NewsThings combines news, information, ambient design approaches and the Internet of Things (IoT) to explore how people engage and interact with co-designed connected objects.
Partners include the Media Innovation Studio, Trinity Mirror Regionals and Thomas Buchanan creative agency. The project places users at the centre of the innovation process and creates physical-digital prototypes that convey news and editorial content, which will be placed in people’s homes or public spaces.
NewsThings also examines IoT infrastructure and examines how IoT-driven data could benefit news publishers, how new content management systems can power connected objects and the commercial opportunities that NewsThings create.
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston is about to open a MakerSpace. Developed in partnership with the Media Innovation Studio and Design Research North at UCLan. The Harris MakerSpace marks the beginning of a new phase in the evolution of one of Preston’s most significant cultural institutions as plans for its ‘reimagining’ emerge.
Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works, that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. The Harris MakerSpace is no different.
This project runs in tandem with EKKO and Rare Occurrence, both of which explore how physical items can exist within the three-dimensional digital ecosystem of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Interface is the digital platform that connects IoT objects, acting both as a content management system and analytics suite for connected objects. Developed in collaboration with product development studio Thomas Buchanan and supported by Adrian Gradinar of TransparentBug, Interface enables physical devices and seeks to understand user interactions via a range of datasets and visualisations.
It allows users to update conductive ink media, such as audio files that activate via a user touching the relevant part of a printed design, or for newsrooms to update this subject remotely.
It also provides a tool for integrating future IoT work and research from within the Media Innovation Studio, and we’re hoping to deploy Interface in new ways over the course of 2016 and beyond.
Our research adopts a content and design approach that is a counterpoint to the always-on, constantly-connected reality of news and information in the digital age. In designing news media IoT objects, our prototypes explore our relationships with internet-connected objects that may not deliver media content upon each and every interaction. Informed by our previous research and industry work, our approach explores internet-connected objects that are built upon technology that is inconspicuous, unobtrusive and ambient. For Rare Occurrence it was fundamental that objects weren’t ‘shouting’ for user attention, and this required a design approach that understood user behaviour and routine, and establishing how a new type of object would fit with this.
The family of Rare Occurrence has begun to answer these questions. They explore simple yet unfamiliar interactions that require little learning but provoke new reactions and emotions from the user. The object aesthetic is simple, as is the animation and behaviour of the anthropomorphic character.
Running side-by-side with the interface development, we also explore how content can be adapted. This approach focusses on two distinct areas: offer control for navigating content to users (and thus subverting the more traditional ‘push’ of traditional media). One approach is to invert this push, to pull, and allow IoT devices to transmit media that is only focussed and relevant to the user. Based on predefined criteria that allow the object to function in the ‘background’, its only interaction is to activate content. An alternative approach is to deconstruct news and information to raw component parts, and use objects to convey a meaning or message. For example, an object’s interactivity (via a movement or other signifier) would not have meaning unless a user was aware of the object’s role, purpose and functionality.
Homing, a new interactive sound art work created by artists Jen Southern and Sam Thulin with the Media Innovation Studio at University of Central Lancashire. Based on the original letters of soldiers from the trenches of WW1, Homing uses sound to make connections at a distance; between presence and absence, people and place, displacement and home.
At the Roll of Honour, a sound composition from the cemeteries at the Somme can be heard, with all the sensory qualities of the local conditions; wind, rain, whistling, stonework. Out on the Flag Market, these sounds give way to fragments of stories from the men in the trenches.
Approaching the Cenotaph, the soldiers’ words are disrupted by ever intensifying GPS interference. This distant, targeting technology of modern day warfare, creates a sonic fog through which individual voices can no longer be heard, reflecting the difficulty of communication through the constant battle between signal and noise.
Homing is a special commission by In Certain Places and Preston Remembers, developed with the support of the Lancashire Infantry Museum, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and the Centre for Mobilities Research at the University of Lancaster.
Research and Project Innovation & Development
RAPID is series of research ‘sprints’ conducted over relatively short periods (3-6 months). These sprints will typically comprise two academics (one subject expert and one Creative Technologist/Research Associate) and one external partner (for example a community, business or NGO).
RAPID will provide financial, human and technological resources to enable these partners to work together on user-driven real-world problems.
HStRI is the hub for UCLan’s outward-facing and collaborative heritage work. It provides an organising principle for the wide variety of heritage-oriented activities happening at UCLan, so that external organisations and groups of all kinds can engage with the university, access expertise and find academic partners easily. It also helps staff find and work with external partners, whether in the heritage sector, in businesses, charities or the public sector, or with communities and community-based groups. Students are invaluable contributors to this enterprise, andHStRI will enable UCLan staff and partners to access placements and student skills to help their collaborative projects flourish.HStRI aims to build sustainable, mutually-beneficial relationships that allow people’s pasts to be captured, explored and shared in creative, engaging and useful ways.
HStRI is an innovative initiative of the University of Central Lancashire. It is run by the Project Director Dr Alix Green but connects into expertise across the university – in particular the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Media Innovation Studio.
You can contactHStRI here:
Alix Green was previously Deputy Chair of the University of Hertfordshire’s pioneering Heritage Hub: http://www.herts.ac.uk/heritage-hub
While at UH, she co-founded the initiative Heritage4Business with Prof Jonathan Morris.
Together they worked with a number of companies, including two film projects:
Mulmar Food Service Solutions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxMKRD_FJGg
John Lewis: http://www.magicbeansmedia.tv/projects/university-of-hertfordshire-john-lewis/
Slack is a team collaboration tool that offers searchable messages and files via a chat-like interface.
Over the last year, Slack established itself within the team collaboration platform market. The Media Innovation Studio is one of 1.7 million active daily users that use Slack to communicate directly, publically or privately. Alongside its ability to allow users to chat and share files, it integrates with other third party applications and industry platforms like Skype and Dropbox. Over the last six months, we’ve adopted Slack for internal and external communication on a number of levels: we have posted 17,000 messages, shared 511 files and built three integrations. What makes Slack different is its ability to allow third party developers access to its platform via its Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
With a growing interdisciplinary team we found that a management technique through weekly debriefs in a “That Was, The Week, That Was!” email was born out of a need to communicate the practices, successes and to share in failures and lessons learned across a dynamic and motivated team of researchers. The aim of the weekly summary was in part to ensure everybody knew and understood what everyone else was doing, just so they could work out whether there were potential synergies and crossovers with their own work. We have now adopted this through Slack, each project has its own channel, and each channel has its own set of members. Messages are posted to keep everyone informed of the goings on within the project. If something should be included in the weekly TWTWTW round up, users must tag their content with a specific identifier [twtwtw].
Alongside this, we have utilised Slack’s communication protocol in a number of (very important) ways; the first being for Halloween (trick or treat) where if someone mentioned halloween in their posts, a bespoke piece of hardware connected to the gumball machine and the Internet (refer to littleBits) would decide if that user deserved a trick or a treat. In turn, the machine would flash a skull for a trick or turn the sweets out and reward the user. We have also used Slack as a way of automatically sending auto generated private messages in the pairing up of members in the team for secret santa, using slackbot to notify that user who their recipient should be.
Over the next year, we plan to use Slack further, decreasing the number of emails we send and plan to build more applications that run on Slack’s platform, followed up by further research in the area of online collaboration and blended learning.
As we experiment with different technologies and platforms, we have noticed a gap in the market for a physical platform to enable children to combine and explore digital creativity, design and technology. That’s why we love littlebits. With its block-based nature somewhat similar to LEGO, littleBits is a ‘snap together’ platform of electronic building blocks. It’s the perfect platform to engage engineers, artists and designers. Alongside their extensive library of electronic blocks, littleBits provide recipes to introduce make culture and their open source approach means that creators can develop their own ‘bits’.
The lightweight nature of the bits means it is easy combine them with cardboard, plastic and paper to hack together prototypes so kids can then start to understand about the objects around them from how a lamp works to how a house alarm systems work.
Since getting our hands on the kits and becoming part of the littleBits chapter worldwide programme, we have hosted a number of workshops providing a hands-on experience to children and University students. We also practice what we preach, experimenting with littlebits in the studio. Our first project was to monitor the number of coffees we drink, we use the littleBits platform to count this which pushes the data to the cloud and becomes part of the ‘Studio Data’ dashboard on the Media Innovation Studio’s homepage. The other project combines collaboration platform Slack with littlebits in creating a “trick or treat machine”. When a message is sent over Slack, the littleBits cloud pushes an action to the project which turns a motor inside a gumball machine and turns the cog for sweets to be dispensed. Over the next year, we plan to run more workshops, research the findings and continue to develop with littleBits in playful and productive ways.
aeroSee was introduced in an alpha trial within a test environment. The trial was conducted to test the use of the drone and its functionality to capture images and research into building communities. A points-based-leaderboard interface was developed as a way to encourage participants to textually tag photos, but did not provide an increase in performance or quality, similar to findings of other research in this field. Since then, a complete redesign saw the removal of points, rewards and leaderboards and in replaced by the focus on the interaction, playful aspects, story and communities. With this approach in mind, encouraging participation through gameful interfaces based on existing and on-going research in this field the authors drew upon inspiration from commercially available apps such as Tinder and Facebook coupled with related research from within game studies. Tinder, was used in inspiring the main interface and interaction of the platform but not entirely. The swiping motion was adopted to traverse large amounts of photos in a relatively short space of time, with the same rules-based pattern of not allowing a user to go back. However, aeroSee differs in the sense of its two types of interactions: 1) speedy, where a user will continuously tag the photo, moving onto the next to get through the deck quickly; 2) accuracy, where a user will be more accurate in the detail of the photo; zooming, panning and revealing meta data. Even with framing the narrative behind a real world purpose (search and rescue), it is important different user styles of participation were met. Similar to games whereby a player can select their mode of difficulty, aeroSee has been designed to allow users who want to volunteer small amounts of time to traverse the photos in one of the two ways. This paper has concentrated on one feature of the aeroSee platform. Further research into building communities, game design, civic engagement and socialness is required. Which raises questions such as “the ethics of an audience viewing content that could be considered disturbing” and how we might mitigate against this, knowing we have no control over the drone generated content and what it might reveal.
The Media Innovation Studio is launching The Researchers’ Exchange aimed at helping researchers, professors and colleagues from across the College of Culture and the Creative Industries to hear a little more about what we are all doing and to network. It will be a chance to meet old colleagues and get to know new ones with plenty of opportunity to connect with people who might be able to help you develop your research and a chance for you to use your skills and abilities to develop a few new ideas with others too.
Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served between 9:30-11:00. You are warmly welcome to join us on all or any of the dates that follow.
There’s no formal agenda, no facilitation or ‘processing’. The plan is to collectively develop Research Exchange in a way that reflects what it needs to be for the College.
We are a research project that explores ways that data can found, created and shared to help communities tell better stories about themselves.
We live in a world where data is driving decisions that have a direct impact on local communities. But does that data really tell the story of what a community means or what it needs? Do we really know what a local community is like, what their needs are by simply looking at the data? Is the data local enough?
We believe that putting data under the control of a community is vital to them being part of the decision making process.
DroneHack is a series of maker events from the Civic Drone Centre – a joint project between UCLan’s Media Innovation and Engineering Innovation Centre. We’re looking to bring together the brightest and best people to design, build, and fly drone applications that’ll make a difference in the real world from saving the lives of hundreds of people to delivering parcels within minutes of ordering them. Working across a series of challenges from the humanitarian, search and rescue, and media sectors, amongst others our hacks will bring together people from a range of disciplines and expertise to collaborate, create and fly the next generation of civic drones.
Each DroneHack is centred on a theme (e.g. humanitarian, transportation, environment) which provides the teams with a goal to aim for. With a limited amount of time, but all the kit provided, the teams have to design, build and test their drone and its application – all aiming to win the prestigious Golden Drone trophy.
The Civic Drone Centre works is a collaboration between the Media Innovation Studio and the Engineering Innovation Centre, working companies, individuals, and organisations that are using, or planning to use, remotely operated vehicles across a wide range of civilian scenarios.
Our remit is to:
The Civic Drone Centre’s current focus spreads across three separate strands, and examines the potential uses and drone engineering and software development in search and rescue scenarios, journalism and media, and humanitarian work. These strands allow us to explore both the societal issues (e.g. laws, regulations, ethics) and the technical problems (e.g. autonomous flight, sensors) and transfer new knowledge generated into other civilian uses, such as infrastructure inspection and postal delivery.
The Media Innovation Studio has teamed up with J-Lab in Utrecht, Ouest Media Lab, Nantes and Nesta to explore the revenue models of hyperlocals in the UK and Europe. To date, there hasn’t be a comprehensive investigation on the current and emerging revenue streams available to hyperlocal publishers, especially with the continued convergence of content and digital technology. Therefore, we are setting out to examine a broad range of examples, from across Europe and the UK, in order to inform hyperlocal publishers as to what’s available to them so they can develop a more sustainable and resilient service.
We will undertake an analysis of current and emerging revenue streams and the digital technologies facilitating these. We will also carry out approximately 30 case studies with hyperlocal publishers from across France, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium, as these are territories with a similar hyperlocal media landscape in regards to growth, challenges and innovation. Although there are a number of examples and various research re. revenue streams and hyperlocal business models from other territories such as the United States, the landscape there is somewhat different and less fragmented. Furthermore, with Europe’s shift towards a more cohesive Digital Single Market, we will provide greater value to the wider UK and European hyperlocal media sector by surfacing good practice from close by.
The main audience for this research will be hyperlocal practitioners in the UK and in Europe, for them to use the learnings and guidance to increase their ability to provide news and information to their local communities for the long-term. We will also be providing evidence and recommendations to wider industry and policy makers in the UK and Europe in order for them to better support hyperlocal media, in regards to aspects such as the Digital Single Market, tax regulation especially in regards to organisational structure, and regulation of other areas of the digital and media sectors
Harnessing conductive inks, ‘affordable hardware’ and the web connectivity, this collaborative project from the UK explores how physical print could offer a range of novel digital interactions. By connecting our ‘EKKO’ clip to a range of paper prototypes, each designed with a conductive ink matrix, print is transformed into digitally connected interfaces. Users can access audio material, vote or control a web-based game via the print via an accompanying app. Publishers also can manage the content, and generate analytic data from users, via the accompanying content management system – Interface.
Developed by the Media Innovation Studio in collaboration with creative agencies Uniform and Thomas Buchanan, the project has also teamed up with industry content partners spanning newspapers, magazines and book publishers to create a range of editorial experiences that re-imagine paper as a web-connected, and updatable platform.
Our ‘Super 8’ prototype explores how a local newspaper – the Liverpool Echo – could offer audio and updatable content. Produced for footballer Steven Gerrard’s final game for Liverpool, each football icon activates an audio report a special and important goal throughout his career. The MLS button offers something different. Taking advantage of ‘Interface’, and its ability to send content to a paper already printed and distributed, this button allows a newsroom to send updated editorial for users to consume and enjoy long after the publication date. In this case, for MLS updates over the course of the next season.
‘Stuff’ magazine utilises EKKO’s properties to create a games controller. Once the clip is connected, it allows readers to access a simple online game that can be played by tapping the front cover of the magazine.
We’re excited about the concept of paper being re-imagined as an emergent digital platform, and where this research can lead. In the coming year we hope to explore a range of user-scenarios beyond spanning transport, healthcare and the music industry.
The broadcasting and discovery of relevant information is one of the pressing concerns of the 21st Century. We know there is an increasing take up of mobile devices, in which consumers are increasingly demanding access to and engagement with new forms of media ‘anytime anywhere’. However, a number of challenges stand in the way of a truly ubiquitous access and retrieval of content. Research to date shows that findability and sustainability persist as two key challenges for the free flow of information in restricted environments. This is particularly true in countries with large areas that remain remote. A step change is needed to meet the needs of millions of communities worldwide.This project researches the impact of hyperlocal proximity broadcasting on communities using WiCastr devices.
This pilot is designed to overcome a central problem: providing relevant information in remote locations where connectivity is either non existent, problematic, costly and simply not reliable, and where media is, or may be controlled with biased agendas. People want to read their local blogger but find he is drowned out by the hectic and noisy online Google search-driven place of the Internet. They are at the local post office and want to know about the church service times, or when the post office is open but have no mobile data coverage. They are at a protest or concert and want to interact with all the other people at the event, without having to use Facebook or the Internet which may be otherwise controlled or restricted. Others might need valuable business or medical services but can’t access the Internet because the network has been damaged or shut down.
deliver innovative hardware devices in hard to reach places
– test the ability to act as a digital ‘word of mouth’ service amplifying local content providers (such as bloggers, youth groups, charities) in their local communities by making content available for free
– connect people in new ways without the need for the Internet, applications, data plans or beacons and explore how to reduce the reliance on the gatekeepers of the Internet, such as Google and Facebook through new digital content ecosystems
– create new knowledge about real world data capture and analysis
– create valuable field knowledge about the Internet of Everything through a hyperlocal cloud platform providing Fog connectivity anywhere and anywhere we want.
The studio team are committed to employing a variety of new and collaborative approaches to research. We pride ourselves on engaging the widest range of practitioners, professionals and international specialists as possible for the richest outcomes. One such event was the Media Lab Session https://readymag.com/u61590527/32443/ funded by Nemode which explored how to use open innovation for research by creating a media startup in 24 hours.
Working with Fieldcraft Studios, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Kingston University, this short project explored how wearable technologies can be used to create stories as well as consume them.
In April 2015, Sir Ranulph Fiennes tackled the Marathon de Sables. With temperatures reaching up to 50˚C, Saharan sand dunes, limited water and nutrition and 1,360 competitors, the marathon is the toughest foot race in the world.
This project explored how biometric data, gathered through commercially available wearable sports equipment – such as the Garmin 920XT – could offer fresh insights into Sir Ranulph’s experiences over the 6-day race. The dashboard visualises a range of data sets spanning geo-location, heart rate, fluid consumption and calories burnt, alongside multimedia content collected and produced by Fieldcraft Studios, who are in the Sahara with Sir Ranulph Fiennes. This all sits alongside expert analysis from Kingston University sports scientists Chris Howe and Dr Hannah Moir who offered expert insights into the data.
Our dashboard also featured on the websites of the Telegraph and Sir Ranulph’s charity, Marie Curie.