21/04/2012 Click


Guide to the latest gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. The tech team visit an expo in Liverpool to explore to what extent we can be in two places at once.

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Did you think you were in charge of the machines? Not any more. Now,


This week, Click is in Liverpool at the art exhibition designed to test


our relationship with robots and each other. But are you ready to


become a digital been? As a rapper Tupac is resurrected for one final


peak, we show you how this holographic effect was achieved. --


gig. And a side that has control of your online mutterings in Webscape.


Welcome. It is pretty certain that in the future, we will all be


talking to each other more and more using technology. Communicating


with people who are a fair distance away, as if they were in the same


room. Now, I am not just talking about video calling your mother.


There are many more ways in which you can make your presence felt and


feel that of somebody else's from afar. That is why we have come to


this exhibition which explores some of those ideas. It is called Robots


and Avatars. Part art, part technology, this is


a collection of works exploring ways in which we made few others


and ourselves as digital beings. -- view. The artists have pondered


questions like how do we feel about seeing ourselves on screen? How


would it feel to look more of our lives in virtual bodies? And how


would it feel to let machines take more control over our real bodies?


This work, for example, called Base 8 invited to transform your hand


into a virtual one to experience the feeling of handling non-


existent particles. As more and more devices become controlled


using gestures, we may have to get used to moving things around which


we cannot actually feel. Maybe manipulating particles in a virtual


chemistry lab or remotely controlling that will hand from


thousands of miles away. You may instead want to use your phone to


control a bop -- A Bott, bot's voicebox. This is a daunting figure


designed to give a voice to others who may otherwise be lost in the


crowd. He certainly is hard to ignore. Some of robotic


interpretations are far more tenuous. Take a leader - a giant


globe covered with pieces of coal and filled with a mixture of you in


bed to make it floaty. Aida has been described as an analogue robot.


Something that is remote controlled by quite a few people at one time.


But in no way did Italy. The point, does it say something about what


happens when people try to be cholate -- created at once? Maybe.


And from the physical to the emotional. Some of the works are


designed to capture our feelings. The electronic man is a website


which sources emotions from users around the world. If the project


gains momentum, it could provide a guide to the happiest places on


earth and the most stressful. If crossing continents is not your


thing, you now have many ways to talk to people on the other side of


the world. If you years ago, Second Life was briefly all the rage. A 3D


space in which your avatar could build a home, the business and


relationships with others, no matter where their flesh and blood


fissions decided. Although the buzz around it has died down, its ideas


live on. This project, Visions of our Communal Dreams, attempts to


show how a virtual world may blend with the real one. Not only can you


fly your avatar around this island, meeting and interacting with others


virtually, but it can also see and talk to real people as well. Fly to


one of several portals of the island and you will find a window


to a particular place in the real world. Cameras and projectors allow


real and virtual people to converse across the physical and virtual


divide. More of this later. And finally, something much more


unnerving. It is designed to test out trust in technology. Will we


ever reach a point where we let the robot drive us about? How easy


would it be to give over physical control to a machine? I am about to


find out. World! -- I do not have much choice


about which way it wants me to go. This frightening looking beast is


called Compass and has the ability to spin you around. It has its own


ideas about the route you should walk and, specifically, it will not


let you walk into the rectangles of light. It is guided by a small


magnetic field under the carpet and gets its talk by spinning


heavyweights in the opposite direction.


This is kind of awesome but it is not very nice. The Compass is


really insisted on where it wants me to go and where it does not want


me to go. It is really strong. It is very difficult to resist when it


turns you. I guess this is what it We are back with Ede, the giant


inflatable robot/avatar. And our guest, Professor Noel Sharkey. --


aider. Welcome to Click. Is there anything you and your profession


can learn from this? Quite a lot. I love working with artists and


designers because they explore domains we do not look at. We are


good at Engineering. But if you want real beauty and an exploration


of new ideas, this is the way to go. I would recommend we do this kind


of arts in our schools. And we are teaching robotics. There has been a


lot of talk about how a i is getting better. What Aires is it


particularly good at? And for what parts of simulating real life? --


areas. There has been a lot of talk since the 50s. In the 70s, we would


have all household Tours does. One thing we are good at is making


false predictions. -- tours. The areas we are good at his robotics.


There is a lot of work in robotics in things like farming, picking


fruit, cleaning floors, a lot of cleaning tasks. The reason for this


is until the 1980s, the big ambitions were to make a big


thinking robot machine. That was almost impossible. Machines were


moving so slowly. You could hardly see them moving. So we moved from a


fast sensor type operation, stop trying to make multi-purpose


machines. Now, there is one robot that will clean and sweep the floor,


one that will market, and one that will clean the windows. That is the


area where we are making progress. Single purpose robots. Also the


area of telly robotics. That is becoming major. It has become


really begin surgery, particularly in the US. It is robotic assistance


for a surgeon. The surgeon moves the hand but the robot takes out


tremors and so it is good progress. I have been told in the past that


it is the sensors on any were bought or system that is still


letting us down, the ability to in per -- interpret the world and act


on it. Is that still the case? is but it is not the sensors


themselves. They are becoming remarkable with nanotechnology. We


are making incredible infrared sensors. Sonar sensors take out


certain problems. But with vision, for example, back in the 1950s, we


thought we would saw fit in ten years but we have seen little


progress. We can classify a telephone or a cup, put the two


together and you have a cup of a phone or something but it is poor.


Thank you. There is a lot here and a sure it will fire your


imagination. Get in touch. Next - this week's Tech News.


Scientists at the University of Glasgow have pioneered a way to use


3D printers to create drugs and other chemicals. The process


involves a robotic we controlled syringe, building the drugs out of


the gel based ink into which chemicals and catalysts are mixed.


It is thought manufacturers, doctors and even the public could


use the technique to download, pre- set recipes and Taylor medicines to


individual's means. Greenpeace warns of the environmental impact


towards the trend towards cloud computing. A new report breaks some


of the biggest firms on how efficient they are data farms are.


Google performed well while Apple and amazon were rated poorly. The


canteen group says if the cloud was a country, it would be the fifth


biggest polluter on the planet. Apple, which do not provide


information for the report, disputed the figures and says it is


currently building greener power supplies. Microsoft says its next


operating system, Windows eight, will come in four flavours,


including one designed for tablet. The Enterprise and professional


versions are aimed at business -- businesses. This covert system


would also work on Pat strain laptops and includes versions of


Excel, PowerPoint and other operations. A US firm that asked


the public for $100,000 to create a new type of what has raised more


than $3 million in just one month. The what, which has a seven-day


back to life, has an efficient display, links to the user's Apple


or android phone, allowing them to -- alerting and e-mails or messages.


It also runs cycling apps. It may even dispense cash at this rate!


Of -- a window to a virtual world. At the moment, it does not look


like anybody his home. But the ideas and technology behind this


are now starting to bring more people together.


Most of us associate avatars with gaming. A fantasy character we


control in words -- worlds where we fight battles and without fantasies,


even own Allam Ireland. Increasingly, the characters are


not carrying swords. -- our own island. They wear normal clothes


and look like us because the virtual world they are in a not


fantasy but designed to mimic the real one. The most popular


applications are virtual meetings with the number of five-10 persons


for in 18. We have a virtual conferences where we have something


like 20-30 people up to hundreds of participants in a conference room.


And virtual trade shows where thousands of people visit a booth


and so on. Instead of getting crushed in the hustle and bustle of


trade shows, you can dig in and out from your desk or laptop. -- dip.


And then there is the virtual classroom where student avatars


respond to the real person's movements, picked up by the camera


on their computer. Teachers can see who is paying attention by seeing


which way they are looking for posing questions and asking


students to raise their hands. Over the past few years, these spaces


have become more simple to create. Now, you can even design want using


a Facebook app. The use of avatars has several advantages over video.


It tends to use less bandwidth, allow more people to get involved,


with a little less personal There is nothing quite like seeing


someone's face. Their ears. I think he has a bit more hair now. While


many of us have become familiar with using services like Skype,


tech giant Cisco is taking it to a new level that is high-definition


with no light time. It is called telepresence. Because as humans, we


understand much more than is being said. We have visual beans. 64% of


communication is non-verbal. It is body language, the look in my eye,


the tone of my voice. Eyeballing someone across the table is


important. So rather than placing the camera that catches your image


above or below the screen you're looking at, US firm DVE have


managed to put it in the middle, behind the image of the person. The


screen is semi-transparent plastic with a special metallic coating


that reflects a projected image of those being beamed in. A Monday


morning meeting at our offices. Not everyone has turned up but many


existing the new conferencing systems would struggle to bring


this many people together. That is no longer a problem. We may no


longer have an excuse to miss it at all. Here, we had 60 people brought


together using 19 different video feeds. Polycom says this system can


support more than 1,000 individual video streams. They do not all need


specialist kit. Chris is using an iPad here but he


could be used in any one of a variety of smartphones or tablets.


-- using. Does that mean employees could be


forced into conferences at any time of the day like some are expected


to respond to e-mail now. There is the ability now to work from


anywhere. Bosses might transfer -- translate that in to an ability to


work any time. Of course, the work- life balance is something that


might be a challenge for everybody but there are other mechanisms


available. As telepresence becomes more realistic so our systems that


show more of the body and at a more useful visual tools. One of the


useful things is being able to gesture and use your hands as well


as your face and the whole body to communicate. We get to the point


now where through the connection of telepresence with other


technologies like software that allows you to move virtual objects


around, this enables a haptic interface to happen. Virtual 3D


technology is already being used to create effects like holograms on


stage. Most notably used last weekend at this performance between


a pre-recorded Tupac and Snoop Dogg who performed live next to him. One


of the companies behind the performance showed us how it was


done based on an old Victorian Peter Aleutian called Pepper's


Ghost. -- Theatre allusion -- illusion. You have a projector here


and you move the screen here and across that space at a 45 degree


angle we have our patented foil which reflects the image up into


the consumer's face. There is a lot of backstage tinkering to get the


realistic effect. The performer and the image on the right can see and


hear each other, allowing the onstage artist to interact with the


projected one. That project is shooting imagery up that way and


going to the boil that way. I can see where I am and where Lucinda is


and I can interact. Musion makes its money from the Ming


performances live to theatres or stadiums globally. Another small


company thinks this is the way telepresence will be done in the


future. This system does not rely on a complicated stage set-up.


Using projection, you can go right up to this image and a holographic


all volumetric effect is maintained. -- or volumetric effect. To get


right up close, you might need to ditch the avatar and take the form


of a robot instead. A French firm but to inside of one, giving you a


physical presence in the room. Other things apart from your image


might be communicated. In the future, we will start to get


interfaces which deal with our breath, heartbeat, and touch


sensations. At the moment, telepresence is focused on the


visuals but as other things are added, one day we could literally


make our presence felt. In this increasingly virtual world,


it is not uncommon to have close friends you have never actually met.


Our very own Kate Russell is one of those friends. She never leaves the


studio and I only ever see her on wine. So, for one week only, we


brought her with us. She actually exists! Virtual pokes only if you


don't mind. I have a managed to escape my studio to cut here and


look at a few websites and apps related to this exhibition and


Liverpool itself. Replicants is the first of the


exhibition site I want to show you. This project lets you create a


posting but for Facebook or Twitter which will simulate your online


activity. By linking with your other social streams and adding key


words are vital interests, the bottom will analyse the kinds of


content you like in oddities and the size and online persona or that


is an extension of who you are. Once it is installed, you are


encouraged to activate the Klout app to track any increase in your


popularity. I have been running this for about a week and it has


been very pro active posting music suggestions. The first video it


posted on my behalf was this. I have to say it is probably the best


thing I have ever posted on That said, my Replicants soon went


a bit mutant, posting all sorts of random things from my Twitter feet.


So I eliminated it. -- Twitter feed. Next up from reports and avatars, a


Naked on Pluto. You click on the reports and linked to your social


streams to turn them into a virtual world populated with people and


places you know. It is like a text- based adventure game. It creates a


simulation of your friends based on what it has learnt about you. This


gain is taxed based and I have a feeling it will have limited appeal.


An interesting passing curiosity nonetheless. Here is at an unusual


search tall. The results are not extensive but they are compiled


into a media with a robotic voice narrating. Here is what it told me


about this exhibition. Robots and Avatars is a programme of events


and educational activities which explores how young people will work


and play with your representations of physical form. Since we are on


location, it was a great excuse to turn out -- try out some location


based apps. Most cities have an events listings site like Liverpool


Live, where you can Plan A night out and buy tickets. A growing


number of these sites offer a free smartphone app so you can organise


things on the move. Many places have Birchall to work out that will


shake you are a sight to the city might not otherwise have found.


LiveTour Liverpool maps out a five mile road starting at a train


station and leading the past historic buildings and other


interesting landmarks, including legendary live music venue the


cavern where the Beatles first made their name. It sucks the life out


of your battery at an alarming rate. That's all we have time for.


The tech team visit a futuristic expo in Liverpool and explore to what extent we can be in two places at the same time. Includes tech news and Webscape.

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