Projects bridging the gap between the real world and online space. Sometimes creating a real-world presence can help increase interaction, make things more efficient or just give us a different way of looking at something familiar. Below are a number of projects which use Facebook, Twitter and other sites to help create something different. Some projects are formed with the internet of things in mind, while others are created just for the fun of it. Here are some of the best:
The Poking Machine
We're not sure if anyone pokes on Facebook anymore, but two Dutch students decided to bring it to the real world with this little device. The Poking Machine is a wearable device that physically pokes you whenever you get poked on Facebook. The device is connected to an Android phone via Bluetooth which helps it keep track of any incoming pokes.
The Like Belt
A studio called DeepLocal decided to bring the Facebook like into the real world with this belt. Essentially, you can like actions, check in and add friends in the real world by simply thrusting your hips.
Facebook 'likes' on Clothing Hangers
While the majority of projects that feature on this list are silly or humourous, some have a practical purpose. This effort from Brazilian fashion retailer C&A is a brilliant example of how the real world and social media can connect. Wanting to show how popular certain items were online, the store gave each of its clothes hangers a digital display which showed the amount of likes an item got. This showed consumers how popular an item was and would make them more likely to consider purchasing it.
(Note: The video has English subtitles which you can find on its YouTube page)
Singapore's Biggest Tip Jar
Promoting a reality TV series called 'Can You Serve,' BHH Asia Pacific created this giant contraption which was full of $1 coins. People could choose the establishment they wanted to tip by liking it. Once they did, a real $1 coin would roll down the machine.
Describing itself as a "living internet object," Rymble mirrors everything that happens on your social media profiles. Whenever you get a like, comment, message or friend request, the device will move and make sounds to represent any changes. The product was created by Symplio, a start-up based in Bilbao, Spain.
The 'Give Away Candy' Project
The 'Give Candy Away' project never really set out to help others or amuse them much. Its ambitions were small and largely pertained to giving its creators candy at random intervals. Twitter users @_macke_ and @sidpiraya set their computers up with a ruby script that monitored Twitter's API for tweets that mentioned their handles with the words and "giveâ€ and "candyâ€ in them. The USB-enabled candy dispenser would then pop out a sweet every time the script got a hit.
Curious participants were given a live stream of the sweet dispensers to view, if they so pleased, but the project has now concluded. Not really useful or exploited for mass market purposes, but surely provided a framework for larger script-based real world Twitter apps.
The Tweeting House
Inventor and IBM engineer Andrew Stafford-Clark attracted the attentions of some big media outlets in 2009, with a house that he rigged to monitor its energy consumption levels via Twitter. Staffard-Clark installed sensors in a number of household appliances and objects to monitor lighting, heating, temperature, phone and water usage.
The results procured from the sensors are then fed to a private Twitter account, @andy_house, so he can keep up to date with his consumption and make adjustments if he doesn't like the results he is getting. Again, this is very niche and probably not palatable for a larger-scale market, but it is certainly a helpful innovation, even if it only provides minute details.
Zach Seward, senior editor at The Atlantic's mobile magazine, Quartz, got to playing around with the Internet of Things and created a lightbulb that brightened with every mention of @quartznews on Twitter, so the magazine's newsroom actually lightens up a little with every mention.
The lightbulb also does so when Facebook's share price drops below $20, and every time China or the U.S. won a medal in the recent Olympics. Seward set this contraption up by using Belkin's WeMo Switch, a device for controlling appliances from iOS phones and tablets and pairing it with IFTTT ("if this, then thatâ€), a web-based service that allowed him to set the Twitter specifications for mentions, etc. Again, a fun little novelty if only for personal or limited use.
Mobile phone company Sony Ericsson created a Connected Tree that uses Twitter. Hooked up to sensors and analytics monitors, the tree monitors movement and its interactions with humans to determine its "reactions and moods" before translating them into a more tweet-friendly form.
Electromagnetics are mainly used to monitor such human activity in the tree's vicinity, and the tree is rigged with lights and sounds to give the monitors' results a tangible presence. An odd and seemingly pointless venture, but amusing nonetheless.
Billy Bass + mbed + Twitter
You know Billy Bass; he's the plastic, mounted fish who sings barbershop songs. Well, one bored Twitter user has hacked the poor fish (in a computing sense, rather than a stabby, violent sense) so that it can read tweets aloud. Using a mbed microcontroller and an ethernet interface to search for tweets, it then downloads them to an SD card and then plays them back to be heard by whoevers chooses to keep a Twitter-stalking plastic fish around them at all times.
The sister of Olly (found further below), Polly makes its real world interact more tasty by turning your retweets into sweets. Once you've reached a specific retweets quota, the machine will reward you with a sweet that you can eat in all its delicious glory.
If you own some plants, but regularly forget to water them , then Botanicalls is the device you've been waiting for. By setting up the kit, your plant will notify you via Twitter whenever it needs watering, ensuring that you don't neglect it. When you do water it, it sends a thank you message in the hope that you will remember in future.
Twitter Vending Machine
South African brand BOS Ice Tea created this twitter vending machine in Cape Town that only serves beverages when you tweet it. With its own account, users tweeted the hashtag #BOSTWEET4T and the vending machine would serve them ice tea.
Twitter Mood Light
The Twitter Mood Light lets you see how the world is feeling without having to trawl through mountains of tweets. Powered by Arduino, the box searches for tweets with any emotional content, figures out what the overall mood is. Red signals anger, yellow shows happiness, pink represents love, white is fear, green is envy, orange is surprised and blue is sadness.
Developed by the creative agency Breakfast NY, this is a cool little gadget that brings your Instagram photos into the real world, while also reviving the good old Polaroid at the same time. Instaprint is a location-based photo booth, which will print out photos based on images uploaded to Instagram with a particular hashtag or location.
Currently live on Kickstarter, this Instagram device is gaining a lot of attention at the moment, evidenced by the fact that they have already exceeded their $250,000 goal with $308,875 pledged so far. Instacube is a digital photo frame that connects to your Instagram feed wirelessly, so no need to connect your phone in order for it to work. It will then show your Instagram photos at three times the normal size. You can also show images by hashtag or username, guaranteeing you beautiful photos whenever you want. The estimated delivery date for the first Instacubes is around March 2013.
A nice gift idea for Instagram fans here. Stickygram connects with your Instagram account, where you can select your favourite images to be turned into magnets. Bringing your Instagram photos into the real world for as little as $14.99 for a pack of six, this is a nice example of how Instagram is feeding our need for social in the real world, or in our kitchens at least.
A similar idea to the photobooth, only this is a portable camera allowing you to snap and print Instagram Polaroids wherever you are. The socialmatic camera has been conceived and designed by Antonio de Rosa and specs include wifi connectivity, 16gb storage, optical zoom and two main lenses. The socialmatic is currently only a concept camera, but hopefully that will soon change.
Anytime somebody comments on your Instagram account, likes a photo or whenever you get a notification, Olly will let out a scent into the air around you to let you know. You can customise it so that different scents are used for different notifications and you can connect it up to your Facebook, Twitter and other online accounts.
Anything that serves you beer has to be seen as a cool hack. The guys at RedPepper created this Rube Goldberg machine that brings you a beer when you ask Siri for one. By telling it to "Text tweet Birri" and include the word pour in the message sends the wheels in motion. Impractical, messy but hey, the end result is beer so can we really complain?
Unlock your door with Siri
Lean Labs created this hack which lets you unlock your door with a 'secret knock.' The hack also sends you an SMS alert every time the door is unlocked so you can keep an eye on who is entering and leaving.
Siri Controlling Household Devices
Taking the last example to its logical conclusion, you can hack Siri to the point where it controls every appliance in your house. With a number of devices already allowing smartphone activation, this gives a glimpse as to what the future could hold.
Email Powered Christmas Tree
It might only be coming up to September, but this hack, running on an Arduino and PHP script, lights up this Christmas tree anytime a new mail hits your inbox. It can also be set to light up whenever a particular type of email hits your mailbox. Might be worth keeping in mind four months down the line.
Successfully funded through Kickstarter - raising $556,000 when the original target was $35,000 - Twine is a wireless square with sensors, telling you what your things are doing via email, text or by Twitter. If you want to know when the front door is left open, when your house is too hot/cold or when something is opened, Twine can connect to anything almost and requires no programming knowledge to get it up and running.
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