The Great Galati

Nestled on the banks of the River Danube and twinned with Coventry (who knew!) Galati is a city in south east Romania and home to part of our core development team – let us introduce you…

Heading up the team is Sorin Decianu – with over ten years of experience in software development and engineering, Sorin’s expertise stretch over a broad range of languages, from .NET to Java and PHP, as well as expanding into a variety of databases including MongoDB and SQL. Software development is his passion – he loves creating products that can be used every day and even better when they’re fun too.

Next up is Paul Salaru – on graduating from Dunarea de Jos University, Paul has specialised in becoming an expert in Java and Java based frameworks and APIs, including J2EE, GWT, JSP and Junit. Having grown in experience in a number of Senior Developer roles, Paul joined Screach earlier this year and enjoys being able to transform all of the ideas from our team into a working reality.

Finally, meet Viorel Craciun – he has a strong background in Java, Android and JavaScript and has been in Senior Development roles for the last 8 years. Joining Screach to help us develop our ScreachTV network, Viorel loves how efficient coding can be and the challenges it raises by keeping you thinking – coding can teach you to think smarter.

We asked the guys to tell us a bit more about their experience of working at Screach… 

Why did you join Screach?

Sorin: I was very impressed with the product and could see it having a great future – from the first time I used the Screach app, I could see its potential and knew that it would a success!

Viorel: I like the idea of using the ScreachTV android box for advertising and fun.

Paul: It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Android and I get to work on projects that are interactive.

What is it like to work at Screach?

Sorin: I’ve worked at Screach for two and a half years now and it’s been a great challenge to take on! I’m able to learn something new and increase my knowledge every day, whether it be a new technology, exploring and debating ideas, or developing strategy – it’s a very positive role and leads to great communication between the whole team. 

Paul: I have only one word – AWESOME

Viorel: Quite simply, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

A happy team! So how do you manage being based remotely from the Head Office in Newcastle upon Tyne?

Sorin: We have established great ways to communicate and overcome the distance, primarily using tools like Skype and having lots of calls and keeping in touch regularly.

Viorel: We have no issues – we work well together in the Galati office and have plenty of live meetings with the team in Newcastle – being remote doesn’t affect our development at all. 

What are your top tips for working from a satellite office?

Sorin: Everyone in the team is very responsible and takes ownership of their role – having that level of confidence and independence in a team is key so that you can rely on everyone to stay in touch and communicate with the rest of the group at all times.

Paul: Like Sorin says, communicate properly – let everyone know what you’re working on, what your goals and timescales are and don’t assume anything – scope projects fully and just ask if you are unsure of anything.

What are you working on at the moment?

Sorin: Lots of cool, top secret stuff, as always!

Viorel: I’m looking at offering remote access to ScreachTV to help with our debugging and support process.

Paul: I’m working with our design team on the Jukebox integration for ScreachTV. 

What is it like to work in the Galati office?

Sorin: It’s a lot of fun! We work really well together and share knowledge to find the best solutions on our individual projects – whether we’re really enjoying them or have a frustrating bug to fix, it’s great to have a team around you.

Viorel: It’s cool to work in a small core group from the Galati office – it means we get to know each other really well and we enjoy going out for a beer too!

Paul: We spend a lot of time working, so socialising after work can be difficult with family responsibilities, but having ice cream breaks is pretty good!

Tell us more about Galati as a city

Viorel: Galati has lots of great architecture and is relatively close to the seaside and mountains. The pubs are good and we have fantastic views provided by the Danube River. 

Sorin: It’s hot (really hot!) in summer and can get extremely cold and windy in winter. It’s a great city with lots to do, but if you come here with a car, please be aware that we drive on the right side!

Paul: Galati was once a flourishing industrial city but today things are different and the economy is driven by different factors.  We have a fine botanical garden, but the nicest place by far is the Danube cliff.

Sightseeing tour sorted then for our next team outing in Galati! What do you love outside of Screach?

Sorin: My true passion is for software development, though I also enjoy writing my technical and personal blogs. I like sightseeing and mountaineering with my family too, though not when the weather is too hot!

Viorel: I’m married and have a 2 year old daughter – my family is very important to me. I also love cars, travelling, smart gadgets, photography and wildlife.

Paul: I live with my girlfriend and my hobbies include gaming, reading books and articles about the latest technologies, jogging and playing soccer.

Sorin, Viorel and Paul are a key part of the Screach team and despite being based over 2000 miles away, they feel as much a part of our crew as everyone else – the future is bright in Galati and we’re looking forward to expanding our team there.

Radio City’s Fans’ Man of the Match

Radio CityCalling all football fans! Liverpool’s hit radio station, Radio City 96.7FM , will be running an interactive Fans’ Man of the Match vote this weekend.

As the country prepares for the 2012 FA Cup Final with Chelsea and Liverpool, RadioCity listeners will be able to interact in real time through the Radio City app which has had Screach technology embedded into it.

It means you’ll be able to cast your vote for who you thought was the man of the match and see who others are voting for in real time.  It’s a very cool offering from Radio City during one of the biggest football dates in the calendar.

Tha match kicks off at 5.15pm on Saturday 5 May so make sure you download the Radio City app ready to vote.

Check out Local LowDown

Looking for cool Screach experiences to play? Take a look at Local LowDown…

What is Local LowDown?

Local LowDown is a location based experience that allows you to discover cool things and look up information about your exact location.  All you have to do is launch the experience within your Screach app and Screach will detect your location (make sure you enable location data) and deliver feeds about the venues and places around you.

Why is Local LowDown so cool?

Quite simply because it lets you discover interesting facts, cool venues that you maybe didn’t know existed and claims to fame from that area.

Local LowDown is also a very cool tool for when you are on a city break or exploring a new town.

How does it work?

Our experience wizards, Joe and Scott, created Local LowDown to be your number one location experience. The experience was built using the Wikipedia API which means all of the information you can access is gathered from Wikipedia and delivered to you dependent on your location.

What do you think? Check out Local LowDown and let us know your thoughts.

Screach at Ubelly’s Critter Awards

Wednesday night saw the first awards ceremony by Microsoft’s Ubelly blog in London.

The awards, named The Critters after the little colourful fellas that adorn Ubelly’s website, celebrated the best of web development in the past year. The nominations were voted on in real time using Screach, allowing attendees to interact and select their winners instantly! You can see the winners here.

The experience that we used within Screach meant that people could view the categories and nominations on digital screens throughout the venue and could interact with the information through the Screach App on their smartphones. Attendees had a limited amount of time to cast their vote as a timer on the digital screen counted down. Once their vote was cast they could see their face pop up at the top of the screen to allow others to know they had interacted and voted.

This was an interesting way to show how Screach can used in live events, it really adds to the excitement of an awards ceremony if attendees are able to interact and influence the outcome in real time.

Where you at The Critters? If so, we’d be interested to hear what you thought about Screach.

Take a look at our shots of the Ubelly experience and our pics from the evening…

The Screach Ubelly experience

The Screach Ubelly experience

The Ubelly voter

The Ubelly voter

Screach at The Critters

Screach at The Critters

The Critters

How Audi Could Have Made Their Latest Digital Signage Campaign Even Better

During our regular perusal of news from the world of digital signage we came across an interesting story about Audi’s latest digital signage campaign.

The campaign has been set up to launch Audi’s new A7 Coupe and is currently being showcased on one of the most desirable digital screens in the world in Times Square, New York. The campaign focuses on the new product’s ‘bold design’ and continues the theme by nominating seven locations in New York that Audi believe demonstrate ‘bold design’.

The ideas is that passers-by can ‘check-in’ to the screen through Facebook Places or Foursquare and have their profile picture displayed, they don’t receive any discounts but they do get to see their face on the big screen. They can also access a mini guide to the city’s ‘bold design’ locations, via a QR Code or SMS, to find out more information about them, or how to find them.

Finally, users can nominate their own examples of ‘bold design’ via Twitter using the hashtag #bolddesign. The campaign is a step in the right direction to begin interacting with users but we can’t help but notice that a lot more could have been done and the campaign could have been much more effective using ScreachML.

Firstly, Audi could have used a platform that would have maximised on interactions. As it stands, the process for interacting seems a little fragmented. To enjoy the full experience that Audi are selling you need to use either Facebook Places or Foursquare (for checking in), Twitter (to nominate your own bold designs) and either a QR Code or SMS to access the mini guide. Wouldn’t so many different platforms discourage passers-by from interacting with the full experience, with them instead perhaps just indulging in one or two of the experiences?

The experience with the most potential for interaction is the #bolddesign nominations on Twitter. However, on inspection of the hash tag, it’s been used a mere 14 times (some of which is @audi). Is Twitter the best platform for this kind of interaction? Surely the best way to maximise on Twitter would be to shown a live stream of the hashtag on the big screen? According to an eMarketer campaign published in February 2011, only 8.7% of Americans are on Twitter – the number that are active users could be even less.

Our ScreachML allows content designers, creatives and developers to create interactive content where a user can control the content using their smartphone with ease. Even someone with the most basic technical knowledge can quickly get started and begin to create interactive experiences with digital screens. We provide the tools and the way for the user to access the content, allowing them to put the technology to best use.

Using ScreachML, Audi could create their own personalised app that allows users to interact with their digital signage campaign using their smartphone. Using Screach’s various ‘experiences’, or even building more of their own, Audi could amalgamate all of the different aspects of this campaign into one simple and effective app.

Using Screach, passers-by could ‘check-in’ and see their face on the big screen – and why not reward them for doing so? They could vote on their favourite of Audi’s bold design locations and even nominate and vote on each other’s suggestions  in real time.  According to data released by the Nielsen Company in December 2010, almost 30% of Americans own a smartphone, almost four times the amount using Twitter.

All that passers-by would need to do would be to download the app for free, enter a unique code and begin interacting with all of Audi’s campaign content. Screach pulls through their profile image from Facebook so they don’t even have to upload an image. Not only that but they could also interact with each other, how awesome would it be for Audi to incorporate a game into their campaign? Users could play an Audi A7 racing game, or similar, against each other on the 15,000 square foot screen for all to see in Times Square. It would be an excellent chance for Audi to showcase their new product and would give users a chance to directly interact with that product. The leader board could be available for all to see and the overall winner could receive gifts, discounts or even better, an Audi A7 Coupe.

With an estimated 1.6 million people walking through Times Square every day, and 30% of them using smartphones, Audi could potentially interact with around 480,000 people each day. Not only that, but using the Screach App they’d be able to profile each interaction to find out more about their consumers.

Using ScreachML to create their own fully branded app would allow passers-by to interact with each aspect of their digital signage campaign with one simple step. People in Times Square are on the move, make it quick and easy for them to be a part of the campaign.

What do you think about Audi’s campaign? What do you think of our suggestions for improvement?