Digital R&D fund for the arts

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10 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 5 μήνες)

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Digital R&D fund for the arts

Mobile and location
based technology and gaming

Podcast 2 transcript

John Wilson:

Hello. I’m John Wilson. Welcome to the second in a series of podcasts by Arts
Council England, looking at six key digital topics which have

been brought to light
by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. That’s the £7

million investment in digital
projects across the Arts sector, delivered by the Arts Council, NESTA, and the Arts
and Humanities Research Council in partnership.

This second progra
mme is all about mobile and gaming technology and how these
can be used to reach and engage audiences in the Arts. In this programme, we’ll
be exploring mobile strategy

the Smithsonian Institution.

Nancy Proctor

We’re kind of an example of one of
those museums that’s leapfrogging a bit, going
from zero to trying to work at the leading edge of mobile very quickly.

John Wilson:

A new
, mixing online gaming and immersive theatre.

Audience member:

It looks a little bit like a duck, if we’re

honest, when it’s on. It’s got like a beak which
comes down to a point; it’s made of plastic and it sort of sits just on the front of
your face.

John Wilson:

The latest in app technology.

Paul Cutts

It’s not linear; you can have the app anywhere and
even if you’re not in London,
you can just explore the app and still see all of the content.

John Wilson:

And location based technology.

Audience member:

They could be GPS enabled maps and they might include content about a
particular landmark that you
’ll see when the app realises that you’re in a particular
spot that you are. We’re finding that they’re a real departure for us from our gallery
and traditional setting.

John Wilson:

But first, my guests on the programme today joining me in the studio are: Jo Reid,
Creative Director at Calvium, the mobile agency that created ‘App Furnace’, that’s
a mobile App development tool. Martha Henson is the Multimedia Producer for the
Wellcome C
ollection in London; and Sergio Falletti is Director at mobile solutions
agency, Future Platforms.

Welcome to you all. First, let’s introduce yourselves. Jo, first of all, ‘App Furnace’
we mentioned there; that’s almost a DIY app tool, isn’t it? People ma
ke their own
apps and do it far cheaper.

Jo Reid

Exactly, and what we recognised is that what you needed was the ability for
people to have tools that they could use without having to have engineers and
programmers in the loop too much.

John Wilson:

artha Henson, Multimedia Producer at the Wellcome Collection; Wellcome has
actually been deeply involved in digital technology for a while now, particularly in
the gaming area.

Martha Henson

Yes, we ha
ve, over the last year actually

developed a broadcasting gaming
strategy actively looking out opportunities to fund exciting gaming that kind of
involves biomedical science in some way.

John Wilson:

Sergio, what is Future Platforms?

Sergio Falletti

We are an application developer,
so we have been building mobile applications for
the last ten years; so a long time before the iPhone came along. Quite a lot of R&D
projects for device manufacturers, just to look at what is coming up next.

John Wilson:

I’d like to start on the subject
of the use of mobile technologies as a tool within the
Arts. We spoke with Nancy Proctor, who’s Head of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives
at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

They’re pretty advanced in terms of embedding mobile strategy; they’v
e even
published it as a Wiki. She told us how they’re connecting with audiences.

Nancy Proctor

We’ve really written our mobile strategy to reflect the traditions of the Institution,
but we also tried to use the two
way and multi
way communication capa
bility of
these network devices that are really ubiquitous now, to enable us to recruit the
world to help us with our work.

We’re really trying to use mobile to figuratively, as well as literally put the
Smithsonian in the hands of the people and have th
em become partners and
stakeholders in our work and in our success.

Crowd sourcing is a big part of our strategic mobile projects and social media in
general. Indeed, I tend to think of mobile as, to a very large extent, a social media
platform, and that should characterise the nature of the experience.

John Wilson:


what exactly do we mean by mobile technology? Let’s start off with a few
definitions. Jo Reid, are we talking primarily about handheld devices?

Jo Reid

I think mobility, for me, is more of a design state of mind, a user experience, and
the way that you

might access those things. I think it’s thinking about it and saying,
‘What does it mean to be mobile?’ rather than, ‘It’s just about the phone.’

John Wilson:

But visitors to Arts centres are still using mobile devices in different ways; they’re
either l
ooking at apps, or their looking at sites. Give us a sense of the pros and
cons; have you looked at this at the Wellcome Collection, Martha?

Martha Henson

We’ve developed an ‘In
Gallery Audio Guide’ which is using Android technology,
so we’re actually p
roviding those devices to people. We haven’t developed
anything that’s asking people to download something onto their own device yet.

John Wilson:

Here’s a response that was a comment at the recent ‘Mobile Culture Conference’
on 17 July. Somebody on Twit
ter pointed out that, ‘An average app costs $50,000
to produce, but makes $6,000.’ Is that right, Jo?

Jo Reid

It depends how you’re measuring return; there are different classes of what you
have an app for. I think if people think of the iconic ‘Angry B
irds’ type of app where
you’re getting revenue from the app as a game, then you might look at that as a
straight numbers game. How much did it take to develop the game and what am I
going to get in sales from the game, or perhaps revenue from aftersales fo
something as successful as that kind of hero game?

But I think when you’re talking about the Arts sector then ways of measuring return
are not necessarily monetary from the app itself. You could almost think as that as
an extra exhibit in your museum. H
ow much effort do you put into putting
something else on for your visitors that then engages them with your site, your
brand, the extension of your brand over the world, and so on? There, I think it’s
harder to get that tangible return on investment.



Sergio, what about the purchasing opportunities for mobile devices? I’m thinking
particularly of buying tickets with your phone.

Sergio Falletti

Mobile has actually been used as a transactional tool for a long time. We all
remember the premium SMSs, reverse charging SMSs back when ringtones and
things like those. More in general, Apple and App stores are allowing in
purchases, which is effectiv
ely another way of allowing micropayments within

Touching on Near Field Communications, so the NFC, a bit similar to what the
Oyster card is using, those are also starting to come into mobile. Barclays have
recently launched a service that allows

you to tap and pay.

As NFC as a technology rolls out onto more and more devices, you will have larger
players, like Google, who will be providing wallets and therefore ways of paying
using your mobile phone.

John Wilson:

But it’s important what Jo sai
d there, isn’t it, Sergio, that ‘Within the Arts sector
people shouldn’t necessarily be looking to an app to make money,’ that there’s not
necessarily a revenue stream there, but value has a different meaning?

Sergio Falletti

Maybe to draw a bit of a
parallel to it, we built the Applications for the ‘Glastonbury
Festival’ last year, so related in the sense that it is a live event and it is effectively
a guide to an experience that you’re going to have at a particular event.

Those apps were provided fo
r free; they were sponsored by Orange. So again,
going back to the return of investment, the return wasn’t measured on sales,
because there weren’t any. It was far more about how many people are going to
install it? It was over 100,000. How many people are

going to come and comment
positively about it and create a sort of positive association with Orange?

Martha Henson:

It speaks to
what you were saying earlier about, ‘It should come from the user
behaviour and what you actually want to achieve from it.’
For us, part of what we
do that’s really important is the evaluation of projects.

For that you need to be really clear about what you’re objectives were in the first
place, and as you’re developing it, making sure that you’re developing it correctly
the user for the user behaviour; also, afterwards testing that it has met those

I think that’s really important, and there’s kind of been that gold rush and people
weren’t really thinking clearly about what they wanted to get out of it; they
wanted to have an app immediately, something shiny.

John Wilson:

I’m going to give you some figures here, because here’s a report which suggests
that there is a growing demand for this sort of technology, the ‘Ofcom’s
Communications Market Report 20
12’. Forty per cent of smartphone users say,
‘Their smartphone is more important for accessing the internet than any other
device.’ Smartphone ownership amongst adults in the UK is up from 27% to 39%
in the last year. Tablet ownership in the UK jumped from

2% to 11% in the last 12

Sergio Falletti

Very important stats.

If I can maybe add another one which is very dear to me; it is
around the download numbers in terms of just applications. The record was over
the Christmas period in 2011, so last year. There were 170 million downloads per
day of applications, which I thi
nk is just a phenomenal indication of the sort of
volume of interest there is out there.

John Wilson:

Let’s look at a specific example. One project that has been designed with the
future in mind is a Digital R&D funded app, produced by the Exhibition Roa
Cultural Group celebrating Charles Dickens’ life in London.

The ‘Dickens App for iPhone’ allows you to explore Dickens’ London through
characters from his novels, each representing a different aspect of Victorian
London. Paul Cutts, Chief Executive of t
he Exhibition Road Cultural Group
explains what users can get out of it.

Paul Cutts

What you do is, you select one of those characters, say, Samuel Pickwick, and
you get a little pop
up map of London with different pins representing the different
of the city that have an association with Dickens. You can choose any
number of those destinations.

It’s not linear; you can have the app anywhere. Even if you’re not in London, you
can just explore the app and still see all of the content. But if you ar
e physically
near a location, you can read a background about the place and see usually an
historical image representing what the place looked like in Dickens’ own time.

For instance, if you chose Artful Dodger and wanted to find out more about
you might land on Warren’s Blacking Factory, which is where Dickens
as a 12 year old was sent to work, a boot polish factory.

It was one of the most humiliating experiences of his life and the entry for that
explains a little about what that experience wa
s like for Dickens, and also how it’s
been represented in his fiction. He basically used the Warren’s Blacking Factory
as a symbol of all that was wrong with Victorian London and child poverty and
working conditions.

What we’ve tried to do is make the ap
p chime with issues that are still relevant
today: child exploitation, women’s rights, the disadvantage that people still feel in
contemporary London. We’ve tried to relate that back to Dickens’ own time.

Once you visit a destination, you can mark it as
a favourite on the app, you can
mark it as visited; it gives you a map and directions from where you are. You can
visit its website, if it’s a cultural organisation it gives you a telephone number. You
can even email it and we’ve also included a link to Wi
kipedia; so, should you want
to find out more, you can go exploring elsewhere.

John Wilson:

Which platforms should an Arts organisation choose to use? These apps can be
expensive to develop. Jo, mobile platforms: Android versus Apple, versus
Microsoft; t
here’s a lot of choice out there, isn’t there?

Jo Reid:

There is, and I think part of the things that the organisation needs to take on board
is again being very clear about the goals, who they’re trying to reach and for what

You’ve always got a trade
off between breadth of reach and depth of the
experience. If you’re going for depth of experience, if it’s very important to you that
you want to have a very high
end, classy app, that would lead you towards a
native development e

If actually your goals are more like Glastonbury, or you’re going for breadth and
marketing and everything else, then you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Should I perhaps
adopt a hybrid approach and go for web technologies, HTML5, and cross

development? Do I need an app at all, actually? Is a mobile website a better way
of delivering?’

John Wilson:

Sergio, that’s the advice that you give to your clients, is it? That you have to set
very clear objectives rather than just experimenting with
the new technology and
seeing what happens?

Sergio Falletti

I think there is obviously a distinction between commercial organisations where
they are driving ultimately for revenue, and cultural organisations where
accessibility and availability are part

of the mandate.

If you’re looking at the landscape purely commercially, the choice tends to be fairly
straightforward. Apple is the dominating player at the moment, Android will be your
probable second step.

Obviously, when it comes to cultural organis
ations or organisations like the BBC
where you have the mandate to actually offer a similar service to your entire
audience, then you are almost forced to slightly pare down the experience across
the board, or to invest more in order to cover every single
person out there.

John Wilson:

Martha, what was the approach at the Wellcome Collection then, when you’re
having visitors coming in engaging with collections and maybe taking what they’ve
learnt away with them? Do you focus on one particular platform?

artha Henson

We’re actually working on something which is a location based treasure hunt,
which naturally happens out and about; it happens around the streets of London.
For that, if we’d had all of our wishes at the beginning and as much budget as we’d
liked, I would have loved to do that on every possible platform.

As it was, it was a very experimental project and we’re trialling it in iOS first, simply
because the technology available was already there for iOS. Developing it
separately for Android
would have been a huge expense, although I still hope that
we will do at some point.

We’re also working on another project which is more on the Trust side of things,
which will be educational. For that, that’s a very different audience and a very clear
dience. Our first task with that is to find out if we’re aiming it at teachers, exactly
how they’re using it, which platforms they’re using; there are iPads in schools, for
example, but not hugely widespread.

John Wilson:

Looking ahead, where is mobile t
echnology taking us next? The Smithsonian
Institution’s Nancy Proctor again.

Nancy Proctor

I think we’re going to see a continuation of a trend that’s already very observable,
which is a shift of web traffic from large screen immobile platforms to mobile
devices. We’re already up above 10% of most museum online traffic is coming
from mobile devi
ces. By 2014 the majority of internet traffic will be coming from
mobile devices.

That’s going to change the nature of our content design and our asset
management. Centralised content management in web services that tailor the
content and the display of
that content to different sized devices on the fly are
going to be critical.

I think we’re entering the era of the amateur, and I mean it in the French sense:
the lover, the lover of things, the amateur who is so passionate and so committed.
These are the

people who built Wikipedia started in 2005. That kind of
phenomenon, I think, will characterise this next era.

John Wilson:

Gaming can also provide opportunities to reach and engage audiences using
technology, but what happens when you mix that with imm
ersive theatre?
Punchdrunk, the London based immersive theatre company, take disused spaces,
turn them into environments where the audiences become an element of the
performance, often with the aid of masks.

Punchdrunk originally staged ‘Sleep No More’, t
heir version of ‘Macbeth’, in a
disused primary school in South London. The production then moved to another
disused school in Boston in the States, and then on to New York where it currently
plays in a 100,000 square foot warehouse.

Punchdrunk hooked up

with technologists at the famous MIT Media Lab in Boston
for their Digital R&D pilot project to ask the question, ‘Can a remote user have the
same experience as an on
site audience member?’

To answer this, MIT introduced gaming technology into the perfo
rmance through
portals in which an online audience member was partnered with an audience
member at the venue. Peter Higgin, Punchdrunk’s Enrichment Director in London,
and Tod Machover from MIT in Boston, along with some of the Media Lab students
in the project explain how it works.

Peter HIggin

What our works are all about is not telling you too much. There’s a very interesting
line to tread between how much you tell and audience and how that affects or
impacts their experience.

The set is like if you walked into a shop, for example, and it was a sweet shop; you
can eat the sweets. The space tells as much of a story as anything else and the
space is as important as the performance. Everything is real; you’re encouraged to
touch th
e artefacts, you’re encouraged to explore, you’re encouraged to read and
to discover. So there are massive levels of detail within the show.

Tod Machover

The underlying idea was: would it be possible for people who weren’t physically at
the show be able

to experience it? One reason was simply to increase the number
of people who could have some experience of ‘Sleep No More’ if they couldn’t get
to New York.

Audience member:

The process was first to figure out what the restrictions are for the performan
For example, Punchdrunk wanted to keep all the technology that onsite people
kind of were invisible from the rest of the audience members in the show. From
that we can add different technology that’s available to us right now and then try
them out, wha
t works the best, and so forth.

Audience member:

They installed microphones around the space so that you could listen into one
ones which were important within the narrative; they created a poltergeist kind of
book which flipped off a bookshelf and re
vealed a book which was important to
your mission.

Audience member:

A book drops off a shelf as soon as the chosen audience member walks past it,
and that’s only for them; other audience members, this wouldn’t happen.

Audience member:

All the places where you could talk for the portals were places that were carefully
cordoned off from the rest of the show. But obviously you’re not supposed to talk in
the rest of the show, so it’s this interesting thought about, ‘How special am I?’

is a very gamey thing to do boundary testing; once you feel special, to figure
out how special you are.

One of the onsite players who knows games actually went up to some of the black
masks who blocked off particular boundaries and said, ‘I’m Kevin; can

I come
through?’ And the black mask said, ‘No,’ but it’s like one of those things where
once you’re specialed you do try and figure out how special you are.

Peter HIggin

One of the really fantastic performative pieces was the creation of a

Ouija board,
which essentially was the start of the piece and it connected these two participants
together. Maybe you imagine the online person was like a spirit lost in the spirit
world and they could hear and see a medium sat round a Ouija board with th
world participant. The medium would ask, ‘What is your name?’ At home you
would type, ‘My name is Peter,’ and then the planchette on the Ouija board would
move to P

Tod Machover

A lot of the initial conceptions of the experience were g

Peter HIggin

It wasn’t a game, it was an experience. But I think people, as soon as you put
something in front of them on the computer like that, it’s hard to get away from that
notion of game.

Tod Machover

You don’t want to have this extremely

tactical thing where it feels like you can win
or lose, or where your decisions can really affect things, because you don’t want to
give people the sense that they can win or lose, sleep no more.

Peter HIggin

I felt really it was like this sort of synt
hesis of technology and performance
importantly to try and create this very amazing experience and impactive
experience for the audience.

John Wilson:

Let’s get some responses to what we heard there. The clue is in the word
‘immersive’ theatre. It’s not
like about breaking the fourth wall of the theatre; you
are part of the performance, you wander around with the characters.

The researchers at MIT asked the question, ‘Can a remote user have the same
experience as an on
site audience member?’ It brings to

mind the phrase, ‘Ask a
silly question.’ It’s impossible, isn’t it, Jo?

Jo Reid

Oh no, there have been precedents before. I just love Punchdrunk, We know that
there are rich social medium around things that we’re familiar with as
technologists, blogs
and forums. Classically there are few people who actually
engage, but many more people who watch, so there’s always been this fascinating

John Wilson:

But you’re not going to have the same experience; you can’t.

Jo Reid

You don’t try to. It
doesn’t mean it’s not a valid experience.

John Wilson:

No, Sergio, it’s worth trying, isn’t it?

Sergio Falletti

Absolutely. I think there are a couple of other points there. One, to me, is that the
remote experience is actually quite familiar to a se
ction of the audience, because it
is very similar to the experience of online gaming. If you are thinking of first person
games, they are extremely engaging and they are extremely familiar to a certain

John Wilson:

You could be playing with som
ebody else who’s sitting in their bedroom 3000
miles away.

Sergio Falletti

Exactly, so the idea that the world that you are exploring and playing in is actually
a real one that is being played by Punchdrunk, rather than being a completely
virtual world,

is not such a massive departure from what people are already used

John Wilson:

Imagine that there will be a lot of people listening to this, people who run art
centres or galleries, or cultural institutions who think, ‘This all sounds very exciting.

But is it going to help grow new audiences? Is it going to get people through the
door, or even people engaging with what we do here remotely?’

Martha, I presume that’s one of the ideas that you’re hoping to see through at the
Wellcome, that you can enga
ge particularly younger audiences.

Martha Henson

Not necessarily younger audiences, but when we started thinking about gaming
and there are games that we commission through Wellcome

Collection, one of our
prime objectives for that was to reach a new audience.

Starting from that point games is an obvious way of doing it, because there is a
huge audience for games and particularly the sort of casual games that we are
interested. Peop
le go to portals like Kongregate, NewGrounds, Armor, all those
kinds of places. They have 10’s of thousands of regular users who are there
already just waiting to play games.

By putting our games that we made with a very experienced games company who
knew a lot about making games really fun, as well as incorporating elements of
historical fact or science. When we put it in those spaces, rather than expecting
them to come to our site, we put it in those spaces where they were and they were

John Wilson:

Which takes us very neatly on to thinking about how Arts and cultural venues can
use mobile technology to enhance visitors’ experiences. Clare Cooper
and Jessica Taylor are from Antenna International, a leading provider o
experiential content for the Heritage sector.

Clare Cooper

It’s very important that any of the kind of digital media approach is fully integrated
to what the institution’s doing. It may be that they identify a target audience, or a
segment ou
t there that is never going to visit London and is not necessarily going
to have that opportunity of standing in front of an amazing artwork, for example,
here in this collection. But they still want to engage with that individual and give
them a really go
od experience, the best experience you can have remotely.

Certainly we see with our clients it is that integrated approach; it’s certainly not you
can have this museum experience virtually. I don’t think any of us have found a
particularly successful virt
ual exhibition; they’re an interesting experience, but it’s
never the same thing as actually being in the gallery and connecting with the
object or the work.

Jessica Taylor

It’s not about replacing an experience; it’s about offering the opportunity to
omebody remotely to experience and engage with the exhibition, but not to
replace the in
gallery experience.

John Wilson:

Sergio, start us off with some ideas about how institutions can use technology on
location to enhance the experience.

Sergio Falle

I think that the obvious starting point where people have been going to has been
around tagging objects within exhibitions. The current technologies, I would say
personally I find them extremely cumbersome, so I’m thinking of the 2D barcodes
that you

can access information about the object that you’re looking at. In reality, I
haven’t really seen any application with that that made me think, ‘Yes, as a user,
as a normal person I will use it every day, or every single time I visit an exhibition.’

The n
ew technologies that are coming up now, so I’m referring more to New Field
Communications, a bit similar to what the Oyster card is using, feel to me like the
right starting point.

John Wilson:

What happens, how do you use that?

Sergio Falletti

that will allow you to do will be either with an application, or without even an
application running on the phone, you will be able to tap on an object, for example,
in an exhibition space and get immediate access to extra data about the particular

John Wilson:

Jo Reid, very often you hear about parents dragging kids along unwillingly to
galleries. Are there ways of keeping the family together using technology to
engage the kids better, do you think?

Jo Reid

A couple of years ago

in fact, four years was the original trial

we worked with
the Tower of London and Historic Royal Palaces on their ‘Escape from the Tower’
prisoner game, which we’ve developed now as an app.

There we ran user trials with family g
roups, because they particularly wanted to go
for that demographic. The kind of disengaged teenager who comes with the family
isn’t really turned on by a standard audio tour and wants to have more kind of
gamification things.

Again, we used GPS and so on
, so that you can go hear a prisoner’s plea and help
the escape in an authentic way that they did. From the Palace’s point of view, it
meant that you could send visitors to the less traversed areas of the Tower, so you
didn’t go to the Jewel House and ever
ything else, you went to some of the lesser
visited towers.

The nice thing about that is, from their point of view, that they knew even though
it’s phenomenally successful, the average visit to the Tower

even though the
tickets are quite expensive

about two hours.

On the trials that we ran, the children who were engaged with the game in early
prototypes when we were testing it, just handed it out, they had an hour and a
half’s limit. They frequently said they, ‘Haven’t got long enough,’ they wante
d to go
back and rescue more, and so on,

Even though education wasn’t an overt goal for that game, they were coming back
spontaneously recounting the prisoners that they had, talking about where they’d
went to, and so on. I believe that was a richer
engagement with the actual place
than a kind of superficial knowledge about what was going on and a trip through
the Jewel House.

John Wilson:

Let’s move on the debate by introducing another concept, that of augmented
reality. Aurasma is a visual browser

that merges the physical world with the virtual.

Kate Mason

We have a technology which uses very, very advanced image recognition
technology to look at things in the real world through your smartphone or your
iPad, much in the same way that a human bei
ng would.

John Wilson:

Kate Mason runs Aurasma’s Retail Agency and Arts Partnerships, and she talks
about the added value of this type of technology in exhibition spaces.

Kate Mason

The device can recognise the thing it sees and connects it to someth
ing else; it
could be video content, it could be a live Twitter feed.

We’re looking now at a charming portrait of Rabbie Burns, which is something we
worked on with Dewar’s Whisky for Burns night; it’s an image in a gallery up in
Scotland. What I’m going
to do now is open up Aurasma on my iPad and then I’m
holding up the iPad to this gorgeous picture of Rabbie Burns. As you do so,
Aurasma recognises the image and overlays onto it the moving image of a modern
day Rabbie Burns.

John Wilson:

Jo Reid, have y
ou looked at this sort of technology?

Jo Reid

Oh yes. I must confess, I’m a little…

John Wilson:


Jo Reid

Well, I like fireworks as well. If you want to spend £100

on fireworks, that
would be good to do. It kind of, to me, fits at the moment into that category; it’s not
quite ready for the masses yet. It’s still, I think, in the realm of more specialist stuff
and developing good content for that I think is key, unti
l the authoring processes
get a bit better. I think it still just takes a bit too long to do something quite small.

The kind of technology I’m more excited about in gallery space, we’ve done a lot of
works with indoor location. As I say, our platform alre
ady works really easily and
seamlessly with GPS; that’s kind of a done deal, because it’s an available
technology for everybody. But there isn’t yet a cost
effective indoor positioning
system available for all things. There’s the Google location system and


We’ve done prototypes with Bristol Old Vic and we’ve used a very high
system called Ubisense where they were great to lend us a research kit. That’s got
good commercial properties and it’s very exciting, but it’s far too expensive fo
r an
Arts organisation.

One of the current projects we’re kind of researching at the moment is looking at a
Fi based thing. I think, again, those are the kind of things I’m thinking
personally are more exciting, because once you unlock a seamless outdo
or to
indoor experience where you can just walk and listen to things, for me that rocks
my boat, or whatever the expression is, a little bit more.

John Wilson:

Martha, I presume these are the questions that you have to consider all the time at
the Wellc
ome Trust. You’re playing a juggling act, aren’t you? How much do you
have to be at the cutting edge of technology? How much do you have to engage
your viewers, your listeners and your patrons with technological ideas, and how
much do you have to spend? Th
at’s always the problem, isn’t it?

Martha Henson

It is. I don’t think anyone comes to us expecting it to be like ‘Launch Pad’ in The
Science Museum, or something along those lines. But, that said, there are things
that technologies can do for us that do

work for what we’re trying to achieve.

As I said before, gaming in particular was something that we thought would enable
that kind of deeper engagement, which is what we’re interested in. It’s not about
being in the gaming space because we feel we ought

to and that’s where the
cutting edge is, but it’s about what it can do for us.

John Wilson:

We’ve been hearing about some really exciting innovations and opportunities and
possibilities over the course of this programme. I’m going to ask my guests here
the studio to do a bit of crystal ball gazing to look into the future, and I’m going to
get you going by talking about something I read on the way to the studio about
Google’s new project.

‘Project Glass’ they’re describing it as; they say it’s going
to be on release to the
public by 2014. In the future we’re all going to be augmenting our own realities by
walking around in goggles. Sergio, can you see that happening?

Sergio Falletti

If Google are doing it, I can probably see it happen. I will go ba
ck to maybe the
idea of technology here. I think the last few decades with the PC have educated us
of thinking of technology as something that is all absorbing and something that you
have to sit at a desk and sort of stare at for minutes, if not hours.


think mobile is actually a very different kind of technology and it is moving further
and further away from that idea of a big screen and something that you have to
pay attention to all the time.

John Wilson:

Martha, at Wellcome are you putting your mon
ey on new, as yet uninvented
technology, or are you just waiting for the next big thing you come along?

Martha Henson

No, we’re not. But I do think what they’ve done with ‘Project Glass’ is really
interesting. They’ve released it for pre
orders to developers first. They have just
made the platform, but they’re asking for people to come up with ways of using it.

I think t
hat could be potentially quite an interesting way of doing things. They’re not
suggesting uses; they’ve just provided a technology which is still in the process of
being developed.

But they might actually be too late; there are already people at MIT who
developing AR contact lenses. I’m keeping an eye on it. I don’t think Wellcome will
be diving into any of it for quite a while; I don’t think anyone will be for quite a

John Wilson:

Jo, if we’re not going to walking round with goggles all day
long, just a wild guess
here, or informed guess, which direction could mobile technology be heading?

Jo Reid

I’d like to see more of the technology being pushed into the environment. Now
we’re used to being able to connect to the Internet wherever we ar
e in cities, and
it’s getting better worldwide. But I’ve always liked the idea of the environment itself
containing more of the smarts and your device then being able to lock in and
access into it a little bit better.

I think more of this kind of infrast
ructural thing so that you can do something.
Funnily enough, when they talk about the internet of things a lot, I think some of
those things still have to have compelling use cases.

John Wilson:

The future is as yet unwritten, but you can be assured that

somebody is scribbling
away in a corner right at this very moment.

We’d very much like to hear from you on the subjects raised in this programme.
Please do Tweet us at

and we’ll read some of the responses out on
next month’s programme.

Many thanks to my guests, Jo Reid, Martha Henson, and Sergio Falletti.

Female Presenter

The Digital R&D fund for the a
rts is open for applications until 30 December, 2013.
To find out more information, or to apply, visit

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