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PA's power choice: The answer is blowing in the (local) wind, says Radnor's Community Energy

It's 2011. Do you know where your power is? With the expiration of Pennsylvania power rate caps at the start of this year, state utility customers are searching for alternative providers. If you are all about clean renewable energy that's local and sustainable, Community Energy provides 100 percent Pennsylvania generated wind power, and it's expanding to provide solar as well.

The Radnor-based company, founded in 1999, began selling retail wind power to commercial customers ahead of state mandates, enabling Community Energy to build demand for the construction of its own wind projects in Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey. "In 1999, there were a total of 10 megawatts of wind power east of the Mississippi," says Jay Carlis, Vice President of CEI's Retail Division. Texas boasts two of the world's largest wind farms, and California is not far behind. Carlis reports that in the past year, CEI experienced strong growth and has doubled in size, thanks largely to the addition of solar energy to its offerings. After CEI's initial foray serving commercial clients such as Carnegie Mellon University and Giant Market, CEI added residential clients to the roster, and then partnered with utility companies, enabling its reach to include the entire northeastern United States.

While the Pennsylvania PUC has created PA Power Switch, an easy to navigate website that helps customers shop for energy, Carlis says the site leaves out some vital information. "Most people don't understand the complicated aspects of the market. If you want wind power, and it's coming from Texas, the grids don't even connect," says Carlis. Rather, utilities are dealing in tradable Renewable Energy Certificates. For someone living in Pennsylvania, he says, there's a lot of benefit to having wind in the local grid, including a future price edge benefit. "Twenty years from now, if all of Pennsylvania is buying from Texas, Texas will look good, and it won't make a bit of difference for Pennsylvania. It's important that people understand the implications of their choices."

Source: Jay Carlis, Community Energy
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: Tech Week, Pancakes and Booze, Entrepreneur Expo and LaunchRock @SXSW

Flying Bytes is a regularly occurring wrap-up of innovation nuggets from across Greater Philadelphia:


It's a week long celebration of technology innovation, according to Technically Philly's Christopher Wink, one of the organizers of Philly Tech Week, April 25 to 30. "Wharton, University City Science Center, First Round Capital, the Franklin Institute, and Indy Hall are either sponsoring, hosting events or getting involved," says Wink. Check the PTW calendar for panels on Augmented Reality, Switch Philly, and a municipal government data unveiling. The final Friday night signature event will take place at WHYY, which will serve as headquarters for the week. Stay tuned for more.

LA's biggest underground art show is coming to town. Pancakes & Booze features over 50 of Philly's underground artists, and will take place Friday March 11 at Bookspace, 1113 Frankford Avenue, starting at 8 p.m. and scheduled into the wee hours. Admission is just $5 and covers all the pancakes you can eat plus live body painting. Pancakes & Booze is on national tour, with stops in San Francisco, Nashville, Denver and more. It's worth going just to see Bookspace, a massive former elevator factory converted into a surreal bookstore stacked to the rafters with more than 50,000 titles.

Philly Startup Leaders wants you to show off your stuff at the Entrepreneur Expo 2011. The area's brightest business minds are set to convene at University of the Arts on March 31. Last year's event drew 400 people. PSL is now accepting exhibitor applications from members, and will accept bids from the general public starting March 13. Register to attend this free event at Ticketleap.

The winner of this year's Startup Weekend Philadelphia plans on giving away $5,000 at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas March 11-16. LaunchRock is a service that creates a viral "coming soon" page for budding businesses. The entrepreneur who gets the most signups using LaunchRock during SXSW will receive a dollar per sign-up up to $5,000. Results of the competition will be tracked on a 22-foot leaderboard on Sixth Street in Austin.

Source: Technically Philly, Bookspace, Philly Startup Leaders, Launchrock
Writer: Sue Spolan

An incredibly more edible egg, thanks to Penn Vet school

The egg comes first in the conversation about food safety. Both poultry and egg production are on the rise in the US. According to the USDA's most recent Census of Agriculture, sales have increased 55 percent in the last decade. But it's egg safety that's in the news. On the heels of a massive egg recall last summer, University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed a new test to detect the presence of Salmonella in eggs.

Shelley Rankin, an Associate Professor of Microbiology at Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine, says the kit, which detects Salmonella enteritidis, or SE, a strain of Salmonella specific to eggs, provides results in just 27 hours. Rankin explains that the Food and Drug Administration's new Federal Egg Safety Program, instituted in July of last year, was based in part on the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program (PEQAP), which was developed by Rankin and colleagues. "I wanted Pennsylvania to be the first state to get a novel, non-culture based test approved by the FDA for our producers to use," says Rankin.

Previous FDA guidelines required some expensive and laborious methods, taking up to ten days to see results. "At that point my colleagues and I within the PEQAP decided we should look for a better method," according to Rankin, whose team was able to identify a gene that is present only in SE. Working in collaboration with California based company Life Technologies, which already sells kits for detection of more than 2500 strains of Salmonella, the new kit focuses a laser, literally, on potential SE contamination. Polymerase Chain Reaction technology amplifies a small segment of the gene which lights up and is detectable via laser. If the light goes on, says Rankin, then SE is present. The Applied Biosystems TaqMan Salmonella enteritidis Detection Kit is FDA approved and contains 96 single-use tests.

"I chose to work with an industry partner to make that test available nationwide to improve the public health of the nation," adds Rankin. Plans are underway, says Rankin, to further reduce testing time from 27 to 12 hours.

Source: Shelley Rankin, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Writer: Sue Spolan

Solar States flips the switch at Crane Arts for city's largest rooftop PV array

The switch is flipped at Crane Arts. This week, the Kensington warehouse building, which houses artist studios and commercial space, powered up Philadelphia's largest rooftop photovoltaic solar array. Over four hundred panels will supply 81 kilowatts per year. The array is owned not by Crane, but by a new company called Solar States, which hopes to expand partnerships with property owners to create 15 commercial solar rooftops in the city for a total of 1 megawatt of solar capacity outputting thousands of megawatt hours.

In a departure from traditional solar panel installation, the for-profit Solar States offers photovoltaic installation at zero cost to building owners, selling back electricity at a discount. According to Micah Gold-Markel, founder of Solar States, the plan is for Crane to remain on the grid, so tenants will be using a mix of solar and traditional electric company power. Another way Solar States could profit is by selling back surplus power to the grid. It's a complicated auction system in which a company like Solar States sells a certificate to electric companies as a way of diversifying their energy portfolio, in compliance with the state Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. While Gold-Markel hopes Crane will use the maximum output offered by the solar array, there will be many hours of sunlight when the building is quiet, and excess power generated by the array will generate certificates, as well as a discount to Crane. Gold-Markel says that for Solar States, profitability is sustainability. Solar States, not the building owner, also receives all Pennsylvania and federal solar rebates, tax incentives and credits.

The Crane array was designed by Helio Systems and GRASS (Green Roofs and Solar Systems), and Solar States estimates that it will provide a 20 percent cost savings over standard PECO rates.

Source: Micah Gold-Markel, Solar States
Writer: Sue Spolan

Startup game developer Play Eternal targets grown up gamers

Press the start button on Play Eternal, Philadelphia's newest game development company. Play Eternal hopes to create titles that are easy to pick up, play and, perhaps most important, put away. Lou Tranchitella, CEO of Play Eternal and father of three, says that while his company's larger target demographic is men aged 15 to 45, Play Eternal wants to think outside the XBox to create action for aging gamers in their 30s and 40s who have jobs, families and activities that take life beyond the screen. Tranchitella explains that Play Eternal AAA action adventure titles are slated to provide 10 to 12 hours of in-game time, whereas traditional titles in the genre may take up to 60 hours of play to resolve. The far lower price point of Play Eternal games is commensurate with shorter play. Forget lengthy tutorials and introductions, says Tranchitella, whose own gaming life now centers around casual games like Bejeweled, as increasing real life responsibilities prohibit full immersion.

Launched this week, Play Eternal hopes to be at the forefront of a growing trend for the city. "Two of the best game schools are Drexel and Penn," says Tranchitella, who notes that Drexel RePlay is ranked third in the nation for game development by the Princeton Review, and Penn has the only graduate program for game developers, but degreed gamers end up leaving the city for companies elsewhere.

Play Eternal's four principals are Tranchitella, COO Michael Worth, Chief Creative Officer Brandon Van Slyke, and Albert Vazquez, who is the company's Chief Technology Officer. While Play Eternal is not at liberty to discuss specific games under development, Tranchitella says the appeal to publishers is in both time and money: a shorter production interval between concept and finished product, and direct delivery to the consumer by download to console or PC, bypassing expensive packaging.

Play Eternal is a virtual company for now, but in the next month or so will announce a move into office space in University City. "Both Mike and I have family roots in Philadelphia," says Tranchitella, who grew up here and plans to position Play Eternal at the forefront of the city's growing gamer business community.

Source: Lou Tranchitella, Play Eternal
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: CoverPuppy, You Had Me at Yo, Flower Children and House Party

Flying Bytes is innovation nuggets from throughout Greater Philadelphia:


Forget LOLcats. Now you can get LOLdogs, in the form of CoverPuppy, a new iPhone app that puts your mutt's mug on the cover of your favorite glossy rag. Spots Illustrated and Bone Appetit are just a few of the possibilities. For $1.99, you can download this latest offering from Philly's own ChatterBlast Labs and see your puppy's picture on the cover of Rolling Over. Share with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter. A portion of CoverPuppy proceeds goes to the ASPCA.

This week the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation announced the top-10 list of submissions for its With Love, Philadelphia XOXO Billboard Contest. It wasn't easy choosing from 2,711 entries sent in from all over the country (106 submissions with Rocky but only 19 mentions of Adrian). The top ten can be seen in a video roundup. Mary K.'s winning entry "Dear Philadelphia, You had me at Yo!" will adorn a billboard above I-95 by the Girard Avenue exit.

Get to Springtime in Paris via rail or bus. Going to the Philadelphia International Flower Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center next week? SEPTA is encouraging visitors to leave cars at home and tiptoe through the tulips with a One Day or Family Independence Pass. SEPTA is also offering discounted tickets to the event, which runs March 6-13.

No need to knock at JJ Tiziou's door. The Philadelphia photographer and supporter of the arts has announced the start of his 2011 house concert series at 4531 Osage Avenue. The April 2 lineup includes "pleasantly aggressive folk duo" Nervous But Excited from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Washington DC's Tinsmith. As always, donations of money, food and drink are always welcome. Proceeds pay performers and also benefit the larger Philadelphia arts community.

Source: ChatterBlast, GPTMC, SEPTA, JJ Tiziou
Writer: Sue Spolan

Invincible's FlixFling has a fix for movie lovers, and a free Roku for you

Imagine having access to thousands of movies with no time limit and no storage on your hard drive. That's the promise of FlixFling, a service offered by Philadelphia's Invincible Pictures. And when you sign up for FlixFling, you get a free Roku Digital Video player, which also plays many other providers' offerings, including movies from Amazon and Netflix, music from Pandora, and TV shows from Hulu.

FlixFling is part of the larger vertical service offered by Invincible, a film producer and distributor with studios located in Northern Liberties. Tom Ashley is the CEO of Invincible and says his company was the first, before Netflix and competitors, to have a working version of streaming online film offerings for mobile devices.

"It's a digital locker system," says Ashley of FlixFling, which offers 5,000 titles with the basic monthly subscription, priced to compete with iTunes and Netflix streaming. FlixFlings offerings skew heavily toward indie productions. "When you buy a movie, we store it indefinitely." Some competitors require customers to view a film within 24 hours of start time, and must be stored on an individual's hard drive.

With FlixFling, says Ashley, "If you buy a movie, it streams instantly," and you can continue the show on your phone, laptop, tablet, and even inside Facebook. Ashley, who is adamantly against torrents because it stifles the revenue stream of independent filmmakers, takes aim at big cable companies, and offers consumers a chance to cut the cord, and say goodbye to $200 monthly bills. FlixFling's basic subscription is $12.99 per month, with premium titles available for an extra fee.

Source: Tom Ashley, FlixFling
Writer: Sue Spolan

Virtual environments mean big business for Conshohocken's VCopious

"Events come and go, but persistent worlds live on," says Ken Hayward, CEO of VCopious, a virtual meeting platform that allows users worldwide to meet in cyberspace. It's an amalgamation of virtual environments like Second Life with social networking, and VCopious is gaining momentum. With VCopious, physical location is no longer a barrier to gathering. It doesn't matter if you are in Athens, Georgia or Athens, Greece.

After downloading the VCopious application, participants create avatars able to meet, talk and shop in-world. VCopious predecessor Second Life peaked back in 2007, and now that the dust has settled and the thrill of cybersex has worn off, corporate and academic entities are now seeing the greatest benefit from virtual engagement.

Based in Conshohocken, VCopious counts as its biggest customer software giant SAP, which is hosting between 30 and 50 virtual meeting instances on any given day, according to Hayward. This week, the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Technology and Capital (PACT) announced that VCopious has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Technology Start Up of the Year.

"We believe that persistent virtual worlds are an important branding mechanism," adds Hayward, who touts his software's scalability. The recent SAP Sapphire event hosted a total of 51,000 participants, with 17,500 on the platform at same time. Hayward says it's the hardware, not the software, that might limit participation. "We believe we've done the largest single event in 2010 of anyone in the industry."
Unlike Second Life's virtual currency, Hayward says VCopious users spend real money for in-world transactions, and that virtual private environments are a way to monetize social media, representing, says Hayward, "a brand new gigantic market."

Source: Ken Hayward, VCopious
Writer: Sue Spolan

Chesco's ThingWorx, 'Facebook for objects,' lands $5M, to hire 30

Your objects may have social media envy. John Richardson, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Downingtown's ThingWorx explains that within the next decade, the number of things communicating on the internet is set to eclipse the number of people who communicate. Think of it as Facebook for the manufactured world. Holding company Safeguard Scientifics agrees, announcing this week $5 million in Series B financing for ThingWorx.

Richardson predicts that by 2020, well over a trillion devices and machines will connect via cloud computing. It's known as IoT, or the Internet of Things. Almost everything, large or small, will have a network enabled chip, including cars, factory equipment, and thermostats.
ThingWorx is a 100 percent software solution, according to Richardson, who cites the example of a beverage factory bottling line running low on syrup that will be able to send out an alert to a computer or smartphone, enabling adjustment, potentially without human intervention. "We've written the software in as small a footprint as possible," says Richardson. "A piece of the code could be imbedded in a device." Using the cloud-based proprietary program, devices will talk to open protocols.

While Richardson is not at liberty to divulge the names of his company's Fortune 500 clients, he says ThingWorx is moving software into pharmaceutical, food, oil and gas, and electric grid sectors at local, national, and international levels. Most are running ThingWorx on Amazon's cloud platform, but "companies that are averse to private data in the cloud could host on site." And there's good news for local job seekers. Richardson reports that the company is on track to create 30 new jobs at its Chester County headquarters by the end of 2011, with a projected workforce of 140 employees in three years.

Source: John Richardson, ThingWorx
Writer: Sue Spolan

Flying Bytes: Taco Art, Bakin' & Snackin', Canned 'Nam, Flavor Saver

Flying Bytes is innovation nuggets from throughout Greater Philadelphia, with a focus on food and beverage this week.

It's art. It's tacos. It's coming to a neighborhood near you. Celebrity chef Jose Garces announced this week the launch of the Guapos Tacos truck, which will be hard to miss. It's covered in a mosaic of 45,000 beer bottle caps, designed by Jun Aizaki, who created the interiors of all seven of Garces' restaurants. Follow the truck on twitter @GuaposTacos.

Soup sales may be down, but Campbell's reports its Baking and Snacking sectors are on the rise. The company just released Second Quarter Results for 2011. While the company's core product, canned soup, decreased four percent, CEO Douglas R. Conant says "Baking and Snacking, our second largest segment, delivered top and bottom line growth in the quarter." A top seller is Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.

Philadelphia's Crown Holdings is expanding its production of aluminum beverage cans at all three of its manufacturing facilities in Vietnam. The Hanoi plant expansion will allow Crown to crank out 1.5 billion cans; in Ho Chi Minh City, expected output for 2012 is 3.2 billion cans. Crown's global clients include Coca-Cola, Heneken and Kronenbourg.

Food flavoring company David Michael announced the upcoming Innovation Roadshow that will take place in Philadelphia on March 30. This year's conference is all about going global with food and beverage products and features Mary Wagner from Starbucks' global R&D division. David Michael & Co. produces over 40,000 flavors, stabilizers and natural colors.

Source: Garces Restaurant Group, Campell's Soup, Crown Holdings, David Michael & Co.
Writer: Sue Spolan

Ben Franklin Technology Partners funds $2M to seven firms on heels of Early Stage Venture Showcase

The visionary folks at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA have been as busy as the companies they support.

The highly successful economic development program announced on Monday a total of $1,975,000 to seven early stage companies with promising technology innovations. The companies included Ambler's Bioconnect Systems Inc. ($500,000), Glen Mills' Holganix LLC ($250,000), Devon's LiftDNA Inc. ($250,000), West Chester's LoSo Inc. ($125,000), Bala Cynwyd's Orion Security LSP, LLC ($200,000), Malvern's Quanta Technologies, Inc. ($250,000), and Malvern's Valence Process Equipment ($400,000).

Last Thursday, 21 other companies strutted their stuff in front of potential money as Ben Franklin partnered with Greater Philadelphia Venture Investors and the University City Science Center to host its annual Early Stage Venture Showcase at the Navy Yard. The event was open only to investors; angels, venture capitalists, and individual investors packed the room. Upstairs, the highly popular IT/Physical Science/Clean Technology track companies presented; downstairs, Life Sciences entrepreneurs told their stories to a much smaller crowd.

Ryan Caplan, of ColdLight Solutions, opened with a strong presentation highlighting his company's impressive proprietary Neuron platform, which offers automated data analysis derived from artificial intelligence, leading to highly targeted recommendations for retail, pharmaceutical and communications applications. Another standout was Holganix, a Glen Mills-based organic fertilizer company which is already servicing some massive lawns in its first year of business, including Longwood Gardens. The Holganix process unlocks already existing nitrogen from the soil and air through biological means and dramatically reduces the need for pesticides.

Downstairs a smaller but tougher crowd checked out Science Center tenants BeneLein Technologies, which uses a bioprocess to create generic antibiotics, and Vascular Magnetics, which hopes to develop a magnetic nanotechnology treatment for peripheral artery disease.

Doug Leinen, founder of BeneLein, says that he has not received direct feedback from investors. Richard Genzer, who attended the Venture Showcase on behalf of the Mid-Atlantic Angel Group, reports that he has taken further action with three companies.

Source: Doug Leinen, BeneLein, Richard Genzer, Mid-Altantic Angel Group
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: PHL to QUE, Drexel and Boeing, and Mutual Funds from Hedge Funds

Flying Bytes is innovation nuggets from around the region:


Get your beret and cafe au lait. This summer, US Airways starts direct flights from Philadelphia to Quebec City. The daily, year round service begins June 2 and offers three nonstop round trip flights. The quick trip to the Quebec capital is under 2 hours each way.

Turner Investments of Berwyn announced the launch this week of three alternative mutual funds that employ hedge fund strategies. The Medical Sciences Long/Short, the Market Neutral and the Titan Fund all rely on diversified long and short investments. Matt Glaser, who manages the Market Neutral, says the funds seek to deliver superior risk adjustment return for clients. "Post financial crisis investors are looking for ways to mitigate risk and lower volatility, so hedge funds, and mutual fund vehicles are here to stay."

Drexel University engineering students will be working on Boeing projects, thanks to a long term agreement signed this week between CDI-Aerospace and Boeing. Through the school's co-operative education program, students will be working on structural designs, software conversions and stress analysis for the CH-47 military helicopter, the V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and the Boeing 787 commercial transport aircraft.

The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby is back for its 5th year, and organizers have put out a call for entries. Last year, participants crafted a bicycle powered steam engine, a conveyance that catapulted paint filled balloons onto a canvas, pirate ships and dragons, all foot powered. If your passion lives at the intersection of biking and art, visit the Sculpture Derby's home page for guidelines and registration forms. The event takes place May 21, and submit your entry form by April 15 to get free T-shirts for your team.

Source: USAirways; Henry Pyatt, Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby; Matt Glaser, Turner Investments, CDI
Writer: Sue Spolan

A toast to patient compliance at upcoming Cocktail Convention

Why aren't you taking your drugs? The age old question is getting new treatment at an upcoming summit of health care professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, patients and advocates. On Feb. 24, Wool.labs Cocktail Convention offers a group with often diverging opinions the chance to duke it out over a beer.

The event, Patient Adherence Through the Lens of Social Media in the Healthcare Continuum, will be held at the National Constitution Center, and is co-sponsored by Wool.labs, SmartBrief, and MISI Company. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Michele Bennett is Wool.labs' COO and the moderator of the event, which, she says, is Wool.labs' way "of trying to promote more understanding in patient health care." She says the evening will begin with panelists from a wide range of perspectives, including the dynamic entrepreneur Paul Shiels, managing director of the Ansley Capital Group and a big proponent of using social media to both gather and spread information about health care. He cites Wool.labs' research into what people were saying online about Avandia well before the diabetes drug made headlines for increasing the risk of heart attack.

"It's startling, the level of sophistication that is discernible early on," says Shiels, who adds that Wool.labs' proprietary search engine is better than a focus group or survey based analysis, because it doesn't just go to medical pages, but instead searches every available website in the world to glean information on the relationship between patients and their medications. In fact, he says, quite a bit of Avandia chat was found on a forum for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Joining Shiels on the panel is Dan Zenka, Vice President of Communications for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. In what Zenka terms a "hugely ironic" turn of events, he himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly a year ago, and immediately created the blog My New York Minute, a chronicle of his diagnosis and treatment. The site has racked up 24,000 reads since the first post in April 2010. Other guests include pharmacist Steve Basiago, oncologist Tim Showalter, and health care administrator Elizabeth Beer. Moderator Michele Bennett promises a thought provoking evening and maybe even some controversy.

Source: Michele Bennett, Wool.labs, Paul Shiels, Ansley Capital Group, Dan Zenka, Prostate Cancer Foundation
Writer: Sue Spolan

Belgian Firm Makes Soft Landing at Science Center, Hiring Sales Rep for Natural Enzyme Applications

You may not be famliar with papain, bromelain and ficin, but they are all naturally occurring enzymes extracted from fruit trees and plants and used in a wide range of applications, including beer, cancer treatments and contact lens cleaner.

The newest tenant at the University City Science Center's Port Business Incubator (3624 Market St.) specializes in production and commercialization of those compounds and is hoping its entry to the U.S. market is just as naturally occurring. Belgium-based Enzbyel International announced last week it established its U.S. office through the Science Center's Global Soft Landing program,

According to Science Center spokesperson Jeanne Mell, the Global Soft Landing program, which helps global companies establish a presence in local life sciences and IT markets, has engaged eight companies--a number that figures to get larger as the Science Center expandsd its Global Soft Landing space at 3711 Market Street.

Nicolas Chatelain is Enzybel's lone employee at the Science Center and will focus on business development. He says Enzybel is actively seeking a second employee for its Philadelphia operations

"We would like to hire (someone) as a sales representative for the food ingredient and neutraceutical industries as soon as possible," he says. "We are looking for an American candidate that will have at least a Bachelor's degree in Food Science Chemistry or related discipline."

In addition to growing its food processing accounts and prospecting new markets, Enzybel is hoping to set up a joint venture with a distributor for its wastewater solution.

Source: Nicolas Chatelain, Enzybel; Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Drexel and NCC collaborate on mobile app

It's a museum at your fingertips. Drexel University's Goodwin College has teamed up with the National Constitution Center for a mobile app that brings a new layer of richness to the center's collections, and virtually brings those collections right out the door. Available at this time for iPhone and iPod users, the basic NCC app is free to download from the iTunes Store and includes news, links to the museum's store and blog, and admission information including hours, tickets and directions.

For a small fee, add interactive multimedia tours of both permanent and traveling exhibitions. That's a revenue stream with long term potential, because shows that stop at the NCC go on the road, and the app remains attached for the life of the exhibit.

Cory Schmitt is director of learning technologies at Goodwin, and he explains that when he started working at Drexel, the mobile tour collaboration with the NCC was somewhat of a back-burner idea. He and Kerry Sautner, who is both an adjunct instructor at Drexel and director of public programs at the NCC, saw iPods as a way to open up a lot of possibilities for engagement and fun.

Since then, Schmitt and team have developed a total of nine iPod tours for the museum. "Three or four are for permanent exhibits, and the rest are for traveling," says Schmitt. In June, the team will launch a tour to go along with a George Washington exhibit coming from Mount Vernon. That show is slated to travel for ten years, and the 99-cent app goes along with it.

Schmitt points out that the app is accessible globally, not just to people visiting the Constitution Center, citing value for "anyone who is interested in US history and democracy," and emphasizing that the NCC offering is living, with news and version updates.

The Constitution Center app, says Schmitt, is the first step in collaborations with local and national museums. "Now that we've completed research and development and have a template, we can go to other institutions and produce their mobile apps as well." Schmitt says his team hopes to develop the NCC app for Android and other mobile platforms.

Source: Cory Schmitt, Goodwin College, Drexel University

Writer: Sue Spolan

390 emerging technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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