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This is a research blog for my MA in Visual Effects @ Ravensbourne, UK.

PG03 | Group work - Week V

The project containing the elevator pitch, the video and all the material produced was finally uploaded to this website. I consider that our group worked quite well together. The idea was developed in a first phase and all members worked in a collaborative way. The second part consisted in the development and the pitch presentation. So far, I must say this was a nice experience and everybody was happy with the outcome.

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- Posted by rrraul on 13/03/2013 | PG03 |

PG03 | Group work - Week IV - Ident

We’ve successfully finished our idea generation part according to what we’ve planned priviously. Exactly like we had on our calendar. I received the newspaper printed, which is very exciting. Our team did an excellent job coming up with ideas and solutions, researching many aspects of the market and developing the business identity. So, following the concept of DRI discussed here, the main focus now is the video, which is probably the essential part of the exercise. This means that the coordination now is moving to three of our members who are going to be responsible for the video development. They will work on that and we’re planning daily reviews to evaluate their progress.

We have an animatic, which has the purpose of helping us to see what we need to develop and check the duration of the video and some narration decisions. We are commenting on it and creating a “to do” list. This is very WIP still. There’re still some design assets to be created, so the identity is consistent across all the project.

- Posted by rrraul on 05/03/2013 | PG03 |

PG03 | Group work - Week IV

On the last few days we managed to get a lot done. First, after the clash regarding our name, we’ve finally reached an agreement: Health Cloud Systems(HCS), which makes more sense, in my opinion. Though, I tried not to influence the group on the decision, since I’m coordinating and leading the project, I think my role need to be impartial.

Continuing on the project development, we also worked on the business identity reflecting our recent decision and we finally finished our business plan, which can be accessed here.

Parallel to that, we are about to finish our newspaper (instead of a brouchure), which can be seen here. And more on the presentation and tweet version of the idea, here.

The first draft of our video script is here. Working via Docs allowed us to get very efficient response and we made some reviews and finally reached what it looks like as a final version, which is here.

- Posted by rrraul on 01/03/2013 | PG03 |

Cinder and the Enttec DMX USB Pro

The Enttec DMX USB Pro is an interface controller that allows computers to control DMX devices directly. It is light-weight, portable, and ready for a number of professional applications. It also offers an API which makes the adapter accessible. After spending some time looking for DMX compatible libraries in C++ for the Enttec adapter, I came across this one called DMXUsbPro (more details about the library here), a Cinder library written by Andrea Cuius-Boscarello.

Based on posts at the Cinder forum, the library looked very straightforward and simple to use. Though, I must mention I’ve experienced some issues making the drivers work properly (which was previously mentioned on Cinder’s forum). If you have experienced an unresponsive adapter, you may want to have a look at this post. It describes possible a possible scenario when two drivers try to connect to the same port, generating a conflict and preventing device connecting properly.

Basically, there’re two versions of drivers for the Mac, both released by FTDI, the D2XX driver and the VCP one. If both are installed, the D2XX doesn’t work (needed for the Enttec PRO Utility). So, Enttec recommends getting rid of the VCP driver, which is also used by older boards of Arduino (like my Arduino Duemilanove

Initially, I had two drivers installed (D2XX and VCOM), which were causing a conflict. Clearing it by removing the VCP driver made the port where the adapter was plugged inaccessible. When I tried to find the port, I got this:

// On Terminal:
ls /dev/tty.*

// The output was:
/dev/tty.Bluetooth-Modem	/dev/tty.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync

And compiling the Cinder app that was trying to connect to the device generated the following output on my console:

DMX usb pro > List serial devices: cu.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: tty.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: cu.Bluetooth-Modem
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: tty.Bluetooth-Modem

Comparing to what I had before when both drivers were installed:

// With this input
ls /dev/tty.*

// The output was:
/dev/tty.Bluetooth-Modem	/dev/tty.usbserial-EN129289

The compiled app was sent the following to my console:

DMX usb pro > List serial devices: cu.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: tty.Bluetooth-PDA-Sync
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: cu.Bluetooth-Modem
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: tty.Bluetooth-Modem
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: cu.usbserial-EN129289
DMX usb pro > List serial devices: tty.usbserial-EN129289

Basically, my app had to connect to the device using tty.usbserial, which was visible to me just when I had both drivers installed. The problem was that having both drivers conflicting was making me unable to connect to the port, even though it was visible. Unfortunately, even after removing the VCP driver, I still had some problems getting the library to work and I ended up posting on the forum. Andrea himself suggested that I should get rid of the D2XX driver - the one that was enabling the Enttec Utility to work instead of the VCP. Very clever suggestion. After doing that I managed to get the adapter working beautifully.

Also, I could keep the driver that works along with my Arduino Duemilanove, which relies on the VCP FTDI driver.


- Posted by rrraul on 01/03/2013 | PG04 |

PG03 | Group work - Week III - Naming an idea

Our members seem to be motivated and at the same challenged and the discussions have been very productive. Also, we were able to keep a good atmosphere around the group contributing to positive attitute from the team. For my suprise though, we had some problems regarding the how we name our business idea. We are struggling to pick one from the following two options.

1. Health Cloud Systems (HCS)
2. Healthcare System (HCS)

The main issue with the first option is that we have the word cloud, which according to some members, is a not positive term considering privacy and security issues that are frequently attached to cloud computing. A report by the Working Party for the European Commission, working as advisory body on data protection and privacy has been sent around. The report raises a number of issues and concerns about services based on cloud computing:

Despite the acknowledged benefits of cloud computing in both economic and societal
terms, this Opinion outlines how the wide scale deployment of cloud computing services
can trigger a number of data protection risks, mainly a lack of control over personal data
as well as insufficient information with regard to how, where and by whom the data is
being processed/sub-processed. These risks need to be carefully assessed by public bodies
and private enterprises when they are considering engaging the services of a cloud
provider. This Opinion examines issues associated with the sharing of resources with
other parties, the lack of transparency of an outsourcing chain consisting of multiple
processors and subcontractors, the unavailability of a common global data portability
framework and uncertainty with regard to the admissibility of the transfer of personal data
to cloud providers established outside of the EEA.

You can read the full report here, or directly here:

It appears you don’t have a PDF plugin for this browser. You can click here to   download the PDF file.

The second options has the problem that it doesn’t mean much in terms of a new service that relies on devices distributed across a network that can contribute for the well being of elderly people; it could be a health insurance company, for example. Even though the use of “cloud” may have its problems, it can also attach a value and a meaning to a new service that is disruptive by the use of a relatively new technology.

- Posted by rrraul on 26/02/2013 | PG03 |

PG03 | Group work - Week III - Business idea

With all the feedback from our team members, we were able to come up with a first draft of our business idea. I reckon this document is beyond what was asked for the pitch. But I reckon it is important to have a good base taking in consideration many aspects of our business. We have some good data on healthcare, market, self tracking objects and cloud computing for healthcare. This is not a conclusion and it’s important to notice that this is just a starting point for a proper business idea. Though, for our purpuses and considering the time constraints, I think it’s a pretty good business plan.

Now we can continue to refine it and add more information. Also, we can now start the script for our video and the newspaper/brochure we are planning to develop.
You can check the first draft here.

- Posted by rrraul on 26/02/2013 | PG03 |

PG03 | Group work - Week III

Following last agreements we have been researching key areas for our business idea. We need to analise all the information we manage to get and so far, the group came up with the following material:

Cloud and Healthcare
More data about the could and its application in the healthcare industry. The role of IT and innovation in hospitals are two points quite relevant for us. Also methods for implementation of scalable cloud services Find out more here.

Self Trackers - Data and markerting
We’ve also got more information about the market, behaviour and targets. It’s crucial to understand the values attached to this emerging trend of self tracking. Also, try to identify possible and viable ways to market new producs and services. Find out more.
Evaluation and some key aspects about the technology.

Self Tracking Devices - Examples
We’ve also listed some of the devices that are now on the market and some new trends:

Some examples and devices
Tele healthcare system diagram
Self-Tracking Tools Help You Stay Healthy
Tools for Quantifying Yourself

- Posted by rrraul on 25/02/2013 | PG03 |

PG03 | Group work - Week II - More updates

Our discussion group has been very useful for debating ideas and sharing content and articles. Following the decision about the idea, we split the task of researching different aspects of the business in three main areas. We’ve assigned group members to the task of researching these different areas so we are able to get a good basis for the development.

Just as a reminder, our project is about disruptive innovation, which basically means creating a new market and value network, that can eventually go on to disrupt existing market and value network, displacing an earlier technology. We want to improve a product/service in a way that it’s not expected. This typically can be achieved by first designing a solution for a different set of consumers in the new established market and than later, lowering prices in the existing market.

I’ve posted the following comments to our group:

Members - Group 1: Self tracking devices

There’re plenty of self tracking gadgets, examples and technologies taking the advantage of mobile and smartphones. Anything that can be plugged to a mobile related to health tracking. One member has lots of knowledge about the technology.

Members - Group 2: Marketing/Market Analysis/Customers/Benefits

Another member has already some interesting data about behaviours and demographics in USA. We have lots of stuff here. It would be nice to try to research more about the UK and the NHS, costs of health services and so on. Focusing on our product of course. Get rid of the stuff we don’t need.

Members - Group 3: Cloud/Services/etc

This is what makes the idea different. Think of a cloud service that collects people’s health data and makes it useful. By using this we can partner with companies or save costs based on people’s health. We would offer direct response to people that need care for example, instead of making people go to hospitals.

So far we’ve shared some interesting articles:

How will Britain deal with an ageing population?
Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality
10 of the best apps for older people
The Solution to an Ageing Population? Re-Think Retirement

- Posted by rrraul on 20/02/2013 | PG03 |

Controlling lights and digital communication

One of the advantages of Cinder is its flexibility and focus on more abstract projects, such as art installations. For my purposes I wanted to find a way to communicate with DMX devices.

DMX512 (or simply DMX) is a standard protocol for digital communication, commonly used to control stage lighting and theatrical effects, which basically means moving lights, colour changing lights, fog machines and so on. The main aspect of the DMX protocol is the ability to transmit data on multiple channels (or more precisely up to 512 channels) over a single DMX cable, allowing DMX enabled devices (such as dimmers and intelligent fixtures) to receive several control channels at once.

This is extremely interesting considering that I can write apps that can basically control electic objects around. That’s not essentially somethings new or disruptive, though, I’m focused on new ways to interact with objects for art and communication purposes; things that can make us think about our environment and how we interact with it.

For my research I initially considered writing an video player that could interact with real objetcs in a timeline based method. That would allow me and other people to create content that could potentially extend our perception of films and how we interact with films emotionally. Although I know this is a very very broad idea and there’re so much out there following the same concept, interacting with films is something that haven’t change much since it was established as art form. By creating a sort of player, I would enable other people to create more videos that could interact with real objetcs. This doesn’t necessarily is focused on any kind of business idea or model for making money, but I can think of some commercial possibilities maybe in fashion or some sort of digital out of home for advertising. The focus here though is more the conversation between expression forms.

The image below shows a basic scheme for a DMX system containing a console, dimmer, fixtures and automated lighting.

The protocol transmits information asynchronously in packages of values ranging from 0 to 255 (or 1 byte a time). In asynchronous data transmission (as opposed to synchronous data transmission), data is sent one byte at a time not requiring perfect synchronization throughout the system and devices, but their timing signals must be close (within about 5%). The method is relatively simple, and therefore inexpensive.


DMX 101: A DMX 512 Handbook, Elation Professional
DMX-512 Fundamentals, Lutron

- Posted by rrraul on 19/02/2013 | PG04 |

PG03 | Group work - Week II

I came up with 3 ideas (or directions) for our business and submitted for discussion. Each member came up with at least one idea. To summarise, these are my three ideas:

Self Tracking Devices - Health apps and gadgets

First idea is a cloud service for health self tracking devices. Self tracking and wearable sensors for data acquisition are currently a trend and there are a growing number of devices coming to the market. The idea can be expanded to manufacturing, instead of just concentrating on the service. There’s also a huge market for data analysis and cost reduction in healthcare, at least potentially.  Find out more about the idea.

Domestic robotics

Second is to build domestic robots to help elderly people. This is not new and the trend comes from Japan. I believe this can be very interesting solution. Automation may grow in the future as a possible (and probably partial) solution for the challenge, considering the age structure of the population in the UK with the elderly constituting a big chunk of it in the future. Find out more about the idea.

The idea of age will change

The third is more of a direction based on an assumption that our concept about age is going to change in the future. With life expectancy increasing consistently, I assume our perception of age will have to change. People are having longer professional careers and being more active. This can be an interesting starting point. More details about this last one.

These are just starting points. I made them open and invited people to come up with more inputs that could contribute to them. We voted and the group ended up picking the first idea, the cloud service for self tracking devices.

- Posted by rrraul on 19/02/2013 | PG03 |

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