Ayoka Application Development Services Blog

Myo is Changing Motion

Thalmic Labs, fronted by mechatronics engineers Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant, is building upon the future of human-computer interaction. They aspire to use wearable technology to connect the real and digital worlds, and they’re not alone. Their team includes researchers, designers, and other engineers that share the same passions, with financial backing from Spark Capital, Intel Capital, Formation 8, First Round Capital and FundersClub, along with other individual investors.

By preordering a kit for only $150, you can receive your own Myo armband and the chance to become a developer before they’re released in the fall for consumers. The kit will come complete with the hardware, Software Development Kit (SDK) and all the necessary software!

The Myo band works by “using our proprietary EMG sensors…measures the electrical activity from your muscles to detect what gesture your hand is making. It also senses all of the motions and rotations of your hand and forearm through the 9-axis IMU.” It’s compatible with Windows, iOS, Android operating systems connected by a low-energy 4.0 Bluetooth connection. It can be configured to work with an array of devices independently, although functionality has not yet been implemented for a Myo armband to work with multiple devices consecutively. What’s cool is that one can develop applications that utilize two Myo armbands!

Thalmic Labs is really changing the game with their new armbands, they’re sure to be well received by both consumers and the enterprise, as wearable tech is a great way to bridge the gap between a user and their devices.
Feel free to email Thalmic Labs at support@thalmic.com with any inquiries you may have!

M7 Tech Partners Investing in Future Tech

carmelo anthony defense

M7 Tech Partners, LLC is the brainchild of the combined minds of Carmelo Anthony and Stuart Goldfarb. Goldfarb attributes their investment prowess in digital media, consumer internet and technology ventures on their “complementary strengths and a very close, 50/50 partnership…‘Melo has incredible business instincts and a great record when it comes to product design, social media and business development,” he said.

carmelo anthony entrepreneurIf you didn’t know, Carmelo Anthony is a two time Gold medalist in the Olympic Games and currently plays small forward for the New York Knicks. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in technology…I particularly have my eye on companies that are involved with wearable technology and connected devices — these will be huge areas for the future,” Anthony said in a statement. Stuart Goldfarb isn’t out of place in the tech startup scene, he has been on the social commerce company Beachmint’s board of directors since 2010.

Carmelo Anthony became a venture capitalist when he familiarized himself with wearable tech his teammates were wearing to quantify their performance. He and Goldfarb talked together about the accessibility of wearable tech to consumers and its marketability as a lifestyle choice. Having already invested in Hullabaloo, Inc., the New York-based startup that creates children’s story applications for iPad founded by Suzanne Xie, M7 Tech Partners “are actively looking for ventures with strong leaders creating breakthrough products that resonate with consumers.”

Mr. Goldfarb says M7 Tech Partners’ fund will invest in seed-stage deals, typically on a convertible note basis, and will occasionally be “more operationally involved” with helping entrepreneurs develop their brands, products and business models. M7 Tech will not take a lead position in any of their portfolio companies. Hearing funders like M7 Tech is really reassuring that tech is moving in the right direction, with a hand from consumer-centric investors!

IBM and Apple, Match Made for Enterprise

Apple and IBM have officially teamed up to develop enterprise-specific applications, combining user-friendliness and familiarity with big data tech by utilizing IBM’s ability to offer security, analytics, and device management along with Apple’s already popular iPads and iPhone, they will together begin offering new services to businesses in hopes of transforming Enterprise Mobility.

apple 1984 runnerWe are well aware of what each company has done for the technology industry since their inception, and since then, both companies have gone to great lengths to make acquisitions of other companies that will cater to their strengths and are currently working on over 100 end-to-end mobile solutions that will be ready for enterprise use! Their partnership will “redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change” as they plan on building a new class of native applications and offering services optimized for iOS and offering the ability to allow employees to manage their own devices. With IBM’s experienced consultants and developers coupled with Apple’s consumer experience, we will see the most widely accepted mobile devices in the world optimize their services for the enterprise that is shifting toward mobility.

“Mobility—combined with the phenomena of data and cloud—is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO. “This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

IBM’s MobileFirst platform for iOS will provide an enterprise-class cloud solution for building and deploying elegant, integrated applications. Apple Care for Enterprise will build upon those solutions and offer what popularized Apple for its consumer relatability-their consumer support through telephone and Internet along with its onsite repair and replacement services. IBM’s MobileFirst Supply and Management for device supply, activation, and management will also be offered with leasing options available to businesses.

All of these new applications and services rolled directly to enterprises will definitely be a game changer now that it’s being brought to us by the two most renowned and well-received companies!

Google Promotes Smartphone-Optimized Sites in Searches

Google has become the go-to search engine for most all Internet users across all devices, and they’re anticipating mobile searches to surpass desktop searches through this year. Acknowledging the browser technologies incompatible with the browsing device, a common annoyance we all endure when searching on mobile, Google has implemented algorithms that will actively detect pages and alert a smartphone user that they are not supported by the browsing device.

mobile browsing statistics

An example posted by the Google Webmasters shows a Flash site annotated for a mobile browsing user:

flash alert

This example shows what smartphone users will see when they attempt to access your site, even when the redirect option is to a mobile-optimized url:

search result redirect

Faulty redirects occur when a desktop-optimized site has a redirect set up for their smartphone-optimized site, although it may not be directly relevant to the smartphone user’s initial query for information from the desktop-optimized site. These redirects are implemented by professionals who care about the experience of the smartphone user, but can often put a user off and offers the incentive to navigate away from this redirecting site feeling frustrated. These awkward browsing avenues that a user takes in an attempt to access the site with the information that they are looking for also skews Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking algorithms.

Luckily, making websites responsive across devices isn’t hard with HTML5 as it is supported on most all devices. A few test searches and browsing on your own devices can also help to optimize the viewing experience of your typical smartphone user. If you’re running into trouble with cross-platform optimization or your current website solutions are not optimized for your enterprise, contact Ayoka today!

Sonos Supports Soundcloud!

It’s official, a Beta version of Soundcloud for Sonos is available for public use!

Soundcloud, the Berlin-based music sharing conglomerate, has paired with Sonos, the Santa Barbara-based home theater company. This gives Soundcloud the opportunity to literally be heard across even more platforms! Sonos already supports a number of services via its mobile application, but will now cater to Soundcloud’s 200 million registered users with its speaker systems-wirelessly, of course.

sonos and soundcloud

Before Soundcloud released their official Sonos service, a developer named Rahim had software running through Sonos application and sound system for Soundcloud and has since shut down his own service that had been running since 2012. He was doing it for free, as development and management of APIs is his hobby and he offered a great service to Sonos users everywhere!

When asked why he built the software, he answered:
“A few reasons. One, a ton of people have been wanting to listen to SoundCloud on their Sonos systems, and there hasn’t been a good way of doing that so far. Two, the Sonos systems are deeply interesting to me. Earlier this year, I explored how Sonos speakers talk to each other, this seemed like a natural next step. And lastly, I was recently contacted by a potential client asking if I could create a Sonos application for their popular music service. I figured, what better way to show them I’m up for the job than to write a Sonos application for another popular music service?”

Sonos’ hifi sound systems will surely get more ears for Soundcloud’s sounds, making new music more accessible than ever, and as each minute passes, more than 10 hours of music are uploaded to Soundcloud!

Can We Truly Take A Moment For Ourselves?

Last week, NPR posted an article about researchers at Harvard and the University of Virginia who asked people to sit in a room equipped with only a 9-volt battery as a shocking device and simply enough, just sit and think; have a few moments to themselves alone. Oddly, the majority of participants found themselves apt to subjecting themselves to the shock treatment.

It’s not surprising, really, that so many people would subject themselves to shock treatment when left alone without any other distractions. It’s becoming less and less common for humans to take time away from technology, or anything, and simply take time to think unto themselves. Do you have a smartphone or tablet? How often do you find yourself needlessly reaching for it? Phantom ringing, or phantom vibration syndrome, is the false sense of your phone vibrating or ringing when it is not doing so at all. In 2012, it was reported that about 90% of college students find themselves susceptible to phantom ringing.

smartphone use

79% of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day; 63% keep it with them for all but one hour. A full quarter of respondents couldn’t recall a single time of the day when their phone wasn’t in the same room as them. It may be funny to look at the numbers, but to me, it’s discouraging, I am on my laptop working and trying to be productive, between school and work, for over 10 hours a day during the week-I do not feel tethered by my phone, then again, I don’t have a smartphone by choice. My friends and I will choose to go out and their faces end up illuminated by their phone’s light. I am happy to put my laptop to sleep and walk away from it, but it’s not so easy with smartphones.

I read comments in response to the aforementioned NPR article and found that many users felt bogged down by their smartphones, particularly full-time workers who confided in the fact that they cannot hide from emails from their bosses and colleagues, and that they feel expected to respond to emails received on their oh-so-accessible devices. One comment was by a gentleman who recalled a girl he liked in high school. He got the courage to talk with her at length and he asked her what she thought about, she replied that she didn’t think too often because it hurt. That stuck with me; when I take time to myself without distraction, I calmly parse through my responsibilities, through my goals and necessities, to a place where I can simply be in my mind enjoying my random thoughts. Do some really experience pain on the way to, or in, this meditative state?

In the Editor’s Summary of Just think: the challenges of the disengaged mind, Timothy Wilson, professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, validated that man’s story of his old crush by saying that leaving people alone with their own thoughts “appears to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, many of the people studied, particularly the men, chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than be deprived of external sensory stimuli.” A lot of people confess that they find their minds wandering when they are doing seemingly arbitrary physical activities, like driving or cleaning. Are these physical stimuli necessary for the mind to feel like it can wander?

Wilson and his colleagues wondered why people were willing to shock themselves-the most common answers were out of boredom and/or curiosity. When left to their own devices and making the decision to put down their smartphones and tablets in their own homes, Wilson says “they couldn’t even go for six to 12 minutes,” those results suggest that the attraction to our devices could be found in their availability, offering a window of escape when our brains lack a satiating physical stimulus.

In another NPR article, Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, says “it really has to do with practice. The reality — especially for young people — is that online time is ‘crowding out’ the time that might otherwise be spent in prolonged, focused concentration…Carr acknowledges that prolonged, solitary thought is not the natural human state, but rather ‘an aberration in the great sweep of intellectual history that really just emerged with [the] technology of the printed page.’

I hope that our curious and naturally innovative propensities do not become completely unmoved by the things that occur in nature, and within ourselves, that we can only observe; and that our current drives toward integration of technology into our daily lives ultimately bring us closer to ourselves without compromise, but that will take time to tell.

4th of July Weekend in DFW!

Make this long weekend special by going out and seeing some fireworks, getting some food, and enjoying tomorrow off!

Tonight, Light Up Arlington will be at Levitt Pavilion offering food, free music, and fireworks all starting at 6pm!! In Southlake, Stars and Stripes will be offering festivities at Frank Cornish Park, Rustin Pavilion, and McPherson Park before they set their fireworks off at 9:30! Frisco will be hosting their evening 5K run for Hotter ‘N Firecrackers at the Simpson Plaza, along with Dachshund Races! If you’re looking for some overnight fun for the family, The Ballpark in Arlington is hosting a sleepover in the outfield! Complete with food, drinks, and fireworks!

Tomorrow, Highland Park is starting early with their Rotary Club of Park Cities Parade and the Firecracker 5K Fun Run! Dallas’ own Fair Park will be hosting their own 7K or 4K race starting outside of the Band Shell, followed by their annual Fair Park Fourth.

There’s lots more going on in the DFW! Lots of cookouts and pool parties to part-take in! Have a happy 4th and be safe!!

National Archives Making Wikipedia A Top Priority!

“Over the next two years we will work to increase the number of National Archives records available on Wikimedia Commons, continue our work to engage local communities of volunteer Wikipedians with on-site events, and collaborate on the development of the GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium.” A quote from this year’s Open Government Plan by the National Archives and Records Administration in hopes to “Make Access Happen.”

NARA is making a priority to participate in public engagement and has been active on 15 social media platforms that include GitHub, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, iTunes U, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. NARA-hosted transcriptions, edit-a-thons, and scan-a-thons are tweeted publicly to increase public engagement while improving accessibility to their records! NARA hopes to keep the population enthused about the National Archives while offering easy-access and guidance to help patrons find the records they are looking for, especially through the Wikipedia community.

The utilization of existing and development of new crowdsourcing tools will act to strengthen “our ability to make records available on external platforms like Wikipedia.” In 2012, about 100,000 digital images were shared from NARA’s holdings with Wikimedia Commons, enabling digital copies of their records to be integrated into Wikimedia projects and articles. “The 4,000 Wikipedia articles featuring our records received more than one billion page views in Fiscal Year 2013.”

According to Wikipedia-who can truly offer the best explaination-The GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium members are committed to Wikimedia’s foundation pledge to “empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” Their main goal is to “to become a welcoming and safe place for cultural institutions and professionals, while cultural institutions and professionals should be full, participating members of the Wikipedia online community” and enthusiastically include Cultural Professionals, Organizations and their Affiliates, Wikimedians, and their Chapters, through sharing of resources.

Google’s Material Design and Its 6 Core Values

Yesterday, Google unveiled their new language that takes visual aesthetic as priority, it’s called Material Design, and it utilizes tactile actions and propensities, optimizes based on device size, and magnifies the basic intentions of design while giving meaning to motion.

Material Design

1. Google’s idea of Animation is both minimized and maximized to a simplistic and user-intuitive level. Prioritization of mass and weight aim to emulate physics’ definition of velocity right in the document window and accentuate the principal of Authentic Motion.

Making touch, voice, mouse, and keyboard top input methods allows Google’s Material Design to come to life through any degree of interaction, legitimizing the notion of Responsive Interaction and Meaningful Transitions.

I think this idea of Responsive Interaction is my favorite as it is very bright and potentially rewarding for the user, and I delved into the ink metaphor that Google drew inspiration from. I read a paper called The Constrained Ink Metaphor that was written by the Stockholm-based Deptartment of Numerical Analysis and Computer Science and presented at the 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction held in Crete, Greece back in 2003. It details the want to develop interactive computer programs for users young and old, magnifying the importance of the core of the phrase, ink metaphor-the ink! Listing potentially ink-based applications and exploring different types of interaction and responses they could build for the virtual environment proved to me to be very enlightening and was really a breath of fresh air into user intuition for devices in the home to be used between people.

Now, Google brings these principles into the development environment with their Material Design concepts, allowing all visual, audio, and touch related influences to construct a seamless experience that can be shared.

2. In Material Design, use of color as a visual aid and its true intent revealed through attributing action is greatly encouraged, along with a wholly minimalist aesthetic coupled with engaging typography, meaningful icons and imagery to validate and enhance the user experience regardless of what device.

3. Layout Principles takes consistency and structure, two fundamentals of print design, to keep the interface usable and recognizable across devices and development platforms.

Google goes further to take this concept past two dimensions as it details the importance of items’ position relative to the z-axis, prioritizing it dimensionally as needed and offering depth for perception.

4. Familiar parts of our lives like buttons, cards, dialogs, lists, chips, and tabs are conceptualized for the digital user interface and coined by Google as Components. These components come together as individuals to create the seamless and user-intuitive interface that Google is striving for!

5. Patterns are outlined in Material Design through Gestures, which are divided into two sub-categories, Touch Mechanics (what your fingers actually do on the screen) and Touch Activities (the results of what your fingers do on the screen), and Imagery Treatment, which takes load time and visual aesthetic into account in the forms of opacity, contrast, and saturation to make for a positive and ever-changing image experience.

6. Material Design’s concept of Usability is described in its Accessibility, taking potential users with disabilities as priority! Physical impairments that hinder a user from fully experiencing an application is a major and in-depth topic that isn’t commonly addressed by smartphone manufacturers, aside from groups trying to bridge the gap between the two. Google encourages developers and designers to keep the 650 million disabled users in mind, and have Resources for Developers available and compatible with Andriod, Chrome, and YouTube.

Navigability, Readability, and Feedback all come together in an attempt to create the right environment for an application to be accessible to anyone, which really brings user-centric applications full circle. Use of a keyboard in light of mouse-free navigation is suggested in Gestures, larger touch targets and spatial relationships between items for touch-screen users has taken priority, especially with the aforementioned Layout Principles, and offering guidance through truly meaningful icons outlined in Components all work together to build an environment that anyone can access and and enjoy.

These six core values that Material Design prioritizes is so beautiful and engaging to me that I can hardly believe that we’ve been building applications without these values working in tandem! I can’t wait to see what research and aesthetics will grow from Google’s new language, Material Design!

On Twitter, GIFs are VIFs and That’s Okay

Last week, Twitter announced that they support GIFs and everyone rejoiced-seriously, everyone. Then we found out that Twitter’s GIFs are actually embedded MP4 videos implemented with HTML5, and that’s not bad.

We all know GIFs, they are familiar to us in conversation, we know their file size can get really big and that’s in direct correlation with load times, and they’re basically defined as images stitched together that loop forever in the instantiated document window until you navigate away.

Twitter’s idea of converting the GIFs to MP4 actually cuts down on those gargantuan file sizes by as much as 10 times! For mobile browsing in particular, those big GIFs are a pain to load and browse around a whole page of on, say, Tumblr, for instance. Sean Creeley at embed.ly gives a great rundown on viewing the difference between the VIF and the beloved GIF.

An HTML5 video can be paused, which means no endless looping and no telling your friends to, “wait-let it start before you look.” HTML5 videos offer the ability to pause, rewind, and restart-even slow down a VIF by harnessing HTML5s keyframes.

In short, sure Twitter tried to soothe you by inviting you to upload and see GIFs when you’re browsing, but these embedded VIFs will ultimately cut down on page load time and even give you the ability to pause, rewind, and slow down your favorite clips! You can even use the Recordit software that supports GIFs and is optimized for Twitter, so there’s no reason to be confused or saddened. Twitter is ahead of the game and it benefits us all.