Augmented Reality Art

A couple of weeks ago I crossed Grand Island in New York State, a rather desolate place at this time of year near the border with Canada. I was interested in a virtual art installation involving augmented reality, and quite a find it was too.

It turns out that in In September 1825, Major Mordecai Noah founded a city state called Ararat on Grand Island, “a city of refuge for the Jews”. His idea was to create a Jewish homeland. Noah’s dream never came to fruition, until that is a group of academics and artists decided to create a virtual tour of how the city might look today had it been constructed.

Ararat Virtual Monument

Ararat Virtual Monument

The tour involves downloading an app into your smartphone, and travelling to specific areas on the island. When you look through the camera of the phone various structures appear in the view that are not present in reality. There is a copy of a memorial that was designed but has fallen into decay, a synagogue, school, a theme park and various other typical structures. The group also produced postcards, stamps and money, as well as other objects in everyday use in any nation state. There is in fact only one original artefact from that period surviving today, a cornerstone that tells the story of the city’s foundation.

People who would like to take the tour have to download the mobile app Layar, and aim their devices’ cameras at the landscape. The application uses geolocation software to superimpose virtual objects at precise GPS coordinates, enabling the public to see the objects integrated into the physical location as if they existed in the real world.

Money from Ararat

Money from Ararat

Then you just take the photo and the object appears as if in real life, with your friends next to it if you like. The Mapping Arrarat website explains everything, and hosts a short video that demonstrates the installation in practice. There are also lots of photos of the various structures that show people interacting with a virtual landscape.

Although the computer graphics aren’t entirely convincing I am sure they will very quickly improve and get to the point of looking absolutely real, very much in the way that games have developed in recent years. And an installation of this type looks like a fantastic educational tool to me. Objects can be placed on the landscape and presumably old photos and plans could be used to re-make places and events. Wouldn’t it be interesting to go the the Great fire of London, or walk through antique Rome and come back with a few shots to show the family?

Zappix iPhone App Review

There are apps that do just about anything these days, including starting your car for you. And while you are waiting for your car to start up, why not make that annoying phone call to the cable company about your monthly bill? If you answered, “Because I don’t want to wait on hold forever,” Zappix could be your one app for your customer service needs. This app provides the user with a simple way to maneuvering through irritating automated customer service wait times.

The simplicity of this free app arises in the very beginning when the user signs into the app. After entering the straightforward information one can access a large number of major companies, non profits, and government agencies, with new ones to come all the time. So whether or not it is the cable company or the court house the user needs to call, Zappix has you covered. If the company the user is trying to get a hold of and is backed by Zappix then the appropriate menu appears for the user to significantly cut back on the wait time.

Companies list in Zappix

Zappix uses a visual means that even the not so savvy smart phone user would understand. You can connect it with all the popular social media such as Twitter and Facebook, which in the end connects you to the companies Twitter and Facebook pages; making it that much easier for you to get a hold of someone. A user can also find the customer support email, and write to the company if the issue calls for more than a minimum number of characters.

Everyone has those days where it seems that everything is happening at once. Bills need to be paid, kids need to be picked up, soccer practice and ballet lesions after dinner all come with one thing consumers want more of – time. With the direct links to mobile websites and information pages Zappix takes out the need to Google the information and jot down the phone numbers which the user then needs to find time call. And to make it that much quicker the app uses stores the “Recent” contacts and “favorites” the contacts that the user specifies.

Since there is nothing perfect in life, though this app may seem to the user like the closest thing, Zappix also has its downside. Because the app is so new the number of companies does have an ending point. Though more and more companies are being added to the list daily, some users find that not every company specific to their needs can be found by searching the company name.

eventseeker iPhone App Review

As a recent transplant to Oklahoma, it was very difficult to find events and gage whether we wanted to take part and attend them or not. With eventseeker, I tried to find events near my new home. The categories are very well-organized and include a lot of variety in events.

I would like to see a category for annual events as well. While this may not be helpful to some people, I think it would be beneficial to people in my situation (people who move often), military families, or even travelers. Another addition could be a traveling feature.  This feature should outline your travel plans and identify events along the route. That would be simply fantastic and extremely useful!

eventseeker also utilizes the content on your device (with your permission, of course) and suggests events and artists to follow. On top of that, in the list of artists (based on your device’s content), it shows which artists are also touring. That is very helpful to me in selecting which artists to follow on eventseeker – if I am not a huge, die hard fan. Obviously, there will be some artists you will want to follow even if they aren’t on tour.

eventseeker "following" screen

After selecting an artist, you can view a vast amount of information. News on the artist or band, information on the band (such as when and how they got started, popular songs, etc.), content posted by the artist, and upcoming events can be viewed. As a user, you can follow the artist via eventseeker or like the artist on Facebook.

Should you find an event you want to attend, you can select the ‘ticket’ option and see what is available online. The usual, Ticketmaster, is listed, but other avenues to obtain tickets are also listed, when applicable. If available, the pricing is shown for each option.  You can also purchase the tickets through eventseeker on your desired website.

Being able to link my eventseeker account to my Facebook account is amazing. It helps us keep our families involved in what we are doing.  This feature is one of my favorites for that reason. It is super easy to use and shows a great bit of information on the post that is available to our friends and family even if they don’t have this app.

When I selected the name of the area (whether it was the city, area, county, or what have you), a detailed representation of the event location was great. I enjoyed being able to read about the area in a concise yet detailed avenue while deciding on attending an event. Although using the event searching feature is fantastic, being able to search via artist’s name or venue is equally remarkable. Like many people, we have our favorite venues and artists that we follow. Although the artists or venues may not be nearby, we can easily find events for them.

eventseeker can help people who want to find local events in an easy fashion. This free app is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. It requires iOS 6.0 or later.

Apps to Help Your House Move Run Smoothly

Moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life. Up there with your wedding and starting a new school or job, you’ve got enough to worry about without where the things are going to go, what the parking is like and if the lights work adding to your list.

With all kinds of forms to sign and people to meet at certain times in certain places, anything that makes life easier is a Godsend. Like with most things these days, the answer appears to be on your smartphone or tablet. There are now a number of apps designed specifically to take the stress out of moving house, and here are just a few of the best:

Moving House

A screenshot of the iDevice app: Moving HouseIf you’re only going to download one app to help with your house move then let it be this beauty; Moving House. Not only does it allow you to craft to do lists to help you remember what you’ve packed, what time your new furniture is being delivered and when u-ship are coming to help you with your furniture removal but is also preloaded with more obscure tasks that often get forgotten.

When you have loads on your mind let this app take some of the strain. Its cool open and closed box icons let you know when you’ve completed a task, which is another nice touch. This app is useful for the weeks running up to D-Day, to the actual day itself and following that, a handy tab for the weeks following. This app transforms the most scatty individual into an organized machine, a must have.

Royal Mail-Moving Checklist

This offering from Royal Mail is very impressive and a wealth of information as well as helpful hints and reminders. As do all of the apps, it has a list making feature, but more importantly it has help and advice on where to source items for your new home as well as details on the local amenities near your new home and also information on how to change your address with all of your service providers in one easy step.

This app is a real gem, other useful features are the ‘home progress’ dashboard as well as the count down to moving day and how many tasks you have left to complete.

My Mortgage Mate

This app is a blessing when deciding on budgets and mortgages as well as the financial aspects such as interest rates. Formulated for the UK market this clever tool calculates stamp duty as well as estate agents fees and repayment plans. Easy to use with an immediate response making the house hunting task bearable.

This is especially great for first time buyers who don’t have much experience of the housing market or the rates that accompany it. You are also able to take into account your monthly salary, this app really does do all your calculations for you, letting you see which houses are within reach.