Archive for April 2013

Healthcare videos running on standard mobiles

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Many people have asked us about how to run the videos we’ve demonstrated in the OppiaMobile app on standard mobile phones (not Android smartphones), so this afternoon I had a go at converting the Basic Skills video from Global Health Media Project to run on my old Nokia 6230i (I’m not sure exactly how old this phone is as I got it second hand over 6 years ago). The original low-res version I downloaded from the GHMP website was 33Mb, which is too large to fit on the 32Mb MMC card my phone has, but with a bit of conversion I was able to get this down to just over 5Mb and still be good enough quality to watch on the small screen. For those interested the full technical details of how I converted the videos is below. If you’d like to download the final 5Mb version you can get it here.

Here’s a video of the video running on my Nokia, I’ve also show the basic skills video running on the HTC sensation – just to give a comparison with screen sizes and video/audio quality:

There are lots of reasons why we’ve focused on using Android phones for OppiaMobile – but I’ll leave them for another posting.

The technical details for converting the videos:

For my first attempts at converting the videos I used WinFF (note that I use Ubuntu on my desktop so all the details below is specific to this OS), this converted the videos fine and they played well on my laptop, but when I copied over to my phone I wasn’t getting any sound. Turns out that my phone doesn’t support the AAC audio encoding format, but AMR encoding. To get WinFF or other video conversion tools to process the video with AMR as the audio encoding, I needed to compile ffmpeg with the opencore-amr library. Follow these instructions to do this on your machine.

I then also found this tool for converting videos: Mobile Media Convertor. My first attempts weren’t too successful, I kept getting the error message “Error while opening encoder for output stream #0:1 – maybe incorrect parameters such as bit_rate, rate, width or height” then when I finally got it to convert it still didn’t play on my mobile. Finally I got it figured out and the settings I needed to use in mobile media convertor were:

Audio Frequency: 8000
Audio channels: 1
Video Size: 176:144
Audio Codec: libopencore_amrnb

To set these, press the ‘advanced’ button after selecting the ‘Mobile phone – 3GP video’ conversion option.

Using these settings (almost 6 minute) video was down to 5.3Mb – the quality isn’t great when viewing full screen on my laptop – but it’s perfectly fine for my Nokia phone.

New OppiaMobile video

I’ve just uploaded an updated OppiaMobile preview video, showing some of the changes we’ve made over the last couple of months, especially with the updated interface design and with our platform name. I’ve also launched the OppiaMobile website, so has some extra information pages especially for course authors and for developers.

For those interested, I used an Android screen recording app to create the video – was easy to use and could record my voice at the same time (though it requires a rooted phone to work). With the previous demo videos I’ve made of apps running the mobile, it’s always been tricky to get my digital camera to focus on the screen properly and also so there aren’t reflections from the mobile screen. Although I think it looks good, I think I still prefer videos where you can see the whole phone and it being manipulated. One issue I found was that when I was demonstrating the videos running, they automatically play in landscape mode, but the rest of the video is in portrait, so I needed to cut and rotate this part of the demo. I’d be interested to hear if you think a video of the full phone (and my hands) or a screencast recording is preferable as a demo of the app.

Canyoning near Cuenca

 

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Photos from a days canyoning in Portilla near Cuenca…

Caving in Cañon del Rio Lobos

Photos from our weekend caving trip to Cañon del Rio Lobos (near Soria), visiting Sima de las Taínas, Sima MA-11 and Cueva de los Candelones I:

 

 

Finally… a name for our mobile learning app: Oppia Mobile

oppiaSince we’ve been working on our mobile learning app, we’ve not really had a good name for it, and have just been referring to it as ‘our mobile learning app’, and we really wanted to come up with a nice name for the platform. Selecting and finding a good name is pretty tough, especially  a short one that isn’t some convoluted acronym. We also didn’t want the name to be specific to a particular field (such as health), as although most of our current content is health related, we can also use the platform for other subject areas (such as the Open Education MOOC).

So… the name we have settled on is “Oppia Mobile”, for info ‘oppia’ means ‘to learn’ in Finnish, and as far as we can tell it doesn’t mean anything strange or bad in any other language – but please let us know if it does.

We’ve registered the domain http://oppia-mobile.org, but currently this just redirects to the app download page in Google Play. I’ll get a proper site set up in the coming weeks. It feels good that we now have a name we can use to refer to the platform.