by Hugh Miller
Currently Seeking Partners and investors. All materials © Copyright Hugh Miller 2019/2020
1. HearHere: The world is made of stories
In the simplest terms, it lets you record a message tagged to a specific location using GPS coordinates. But the possibilities expand very quickly from there.
Imagine a couple recording memories of the first house they lived in, the awful color it was when they bought it, that funny story about building the addition, memories of lying in bed and knowing the kids were coming to wake them by the noisy stairs, the wonderful fort they built in the backyard, the sweet neighbors, etc, etc.
That voice memory is tagged to both the street address and GPS coordinates (also the user account, obviously). That voice memory “lives there.” If the kids of that family visit that address they can listen to the memories while looking at the house. This is an audio recording but images can be attached as well. If images have been attached, the user can see them but can also hold up the phone toward the house and the app will auto-align the image to the house if it can, allowing for an opacity slider to zoom in/out across time. Or the original poster could attempt to align the picture over a google maps view of the house and have the app remember the placement.
Access to the memory would depend on several things, Public/Private status, permissions, having the app, and perhaps some level of membership.
If the memory is completely public, anyone passing by with the app could hear it, being prompted when in range, or see it in map mode as a destination with an icon indicating the sort of story. That family would have an account, options for friends/contacts, a permission group for all or specific stories. Mom and Dad could sit comfortably at home, pick a location, and record a story. They could even record specific stories for certain people who would alone have access, a particular child, for example. While the intention is that people hear stories in the real world, not sitting at home, people could use a desktop/tablet interface to browse maps and stories remotely.
Stories could also be recorded on location. A guy might sit in a park and record the story of the day he realized he was in love with his girlfriend. That same park might have a dozen other stories tagged to it and if they were set on public, you could browse through the stories while there, perhaps even hearing the voices fade in and out as you walked, triggered by location. If you were interested in a story you could just stop a bit and listen.
On a map, that park would have a dozen little icons poised overhead indicating the kinds of stories present. They might be themed like: Funny, sad, romantic, kids, pets, scary, etc. A person could be open to hearing all public stories or pick the “genres” they prefer. The App could be set to autoplay or to prompt or to wait for the user to show interest. This is all framed around the idea of audio as the main focus but a video option could exist too, I just feel audio is a better fit. And don’t forget we can add various kinds of visuals to locations, documents, image galleries, etc. A single home could have stories of 3 or 4 families living there. I love the idea of history remaining and talking to us.
So that’s the basic version I thought of first, but there are a number of other exciting uses. here are a few of them.
Spinoff Apps using the core technology
Besides just memories, people could leave audio notes and letters for each other triggered by proximity and personal connection.
“Jenny, every time I pass this place I remember that hilarious evening I spent with you, Marie and Rita. Thanks for always being such an awesome friend.”
A broken-hearted ex might leave a note for the one that got away, triggered by passing through a meaningful location. They might only hear it months or even years later when passing by. Within range, the app might even call them to play the message. The one leaving the message could easily check and see if it had been heard.
Lovers could leave notes for each other. At the bus stop, a big sign floats in the air visible only to one special person: “Remember I love you, OK? Have a good day. ” The poster creates a simple note and places it. When the person they want to share with is in sight, they get a notification, point their phone as if to take a picture, and the note is there, hanging in the air. They can take a picture of it if they want to keep it.
Offshoot apps and services
Art and nonsense: A person could post a 3d image of a giant pig in the middle of a street as random art. Rather like Pokemon Go, if you looked at the spot through your phone you’d see the giant pig, against the actual surroundings; small in the distance, big up close. It could oink within range, or even say “all hail giant pig!”
Activities, meetups (tagged by category): Audio recordings, “Floating air signs” or both.
(By the basketball court in the park)
Hey, we have a great game of pickup basketball here every Thursday around 3:00 pm, always looking for players!”
(Big sign floating over a garage)
“This is a district 41 polling location, don’t forget to vote Tuesday, August 11th.”
Fun: Workmates could put up humorous notes and pictures around the office for people they choose to share them with.
Advertising: Companies could voice tag their businesses. “This is May’s family restaurant, operating at this location since 1973. We offer delicious American classics from noon till 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.”
They could even be time-dependent, “Sorry we’re closed now, please check us out during our regular hours… “. You could browse businesses remotely or when in the neighborhood, perhaps choosing a range of distance. “Play me all the businesses within one mile”
Reviews: “Come on a weeknight or you’ll wait an hour, and try the fettuccine”
In almost all of these, some people would be tempted to create hideous or hateful content. We have control over who posts and what is posted.
2. “World Docent”
This one would be a dream come true. I think of it as a parallel app to HearHere that is just differently purposed. It uses the same tech. Imagine walking a neighborhood in New York City. Every location with a story to tell, including Arts/Architecture/History/Politics, etc. has that story embedded at the address/ GPS coordinates. If you had your device set to “all stories” they would call out to you as you walked within range. Here are details of a Civil War-era street riot, next door the childhood home of a famous musician and across the street, the studio apartment where a deathless novel was written, one block more and you walk past a famous Mafia killing. The history of the city is all around you, calling out. If you only cared about musical or literary history those are the only stories you’d hear. Looking at the map’s overhead view you’d see icons indicating important details and locations, so you could plan a route or just wander.
This would need to be thoroughly researched and planned. Preparing it would the most expensive part of this entire proposal. The stories must be recorded ahead of time possibly automatically by using a synth voice to read entries for the important A/A/H locations.
“This is the site of the battle of Cowpens. On November 14th, 1777, forces of….”
“You are looking at the barn where Jackson Pollock painted the famous “Blue poles”
3. World Canvas, World Viewer, World Capture: GPS tagged art and 3d rendering
These are the visual equivalents of the first two apps.
There are 3 main functions, whether divided into separate apps or grouped.
- To publish art to a virtual but real location. I’m calling this World Canvas – This should be easily accessible to creators without much money
- To view that art in place. World Viewer – This should be UBIQUITOUS, a free viewer for sure…the app equivalent of cardboard 3d movie glasses
- To film that art in stills or movies. World Capture – it might naturally bundle or be integrated, but it is a separate and valuable function. This is how the content gets to your social media to be shared. With the capture tool, video artists could film actors in front of sets made of the placed art.
- Basic art tools for paint and 3D. Expansion packs to add variety. Also, options to import various image formats including some animation.
- When the art is produced, the digital measurements are converted to inches\feet centimeters\meters
- The GPS coordinates\address are entered, bringing up a very simple map of the location for placement.
I imagine the World Canvas app as inexpensive to possibly free. It costs nothing to make art with it but registration is required for actually placing art anywhere. Each user gets a baseline amount of space, a total cubic allotment. Accounts can be upgraded for larger amounts of space. Users are able to collaborate, they can blend their cubic for the duration of the project. Or they can build adjoining pieces.
The art has to be time-limited, especially for free accounts. I like the idea that these things cannot be permanent although they can be brought back periodically. Perhaps if left too long they could “age” and wilt rather than just blink out.
There will also naturally be competition for certain high visibility locations. A queue is one approach, reservations another.
Corporate and business accounts can pay (much) more to “lease” the virtual space around their brick and mortar locations, guaranteeing they have control of the advertising as well as PR options around their businesses. This is is obviously a big potential income stream. There are gaming offshoots of this platform that could become very popular. Here are a few ideas.
So Many Games! Mobile games that interact with the environment using the World Canvas framework.
Marvel Universe: Game lets you know to look up or 1 block north etc. If you look through the camera you might see off in the distance, iron man flying – zooming between the tall buildings, or the hulk running full out of spiderman webbing his way downtown. Besides seeing them you could take a snapshot or movie of the action. While these could be random and unique glimpses, the system could also use objective simulations that would show action happening in a coordinated way where (for example) 3 players standing at different x,y and z coordinates in the real world would see objectively the same scene and be able to record aspects of it from their vantage points. Perhaps if the game servers became aware of a predictable clustering of players in a geographic area, set piece content could be adapted to the best natural “set and setting” aspects of that area.
Paranormal researcher: A horror game for the idiots that like horror games. The game is “honest” about its nature (as a game) only at the very outset, then it pretends to be a set of tools that tune in to the kind of BS pseudoscience of Ghost Hunter type shows. The aim is to scare the actual crap out of yourself and develop the creeping heebie-jeebies. Occasionally, and based on noise, motion, and perhaps light sensors, the phone begins to indicate the proximity of ghosts. Picked up and pointed into a dim room the camera could detect tiny spooky things. In ultra low light camera mode (very dark room) it would show more details…commonly wandering blobby orbs of light and much more rarely, very brief shockingly creepy phantoms. It would also pretend to be picking up ultra-quiet spooky voices and enhancing the sound with disturbing results. Something similar could be used for altered reality “X-Files” type sitings.
Us and Them: Team Games, Mob games.
These are modes of mobile gaming played with other gamers. Teams could be composed of intentional groups of friends or random people in proximity who tap the “Find a game” button, are assigned to a team, and guided to a gathering spot.
Treasure hunts, Scavenger hunts, riddle maps, geocaching, etc.
For example, you give a starting point where they hear the first message. It’s a riddle about the second location. If they guess right, when they get close they could hear the next riddle. It could even be set up with general borders for “Getting colder, you’re freezing, ok getting warmer”.
In a treasure hunt, the ability to add digital images, animations, etc. means we could place those possibly very wacky, random or even possibly obscene objects anywhere and only have our friends be able to see them. When they reached the object they could “collect it”.
Red spy Blue spy.
All gamers in the same area would be divided up into either red spies or blue spies. If you were a blue spy you might be notified that there was a red spy 200 yards ahead on the right. You wouldn’t know out of the crowd of random people exactly who the red spy was (unless there was no crowd)…you are expected to nonchalantly gather intel and follow discretely. If you get within a certain range, the red spy would be notified that their cover had been compromised and that they should discreetly try to evade detection. In higher, harder levels spies could be assigned tasks like standing within 15 feet of a certain public object for 5 minutes without your cover being blown. Or leave a “chalk mark” on a specific light pole by rubbing your phone on it. Possibly exchange data? Maybe Hand off secrets with a phone touch or take 3 pictures of that spot or make an audio recording, etc. Getting within a certain range of a sought spy for a certain period of time would blow their cover. Being in too close a proximity to them blows one’s OWN cover. The game could start in “single-player” mode with game generated “spooks” around to interact with rather than real strangers. If more comfortable with this arrangement, the player could stay in single-player mode or they could make the jump into multiplayer mode. ()
The game could generate “show biz” encounters to be photographed but it could also assign roles like the spy game and if you were a player you would most often be a paparazzi assigned a photo goal. But players who have a agreed to the terms might one day be assigned the big celebrity role. They take a general sort of selfie and upload it. The paparazzi get the selfie and “getting warmer/getting colder” updates in relation to moving through the general area the “celeb” said they’d be moving through. Points for photographing the celeb bigger points for getting an “autograph” perhaps delivered by lightly touching phones.
General feasibility, names etc.
None of the uses described here challenges current technology. The app is potentially huge, but it needs a base of content to begin. It could start by being shared with relatively small numbers of people with specific passionate interests that would build that foundation. People who naturally network would be good too because it could grow along those branches organically.
At first, I thought of calling the basic app HereSay, or ListenHere but then I thought of the name HearHere and I like it. Other ideas, Storyville, or Community Memory. I haven’t done the research to know whether these names are available or even if this idea has been nailed down elsewhere, I get a little heartache thinking about it.
Visualizing World Canvas, Viewer and Capture(Full size on click)
© Copyright Hugh Miller 2019