40 Innovative Tech ideas
Here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve worked on over the years and a time stamp for each one as to when I first thought them up. This is being done (among other reasons) as a prior art time stamp. Death to the Patent trolls! And patents in general~!
1. World’s first multimedia player – VideoWorks – Dec. 1984 (with Jamie Fenton – MacroMind)
- now known as Flash, originally called Shockwave. The original player was the VideoWorks player – first created in Dec. 1984. Every Macintosh shipped with a player disc from 1986. The idea was to give away the player, so folks would want to buy the tool. We dreamed of interactive content, animated ads and customizable environments – all on some future, mythical thing called “on-line”.
- when Jamie (then named Jay) first told me of the idea for the player, I told her (then he) that I’d be over that afternoon to talk about pricing, packaging and other productization issues. By the time I got there she had uploaded it and four people has downloaded it – off of Compuserve. Thus was born the ‘free’ player.
2. World’s first multimedia authoring system – VideoWorks II – 1986-87 (with Erik Neumann, J.T. Thompson, Dan Sadowski, Al McNeil – based on original work by Jamie Fenton and Mark Pierce – MacroMind)
- Before MacroMind multimedia was created by programming, using languages like Pascal, Forth, C and assembler. MacroMind helped introduce (along with Apple’s Hypercard) the notion of end-user ‘authoring‘ – where a simple scripting language and a timeline notional system were utilized to get images, sounds, animations and video synchronized and interactive – over time. We called it VideoWorks Interactive and it morphed into VideoWorks II (when the color Mac first came out. First available in 1987.
- Videoworks II combined a language (Lingo), a media management system (the cast), a timeline notional system (the score), a playback system (the desktop and player) and a paint program (paint) to provide everything needed to create time based presentations, mockups, prototypes, animations, etc. the addition of a language gave it interactive authoring capabilities.
- the product was renamed Director – and evolved into the world’s leading tool for CD ROM games and interactive content and education material (at one point 85% of all CD ROMs were created with Director.)
3. Maze based videogame – Maze Wars+ – 1986 – based upon prior work at ARPA – (with Al McNeil and Burt Sloane – MacroMind)
We met Burt Sloane at Apple and asked if we could take his demo and turn it into a real game. Folks offered to pay us to prevent Maze Wars from running on early Appletalk networks. It was costing them so much in lost productivity!
4. World’s first cross-platform authoring system - VideoWorks Interactive, VideoWorks II and Director – 1987-89 (with Erik Neumann, J.T. Thompson, Dan Sadowski, Al McNeil – demos by Stuart Sharpe – MacroMind)
- MacroMind popularized the notion of “author once, play back many places“. Content developers could create their interactive applications once, and play them back on Macintoshs or PCs. That was back in 1989.
- we first demoed a Macintosh authored animation playing back on a PC with our PC player – on stage with Bill Gates. That led to Microsoft licensing our player technology – which was to be called .mmm. But guess what? Rob Glazer (now CEO of Real Networks – who had done the licensing deal) had never bothered to find out what our strategy was, so when I went on stage at the first Microsoft Multimedia developer conference and he and Bill Gates saw my presentation showing MacroMind players working on PCs, Macs, Fujitsu and IBM machines – at the center of a multimedia universe – they FLIPPED – and never release the .mmm format.
- .mmm was to have built into every PC from Windows 3.1 and on. So imagine how the world would have been a different place if Shockwave was built into Windows – from 1990 – on.
5. Odaiba digital city design – with John Sanborn – with Dentsu (as part of Tokyo Bay Odaiba project)
hand held wireless dashboards
organize/manage media collections, communications
6. Interactive Music Video band – MediaBand – 1992-1994 – (directed by John Sanborn, music produced by Todd Rundgren, back storyline by Michael Kaplan, John Sanborn and myself – Canter Technology)
The band consisted of Kelly Gabriel (Connie Champagne), Chris Watkins (Preacher boy), Lisa Williams and Brian yyyy. We called our auditions Todd Rundgren’s multimedia band and we attracted over 500 auditionees. From these folks we chose four all-stars and commenced to create a band with animators, progarmmers, song writers, directors, screen writers, the whole nine yards.
We produced a CD ROM entitled “Meet the Mediaband” and it was distributed by Sony, and then Phillips (once Sony shut down tehir CD ROm dividion.)
7. UnDo Me – also available in hi-red (motion JPEG) form – 1992-93 (with John Sanborn, Michael Kaplan – starring Connie Champagne – Canter Technology)
Interactive Love story
8. House Jam – also available in live form – 1992-94 (with Stuart Sharpe – Canter Technology)
four sections, 90 tracks, 4,900 measures
the more you click, the weirder it gets
9. Scalable Content – the Marc Canter Show – (Skip Sweeney – video, Jim Collins – CD ROM, Mediaband – live - Canter Technology)
The Marc Canter show was an early example of scalable content (also known as ‘mixed media’) where a number of different media and entertainment platforms are combined together around a single brand, title or meme.
The talk show format chosen for the Marc Canter Show was adopted to Interactive TV, CD ROM, web site and live show.
Mediaband was an example of scalable content – having a backstory screen play, original music, CD ROM, live performances and an interactive animated business plan.
10. Dynamic user interfaces - Canter Technology
Instead of having one interface for a wide range fo users, dynamic user interfaces take into account teh usage level of the end-user and their ability to navigate and utilize computer based interfaces. Subsequently a new era of software will emerge where the software adapts itself to the user, rather than vice versa.
Tiered pricing will be enabled and features will be able to be turned on and off based upon performance, usage patterns, pricing tiers, learning curve status and dynamic factors.
11. Location based entertainment operating system - MediaBar – (with Jim Collins, Roger Jones, Joe Sparks, John Worthington, Fen Labalme, David Levine, Jeanie, Jimmi Johnson, Don Pearson – Canter Technology)
At the end of 1995 I started an effort to build a test rig that would be used for developing broadband applications and services. We named this platform the MediaBar, which would be where the MediaBand would play.
We would design an underlying system with user’s identity at the core of the design. Each user logged onto the system with their username and password, and had the opportunity to grab a fresh face of the user – at that moment.
The Mediabar platform was a collection of entertainment applications that worked in a restaurant or club environment. Users would create accounts which would travel with them wherever they moved through the club.
A 3D environment was developed that mapoped user’s faces onto the sides of the walls. A facewall grid showed all of the users logged in at the moment.
12. Face in the interface – (with Jim Collins, Roger Jones – Canter Technology)
At the essence of what we were doing with the MediaBar platform was developing an operating system which had a personalized dashboard branded by the user’s face. The idea of inputting your face into the system, for indication that it was YOUR interface – was something we came up with in the 80′s.
There were numerous Director demos which had user’s faces on the screen. But the MediaBar was the first time that we created a desktop interface that had your face as yet another of the ‘modules’ (or widgets or gadgets) on the desktop.
MediaBar’s desktop had modules for each function and activity at a Mediabar installation. Each MediaBar station had a video camera and light, as well as video and audio playback systems.
In a location based environment users log into a particular table, so that they can pay for food and drinks, play games, go on the Internet and/or use any of the applications or services in the system.
So all software had to be designed to display at least one face of the user who was using the software.
Users would store off the history of their purchases, the food and drink preferences, their music and video playlists, game points and character, etc. along with their face in their account.
13. Multiple faces for one station - (with Jim Collins, Roger Jones – Canter Technology
Another unique aspect of the MediaBar’s design was that not only we were designing user’s faces into all user interfaces, but we also assumed that there would probably be more than one person at each station.
So applications like the food and drink ordering system or the Video and Music jukeboxes – all had a row of faces which represented each person at the station. So playlists could be imported, shared, saved off and uniques mixtapes could be developed – on the fly.
Each user’s account would keep their own bill, shopping cart, history of purchases and interaction and any preferences and tags the user might have.
We think that having multiple users logged into one station will be something that a lot of vendors will want to utilize in the future.
14. Flat panel displays- Venuemedia
After developing the MediaBar we found ourselves pitching these sorts of systems to a wide range of location based entertainment, Interactive TV and broadband installations around the world. So many of the ideas we came up with for Odaiba and all those Director demos were finally coming to real life.
The biggest project we did was for a Williams Company subsidiary called “Vyvx”. They were building a flat panel system named “ChoiseSeat” into the seats of sports stadiums, to offer a wide range of services – which would then evolve into broadband offerings.
This approach was exactly the configuration we had envisaged, except ChoiceSeat put a touch screen display in front of Windows 95. We designed the user interface for ChoiceSeat which was deployed at SuperBowlXXXI in Jan. 1997.
The system enabled game attendees to switch between six live cameras, check the rules of the game, order food and drinks and buy team gear.
We saw these kind of broadband systems as a great way to protoype broadband applications and services “for the future”. At that point in time it was not clear which Interactive TV system would win, so we were looking for ITV development platforms which could be used across a wide range of deployment systems. That ideal was never achieved.
But these closed circuit broadband networks we were building gave us the opportunity of start to understand what it would take to develop for broadband.
15. Food and drink ordering
The MediaBar and the SuperBowl XXXII systems both had food and drink ordering systems which enabled system users to choose from an animated menu of choices.
16. Switch between live cameras
There had been prior systems which featured switching between live camera feeds. But we don’t know of any deployment in a sports situation prior to the ChoiceSeat Jan. 1997 SuperBowl XXXII.
17. Digital City – Trieste, Italy – integrated environment – (with Jim Collins and Paolo Valdemarin – Venuemedia/Adrical)
Because of our SuperBowl XXXII system we found ourselves commutting to Trieste, Italy to architect and build a digital city. We brought together all of the ideas and experience we had from Odaiba, MediaBar, SuperBowl XXXII (and numerous other ideas) and brought them to bear in a project sponsored by the local government, IBM, banks, insurance companies and sports franchisees.
The Trieste Digital City project was a turnkey system setup and configured on machines which were installed into citizens home, offices, school and kiosks throughout the city. Specific applications and services were designed for the context of Trieste, but were pretty much the same ideas we had been thinking about for 20 years.
The entire city of Trieste had been wired with fiber optic by Telecom Italia, so each home would have a 25Mbps line connected to the provided hardware. The service would train users via videophones and enlist as many citizens as possible to support their peers.
Each system user would have their own dashboard user interface with a grid of icons to launch the various applications and services of the system. All of the underlying infrastructure, servers, support, training and billing systemswould all be part of the service.
The digital city project had the support of the city goverment, various large corporations, banks and employers as well as IBM Italia and a local data center. Citizens would have been able to pay their taxes, fines and fees as well as find out commercial rates for commodities.
The system would assume that families would be using the system together, so each family had it’s own unique user interface.
18. Dial into or out of a club
One of the most obvious things to do with a built-in video camera in your standard system, was to tie into a ‘video-phone grid’ of cameras throughout the city. They love to dance to techno in Trieste, so we designed a series of video cameras in a dance club which would be remotely accessed from someone at home. Either your friends would call you up from the club and ask you to come on over or else you could dial in, see who was there and decide whether you wanted to go out – that night.
Either way – two-way video was a built-in construct – in 1998.
19. Integrated Videophone
The main reason we got chosen to design (and hopefully build) the Trieste digital city was because of what we did at SuperBowl XXXII (see above.) The idea was to build on top of the fiber optic infrastructure they laid throughout the city, a series of digital services for education, commerce, entertainment and family/citizen management.
Having flat screen touch screens displays and kiosks throughout the city – was a given. And video was built into every workstation (all supplied by the local consortium who would run the network.) So that meant we could assume that folks could video phonecall each other – at any time or leave videomail.
One key application was to enable folks at the Basketball game, which would have flat panels at their seats to call up their babysitters at home and check up on the kids.
Trieste has a large senior population, so video phoning was a key ingredient for access to doctors and care workers, shopping and keeping in touch with the family.
If you can rely upon an infrastructure, you can build a culture around it.
A SeniorNet would go and record the life story of every senior citizen on teh net. These stories would be indexed and tagged to represent the living history of Trieste. School children and historians would then cross-reference and link into this database of life memories, historical event recollections and cultural history.
Families would play a big part in the SeniorNet and the overall system as a whole. Special code would be written for holidays, vacations, weekend activities, home work, shopping to do lists and keeping track of commodities prices.
21. Family UI dashboard
The center of each network member’s experience was what we called our ‘Family UI’ – which would be different for each family member. The idea of a dashboard that held all of one’s activities, content and relationships was something we first developed for the MediaBar (see above.) The family UI’ was version 2.0.
This is what I’ve called a DLA and had morphed into widget start pages and social networking personal pages. But we were doing it – starting in 1996. The family UI in Trieste was in 1998.
22. 3d VR of store shelves, virtual shopping
23. IPTV authoring station
- synchronized live TV and web news portal
24. Rich media Interfaces
- design prototypes for ZDNet – Reuters design – AOL designs
25. Decoupled front-end from back-end servers
- XML-RPC demo
26. User interface libraries inside the browser page
- what’s now called Dojo and Ajax
27. Server-in-the-closet integrated environment
- routers for home
- media management – family’s media collection
- digitally compatible across devices
- car, game machine, scalable content, family management
28. Community Commons
early social networking architecture – public, private and xxxx networks + web sites
29. digital lifestyle aggregator
integrated, aggregated and highly customizable environment -
30. For Jason DeFilippo
31. Open Listings idea
32. Activity based computing packages
Inspired by Don Norman and work done at the Apple ATG labs back in the early 90′s, I’ve been obsessed with the notion of dynamic user interfaces (see above) and the idea of activity based computing solutions which implement dynamic interfaces to package an integrated series of tasks, services and activities bundled with vertical content and community.
One example of this kind of ‘packaging’ is a community of parents and families which all share birthday parties together. This is typical of families who have similarly aged kids.
An activity based experience for a birthday party community would include a permanent web site where memories of previous birthday parties were stored and where blogs were published by the parents responsible for putting on the next ‘birthday party’ (the baton gets passed from parent to parent throughout the year.)
Party playlists, agenda and logistical details would be published and shared and a to do list for the “day of” would all be integrated with wish lists, uploaded photos and videos of the event and automated followup reminder lists. So for a group of say 5-7 families – this kind of integrated packge of services and features – would come in very handy – within the context of all the OTHER things they have to worry about. Fold in ads and sponsorships and the thing could pay for party favors, ice cream and cake.
33. White labeled social networking
The first time I saw the opportunity of white labeling social networks was when I was working at Tribe.net and we were pitching Bono and one.org to license our system. The deal never happened but it was immediately apparent to me that this was going to be a huge opportunity, as I knew nobody would want to be locked into the same social network for too long.
As each behemoth, centralized social network grew and overtook the previous leader – so would 10,000s of niche vertical networks be born.
Many of these networks are satisfied with the same template and set of rules and policies (such as what Ning offered.) Many of these networks would not have the budget to invest and would be willing to agree to revenue split deals (such as wht KickApps offers.) Many other networks stay behind a corporate firewall and cater to a specific set of features and legacy compatibility.
This is why we developed our PeopleAggregator platform – and why we see huge opportunities for our company moving forward.
34. FOAFnet consortium – with Paurl Martino (Trive.net) and Julian Bond (Ecademy) – 2004-05
An early attempt at finding an open standard for dataportability between social networks was an rdf schema – called FOAF (friend-of-a-friend.) The FOAF community is still strong and utilzies FOAF in a wide range of semantic web solutions.
At Tribe.net we wanted to show the benefits to social network vendors of allowing their users to move their profile data and social graph data from one social network – to another. We accomplished this by defining a sub-set schema, which didn’t represent EVERYTIHNG FOAF could do, but it did demonstrate dataportability betwen Tribe.net and Ecademy.
BBM built the Drupal based media sharing site- ourmedia.org.
ourmedia.org was a front-end community to Archive.org – which is where all the media was shared and stored. It was launched the same month as YouTube.com.
BBM started an open standards effort called structuredblogging.com which combined microformats with formats and schema for files and feeds. The idea was to unite HTML pages, feeds and files around standards for reveiws, events and media meta-data.
37. Persona editor
requires two-way APIs
bring social to software
41. Our Data server
42. How to build the Open Mesh
43. Dashboard Outlines: distributed friending
44. Dashboard Outlines: distributed access controls