A children’s book explaining the project to families and how the Trace toys and app work.

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Trace BUDDIES book

Getting ready to test with families 🙂

trace toy and app







trACe project is looking for android developers experience in using arduino and Bluetooth 4.0 paid research position. click here for more details and contact me via email joanne@joannehodge.co.uk if interested.

trACe logo big web

PhD Snapshot


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Last week I attended MWC in Barcelona. This was a fantastic conference to look at and talk to companies at the cutting edge of mobile communication technologies. Everyone was there (except Apple who hold there own conference and keynotes in the summer) from Skype to Microsoft (who announced they would be partnering with Nokia for the next wave of smart phones).

Skype at MWC – Live video chatting








Alcatel Lucent took over all of Hall 8 showcasing some of there emerging technologies, one of my favourites was their Amazing Learning Unit. This allows children to play with each other (or chat to their parents) remotely using a smart phone which is placed onto a DIY toy becoming and making up part of the robot.

This is a fantastic platform for children to ‘meet’ each other in a virtual world and then play together  as if physically in the same space. Children can search (through the robot) to find other children with the same hobbies, interests or perhaps who are doing similar projects at school and connect with them through their smart robots.

It is also possible for parent and child to communicate through the robot, with it having a cleaver setting which will show the child when the parent has some ‘free time’, this can be linked to a personal calendar so when for example a lunch break is scheduled the icon on the child’s smart phone will change to show the parents presence and availability. The child then knows that he/she can call the parent without disturbing their work. This works similarly the other way round with the parent having the same ability so can see when their child has finished school (and homework/extra curricular activities etc) and is enjoying some ‘free play’ where they are able to talk. This calendar setting has the ability to be overridden (so if a meeting runs short it can be manually turned off). A cleaver idea and I imagine in the future (perhaps a good few years) these types off communications will be a commercial reality but for now the cost of the technology is still to great, so this cleaver piece of innovation is perhaps for the select few who can afford the cost of this communication toy and its key components.

Alcatel Lucent’s Amazing Learning Unit at MWC 2011











For more information on the Amazing Learning Unit see powerpoint below.

VoIP Conference – Emerging Communicationshttp://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=voipconference-emergingtrends-jose-slideshare-091105094510-phpapp02&stripped_title=voip-conference-emerging-communications&userName=jdefrancisco

Another really interesting company I chatted with at MWC was Sensiron; The Sensor Company. They talked me through their colour changing humidity sensor and showed me it in action. This was integrated into a mobile phone to determine the humidity in the air, to give feedback of weather conditions in am area, but I could see these types of sensors having great value within wearable technologies, especially embedding them into clothing design. A message could be sent by the humidity in the wearers breath. This could be used within ones own garment to show emotion to the outside world or as a remote communication to another wearer showing the connectedness of the two garments and wearers. It would be interesting to see two garments where the actions of the wearer had no effect on their own garment but on the garment of the other wearer and vice versa. What would this mean and how would the wearers feel and interpret this change. This could become a two way physical/visual representation of feelings and emotion being displayed on the garment(s), being sent and received, in each instant, by the remote wearer.
Sensiron’s Humidity Sensor at MWC 2011
Walking around the show it was easy to forget that initially the main aim and purpose for most of these mobile devices was and still is communication. To allow humans to converse and talk to each other whilst apart. Some of these devices can seem foreign and unusable to certain consumers, especially the ageing population who did not grow up with the technology. John’s Phone turns this on its head, it only has one function, yes to make a phone call. This idea is much like Paul Dourish’s idea on Specialisation (objects that just has one use – like a touchatag hat, a hat that tells the weather, indicates to the wearer if they need to wear it or not). It has no display screen, so cannot even send or display text messages; so forget trying to check your email. You can simply dial a number on its large key pad (which has only numbers 1-9, 0, a hash-tag and a star. It also has a Hello Button and a Goodbye button for answering and ending a call). Whilst chatting to a representative of John’s Phone, it was explained to me that they felt it was important to be able to write down names and numbers, instead of storing it digitally on a phone. From inside the back cover of the phone a small paper phone book and pen was produced, a paper based phonebook where all important numbers could be jotted down and saved. The only ‘hi-tech’ function of this phone well apart from the fact it lets you speak to people remotely through a small box, is that you can save up to 9 speed diles so you don’t have to constantly refer to your small paper phonebook for your 9 favourite people to call.
John’s Phone at the MWC 2011
The last company I am going to mention is P2i: Perform, Protect, Improve. They are a company working with nano technology that allows a product, once coated in their patent technology, to become completely water proof, dust proof so in a sense self cleaning. They were at MWC showcasing how there tech can be used to protect digital devices but I chatted to them about the capabilities for this being used with fabrics. Whether it be a phone or a garment that is placed into one of P2i’s plasma machines and coated with their nano technology, the item will come out completely waterproof but with no other change, no surface coating can be felt. P2i works across many fields from electronics,lifestyle and life sciences to filtration & energy and Military & institutional. Perfect for high performance garments (sportswear and military use) as well as protecting medical electronic devices, such as hearing aids so the wearer could keep it on in the shower.
P2i at MWC 2011

I went to the Futuro textiles exhibition in the Maritime museum, Barcelona last week and what a show. They were showcasing everything from Helen Stories Dissolving Dress, to the Spanish Synchronised swimmers costumes for the 2008 Olympics (which incidentally they did not get to wear in competition due to the fact the judges thought they were to spectacular and would give the team an unfair advantage!).

They have many traditional and modern raw materials on display and the best part about the exhibition was that you were encouraged (on the most part) to touch, play and interact with the exhibits.

I cannot talk about all of the works but below I have listed a few of my favourites.

La Parole (1998 – redone 2008) in by Pablo Reinoso is a large torpedo shaped instillation that looks like a flying ship from days gone by. In fact it is not. It is a safe communication space for two people. Each person stands on the perfectly positioned ‘box’ underneath a Velcro ‘head slot’ and enters inside this vacuum where nothing seems to matter but the conversation you are having with the person who has joined you in this strange universe. This inflated cocoon, according to the artist “provides a new approach to human relations and a mode of conversation that is paradoxically introspective”. The artist to me has created a wonderful space for two people to converse one-to-one, leaving everything else ‘outside’ and purely focussing on the words.








La Parole







La Parole


Vasyble Project by GAIA Design (2010) is a concertinaed hood that two lovers can use to shut out the world “any time and any place” to be alone with each other. This project is about creating intimacy and to me holding on to these private moments shared between two people in our ever changing fast passed digital world, where everything is on show and intimacy appears dead.










Vasyble Project


And of course Daan Roosegaarde’s Intimacy Dress (2009-2010) that I have mentioned before in my blog. It was wonderful to see this dress in action, observing first hand as the sections of the dress slowly faded in and out from opaque to transparent and back again. The wearer revealing and then hiding them self from moment to moment.











Intimacy Dress

To find out more about this wonderful exhibition see the Maritime Museums webpage and for more photos of the show see my flickr page.

Capture and Record your experiences, upload & share automatically with the Wear I Go ring. This is a really interesting project that can keep your friends up-to-date with your every goings on… it does raise the question of privacy… everything in moderation? It would be a very useful tool to record events, research and practical activities giving accurate time lines in pictures that can be annotated at a later date. All in all a very cleaver solution to fulfil our need to be constantly aware of what our friends are doing.

Wear I go from Yves on Vimeo.

“Wear I Go” is a camera-wearable that introduces new perception into your everyday. You believe you knew where you live but this device will help you think again. As a font of inspiration, photographic experiment or just for the fun of it, Wear I Go will put your life in to a whole new perspective.

The initial device is a self-contained ring. When you buy this ring, you are automatically subscribed to a service that allows you to upload photos and videos as they are taken. On the ring itself, there is a built-in diamond like camera which you can use as just another camera and take pictures on demand. Or, you can also use it as a “second-eye” by setting it up to automatically take pictures at pre-defined intervals, and in this case your device will pleasantly surprise you by giving you unexpected angles and bringing a new light into known and new grounds.

By setting your ring to “public mode” when you and your friends are together, will also allow you to sync your photos to your friend’s online account, meaning pictures will be taken at the same time from the Wear I Go devices worn by different people, documenting “this moment” from a variety of view points.

The Wear I Go ring is only the starting point. You can expand your collection and bring newer angles by buying accessories, such as pendants, earrings or bracelets, which also have built-in cameras and are part of the full concept. In this case, your ring works not only as a self-standing device, but also as a “remote-control” to the other Wear I Go devices.

via the Interaction Design Programme Denmark’s website

Inventor Claudia Schultze has developed the NuMetrex; heart monitoring technology that is woven directly into sports apparel. These intelligent sensing fibres communicate with a small transmitter that is also embedded into the clothing (this is removable for washing purposes). The transmitter sends the heart rate information to a watch, treadmill or any compatible machine.

This type of monitoring system could have applications outside the sporting realm as smart textiles in health care and also the wearables market as a whole. The possibilities for textiles that can recognise certain information about the body and communicate this to an external device are endless… New parents monitoring their babies vitals for distress etc.

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