Posts Tagged ‘ota09’

Project Holodeck – The Video

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

And now, as promised, the final piece of my Over the Air jigsaw – the Project Holodeck presentation.

Throughout the event, as people coded little coffee cups, pretend musical bottles on iPhones and bluetooth powered orchestras, by the stage was the sound of hammering, sawing and general DIY noises with lots of wood, nails and curtain fabric. As I explained to everyone, the team (Leeky, Rachel, Joanna and myself) were building a Holodeck – but thanks to health and safety it had to be inside a Faraday Cage… hence the construction. You can read more on the construction and background on the project here.

Thanks to everyone for their advice on how to improve the holodeck projection, but also a huge thank you to Matthew Cashmore for the other health and safety bits, and Daniel Appelquist for trusting his instinct and giving us free reign to create a hack that needed a little more than 90 seconds to present it and a stage clear of everyone else.

So grab a coffee and put your feet up. This is the presentation that stunned the  #ota09 audience into seven minutes of Twitter silenceProject Holodeck!

Now at platform fun, the slightly delayed Over The Air report

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

I know it happened at the end of September, and I had a rather explosive role in the proceedings, so apologies if you’ve been waiting for something a bit more in-depth from the Over the Air… or the footage of Project Holodeck.

In the run up to the event, some of the video team behind Click and Tech-Know on the BBC started a conversation with me on getting some coverage from the event. That’s now been posted online over at the BBC News Technology section, along with some words from me on my favourite projects and the ethos behind the event.

Take as many mobile phone developers, hackers and builders that you can find; put them in The Great Hall at Imperial College; add a liberal helping of heavyweight companies talking about new tools, developer aids and techniques to program mobile phones during the day; then challenge them to come up with “something new”. Leave this to simmer as hackers work through the night and have everyone present their new programs to the rest of the conference the next day.
Read on at BBC News

I have to say I’m impressed with the video footage and what the team have done with it, but again it shows just how much work is needed to get multimedia out of an event in terms of set-up, lighting, sound, story and all the other bits and pieces they never tell beginers about! Anyway my video and the Project Holodeck presentation will be up sometime this week.

Project Holodeck, Pyrotechnics and Presentations: Over the Air 2009

Monday, September 28th, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend saw myself attend Over the Air, the two day mobile development conference with seminars, presentations and demonstrations from the leading handset manufacturers, software houses and networks; a great chance for myself to mix in person with the mobile community; and of course the hackathon – where people take an idea and build their code or project in during the event and through the night before presenting it to the audience at the end of the second day for kudos (and prizes).

Following tradition, everyone was expecting something spectacular from myself – and I was more than happy to deliver.

It all started a few weeks ago when Matthew Cashmore tweeted that Over the Air was on….

Building the Holodeck At previous events (Mashed, Hackday, Over the Air 2008, etc) I’ve always come up with the core idea of the hack, watched as it evolved through tests, ideas and experience, into the final product. This year was only different in one respect in that Matthew let me know he could supply a few practical elements – and of course the suitably pyrotechnic certificate.

Amusingly, the main practical elements discussed never actually made it to the final performance on stage!

So armed with that, about a week before the event I announced that I was going to build a Holodeck. With lasers. And things appearing. After all, a holographic display on a mobile would be really useful. I think that some people (Daniel) were suitably worried, some were eager to see the results, and some just wanted to run away from the very idea of being involved with another one of Ewan’s Mad Ideas… you still helped build the box though, Alistair!

But a team was put together, with Leeky, Rachel, Joanna and a number of the Over the Air staff (for health and safety reasons). When I joked with everyone that I had to come down a day early to sort out all the forms that was partly true – Matthew as organiser (and the person who would say “fire”) had the delights of the forms, but those on the stage when it was wired and live all had to be drilled and rehearse. That was Thursday.

And we did a number of practice drills on stage throughout the event – did you recognise what we were doing?

image Because of the nature of the hack / performance / closing number / whatever you call it, there wasn’t a huge amount of twittering and posting pictures. Partly because the presentation was one of the most complex I’ve ever done, and we only had one chance to perform it with all the props. But also to build up the idea that this really was going to be a holodeck with items appearing required some bluff and guile in the style of Derren Brown.

So thank you to all those who suggested ways to improve the laser/pixel displays in the “light plane created in the smoke” to allow us to use the interference lithography technique. You might want to investigate if you can do this as a start-up – you know who you are!

It was great to hear all the people asking “where’s the holodeck?” at the end of the presentations – the audience was primed, and of course we had to rig the stage, move the props up, and get everything ready for the show. Which just built the tension, as did the safety warnings and slow build up.

I hope you all enjoyed it. As I pointed out before the event, Tom Morris summed it up with “All rules can be broken if breaking them causes magic, laughter and awesomeness without hurting anyone.”

I hope that Project Holodeck was successful in its mission. If not, I’m sure you can send the boys round to have a word…


Once again, thank you to everyone involved, from Matthew, Daniel and the over the Air staff, to Leeky, Rachel, Alistair and Joanna on the team, all of you on the day who helped with the build, and everyone in the audience who appreciated the show. It’s very, very much appreciated

Summing Up “Over The Air” in a single tweet

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Lots of travelling tomorrow, which gives me time to edit some video together and write up a bit on the hack I has leading at Over The Air this weekend, namely Project Holodeck. But for now, just one thought from David Wood:

Project Holodeck by @ewanspence stunned the #ota09 audience into 7 minutes of Twitter silence (@dw2)

Over the Air and “something pretty spectacular” this weekend

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

This weekend sees the return of Over the Air – the two day “learn about cool mobile tools and then go hack something together and show us what you’ve got” event. While it’s not quite Mashed, the Baker Street Irregular 2.0 crowd is sure to be in attendance… and yes that does include me.

So I’ll be at Imperial College on Friday and Saturday, attending a number of panels and discussions from the likes of Vodafone, Nokia, OMTP, Windows Mobile, Yahoo and many more.

And then it’s the overnight building of something, possibly from these tools, possibly from other ideas, but all to do with mobile. The key of course is you build it at the event, no just bringing along something from the garage. What about the rules and goals for a hack at an event like this? Well, Tom Morris on Twitter just summed up my approach, so I shall quote him:

All rules can be broken if breaking them causes magic, laughter and awesomeness without hurting anyone.

Having previously re-filmed the last episode of Torchwood, launched a diet-coke powered spy rocket, and flown a full size flight simulator around the world, I think I can guarantee that this weekend’s hack will be magic, will cause laughter, and should be as awesome as Robin Cook resigning

The Social Flight SimThe Social Flight Sim in Action – Mashed Hackday 2008

PS: there’s always space on the project if people want to lend a hand – I do have a rough idea of what’s going to happen and as well as some coders, there’s space for people to help do the physical building, rigging up some lasers and projectors, do some cgi and real world modelling, and various other things. The more the merrier!