August 5th, 2007
The application/hack that we built is something that we are calling “shifd”, which is pronounced “shift”, not “shifty”…though Nick is kind of a shifty guy… Anyway, we wanted to build something that allows you to shift between your desktop, mobile, tv, car, etc experiences in a more seamless way…
Hack Day was a tremendous experience…I won’t reiterate everything here…we did a few interviews on our Hack Day experience with the great folks at BBC Backstage and Yahoo! Developers Network (part 1, part 2). Below is a video that explains our hack (we shot it right after we got back from Hack Day and hadn’t slept in three days, so be warned!) and some links to some of the tools that we used in our application.
In the News
Integrating RFID with Web Content on your Phone (makezine.com/blog)
Interview with Shifd Creators: Nick Bilton and Michael Young, Pt. I (developer.yahoo.net)
Interview with Shifd Creators: Nick Bilton and Michael Young, Pt. II (developer.yahoo.net)
Hackday: The overall winners point of view (backstage.bbc.co.uk)
The winning hacks from Hack Day London (developer.yahoo.net)
Shifd: A Clever Mobile App From The NY Times (techcrunch.com)
Computers Noticing Mobiles Via RFID (moconews.net)
Shifd allows seamless shift between PC and cellphone (venturebeat.com)
Geeks Bust Out Brollies as Rain Falls Indoors at Hack Day London (wired.com)
What We Used to Build It
RFID Reader (USB) and an array of RFID Tags (from phidgets.com)
Mobile Phone (Sony Ericsson)
Java (Phidget API/Library)
Yahoo! UI Library
Yahoo! Local Search API (version 2)
Yahoo! Maps – Map Image API
BBC, Yahoo and The New York Times Feeds
RFID may or may not be the proper technology to use here. Of course Bluetooth or NFC achieves the same thing that we were trying to achieve with RFID – detecting presence. We’ve gotten a lot of “Why the hell did you use RFID for this? You should have used Bluetooth!”comments. Sure, Bluetooth is much more prevalent and no one has an RFID reader hooked up to their laptop/desktop… but remember that this was all about a “hack” that we had to throw together in 24 hours. Here’s a few reasons why we ended up using RFID:
- It was very easy to implement a quick “hack” that would detect “presence” for us using the RFID tags/readers that we took along with us to Hack Day. We only had 24 hours to build this thing and I didn’t want to mess around with a Bluetooth library that I’ve never used before. RFID was easy and that’s why we used it.
- A lot of the developers at Hack Day that tried to use Bluetooth in their hacks had to resort to “wired” solutions because of all of the noise/interference in the room at Alexandra Palace. Everyone that got up on stage to present their Bluetooth hack said something along the lines of “well, we tried to use bluetooth but couldn’t get it working in this room…”. I’m glad we ended up using RFID…..
We are working on putting out a version of shifd.com in the next few months. We’re going to launch the web and mobile pieces first and then will layer in the “presence” in a later release (using Bluetooth, etc).
If you’re interested in checking it out, please sign up on shifd.com or shoot me an email and we’ll let you know when it’s ready!
September 10th, 2006
The site is rich with content — you can get pretty much all of the “text” content you can get on nytimes.com. The site looks great on phones with larger screen (Treos, Blackberrys, etc) but is text-heavy on smaller phones. This is the first launch of the site, and it will go through some changes in upcoming releases. Some UI changes need to be made to it, especially for smaller-screen phones (e.g. I have to scroll across the Log In and TimesSelect links, as well as the main ad, before I can access the first story link). Jakob Nielsen makes some valid comments about the new site’s UI on paidcontent.org. Look for some updates to the site in the coming months…
Here is a screenshot of the site’s main page, with only the first story shown: