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A software environment for interactive creation on mobile screens for artists and designers

Mobilizing.js is a software authoring environment for artists and designers intended to encourage the creation of interactive works on various forms of device-screens. The great versatility of the increasingly well-established JavaScript makes it possible for Mobizling.js to expand its field of action to many software environments, including browsers, Node.js servers, or even the contexts specific to certain machines (mobile devices—tablets, smartphones—iOS, Android, Windows, etc.). The foundations of Mobilizing.js take shape as a JavaScript library that specifies a programming interface developed for interactive artistic creation in hardware and software environments that are now unified by the JavaScript language.

The core functionalities of Mobilizing.js center on graphic design, by providing a real-time 2D and 3D engine forged upon webGL (a standard based on OpenGL specifically defined for the web), which now seems to be settling durably into the landscape of contemporary computer graphics technologies. This choice, in addition to being a wager on the future of an emerging standard, is based on its now well-established availability on all mobile devices in the specialized graphics processor (GPU) market, which opens up new possibilities for real-time implementation. When we want to use those GPUs with web technologies, the use of webGL becomes necessary, because, more and more often, it now has “fast-track” implementation. But it is also a question of being able to more easily imagine uses for the Mobilizing.js graphic engine on platforms other than those based on the Document Object Model (DOM) of browsers.
For if, due to HTML5 specifications, browsers tend to allow ever more access to the lower layers—even hardware—of the host machine on which they run, many obstacles to the implementation of the specificities of the devices (especially mobile ones) still constitute a barrier to artistic creation with web technologies: the time required for real implementation of HTML5 specifications by major software publishers that would make it possible to use the technical elements recently integrated into a device (sensor, etc) is disproportionately long relative to the need for experimentation in artistic practices working with interactivity. That is why, like Cordova, PhoneGap or Ejecta, Mobilizing.js wants to offer the possibility of using those hardware specificities by building bridges with other environments (WebView, whose JavaScript context extends to the OS via objective-C on iOS or Java on Android). So, when a programming interface doesn’t already exist in the web standards, the JavaScript context is extended to native functionalities. That is why Mobilizing.js includes, in addition to its graphic components, a certain number of general functionalities relative to integrated sensors (next-generation motion detectors, microphones, video cameras, etc.), offering a unified creative environment in a coherent and portable interface that does not limit possibilities to what the web alone allows.

From the user’s perspective, Mobilizing.js is a JavaScript library itself composed of a certain number of major classes of functions. Open source, the library is intended for artistic creation on digital devices and makes it possible to create interactive graphic applications on a variety of machines because it ensures “multi-platform” compatibility, adapting automatically to the device on which it will be run. But it also provides some interoperability, thanks to JavaScript, by offering access, for example, to the creation of both sides of a client-server system, or the creation of hybrid applications (mixing high level and native layer) on several devices using the same programming interface. Those two characteristics and the unification effort represent a major advantage for software authors because the technological environment on which Mobilizing.js is based remains highly composite, despite the ubiquity of JavaScript.
The Mobilizing.js user therefore employs the library to write scripts and therefore to create works. Templates and examples help to understand the architecture of the library and to try it out. Though Mobilizing.js caters largely to the browser, its implementation works only through JavaScript programming, and requires no direct recourse to HTML or CSS. Because this experience of programming is also a way of learning the JavaScript language itself, Mobilizing.js is favorably positioned within the contemporary technical landscape.
Closely associated with the uses it promotes, Mobilizing.js is designed as a modular and upgradeable environment, and its functions can be increased and redefined to respond better to the needs of authors. It is therefore a creative tool targeted equally to novices eager to take their first steps in interaction design and interactive creation and to specialists who hope to avoid creating software components specific to particular projects. Mobilizing.js is a generic, scalable, and flexible tool.

Produced by Mobilizing.js

An interactive public installation with smartphones, 2014

Go to the project’s page surexposition
Visite the project’s website

An Orange/EnsadLab project

A project under the direction of Samuel Bianchini (EnsadLab), in collaboration with Dominique Cunin (EnsadLab), Catherine Ramus (Orange Labs/Sense), and Marc Brice (Orange Labs/Openserv), in the framework of a research partnership with Orange Labs

"Orange/EnsadLab” partnership directors: Armelle Pasco, Director of Cultural and Institutional Partnerships, Orange and Emmanuel Mahé, Head of Research, EnsAD

Project Manager (Orange): Abla Benmiloud-Faucher
IT Development (EnsadLab): Dominique Cunin, Oussama Mubarak, Jonathan Tanant, and Sylvie Tissot
Mobile network data supply: Orange Fluxvision
Mobile network data processing: Cezary Ziemlicki and Zbigniew Smoreda (Orange)
SMS Server Development: Orange Applications for Business
Graphic Design: Alexandre Dechosal (EnsadLab)
In situ installation (artistic and engineering collaboration): Alexandre Saunier (EnsadLab)
Lighting and construction of the installation structure: Sky Light
Wireless network deployment coordination: Christophe Such (Orange)
Communication: Nadine Castellani, Karine Duckit Claudia Mangel (Orange), Nathalie Battais-Foucher (EnsAD)
Mediation: Nadjah Djadli (Orange)
Project previsualization: Christophe Pornay
Assistant: Élodie Tincq
Message moderators: Élodie Tincq, Marion Flament, Charlotte Gautier

Production: Orange
Executive Production: EnsadLab

Research and development for this work was carried out in connection with the research project Cosima (“Collaborative Situated Media”), with the support of the French National Research Agency (ANR), and participates in the development of Mobilizing.js, a programming environment for mobile screens developed by EnsadLab for artists and designers