Taking Aim at What's Next
At Archer, Ever Wonder isn't just a tagline: it’s baked into our culture. And Archer Labs is a big part of that. It's where we indulge our curiosity, and experiment with the tools, tech, and trends that constitute the cutting edge of digital media. Here's a look at a few of the coolest things that have emerged from our lab.
With Flash fading, we decided to create our own in-house solution for HTML5 animations. So we built Project Moda. The tool lets designers to take any SVG file and build standards compliant—not to mention gorgeous and fluid—HTML animations. Project Moda features timeline and keyframe based functionality similar to top-of-the-line animation applications like After Effects.
Let's Eat App
It happens a lot: A group of coworkers grab lunch at a great local restaurant, and someone misses the memo. The Let's Eat App takes a bite out of this problem. It allows Archers to schedule meals at Wilmington eateries, and ensures users get a notification each time a group creates an event at a haut they've favorited in the app. Let's Eat was written in Node.js and Vue.js, and is supported by a Loopback Framework.
Kinect Mixed Reality
For Kinect Mixed Reality, we wrote code that allows VR-enthusiasts to create mixed reality demos of their gaming experiences without any specialized equipment. The code eliminates the need for both a green screen and video editing capacities, and enables real time recording of mixed reality video content. In addition to the code, all a user needs to get started is Kinect — a $100 motion sensor addition for Microsoft’s Xbox. The Kinect has cameras designed to transmit 3-D information, so it can create accurate an rendering of the user's VR experience.
Wawa is always buzzing, so we created a physical representation of the social conversation around the brand. The Tweet Lamp uses Twitter's streaming API and a simple Node.js application to switch a bulb on and off each time Wawa is mentioned on the platform. Suffice it to say, we've gone through plenty of bulbs.
With so much great work happening inside our walls, it can be hard to find time to recognize Archers for their contributions. (Let's file this one under "Good Problem to Have.") So we created Archer Badges to deliver digital pats on the back for jobs well done. The app enables Archers to nominate colleagues and, once a manager approves, the nominee gets a congratulatory badge on their profile. Archer Badges was written in PHP and uses the Doctrine ORM library for database management.
Before social analytics reporting developed, we created Social Sifter to track of mentions on Facebook pages. The program allowed us to build a database of interactions and tag and graph activity over time—providing a clear picture of top influencers and topics of conversation. The application was used by our social team to inform Facebook campaign planning. Sifter was written in PHP and interfaced with Facebook API—though portions were later rewritten with Node.js to boost performance in tasks involving multiple concurrent network requests.
We turned our lobby newspaper dispenser into a digital dashboard. Supported by a Node.js server and HTML5-based client, our Lobby Newsbox displayed the weather, SEPTA status updates, traffic reports, Tweets from Archers, company messages and more.
Rebound Gen is a free CSS library that gives users access to springy website animations. We used Rebound.js from Facebook to create the library, and enabled users to easily generate new animations by specifying a few parameters to a configuration file.
"Where will the next big idea come from?"
-Le'Rhone Walker, Director of Front End Development