Monthly Archives: September 2013

Crowd-funding Craziness

Ok, first let me mention that I am using craziness as a positive trait, as made famous by ‘Think Different’ Apple ad. Once we have that out of the way let’s talk about some crazy ideas from crazy people and some crazy and not so crazy people supporting them. I am talking about crowd-funding. Crowd-funding brings together large no. of individuals who contribute small sums of money and collect huge funds to back or support a unique project. This usually happens via internet and 2 of the most famous websites where you can be part of crowd-funding revolution are Kickstarter & Indiegogo

Check them out and you will find lots of interesting projects and you can choose to support any project. If somebody is creating a unique product, you can support such projects and be among first ones in the world to get hands on the new product and that too at a discounted rate. There are also goodies like T-shirts, stickers, wristbands etc., if you want to support but don’t want to commit full funds needed for the product. Let me talk about a few recent projects to get you more interested.

Glowing Plant (Firefly + Plant):

Idea here is to create plants which glow and while glowing plants will certainly look unique and cool, they can serve a higher purpose as well by becoming source of natural lighting without need for electricity. This looks sci-fi  but you can now pre-order glowing plants for yourself from their website. Such plants are basically a result of combining DNA of plant with DNA of a FireFly and all this is possible using Synthetic Biology and Free Genome Compiler Software.

ARKYD – A Space Telescope for everyone

The first publicly accessible space telescope! Take amazing photos of space or have your photo displayed above the Earth. Basically anybody can pay small amount and point this telescope to any space object and be an astronomer. For more info just visit planetaryresources.com

Canary & Piper are 2 really affordable, elegant and smart home-security and home-automation solutions for everybody. No need for extensive and expensive wiring and you can see and control your home using mobile Apps.

Beddit is an automatic sleep and wellness tracker, which turns your bed into a smart bed. The Beddit sensor tracks your sleep quality, heart rate, and breathing under the sheet while you sleep. The mobile app coaches you to improve sleep and performance.

Rainbow Pencils are made from recycled paper and let you create beautiful paper rainbows every time you sharpen them.

SIGMO costs just $50 and lets you talk and understand in more than 25 languages!!

FABtotum is a multipurpose Open Source Low Cost Personal Fabrication device. Scan, 3D Print, Cut/Mill.

Sprayable Energy is a liquid you spray on your skin to get the energy you would from energy drinks.

Ubooly  is a smart toy that can listen to your kid and teach and coach him like a good friend. Needs an iPhone, iPad mini or Android phone to work.

Most of the Smart Watches which I wrote about sometime back, including the Pebble watch you will find wrapped around my wrist these days were either born on Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

It’s good to see some India specific crowdfunding websites springing up recently. I really like Ignite Intent but Catapooolt and Wishberry seem good as well. More like Pik A Venture and Fund a Peer are launching soon.

Not everything is just cool, gimmicky and sci-fi looking on these websites though; you can even do a great service to man-kind via some of these projects, one of which is developing a Cure for Black Bone Disease and you can donate as less as $11 to make this project see light of the day. Please do this right now as there are only 18 days left in the crowdfunding campaign of this project as of today.

I personally find browsing and backing projects like these both inspiring and addictive and hope you will also have the same experience. May be someday you will be launching a project of your own on one of these websites?

Till then, Think Different 🙂

2 UX Tips to Bubbly

Bubbly is a voice based social network so instead of typing on your phone, you can record your voice and post it to share with rest of the world. Interestingly celebrities like Amitabh Bacchan, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan etc are using it so fans now have a great option to connect with them on a more personal level. You can also apply filters and effects to your voice before posting which is really cool. They already have more than 30 million users. Tech Crunch has a good article on them saying how they started as Twitter for Voice and later morphed into Instagram of Voice.

I was just playing with Bubbly iOS App and it occurred to me that they can make 2 simple changes to make user-experience even better so I am sharing my thoughts here:

1. Continuous Playback when navigating app

Now my biggest issue with the app is that voice playback stops if I navigate away to a different screen. Sometime I tap on a user and navigate to his feed while listening to voice post of another user. When I do that playback just stops suddenly. Even an accidental tap which takes you a different screen will stop playback. Now this is not a very pleasant experience and I think playback should continue until I stop it or it is done playing or I start listening to another post.

iTunes store app already has a good solution for it. As you can see in the image below, I am listening to a song while browsing another album. Current song is simply moved to top bar and rest of the screen shows the screen I navigated to. Something along these lines will be very helpful in Bubbly app as well.

2. Pause option (May be even reverse/forward)

I would really love to jump to a certain playback position sometimes or may be go back a few seconds/minutes in playback at times. Also this will be really helpful in absence of continuous playback as suggested above. So even if I navigate away to a new screen, I can atleast comeback and don’t need to listen to same post from the beginning and can just jump to the section I haven’t listened already. May be I can just swipe along the playback circle to control this?

Also maybe the current stop button can be converted into a pause button instead? And may be even multiple posts can remain paused and I can choose to resume playing whichever I want, whenever I want?

So these were my 2 cents aka 2 tips 🙂

However I would also like to point out that I really like the UI of the app, their pull-down-to-refresh animation is really cool and these are just 2 things which I would like to see improved, other than that I find their UI very innovative and usable.

I would like to leave you by sharing an interesting fact about Bubbly which is, it is headquartered in Singapore and CEO Thomas Clayton recently shared how he created a Silicon Valley caliber team in Asia and I think he was quite successful in doing that and their CTO Justin Mann is one proof of that.

Wanted Hackers

I gave a talk to MCA (Master of Computer Applications) students of GHRCE yesterday. Topic of my talk was ‘Wanted Hackers’ and objective was to inspire students to adopt hacker culture so that they can become better programmers and do great things in future.

At the outset I emphasised that Hacking is not actually what media and general public thinks it is and there is difference between hacking and cracking. Hacking is good, cracking is not. I showed a video of TED talk by Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer to inspire students.

Then I elaborated on various websites which organise programming contests and challenges. I also shared my views on which programming languages students should learn and from where.

I ended my talk with a brilliant video from code.org starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston etc.

I hope my talk inspired atleast a few students to become good programmers and not average unemployable college passouts which are so common in India.