Tuesday, July 7, 2009


In the last month I attended a couple of events where I was able to talk about The Talking Walls and the research I have undertaken within my PhD.

The first was SEMN's Commercialising Innovation and pitching event held at the University of Surrey, Guildford. As with all SEMN events I have been to, it was very well organised, with an interesting mix of people attending. We were shown the research areas at the Guildford campus with explanations of some of the amazing research that is taking place there - on the agenda for the day it was entitled 'Advancing the State of the Art', what we were shown was certainly doing this. For me with the areas I work in, it was fascinating.

In the afternoon, I took my turn in the company pitching presentations. The two before me were also in the area of 3D, but in a completely different field. There was Atom Fire Productions pitching 'games expertise on multiple platforms and devices' by Dominic Mason and Drive pitching for collaborative projects using their 'digital modelling and CGI visualisation techiniques' by Chris Longmore. Both were established companies giving very polished presentations, which although great to listen to and watch, made me feel anxious about my own presentation that would follow.

My pitch was for a 'technology partner to provide hardware, network connectivity and web server information hosting for mobile, kiosk and handset installations at heritage sites'. This is something that would really benefit The Talking Walls, allowing us to approach sites with a complete solution. The pitch seemed to go well with several people coming to talk to me afterwards saying how much they enjoyed it, with contacts of people who may be able to help. I am still in the process of following these up, if anything comes from this I will let you know.

I would particularly like to thanks the organisers at the University of Surrey and Kay Henning of SEMN for inviting me to pitch at this event and for making it such an interesting day.

The second event was more about the PhD research. This was the LASS PGR Conference - Human 2.0, held at the Turner Sims, University of Southampton. It is an annual event for research students to put across where they are with their research, display posters and present papers. This is the first of its kind that I have attended and was quite nervous in the build up to it. I had been placed first to present. Having not attended one before, I was quite anxious as to what was expected and being first, I would not able to adapt to anything that would have gone before.

Nonetheless, once I started talking, the nerves abaited, heart was still racing but I managed to think about what I was saying and not 'waffle' and go off track. For me, that was quite amazing! The other speakers were as nervous I think, and gave some really interesting presentations and discussion. It was a shame that there were not as many people attending as expected by the organising team, but there were certainly enough there to make you want to do your best and give them an understanding of your research. Again, many thanks to the conference team in doing such an excellent job of getting us organised, the venue and attendees.

For those that may be interested, posted below is the abstract of my paper submitted for the conference. The other speakers' abstracts can be found on the LASS conference website.

'My thesis aims to investigate methods of capturing user-experience at ‘cultural heritage’ sites with multimedia applications on mobile devices, their interaction with the site, and family / friends, using a case study of a pilot application ’The Talking Walls®’ at a cultural heritage site, which encompasses story-telling and visual narrative.

Through qualitative study, data collected will include observation and interview notes, audio, video, field notes, documents produced by the visitor (s), photos, visual images, mood boards and individual / group reflections, both the observer(s) and visitor(s).

The research will investigate the meaning(s) of ‘cultural heritage’ for the user(s) and for the cultural heritage site owner(s) / organisation, and why people visit cultural heritage sites. In order to measure and understand methods of capturing user-experience, it will be important to understand what ‘experience’ is and what may form a ‘good’ or ‘poor’ user-experience with a mobile device at a cultural heritage site.

This study will then explore how technology might be used to link these areas together and capture user-experience, how it is being adopted at cultural heritage sites for visitor use and how this may impact on the methodology for designing a multimedia cultural heritage application for mobile devices.

Keywords: user-experience, cultural heritage, mobile devices, digital story-telling, multimedia'

Deborah Wilson - PhD student, Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton