#4 of 10

The 100 Mile Photoscape

Tellart Internal Projects

At Tellart, we thrive on inventing innovative ways to shape human experience. In the summer of 2010, when I presented Tellart with the challenge of creating a compelling augmentation to an inspiring event – a 100 mile bike-ride in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – we took a dive into the world of cycling technology, and this interactive panorama is the result.

I rode my bike 100 miles in one day as part of the Rhode Island chapter of Team in Training, the world’s largest charity sports training program. With the combination of an amazing charity, and an exciting local event, Tellart decided to support my ride by putting our minds and hacking skills to work.

The interactive panorama shows my ride through a series of photos snapped by my iPhone, which was be attached to my bike frame with a modified iTMP handlebar mount. The custom iPhone app triggered a photo every 1/8 mile (based on GPS) and stored every photo with GPS location information, as well as a time-stamp and velocity profile. Of course, in order to ensure that the phone ran through-out the roughly eight hour ride, we tackled the iPhone’s limited battery life (especially while running GPS) by rigging up auxiliary batteries through a regulator (essentially a high capacity version of the emergency cell phone rechargers available in stores).

When we started developing the iPhone app, we knew we wanted it to take pictures without user input (a technological feature that only became available to developers a few weeks earlier with the OS3.1 update). The next step was to figure out how many pictures we would want along the 100 mile ride. At first we were thinking one picture for every mile – 100 miles of picture, 100 pictures – it had such a nice conceptual sound to it. But then we thought it would be good to get as many pictures as possible to allow for some of them not being very good (sometimes, I was right next to the ocean but there was a huge concrete wall blocking the view – things like this could not have been anticipated). So we researched image size, compression, storage mechanisms, etc to eventually decide on setting the app to take a picture every 1/8th of a mile, which ideally would have yielded 800 pictures. Both for testing purposes and for the project itself, we decided to make the distance between pictures as variable as posible in the settings. We also made it possible to set the camera to trigger based on time instead if the user prefers. This feature was useful for testing in the office but we also thought it might provide more value to future users who may not want to rely on GPS data to trigger photos. Since it was important to us to be able to accurately select a distance between image captures, we built in a fine adjustment ability that makes selecting a specific distance value on the slider easier. We also allow the user to select the capture tolerence, making it possible to decide on how accurate the user wants the images to be, based on the accuracy of the GPS reading.

Once we had the app working the way we wanted, the main priority was to mount everything to my bike in the most rugged way possible. We knew that 100 miles of ocean road could be pretty bumpy and we didn’t want the astonishingly heavy saddle bag (with the charge pack, 8 extra batteries, 2 spare tubes, 2 CO2 catridges, and tire levers) to break off or for Seth to lose his iPhone somewhere along the way. So, to ensure maximum ruggedness, there may have been a combination of Gorilla tape, metal clamps, and zip ties, overall, a supremely “hack” set of attachments, but hey, it worked. Nothing fell off, not even a rattle when hitting even the deepest of pot-holes, and, most importantly, Seth finished the ride and we got our pictures.

As with every project at Tellart, each of us wore many hats during the process. As Lead Producer, it was my responsibility to help guide our designers and developers through every step of the project.

The photoscape web and iPhone interfaces.

Me, with the big and rig (80 miles into the ride).