The beginning of November was a particularly busy time for the Wavemaker team, it saw us attending and showcasing at a number of tech events across the region. They were all so interesting that we thought ‘why not share them?’, so we are!
First up was the Digital Tech Conference at Staffordshire University. With it’s revamped Mellor Building and the opening of the Digital Kiln, Staffs Uni is really flying the flag for all things tech across the county and beyond. We were also invited to take a look around the brand new recording and television studios at the University a few weeks ago, for anyone thinking of pursuing a career in music, television or sound production, this is really the place to be. As well as music the University also boasts a thriving student community for games design and creation, which resulted in The Digital Tech Conference having a healthy attendance of students and professionals alike. The event offered a number of talks by leading industry experts around various areas of tech, from 3D design, VR, introduction to coding for children, cyber security and many, many more. The conference allowed you to select which talks you thought more personally appealing, so it was up to the attendee to pick and choose what they listened to. I decided to select a series of talks that were relevant to our mission here at Wavemaker, and were going to offer us an insight into the future of technology and how to encourage others to get involved. One of the most engaging talks from the day, was the opening speaker who addressed all the attendees at the start of the day. This was Jeff Coghlan, founder a design and gamification company called Matmi. Having produced online campaigns for Alton Towers’ VR Rollercoaster Galactica, interactive apps and promotions for leading brands, Jeff was more than qualified to talk about the future of digital technology. And that future, ladies and gentlemen, is VR.
Before attending the event, I had a good idea about VR, although I was never a Pokemon Go-er. But after Jeff’s talk and also hearing a few more companies talk about the future of VR, I left the conference a lot more aware than I had ever been before. I learnt about augmented, virtual and mixed reality. How VR and mixed reality will soon become a part of everyday life, a way to organise your day without out looking at your phone, or checking a computer. The possibility of projecting your daily calendar, your evening shopping list, next weekend’s family get together onto your office wall as a hologram and then interacting with it, seemed a lot closer than I originally thought. I learnt about new software and hardware being developed, from HoloLens by Microsoft to Magic Leap and Expeditions from Google. There was also talk of a new VR gaming experience called The Void. A VR game built in physical form, a VR Quasar is the best way to describe it, and it looked amazing!
Continuing with the VR theme, I also attended a talk by Figment Productions, the company behind the world’s first VR rollercoaster, Galactica at Alton Towers. I knew about the ride due to advertising, general interest and Ben, our CEO’s recent visit, which left him a little green around the gills….Any way to hear the company talk about concept, all the way through development to completion was very interesting and engaging. Watching footage of their team with VR headsets gaffer taped to their heads, during the early stages was amusing and also insightful, reinforcing the notion that all ideas start basic, to make the best of what’s on offer and if the equipment doesn’t exist, design it.
At the event our CEO Ben was delivering a talk about Wavemaker, it’s formation, first year and what’s next. Entitled ‘Making, Making work’, it was an opportunity to showcase what we do best and where we see the project in the next 5 years. Referencing the digital skills gap, and how the current students at Staffs, can be best placed to offer solutions to some of these problems.
Later on in the week, we had the pleasure of attending The Future Digital Workplace event, presented by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, as part of the Staffordshire Business Festival 2016. This took place at the Uttoxeter Racecourse, and hosted various speakers and companies from across the county. Wavemaker were lucky enough to both host a stand and have our CEO Ben talking at the event too. With the 3D printer in full swing, the stand was buzzing with enquiries and inquisitive questions around 3D technology, which also looks set to continue its technological development, with pharmaceutical companies now 3D printing specific tablets.
That afternoon, we also attended another event at Staffordshire University, this time a Women in Computing event, whose guest speaker was Dr. Louise Brown, an expert in CAD design. Dr. Brown’s talk was particularly insightful and encouraging to women working within the computing industry.It also allowed for the audience to ask questions around how to get more women into technology and keep them there.
All in all, it was a very busy week for the Wavemaker team, not only was outreach energetic, but our Makerspace saw new users who attended both our Open Maker Night and our first adult workshop, Laser cut card designs. These evenings were a big success and our next Maker Night takes place Tuesday 29th November, we look forward to seeing you there!