Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Introducing Motorola Spotlight Stories™ - Storytelling Designed for Smartphones

Smart phones have become deeply personal devices, indispensable in our lives.  Storytelling is the most timeless and human of activities.  Yet the stories that live on our mobile phones are mostly adapted from other media -- like TV shows, movies and books -- merely shrunk down to a smaller screen.  Why is that?  We decided to change it.  So, we created a new way of telling stories, one designed specifically for smartphones, where the capabilities of the device are part of the experience itself.

Together with our team of Motorola engineers and Oscar-winning director Jan Pinkava, we’re happy to announce the debut of Windy Day, the first immersive, interactive story made for mobile phones, launched using a first-of-its-kind storytelling platform called Motorola Spotlight Stories.

Motorola Spotlight Stories aren’t games, movies or videos. They’re different.  New.  Here’s how some of our first audience members reacted when they saw Windy Day for the first time:

When the first Android phone came out almost five years ago, it had roughly the same graphics computation performance as a Nintendo Gameboy Advance, which came out five years before that. Since then, the performance improvement of mobile processors has been astonishing.  The graphics chipset on the Moto X has 600 times the computation capability of that first Android device, and next year mobile graphics processors will surpass the computation capabilities of video game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Where is all that graphics power going?  When we measured it, we found that outside of a few graphically advanced apps and games, it’s barely being used.  It was a graphics-processing treasure chest hidden in plain sight.

So, we decided to make something new.

We tuned the Moto X so that, even in the most stressful user-interface conditions, up to 60% of its graphics capability is accessible. We took advantage of that access to build a powerful creative canvas for storytellers, incorporating a real-time 3D graphics engine, an advanced rendering technique from Pixar called OpenSubdiv, and sensor algorithms adapted from the landing systems of interplanetary spacecraft. Really.

We invited some of the best storytellers of our generation to paint something on this canvas.  Jan Pinkava, the Oscar-winning director of Geri’s Game and co-director of Ratatouille, Oscar-winning producer Karen Dufilho, animator and Academy Award nominee Doug Sweetland, Caldecott-winning illustrator Jon Klassen, veteran animator Mark Oftedal, composer Scot Stafford and artists from eight different countries joined us to build the first Motorola Spotlight Story: Windy Day.  It’s our gift to you.  We hope it makes you smile.

Motorola Spotlight Stories are featured exclusively on the Moto X. Stay tuned for more, because we are continuing to work with award-winning storytellers.  There are a lot more stories to tell.

Watch what happened when one of our own product managers, Kevin, showed Windy Day to his 2-year-old son—then check out Windy Day for yourself.

Baback Elmieh
Advanced Technologies and Project (ATAP) Technical Program Lead

Visit our Tumblr page to stay up to date with future Stories and further information on the technical achievements.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Goodbye Sticky. Hello Ara.

Over the last six months, our MAKEwithMOTO team took Sticky, a truck wrapped entirely in velcro and filled with rooted, hackable Motorola smartphones and high-end 3D printing equipment, across the country for a series of make-a-thons. On that trip we saw the first signs of a new, open hardware ecosystem made possible by advances in additive manufacturing and access to the powerful computational capabilities of modern smartphones. These included new devices and applications that we could never have imagined from inside our own labs. Open fuels innovation. See some examples here, here, and here.

After the trip, we asked ourselves, how do we bring the benefits of an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?

Meet Ara.

Led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.

Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it.

Here’s a sneak peek at early designs for Project Ara:

The design for Project Ara consists of what we call an endoskeleton (endo) and modules.  The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter--or something not yet thought of!

We’ve been working on Project Ara for over a year. Recently, we met Dave Hakkens, the creator of Phonebloks. Turns out we share a common vision: to develop a phone platform that is modular, open, customizable, and made for the entire world. We’ve done deep technical work. Dave created a community. The power of open requires both.  So we will be working on Project Ara in the open, engaging with the Phonebloks community throughout our development process, as well as asking questions to our Project Ara research scouts (volunteers interested in helping us learn about how people make choices). In a few months, we will also send an invitation to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform (to spice it up a bit, there might be prizes!). We anticipate an alpha release of the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) sometime this winter.

So stay tuned. There will be a lot more coming from us in the next few months.

--Paul Eremenko, and the Motorola Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara Team

Hey, New York: Moto Tweet Fleet to the Rescue

At Motorola, the kinds of things we obsess over are answering real people’s needs and unlocking the power of personal, customized interactions.

Then we got to thinking: Why should we stop at device experiences?

So we’re rolling out a new social experiment to take customer support to a completely new level: the Moto Tweet Fleet. It’s a roving troupe of Motorola ambassadors that leverages public hyper-local data on Twitter to rush to your rescue in real time when you need help.

We’ve all been there: Your battery is dead. You’re lost and frustrated. You’re hungry and cranky. Whatever it is, the friendly fleet is ready to come give a hand. While you’re with the fleet, you can even meet our new Moto X and customize your own using the Moto Maker online studio.

Oh, and did we mention swag? We’ve partnered with smart USA to deck out the fleet with stylish smart cars, from which ambassadors hand out Sol Republic headphones and other Motorola accessories to lucky passersby. What could be better to pair with a fully customizable Moto X and accessories than a customizable smart car?

We’re starting with a beta program in neighborhoods throughout New York City and hope to expand to Chicago next. If you’re in New York, all you have to do is tweet at @MotoTweetFleet between 11 a.m. ET and 7 p.m. ET daily. See you out there.