Juke Thrill Lab @ Silverstone

Brendan bletheringCompetition Winner Driving the Juke R

And so we come to part two of our Juke Trill Lab campaign. Like goodwood this event has seen us studying the thrill levels of members of the public under the banner of “Built To Thrill.” This time Brendan Walker and I were at Silverstone,  measuring some winners of Nissan’s thrill competition as they blasted round the track in the (properly brill) Juke-R. The Juke-R, alas, is only a concept car just now: £400,000 a pop and able to do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and 160mph with 468bhp. Its matt black finish looks great, if faintly sinister and somebody, sadly I’m unable to recall who to correctly attribute the comment, on the day commented that if Robin (of batman fame) had his on car (Robmobile?), at least in Christopher Nolan’s batman world, then this is what it would look like: A squat, slightly overweight batmobile…


Different kit on this job. Five brand new actiwave cardios from cam n tech, cracking little self-contained medical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG) and XYZ acceleration sensors which, as long as one doesn’t wish to record live effectively eliminate the need for using the nexus. A little bit of a problem there in that Nissan didn’t really want me shaving the chests of their VIP competition winners, but luckily for science, they were either female or just not too hairy. To add to the new ECG sensors we also have some brand new Affectiva Q sensors – neat little wrist mounted units that record skin conductance, skin temperature and XYZ acceleration. The q-sensors have the added advantage of being able to stream their data over bluetooth, but the distinct disadvantage of being clearly not medical grade. This may well be simply a consequence of the wrist positioning of the sensors, but some work is needed I think to determine just how effective they can be and what needs to be done to get the best out of them.

Well, the competition winners had a blast doing it, I got to run across the track with  a giant pretend hedgehog – something one doesn’t get to say everyday. Visualisations again matching the original design from Nissan’s creatives for a consistent look and feel. Here’s the new film in all its glory:

Vicarious @ TUWIEN Summercamp

presenting at tuwien's sumercamppresenting at tuwien's sumercamp2

Recently I was invited to give a talk about Vicarious at the Technical University of Vienna (TUWIEN)’s  Summercamp event. It proved to be an interesting day all round, though sadly my time commitments only allowed me one day of a fascinating looking week.

The abstract of my talk was as follows:

The aim of this section will to be explore the types of available biosensors and methods of presentation of the data generated by those sensors. We will begin with a short talk, accompanied by live biodata from a speaker’s assistant. The talk will be presented using the vicarious biodata visualisation system, and collected form a number of separate sensors. Part of the talk will involve an interactive game, with the audience attempting to decipher the biodata for a specific secret event. After the presentation we will provide an opportunity for people to explore the practicalities of the hardware in more detail, including trying it for themselves and the data produced. A consensus will select a task(s) for a rigged person to perform while the live biodata is displayed, including looking at the difference and assessing the quality of processed biodata such as the emotiv (EEG headset) “affective suite”, compared to more “raw” data.Then the data from the performed task may be explored as a group. Ultimately the aim is to give a feel for the practicalities of collecting and handling biodata, as well as to demonstrate the open source vicarious platform for early adopters.

A little dry sounding perhaps, but in practice I gave the talk while wired up with ECG, EEG, GSR and facial EMG showing all the data live on screen as a sort of HUD to my presentation. This allowed me to show off an interesting facet of vicarious – the fact that it can be used as an augmented presentation tool, simply by embedding ones slides as changeable images – something we had previously developed for a different event.

Juke Thrill Lab @ Goodwood Festival of Speed

Measuring VR Skydiving at Goodwood

Recently, Brendan Walker and myself have been out and about measuring thrill levels at the Goodwood festival of speed. This time we have been spending time on the Nissan stall as part of the promotions for Nissan’s Juke range of cars. Specifically we have been wearing the title of “Juke Trill Laboratory” and looking at thrilling experiences. On the stand, on the day Nissan had set up a virtual reality skydive simulator, made by the good folks over at Inition. Having had a shot on it I can say that it was indeed pretty good fun, though I have my doubts that it had any real analogue to the terrification of actual skydiving. It certainly is one of the most fun VR experiences I’ve had.

So where does thrill lab fit into this equation? Well we were monitoring people on the ride, using a Vilistus DSU to capture heart rate via a blood volume pulse (BVP) sensor and skin conductance via an electrodermal activity (EDA) or galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor (depending on your preferred terminology for the same thing). With these two readings, along with some extra info (age, fitness level etc) we attempted to give each person a “thrill score” as a pilot in terms of developing an objective measure of thrill. What made this interesting to me was the fact that we had to create in vicarious a new custom visualisation of the data that exactly matched an existing visualisation. Readers of this blog will have seen part of that visualisation before, as I used it in the food design visualisations. The final result: a nice little filem on Nissan’s Built to Thrill Hub. Expect to see more posts about my work with built to thrill over the next few months, along with may various other projects.

Here you can see the video in all its glory:

And so vicarious wends its way from somewhat flaky research software towards usable tool for commercial visualisation of data. Groovy.