Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sparkle…

I’ve been really excited over the last week about a tesselatable, arduino-like, prototype project that Peter Knight and I are working on. It’s come about from brainstorming an idea that I’ve been mulling for a bit around possibilities for developing electronic wearables. Peter and I had been wanting to produce something interesting to show at the upcoming Maker Faire, Newcastle 2010 and I pondered how we could join up some arduino-like PCB modules to make snap and play patchwork wearables such as jackets, bracelets, bags, earrings, belts, badges and more – it turned out that Peter had some fab complimentary ideas on how we could take this forward and ‘Sparkle’ started to come to life in our heads and notebooks.

Coincidentally, we happened to be at the Open Hardware event at NESTA last Friday and surrounded by fabulously talented friends/colleagues from the hardware hacking community and soon found helpful advice and enthusiasm from friends such as Aaron Nielsen of Oomlout, SCTV and OmerK.

We’re investigating the development of modules that are easily customisable ie you can paint them, program them and work with various components such as LEDs, sensors and buzzers, that they can join up in various ways, they arrive as objects of rather beautiful design, feel totally lovely to wear, plus are amazingly fun to play and experiment with.

This idea also particularly excites me, as for a year or so now I’ve been really keen to find ways of bringing the notion of electronics and programming tinkering an easier, cheap(ish) and more appealing experience for kids at school and also for mainstream hobbyists – ie taking some of the fear barrier out of playing ‘n’ enjoying technology and maybe making it a useful learning experience along the way.

For now we have a fab potential PCB layout that Peter has made in Inkscape, above and a ton of gorgeous ideas – we’ve got a bit of a way to go yet, but will keep you informed of developments as they grow!

* the Lilypad arduino and other objects in the image above ^^^ are there to indicate scale!

OSSAT – Open Source Show And Tell

Last week I gave a talk on ‘10 Open Source / Homebrew play things for handhelds in 10 minutes’ at OSSAT, a periodic event run by Osmosoft and TheTeam on their offices near London Bridge, so I thought I’d stick a link up to my slides as if you have a DS or GP2x / GP32 you might like to have a play with some of the games / play things I’ve included.

Michael Mahemoff has done a rather nice write up of all the talks on his blog.

Here’s a full list of comrades who gave talks:

* Iain Farrell, Canonical – Ubuntu Update
* Julien Fourgeaud, Symbian – Managing the Symbian community
* Jeremy Ruston, Osmosoft – HTML5 and the slow death of Flash
* Leisa Reichelt, Disambiguity.com – Drupal 7 Update
* Phil Hawksworth, The Team – Playing with each others toys: Developing with open technologies
* Robbie Clutton, BT – iPhone development using web technologies

As a bonus, Andrew Back brought along his rather cool ‘No Numbers’ piece that was recently exhitbited at the Horse Hospital

My notes were not as nicely formed as PSD’s below:

A very informative and jolly good night all round – I recommend going to the next one!

Musion MAMAs

On the 15th November I attended the Musion MAMAs, an award ceremony, recognising creative use of Musion 3D technology (which is based on Pepper’s Ghost tech), at the Old Cinema of the Polytechnic Institute at University of Westminster. It was thought to be the first award ceremony in holographic projection art practice and many of the shortlisted entries were from students of the Musion Academy, a not for profit initiative of over 250 artists in various specialisations who have combined the 3D technology with their work.

I was asked by the lovely Oli Gingrich, who organized the event, to give a quick introduction in holographic form to ‘open source’ before the nominations for the Open Source Distance Learning category were shown. The intro was actually filmed the week before the event at the Musion studio in Langham Place. I’m used to having slides for prompts, but as I wasn’t using slides I kept forgetting what I’d written in my notes – which was a bit embarrassing, especially as there was a ton of people watching me. I wonder if it’s possible to buy a portable autocue? Anyways, that’s me above in holographic form – it’s very odd to watch yourself on stage!

At the event, the awards comprised of winners in five categories: Music, Performance, Open Source Distance Learning Endangered Species and Narrative Shorts – with an overall grand prize winner voted by both the judging panel and the public using an electronic voting system. The grand prize was a free loan of a full on Musion System, support and technical advice for a year.

The award winner for the section that my talk introduced was a rather stunning example of convergence art; bringing together the artist’s performance and use of a Nintendo Wii controller or WiiMote to control various imagery appearing in a simultaneous 3D projection. The finalists were Ventoline Benton, Carl Smith and Tracey Tsang.

The Grand Award went to Stuart Warren-Hill for a very cool music performance with a very unusual instrument called an Eigenharp that also triggered the 3D projection enhancing the performance.

With the combined mix of a cheeky pair who presented the awards in their live human state and 3D guest presenters introducing award categories it was a very slick and enjoyable ceremony. It was great to see all the varied work of the nominees, which spanned from the quick and clever, to complex and awesome.

I can certainly see how it could be a cool medium for artists and performers to experiment with and use in their work. I’m certainly inspired to ponder how I could use this for time based / installation based artwork and / or combined with tech I use such as Processing / arduino.