Thursday, January 28, 2010

Micello Indoor Maps now available ...

The Micello Indoor Maps application is now available for download from the iTunes AppStore. We wanted to wait until v1.0 to provide a rich experience to our users. Once you download the app, you will agree that it was worth the wait.

We have started receiving some good reviews:
Recently when Google announced Nexus One, they showed navigation to IKEA. We wanted to show that you could go into IKEA with the Micello App. The idea was not to misrepresent that the Micello App is available on Android, but to inform that Micello is extending the navigation metaphor to "Go Inside". Here is the video:

Here are a few unique features in the App:

  • The only app that provides your location on a map that is not an outdoor map. We are able to do this because our maps are more than just "pretty pictures". They are accurate and are geo-coded. In the above picture, the blue-dot indicates the user's position inside the community.
  • The maps are personalized and interactive - so you can set your own favorites (the yellow entites above are this user's favorites)
  • The maps provide iPod Touch users a rich experience by doing intelligent caching and not requiring a data connection all the time
  • Multi-level communities are handled intuitively - with a "stair icon" to navigate between levels using a thumbnail sketch of the level
There are even more unique features. I will save that for the next post.

If you own and iPhone/iPod touch, download the app and give it a spin - even if there are no maps for communities in your neighborhood. You can experience the interface and then give us feedback on the maps that you would like to see become available.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Implementing SOA with Java EE Book

The book (that I co-authored with BV Kumar and Tony Ng almost two years ago) has finally published.

It actually released (on Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon) on December 31st 2009. I waited until it got some additional visibility before I posted about the book here. On Friday, Jan 15th, the book got mentioned in

I would like to thank Greg Doench for his tireless effort and determinedness to push the book through. Many times in the last year I would ask him, "Greg, are we really going through with this. I am not seeing things moving forward." He would calmly reply, "I am working on it." There is a companion site to the book that provides a sneak peek into the book. We will be using this site to provide updates, samples and take your comments.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Avatar - Why I liked this movie

This movie is about humans attempting to take over an alien world - an earth-like moon, Pandora, in search of Unobtanium. The story line is familiar - one that we have known since the beginning of civilization - whether it is the British conquering India or Europeans settling in North, Central and South America. They came, they took whatever they wanted and displaced and marginalised the indigenous people. If anything, James Cameron (the director) is saying that human tendencies don't change.

The indigenous people, the Na'vi, are one with nature in Pandora - a lush, tropical paradise. This planet, with its floating mountains, is especially beautiful at night when the flora and fauna catch the light of a nearby gas planet and the rainforest glows. Seeing this is 3D is a visual treat.

I liked this movie for its creative use of Computer Graphics and cutting-edge digital technology. We have seen all kinds of techniques used to make humans look like aliens - including rubber masks and make up. This is inherently limiting because the proportions of the body and the size and spacing of the eyes and cannot be changed. We have also seen the other extreme - where dinosaurs (Juarassic Park) and characters (Toy Story) are completely computer generated.

The Na'vi characters in Avatar are Computer Generated - thus allowing for fundamentally different proportions. However, they resemble the actors who play them - including capturing their facial expressions accurately. This was accomplished by using an "image-based facial performance capture" system - thus making the characters more believable.

So ... don't go to see this movie for stimulating dialogues or interesting characters. In fact, the main characters in Avatar are as stereotypical as they get - Colonel Quaritch could have walked out of a Marvel comic from the 1960s. See it to appreciate the use of digital techniques to transform us into a make-believe world.

Just as Star Wars ushered in a new era in film making back in 1977, look for Avatar to spawn a new generation of digital movies.