Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

FryMachine Hack by G.Hack


We finally did it ! Finished, filmed and submitted ! Done !!!

After doing the Web Audio API workshop for female hackers at MTF in Paris,  G.Hack troops Nela, Katja, Magda and Patrizia joined the other hackers at MTF Hack Camp and found out about the YourFry digital storytelling challenge. We decided to build on the Web Audio API hack to create a drum machine that people can play on tablets and smartphones. Rani and Stacey joined us for a bit (Rani made the photo grid for the drum machine) but as we had to leave Paris early (to get back to our PhD research and thesis writing) we only managed to finish the hack and submit it to YourFry website a week later. As it turned out, the most challenging part of making the FryMachine Hack was trying to edit the video footage on iMovie! Apparently to delete a portion of footage you select it and than choose ‘reject’ ??? (memo to self: must have words with Apple peeps about this one!)

Some photos of making of the FryMachine Hack video are below. We will upload the hack to QMUL server and post the link to it soon, so you can play with it on your tablet or smartphone ! To all of the folks out there who might be appalled by our iMovie video editing skills (or there lack of), we suggest you treat the FryMachine Hack video as just one of the ‘hacks’!

Enjoy !

Stage set !

Virtual G.Hackers set !

Demo set (and working phew!)


Video is here: FryMachine_Hack_by_GHack

Link to the FryMachine Hack by G.Hack is coming soon !


G.Hack at Digital Shoreditch, 20-31 May 2013


G.Hack’s latest installation ‘Light Touch’ (masterminded by the genius of Laurel Pardue with the help of Katja Knecht, Patrizia Carlota and Nela Brown) premiered at Digital Shoreditch on Monday, 20 May 2013. Within days we received invites to exhibit at other locations and lots of positive feedback from adults and children alike, which is just brilliant !!! There are lots of other amazing artists exhibiting as part of ‘Great Digital Exhibition’ (including our Berit Greinke and Nanda Khaorapapong with ‘For Two’ by and Pollie Barden with ‘Firefly’). So, all together, an AMAZING contribution from the EECS female talent and a great showcase of the quality of work our PhD’s can produce with a bit of money (OK, a lot!), some electrical components, drill bits and soldering irons ! BIG THANKS goes out to the amazing EECS staff who continue to support this home grown hacking project (you know who you are and the chocolates will follow!)

Link to exhibition is here:

It is open to the public every day 10.30-7pm until Friday 31 May, so spread the word and come down with your friends and family to check it all out !

Go G.Hack !

ps more photos and video of the ‘Light Touch’ coming soon !

G.Hack collaborating with TeenTech


The students (2nd from left, centre and 2nd from right) and their teacher (right) from Skinners' Academy visiting us at Queen Mary's for a workshop on textiles and wearable technology

G.Hack participated in this year’s TeenTech Awards as a mentor for a team of students from Skinners’ Academy, London. We supported the three students from Skinners’ on a project in the ‘wearable technology’ category. In early February we invited them therefore to Queen Mary’s for a skill sharing workshop, in which Antonella, Berit and Laurel demonstrated and explained some of the wearable technology that they use in their research projects.

The G.Hack team was also involved in judging the ‘wearable technology’ category for the Awards and one of our team, Katja, will be representing the school and G.Hack at the final round at Royal Society on 24 June. More on this subject soon!

TeenTech G.Hack team: Nela, Laurel, Patrizia and Katja

About TeenTech:

TeenTech is an award winning, industry-led initiative, founded in 2008 by Maggie Philbin and Chris Dodson that runs events and activities to help young teenagers see the wide range of career possibilities in Science, Engineering and Technology.

Patricia, Katja (& Nela) judging TeenTech 'wearable technology' category entries


Nela’s Chair Report – 14 July, 2012


Spring term was a super busy time for G.Hack troops and SMLT installation which made the appearance at quite a few events. We also delivered another workshop to staff and students of Central Saint Martins (TEXmap Afternoon Tea) as an extension of  SMLT, using textiles, smart materials and a hacked teapot ! At the same time we were also super busy with our research, publications, conferences and reviews (hence this report being soooooo late !). Without further ado this is what we have been up to:

10 March: Hack podcast recording for  QMUL communications office

Myself, Pollie and Nicola met up with journalist Nick Patrick to talk about what we do in G.Hack and show him the Sound Mapping London Tea Houses installation (the sounds of which also made it into the podcast !)

17 April: EECS Research Open Day at QMUL

We exhibited SMLT at Research Open Day and this was great fun as lost of our colleagues who only heard about the installation finally had a chance to play with it ! Also, our superstar programming guru Alice won not 1 but 2 poster awards ! Well done Alice !!!

Alice posing with 2 awards for best poster !

18 April: TEXmap Afternoon Tea workshop at CSM

Our textile guru Berit and electronics gurus Nanda and Pollie have come together to extend the idea of SMLT into a workshop for Central Saint Martins staff and students using textiles, thermochromic inks, conductive yarn and other smart materials, teacups which trigger sound and a hacked teapot which heats up to precisely 47 degrees ! This was delivered at the fabulous new CSM premises at Kings Cross where we will be back next term for another workshop. Berit also wrote an article about the workshop so you will be able to read more about it in the next issue of ee4fn!

Berit preparing MaxMsp patch

Switches connected to Arduino

Thermochromic inks

2 switches per each London borough

Instructions for workshop participants

Painting, sewing and blowdrying !

Electronics inside of the teapot ...

... and at the bottom ...

when it heats up the teapot affects the thermochromic inks ...

... to create wonderful patterns !

almost ready for Tate Modern !

15 May: London Hopper at BCS

We exhibited SMLT at London Hopper Colloquium  which took place at BCS again this year and I did a brief introduction to G.Hack and its activities. Pollie and Alice also presented the posters and Sonia and Magda were helping out getting SMLT in and out of van in the pouring rain ! According to the BCS survey 74% of the participants taking the survey gave Excellent/Good marks for SMLT and I spoke to lots of female researchers who were either inspired  by what we do and wanted some advice on starting a similar project, already had something going at their own university or indeed back home in Syria !

Introducing G.Hack ...

Alice demonstrating SMLT

Alice and myself catching up with Becky ! Yay !

17 May: EPSRC event in Swindon

Nicola and Ilze took SMLT to EPSRC event in Swindon where they were asked if the money EPSRC spends on these kind of initiatives is really worth it. I think G.Hack has proven WE REALLY ARE WORTH IT and money should be funding these kinds of initiatives across all universities on yearly basis !

22 May: Digital Shoreditch Innovation Day

We exhibited at Innovation Day (part of Digital Shoreditch festival) and I got a chance to spread the word about all the initiatives we are involved with at QMUL (G.Hack, WISE@QMUL and FLOSSIE) during ‘Women in technology: A forum for solutions’ panel, alongside some pretty incredible speakers Pru Ashby (London and Partners), Jo Twist (UKIE), Jennifer Sheridan (Togeva), Sophie McDonald (MzTEK), Evelyn Wilson (TCCE) and Al James. Just awesome !!! Sophie and Emilie from MzTEK came by to say hi and yes I wore a fab limited edition QMUL T-shirt (if there are any left in the Fusion shop go grab one NOW!).

Spreading the word ...

SMLT quietly glowing during the presentations ...

3 MzTEK members + 2 G.Hack members = 4 gals. Geddit ?

25 & 26 May: FLOSSIE 2012

We exhibited SMLT and presented G.Hack at the first ever FLOSSIE (for women using open source software and hardware) which took place at QMUL . The event was organised by Flossie collective (which includes me and Becky) and was sponsored by Google, Sirius, G.Hack and WISE@QMUL !

People enjoy reading about tea houses we recorded at !

27 May: qMedia Open Studios, QMUL

SMLT came over to qMedia Open Studios from Flossie for one day only, but long enough to get more feedback on the installation, spread the word about G.Hack and make a short video !

It was hot, it was bright, one speaker wasn't working but SMLT kept going !

19, 20 & 22 June: CMMR conference, Wiltons Music Hall

We entered SMLT as part of the music track call for CMMR conference and 5 of us got the chance to sit in CMMR lectures, go to workshops, exhibit SMLT at the wonderful Wiltons Music Hall and listen to some pretty amazing performances!

SMLT blending in perfectly !

Nicola talking to EECS peeps !

Alice talking to CMMR peeps ! (photo by Steve Welburn)

24 June & 4 July: EECS Taster days, QMUL

We delivered a talk about G.Hack (with some colourful slides!) and demonstrated SMLT as part of the EECS taster days. The event was attended by some 120 high school students, none of which knew anything about Processing, MaxMsp or Reactivision software (driving SMLT) so we had to find ways of explaining the interaction and technology used in much simple terms (a good exercise for anyone wanting to improve their public engagement skills!).  It was all a bit nerve wrecking until we opened up the SMLT door and everyone had a chance to peek inside realising they already knew how to use all the equipment that ‘magically triggered sound when the teapot was moved across the surface’ (computer, projector, webcam). After this they started raising hands and asking a lot of questions about the stuff they could do with their own equipment at home and we knew we found a way to get through to them.


Happy (belated) B’Day G.Hack !!!

1 YEAR 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS and 2 DAYS passed since the first meeting of the ‘Girls Hacking Club’ took place on a cold a windy Monday, 21 February 2011.

About a month before that, I was trying to organise my desk (drowning under a pile of books and publications I read for my Stage 1 report) and found an old Arduino NG I used with the first version of XBee in my undergraduate project. Aaaah the good old days when I had time to do some physical computing 🙂 I exchanged a few anecdotes about it all with my colleague Fiore who told me I should check out the London Hack Space. I though to myself why travel across town to London Hack Space when I can get something going right here at QMUL? I pondered over this thought over the weekend and on Monday, I met up with my supervisor and told him I wanted to start up a ‘Girls Hacking Club’ and refresh my physical computing skills (as I would need to design a prototype of interactive technology in the next stage of my research). He thought it was a great idea and yes, I am allowed to start up such project as long as it doesn’t interfere with my research. I said it wouldn’t. When I came back to the office, my second supervisor was there so I told him about my plan and he thought it was a great idea too ! Fiore laughed when I said it was gonna be just girls (as at the time, I was the only girl in the office) but I was confident I would find some girls in the department who might be interested in this venture! I heard that the new Media and Arts Technology PhD programme had some girls who were into the Arduino stuff and that a workshop facility for soldering and other type of ‘making’ work was going to be ready for them to use pretty soon. This was all very good news (as we were not allowed to do soldering in the office for health and safety reasons). I went to speak to the MAT co-ordinator and told him about my idea, asking if it’s going to be PC (politically correct) if the club is just for women. He told me QMUL had a history of women’s societies with WISE@QMUL being on campus for about 3 years (as it happened this society was run by Becky until she left QMUL, and myself and Magda got it all going again in January 2012!). He also mentioned I should speak to Ilze who is a part of MzTEK and if we did get the group going we would be welcome to use the new MAT workshop facilities. Brilliant ! Later on that afternoon I bumped into Ilze and told her about the ‘Girls Hacking Club’ idea and asked if some of the girls from her group would be interested. She got in touch with them and we arranged to meet for the very first time on Monday 21 February at 5pm, at QMUL library. Becky forwarded the email to girls from C4DM after which Alice replied she was up for coming along. Ahead of our first meeting I sent out an email asking everyone to prepare a short presentation about “what makes them so fantastic” so we could find out more about each other’s work, research and interests and what we hope to get out of the ‘club’. As I was writing this I started sifting through those very first emails and found the minutes of our very first meeting (taken by Nicola who went on to become our official secretary !) which state that: Alice, Sam, Nela, Ilze, Pollie, Berit and Nicola were present at the meeting 🙂

1 YEAR 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS and 2 DAYS later, the 6 girls who attended that very first meeting are still part of G.Hack: myself (Chair), Ilze (Treasurer), Pollie (Communications), Nicola (Secretary), Berit and Alice, and were later joined by Nanda, Kavin and on occasion Magda and Sara. Sam joined us for a few skill sharing sessions in the beginning but got too busy rehearsing and gigging with her band to be fully involved. Looking at the ‘wish list’ at that very fist meeting I think we accomplished more than we ever dreamed we would and as the Chair of the group I am so very proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time! BIG LOVE & RESPECT goes out to my G.Hack ‘comrades’ who have contributed their time and expertise beyond what was reasonably expected of them and hopefully got a lot out of being part of the crazy G.Hack roller coaster ride! I am looking forward to continuing this amazing journey with you all !


ps below are the first ever G.Hack club meeting minutes (No 1) and some pics I found from those first G.Hack gatherings!

First ever G.Hack meeting minutes !

Choosing the name ...

First hacking sessions took place in room 105 as workshop wasn't ready ...

Alice teaching advanced LaTex session