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I visited Pioneers 2009 this afternoon; an EPSRC event with the aim of "connecting business with pioneering research". I missed the seminars from earlier in the day, but the exhibition itself was in a big (but not overwhelming) room on the 3rd floor of Earls Court Conference Centre, divided into four themed zones full of EPSRC-funded academics showing off their research projects to delegates from various technology-led companies.

I visited Pioneers 2009 this afternoon; an EPSRC event with the aim of "connecting business with pioneering research". I missed the seminars from earlier in the day, but the exhibition itself was in a big (but not overwhelming) room on the 3rd floor of Earls Court Conference Centre, divided into four themed zones full of EPSRC-funded academics showing off their research projects to delegates from various technology-led companies.

The four zones were "Energy Centre" (models of energy-generating technologies), "Rapid Response" (medical imaging and concept ambulances), "The Great Outdoors" (a recumbent tricycle and network of air quality sensors), and "Interactive Home" (intelligent homes for ageing populations and digital music).

The most relevant work to the Design & Behaviour project didn't have a whizz-bang stand (although they did have a heat-sensing video camera), but the Carbon Vision Buildings project aims to "generate breakthrough insights that would enable meaningful cuts to be achieved in building-sector carbon emissions". The presenters, were aware of the importance of people's behaviour, and mentioned forthcoming work on the interface design (possibly informed by Nudge type insights) of central heating systems. In fact, if anyone from the CaRB team is reading, you may be interested in this post from Dan Lockton, which adds thoughts to an exercise by interaction designers Rattle looking at the interface design of these systems.

For sheer bizarreness though, the exhibition that held my attention the longest was Thrill Laboratory, who caught my eye not only because of their mechanical bull and the riding boots and whip carried by their main presenter, but for the presence of a couple of first aiders attending to one of their other presenters. Thrill Laboratory's demonstration involved monitoring the heart rate, skin conductance, and facial expression (via a head-mounted camera) of the mechanical bull's rider, and feeding this data to a volunteer who was screened off (which brought up shades of Milgram's experiment) from the rider. The volunteer received the data and was in control of the bull's motion and able to change the rider's experience accordingly to elicit a personalised experience. Pioneering research indeed...

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