Daily nuggets of inspiration from the good folk
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Some robots would be no good at mixing a martini. C3PO, for example, would no doubt bruise the gin with those inflexible elbows of his, despite his plummy butler act. But these ‘guys’ put the most balletic of bartenders to shame. Fresh from MIT’s Senseable City Lab and rocking the bar in Milan is Makr Shakr: three robotic arms that can mix any drink you desire.
Head to the Galleria del Corso, download the app and design your own cocktail – or choose from a literally endless list, before pinging it off to the barbots. And then watch in stupefied, puny human wonder at the poise and precision of the robotic arms at work, synched to mimic every action of a real barman and the style of ballet dancer, Roberto Bolle, whose grace was filmed and captured in the programming. Sponsored by Coca-Cola and Barcardi, it’s really raising the bar for drinks brand experiences.
I’m a gamer. There, I’m out, ok? I’m not into the mindless combat sims that are released year after year like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2. No, I much prefer unique, interesting and original stories I can shape.
Ever since I first got my hands on a computer I’ve been into video games, but it wasn’t until Sony launched the Playstation that it became cool and I considered myself a gamer. Maybe I just needed a brand I could stand behind, but back in 1995 the Playstation was fresh and original, and I loved it – I loved it so much I bought into the next 2 iterations of the console without even thinking about it.
This year in February, Sony revealed its plans for the future of gaming and gave it a name (drum roll) …the ‘Playstation 4′. My immediate reaction was ‘oh… so what’s new?’, ‘what’s the compelling reason to ditch my Playstation 3?’. Sony went on to talk about social gaming and a gamer-centric strategy – all well and good but it didn’t sound new, it sounded more like a sequel.
Sequels are rubbish, everyone knows that. Well ok, there are a couple of notable exceptions; The Godfather 2, The Empire Strikes Back and Toy Story 2, I’m sure you have you’re own favourite sequels but these are the exceptions to the rule, mostly I would argue that people prefer originals.
So why are sequels inferior to their predecessors? Because usually they are retelling the same story – ok maybe it’s a different setting or a new character is introduced – but largely it’s the same. Hollywood seem to have got wise to this. Look at the trend for rebooting rather than endlessly churning out sequels to say Spider-Man. ‘Rebooting’ a franchise is effectively making a sequel seem like a new film again – very clever.
This brings me onto the iPhone. Each year from Apple we get the predicable roll out of first, say, iPhone – technically already a sequel – and then along comes a ‘new’ iPhone 4S – the sequel to the sequel – not quite as sexy is it? Sites are already predicting the arrival of the iPhone 5S but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it materialising under that moniker. The reboot trick has not been lost on Apple – iPad 3 anyone? Nope? How about ‘The new iPad’?
So in my view, Sony would have been better taking a leaf out of Hollywood’s book (or should that be script) and rebooted the Playstation brand. Because no matter how much gloss and high-end specs you provide, it’s really just another sequel…
I love a good Facebook check-in. I guess it’s a little bit of narcissism. A bit of ‘hey, look at me, I’m in a strange / cool / swanky / unbelievable place.’ A friend once said: ‘I love your check-ins, I like following you around and seeing where you pop up next’. That’s nice, but he then proceeds to rip into every single one in some humorous, derogatory manner. It’s also a little bit of connectivity with friends without too much thought or effort – just my style.
So I’m in this bar on my lonesome and I start fiddling with my smart phone so I don’t look sad and give the bartender the impression that somewhere in the world I do have some friends. I check in via Facebook. Nicholson’s (Scottish themed?) GastroPub US style. I was there. It’s official.
I order a burger, a pint of Tennent’s and carry on with my daily Instagram. My food arrives and as the waitress places it in front of me she chirps ‘Hi Ben, welcome to Nicholson’s, hope you enjoy’…thanks!…Wait!…she knew my name? So I spend the next five minutes wondering how that could be? I never told her? I have no credit card behind the bar? But now it’s obvious…the staff were keeping an eye on their Facebook feed. Now I see the point of checking in.
It’s an insanely easy thing to do but it made my night a tiny bit better. Sad right? It’s hardly groundbreaking and yes, i’m probably way behind on this, but I now look at those check-ins in a totally different way. If businesses use them creatively it can be a very useful tool and a great example of a localized personal service and useful two-way connectivity.
So the story concludes, the waitress got a bigger tip, a virtual connection was turned into a real-life connection and conversation, I stayed a little longer and I will probably go back. Job done.
Welcome to the newest innovation in tablets: a flexible, paper-thin device that looks and feels like a sheet of paper.
The PaperTab, a high-resolution plastic display PC prototype, was unveiled recently at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The team behind the invention said their goal was to emulate the feel of paper – creating a robust, lightweight product that could bend and even be dropped on a desk. If the idea catches on, the way we use tablets could change forever.
Modern life is too often timed to the millisecond. And with our largely urban, techno-centric lifestyles, it’s easy to loose track of the temporal changes in the wider world around us.
‘I feel like we deserve a new way to tell the story of time,’ says Scott Thrift, the filmmaker and designer behind The Present. ‘We’re having a 21st-century experience of time, but we’re still measuring it with an 18th-century clock.’
His solution is a ‘seasonal’ timepiece that takes a year to make a full revolution. Numerals went out with the Romans, in favour of a spectrum of shades to represent the different solstices.
Seconds are so last century.