Tuesday, 23 November 2010

immaterials: making rfid beautiful

I stumbled across a very interesting video about a clever idea from Timo Arnall and Jack Schulze - people worth watching if you are interested in novel and thoughtful design. I was following a link recommended to me by Sam Kinsley about the Making Future Magic project from Berg London, using ipads to create light animations. That work is well worth a look too.
But this video that I want to point people at, Immaterials: the ghost in the field, is all about "exploring the spatial qualities of RFID, visualised through an RFID probe, long exposure photography and animation" Basically that means they used a little LED light attached to an rfid tag and held it near an rfid reader to see when the tag and reader talked to each other, thus mapping out the edges of the range of the rfid. The video has a very clear explanation of why this is important for designers using rfid, and is intriguing enough to watch even if you aren't using rfid in your own work.
They are visualising the shape of the readable volume of different rfid tag readers - you can't see this footprint of rfid any other way, which can be a problem if you are a designer who needs to know where and at what angle to embed tags in relation to readers. Making a visual representation makes it easier for the designers to know where to place the components. And even if you aren't that bothered by any of that it's still worth watching.

Monday, 1 November 2010

trip to concordia

As is often the way I have a backlog of things that I want to write about that seem to have happened quite a long time ago tho really it's been only a few weeks.
I had a very interesting trip to Montreal, only my second visit to Canada and very different from my experience of Vancouver.
I was invited to visit the Oral History Research Centre at Concordia University, who were interested in work i have done in the past on locating oral histories using mscape. It was very flattering to be asked, and even more exciting to be paid to go. I cheekily asked if Dr Clodagh Miskelly could come with me too, as we worked together on the community based projects that seemed most relevant to talk about this time. So I had the benefit of catching up with Clodagh as well as getting the chance to meet some great people running some really interesting projects. Should have guessed that from their slogan "the stories people tell matter."
Special mention to Steve HIgh, Stacey Zembrzycki, Jessica Mills and Laurel Hart - who did a brilliant job of pointing us at interesting places to go and wander, and the best places to eat.

Apart from some interesting discussions on oral history, digital storytelling, locative media and so on, we gave a public talk and ran two workshops for people currently working on community based oral history projects with them. I hope we gave them an interesting introduction to some of the possibilities, perils and pitfalls of working with gps and pervasive media projects.

It was also good to revisit past work and realise that it was still interesting, and to try and map the spin offs in terms of people who got into mscape type projects through their involvement with the Southville CLASS group project on Wartime Childhoods.

Unrelated highlights of the trip were....

.....the best soya cappucino I have ever tasted, at café Myriade just over the road from Concordia university on rue Mackay

.....stumbling across Aux Vivres with Clodagh, an amazing vegan restaurant, a lucky break on my first night in a wet and windy Montreal, that we had to visit on our last day as we hadn't had space to eat their gateau fauxmage - the most fab cheesecake I have had in a while, even tho (or possibly because) it contained no cheese, milk, cream or butter. More of that in another post.

.....finding the co-operative book store on bishop street and enjoying the tshirt slogans, buying presents for family.

.....strawberry daiquiris at Mesa14. I've never had one before, well, not that I remember, so can't compare them but these were great - a very good way of taking the taste away of the worst meal I have had in years at some overpriced downtown jazz club in the touristy area.