Storymaker, Storyteller presentation

The video of the presentation of Storymaker, Storyteller by the students from Dundee is finally up. This is the project they did for the Microsoft Research Student Design expo. Their product is a device that records the content and audio commentary from photographic slides, and allows their easy playback on a remote projector. It’s intended to connect a grandparent, who has a large slide collection, with his grandson, who is remote and more technology literate.

The video is only 13 minute long (in WMV format) and well worth a look.

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Photosynth is Live

What started out as a Microsoft Research project is now live and out there, ready for public consumption and creativity. PhotoSynth is a really stunning piece of software that takes any large set of photos of the same scene/place/object, and stitches them together so that they overlap seamlessly, allowing you to navigate from one to another with a click. You get a real sense of the 3D-ness of a place.

To be honest, I do find myself occasionally totally lost in some of the more 3D sets, like the shots are guiding me, rather than the other way around, but this set of a climber climbing up a rock face in Greece is very cool because you get a linear story as he goes up. Use the “.” button to progress through the set chronologically and you’ll see him suddenly fall (requires Internet Explorer and the install of a browser plug in).

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Getting your hands dirty

I did my undergraduate degree in Industrial Design at Brunel University in West London. I call it a jack-of-all-trades in which we did masses of hands-on as well as theoretical work. In the workshops we did welding, sand casting, jewellery, plastics, woodworking, metal work. In our electronics labs we designed and built our own PCBs, programming them in Assembly language through old BBC B computers. We learnt how to do product renderings with markers, and engineering drawings using Autocad.

Once I got my serious day job in the software industry I dropped most of that. It’s fair to say I’ve spent my last 12 years with a mouse as my only tool. But I’ve found myself getting my hands dirty, dusting off some of those old shop skills, since I started working here in Cambridge. Judging by this New York Times article I’m not the only one loving the energy and satisfaction that you get from building physical things, and how that feeds back positively into the way you think about virtual things.

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