Colony at Life.lab / colony / app_design_process.html


The starting point for my involvement in the project was the idea of using the iPod touch to interact with the sound/light installation over a WiFi connection. Possibly as a sequencer, maybe live - providing immediate feedback to touch gestures.

Project Architecture

The Colony app prompts the user to join the colony open network. This is a local WiFi network on-site which is connected to a MacPro running a MAX/MSP patch. The patch controls the light levels on 36 totem sculptures in the landscaping around the Life.lab building at Digital Harbour.

(The software solution involves the MAX/MSP patch advertising a bonjour service, which the iPod application discovers with no pre-configuration. The iPod and MAX communicate with OSC (Open Sound Control) messages sent over UDP.)

Early concept sketches

Typical usage profile for iphone apps; short bursts of activity, single-task oriented. Apple calls it 'Fast Launch, Short Use'. The WiFi connection is quite a drain on battery life.

Low expectations; my project goal; keep a user entertained for 60 seconds as they pass through the space.

Some early thoughts on interaction possibilities;

I hadn't done any Objective-C development. I wasn't familiar with the Cocoa APIs. I had only been playing with the iPod touch for a couple of weeks. There was no official SDK available at the start of the project. Initial development was with the opensource toolchain - very limited documentation, sample code. Unfamiliar with OSC, lack of an obvious choice for formatting and sending OSC formate data.

I was 'accepted' to the iPhone Developer Program at the start of May which allowed me access to the official build tools and documentation, though it was still in beta for a couple of months. photoshop mockups

Original concept drawing from Troy's proposal.

Early flash prototype of horizontal totem cluster. electronic proof-of-concepts

Flick navigation between totem groups. (LIVE! Flash demo)

Scroller indirect navigation between totem groups. (LIVE! Flash demo)

Back to the sketchbook

Vertical concept with combined group navigation / totem cluster interaction.

iPod touch Stocks app
Vertical concept with schematic group icons

Back in Flash

Alternatively styled vertical format. (LIVE! Flash demo)

Refinements in application code

Screenshot from working development version (with placeholder graphics).

Further visual styling in Photoshop

Piano keyboard concept. Rejected. MPD style input pad concept. Still possible.


Delivery to the iTunes App Store early next week.

Stress testing the app and installation sometime late next week. With as many iPod touches and iPhones as we can get hold of.

Check for link to the iTunes App Store to download the

colony installation cluster one

Project launch 18th September

project notes.txt set in 2pt fixed with font.

Colony iPod app source code revision (SVN) history.