If you’ve seen me talk at a conference recently (perhaps XTech or ApacheCon Europe) you’ll know that I’m very interested in what happens when the coders who made the web get to script the real world. Cheap and powerful hardware prototyping is now within the reach of anyone who can code a webapp or configure a Unix box.
I just got back from XTech 2007 in Paris. It was an excellent conference this year and I’m really proud of having contributed in a small way by being on the programme committee. Every year the speaker lineup gets better and better.
Last Friday I had the great privilege of giving a keynote talk at the ApacheCon Europe conference in Amsterdam. My topic was the new possibilities for software hackers coming from cheap, scriptable hardware prototyping. I illustrated the path from the desktop via my work in Second Life, and showed how it translates into physical computing.
Dopplr’s still invite only, but there’s a good chance you know someone with an account by now. We’ll be issuing new invite tokens from time to time, so keep an eye out. There are some screenshots on Flickr, and alpha travellers Stowe Boyd and Roo Reynolds have written some illuminating reviews. I’ll be at XTech in Paris in May (don’t forget, online registration closes soon) so track me down and I’ll give you a demo.
I’ve just got back from another big trip. I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in New Zealand, thanks to Nat Torkington and the kind sponsorship of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Not only did I get to attend NZ Foo Camp, but NZTE’s John Houlker arranged for me to meet with representives of Auckland and Wellington’s media, software and archiving interests.
Here’s a video demonstration (people reading the feed, start your web browsers). On the left you’ll see an Arduino reading analogue values from a potentiometer and feeding the results in via the USB-serial interface to my Mac. On the right, you’ll see a modified version of Second Life that is feeding those values in via my avatar’s chat channel. An object in the Second Life world is reacting, with perhaps a half-second lag.
The call for proposals for XTech 2007 is closing this weekend. Last year’s conference was superb, and if you’ve got anything to say about making the web then you’ll definitely want to be part of next year’s lineup.
The theme for this year’s conference is “The Ubiquitous Web”. As the web reaches further into our lives, we will consider the increasing ubiquity of connectivity, what it means for real world objects to connect to the web, and the increasing blurring of the lines between virtual worlds and our own.
The technologies underpinning these developments include mobile devices, RFID, ultra-wideband, Second Life, location-aware services, Google Earth and more. The issues surrounding them include privacy, intellectual property, activism, politics, regulation and standards.