Tag Archives: Cape Town

How well do you know your brand?


LEGO advert from 1981 with text 'What it is is beautiful'

LEGO advert from 1981

I’ve sat down with first-time entrepreneurs in Cape Town, young creatives in Johannesburg as well as colleagues in a global non-profit. When I ask them to describe their brand, their response is usually a string of positive words like this:

“It’s innovative”
“It’s friendly, for everyone”
“It’s cool”
“It’s trustworthy”
“It says quality”
“It’s brave”

The problem with this is that one brand can’t be everything. You might Continue Reading…

What can you do with a Nokia N8?


Quite a bit, actually. TEDx Cape Town is happening tomorrow and since it was at this event that I won the Nokia N8, I thought I’ll give an overview of more than a year of owning this phone. I feel grateful to the organisers of TEDx Cape Town for the prize, but the device has received quite a bit of bad press since its release. So I’d like to highlight the three things I like most about it:


1. It has an FM transmitter

The N8 comes along on every road trip because of its built-in FM transmitter.  This means I can easily broadcast audio to my cassette-era car radio. Playing music might be the obvious choice, but listening to podcasts of This American Life and Planet Money is even better.

2. The camera is very good

Nokia made a deal with Carl Zeiss to have his high-end lenses built into the phones. The result is the best camera phone I’ve seen. That’s the second reason why the N8 comes along on all trips. I used the N8 to take the photos of Malawi and Nairobi on this blog. The resolution is huge, the image crisper and it fits in my pocket. Click on the thumbnail below for a comparison of the same view photographed with the N8, a Blackberry Bold 9780 and an iPad 2.

3. It suits outdoor exercise

The range of apps for the N8 are limited, but the ones I’ve used most are exercise apps like Endomondo and Tourality. It links easily via bluebooth to a Polar WearLink, making it possible to record your heart rate along with GPS data. The N8 transmits all the data from your run to the Endomondo website so that you can review it when you get home. Below is a graph of a run to the Waterfront I made this week.

Township art is a one-way street

It’s become common to find scenes of township life decorating the homes of affluent South Africans.  Do township residents do the same?   I haven’t seen any paintings of Constantia actuaries standing in their driveways, Waldorf kids at aftercare or Mrs. Ackerman carrying groceries to her Range Rover.

But maybe it’s time to depict those scenes. The robot artists could have a go at the daily lives of the wealthy, using their signature acrylic and tin style.  Let’s see who does it first.


Treasure hunting and Tourality

Around the age of seven I began creating treasure hunts for siblings and friends. I was inspired by the Indiana Jones movies and the Usborne series of puzzle books. I created a series of clues and puzzles that would ultimately lead them to an item hidden somewhere in the neighbourhood or backyard.

But there were problems.

One Saturday morning I created a hunt for my sister while she was at choir practice. Once she arrived home I gave her the first clue and set her on her way. It didn’t last long. She came back saying that she couldn’t find the next clue. It had either been moved or the instructions were too vague. This was a common complaint and also the reason why most of my challenges were never completed.

As I got older I realized that verbal clues are tricky because they rely on interpretation. If the creator and player do not share the same frame of reference it can get rather frustrating. The other problem is that the player will inevitably ask advice but doing so will ruin their sense of independence. So I realized back then that the ideal would be to monitor the player’s progress and offer advice without having to follow them around.

Fast forward to 2011 and there’s a range of location based games available on mobile phones. I decided to try out Tourality because it was the only IMGA Best Real World Game nominee available for Nokia / Blackberry.

Tamboerskloof Tourality game set

Tourality allows you to turn your neighborhood into a playground. To create a game you choose locations in your area that players have to reach. You then set the type of challenge RACE, TRAIL, CHASE, RUSH or ACT and you’re ready to go. I created a game in Tamboerskloof by selecting 7 targets and set out one morning before work to try it out. Here’s how it went:

  • I step out on the street and press start. The aim is to reach all seven spots in the fastest time.
  • I’d thought about the best route, leaving the furthest one on top of the hill till last.
  • I run to the Primary School first and then realize that I should have made it my starting position to save 2 minutes on the clock.
  • I run down to The Power & The Glory corner and then to Park road to get to the dead end.
  • At this point I realize that it’s slightly annoying that I have to take the phone out to check whether the program knows that I reached the target.
  • The phone does vibrate and make a beep sound when you reach the right location but both of these are hard to notice when you’re running. I think the designers can solve this problem by changing the beep to something longer and louder.
  • I make my way to the entrance of the police stables. I’m quite exhausted and opt to walk the steep bits and run the rest.
  • By the time I’ve reached 6 targets I notice a treasure chest appear at the end of another cul-de-sac. This is interesting because I hadn’t chosen the target. The program recognized it as a position sufficiently out of my way to serve as a challenge with a surprise reward.
  • I decide to ignore the treasure and continue with my planned route. (The second time I played a treasure chest appeared outside Arnold’s on Kloof Street)
  • Getting to the last target is the most exciting because I have never been there before.
  • I reach the first bend of Leeukloof Dr and get an idea. Could I skip the loop bend by cutting up through the bushes?
  • I go for it but unfortunately (although fortunate at the time) the program is tricked into thinking that I’ve already reached the dead end even though there’s still a huge house in my way.

A shortcut?

I had completed the game set in 23:09 min. I could also view the distance traveled, average speed and altitude. Walking back home I thought about what I enjoyed most and what else we could do with location based games.

The most exciting element was doing a speed challenge in an unfamiliar road. I’d played a single player game but I imagine Tourality is at its best played with friends and neighbours. If playing in unfamiliar territory lends a sense of adventure then the ideal is that friends set up challenges for one another instead of playing their own maps.

To be more than a running exercise it needs have an element of strategy. If success is determined solely by fitness then the game is merely a race.

That’s why a capture the flag game mode would be excellent. Two teams compete for control of targets in their neighbourhood. The amount of targets should be greater than the number of players to deter camping. Players can monitor the movement of all the other players on their mobile screen and adapt their strategy accordingly.

To play such a game without the use of mobile technology would be difficult. Administrating the game would be too complex. The lack of a central communication system would also mean that players wouldn’t know who’s winning or whether the game is still on.

Mobile technology gives us a system to administrate such outdoor challenges and lets us invent new ways of interacting with our environment.