Wednesday, November 27, 2013

iBeacons, Projekt Stroma, and the missing Link

Much has been said lately about Bluetooth low-energy beacons (i.e., iBeacons). Usually this talk hovers around mobile non-GPS location sensitive advertisements similarly to what could be observed in the movie Minority Report (2002) [1].For us at tenqyu, however, these beacons are literally the missing link towards a fully immersive and integrated retail customer experience model in the context of gamified augmented reality.


Let me explain: 

One game mechanic that we found clumsy to implement was location-sensitive passive player events. I.e., Once the player enters a specific region on the play grid an event is triggered. This game mechanic can be observed in games like the Grand Theft Auto or Pokemon Series, and has been shown that this has a large impact on the player’s immersion and identification with the game as there is a smooth transition from the currently storyline to the new event. [2]

In the real-world where the game-engine is not controlling all the finite environmental states; however, the implementation of this would be quite clumsy. One would have to constantly monitor the location of the player via GPS against a list of game areas in a given setting. While it is not impossible to implement this, at the time we decided against it to ensure the player’s privacy, a lower impact on the player’s mobile phone battery, and less stress on the servers.

Now, Bluetooth LE beacons have the potential to solve this problem very elegantly as they can answer the question “Where am I?” not in terms of a location on a map, like GPS does, but in terms of where the device is relative to another the Bluetooth beacon and independent if the app is active or not[3]. Right out of the box(!)


By design, Projekt Stroma (our content management platform) was dependent on the active participation of the player.  On the scan of a tenqyu-branded QR Code the game event is triggered and the related content is presented to the player. 




This mechanic is similar to pressing a button in a video game or entering a “yellow ring” in Grand Theft Auto.




 
One of the more engaging experiences in game-design is the element of surprise. [4] . This element of surprise can now be triggered via on-location Bluetooth LE beacons. At its core, a Bluetooth LE beacons is simply a “HERE I AM!” message to other devices within range. Bluetooth LE beacons broadcasts have no data payload; but they identify themselves via a UUID (unique identifier) and 2 numbers, dubbed “major” and “minor”. This is a similar concept as Wi-Fi network which would usually distribute their network id to the listening device.


To give an example of what we will be using Bluetooth LE beacons for, think of the following quest:

We are placing several Beacons within the vicinity of a given shopping mall. Each beacon is uniquely configured and identifiable based on a uuid, a major, and a minor number representing a given monster. 




UUID (unique identifier) is a property which is unique but the same for all on-location tenqyu quests. In this case, the same UUID would be given to all beacons.
[Pro tip] You generate a UUID by loading up the terminal on a Mac and entering uuidgen. It provides a UUID such as “23542266-18D1-4FE4-B4A1-23F8195B9D39″.

major is the property that you use to specify a related set of beacons. This is a numeric value would usually be assigned to a specific quest. Based on the spec, the major can take up to 65535 different values. 
minor in this case would be used to specify a particular beacon which would then identify a specific subset of a quest.

Now Qyu is programmed to monitor for this uuid. When Qyu detects it, it looks at the major and minor values and can determine which of quest events needs to be triggered.
So when the app detects that you have entered the region (AKA, picked up a transmitter) containing the quest UUID of “
23542266-18D1-4FE4-B4A1-23F8195B9D39″ and a major of 1 and minor of 6, it knows now a quest cue from a given Monster will be triggered. 


This is significantly augmenting and enhancing the player’s experiences with navigation, information and environmental interaction. Please expect more cool features around this soon.

Sources:

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/
[2] http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131767/secrets_of_the_sages_level_design.php?print=1
[3] https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/userexperience/conceptual/LocationAwarenessPG/LocationAwarenessPG.pdf
[4] http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/mm/168

Monday, October 28, 2013

Smart Cities for Social Change


Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.
                                             Kofi Annan

The thing about changing the world... Once you do it, the world's all different.
                
                            ― Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home

Imagine a world where our lives are enhanced by a community which has learned to adapt and to innovate. A community which has achieved to include its urban residents in public services and active participation in co-design. A world in which data-driven analysis of economic activity, resource consumption, and mobility aides the process of designing a new city

This city then carries the label of a smart city.
 
With Singapore already in the process of evolving into one [1], at least for this community the course is set. But the road ahead will bring a change in socio-economic structure. Carrying the notion of social progress this path will bring paradigmatic change through investments in physical capital as well as social and intellectual capital. 
But what exactly has to be done, which investment should be taken, to reach an era where citizens of all group can engage with the community and the community itself is prepared to be engaged?
 
As for many initiatives of the 21st century, the life-blood of it all is data. One example for this is ParkerMeister. Every weekend, thousands of Singaporeans are stuck in traffic wasting fuel, creating pollution, and stress by finding a place to park. The Singaporean government has realized that and started to publicly offer real-time parking data of major shopping malls in Singapore to capable resident to analyze and to build services around;  which at the end benefit the community at-large. [2]
 
We, tenqyu, have now extended on this data-set and created a location-dependent helper application which guides a parking seeker to an available parking spot in one of the many parking lots in Singapore. [3]


Screenshot ParkerMeister:


 
But the concept of smart cities does not end with data availability and an application biosphere around them.
While supporting the development of technical and social innovation is a crucial steps towards achieving the goal of smart living for smart people, the target which we all should not lose out of sight is the integration of urban management systems, powered by leading information and telecommunication technologies which will drive sustainable economic growth, a high quality of life, and effective management of natural resources.

At the end of the day, this improves economic and political efficiency and enables a social, cultural and urban development that engages its residents to participation.

With this next step in evolution within the Smart Cities framework, tenqyu’s urban exploration app “Qyu” [4] already now offers a tool for active participation which encourages an open dialogue between government and its citizens.
Screenshot Qyu:






With the simple scan of a QR code, the resident is queried about a specific desired path [5] which the government can then choose to adopt. This will guide to urban planners in Singapore to schematically define mobility nodes, streets, building massing, and location of resources to create nested compact urban cells (i.e., walkable neighbourhoods)
And this will be a benefit to all of us.

[1] http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2013/oct/28/smart-city-collaboration-between-singapore-and-chi/
[2] http://www.data.gov.sg/Metadata/SGMatadata.aspx?id=1818110000000007360B&mid=6722&t=TEXTUAL
[3] https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/parkermeister/id711014510?mt=8
[4]https://itunes.apple.com/sg/app/qyu/id451039417?mt=8
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desire_path

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome ParkerMeister to the tenqyu family !


It is with our great delight that we can give you an update in regards to the wonderful developments tenqyu has experienced over the last few months.

Among these were the introduction of our new Augmented Reality App “ParkerMeister” which will be available in the Singapore App Store very soon.



ParkerMeister fulfills a very basic requirement in a smooth and efficient way.

                 “Where is a convenient parking spot around me?”

ParkerMeister solves this problem by presenting an easy to read display of real-time location relative parking lot data to the user as a light-weight layer over the real-world.

It is as easy as taking a picture” were among the many positive remarks from an exclusive  focus-group testing the application during our pre-launch party at the Botanic Gardens in Singapore last Saturday (28th September 2013).

Regarding Qyu:
Next in line will be another fascinating update for our application ‘Qyu’ which will hit the streets of Asia towards the end of 2013.

With this new version, Augmented Reality and Mobile Urban Exploration will walk hand-in-hand towards an unprecedented level of gamified customer engagement.

Among the many new features within the rollout of 1.2 we will see
   
  1. Augmented loyalty cards and scavenger hunts.
  2. Multi-media supported customer interactivity (feedback and survey’s).
  3. Lucky draw and build your own adventure type quests.





Thursday, August 22, 2013

Playing around with a new feature

Today while riding the MRT, I was wondering why can't I tag a QR Code on gutenberg and  have the book readily available for reading. 

Good news! Problem solved. As can be seen below it works perfectly! 

Awesome, tomorrow will be a much more fun ride.



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Our new explainer video is live!


Urban spaces in location based ubiquitous games

Mobile platforms like tenqyu’s project Stroma are strategic enablers for location based games to augment the real, concrete urban space with a narrative, interactive, multimedia game structure.

These game structures encourage the player to construct, consciously, a more intimate relationship between game-play and everyday life. They activate everyday objects and places into touch-points for interaction.

This layer of dynamic and contextual data over physical space is a particular case of a general aesthetic paradigm: The juxtaposition of diverse spaces. For a game that is intimately connected with it’s locality, the challenge is to integrate the game’s content with right augmented information without losing immersion.

Historically, urban designers exerted control over they way people interact with their environment through physical and temporal means. Now with the ongoing developments in technology and media, this perception of space and time in urban environments is extended far beyond their original scope.

In the video-game Grand Theft Auto 4, the rendition of Liberty City closely resembles a modern New York city.






In addition to the rich history of New York’s urban center, now a synthetic story with an artifical experience has been embedded into the narrative architectural structures.

Within project Stroma, this narrative structure has been taken out of the living room and into the actual streets thereby creating an enchanted village where players can search and experiment with activated content. In reality, the player can dive into a historical quest to search for the fragments of the Singapore stone.

                     "Players are artists who create their own reality within the game."

                                                                            Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo)


For most players, a strong sense of “reality” and “feeling connected” comes from seeing and being seen by other players.  Players’ driven by the desire for status, access, power, and physical rewards create new communication patterns from playing at the same time or in the same area. This paradigm shift in how we use the urban space, creates pressure on urban planners who now face the difficulty to evaluate the narrative potential of city spaces.


Friday, July 19, 2013

An important notice about your Meetup Group

And there it was. This strange email.

"An important notice about your Meetup Group"

Our Community Team reviews each newly-created Meetup Group to see if it's a good fit for our platform. When we took a look at your Meetup Group, Singapore Mobile Urban Exploration, we determined that it wasn't in line with our Group Community Guidelines. 

Ok, so far so good. What do I have to do?

As a result, we've closed your Meetup Group. Sorry about that. Don't worry, we've also refunded your Organizer Dues. It may take 3-7 business days for that refund to appear on your account. Please confirm receipt directly with your card issuer.

WTF! You motherfuckers!

Well, what terrible crime did I submit to deserve this ?
1. allowed tenqyu.com be the sponsor.
2. allowed tenqyu.com to provide meeting space.

Wow. Without any warning.

Of course, I immediately wanted to write a reply to the "decision makers" to state my case.
But.. no veto-right, no reply-to ...nothing. And guys, the info@meetup.com reply is not cool.

Seriously, is that customer service?

Finally, after googling impatiently for what felt like a decade. I found the support address.

here it is .... support@meetup.com

Well in the end kinda obvious.

After three (3!) working days finally someone took the time to reply.

I'm afraid that once a group has been removed from the site, it cannot be reinstated.

What!

First you delete my group without any warning and then it is gone. Like in gone forever?
Are you serious?!?!

 Obviously, I can not recommend meetup.com at all after this fuckup.











Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to make a visit to the furniture mall more fun!

A couple of weeks ago we experienced a short trip the furniture mall in Singapore.

Needless to say it was not such a fun experience. What was wrong ? The experience was not engaging.

How about we add a scavenger hunt to the mix?







Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Haze in comparison

This year's haze is definitely historical!

If you compare the picture from today with the normal state (roughly a year ago), the difference is astonishing!






Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mobile Urban Exploration : Furniture Mall Singapore (Surprising spoiler: It was boring)

Gotta buy cheap dining chairs and have fun in the process. 
  
Problem No. 1: When we moved from Tokyo we didn’t bring dining chairs. The main reason might be that we didn’t have them to begin with. One of the side effects of the space limitations of Tokyo.
But alas, they new ones had to be awesome! (And cheap...)

Problem No. 2: The having fun part. Usually, furniture shopping is quite some drag; slowly strolling from one shop to the next haggling for prices with sales rep’s having varying degrees of motivation to support, finding matching colors, measuring the comfortableness, and find a balance with the families opinion and the wallet.

I would wish there is something that could make this exercise more interesting.

So out of my boredom, I bootstrapped a quick ..behold! “quest for the coolest code”.

Oh mighty prince thee thy your task:

  1. Search for every QR-Code you can find. (The more hidden and difficult to access the better)
  2. The shittier the underlying asset (website, document, etc) the more points.
  3. To varying degrees add beer.

Since I there was no beer and I had to drive, I had to endure a mass exodus of braincells from the pointlessness of scanning QR-Codes.

In total: After running around for two (2 !!) hours. I found 5 QR Codes. 

None of them were awesome.

To summarize a.k.a The three graces.

Place 3: http://www.dbs.com.sg/personal/mobile/qr/cards/apps/index.html





This was actually quite aggressively marketed at several locations and brings you directly to a download landing page. It might be me, but seriously, do you really expect me to download the app because your “Best deals in your pocket” seems to be so  unbelievable enticing. In addition, judging from the location and outline of the offer it felt strongly like being courted by a dodgy pusher.



Place 2: http://www.facebook.com/CHEERS.Sofa


So the AOL keyword of this decade is the Facebook page. 


I get it. 

Having cancelled my Facebook account years ago (yes, I am that of a hipster), I will probably never experience the inherent satisfaction of “linking” a Sofa store. 



  
Of course, not having all of these great offers in my inbox would be massively great. No need to mention that the sale was more likely extended because the warehouse was still full with unsold stock. But that would just be an uneducated guess. 

Note to self: Refrain from guessing uneducated.


...and finally. It is time to crown the winner of the day. Cue, ahem, Qyu the drum-roll.

Place 1: http://www.starfurn.com/DSTARdesignaward/brief&submissionform.pdf

You are seriously linking to a PDF on mobile?!! What ? It might be too late to sound like a complete douche-bag, but this was something a little bit unexpected.





Of course, I had to open that link. Left disappointed.









 









Monday, June 10, 2013

Celebrating Diversity Day 2013


Tenqyu is celebrating Diversity Day today on June 11 2013




Here is to all the great explorers out there who don't care about which age, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, language or race you have.
 








Always remember: Tenqyu loves you!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time to look back



It has been roughly 2 years that I have started to walk down this path towards owning and running my own shop.

Much has happened in these last two years. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Death of a family member, rejections (many, many rejections) and finally moving several thousand kilometers.

Now as slowly all the pieces are coming together, it is time to halt for a second and take a look back.

Starting a business in Japan during a financial crisis as a foreigner is a stupid idea.

  1.  Japanese have a tendency to be risk-adverse. So in times of economic distress, a.k.a. the last  two decades, Japanese would on average take the path of least risk exposure. While this is annoying, it is understandable. 
  2.  If you are not coming from one of the big groups and you are not a kabushiki gaisha( 株式会社),  you are in for a hard time.
  3.  Everything is expensive in Tokyo. It is not as expensive as it used to be, but if for founders finding space, an accountant, a lawyer (you wanted to have that kabushiki gaisha thing...right), etc is a big initial investment. And in a lot of cases you yourself are not so sure if your idea actually works. Back to step 1.


Getting yourself out there is always a good idea. 

At any point in time try to re-validate your status during meetup’s or conferences and use every opportunity you can get to learn and broaden your horizon.

http://www.meetup.com/TokyoiOSMeetup/photos/5937642/

    General benefits :

  • Learn how your idea is perceived by other people.
  • Get new ideas about what your product could be
  • Different people have different backgrounds, therefore different ways to understand or use your product/service.

Meeting great people, potential partners or employees.
http://blog.tenqyu.com/2012/07/hacker-news-tokyo-15-gmo-yours.html

In case you are afraid of competitors stealing your idea, please note the following. If your idea is that great, many people had it before. The execution is what matter in the following dimensions.
    1.) Finding and building a great team (or, like in my case,  find great partners to work with)
    2.) Building a product that differentiates itself either through features or service level.

 

Make economically reasonable decisions to move ahead.    

Of course it is possible to jump on an idea, quit your day job, and  run with it. If you are the sole founder, you are (in my case 2 years) totally and absolutely alone with all your problems, your frustrations, your tight budgets, and your this-is-not-going-anywhere moments.

Therefore, there is no need to jump into the cold water
immediately. Run your idea as your personal project. Of course, this means your previously available “free time” is gone. But even with your own shop this would be the case.

Over the last two years, I have learned a lot about me, about sales, design, programming, and building your opportunities.

And for me this is what it was all about. 


But now is time for a Sunday BBQ.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

QR Codes are a fascinating field





QR Codes are fascinating. Now that they are more than two decades old. We still have not completely understood their potential of their features at all.

What fascinates me is that this code:

QR code











and that code here:












and for the record, this one as well.











Hold exactly the same information.

And yes, it is a mindless Sunday afternoon after a tough 3-day weekend preparing Qyu for it's initial launch.



















Wednesday, May 22, 2013

99designs contest posted for a new quest card




http://99designs.com/postcard-flyer-design/contests/help-tenqyu-get-quest-card-219462/

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New youtube video posted

For our upcoming product launch we can already proudly present this teaser video which outlines some of the main functionality of the app experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wPCKhwOUjY


Enjoy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A journey into the intricate mysteries of a postfix mailserver


Well, this journey into the intricate mysteries that is mail server configuration began with the simple announcement that Ubuntu 10.04 will not be supported within this year. Nothing specifically to worry about, but then while logging into mongo, I was greeted with the following warning message similar to this

** NOTE: when using MongoDB 32 bit, you are
limited to about 2 gigabytes of data
Sat Aug 11 22:57:50 [initandlisten] **       see http://blog.mongodb.org/post/13
7788967/32-bit-limitations

So I checked the attached link (http://blog.mongodb.org/post/137788967/32-bit-limitations) and there it was. My 2 GB problem.

Bottomline, it was time do do something about it.

Step 1: Upgrade server to Ubunto 12.10. Keyed in the do-release upgrade. Linode came back up (lovely).

But then this. My hopes of an easy upgrade were darkened by the following problem.

Suddenly mail was not working anymore. What was going on?

Checking with mail.log:

Mar 23 18:18:43 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[7334]: warning: [host]: SASL PLAIN authentication failed: authentication failure
Mar 23 18:18:44 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[7334]: disconnect from [host]

Aha, sasl does not work…Question no 1 : What is SASL?

After frantically googling for solutions, I learned that the configuration in this new release has changed.

Therefore, I needed to update the config file in /etc/postfix/sasl/smtpd.conf like this.

pwcheck_method: saslauthd
mech_list: plain login
allow_plaintext: true
auxprop_plugin: sql
sql_engine: mysql
sql_hostnames: 127.0.0.1
sql_user: [username]
sql_passwd: [password]
sql_database: mail
sql_select: select password from users where email = '%u@%r'

Then restart the daemon.

Unfortunately, the problem was still not fixed.

After digging through all the relevant files :

/etc/pam.d/smtp
/etc/default/saslauthd
/var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd
/etc/postfix/main.cf
/etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf

And adding this to the SASL config.

PWDIR="/var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd"
PARAMS="-m ${PWDIR}"
PIDFILE="${PWDIR}/saslauthd.pid"

OPTIONS="-c -m /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd "


I again tested the results with the official tool. But again. No luck.

# testsaslauthd -u mail -p pwd  -f /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd/mux
0: NO "authentication failed"
   
So, what does the wonderful auth.log has to say.

Mar 23 18:30:23 THQEUWB001 saslauthd[7319]: pam_unix(imap:auth): check pass; user unknown
Mar 23 18:30:23 THQEUWB001 saslauthd[7319]: pam_unix(imap:auth): authentication failure; logname= uid=0 euid=0 tty= ruser= rhost=
Mar 23 18:30:25 THQEUWB001 saslauthd[7319]: DEBUG: auth_pam: pam_authenticate failed: Authentication failure
Mar 23 18:30:25 THQEUWB001 saslauthd[7319]: do_auth         : auth failure: [ [service=imap] [realm=] [mech=pam] [reason=PAM auth error]

Interesting this should have worked. Further, I still can not authenticate. What is going on?

Mar 23 18:53:10 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[8035]: fatal: no SASL authentication mechanisms
Mar 23 18:53:11 THQEUWB001 postfix/master[8015]: warning: process /usr/lib/postfix/smtpd pid 8035 exit status 1
Mar 23 18:53:13 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[8036]: connect [client]
Mar 23 18:53:14 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[8036]: warning: SASL: Connect to private/auth failed: Connection refused
Mar 23 18:53:14 THQEUWB001 postfix/smtpd[8036]: fatal: no SASL authentication mechanisms
Mar 23 18:53:15 THQEUWB001 postfix/master[8015]: warning: process /usr/lib/postfix/smtpd pid 8036 exit status 1
Mar 23 18:53:15 THQEUWB001 postfix/master[8015]: warning: /usr/lib/postfix/smtpd: bad command startup – throttling

Then I read this log entry. Finally this conjures magically some differences between 10.04 and 12.10 the dovecot config file is missing something!!


F9F546FC2: to=< relay=dovecot, delay=42444, delays=42444/0.03/0/0.02, dsn=4.3.0, status=deferred (temporary failure. Command output: doveconf: Warning: NOTE: You can get a new clean config file with: doveconf -n > dovecot-new.conf doveconf: Warning: Obsolete setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:1: 'imaps' protocol is no longer necessary, remove it doveconf: Warning: Obsolete setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:1: 'pop3s' protocol is no longer necessary, remove it doveconf: Warning: Obsolete setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:5: ssl_cert_file has been replaced by ssl_cert = <file doveconf: Warning: Obsolete setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:6: ssl_key_file has been replaced by ssl_key = <file doveconf: Warning: Obsolete setting in /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf:8: namespace private {} has been replaced by namespace { type=private } doveconf: Fatal: Error in configuration file /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf line 19: Unknown setting: global_script_path )

doveconf: Fatal: Error in configuration file /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf line 19: Unknown setting: global_script_path 

Of course! Some new packages are necessary!

apt-get install dovecot-sieve
tail /home/vmail/dovecot-deliver.log
apt-get install dovecot-managesieved 

Great news everyone!  I can receive mail!! Oh, the sending part still does not work.

 9DDF147019: to=<some@address.com>, relay=none, delay=0.7, delays=0.69/0.01/0/0, dsn=4.3.5, status=deferred (Host or domain name not found. Name service error for name=smtp.tenqyu.com type=A: Host not found)

 Interesting, why is the relayhost not found? …configuration error. Relayhost needs to be empty for local mail … That should have been easy.

Bottomline. That took way longer than it should have.