Vicarious @ Ends of Audience

Ends of Audience


Recently I, Joe Marshall, Sarah Martindale and Stuart Reeves descended upon Queen Mary University of London to give a presentation at their “Ends of Audience” event. This was interesting in itself, not just because it was one of the first public academic presentations to discuss the vicarious software, but because we actually did the presentation interactively using vicarious. Eschewing powerpoint and keynote as being far too stable, tested and reliable, we elected to use our own early-days rendering tool: Vicarious, and to feed it with live biodata, not from me or Sarah who were speaking but instead from Joe who was standing in the corner of the stage – for reasons that will become clear shortly.

Joe was wired up with a good range of sensors: an electrocardiogram (ECG), Skin Conductance (GSR/EDA), Electroencephalography (EEG) and Facial Electromyography (EMG) – though this last was rather hampered by the fact that it was the height of summer, incredibly hot and the sticky electrodes kept falling off his face. All this data was streamed live to our server (a beast we had to bring along for the purpose) along with a live video pointed at poor Joe’s face. Nestled in amongst all that were the slides we’d made for the talk (actually made in powerpoint and exported, but you can’t have everything). Slides could be advanced at the touch of a button, as long as one stayed away from the other button that made the whole system crash, and a pretty nice talk about our history of biosensor use, the development of vicarious and “The Experient Live” commenced.

At the end of the talk came the reason for Joe being wired up. We played a game called “Clap or Slap.” Essentially Joe hid behind a medical screen, Stuart joined him there then on cue from me Stuart would either simply clap his hands together, or would slap Joe across the face (note that the camera was removed for this bit). The audience then had to guess by way of holding up signs laminated for the purpose, by looking at just the biodata whether it had been a “clap” or a “slap.” It proved a fun end to the talk and seemed to inspire plenty of interest during the proceeding coffee break. I will say however that turning up with that much kit to give a talk isn’t something I’d want to do every time. It is also worth noting that this presentation had as yet my favourite title of any work I have presented: “Exposing your still beating heart.”

Note: No Joes were seriously harmed in this production.


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