by Rob Ford
It’s winter. Days are very short, and darkness is all around. This is not my favorite time of the year, but I do find it’s one of my most productive times of the year online. The cold and the darkness keep me indoors catching rays from my monitors, and the lack of focus on outdoor projects around the house seems to give me a shot of inspiration and enthusiasm for the web. I’m sure I can’t be the only one, especially when you look at FWA’s stats and see that regular jump in traffic at this time of the year.
So take a look at this new bunch of sites. Here’s the real proof that long dark nights and short daylight hours can inspire other people as well.
You’ll need a webcam for this site, but you really should have one by now. This isn’t the first example of using a webcam to interact with a website, but it’s the most progressive so far. This campaign site is the fifth in a series for the Swedish Armed Forces recruitment division. Rest assured it won’t have you signing up for front line battle, but it will have you standing back from your computer and waving your arms around. There’s a simple calibration, which is impressive on its own, and then you begin the first agility test. I find this type of idea very exciting because it has so many possibilities for future development. It almost takes the idea of touchscreen to a new level because you don’t have to physically touch anything. If you don’t have a webcam, don’t miss the Video Reel.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/swedish-armed-forces-recruit-5 and click REEL.
This is one of the strongest sites of 2010. This interactive experience celebrates Claude Monet’s historic exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. This is another site that uses a webcam, but it is purely optional. You have two options: the Gallery or the Journey. I recommend spending some time on both. The Journey is an animated visual delight, starting with Monet’s inkwell, which you can either push over with a hand movement (via webcam) or with your mouse. This act starts a series of similar user-induced animations taken from Monet’s lifelong masterpieces. You also have the chance to clap your hands to interact with a magpie. Spend some time here and enjoy the plethora of work and watercolor paint splash effects.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/monet-2010- and click REEL.
One of the things I love about writing this column for the Edge newsletter every month is that I have free reign to write about any site I like. I just use my own quality standards to make sure there is something to impress, excite, and inspire as many of you as possible. I say that because this site is for Adobe, and nobody asked me to include it here. It’s an FWA winner, as all sites I write about in this column are, and it truly stands out from the other sites I have seen in the last couple of months. If you are like me, you have been eagerly awaiting the launch of the Adobe Museum of Digital Media (AMDM), which is a unique virtual space designed to showcase and preserve digital work and give expert commentary on how digital media influences culture and society. The site is a visual delight with some jaw-dropping motion and 3D, complete with full-screen videos. You can watch exhibit introductions if you are short on time or enter exhibits if you have more time to explore. It’s a very progressive idea and definitely something to bookmark for future exhibits.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/adobe-museum-of-digital-media and click REEL.
Site by RED Interactive Agency
It’s time for some fishing. I never thought I’d write about fishing. If you’re like me, you might enjoy the outdoors — some country air and a good walk. The thought of relaxing by a lake or river sounds nice, too, but add all that tackle and bait, and you lose my interest. So what could be better than some virtual fishing? This is not a new idea. There are many fishing games and mobile apps, but this online version from Discovery Education is about as good as it gets. You can create and grow fish, and as you would expect, you can catch them, too. It’s also a chance for you to educate yourself about different species of fish and baits and the environment they live in. Your children will like this site as well. This site is superbly done and something everyone can enjoy on several different levels.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/discovery-education-thrill-of-the-catch and click REEL.
This is another site using Twitter creatively by getting users to tweet actions to reach the highest level of a mountain and stay there until the end. With excellent 3D graphics and a medieval look and feel, this game is also integrated into your Twitter client for seamless compatibility. My only concern with this type of idea, similar to Facebook Connect sites, is that they can take over your social media feeds while you are playing with them, which can result in some annoyance to your followers or friends. However, when the game itself is great, it's sometimes well worth it.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/saab-anything-but-ordinary-975 and click REEL.
Site by BETC Digital
So everyone knows the Disney characters Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the Incredibles. This is a Facebook Connect site. Some might groan at the thought of opening up your Facebook account to an application, but rest assured you can simply turn off the app afterward if you have any concerns by going into your account settings. This is not the first of its kind, but it’s great fun, especially if you have kids. I won’t give too much away, but your Facebook page will be transformed with a lot of good fun and humor for an unforgettable few minutes.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/ilsdebarquent-com and click REEL.
Skoda is certainly notching up more credibility every year, and the company’s online efforts have always impressed me. Here you get to test drive the latest and sportiest Skoda at home in an augmented reality game. Print your very own steering wheel, and then fold the paper in half, put on your helmet by looking into your webcam, and take to the track. This site offers integration with your webcam plus a Facebook Connect option. Of course, you can also explore the car in a slick 3D drag, but the fun here is testing your driving skills. I’m sure if you try this, it will be a unique experience you’ll never forget.
To see the video reel demonstration of this site, visit http://www.thefwa.com/site/skoda-fabia-rs and click REEL.
These sites show how ideas are being pushed to new levels. You’ll see lots of webcam integration here. A lot of people are slightly anxious about using their webcams, but once you try any of the sites in this column that use your webcam, you’ll be inclined to do so again because the first experience is very exciting, and it is so different from any other web experience you have had with a mouse and keyboard.
Now I’m wondering what 2011 will bring. The boundaries are being pushed. Mobile has touched everyone, yet I haven’t seen much amazing mobile content just yet. Thankfully, Flash on mobile is taking off, and I think this is what will make a huge difference in 2011. If you have made or seen any amazing Flash content for mobile, let me know so I can share those new experiences with the masses. I hope 2011 brings exciting times in the interactive world that eclipse anything we have seen for a long time.
Rob Ford founded The FWA Network in May 2000 and since then the network has received over 150 million visits. The FWA Network showcases projects that use cutting edge technology for desktop, mobile and offline, together with showcases for photography as well as video. Rob is also the author of three bestselling books of web and mobile. Check out The FWA Network.