Capturing the pulse of daily life
Benjamin Roberts and Brett Bergmann, both Artsci’04, recently launched an iPhone application (app) that allows users to tag what is happening at their location on a global map.
The app, Pulse the World, has seen great success in its first version. Each user update, or “pulse”, is placed on the map in real time and given a positive or negative charge. In turn, the user will be able to see other pulses uploaded by users in the same area.
The app is intended to capture the way people go about their daily lives. Whether one is stuck in traffic or passing by a street busker, Pulse the World aims to capture the micro-events that make up daily experiences. imagine consulting the app and seeing that two streets over, someone had added a pulse “Fender bender!” a minute earlier, or “Surprise book sale,” set to start in 20 minutes.
For Ben and Brett, the transition between their Queen’s studies and their current work wasn’t particularly difficult. They are both film graduates who reflect on their time at Queen’s fondly.
Says Ben, “Whether you’re designing applications or you’re producing a film, your number one focus is the user experience. You’re always thinking, how is the individual I am making this for going to experience my product? The core idea of paying attention to the visual experience translates across both media.”
When Ben and Brett wanted to take their work to a new level, they needed to find interested investors. And once again, their film education came in handy. “By the time we wanted to find investors, we had seen tons of professional technology advertising videos and we could tell exactly what the makers of those videos were doing,” Brett says. They created a polished video for Pulse the World that helped them land an investor. “We knew what makes a good video and we applied that knowledge, and it went a long way.”
Pulse the World has partnered with several major festivals in Toronto, including the Pride Festival in July, to coincide with the app launch. “We’re really excited about teaming up with festivals and organizations that see great potential for collaboration. The people at Pride saw the potential for a great partnership right away,” Ben says. For Toronto’s 2011 Pride week, Pulse the World was one of the main sponsors. The app helped attendees keep track of the many events happening throughout the city during the entire week.
Ben and Brett are now hard at work developing an even newer version of Pulse the World with their company partners. Their focus is on bringing a new, interactive redesign to the app. They are also working on expanding the product to other platforms, including Blackberry and Android phones.