Binary Festival 16: LIVE
17:15 That's it! Binary Festival 2016 is over. We've had a fabulous two days: thanks to all the Binary team, sponsors, speakers, supporters and delegates. It's been a blast.
And for stories behind our wonderful speakers, the Baltic Triangle and Liverpool, see our Binary Blog.
All that remains to be said is: see you next year!
Laura, editor, The Double Negative: Binary Blog media partner
16:45 FINAL KEYNOTE: Steve Bartlett: Entrepreneur, Speaker & Investor, The Social Chain
Last talk of the day comes from a very young entrepreneur who has achieved a great deal in a short time period. The 23 year old is CEO of The Social Chain: the UK's largest influencer network with over 200 million people following their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Unbelievably, 18 year old Steve had dropped out of a business management degree at Manchester Metropolitan University after just one lecture; struggling financially, and falling out with his mum (they didn’t speak for two years), Steve at one point stole food to survive. Everything changed when he had an idea for an online student community: Wallpark. Joining forces with Student Problems’ Dominc McGregor, they pooled their knowledge of social media communities and Social Chain was founded in 2014. An impressive list of high profile clients later – including Deliveroo, Nike, BBC and Macdonalds – the firm is due to hit £6million by end of year two.
The science behind Social Chain, says Steve, always starts with research. Figuring out who the customer is influenced by, what types of content they like to engage with, their T-score (about engagement and value per person reached), audience mapping and more.
The one major thing Steve and the team insist on doing is making the audience feel something, either way: an example given is smartphone game Tippy Tap. Tasked with promoting the unknown app, Social Chain talked about it negatively on social media, describing it as “too addictive”. It’s now had over 2 million downloads and over 150,000,000 game plays.
16:15 Lemn Sissay, Poet Chancellor
“These are revolutionary times…”
Lemn is a writer and a poet; he is currently associate artist at London’s Southbank Centre, patron of The Letterbox Club and The Reader Organisation, and ambassador for The Children’s Reading Fund. He is also Chancellor of University of Manchester: their annual income of £1 billion a year. And he’s unpaid!
Lemn describes how he was inspired by Liverpool poets Adrien Henry and Roger MCGough. Theirs was the first book of poetry he received, given to him by his headteacher, Mrs Jones; and it was the first moment he’d read about a children’s home. He had been adopted at birth; astonishingly, and cruelly, Lemn was returned to the care system when he was 12. As he describes it, his adopted parents thought the devil was inside him; or in other words, he was starting to go through adolescence.
An engaging and humourous speaker, Lemn instills feelings in the listener that jump from poignant nostalgia, genuine anger at the care system, and hope: this is genuinely achievement against the odds.
Lemn has spent most of his adult life searching for his birth family. He has only just recently received his papers from Wigan adoption services, and has spoken about his abuse at Wood End children's home. In 2012 he made a BBC radio documentary called Child of the State.
Poetry is not a niche sport. It’s on birthday cards, read at funerals, sang at Christmas. It is related to family. Binary too, Lemn says, is personal: and reads: “Family is a group of web developers arguing over the code… Christmas dinner.”
COFFEE BREAK ;-)
15:08 Particle Physicist Tara Shears from CERN and the University of Liverpool
Let’s travel into the deepest and the most fundamental parts of the universe now: particle physics. It’s the study of the structure of the universe and the behaviors of the particles that make it.
There are, Tara explains, six types of quarks and six of leptons: which are “at least as small compared to an atom, as an atom is compared to you”.
The standard model of understanding the universe is… incomplete. There’s so much we don’t understand. Visible matter, Tara tells us, is 5% of the universe’s whole energy budget; the rest is dark matter/dark energy, and other things we completely don’t know about yet. We don’t even understand that 5% – and that includes gravity.
Tara discusses a recent and new finding; something unexpected that has a mass unlike anything they’ve found before. It could be background noise, it could be something astonishing; they don't know yet. To date, over 250 papers have been written on it. The whole particle physics community is holding its breath.
“We have mysteries, we have data that might hold the answers… because we have so many mysteries, even a hint of something becomes very exciting indeed. If it does turn out to be something, you can guarantee it will be fundamental.”
14:45 Russell Ashworth, Clinical Nurse & Innovator, Alder Hey Children's Hospital
Technology can be our weapons, Russell says, in the war against disease and ill-health. Russell describes Alder Hey as a “super weapon, living hospital”: set to become the UK’s first ‘cognitive’ hospital, harnessing big data and IBM’s Watson technology platform to improve patient experience.
Russell describes improving the skills of doctors through surgery, using 3D screens and cameras, and thus improving crucial training in depth-perception; advanced operative planning, using holoprojection and 3D scanning to show doctors and parents, for example, the anatomy of their child’s heart; operating on a silicon 3D prints of organs in training and to measure effectiveness. Sensors can be applied to children so parents can cuddle their ill babies without hurting them.
Read more about Alder Hey and Liverpool's eHealth Cluster here.
14:00 Rob Black & Michael Verity from Real Space: a collaborative virtual art space
PhD students at The University of Liverpool. Michael is a self-confessed “nomad”; starting off in 3D photography and 3D film. Rob introduced him to the university, where they started to explore VR and AR together. Rob is a vision scientist by trade, specialising in perception; before moving into 3D film, working with Toxteth TV and Sony. They don’t know, they say, whether they’re academics or filmmakers!
Real Space’s work takes in virtual reality, 360 film capture, stereo 3D photography, focus stacking (taking macro pictures and making them into 3D models), 3D printing and direct view AR. They’ve spent time modelling Lutyens Cathedral in VR with the university’s Architecture department; and have filmed in 360 in Iceland. Their mission? To make VR accessible; to help connect people to the world; make joyful VR experiences; and to explore the future potential of VR.
What’s perhaps most interesting about Real Space is VR’s potential with people on the spectrum. Rob describes how his son, who has autism, has so easily picked up the HTC Vive. The potential, he says, for creativity and communication endless, and is something they’re exploring; helping people to try VR for themselves, and sometimes for the first time.
Top tip: Rob and Michael tell us to keep an eye on Magic Leap, a secretive AR/ VR start-up.
13:00 University of Cambridge researcher Dr Sam Aaron
“Code is the most creative thing on this planet.”
Bounding onto the stage, and rallying against the tech and money talk that has dominated discussions this morning,
Sam extols the virtue of being creative for being creative’s sake. His live coding performance at Moogfest (USA) was reviewed by Rolling Stone last week, who said his set was like a cross between Kraftwerk and Aphex Twin, and was "the future of music".
The researcher, software architect and self-confessed computational thinker has "a deep fascination surrounding the notion of communicative programming"; seeing live coding as an adaptable and creative way of breaking down language barriers, and as a – cool – tool to reach out to the next generation of computer scientists.
Describes binary as a “gateway drug” and the most fun you’ll ever have “sorting”. This, people, is programing to express yourself.
Sam teaches us to loop and sample music with Sonic Pi: an open source programme designed, implemented and developed with children in extensive classroom trials, and in close collaboration with teachers. Typing instructions into Sonic Pi “isn’t that complicated… the goal is to demystify coding.” Sam is evangelical about getting people to try coding and just give it a go for pleasure: “ten year old kids can learn it... technology is for everybody.”
But, as Sam says, “What the hell is live coding? Imagine you’re in the club, dancing...” He demonstrates that a normal programmer work practice won’t work live; but by inserting “live_loop” into the code, he can code and play music simultaneously.
Sam describes how children are now using Sonic Pi to play music live in their school assemblies; how cool is that?
12:28 App innovator Adrian Hon: Near Death Entrepreneur Experiences
Born in the Wirral, Adrian is founder of indie games company Six to Start, author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects, and former technology writer for The Telegraph.
Adrian wants to talk about the true story of being an entrepreneur; unlike fiction, real life doesn’t usually have a happy ending.
Adrian studied as a neuroscientist, and was hired straight out of university by Mind Candy, which is the company behind popular children’s game Moshi Monsters. He worked on the Perplex Citygame for three years as Director of Play (they got to pick their own titles). This WAS a death experience; stopped making Perplex City after just one season.
Started Six to Start with his brother Dan and a few people from Mind Candy, just before the 2008 recession; they had enough time to make games for Channel 4 and others, and consulted for Disney Imagineering. Won Best in Show at SXSW in 2009 and Most Innovative at Most Innovative; team grew to eight people.
Even so, found it difficult to make money. “It was a real struggle… it was difficult to compete with companies who hired hundreds of people. It was stressful for everyone running the company, and by 2010, we weren’t having fun anymore.”
Fell out with his brother Dan on the direction of the company, who left the business. He now warns people to be careful when working with friends or family; it’s not just the business that’s at risk if you disagree, it’s the relationship.
Came up with Zombies Run for smartphones in 2011, and remains their most successful game. An audio story that needs you to run; it tracks your running times, and you need to run to survive the Zombie apocalypse. Crowdfunded it for $12,500; raised $72,627. “Right idea, right time, right execution” that gained press on CNN and Boing Boing. Led to home workout apps, step tracking games, and a walking game with the NHS; “They were all good apps, but not necessarily great apps … we expanded too quickly.”
Went back to improving Zombies Run, and made it free-to-play rather than costing £5 to download. Now making more money from player subscriptions and ads from free downloads; working on products via the brand of Zombies Run, rather than the game itself. “We’ve turned from a product into a service; like a gym subscription, they just keep coming back.” They’ve enjoyed 3 million sales and downloads so far, and it is now the world’s number one fitness game.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll face death many times. Perplex City was too early; Zombies Run has had the massive benefit of social media. On the face of it, a simple audio story; in reality, has made many people happy – Adrian receives letters from headteachers to people who just didn’t exercise before, who credit the game with improving their health, wellbeing and relationships.
12:03 Andy Wolfe, chief information officer of Shop Direct
Liverpool-based Shop Direct are a retailer with over 80 years of heritage, and have used mainstream technology to transform their business. A partnership of Littlewoods and Great Universal Stores (2003-7), and originally based around catalogue retail, the company is now a 100% ‘etail’ online business. From 2013 onwards, they’ve had a “very – explosive growth of +20%”,
The team, Andy explains, has a target customer called Miss Very who they talk about as if she was in the room; a mum who lives with her partner and who looks for quality and longevity in her purchases, and also looks for interest-free options. Consider the challenges in regards to knowing the wholly online customer; Shop Direct have a physical UX shop where they invite customers in to test their website.
On nurturing skills and creating skilled people to fill jobs: they’ve started their first apprenticeship scheme in Liverpool, starting with engineering.
Shop Direct have over 1 million site visits every week, but one third of their sales happen just before Christmas. Andy explains how using the Cloud enables them to keep the site alive during very busy periods.
Shop Direct have 4000 employees; 600-700 of whom work in technology!
COFFEE BREAK :-)
11:00 Pam Warhurst, Community Cultivator, IncredibleEdible
“I feel like we have no steer”: Pam, the “least techy person ever”, doesn’t believe that tech is the whole answer, and worries about the next generation.
“We ourselves can change our future; let’s stop passing the buck and see if we can focus on one single point… a universal language around one point of focus. Demonstrating through actions not words. Shift how we see spaces, invested our money, demands on our teachers, and those who make the frameworks of our lives.” No policy documents, no waiting; what if we could create something wonderful?
Pam transformed Todmorden, a town between Liverpool and Hull, into an oasis; focusing on planting food in public spaces.
Three main strands to IncredibleEdible’s success: Community, Learning and Business.
Pam and her team have “created edible landscapes all over the place”. A real-life Tens sunglasses effect in public spaces all over Todmorden.
Edible healthcentres, edible jobcentres, edible copshops… this project is run from the ground-up, and completely by volunteers. It has inspired people to start their own gardens, as Todmorden’s fire service have done; discuss health and wellbeing; and communities thinking positively and for themselves.
“You have to have a sense of humour to do this…” At first, everyone agrees to letting IncredibleEdible to plant on their front doorsteps – as long as they don’t have to do anything or pay for it, she laughs. Initial concerns, like people vandalizing food (a big reason cited for NOT planting in public spaces), have been proven unfounded. What has happened instead is that tension has been reduced at the police station; sweetcorn towers over police officers, and hydroponic lights from marijuana-busts are donated to the project!
On setting up pop-up canteens cooking with the food grown in these public spaces: “Don’t bother asking for permission when you’re erecting a tent; just get one that can be assembled and disassembled quickly!”, she laughs. These events are a perfect way to discuss recipes, imported goods versus local produce. IncredibleEdible give blackboards out to shops and cafes to share recipes; more shops have opened; there is Vegetable Tourism, with people traveling from all over the world to see this wonderful transformation, who stay in local B&Bs and spend money in Todmorden.
Now, there are IncredibleEdibles in Bristol and Lambeth. Why not, instead of a Northern Powerhouse, we had the Incredible Northern Greenhouse? We could drive change through food: “all manner of people are ready for change, we just need to join the dots.” Pam believes we could see significant societal change if we communicated with land owners, the health sector, the media, city leaders, lost souls… IncredibleEdible have proved it can happen.
“You have to believe in the power of small actions.”
10:22 Indiegogo’s hardware manager Kelly Angood
Kelly looks after campaigns, and in her own words, “hangs out with loads of cool start-ups!”
Crowdfunding: the exact opposite of traditional finance. Not, however, a new idea: over $250,000 raised in 1885 from New Yorkers to finance the base for The Statue of Liberty.
Kelly also owns a company called The Po-Up Pinhole Co.; selling DIY pinhole camera kits online. It successfully ran two crowdfunding campaigns, raising £75k, with 1752 backers from over 50 companies around the world. So much so, Kelly was able to quit her day job as a result. £75k was a huge amount, but “quickly spent when you’re sending cameras around the world.”
Kelly started working for Indiegogo soon after, working with some amazing companies, including Aido, the next gen robot; Roccbox, the portable stone pizza oven; ‘A’ speaker, a directional speaker that only you can hear, when it’s directed at your eyeline; and Brewgooder, the world’s first craft beer to turn beer into clean drinking water in the developing world, now sold in Brew Dog.
On Indiegogo, you can fund into five different currencies over four languages. Founded in 2008, it is the world’s first crowdfunding platform, before the term had been widely used. The problem with traditional finance: gatekeeping. Crowdfunding can fund projects that matter to people. It’s open, entrepreneurial, creative; with no application process. It’s merit-based; “gogofactors” include how many views your campaign is getting: “When you’re campaigning, you should really focus on how many people are looking at your project.”
Tools include being able to send private perks to certain donors; In Demand, which enables people to reach you and continue to donate, even when your campaign has ended; and flexible and fixed funding.
“It’s not all about the money, at all!”: crowdfunding is a great way to connect with customers and potential evangelists. It validates your idea, spreads awareness, and captures data.
Videos, Kelly says, are absolutely vital to your crowdfunding campaign. Kelly’s Top Tips:
- Keep it short!
- 0:00-00:15: Tell your audience who you are…
- 0:16-2:15: Explain the project -- what, why, what perks, and include explanations of mixed use case/added value…
- 2:16-2:30: Include a strong call to action, the perks, reduced cost to the consumer, and what a great deal theyre getting. Readdress the audience, thank them and ask them to share.
- Show loads of use cases and your product in action. Don’t be afraid to tell your personal story.
Kelly shows us an example of a great video: Tens’ “real life photo filter”.It starts with customer reactions, describing sunglasses that make life look ten times better. The personal touches include showing their distribution centre in Glasgow. Tens explain the process of making it; years of research and sampling, and all the funding will go towards first run of glasses. Lovely looking film, including chilled music and a summer vibe… very convincing.
More tips: “running a crowdfunding campaign is like having a full-time job”. Consider NOT working alone; if you work with a team, stats show you can raise three times as much money. Keep your campaign to 30-39 days; post AT LEAST four campaign updates. Take care of your campaign and keep the energy focused on a big push at the beginning and the end, but don’t neglect it in the middle. And good luck!
09:52 Stuart Miles: From Zero to Zero
Miles is the founder of the UK’s largest independent gadget and technology news site Pocket-lint.This morning, he's taking us on a whirlwind tour of technological innovation from 2006 to the present day.
On the launch of Apple’s iPad in 2010: “this was the way we would be using computers.” We looked forward to 2015 as bizarrely, the film Back to the Future was set in the same year: think hoverboards, holograms, internet controlled homes. “It was fascinating at the time to interview Apple: they had a very strong belief that this was the future of computing.”
2012: the start of the quantified self, from fit bits to Apple watches. 2013: the next era of gaming. “This was Xbox’s chance to relaunch the gaming industry: I remember interviewing Peter Molyneux, who was espousing games that dint have an ending. It was very exciting.”
2014: cars transform. “There is a huge appetite for technology in cars; we’ve gone [as journalists] from covering flip phones in 2003 to whole cars without manual elements. We’ve had to learn as we went along.”
2015: virtual reality really starts to take off. Miles ponders the ‘real’, immersive experiences we are facing, on our phones, headsets, cinemas and more: and how the next generation will process these experiences. “Will we believe we’ve actually been to Mount Everest?”
2016: augmented reality, bots, voice assistants and more. Miles says journalists have a whole new set of challenges to overcome when communicating new technologies to an audience.
Herb Kim: what was it about Pocket-lint that’s made it succeed?
Miles' company was competing against print deadlines at the beginning, while Pocket-lint were filing stories, online, from the scene. “It’s about finding out what our readers want, then servicing them. The site is completely different from the site five years ago, five months ago, five days ago… we have to keep on changing.”
09:54 “Todays about zooming out”: Herb Kim discusses looking at the bigger picture today at Binary Keynotes.
08:52 25 MAY: BINARY KEYNOTES
Good Morning and welcome to FACT! We're still recovering from yesterday's fantastic opening party. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
We're welcoming delegates now until 09:30: the Creative Kitchen & Binary Breakfast is in full swing in FACT's cafe, and you can head to the FACT foyer to register.
Binary Keynotes Session 1 (09:30 - 11:00) will be in Screen 2 and will hear from Stuart Miles, Kelly Angood and Pam Warhurst...
The Kincho pop-up, 3D audio hub, Cosmos, will be in FACT foyer until the end of Binary Festival (6pm, 25 May 2016). Ask the team questions, test the kit and discuss audio challenges and solutions.
14:00 3D Audio for the Creative & Digital Industries with Kinicho and FACT
What, you may ask, is 3D audio? Immersive; positional; kinetic; spatial; surround... Audio, or sound, that will -- at some point -- match the experience of virtual reality.
We're at FACT with Kincho, who have worked with an impressive list of clients on immersive audio, including leading VRstudio Marshmallow laser Feast, Glastonbury, Complicite theatre (The Encounter) and on FACT exhibitions. They specialize in high-order ambisonic and binaural reproduction and installation services for immersive sound arrays; 3D-scopic listening experiences for headphone users; and even do a flat-pack 20-speaker, 3rd order ambisonic dodecahedron array for pop-up installation.
Sounds complicated… thankfully Team Kincho get us all to wear headphones for a demonstration. We listen to the differences of a drumkit being played in different positions in the room, via stereo and reverb (which is very important to 3D experiences).
“The rulebooks haven’t been written”, explains Kincho’s Garry Haywood. “One thing we are certain about is a shift towards ambisonics [a full-sphere surround sound technique]: for example, Facebook yesterday bought ambisonics company Two Big Ears.” Garry discusses the possibility of sound really relefcting pioneering VR experiences. Like Starship Group’s vTime: an immersive social media platform.
You may think that you haven’t yet experienced 3D audio, but Garry reminds us of the evolution that’s already happening.
“Anyone that’s been to an advanced cinema with 3D sound will have experienced this type of 3D audio.” Dolby, the familiar cinema brand, is alreay selling Atmos speakers to cinema groups. It isn’t, as yet, readily available in home consumption; perhaps just within headphone use.
Games companies are the real promoters of 3D audio right now, Garry says; current games include Sega’s Showdown, Minecraft, Until Dawn (whose trailer all in binaural), Corse Party on Playstation Vita, Starship Group, and Papa Sangre on IOS (a horror audio game with Sean Bean).
12:00 Meet The Makers at LJMU FabLab
LJMU FabLab offers a few main services: we have a go at a Cybernetics puzzle, and laser cutting, and the 3D printing facilities. The FabLab provide basic plastic printers, like Ultimaker, through to the more high resolution printing device Z-corp, which also prints in colour. It’s a democatic way of working; anyone can buy an Ultimaker for their home, costing around £1500.
The laser scanning is interesting. We have a go scanning each other’s faces with Sense, a hand-held 3D scanner, which
can be bought online for around £350; the end result is rather like looking at a robot version of yourself.
LJMU staff member and Medical Art grad (University of Dundee) Mark Roughley, who works in the LJMU School of Art research group Face Lab, explains about the uses of this tech. He is working with artist Gina Czarneckion a sculptural piece called Heirloom; the artist is growing skin onto 3D-printed glass sculptures of her children.
11:30 Meet The Makers at LJMU FabLab
We’re greeted by LJMU FabLab manager Lol Baker, who gives us a summary of maker spaces worldwide, and of FabLab’s role more specifically as an international network of maker spaces where people can learn, make and play.
We are also treated to a Skype call with FabLab Barcelona director’s Tomas Diez, who explains why Barcelona has been working towards becoming a pioneering FabCity. Tomas and the team believe that it will take 38 years (they have a countdown on their site) for Barcelona to be connected with other FabCities; on the list so far include Amsterdam, Boston, and Shenzhen, with others signing up all the time. The theory – which can be read in full via their white paper -- is that it will take that long to create a working, global infrastructure to support such a venture; making locally and, as Lol says, “shipping ideas across the world”.
Lol would love Liverpool, a port city, to do the same; is it possible? He has a series of live art projects planned for FabLab LJMU this summer that will hook up with other global clusters to learn together and solve problems together. “I’m very interested in inventing stuff”, Lol tells me; “Liverpool traditionally is a making city, situated on the edge. FabLab is an obvious link to moving towards invention and pooled skills. FabLab can also help Liverpool City Centre link to other Liverpool areas that are sometimes left out, like Knowsley, Norris Green; creating high paid and skilled jobs, connecting young people... we can provide the tools to build the skills.”
Read more about Liverpool Maker Spaces here.
11:09 VR & Musical Performance at Draw & Code
The logistics? "It's an awful lot of data... Point cloud capture files are in between 5 and 10GB each." But tech companies are making it easier for individuals and startups to use the tools. Phil says we're perhaps still 10 years away from the result being perfect.
You can buy a handheld 3D scanner, which is what we're using today to scan each other into the video: Google's Project Tango development kit.
But you can also now download 3D scanning apps to your phone.
10:49 VR & Musical Performance at Draw & Code
"The goal is the more that you [use the tech], each time you get a little bit more comfortable playing to the camera" -- All We Are on being surrounded by 360 cameras for their music video. "It creates more of an atmosphere for us, and captures the spirit of the performance."
The music video is ace; a cross-between Nintendo Mario Kart's Rainbow Road grand prix, an 1980's synth pop video and its own, metallic, psychedelic space odyssey.
10:30 INTRO: VR & Musical Performance at Draw & Code
"We believe that 360 video is the future of film."
Welcome from Phil Charnock! Immersive tech specialists, Draw and Code love augmented reality, projection mapping, 3D animation and scanning, and reappropriating gaming technology.
Today we'll be playing with a music video by Liverpool-based trio All We Are,
who have just arrived in person. Signed to Domino Records, the band met Draw and Code at an exhibition at FACT in 2014. The music video was filmed on Xbox Connect, and we're viewing it today on a HTC Vive headset.
Read more about the making of the video here.
10:06 VR & Musical Performance at Draw & Code ... setting up ...
08:59 24 MAY: BINARY GATHERINGS
Good morning! It's sunny, we're excited and totally live at Binary Festival 2016: a two-day gathering, celebrating and connecting communities of innovators, inventors, leaders, makers and creators of our future in Liverpool, UK.
You can follow along today's Binary Gatherings here on our live blog, for some in-depth coverage of selected events.
Tomorrow? You've got Binary Keynotes to look forward to.
Check out the whole schedule here.
First up... VR & Musical Performance at Draw & Code!
Live blog by Laura Robertson : Editor at The Double Negative, and a freelance arts writer, based in Liverpool
Binary Festival 2016 Blog: a special media partnership between The Double Negative arts magazine, Creative Tourist culture and travel site and Binary Blog. See the Festival on 24 and 25 May 2016 in Liverpool, UK
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