Facebook Email Announcement

Facebook was expected to launch a new email service this morning.  What the company announced was much bigger than email.  CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced “a single social inbox” for every kind of communication that people use, whether online, from their mobile phones, email, SMS, instant messaging and Facebook chat messages.  The company has built what he called a “modern messaging system” that is lightweight and easy to use, and offers a number of features that blend the usability of email and the benefits of other communications systems.

The 3 main features of the new service include:

  • A seamless messaging system:  Handles email, SMS and IM on a facebook.com email address.
  • A single conversation history:  Threaded replies add utility to email, so the new service will provide a combined conversation history, regardless of whether it comes via email, SMS, IM etc.
  • A social in-box:  The default experience is all really high-signal, relevant, personal messages, reducing spam.

This offering is targeted directly at the younger generation, the ones that can’t stand email because it is too “formal” and takes “too long”.  Unfortunately, it reminds me a lot of Google’s Wave, the real-time collaboration tool that was designed to be a cross between IM, IRC chat and email. On August 4, 2010, Google announced the suspension of standalone Wave development, and Wave was rolled up into Gmail as an add-on. 

A solution without a clear problem and an uncertain, somewhat fickle audience.



Open Source Kinect Developments Continue

There have been a number of exciting developments in the last few days related to XBox Kinect.  Kinect is a brand new interface to the Microsoft XBox games console. allowing users to interact with games without using a controller.  By using infra-red light, the device is able to map the environment and recognise gestures (using software).

Hector Martin released a quick hack three hours into the European launch and released his results and code into the wild – named ‘libfreenect’.  The NUI Group plan to release their driver as open source once their $10k donation fund is filled up.  Shortly after,  Theo Watson ported it to OSX.

Won’t be long we should be seeing some very interesting applicaitons for this Kinect.  Since several sites have been listing the part loads for duplicating this product from scratch at around $60, I expect to be using one in the new year for motion capture for character animation, as well as 3D scanning for character creation once the quality or output improves.

More at CreativeApplications