Memory Machine Workshop 2 – 15th June, 12.00-4.00 pm

Researchers at Nottingham University would like to invite you to the second Memory Machine workshop, as part of a series of workshops (4 in total) that explore how new technologies can help us preserve memories that are important for us.

The workshops will be led by artist Rachel Jacobs and privacy and ethics expert Lachlan Urquhart. These will be interactive and creative and we welcome older adults, those caring for people with early onset dementia, historians and tech developers.

Participants will receive a £10 and travel expenses to the venue covered and it includes lunch and refreshments.

The workshops will take place at the Institute of Mental Health.  Everyone welcome. The venue is wheelchair accessible. Please email Rachel Jacobs to discuss any access requirements.

Please register to attend here

Panopticon

The Panopticon project is developing a system for measuring how visitors to the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham engage with the various wild and wonderful games that they exhibit in that space. We’ve taken the name from the infamous prison design where occupants were watched at all times by a single guard, however the modern twist is to involve the visitors to the NVA in a meaningful conversation and decision about what’s done with the data they generate.

We’ve spent the first couple of months thinking about and beginning to develop our engagement tracking system. This is a computer vision based system that, using cameras mounted on various games in the NVA, will watch and measure how engaged players are. That’s more complicated than it sounds. Firstly, the NVA has lots of different kinds of game and exhibits that players and visitors can explore. We did an initial site visit with Exhibition Manager Alex, and came to the conclusion that we want to experiment with tracking engagement with three different kinds of exhibit:

  • Arcade games with one or two people stood in front of a display playing the game
  • Room scale games of which the NVA has a few that involve players physically moving and leaping around
  • Traditional exhibits kept in glass cases that visitors can peruse

The variety here leads to some challenges for how we can measure engagement. The technology we’re developing is built into a small form-factor PC and camera that can be attached to the different exhibits. The tech will watch and interpret the body poses of the people using the exhibit and how they’re standing or moving, but also what kind of facial expressions they’re pulling, for example are they laughing, focused, or excited.

To be able to make sense of what the camera sees we first need to train the technology, or rather for the technology to learn. We’ve built a temporary gaming booth fitted out with cameras in the Mixed Reality Lab, and the next step will be to invite people to visit and spend half an hour playing on an Xbox to capture the initial data that we need. Using this data we can build a model of  measurable engagement that we can use to subsequently measure the engagement of visitors to the NVA.

But this is only half of the picture. The other work we’re doing is to figure out how to have a conversation with the player about the data that we’re capturing rather than just wholesale capturing everything, which most people would quite rightly think was overly intrusive. Each player is given a token that they can use to explicitly signal that they are engaging with the game, and which also acts as an access token to the data that is being captured. This token, and whether the player chooses to give it to someone else, or even gift it to the NVA, drives the conversation about data ownership. We’re exploring some lightweight NFC tags that can be easily integrated into a variety of form factors.

 

We’re having some interesting conversations with the NVA about what the servoken should look like, and prototyping possible ideas using additive manufacturing. It could look like a coin, inspired by the old coin operated arcade games, but then we don’t actually want players to lose their tokens inside a machine. Or it could look like Portal’s Companion Cube, where the material emancipation grill erases unwanted data about you when you leave the exhibition.

By Martin Flintham

Memory and Well-being – Workshop 1

Our workshop began with lunch followed by a short introduction from Elvira and Neil. They provided an overview of the Memory Machine project and addressed some myths about dementia. While it is a common perception that dementia is all about loss of memory, dementia affects everyone differently. Some people’s memory may not be affected, on the other hand, they may experience other physical and mental health problems. So we shouldn’t make assumptions that people with dementia will have poor memory. The positive side is that recalling memories can strengthen a person’s sense of identity, and this could help to cope with dementia symptoms.

Accordingly, our project aims to capture not only personal memories but also essence, identity and the indiscernible. Rachel presented a display exploring different tools that help us ‘remember’ in different ways and told stories relating to some of the objects she had bought in, including a box of photos and letters, a drawing of her grandmother, an old Thunderbird Toy and an old 1950’s camera! She talked about  some existing digital and online memory tools such as Facebook and Google and addressed how we manage the way social media triggers and presents us with ‘memories’.

Our first activity involved discussing the tools we use to remember things, why we use them, what was special or helpful about them and why do different tools make people feel differently about their memories?

We had been asked to bring along a keepsake that evoked positive memories to the workshop – something we would be happy to share with others and these started some interesting discussions – in particular around why remembering these particular memories are important for our well-being.  Our table identified how people collect keepsakes in different ways – one person had ‘collections’ of toys, badges and musical instruments that they nurtured and which were a big part of their lives, whereas another person had keepsakes that were emotionally attached to home, childhood and the people in her life.  Everyone agreed their objects produced memories or experiences of nostalgia.

 

We needed a short refreshment break before getting to task with trying to make a blueprint of what we thought a ‘Memory Machine’ would involve – how to present memories as part of a digital memory machine; would we want analogue memories, such as photographs or letters?  What would we do with positive and the negative memories, how would we use these memories now and also in the future? It was a difficult task to think about how a memory machine might work as an actual physical object in terms of ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’, however we had a go and some fascinating ‘blue sky’ models and designs were created.  Not a bad output for what was a really enjoyable afternoon!

 

 

Register to attend Memory Machine workshops

The Memory Machine project team would like to invite you to a series of workshops (4 in total) to explore how new technologies can help us preserve memories that are important for us.

The workshops will be led by artist Rachel Jacobs and dementia expert Neil Chadborn. These will be interactive and creative and we welcome older adults, those caring for people with early onset dementia, historians and tech developers.

Participants will receive a £10 and travel expenses to the venue covered. The workshops will take place at the Institute of Mental Health.

The first workshop takes place on Friday 27th of April at the Institute of Mental Health, Innovation park, Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham.

Please register to attend via Eventbrite

My Memory Machine

A collection of filing boxes with a post-it note that reads "Dominic's little bits from the past"

In one of those odd cases of Universal synchronicity, as I was struggling to write a blog about memory, my parents arrived the weekend just gone, bearing boxes of my ‘childhood memories’ that they had been saving for me and now wanted me to go through. As I write this blog, those boxes sit next to me on the desk, unopened. I expect for many people their immediate reaction would have been to dive straight in and revel in the nostalgia. For me though, my approach to memory seems to be much more about caution. I’m wary of what emotions a memory might trigger, will I be embarrassed? will I feel sad? Chances are that the feelings evoked will be pleasant ones but I prefer to be in control, to stabilise myself beforehand and to look through when I feel ready. It could be weeks before I get around to going through the boxes.

Although I suspect that this may be the minority approach to memory, I also suspect that it is far from uncommon. In relating my own personal perspective on memory to the Memory Machine, I can see that technology is increasingly becoming an important gatekeeper to memory. Take for example social media platforms such as Facebook, so much of our daily lives are now being stored on these; and these platforms are also taking advantage of these memories, a common feature is to highlight an ‘on this day’ memory. Yet, not always are these memories wanted, a reminder of a bereavement or break-up are quite common; not all memories are equal, they can be important whilst still being negative. It will be interesting in the Memory Machine workshops, and the development of the technology, to see these tensions discussed and see the role that technology can play in safeguarding both memory and an individual’s emotional state.

Dominic Price, Research Fellow, Horizon Digital Economy Research

The Memory Machine – would you like to participate in our project?

Save the date: Friday 27th April from 12:00 until 16:00, lunch and refreshments included.

Researchers at the University Nottingham would like to invite you to the first of a series of workshops (4 in total during 2018), to explore how new technologies can help us preserve memories that are important for us.

The workshops will be led by artist Rachel Jacobs and dementia expert Neil Chadbord. These will be interactive and creative and we welcome older adults, those caring for people in the early stages of dementia, historians and tech developers.

Participants will receive a £10 voucher and travel expenses to the venue covered. The workshops will take place at the Institute of Mental Health. Everyone welcome.

Please register your interest with Associate Professor Elvira Perez

More information on the Memory Machine project can be found here.

In My Seat – Would you like to participate in our project?

Do you regularly use public transport in Nottingham?

Would you like it to be more enjoyable/informative?

 We are creating a digital experience which aims to enhance your everyday public transport journeys, making them more enjoyable and interesting by linking you to various types of content, including local information, mini-games, and user-generated content, through your specific seat or vehicle.

You are invited to take part in a workshop on the 25th of April, 2.00pm at the Geospatial Building (room A19), Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham. The workshop will last approximately 1 hour.

The aim of the workshop is to:

  • develop the types of content that you would find most useful and enjoyable
  • discover how you would like content to be presented to you
  • design forms of interaction between users and the content / experience

This will involve paper-based activities and discussion, and you will be thanked for your time with a £10 high street/Amazon voucher.

For more information, and to sign up for the workshop, please email Dr Liz Dowthwaite

Towards Moral-IT and Legal-IT by Design

We are pleased to begin the ‘Privacy, Law and Ethics’ cross-cutting project as part of the Horizon services campaign. We will be adopting a ‘responsible research & innovation’ led approach to surfacing ethical and legal issues within each of the respective service campaign projects. The goal is to reflect on impacts for wider human values and embed safeguards into the technologies from the beginning, for both research and deployment.

We will be doing this by running a series of workshops with the research teams and partners using our newly developed Moral-IT and Legal-IT cards.

The Moral-IT cards have a broad scope, drawing on a principles and concepts from ethics, privacy, security and law more widely. Their process for use is a more user-friendly impact assessment to foreground risks, likelihood of occurrence, safeguards, and strategies for implementation. We observed a wide range of frameworks from STS, HCI, computer ethics and law to distil our process. These include:

Value sensitive design (Friedman et al 2008),

Reflective design (Sengers et al 2005), a variety of impact assessments including Ethical (SATORI, 2016)/social (Edwards, Diver and McAuley 2016)/surveillance) /privacy (Wright and De Hert, 2012)/ RFID (Spiekermann, 2011) / data protection (ICO, 2014),

Responsible research and innovation (Stahl, Eden and Jirotka, 2013),

Human data interaction (Mortier and Crabtree, 2015),

Real time technology assessment (Guston and Sarewitz, 2002);

Anticipatory governance (Barben et al, 2008)

These new cards and process been developed as part of the project ‘About Algorithms and Beyond’ between project lead Lachlan Urquhart and Peter Craigon.  Peter will continue to work with Lachlan in this new project.

The Legal-IT cards focus on five regulatory frameworks relevant to IT, namely the General Data Protection Regulation 2016; Network and Information Security Directive 2016; Cybercrime Convention 2001; Attacks Against Information Systems Directive 2013, and proposed e-Privacy Regulation 2017.

This approach builds on Lachlan’s previous experience using ‘privacy by design’ cards as a tool to supporting reflection and action by IT designers on data protection compliance issues. Through the combination of both decks in exercises and games within the workshops, we will develop understanding of how a variety of issues are being negotiated within different sectors. Given the breadth of the Services campaign, this will include health & wellbeing (ALFE, Memory Machine); transportation (In My Seat); fast moving consumer goods (Hybrid Gifting) & cultural heritage (Panopticon).

For more information please contact: Dr Lachlan Urquhart, Research Fellow, Horizon Digital Economy Research

 

‘Catch and Connect’ on Nottingham Buses

It’s Monday morning and I’ve just caught the 8.52am bus into the city, which I do every day for work. I show my travel card to the usual driver who nods, we don’t speak and I make my way to my usual seat, third row back, facing forward, on the left. I acknowledge one or two of the many faces I see every day, but we don’t speak. Familiar strangers. I get my phone out, put my earphones in, put my playlist on, put my head down and start to disappear into my social media, my emails, my photos, my bubble. I’m immersed, but become aware that the bus has stopped and people are starting to look up and around, no-body seems to know what is happening, but nobody speaks. I notice several people on CityCycles go past, something I’d quite like to try if I knew where or how to hire them. Finally the bus continues and people return silently to their phones. Despite rarely looking up, after making this journey twice a day for 3 years I instinctively know my stop is next, outside the Concert Hall. I often wonder what shows they have on and still keep meaning to find out, but never seem to find the time. I leave the bus, stopping to buy a coffee in the usual place, before walking the last 10 minutes along my usual route down the high street.

Unfortunately, not only can such everyday journeys on public transport take a notable proportion of our day, they can often be monotonous, isolating and largely unfulfilling experiences. What if we could address this situation by offering (bus) passengers ‘dynamic’ and additionally more enjoyable, engaging and relevant digital content, both enriching potential connections within the passenger ‘community’ on-board and also enabling connections to be made with the external environment, en route.  The ‘In my Seat’ projects aims to do this by offering pertinent, personalised passenger-driven content, both stakeholder delivered and user-generated, which can be accessed via a mobile app, linked directly to individual sensors in a passenger’s seat / vehicle.

For the passenger, such rich and context specific content may include a ‘today’s fun fact’ or joke left by a previous passenger, or an on-going, on-board bus game. More practically it may offer real-time notifications of potential delays, information on complimentary, sustainable transport e.g. city bike hire, or alternatively upcoming shows at a local theatre, or lunch time deals at cafes along the route. For the public transport operators and city councils, being able to identify when, where and how many people are using particular public transport modes e.g. buses, is invaluable in being able to ‘evidence’ need and demand and thereby align services and supporting infrastructure effectively.

With this in mind, the project will shortly run a series of stakeholder engagement and also user (passenger) design workshops to frame and (co-)design our initial concept(s) / mobile app. Outputs from these workshops will be subsequently posted on the ‘In my Seat’ blog.

Nancy Hughes, Research Fellow, Human Factors Research Group, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham

How do people think about data?

When people interact with an online service, they form theories about how it is working. As part of the services campaign in Horizon, we are investigating the ways in which people commonly understand the use of personal data in products and services that are mediated by algorithms. We are doing this by examining the mental models people form about how different types of data are used within systems.

Mental models are a form of reasoning where people create internal representations of reality. They help us to interact with systems and understand how they function. Mental models represent a bridging point between our lived experience and the service as part of a wider system (consider the relationship between how warm you are at home, the physical form of a central heating system, and your interaction with a thermostat). This is useful for our study because the concepts of algorithmically-mediated services and algorithmically-generated content are highly complex and we tend to rely on metaphors to talk about what is happening. A further challenge in this area is that people are not necessarily used to articulating in detail how they think these things work and thus simply asking people directly is likely to result in a lot of shrugging and sighing! One technique that we will use instead then is to ask people to engage in a series of simple compare and contrast exercises. This process anchors what is for some a highly abstract topic and helps people identify the sorts of categorisations, concepts and understandings that they have been using if only implicitly and to generate words that can describe them. This is based on similar techniques originally adopted in psychological therapies (especially Person Construct Theory), to tease out people’s perceptions of things in their lives that they might not previously have spent much time consciously considering, but that have big effect upon decisions they make, and their feelings towards certain people and activities.

Our first study will involve ‘odd-one-out’ style sorting tasks using different types of personal data and services. First participants will individually develop a set of constructs, or keywords, to describe different types of data. Then they will work in groups to create hypothetical services based on groups of data types. In this task they will be given four data types written on cards. They will ‘throw one away’ and then suggest a data-driven service they could create using the other three cards. For example, being presented with Age, Employer, Browser History and Location, could lead to them throwing away Employer and creating a service that suggests new hobbies and days out in your local area.

We will run this workshop at least twice to gain a wide range of responses from different groups of people. Another type of workshop will be run with the groups running the other Services Campaign projects, using the data collected in the first workshop. This is in the planning stages, as is an online study asking people to rate different types of data based on the constructs from the first part of the workshops. Watch this space!

Liz Dowthwaite, Research Assistant, Horizon Digital Economy Research