LEGO’s ‘The Life of George’ Connects Physical and Virtual Gameplay

LEGO - Life of GeorgeI can’t remember a time where I didn’t have LEGO around. There have been more than 400 billion LEGO bricks produced since 1958, that makes 58 Lego bricks per person on Earth if my math is reasonable correct. There must be at least that many still stuffed down between the couch cushions at my parent’s house.

LEGO has always been a leader in incorporating technology into the product. They created a Lego website in 1996 in the very early days on the web. They created a line of programmable robotic bricks and bit called Mindstorms, which it developed in partnership with MIT Media Labs. LEGO’s Digital Designer software lets budding designers create models using virtual bricks, then post the results online at LEGO Design ByMe and purchase the real bricks to make the design in real life.

On October 1, LEGO released it’s latest product ‘The Life of George‘, an interactive game that requires the player to recreate the items that appear in George’s vacation photographs using LEGO bricks assembled and placed on a special gridded gaming mat. Players use the free iPhone app to score to time and capture an image to test the accuracy of your LEGO building skills. The game features 12 levels of play with 10 group of photos in each level. The game begins with images from George’s trip to Hawaii including sunglasses, palm trees, a crab, even a cocktail glass(??). You can challenge yourself or battle against one of your brick-building buddies for LEGO dominance.

‘The Life of George’ kit is available for $30 at LEGO stores now. The free ‘Life of George’ app is available in the Apple app store.

PBS Releases First Episode of Ken Burns’ Prohibition Doc to iPads first

The latest Ken Burns’ documentary ‘Prohibition’ airs on PBS on October 2nd, 3rd and 4th, but users of the PBS app for iPad and iPhone users can watch the first episode now. The first episode tells the story of the events of the 1800s that lead up to the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Now I know that the term ‘bootlegging’ came from a name given to men who sold swigs of liquor hidden in their boots or under their pants legs.

The free PBS iPad app can be downloaded in the US App Store.

Exploring the Cosmos With Bjork’s Biophilia App

Bjork - BiophiliaWhether you enjoy Bjork’s music or not, you do have to appreciate her creative ambitions and refusal to follow the tried and true. And please shut the hell up about the swan dress, that was nearly 10 years ago. Musically though, I’m still partial to Bjork’s earlier solo albums like Post and Homogenic and Vespertine, but her more recent experimental projects like Medúlla and Volta still hold a spot in my music library.

Back in June I posted that Bjork was set to release her new project, album, collection (what the heck do you call these things anyway?) Biophilia as 10 iPad apps within a mother app.

On June 19, the Biophilia mother app was released in the App Store. The opening interface works as a 3-dimensional view of the a Bjork cosmos. Each of the 10 tracks appears within that cosmos and can be found by swiping and rotating the 3D constellations.

The Biophilia app can be downloaded for free and comes with the ‘Cosmogong’ installed. The app features an animated introduction to the concept of Biophilia featuring the voice of David Attenborough. This track explores creation myths and explains that the big bang theory may be this civilization’s creation story. This might be more fun if you could dance to it.

Previews of the track Crystalline have been played on the web for a few weeks now, and now it appears here as the first app/track for in-app purchase. Crystalline can be played as a scrolling interactive stream or as a game, collecting crystals as the user navigates through 3D tunnels by tilting the iPad.

It should be interesting to see the creativity that Bjork and her creative team explore in the other 8 apps. If you’re a Bjork fan without an iPad, don’t fret. The songs will be released as a traditional digital and physical album on September 27th.

The Biophilia app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App store, each of the tracks, or individual apps can be downloaded for $1.99 as they become available.

Biophilia was designed by MSM (Paris) and produced and engineered by Scott Snibbe Studio.

iPawed? Friskies Launches Three iPad Games for Your Cat

Friskies' iPad games for catsIf you’re a cat owner you may have noticed your cat eyeballing you once or twice as you tried to three-star that last level of Angry Birds on your iPad. Cats are a very important element of the interwebs, after all, if it wasn’t for cat videos YouTube would lose half of it’s traffic.

Now thanks to Purina and Friskies your cat doesn’t have to miss out on all the interactive fun. They’ve developed three games designed specifically for your feline friends: Cat Fishing, Party Treasures Hunt and Party Mix-Up. You can watch them out in the video below or go and try them out for yourself.

The three games were built using HTML5 and CSS3 and can also work on other tablet platforms like Android. Friskies does point out that your iPad glass surface should stand up to your cat’s claws without any problem, however if you have any kind of plastic covering it could get damaged.

So wake up Fluffy, Blackie and Lady MeowMeow and let’s catch a few fish.

Gorillaz iPad Project ‘The Fall’ Gets Traditional Release in April

Gorillaz 'The Fall'The Fall, a collection of songs that Damon Albarn (mostly) performed and recorded on his iPad during the Gorillaz 32-day North American fall tour will finally be made available as a traditional digital download, CD and vinyl release.

The 15 tracks had been previously posted on Christmas eve to the Gorillaz website and available to anyone who had signed up to the mailing list. The Fall will be available as a special vinyl release on April 16 as part of Record Store Day 2011. A CD and digital download will be available two days later.

Some fans and critics have been very critical about the recordings referring to them as rambling and amateurish and not worthy of release under the Gorillaz monicker.

I however enjoyed the tracks for what they were, sound explorations – these are the rough and raw creative explorations, the sonic frameworks that may eventually grow into fully-realized songs or just left unheard by the public. They can’t be compared to a fully produced Gorillaz album. I enjoy hearing the creativity of Albarn in all its forms.

Albarn had described the album as a type of sonic journal, recorded in his spare time during the tour.

“I did it because there’s a lot of time that you just spend staring at walls essentially. And it was a fantastic way of doing it. I found working in the day, whether it’s in the hotel or in the venue, it was a brilliant way of keeping myself well. I literally wrote everything on the day in each place and there’s a strange sort of sound of America and its musical traditions that comes through. It feels like a journey through America.”

The News360 iPad App is Like Crack for this News Addict

News360 iPad AppAs long as I can remember I have always been a news addict. A habit that has been passed down from my father back in Nova Scotia. An early picture even shows me struggling to open a copy of Sports Illustrated. I would read the local newspapers front to back, gobble up every news magazine I could get my hands on.

These days of course, we have instant access to hundreds of thousands of news sources including web sites, blogs and news feeds. Having access to the web through mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad has now taken my news addiction to a new level.

Introducing News360

On Monday, development company News360 released News360 for the Pad. News360 is a Moscow-based company dedicated to helping readers experience personalized news. They’ve used linguistic metadata analysis and algorithms to identify trends within the feeds of news sources from around the world.

Interface design was provided by Motka Design Studio.

Over a 1000 News Sources

News360 aggregates feeds from over 1000 different news sources, including CNN, Fortune, New York Times, BBC, Guardian, Wall Street Journal and many more.

The news feeds can be sorted by Stories or Sources, as well as using GPS to locate stories near you. You can see recent tweets on the story or view the story and photos from any of the news sources that it had appeared in.

Deep Dive into background material

One of the more interesting features allows you to turn on highlighted hyperlinks. These links lead you to further background information on all the key people, companies, and subjects within the story. Once you’ve absorbed the background material you’re presented with more even more focused news stories on that keyword.

Customized Feeds

Create your own customized feed by using the My Sources/My Stories feature. Simply drag and drop icons for hundreds of sources and story subjects to the top of the screen and you’re ready to go.

I Like to Look at Pictures

If you like to look at pictures you’re in luck. Simply turn your iPad on its side and you’ll be looking at a series of scrolling news photos. Tap a photo and you see a headline, tap again and you can read the story with access to the hyperlinks as mentioned above.

Sharing is Good

Stories can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, ReadItLater (my favorite), Instaper and Email. Stories can also be saved to your iPad to be accessed later.

The site takes interface design and functionality cues from such popular news apps like Pulse News Reader, Huffington Post’s News Glide and of course Flipboard. However, the GPS feature for local news and keyword hyperlinking are features that I can really appreciate and use.

OK, enough writing I need to go get my news fix.