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….
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?
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