Monday, February 25, 2008

Adding Inspiration to Innovation

On Friday, February 8, we made a field trip to Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and later we got an opportunity to see Steve Mann’s Hydraulophones, which were quite interesting. I’ll talk about the two in this write-up.

In the first part of the trip Mr. Brian Porter, Senior Director of New Media Resources, showed us the digital gallery at ROM. As soon as we got seated we started exploring the touch screen display in front of us. On the screen we had the option to explore either the Ancient Egyptian or the Canadian Heritage. In terms of technology it did not appear very pioneering, but at the same time it was a great thought of having digitizing the ancient pieces at the ROM into 2D and 3D imaging etc. Brian talked for a while and gave us a brief introduction of himself and his work at ROM. Later he showed us an education film based on Canadian Heritage on a three projector – widescreen which was made entirely by the new media team at the ROM.

Next, we moved on to the new Dinosaur Exhibit at ROM. Well, the purpose was not to see the skeletons of the Dinos, but to see the interactive displays (touch screen, gesture technology, etc) which let people explore more about those extinct species. The touch screens were not multi-touch, but had the interface design kind of like Apple's iTouch.

Then we moved to a sound studio and met a multimedia guy named Zack. He showed us the audio mixing and 3d video editing/production stuff he does. He had a nice little office full of computers, wires, an audio mixer etc, where he was utilizing his artistic and technical skills. That job is perfect for him and he loves it, Zack said.

In the second part of the field trip we visited inventor, pioneer, professor Steve Mann, known as world’s first cyborg. He was having a wearable multimedia computer with video processing capability and wireless Internet connection on top of his head that, he says, allows him to view the world differently than the ordinary people. You can watch a video here where Steve talks about his work in more detail.

Another thing Steve showed is called Hydraulophone, a water pipe organ flute. It was very inspiring to see that water piano being played. The very first moment I could not believe that it was water that produced the sound. I have never seen any thing like that.

Overall, I it was fun and very inspiring to visit those places and it was actually the best field trip for the course Multimedia Pioneering. Like it’s said: Inspiration = Innovation; hopefully this inspiration may result in some innovation.

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