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.


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