Around the Office: Augmented reality, Web radio and background music

Daveed has been enjoying the TuneIn radio app for iOS, which is free with ads or only 99 cents without. Other Internet radio appliance are cool, but they can cost hundreds of dollars, and still can’t do most of what TuneIn can. It’s the best radio software he’s seen yet.

360 Langstrasse, a site that lets visitors navigate a Zürich street by scrolling down a webpage, has made us think about navigation online and off. Wayne noted that the immersive experience of exploring a city is done relatively well on mobile interfaces. Layar Vision, for instance, can recognize real world objects and overlay an “augmented reality” layer on top of them. iPhone, Android, or Symbian OS phone users can download the app, allowing seemingly ordinary objects and places to come alive with interactivity.

Interestingly, as each new app comes out, it seems that a standalone device is threatened. As Daveed always says about kitchen gadgets, “If they can only do one thing, what good are they?” We already see this idea applying to electronics, where portable multitasking devices are encroaching on the ground of single-purpose ones. Even with radio, however, Apple’s iPhone will have to complete with the radio toaster for control of the kitchen.

Eva discovered this week that background music can have a positive effect on software developers. According to a study by the University of Windsor, developers who work in silence churned out the lowest quality work and it took them longer to finish tasks. Those who had a workplace soundtrack had a heightened mood, and were more perceptive and curious, which are all bonuses for creative minds. It might not work for every workplace, but think about the productivity gains from cranking some tunes.