Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Wish Someone Would Invent: A Comic-Con Street-View

Have you ever thought about an invention that maybe YOU can't make, but it sure would be nice if someone else did?

One of the things about coming home from Comicon for me is that someone will ask me what it was like or what I saw, and to remember, I inevitably sort of revisit a virtual map of the room in my head, remembering who was in what aisle, what was on which corner, etc. Of course, the squishy organ in my head is limited, and fallible, and so I wish someone would invent an actual street view of Comic-Con.

As most people know, on Google Maps there is a feature called Street View, in which you can see a 360-degree panorama from almost any position on any road in any city. Google accomplishes this by sending out a Street-view car on all of these roads which has an apparatus that takes a photo in every direction, then stitches them all together to make a panorama. The Google apparatus is mounted on top of a car, but what if someone were to make one that sits atop their shoulders or on a backpack or on a hat? That person could walk around the San Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con, C2E2, or Wizard World Anywhere and create an document that would accomplish several goals:

1. A record of what was there that year. How many people did you see and forget? How much of the show did you not have time to explore? What was the new hot thing in 2010 that is utterly forgotten a decade later? Or hey look, it's the next decade's most popular artist as a 22-year old indie creator! How cool would it be to review all of the things the comic show had that year?

2. Promotion of the show. Not everyone goes to a show for the big names that are in the advertising. What if the show has a decent showing of indie creators that are local to the area? What if there are a bunch of booths selling just the sort of thing you're a geek for? What if you have no idea what a comic book convention is like? A chance to quickly check out a show could make the difference to someone on the fence about shelling out the money to go out there.

3. A chance for exhibitors to improve their convention presences. Let's look at the Convention Street View. Oh no, you can't even see me in the sea of people. I need a sign that's at shoulder height or a name tag on the side of my table. Maybe a big sign behind me. Oh wait, that guy did it and it looks terrible! And so forth. It's hard to think about what you really need when you're just scrambling to get all of your stuff on a plane and to the convention hall. Something like this could really focus one's efforts.

A project like this would take time (it's tough to get everywhere in a crowded comic convention), money (cameras aren't free), effort (stitching all the photos together), infrastructure (a map to place this into), and motivation (something beyond it being cool), so it seems like it would either have to be an extremely motivated comic geek, someone on the staff of each convention, or Google itself, or a combination thereof. Perhaps an individual creates the camera-hat and the convention pays him to photograph the show, then Google uses its technology and infrastructure to create the map, linking it from the individual's website and the show's website. Everybody wins!

Especially me, because I never remember what I saw at Comic-Con. I was druh-unk.

So, you want to invent it? Already know about a gadget just like it? Got a reason why it would never work? Got some suggestions? Got your own "I Wish Someone Would Invent..."? See you in the comments!

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