The CSTI – Creative Space for Technical Innovations is an interdisciplinary platform for research and knowledge transfer in areas such as human-computer-interaction (HCI) or smart systems at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. The lab is part of the Computer Science department and collaborates with areas such as mechatronics, design, art, social and culture studies. It takes part in a network of other facilities at Hamburg universities, e.g. base.camp at Hamburg University, TUHH Lab at Hamburg University of Technology and the City Science Lab at HafenCity University Hamburg (HCU) in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab.
The main goal of the lab is to provide a workspace for development of innovative ideas and agile prototyping in collaboration with small and medium sized enterprises (SME). The main fields of research are virtual reality / augmented reality, smart objects / user interface, machine learning / data mining or science and technology studies. Furthermore the lab focusses on design methods and reflective discussion of “digital transformation” phenomena. The CSTI Academy offers workshops, hackathons, keynotes and seminars with a special focus on STEM promotion (MINT in German) and education among others.
In 2016 I collaborated with Jessica Broscheit and Hannes Sieg on a design fiction prototype that is associated to the CSTI lab. The Air Mask was developed to measure environmental data in realtime in context of open data paradigms, decentralised data mining and data driven narratives. I have written about the project before. Jessica ist now part of the CSTI team as a research associate and furthers her work in speculative design. One of her latest smart object projects is called Ivory and again deals with environmental data and tangible interfaces.
Digital Transformation Phenomena
As a reflective contention of digital transformation, my current PhD project about entrepreneurial ecosystems, public policy agendas and sociotechnical imaginaries is also associated with the CSTI lab. The study is done in collaboration with the University of West Scotland (UWS) School of Business & Enterprise and builds on previous entrepreneurship policy research done at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School in Sydney, Australia.
When it was opened on July 10 2008, exactly 10 years ago today, it started out with just 500 apps. Unimaginable today, it started very small and yet it was a very inspiring backdrop and integral part of my professional life over the last 10 years.
Just one year later at WWDC 2009 more than 50,000 apps were available. At the conference Apple put up a wall of 30″ Cinema Displays (arguably one of the most amazing monitors ever build) and created a wall of apps, showing off all apps that were currently on the app store. As I joined the platform almost instantly after becoming available to developers in Germany, I was happy to see some of my apps on the wall (circled in red in the photo).
Over the years I published 100+ apps, both as a individual developer or as a responsible manager while working in advertising and publishing. With applications ranging from promotional marketing apps, utilities, news and upscale magazine products to travel guides, social networking apps as well as environmental citizen science projects and educational games, I gathered in-depth insights into the app store economy over the course of the last decade.
To put this in perspective, the App Store belongs to Apple’s service business, which is among the fastest growing segments of revenue for Apple. While it might seem tiny compared to the iPhone category, it is larger than the iPad business and the “other” category which consists of Apple TV, Apple Watch and Beats. Despite indications that the App Store growth might be stagnating or trends are moving away from apps towards smart speakers etc., it is pretty clear that Apple has created not only an amazing ecosystem that includes the iPad, Apple TV and the Apple Watch, it is a very vibrant and apparently highly profitable industry to be in.
At the recent World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC 2018) Apple announced iOS 12 with overall performance improvements and new features such as group FaceTime, Memojis, ARKit 2, Siri shortcuts as well as a new design of Notification Center and new privacy settings. Among the many new things, I especially appreciate Screen Time, a new feature allowing users to track and better understand their iPhone usage. As discussed before, I am convinced that spending less time or at least more conscious time glued to a screen would be highly beneficial.
Among the many other things that I found interesting on a more technical level, I most appreciate Create ML for Core ML 2, a simple to use tool chain to create and train machine learning models on the Mac using Swift and Xcode. Having worked with Core ML on previous projects, I am looking forward to experimenting with it. Also the Wall of Apps during the WWDC keynote was pretty impressive and surely evolved from the 2009 edition.
After 10 years the iOS platform is striving more than ever within its ecosystem of MacOS, WatchOS and tvOS. With more options for cross-platform application development coming in 2019, developers will be able to offer their apps on both desktop and mobile platforms much more easily. Apple categorically denied rumours to integrate macOS and iOS for obvious reasons and instead announced plans to integrate iOS’s UIKit framework into macOS in addition to the existing AppKit framework used on the Mac. The system apps News, Stocks, Voice Memos and Home debut in macOS Mojave during WWDC indicate how cross-platform apps might look like.
With a year-to-year growth of 30% from 2017 to 2018 in consumer spendings on mobile application stores combined, an industry report by App Annie suggest an estimated growth of 13.9 % from 2017-2022 with speedings of $ 156.47 billion worldwide in 2022. In 2018 alone, the report expects spendings of $ 53 billion on the iOS App Store with China, USA, Japan, South Korea and Germany ranking top 5 by consumer spendings. Also, despite Android outperforming the iOS ecosystem in terms of downloads, iOS is still responsible for 2x as much revenues, unquestionably remaining the most profitable ecosystem. So it’s save to say, the app economy will remain strong for the foreseeable future.
DISCLAIMER: In 2017/2018 I was part of the master class at the Apple Developer Academy, the first program of its kind worldwide with a select group of around 30 people. The Apple Developer Academy is a collaboration between the University of Naples Federico II and Apple Inc. Utilising Challenge-based learning (CBL) as a methodology framework, the program focusses on software engineering, design and business creation with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and technology driven creativity.
heart/work iOS app generates original interactive artworks based on unique health information and real time workout data collected on the Apple Watch. Bridging the gap between wellbeing and health data, heart/work creates a new type of data visualisation. It uses meditative breathing exercises, real time heartbeat data and environmental information.
Health is not a number. Anyone should be able to easily understand the insights hidden in quantified self data sets. In-depth understanding of medical and biometric data is very complicated. No matter how beautiful charts and numbers are presented, people still have to know which graph should have an upward or downward trajectory and what certain numbers mean in relation to others. Most prominently, the activity rings on the Apple Watch are often referred to as the most engaging activity tracker. Still, despite providing relevant and most salient information, the rings are limited for an overall perception of wellbeing.
With this reference in mind and a rapidly growing global market for mindfulness and meditation apps, heart/work attempts to take a more data driven approach to mediation, while providing a different, more visual and exploratory experience. As the only app on the iOS platform, heart/work is taking heart rate data recorded in real-time on the Apple Watch into account to measure the progression through a guided breathing exercise. The goal is to lower the heart rate during the session, which is claimed to improve the heart rate variability (HRV) and considered to be beneficial to overall health and the ability to deal with everyday stress.
The team developed a visual language to translate the recorded health and exercise data into interactive graphic scenes where visual elements, shapes and colour represent distinct insights derived from the data. These generative artworks are created by the data and human behaviour and provides an immersive and highly personal experience.
The heart/work app’s highly intuitive and user friendly interface design focuses entirely on the breathing exercise, while all required information are collected and computed in background. The strong focus on a meaningful user experience combined with a thoughtful user guide and the immersive artworks created by the app’s algorithms positions heart/work far beyond the many applications in the wellbeing scenario. Every new exercise creates a new and totally unique representation of health and wellbeing.
In the unexplored space of generative artwork within the health context, heart/work provides a toolset for both meditation veterans as well as skeptics and novices. It successfully bridges the gap between the perception of wellbeing and health data by translating the information into a visually appealing artwork that is suited to raise awareness for everyone.
To see the immersive and interactive artworks created by heart/work, try the free app yourself. It requires and Apple Watch and access to your HealthKit information as well as location information to work. No personal data is ever stored outside the app.
Created With Love At The Apple Developer Academy
heart/work was created by a group of fellow students (Marco Falanga, Ottavio Gelone, Baldev Ghelani, Giselle Katics, Mikey T. Krieger) and myself during one of the various challenges during the master class at Apple Developer Academy 2017/2018 in Napoli, Italy. It’s totally unique and original visual language for transitionary state of health and wellbeing data fuels an engine for generative artwork that is truly one of its kind. For more information about the app itself, the data it gathers or some of the media coverage visit heartwork.app.
Something to try: NoiseGate is the only iOS application that focuses exclusively on the dangerous impact of noise pollution on health and mental wellbeing. The app was developed by a group of master class students during one of the many challenges at the Apple Developer Academy in Napoli, Italy, and is available for free on the Apple iTunes App Store as the first app published in the 2017/2018 academy alumni.
Why Noise Pollution?
To date, noise pollution is one of the most dangerous forms of pollution because it is silent. Most sounds around us are random or unpleasant. That’s why we call it noise and we tend to ignore them. As a recent review published in the European Heart Journal pointed out, the role of noise as an environmental pollutant and its impact on health are increasingly recognized.
Beyond its effects on the auditory system, noise causes discomfort, disturbs sleep and compromises cognitive performance. Furthermore, evidence from epidemiological studies show that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction and stroke.
The victims of this form of pollution is practically anyone in any urban environment in the world. The NoiseGate app allows users to be more aware of their noise exposure and to contribute to a better understanding of noise pollution as a common problem.
Users can measure and calculate the actual noise level in their current position and obtain further analysis to make better decisions on how to avoid high noise levels over time. Simultaneously, all users contribute as “citizen scientists” to the creation of a global map of noise level distribution.
With an intuitive design and a user friendly interface, it is very easy to analyze the noise level in real time or dig deeper into the knowledge of the problem thanks to the thermal noise maps that allows to view the distribution of noise all over the world. The strong focus on a simple but meaningful user experience, combined with a colorblind-proof design pushes the app far beyond the many applications in the utility and health categories.
In addition, NoiseGate is the “first mover” app in an unexplored segment of the iOS ecosystem that provides a toolset for solving an individual issue and translating it into an awareness community.
Created With Love At The Apple Developer Academy
NoiseGate was created by a group of fellow master class students (Lucas Assis Rodrigues, Rany Azevedo, Maddalena Granata, Giovanni Monaco, Giselle Katics) and myself during one of the various challenges during the master class at Apple Developer Academy 2017/2018 in Napoli, Italy. For more information about the app itself, the data it gathers or some of the media coverage visit noisegate.co.
Building on research I have done in 2016 at UNSW Business School in Sydney, Australia, my case study about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sydney and the regional government’s policy initiatives to nurture the high-growth startup economy has been published as a chapter in the book “Economic Gardening – Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Small Business Ecosystems in Regional, Rural and International Development” as part of their SEAANZ Research Book Series.
The case study was first presented as a peer reviewed article at ACERE Conference (Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange) in Melbourne, Australia, in February 2017 and analyses the City of Sydney’s Tech Startup Action Plan a comprehensive document created in collaboration with entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders as well as industry consulting entities over a period of at least 5 years. The plan was adopted by Council in June 2016 and builds on premises such as links between entrepreneurship and economic growth:
“Encouraging tech startups will create more jobs, boost Sydney’s economy, strengthen global connections and make the city a more desirable place to live, work and visit. Our tech startups action plan details how we will work with industry and government partners to create an environment that enables technology entrepreneurs to start and grow successful global businesses.”
The updated and final version of the paper was now published as “Policy Making Versus Policy Research: The Case of the City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan” and is also available on Researchgate.
Since October 2017 I am living in Naples, Italy. Located on the Amalfi coast and close to active volcano Vesuvius, Napoli certainly is unique. As I am adapting to the Neapolitan lifestyle, I am feeling more and more at home in this vibrant city that has been around since the second millennium BC. I actually live close to many references to the first port greek sailors from Rhodes established here, called Parthenope.
Landing in Napoli
Castel dell’Ovo sunset
Piazza del Plebiscito
Piazza dei Martiri
Piazza dei Martiri lions
Christmas is also kind of special around here. Being very traditional, the region excels at decorating the town. Christmas lightings alone are a reason to visit neighbouring cities like Salerno on the Amalfi coast.
The last time I went to Sushi Ran in Sausalito, I found it more difficult than before to translate Japanese sushi terms on the menu into plain English (or German). Although I spent quite some time at sushi restaurants over the years, I am challenged from time to time by the terminology. So I decided to create my own little Sushi Guide to help me out.
Over the past few weeks I experimented with chat bot solutions and developed a Sushi Guide Chat Bot in Facebook Messenger to help people translate sushi terms in real time and to provide additional information about the dish if available (It’s still in beta but drop me a direct message if you interested in checking it out).
As usual, one thing led to another and I started looking through some of my restaurant reviews on this site and all the photos I took during sushi restaurant visits all over the world. So I decided to build a companion website, called sushiguide.me, where I will put all of my sushi restaurant reviews in the future. Also I already collaborated with some fellow sushi aficionados and their reviews with be incorporated as well.
Sushi Guide Features
The website provides an overview map with locations of the sushi restaurants I went to over the years and allows the user to drill down and explore the map. Each pin represents a sushi restaurant and provides address information as well as a link to reviews of the restaurant. Since there are sushi places I or my fellow sushi guide team members have visited quite often, there might be several reviews of one particular restaurant.
Sushi Guide – review (responsive)
Sushi Guide – review gallery (responsive)
The reviews contain a general description of the restaurant, information about the menu options and details about the dishes I ordered during the visit with high resolution photos and both Japanese and English terms for the fish. Also each review will incorporate a review score with the categories atmosphere, menu options, food quality, drink variety and service. This rating scheme might evolve over time, but I think it is a good start.
The website will entails a searchable sushi term glossary with translations of Japanese sushi terms in to plain English. The glossary will be kept as up to date as possible and will definitely include everything I came across over the years. The terms in this glossary will of course be integrated into the Sushi Guide Chat Bot.
Since the beginning of October 2017, I have been living in Naples, Italy, with my girlfriend. Many people say Rome is Italy’s heart and Napoli is its soul, so I will report back on that. While joining the Apple Developer Academy Master Class, continuing my PhD research and working on some projects remotely, we plan to travel around Campania and the Amalfi coast to make the most out of the trip.
So far I can attest to the many reports of Napoli being busy, loud and somewhat messy while being unique, picturesque and enjoyable at the same time. With sunny days and temperatures around 25° Celsius it is a quite nice place to be in October. As I expect the winter to be pretty mild, I am looking forward to an unique experience over the next few months.
Also, I am pretty sure that I have never eaten any tomatoes quite like those to be found around here. They are called “Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio” or just Pomodorino Vesuviano, are available at almost every shop one can go to and are just awesome.
Napoli – side streets
Over the next few weeks, I will report back with some more impressions from the Amalfi coast and the area of Campania and might elaborate a little on why I joined the Apple Developer Academy.
I recently received the Freedrum virtual drumming kit, which was one of the most interesting kickstarter campaigns over the last few years for me personally. I was supposed to get it for my birthday and have been waiting for quite some time to try it out.
Freedrum sensors as MIDI controlers
Basically Freedrum created motion sensors with bluetooth connectivity that can be attached to drum sticks as well as shoes for tracking hand and foot movement. The sensors are connected via bluetooth to a mobile device, an iPhone 7 in my case. With the corresponding iOS app the sensors can be calibrated and allocated to right and left hand as well as right and left foot. One might also use the Android app, the Windows 10 or the MacOS app instead.
The connected sensors can then be used to control a MIDI instrument in apps such as Garage Band, Logic X Pro, Ableton Live 9, DM1 Drum Machine, Groovebox etc. and utilised to play virtual drum sets. For people traveling a lot this might be a good option to keep on grooving on the road. Although Freedrum advertises the sensors in live band situations, I somewhat doubt that this will be a dominant usage for the devices. Since I am living in an apartment with no option to play a analog or electronic drum set, the sensors are a nice option to keep practising.
Although I was pretty excited in the beginning, the sensors lack functionality and the software still seems to be pretty beta. I am willing to wait a few more months for updates and keep you updated. Until then, you might want to check them out for yourself… In any case, it is an awesome idea.
After Polaroid stopped producing instant film, The Impossible Project stepped up to produce new film material. They acquired a legacy Polaroid factory and developed new instant film materials for vintage Polaroid camera models. In addition to the Impossible Instant Lab (allowing Polaroid instant photos to be produced from digital images with a hardware exposure unit and a corresponding smartphone app), the company introduced a newly designed Impossible I-1 camera in 2016. In September 2017, the rebranded company introduced the Polaroid OneStep 2 instant film camera.
New OneStep Instant Camera Model
Building on the unique original OneStep design by Polaroid, Polaroid Originals created a simple, easy-to-use camera with integrated flash and rechargeable battery. Apart from modern build quality and lens improvements, the battery is the biggest change for most users. Before, the battery was included in every cartridge of instant film, a factor making instant film cartridges more expensive, apart from environmental implications.
Polaroid Originals now offers film cartridges for vintage 600 series, SX-70 series, Spectra series as well as for 8×10 and the newly introduced I-Type cameras. A cartridge of 8 color or black and white instant photos for the I-1 or OneStep 2 costs around 16€ (compared to 18-20 € for vintage Polaroid camera models). That isn’t cheap. Still Polaroid offers a very unique photography experience, that is very much worth the money.