Student invents fabric circuit boards as tech teaching aids

Elisabetta Motta

A third year student from Goldsmiths Computing has developed a unique felt circuit board to enable primary school children to learn about electronics.

The project, ‘Felt-e’, was created by BSc Creative Computing student Elisabetta Motta as a potential new resource for teaching physical computing to children.

She said: “My research into primary schools found that teachers in computing lessons often lack the resources and time to enthuse young boys and girls about the subject. Felt-e provides a unique, hands on experience for kids and allows them to be creative while learning about electronics. It’s also a resource that’s easy to understand for teachers who might be unfamiliar with computing.”

Elisabetta, 28, surveyed a number of teachers during her initial research, exploring the frustrations of many Key Stage 1 and 2 teachers around lack of computing knowledge and pressures to prioritise literacy and mathematics.

Common feedback included a difficulty keeping pupils focused and lack of resources to run hands-on activities, which inspired the design of the Felt-e board.

Similarly laid out to a breadboard – a commonly used electronic tool which allows the user to lay out components – Felt-e includes two bus strips and ten terminal strips. Each strip has metallic poppers, to which the user can connect ‘wires’ and other components.

The longer wires have one popper on one end to connect to the board, and a crocodile clip on the other end to connect to the micro controller. The shorter wires have poppers on each end so connect points on the board.

Components are made from white felt with drawings of the relevant electronic symbol on one side and positive and negative signs on each end (if relevant to the component). The circuit is also compatible with micro controllers including the BBC micro:bit.



This post was adapted from an article by Chris Smith published on Goldsmiths News.

Generation 2018! Undergraduate Computing degree show

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Thursday 7 June sees our annual celebration of achievement by undergraduate students from across the department.

A mash-up of exhibition, show-and-tell, performance and academic conference, GENERATION is a showcase of outstanding computing projects realised by undergraduates in 2017-18. It’s an exhibition for anyone who’s interested in how digital technology and computer science is impacting on health, education, business and entertainment.

This year we have a lots of computer games, as well as virtual reality experiences, augmented reality apps, interactive thingamajigs and technologies for art, music, education, business and healthcare.

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Opens: 1pm-5pm Thursday 7 June
Bar & performances: 5pm-9pm Thursday 7 June

Goldsmiths Student Union Bar
Dixon Road, Goldsmiths, University of London

GENERATION website

Goldsmiths’ MIMIC project: ‘Cyborg’ musicians could be the future of music

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Massive Attack at Weekendance 2007 in Barcelona. Photo: Alterna2

Musicians will be able to use Artificial Intelligence to create new music and sound to share or sell, thanks to a project led by Goldsmiths.

At a time when many in the music industry worry their livelihoods are under threat from new technology, the MIMIC (Musically Intelligent Machines Interacting Creatively) project puts humans back in control of making music.

MIMIC will develop free, user-friendly web tools that harness the power of AI to listen to existing recordings and come up with new sounds and instruments interactively. Artists will own the sounds they create and can incorporate them into their music or sell them to others. The tools will meld the latest ‘deep learning’ AI methods with people’s creativity to empower a new generation of ‘cyborg’ musicians.

The £1m project is a collaboration between Goldsmiths, the University of Durham, the University of Sussex, and Google Magenta and has been funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Mick Grierson, Professor of Computing at Goldsmiths and MIMIC project leader said: “In the past, to use these powerful Artificial Intelligence technologies you had to be an expert in programming: we want to make these technologies free and easy for anyone to use – from amateur music-makers and sonic experimenters to professional musicians.

“Rather than simply creating autonomous musical ‘robots’, we are harnessing Artificial Intelligence systems to augment human creativity. We’re inviting people to meld their musical talents and sonic curiosity to the very latest deep learning systems. Our interfaces will mean you don’t have to already know how to code to benefit from AI, you just have to want to make some noise. However, if you do want to code, you’ll be able to do so using a new language we will be creating specifically for making AI music systems.”

The AI technology powering MIMIC has already proved a hit with professional musicians: Massive Attack are currently using it to create new musical instruments for the upcoming tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Mezzanine album. Back in 2016, Sigur Ros used a similar system built by Grierson to create an evolving version of a single song for a 24-hour televised journey around the Icelandic coast. Now the Goldsmiths-led team wants to make these technologies accessible to anyone with an interest in musical creation and exploration.

The MIMIC team aim to upload the first prototype web tools for people to experiment with within the next year. The tools will use a browser-based simplified live coding language written on top of JavaScript specially designed for musicians and artists. As well as working with the music industry, the team plan to produce learning materials for university, secondary school, and professional learners introducing them to how they can enhance their creativity with AI systems.


 

This post, written by Pete Wilton, was originally published on Goldsmiths News

BSc Digital Arts Computing degree show

Exit Strategy from Goldsmiths Computing on Vimeo.

The degree show for BSc Digital Arts Computing launches on Thursday 3 May.

Titled EXIT STRATEGY, the exhibition features over 30 computational artists, using digital technologies to create works on surveillance, artificial intelligence, art theory and the end of humanity.

Artworks include cliquey robots, a VR gallery, life stories from the Soviet era, haptic devices simulating human touch, sonified data, and a toddler exposed to the internet.

The exhibition launches with the ever-popular opening night party, 5.30pm-9.30pm Thursday 3 May 2018, with guests from across the world of art, curating and digital practice. Get free tickets for the party

EXIT STRATEGY continues from Friday 4 until Monday 7 May, 12noon – 5pm each day.


EVENT: Digital Art’s Exit Strategies
3pm – 4.30pm Saturday 5 May
We invite artists, theorists and curators Suhail Malik, Ami Clarke and Bob Bicknell-Knight to respond to the exhibition and propose art and curatorial strategies for exits. Open to all.


Indie Developer Showcase: Matthew Deline’s SHAPE ARCADE

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Any Button Gaming journalist Darren Colley recently met up with Matthew Deline, a student on our MA Indie Games & Playable Experience Design. We republish his article here.

This week we are showcasing the creator of retro tabletop arcade cabinet Shape Arcade, Matthew Deline.

m0ULgOqk_400x400Hi! My name is Matthew, and it’s very nice to meet you. I’m an aspiring independent game designer and travel blogger from California who is currently based in London. I love to travel and make cool things, and I am a passionate believer in the importance of storytelling and the power of creative expression through play.

Building on lessons learned throughout my professional and academic history, from a focus in world literature (I was named the 2009 Outstanding Graduate in English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University), to high-level Technical support for global teams at Apple in Cupertino, to my experiences filming, writing about, and sharing our world as a travel blogger with The Radical Dreamer, I’m currently studying to build transformative game experiences at one of the United Kingdom’s top universities for digital humanities with the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design program at Goldsmiths, University of London.

My key interests of study include interactive fiction, virtual reality, physical computing, and creative coding which gives me a unique interdisciplinary skill set from using Unity, GameMaker and C# to create digital games, to Twine for exploring branching and reactive narratives, to using Processing and Open Frameworks to make tools for creating generative artwork, and the use of microcontrollers and electronics for building playable (and playful) experiences.

And with a core focus on learning fundamental game design concepts, I now have a skill set that includes rapid prototyping and iteration on paper and in Unity for a broad range of both physical and digital experiences. And I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to create with these new skills to explore the sociological and identity issues that are relative to interactive entertainment and the unique narrative and expressive qualities that the medium contains.

About The Game, Shape Arcade
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Shape Arcade is an arcade game where players compete to reach the highest score possible by using two dials to match their player’s shape to different colored shapes falling down the screen. Designed to be simple and intuitive to engage with, and challenging at higher levels of play.

Players match shapes by moving their player using the left dial, and increase or decrease the number of sides to their shape by turning the right dial. As players reach higher levels, their scores become even higher, and so do the stakes! Shapes move faster, rotate, and sway. Once they have missed three shapes in a row, the game is over.

The original concept for the game is inspired by early arcade-era games in which the goal is to reach the highest score possible. Games like Defender, Space Invaders, Asteroids, as well as more recent re-interpretations of the frenetic action in games like Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and Pac Man Championship Edition DX were instrumental in defining the gameplay characteristics of flow and compelling interaction and colorful and simple aesthetics that I wanted to achieve with this game.

img_27001972’s Pong was a major influence on the arcade design that uses two dials for interaction. Early versions of Shape Arcade had three dials, and a remote controller over bluetooth, but it was feedback from players that pushed me in the direction of building an arcade cabinet that is heavily influenced by this design. The actual concept for the game itself (where you are matching falling shapes) comes from a more unlikely source, the game show Nokabe, which has been described as a sort of human Tetris where players must contort their bodies into awkward positions to fit through holes in walls that are coming towards them. The natural tension of having to match a particular shape or face disaster I
found very compelling, although the falling shapes in the final version of Shape Arcade are more akin to Tetris than the game show itself

The final art style of the game (including the font) was heavily inspired by the works of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, and other members of the Bauhaus school of art that utilized geometry and everyday patterns to create incredible things.

You can find out more about Shape Arcade and its development process in Matthew’s developer blog.

We cannot wait to see what Matthew works on next and you can keep up to date with where you can play Shape Arcade by following him on Twitter or checking out his website for more of what you have seen here.


Many thanks to Darren Colley for giving us permission to post his article here. Read more of Darren’s work here.

MA students create Playful Experiences podcast

30740277_10156071513906138_3200763693751074816_nStudents on the MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design have  regular podcast talking about their experiences and loves.

Listen below, or catch them on iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.


EPISODE ONE: It’s Alive!
Join us for our inaugural episode as students Matthew, Ben and Tommy sit down to chat about games, university life in London, the importance of embracing failure, and more!


EPISODE TWO: The New Challengers!
Matthew, Ben and Tommy as they are joined this week by newcomers Billy, Ece, and Doruk to discuss Games, Design, and student life in London. This week we discuss the importance of the magic circle, player agency, and narrative choice with a discussion on Stardew Valley, Prey, Gone Home, Life Is Strange, What Remains of Edith Finch, Hollow Knight, Bury Me My Love and more.


EPISODE THREE: Life in London
Join Matthew, Billy, Tommy and Alex as they discuss their chosen course of study, what it’s like returning to school, life in London, and arcade culture!


EPISODE FOUR: Narrative Games and Voice Over Artistry
This week we have a visit from a very special guest, voiceover actress Natalie Winter. We discuss what it’s like to work in a recording booth and how best to incorporate voice over into our games. And we have a massive discussion about both the physical and digital in gaming; from The Town of Light, Before I Forget, Fragments of Him, to Forbidden Desert, Pandemic Legacy, Dungeons and Dragons, and all the way to Super Mario Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim VR and TWINE.


EPISODE FIVE: End of Term
This week, we discuss Horizon: Zero Dawn and other open-world games, developing for virtual reality, share some of our thoughts from the end of the first lecture term, and have a deep discussion about some of the projects that we’ve been working on.


The podcast team invite you to chat to them at contact@playfulexperiences.com and on twitter @_experienceplay.

New model reveals forgotten influencers and ’sleeping beauties’ of science

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The influence of ‘forgotten’ scientific papers has been demonstrated in a new study led by a researcher from Goldsmiths, University of London.

A team from Goldsmiths, the University of Chicago, Google, the University of Maryland, and Columbia University, developed a model that tracks ‘discursive influence’, or recurring words and phrases in historical texts that measure how scholars actually talk about a field, instead of just their attributions. To determine a particular scientific paper’s influence, the researchers can statistically remove it from history and see how scientific discourse would have unfolded without it.

aaron-gerow380Aaron Gerow, Lecturer in Computing at Goldsmiths, who led t
he study said: “Citations are one kind of impact, and discursive influence is a different kind. Neither one is the complete story, but they work together to give a better picture of what’s influencing science.”

The researchers report in the journal PNAS how they trained the model on massive text collections from computational linguistics, physics, and across science and scholarship (JSTOR) and then traced distinct patterns of influence. They found that scientists who persistently published in a single field were more likely to be ‘canonised’ in a way that compelled others to cite them disproportionate to their papers’ discursive contributions. On the other hand, discoveries that crossed disciplinary boundaries were more likely to have outsized discursive impact but fewer citations, likely because the ‘owner’ of the idea and her allies remain socially and institutionally distant from the citing author.

The model also sheds light on so-called ‘sleeping beauties’: papers that went relatively unacknowledged for years or even decades before experiencing a late burst of citations. For example, a 1947 paper on graphene remained obscure and forgotten until the 1990s with a resurgence of research interest in the material and an eventual Nobel Prize.

Study co-author James Evans, director of Knowledge Lab and professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, said: “Papers have a news cycle, when lots of people chat about them and cite them, and then they’re no longer new news. Our model shows that some papers have much more influence than citations will typically demonstrate, such as these ‘sleeping beauties,’ which didn’t have much influence early but come to be appreciated and important later.”

The study used a computational method known as ‘topic modeling’ that was invented by co-author David Blei of Columbia University. The authors said the same model can also be used to trace influence in other areas, such as literature and music. Text from poems or song lyrics, and even extra-textual characteristics such as stanza structure or chord progressions, could feed into the model to find under-credited influencers and map the spread of new concepts and innovations.

A report of the research, ‘Measuring discursive influence across scholarship’ by Aaron Gerow, Yuening Hu, Jordan Boyd-Graber, David M. Blei and James A. Evans, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


This article is based on an original story written by Rob Mitchum for University of Chicago News, which was then adapted by Peter Wilton for Goldsmiths News.