Interactive archway offers words of wisdom for Nottingham's Light Night

05 Feb 2016 08:52:05.453

PA 31/16

Visitors to Nottingham’s Light Night event tomorrow evening (Friday 5 February) will be invited to step into an interactive digital archway. When you stand in front of the archway a question will be projected onto the ground. It will be a question for you to ask yourself. Step through the arch and it will learn something about you and give you a piece of wisdom in return.

What’s it all about? The Data Journeys Archway is brought to you by experts in the Mixed Reality Lab at The University of Nottingham, in collaboration with artist in residence Andrew Wilson. You won’t miss it — it’s 10 feet tall and covered in LED lights!

The archway will be outside Castle Sound and Vision, 48-50 Maid Marion Way, Nottingham NG1 6GF between 6pm and 9pm tomorrow (Friday). And if you can’t get into Nottingham on Friday evening you can keep up with what is happening via their Facebook page.

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The Mixed Reality Lab, based in the School of Computer Science, was established in 1999. The interdisciplinary group is exploring the potential of ubiquitous, mobile and interactive technologies to shape everyday life. Their research is grounded in the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

Their work in public engagement has, through the years, involved thousands of participants and reaching millions more through associated national and international media coverage.

Experiment into 'journeys'

In this experiment the MRL is exploring archways as the beginnings and endings of journeys within the urban environment and how those journeys relate to the capture of personal data. This work is all about experimentation as part of the development of the prototype and our thinking.

The project work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded ‘From Human Data to Personal Experience’ project. This follow-on to the original Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute research is focused on impact and outreach, while still being framed by personal data and big data research.

Dr Holger Schnadelbach, a senior research fellow in the School of Computer Science and the MRL, said: “My research interest in the arch lies in it as a piece of Adaptive Architecture and its relationship to personal data. The arch uses a simple sensor and human intervention to sense something about people stepping through it. The set of personal data captured is projected on the floor in front of people when they exit the arch. The data includes, for example, people’s height, what they are wearing, their attitudes or facial expression, their gender. In return for the environment grabbing this data from people in an unsolicited way, we are offering people a piece of wisdom, framed by a question when they enter.

"We are observing people engaging in this exchange and interaction, and we will involve them in a discussion about personal data captured through the environment. “This is very much an experiment and a prototype to explore the relationship of architecture, personal data and interaction. We will use Light Night to learn how to develop it and the deployment is part of the methodology.”

Work of artist in residence

Andrew Wilson’s expertise, through his ‘Studio for Co-operation, is in using mobile technology for creative participation. 

Andrew said: “As an artist who works with technology, I've known about Mixed Reality Lab (MRL) and their track record of working with artists for a long time. Because of the work MRL do, which is about technology in the everyday environment, I thought there might be an interesting cross over with what Sustrans do, which is about journeys, travel choices and making places that people want to spend time in rather than passing through by car. Sustrans were interested in that as well, which is how the residency came about.” The archway is the first outcome of Andrew’s research. It's putting something in a public space — Nottingham's pedestrianised streets in this case — that encourages people to pause and think about their journeys.

He said: “It's not so much travel journeys in this case, more personal journeys. The archway projects a question onto the ground one side that people can think about. For example; “Who has opened a door for you and where did it lead?” People will get that question even if they choose not to walk through the arch. Then if they are happy to go on a short journey through the arch to the other side, it will learn something about them — it'll be a surprise what it can find out — and give them some wisdom in exchange.

— Ends —

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Globelynx fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at University Park campus. For further information please contact a member of the Communications team on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email or see the Globelynx website for how to register for this service.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Holger Schnadelbach in the School of Computer Science at The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951; or Andrew Wilson, on +44 (0)7980 224 927,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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