IR-top-5: Favorite Beers

October 18th, 2013 by Adam Doucette


For this month’s installment of our IR-top-5, we have decided to switch our staff’s focus away from wizardry of design and development for which we are known for and hear input on another common topic of discussion around here… beer. Seeing how it is Octoberfest combined with the fact that many of the Infrared5 team see themselves as beer connoisseurs we figured this topic is appropriate. So with that, here is the IR-top-5 for favorite beers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bus Rule

August 13th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

“What happens if you get hit by a bus?”

This question, though macabre, is something of an inside joke between office workers. Ask almost anyone who has worked in an office about “The Bus Rule”, and they will laugh knowingly. “The Bus Rule” can be explained as being short-phrase for ensuring someone else at your work understands your responsibilities and, in the unlikely case that you were to get hit by a bus, this person would be able to handle those responsibilities in your place. Although this morbid and dark analogy is not the most pleasant image to think about, ensuring your work can be continued in your absence (hopefully under less dramatic circumstances) is important to consider.

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From Paper to Pixels – An Interview With Infrared5 Art Director Aaron Artessa

July 17th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

Aaron Artessa is our Art Director here at Infrared5 and has taken on the task of working with one of the artists participating in the From Paper to Pixels showcase happening in Jamaica Plain this Fall (see past blog post with more about the event here). Aaron has been paired with traditional Artist Aaron North to bring his characters to life. I recently sat down with our Art Director to learn a little more about the project.

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“From Paper to Pixels” – Interview with Artist Aaron North

June 25th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

As we near the date of ‘From Paper to Pixels’, we will be profiling some of the artists involved. This week we are featuring Aaron North.

Aaron North’s creatures exist in a realm completely of his own. Recognizable animals bend and shift into humans and back into animals. North places these figures in surrealist environments in which the figures appear to suggest symbiotic relationships. Often the creatures are interacting with objects such as chairs and dressers that suggest a relationship to domesticity, leading the viewer to question just what the nature of these creatures could be and to think twice about what could be dwelling in the shadows of our own homes.

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“From Paper To Pixels” – An Interview With Rebecca Smith Allen

June 10th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

Artists and developers are two groups of people who see the world through a unique lense. Both parties are constantly looking for new methods to showcase their work and connect with their audiences. Infrared5’s CEO and Creative Director Rebecca Smith Allen saw an exciting opportunity to facilitate collaboration between these two groups, pairing visual artists with developers and allowing them to create new media projects together. I interviewed Rebecca to ask a few questions about how this show came to be. Keep an eye on our blog for more information on this exciting venture!

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2013 Women to Watch : Rebecca Smith Allen

May 7th, 2013 by Rosie

We are so proud that Rebecca Smith Allen, CEO and Creative Director of Infrared5, has been selected as one of Mass High Tech’s 2013 Women to Watch. The Boston Business Journal has featured an interview with Rebecca, who reflects on her entrepreneurial roots and her proudest accomplishments thus far. ““On a day-to-day level, what we’ve created here (at Infrared5) is a proud accomplishment,” she said. “Pulling together a group of talented developers and a creative team is something I’m very proud of.”

Check out this great interview to hear more of what Rebecca has to say!


May 2nd, 2013 by admin

Infrared5 is excited to announce our new location, on Amory Street in Jamaica Plain! Our new space, located near the up-and-coming Bartlett Square, features tons of natural light, a gorgeous conference room, and a separate room for scrums. The move is bittersweet – our 2 Harris Ave location has been our home since 2007 and has served us well as our company grew. Its hard to believe that we started out as just one tiny portion of that space, expanding until we occupied the entire building. Our Amory Street space promises to serve us as we enter into this next chapter and will only further foster the dynamic, exciting workplace that we know and love.

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Mass High Tech’s 2013 Women to Watch

April 17th, 2013 by admin

More than ever, women are leading the way in the latest advancements in technology and life sciences. We are extremely proud to announce that our very own Rebecca Smith Allen has been featured as one of Mass High Tech’s 2013 Women to Watch. This list honors women in tech and life sciences who are at the forefront of their field, and shaping the future of these developing industries. Rebecca is in good company, sharing the list with women such as Susan Bornstein of Pfizer and MaryAlice Brady of MosaicHub. We would like to thank Mass High Tech and congratulate all of the inspiring women who made the list.

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IR5 Interactive Piece

March 5th, 2013 by Keith Peters

Introduction by Rebecca Allen:

We are creating a new website that will be launching at the end of March. Working on our own site is always an exciting process and one that is challenging as well. Our goal was to do the following with the new site:

1. Make it memorable!
2. Create a unique and fun interactive experience that captures our brand.
3. Display quickly and beautifully no matter what size device.
4. Communicate our mission and what we do clearly.

Today, we are going to give a sneak peak into #2. Keith Peters will walk you through the steps he took to create this interactive experience. Keith, take it from here!


As part of Infrared5’s new web site design, I was asked to create an interactive piece for the main page. The mock ups called for the design that has been our trademark since day one – an abstract space made of random isometric planes and lines. This is the design that is on our letterhead, business cards, and previous versions of our site.
I was given free range to come up with something interactive based on that design. One idea floated was to have the planes connect  with the lines and rotate around in the space. I decided to go with this concept. I realized that the idea was a bit odd once I got down to coding it. I mean, isometry itself is a form of 3D projection, and we also wanted to move the planes around in a 3D space with actual perspective. It could become quite a mess if done wrong. Specifically, in an isometric system the angles do not change and objects do not change size with distance. But I forged ahead anyway to see what could be done that might look decent.
The first thing I did was just get a 3D system of rotating particles. This was something I’d done and written about before, so was relatively straightforward. As you click and drag the mouse vertically the particles rotate around the x-axis, changing their y and z coordinates. When you drag on horizontally they rotate around the y-axis, changing on x and z.

Next step was to change the particles into isometric planes. I started out with true isometric projection, meaning the angles representing each axis are each 120 degrees apart. I soon switched over to dimetric projection, which has two angles at approximately 116 degrees and the third at about 127.

This has several advantages. First, it’s easier to calculate sizes of objects as the x-axis is simply twice the size of the y-axis. This also results in smoother lines with less antialiasing.

There are three different shapes I needed to draw: a panel facing left, one facing right, and a floor/ceiling panel.

As these would be animating, I didn’t want to have to redraw them on each frame using the canvas drawing API. So I made a panel object that creates a small canvas and draws a single panel to it with a random width and height. The program can then blit each one of these mini panel canvases to the main canvas on each frame. Each panel also got its own random gray shade and the result was something like this:

Now as I said earlier, when you move things around in a 3d space, they are supposed to grow larger or smaller depending on the distance from the camera. But in isometric/dimetric projection this is not the case. So we’re really mixing two forms of perspective. Having the panels scale as they went into the distance didn’t look right at all. Having them remain unchanged wasn’t exactly correct either but gave an odd trippy feel to the piece that I actually like a lot. So that’s how I left it. Also, to mix things up a bit, I made some of the panels fixed in space and not rotating. This comes up to about one in ten of the panels being stationary.

Next was the lines. When creating the panels, I made it so that some – but not all – of the panels connect to one other panel with a line. About 40 percent of the time a connection is made. This seemed to give the right density of lines on screen. Here’s what that looked like initially:

Pretty ugly because the lines go directly from one corner of a panel to one corner of another, breaking the isometric/dimetric space. They just look random and chaotic. To solve that I forced the lines to follow the same dimetric angles as the planes. This looked a million times better.

In order to add a bit more interaction, I added a few functions to allow users to add and remove planes and to assign various color schemes to the planes (or return to grayscale). For the colors, rather than just use a random color for each plane, which would be a bit chaotic, I found an HSV to RGB algorithm. Taking an initial hue, I generate a different color for each panel by randomly varying its hue and saturation. This gives a more cohesive look no matter what hue is chosen.

The way the colors work is by redrawing each of the individual panel canvases with the same parameters, but the newly chosen color. Again, this makes it so it only has to happen a single time and the panels can then be blitted to the main canvas on each frame.

All in all, this was a fun project that I’m glad I had the chance to work on.


The Wicked Ten

February 27th, 2013 by Rebecca Allen

At Infrared5 we’re passionate about the work we do. At a recent Friday Tech Talk, we had an open discussion on what kind of work gets us fired up, and what projects we would like to take on in the future. The goal was to come up with criteria by which to identify the most compelling projects, and thus the ‘”Wicked 10″ was born. 

Energy was high and ideas were plentiful. We accumulated pages and pages of ideas that reflected specific project ideas and general ideologies from our entire team. Since then, we have whittled down our initial brainstorm to our top picks.


The “Wicked 10″

1. Pushing Technology Boundaries / Challenging / Problem Solving
2. Creating Open Source Tools and Projects (sharing our knowledge with the community)
3. Physical Computing (Perceptual Computing) / Integrating with New Hardware
4. Unique UX Experiences
5. Data Visualization / Interactive Timeline
6. Reasonable Timeline / Good Budget – Never hurts to feed the team once in a while…
7. Social Impact / Social Outreach (hack-a-thons, game jams)
8. Installation (Museum Exhibits), Interactive Displays
9. Creative Freedom / Controlling Campaigns Start to Finish
10. Second Screen Experiences (like Brass Monkey)

and this might go without saying… they should be Fun + Exploratory!!!

 Let us know what you think. What would make a project exciting for you and your team? What relegates a project to the world of “ho hum”?

And this definitely goes without saying, but if you have any “Wicked” projects that you would like us to dig into, let us know!

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