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R&D/TVP at Makerfaire 2011

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Max Leonard Max Leonard | 10:29 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

The weekend of 11th March 2011 was a busy one for R&D. In addition to the South Lab setting up shop at the Big Bang Science fair at London Docklands, a group from the R&D North Lab flanked by Ian, Bruce and Yameen from BBC TV Platforms went up to the Centre for Life in Newcastle Upon Tyne to attend the annual Makerfaire, a weekend festival of inventors, hackers and tinkerers. 

Wiew of the main hall at Maker Faire 2011, at the Centre for Life, Newcastle


In and amongst the Daleks, musical tesla coils and remote controlled spiders stood our stand, featuring such delights as the 'Wayback Radio' (an experiment in new ways to explore the BBC archive), the newly developed Universal Control API for controlling home media systems and the terrifying Dr Who Weeping Angels Blink-o-tron.

Behind our stand in a large blacked out cube, resided our Virtual Maestro, an installation we're developing with the BBC Philharmonic. Using a Microsoft Kinect ™ and some custom code, a person is able to 'conduct' the BBC Philharmonic in glorious HD video and 3D surround sound using nothing but their arms to control the tempo and dynamics of the piece.

In full flow: conducting the BBC Philharmonic

In full flow: conducting the BBC Philharmonic


As well as being brilliant fun for the public to play with, demos like these are a great way to illustrate some the technical work that happens here at the beeb. Our stand proved to be enormously popular and a brilliant (but exhausting) weekend was had by all.

Thanks to James Barrett, Andrew Bonney, Tom Bartindale and Brendan Crowther from BBC R&D, Ian Calvert, Bruce James and Yameen Rasul from TV Platforms and Mo McRoberts and Laura Jane Chalmers from BBC Scotland for all thier hard work over the weekend.

Also thanks to O'Reilly for putting on another excellent Makerfaire - hopefully we'll see you again next year!

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