access the Internet, but not necessarily have any kind of short-range wireless interface to allow "beaming" (etc.) to function.

I imagine it working whereby the form-filler asks for the mobile phone number of the registering visitor. This should be enough to find the device itself. (We can talk about this "finding" mechanism another time.) The device user would then be prompted on their device to allow their information to be passed back to the requesting agent, which in this case would be the registrar attempting to fill out the form.

Pressing the "accept" button on the device would cause, as if by magic, the requesting form to be populated with all the necessary personal details. Of course, this has all kinds of applications. It is possible now and some emerging hosted identity agents, like Plaxo, might be candidates to take such an idea forward.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Storyboarding...idea #53/100...

I confess that my blogging has slowed down of late. I am working a new assignment, which means I have a lot less "free thinking" time. I am also spending a lot of time in corporate offices, which aren't generally conducive to creativity.

One of my colleagues, when he's not doing tech stuff, writes screen plays. We have exchanged a few ideas, although mostly plot concepts. I am not a screen-writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I find that particular creative process quite fascinating.

Recently my son showed me a version of Star Wars online that is animated using ascii characters, which is worth a look. Despite its extremely basic presentation, I found it quite engaging. I guess that the novelty and the painstaking effort provided some of the appeal. However, story has a lot to do with it, including an existing familiarity with this particular one.

I am drawn to the idea of building an entire "movie" using very basic animation and visual widgets.

This leads me to ponder on the possibility of building such movies dynamically using preset animation widgets, or even still widgets, potentially very basic ones, like stick men. It would be fairly easy to conceive of a variety of scene and character props, such as people in various states, buildings, horses, cars, street lamps etc.

The idea is to assemble these into scenes and add dialogue to build a basic storyboard for a "movie". Of course, I am thinking about the possibility of doing this on a mobile and the potential of doing it interactively with more than one participant, or "writer" (player).

I imagine a plot editor that enables scene creation, copying and deletion. One level down, there would be the scene editor itself, where the props and characters are assembled and positioned. Here, dialogue is also added. Writers could add scenes and their co-writers would be notified of updates.

I love stories and, as I am continually discovering, so do a lot of people (besides my children). The art of story telling is mostly confined to specialists - authors and the like. The rest of us haven't told a story since school. Perhaps an application like this could re-introduce many of us to an ability that I believe most of us probably have, but no longer use. There is something magical about stories and the notion of plot and narrative seems a vital part of how we construct world views. Perhaps story-making on our mobiles has potential to bring story-telling back into our lives.

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