Monday, June 10, 2013

Useful Google+ Hangout Apps - Toyota Social Car Configurator & Storytime

As Google+ matures G+ Hangout apps are continuing to be used in ways that allow people to collaborate in new and interesting ways.  We've seen a slate of interesting new Google+ Hangout apps launch over the past few months, but I wanted to highlight a couple of useful Hangout app executions.

The Toyota Collaborator Hangout app has it's origins in a prototype app that my talented colleagues on the Zoo developer team created some months back.  The prototype has since been picked up by Toyota with Saatchi & Saatchi LA + Joystiq Interactive developing it out into a beautiful and polished social car configurator.  The app brings the experience of the online car configurator into a collaborative space where users can create their own personalized Prius along with friends and family.  Furthermore, Toyota has sales people available in the Hangout to answer various questions. book a test drive, etc. Check out the demo video below.

The second Hangout app I want to highlight is from Penguin books and developed by BBH London. The idea is to bring storytime into the digital age.  As the Storytime Hangout site describes: 'Magically transform yourself into characters from your favourite tales with Storytime Hangout. Share stories with your family, no matter where they are in the world.'

As both a new father and someone with young nieces and nephews across the Atlantic, I find this incredibly compelling.  It's a case of using technology to make the world smaller and bring people closer together in a way that mirrors existing behaviour.

The app experience itself is delightful, as participants can transform themselves into their favourite characters using head tracking technology and the lines of the story appear on the screen alongside the masked faces so both adults and children can read the lines as though they were reading the book together physically.  Three Billy Goats Gruff is hopefully just the first of many Penguin books that's brought to life with G+ Storytime.  Check out the intro video below and head over to Story Time Hangout to experience it yourself.

P.S.  BBH Labs has a nice writeup about the background and process of bringing this to life.

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