23 March 2007

Arts (and Science) Corner: new stuff

I came across the most fascinating thing yesterday, while at a workshop about running a business in the creative industries (see, my life isn't all nappies. Honest.). Totally unrelated (it just happened to be in the venue they were using), but such a good idea - finally something useful being done with computers and new technology, rather than simply making a mobile phone thinner. It was rather nice to see something inspiring for once.

The venue we were at was the Culture Lab at Newcastle University (nice architecture, stripped wooden flooring - you can tell no undergrad student is going to be let within 500 miles of this place). It's developing an "ambient kitchen", which is embedded with computers and digital devices, so that it can aid those who require assistance with things like following a sequence (for example, the order in which you do things to make beans on toast). I guess it'd be really handy for people with dementia, or maybe learning disabilities (or maybe even stressed parents who get halfway through doing something and then forget why on earth they went to the fridge in the first place). We saw the kitchen under construction (rather joyously, the units are nothing fancy and are arriving from IKEA), with all the digital sensors being placed in the floor. Lots of ideas about bar codes, sensors and wireless technology, none of which I fully understood, but which sounded cool. Let's hope the finished product gets seen elsewhere - I'd love to know how they get on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually much of the Ambient Kitchen was built by undregraduates (the software anyway). Wayne Smith worked on it during his third year, and Robin Firth for his summer vacation scholarship. Robin is carrying this on for his third year project. Check out the hoempage (it's all working now):


-- Patrick

Patrick Olivier