Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Haptic Lotus at Secret Garden Party

A couple of weekends ago I took the mobile Haptic Lotus rig (and a couple of assistants) to the Secret Garden Party festival, at the request of Guerilla Science, an organisation that brings science to music festivals.

Over the course of 4 or so hours we created an interactive installation where festival goers could use the haptic device and sound effects to be guided to target cannisters containing sweets. We had about 40 people pass through the installation, many in fancy dress:

I've demo-ed the Lotus at conferences before, but a music festival, where people are just passing through while looking for a good time, or something unusual, is quite a different experience. One thing we tried was getting people to race each other in the dark. That was fun!
Here's the blurb for my Thursday evening slot (which featured in the festival program):



17:00-22:00 Blind Robot’s Bluff: Adam Spiers Navigate through darkness with the Haptic Lotus, a cybernetic instrument that manoeuvres through space with engineered grace. Use the unfolding petals to guide you to your destination, and ponder the meaning of light in the dark.

More information on the event can be found on the Question website with some extra pictures in the Guerilla Science Flickr album.

Designing in the Wild Talk

I've only just discovered this online talk by Haptic Lotus collaborator Prof. Yvonne Rogers, despite it being given at Stanford University in February 2011. The talk discusses interface design in unstructured settings, as opposed to typical laboratory settings.

"Abstract: (February 25, 2011) Yvonne Rogers discusses how "designing in the wild" is causing a new rise in discoveries and a new direction in computer science. She illustrates how these discoveries can be achieved along without the tensions and challenges that can arise when giving up control."

Yvonne's description of The Question (which featured the Haptic Lotus) is presented at around 42:00


Much of my past and current research has been based on concepts that originated at Stanford, so it is nice to know that my own work is making its way back there in some form.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Fractal Gallery

Nothing makes me feel more productive than creating an experiment / process that can run in the background while I do other stuff. TBH, I usually end up spending so long tuining the background process to work perfectly that I lose any time that I might of gained. Or otherwise I just watch the background process and lose the point of the whole thing.

That aside, I've been leaving my fractal code running in the background while writing emails etc. and this has led to some nice images. Rather than creating a new post for each of these, I've started a static Fractal Gallery page, where I'm going to be adding new images as necessary (either when finding cool stuff, or developing the code / maths further).

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Initial Mandlebrot renderings

I recently picked up a copy of the excellent book 'The Beauty of Fractals' for just 20p from a library sale, inspired I've had another go at rendering a fractal function. This time the classic mandlebrot set.

Here's a small portion near the upper complex limit, this rendered slowly in Matlab while I went for lunch:

I grabbed the basic psuedo code from Wikipedia, though I noticed some bugs in this during implementation. I've updated the Wikipedia code to get rid of these. The wiki code doesn't shade inside the set (the green parts), but this is just related to the magnitude of the real + complex co-ordinates squared.

If people want the Matlab code then leave a comment and I'll post it.

PhD finished - delayed post

This is a very delayed post but I've now graduated from my PhD. The Viva was actually on 27th May and I graduated (pic below) on 18th July. This means that I'm now officially a doctor of robotics. My R2D2 obsessed, childhood self would be proud :-)

My examiners were Prof. David Stoten (University of Bristol) and Prof. Giorgio Metta (University of Genoa), the viva lasted under 2 hours and I passed with minor corrections.

No, I didn't wear the box for the ceremony...