Wearable Futures

Wearable Futures

Wearable Futures is a large two-day event held in London at the impressive Ravensbourne college, next to the O2 dome. With 50 speakers and 300 attendees it was a busy event running dual presentation tracks in parallel for most of each day.

I had the opportunity to present Light Log as part of their wearable health panel, along with speakers Duncan Fitzimons, Kuniharu Takei, Ivor Williams, and chair Nic Howell. Kuniharu had a particularly leading edge area presentation covering smart bandages, where he is researching and prototyping smart materials that act as joint sensor, display, and are capable of releasing drug treatments when needed (diabetes being one of the early target conditions being investigated).

The Light Log Wearable Futures Presentation had a 10min slot in the panels discussion, followed by audience and panel member question and answers. The discussion panel’s time seemed to race past very quickly – it would have been great to have longer for audience questions – so thanks to all those of you who came up and caught me after the discussion panel to talk about Light Log!

Case Studies in Design Informatics

Design sketches

Professor Jon Oberlander, of the School of Informatics at Edinburgh University, kindly invited me to present Light Log as a case study to his design informatics group. The presentation, Light Log Case Studies in Design Informatics, is more detailed in nature, covering some of the background research material, prototype hardware, software, user interface, and design goals to date.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Hello Aberdeen!! I had the chance of visiting Aberdeen to attend the Northern Lights Conference 2013 in the beautiful King’s College in October. It was a full day conference covering seven speakers; Hadi Hariri on tooling and legacy code; Kendall Miller beyond local debugging; Sarah Drummond working with local government; Kate Stone on her work developing interactive print techniques; Maria Gutierrez building the right tool; Niall Merrigan on giving presentations; Glenn Hendriksen on leading without having formal authority.

One afternoon breakout slot was left open by the organisers for conference participants to propose talks and split into four rooms to discuss a chosen topic. A group of roughly 20 split off to discuss the Light Log project, many thanks to all those who participated, it was great to chat with you all!

The discussion started around Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter Blues, but soon ranged into the type of sensor data that could be of use (UV, infra-red, motion, temperature), data security, and other possible uses of light data recordings such as approximate user geolocation based on sunrise/set times, and user to user proximity based on correlating similar environmental lighting events.

Autumn Equinox

Here in Scotland the days have been growing noticeably shorter as Autumn approaches. Today, September 22nd, at about quarter to 9pm, the Earth will reach that special place in its orbit where the Sun passes over the equator. With Scotland’s latitude is between 54ºN and 60ºN, the diagram below shows that from this point on until March 20th 2014, our day light hours will be shorter than our nights. For those of us sensitive to the ever shortening amount of light it is important to make the most of the available sun and resist an ancient urge to hibernate. The Autumn Equinox is here!

Daylight hours vs. latitude vs. time of year

Lothian Mental Health and Wellbeing

Clicking, Connecting, Making it Happen

In September I presented Light Log at the ‘Clicking, Connecting, Making it Happen!’ event organised by the NHS Lothian’s Strategic Planning Mental Health and Wellbeing team. It was a lively and friendly event, well attended by clinicians, the third sector, and those working in mental health organisations.

The slides from my NHS Lothian presentation are a mostly visual deck walking through the Light Log research, goals and prototype work so far, and were followed by a good number of Q&As from the attendees. One interesting use case raised was that Light Log could be helpful to patients on drug treatments that trigger light-sensitive conditions.

Many thanks to Kirstin Leath for running such a well organised event!

Clicking, Connecting, Making it Happen


Life Designs at InspaceLight Log is a project I’m developing supported by New Media Scotland‘s Alt-w Fund with investment from the Scottish Government. The goal is to design, prototype and build small, low cost, ambient light tracking badges that can easily be worn to record daily light level exposure to make sure you’re getting enough of the bright, shiny, out doors stuff during the day, and not too much of the artificial shiny stuff just before trying to get that much deserved sleep. Great if you are particularly sensitive to seasonal changes in light levels (such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Blues), or just want to make sure you’re making the best of your body’s circadian rhythm. The Light Log will synchronise to a desktop/mobile/web app so you can view and track your light exposure from week to week, season to season, in much the same way commercial sports and activity trackers allow you monitor your steps and exercise levels.

First prototype, chocolate wrappers required!

All of the projects source code, hardware schematics, layouts, and test data will be published under Open licenses, so if you’re a creator, maker or interested in getting involved from anything from building your own, designing a case enclosure, or improving the software, you can! I’ll be running several hands-on workshops where you can build and take away your own prototype Light Logger. If you’re in the Edinburgh area, fancy tinkering with some simple electronic wearable tech, and are curious how light and colour might be effecting your mood, get in contact!

My skills are much more on the software, visualisation, and electronics side of things, so if you are – or you know – someone who likes to experiment with jewellery design or wearable accessories it would be great to get your input. There will be plenty of laser cutting and 3D printing goodness for customised enclosures, but there are many more hand craft techniques that I’m sue will work well and allow for personalisation.

Right now, Light Log is experimental code and prototype hardware as you can see from the very first hack built during the Life Designs | Project Ginsberg event at Inspace in April. Yes the chocolates were most definitely essential to the prototype – it was the best hack I could find to make it record in colour…