Click checks out the latest in interactive digital experiences. Music superstar will.i.am drops the beat on music, big data and the future. Plus tech news.
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This week on Click, we are taking part in art.
We are at the exhibition that gives your wishes and your spirits wings.
will.i.am is here. He has reinvented music, apparently.
So has Bjork. We'll chat with her musical director.
And we'll find out how our feelings
can affect the stuff we watch and the stuff we buy.
We've got all that, plus singing trees, the latest tech news,
and Webscape, too.
Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly, and welcome to the Barbican Centre in London,
home for the next three months to the Digital Revolution Exhibition.
This is where fashion, music, performance and technology
all come together in one big eclectic show reel of digital art.
There's dancing, there's cartoon faces, smoking reflections
and mobile phone birds.
Yep, it's a right mixed bag.
One of the big focuses here, though, is on using technology to enhance
visual media, to get the audience more engaged
with what they watch and even become part of the show.
For example, this piece uses an Xbox Kinect to track my movements
and then turn me into a very strange cartoon character.
I can interact with various things that
fly across the screen at the same time.
Now, biometric data such as the way you move is
becoming of particular interest to the film industry.
That's because it allows for the precise response
of the audience to be measured and that's
information that could even be used to change the finished product.
David Reid went to Cannes
to experience an immersive screening for himself.
Every year, Cannes Lions Advertising Festival gives industry bigwigs
a glimpse at the latest emerging talent
with the Saatchi and Saatchi New Directors' Showcase.
This year, it was an emotionally charged affair
and there were nurses on hand.
At least, I think they were nurses.
-Do either of you girls have any medical training at all?
-Yes, I have.
No, I'm a communications student.
The audience was given smart bracelets.
They purport to detect how people are feeling about what they are seeing
and were developed by the collective behind Lady Gaga's TechHaus.
First, the devices were calibrated, then it's on with the show,
with the bracelets glowing blue, green and red
depending on the level of audience arousal.
The skin holds so many clues to how we feel,
our emotional responses to things.
Our temperature changes,
we know that we blush when we get embarrassed, for example.
These are all things that we can measure electrically.
The developers are a bit cagey
about exactly what sensors are detecting what parameters.
So you'll see on the back here we have two contacts.
However, one thing the device appears to do is to run
a current across the skin to measure resistance.
We sweat when we get excited, for example,
and XO's device is designed to pick up these emotional triggers.
Data from the bracelets was used by the British company
Marshmallow Laser Feast to create laser art depicting,
for the audience's benefit, their collective emotions in real-time.
We have used it to control the geometry,
so we have basically driven a parametric design,
which includes geometric patterns and also colours.
But once you've got this data
we are really interested in what else you could do.
XO isn't the only outfit using wristbands as part of a live set.
Earlier this year
at South By Southwest, American start-up Lightwave rolled out
biometric bands which detected movement,
audio levels, temperature -
basically just how moshy it was getting in the mosh pit.
Back in Cannes and Studio XO believe emotional data could add
a whole new dimension to these kinds of live events.
These days, the live experience is paramount,
and adding emotional technology into that is incredibly exciting.
It's this new authentic layer where people can have really
symbiotic experiences with their artists, with the films
that they see, the theatre they go to, the games they are playing.
There are wider applications for this technology, beyond live events.
Advertisers, for example, are interested in emotional tech
to determine if their messages are really hitting home.
People hide their emotions well. What you get is often only a reflection.
That's why a technology like this, which gauges the physical reactions,
the telltale signs behind emotions, can give you
an honest insight into what people are really thinking and feeling.
When you have something that is directly related to the emotions
and the way people are feeling, that is a true reaction.
Not just - what did I click on, how long did I stay on a web page
and what is on my mobile phone,
but what's in my heart and what's in my mind.
Emotion is potentially a new digital domain.
Tech that feels us could make live events more immersive,
but also unravel for advertisers the riddle of the human heart,
pitching us products we might be helpless to resist.
David Reid, getting rather emotional.
Now, some of the work on show here at Digital Revolution
is by what you would call traditional digital artists.
Some is by cinematic artists like this one, and there is one
installation on show here which is the work of a music artist.
That's artist/creative/producer/ songwriter/technologist/
Did I say that already? It's will.i.am.
He is one of the four Black Eyed Peas
and his music videos speak volumes about his love of tech.
For the Digital Revolution Show, he has co-created this work -
Pyramidi, which involves in part reimagining the guitar,
the piano and the drum.
The three new instruments live inside these pyramids and,
controlled through a MIDI interface,
play the tune that Will wrote to accompany the piece.
That's him, by the way,
looking down on it all from his face palace in the sky.
What is the story behind Pyramidi, then?
We created a song for a museum, but then also created
the instruments that the song is to be played through.
We created a player band that play in unison to songs that have been
inputted with MIDI.
It is a crazy, crazy, awesome, you know, level.
A totally different level to create on. It's so exciting.
You just open up the whole gamut on anything is possible.
People are walking around with their phones and their tablets,
you know, multi-tasking, living two lives at once.
You go on a date with your loved one, your significant other,
-and... you're not even there.
You're tweeting, both of you guys are tweeting...
it's kind of nuts. It's new, though.
But I think this is just an interim, I don't think it's going to be
like this for ever, I think this is just right now.
Right now the cloud is something, like,
we don't realise what we're giving away.
You don't realise that you're giving away everything
for the sake of convenience.
It's all new, Facebook isn't 20 years old, it's new.
It's big, it's cool, but it's just right now. It ain't for ever.
Especially when you know someone is going to get hip to the fact that,
"Wait a second, you mean this company is worth billions of dollars
"just because I gave my stuff away?
"And I didn't get nothing for it?" One day we're going to wake up.
And what will that future look like if we sleepwalk into it?
You remember the movie The Matrix?
Everyone is plugged into something.
The ultimate data mining and they would just rather be in this machine
and totally forget what real life is about.
Everyone is following, everyone is liking,
but on these social platforms, it's not understanding.
There is no button to understand.
They don't care if you understand what is popping off.
So...we have surrendered and are surrendering so much
for this convenience, for free.
Will, thanks very much for your time.
Your thoughts on what Will says would be very welcome.
On Twitter we are @bbcclick.
We are also on Facebook as well. (Don't tell Will.)
OK. Next up, a look at this week's tech news.
And we start with Facebook:
A UK regulator is investigating
whether the social network broke data protection laws
when it conducted a psychological study on users
without their consent.
The test saw Facebook manipulate the newsfeeds of nearly 700,000
users to control which emotional expressions they were exposed to.
Seven internet service providers have filed a legal complaint
against the UK's intelligence agency GCHQ,
alleging it used malicious software against their networks.
The ISPs - from the UK, US, Germany, South Korea, the Netherlands
and Zimbabwe - are working with campaign group
Privacy International on the complaint.
The ISPs claim the alleged network attacks were illegal
and undermine the goodwill the organisations rely on.
The cost of surfing the internet on your phone while travelling
in the EU has been cut by half, as new rules come into force.
Changes, which activated on 1st July, see the cost of browsing fall
to 16p per megabyte.
The price of calling and texting has also been reduced.
In April, the European Parliament voted
to scrap roaming fees altogether,
although this still needs final approval of all EU governments.
Sticking with musicians who love their tech,
this is one of Bjork's music apps.
It's part of her Biophilia project and tour,
which lasted for three years.
Recently we visited her musical director
Matt Robertson in his studio to discuss
the evolution of Bjork's instruments and what they mean for performance.
# I shuffle around... #
I was working closely with Bjork and the technical team to come up
with ways that some of her custom instruments could be controlled
and also live musicians interact with that on stage.
The Reactable is a visual synthesiser, I think
is the best way to describe it.
The user's got lots of different blocks and patterns
that you can make on it that create different electronic sounds.
So, depending on the blocks that you put on it,
the orientation of the blocks and the order of the blocks,
you get different sounds coming out of it.
One of the things with playing something like a piano or
an organ is that your hands tend to fall in particular shapes
when you sit down and play it.
Wouldn't it be fun if there was a note down here and a note up there
and a bunch in the middle that you would never be able to reach,
and then they all happen really quickly.
# My mind in... #
So, Bjork had some pipe organs made for her.
The idea was integrating the acoustic instrument
and the electronic control.
There are little solenoid motors underneath every key
so that you can remote control it, basically.
# ..Or have I too often... #
We had two pipe organs on tour and also what we called a gamalest.
It does give you a, kind of, a different sound world.
Does it make you actually compose things differently?
I'm not exactly sure.
Does it open up a whole load of possibilities that you didn't have
before that you can then choose to use or not use?
For me, I think it's really important that
when you see a gig, that there are aspects of it that you are in awe of,
and aspects where you are like, "Wow, I've never seen that before".
So in the Bjork show,
with the huge pendulum harps that were on stage, when they actually
start moving and you hear what's happening and you get some kind
of sense that actually these really big things are making this really
amazing harp pluck sound, I think it does help that level of interaction.
I think a key thing is to be inspired by the instruments that you have.
And if interface with computers can be made more interactive
and more intuitive and quicker and more fun
then I think you're going to be more inspired by the sounds that
you are creating and, by extension, write more interesting music.
# ..Craving miracles... #
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I'll tell you, all of those amazing-looking instruments really
make me wish that I had something groovy to make beautiful music with.
This is Forest, a dark hazy space full of laser trees,
which you can wobble.
Accelerometers atop each pole detect the slightest movement
and each one emits a different note as they move.
Meaning a walk through the woods will definitely invoke a weird,
but I have to say, very soothing, composition.
I think it was a teacher... And all the kids that were interacting
with the space had left, and they were left on their own
in the environment and they just started aeroplaning around.
Basically. They became a big kid again. That was a really nice moment.
Now, if you wanted to buy a piece of art, ordinarily you would do it
at an auction where the person with the most money wins.
But one recent Swedish art auction didn't want cash or cheque, instead
bidders registered their interest by making a more emotional investment.
LJ Rich went to Stockholm to find out more.
A glitzy art auction in Sweden.
25,000 euros worth of artefacts up for grabs.
But put your wallets away because money won't win you the prize.
If you want a piece of art, right here is where you start paying...
Pop into a private booth, get wired up, and then you are exposed to this.
for 60 emotional seconds.
This is completely different auction. It's not that I can say,
"This is what I'm going to pay, I want it",
it is my feeling, my emotion, that has to pay for it.
And if I don't feel, if I don't have enough emotion, I can't buy it.
So it's really different.
Welcome to the world's first emotional auction,
where your biometric reading makes up your bid.
So, how does it work?
To run your own emotional excitement auction, you'll need -
an Arduino board, sensors,
and a specially calibrated programme.
And probably Andreas, the developer.
Two things are measured - your heart rate and your sweat. Mmm!
The posh term is galvanic skin response, or GSR,
which sounds much more savoury.
We're not going to judge you for having sweaty palms,
we're going to take the change in the sweat on your fingers
and we are also going to use an ear clip to get your heart rate.
We're going to combine these values.
It doesn't really matter if you feel happy about it or
if you feel sad or angry, or just...
Just don't be monotone, just feel something at least.
Back to the auction and things are hotting up.
The art pieces have been kept secret until the auction,
so they will be revealed to the bidder when they sit in front of it.
I'd love to see the film afterwards and see everyone's reaction.
Well, it's clear some of these pieces
may have been designed to get a response.
This lady's reaction won her... well, it's a candle holder.
I didn't think about that, I didn't think "I really want it",
I just thought about that it was a really fun piece and, you know,
it made me laugh.
And I guess that means that I want it.
OK, I may not have won anything at the auction, but it did make me
think, although this thing is really only really measuring
our heightened response to something,
as opposed to actual emotions,
could there be a future where you could tell what I'm thinking?
Knowing LJ that'll be something about music, I can guarantee it.
Anyway, that was LJ Rich in Sweden.
Back here in the DevArt room in London,
a piece of art that also taps into your emotions.
This wall of butterflies is called The Wishing Wall.
The first thing you have to do
is make a wish into one of these microphones.
I wish for world peace.
That wish then becomes script on the wall,
which then becomes a cocoon, which then becomes a new butterfly,
which you can briefly hold in your hand, before it takes flight.
That piece of magic is thanks to, if you ask me,
the real hero of this show -
the Kinect motion sensor.
Here, accurately detecting the position of the hand that
the butterfly is projected onto and elsewhere around the event,
really allowing these pieces of art to interact seamlessly with
Different types of wish here at the wall
create different coloured wings.
My positive wish has given birth to a yellow butterfly,
which then flutters off, presumably to make that wish come true.
But more prosaically, one thing we all wish for in the world of tech
is a better connection, so here is Kate Russell with Webscape.
# ..Don't stop me now! #
Not all mobile networks were made equal.
In fact, different carriers often have better coverage
in different areas,
which is why RootMetrics is running a crowd-sourced project
to map the performance of services all over the world, helping
you to see what kind of connectivity to expect where you live.
# I'm burning through the sky, yeah 200 degrees... #
Currently, the app is being used to measure
hundreds of operators in every continent.
And as time goes on, the data will become more and more accurate.
Use the map to hone into your area
and then flip between available service providers
to see which is likely to give you smoothest connection.
Contribute to the project with the iPhone and Android apps,
but if you set the Android app to run continuously in the background,
bear in mind there might be battery implications.
# I wanna make a supersonic woman of you... #
Another connectivity issue is with Wi-Fi performance.
-# Hey, hey, hey...
-Don't stop me, don't stop me, ooh, ooh, ooh... #
There are lots of variables that can affect this,
such as distance between your device and the router
or the number of walls the signal has to pass through.
Android users can download the free Wi-Fi analyser app from farproc,
to see at a glance how their wireless network is performing
and how many other people in the area are on the same channel.
There are 13 channels in total, and most wireless routers are set up
with channel number six as the default.
So, if you live in a built-up area
with lots of people using this channel,
you might get better Wi-Fi speeds
if you switch to a less crowded frequency.
You can actually do this yourself quite easily.
# I want to break free... #
You need to access the router's interface by putting
the IP address into a browser.
You'll find this in the manual or on the bottom of your router.
Once you've accessed the router interface with your username
and password, which should also be in the paperwork
that came with your router, look for the Wi-Fi settings
and the channel number should be selectable via a drop-down menu.
Save and you're done.
Hey, everyone, it's Kristin coming at you from StayAtHomeSingle.
Another quick and dirty trick to boost your range involves
a little bit of craft work.
I'm going to try something
and use the shiny side facing outward to deflect my Wi-Fi.
This super-simple DIY tip uses tinfoil to reflect
and direct your Wi-Fi signal where you need it.
There are loads of guides to do this online,
just search "how to make a parabolic Wi-Fi extender with tinfoil".
Once you've finished your little craft project, why not check out
the before and after speeds on a site like speedtest.net?
Are you serious?
Kate Russell's Webscape.
And just before we leave Digital Revolution here in London,
I have to show you this. This is one of the major works here,
it's called The Treachery of Sanctuary.
And, well, watch this.
This is the vision of Hollywood musical director Chris Milk.
Three giant screens which take your silhouette through birth,
death, and transfiguration.
it's Kinect motion sensors which turn your body into a shadow,
which is then created, destroyed, and reborn in front of your eyes.
You really can lose yourself in this piece.
It's actually quite emotional to watch yourself being devoured
by birds and then earning your own pair of wings in the final act.
And, if you get it just right, you yourself can take to the skies
and join the flock.
That was a really weird experience, I have to say.
And that is it for Click at Digital Revolution.
I hope you've enjoyed our arty outlook this week.
For more from us, check out our website:
If you'd like to get in touch with us, we live
on Twitter @bbcclick and on the e-mail [email protected]
Thanks for watching.
See you next time and I'm off to play some classic video games.
Do excuse me.
Click checks out the latest in interactive digital experiences. Music superstar will.i.am drops the beat on music, big data and the future. Plus tech news and building strong connections in Webscape.