Light tags – Interactive paper

Light tags - Interactive paper

Light tags – Interactive paper

Paper has been with us for many thousands of years and still has properties that we continue to enjoy in the digital age. Rather than replacing paper with e-readers and screen technology, we aim in this project to connect paper to digital information, especially sound.

In a previous research project called Interactive Newsprint we explored the properties of connecting paper to the web through interactive regions which registered human touch and played back associated sound. One of the challenges of the project was in printing these regions and associated electronic components on the paper itself. Light tags is a new printed electronics technology from Surrey University which makes this easier. It has the potential to unlock a number of commercial applications of interactive paper in the print and packaging industry. In this project we aim to create proof of concept demonstrators of the technology, and collect feedback from both end users and industry representatives.

The project runs for 9 months from 1st July 2014 and involves a collaboration between Digital World Research Centre and the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey. It will be done in partnership with the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating at Swansea University. The project is co-funded by the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) at Surrey University, and an Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) grant to Swansea University. We would also like to acknowledge the role of the EU COST FP1104 network on New opportunities for print media and packaging in facilitating this collaboration.

Com-Note – Composer’s Notebook

Com-Note - Composer's Notebook

Com-Note – Composer’s Notebook

The composition of music is a complex, creative and collaborative act. This is currently done with a range of tools including the editing of musical notation, the playing, recording and playback of musical phrases, and their verbal discussion. In this project we will bring these activities together in a single ‘composer’s notebook’ app called Com-Note for a smart phone. This will be based on the trial and extension of an existing multimedia narrative app called Com-Phone, during the creation of a new work by Tom Armstrong for trumpet and string quartet. Com-Phone was created on the Community Generated Media project and is part of the Com-Me toolkit.

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Existing music composition software focuses on mixing entire compositions on a desktop or laptop computer. This shifts the locus of composition to a particular place or machine, and fails to capture the spontaneous, distributed and collaborative nature of composition and its relation to performance. Our approach is mobile, flexible and collaborative by design, and more in the spirit of a sketchbook than a mixing desk. Musical ‘sketches’, inspirations and ideas will be recordable piecemeal on a smartphone, and passed between the composer and performer for mutual consideration, extension and revision.

The project was a collaboration between the University of Surrey, the trumpet player Simon Desbruslais and the Ligeti Quartet. It was funded by the EPSRC MILES programme at Surrey under grant number EP/I000992/1.

TVCAM: COM-CAM

Com-Cam

Com-Cam

It is well-known that photo, video and web content on a mobile phone is difficult to share with a group in settings where there is no other digital technology to upload it to. Yet, these settings may have existing analogue televisions that could be used as public displays. By filming the screen itself from an overhead camera and taking a sound feed from the headphone socket of the phone, Com-Cam is a low cost device for relaying the screen and sound of a mobile phone to an analogue television. Cables from Com-Cam plug into the scart or audio-visual sockets of a TV switched to its AV input channel setting. A number of different versions for the device have been tried. The best one includes an adjustable “lamp-like” structure with a whiteboard or chalkboard base. The overhead camera is in the head of the lamp-like device which can be manually focussed, and moved up or down over the screen of any mobile phone which sits underneath. The mobile phone controls are left accessible while relaying the screen image at an appropriate scale to fill the TV screen.

The overhead camera also supports the use of Com-Cam as a whiteboard and overhead projector for making group
presentations on a TV. Writing or sketching on the whiteboard or chalkboard base appears on the TV screen. Usefully this
can also be done on paper for quick removal and replacement. Additionally, printed documents and other objects and materials can also be placed on the base for presentation on the TV screen, as with an overhead projector. Com-Cam has a built-in microphone which can be switched on in these situations for amplifying the speakers’ comments through the TV speakers. The electronic components of the device are readily available off the shelf in most countries and cost about £10. Our design shows how these components can be mounted on a simple lampstand made out of local materials such as boxes and rulers.