Media Sandbox awards £50k to digital media projects

Media Sandbox, a scheme to promote research and development in pervasive digital media projects in the South West of England, today announces the six projects selected to receive grants of over £50,000. The grants are intended to invest in projects that would push forward greater understanding and potential usage of next-generation digital media, away from the current focus area of TV and computer screens.

Applications were invited for the grants, and the six chosen projects will receive £9,000 each to develop their projects further. A final project will be selected in March to receive a further £10,000 to bring the project to fruition.

Clare Reddington, Producer at iShed, who is running and jointly funding the project said, “The quality of the submitted project ideas was amazing, it was really quite difficult to select just six. It proves how vast the possibilities are for new technology and gives us a glimpse into how humans will use technology as part of their lives in the future.”

The chosen projects are:

- Ani-mates
HMC Interactive and Aardman Animations’ collaboration explores the idea of unleashing animated characters on to the city. By combining existing canvasses in urban spaces with interactive delivery systems, it aims to discover if cartoon reality can become a part of our reality. For instance, what if Gromit could be seen chasing Shaun the Sheep across rooftops, or if Wallace could outwit you in an elevator?

- Altern8
By allowing the general public to control fountains in Bristol, Altern8 aims to explore how public spaces can be accessible to everyone. People will be able to request pre-set patterns or have direct control of the fountains through information kiosks, laptops, online or any other form of connectivity. Altern8 is a one-person software design and consultancy business based in Bristol.

- Swarm
Urban or street gaming is rising in popularity and using technology from HP Labs, independent companies Evans Studios and Circumnavigate will design a new game to investigate “swarms” – self-organised structures – and how they emerge, communicate and disperse. Swarm aims to develop a toolkit using HP technology to allow street gamers to instant message each other on the run, creating an exciting new aspect to large city-centre gaming.

- Happy Town
A collaborative project between BDH, a BAFTA, D&AD, and RTS award-winning design company, and Plot London, a new media agency. Exploring how pervasive media might support humans as creatures who seek happiness, Happy Town will generate a live “happy map” of the UK, starting in Bristol. The happy map, created on mobile technology, will provide a context for morale-raising initiatives in various forms such as at events and festivals to shift and focus the morale of the UK public.

- Thought Pie
Exploring how people can interact in new ways to overcome fears about new technologies, Thought Pie is a collaboration between Bristol-based SMEs Thought Den and Mobile Pie, winners of the 4Talent Mobile Game Award in 2007. The project will look at developing “digital gifts” such as a mini-game bluetoothed to someone’s phone after a difficult interview, or a sticker in a coffee shop window with a treasure hunt riddle only friends will understand. By registering on an internet site, people will be able to leave these digital gifts around the city for friends and family.

- Harmonize
Harmonize is a team game where one player takes the role of the seeker, armed with a PDA and a two-way radio, who plays outside on the street. The seeker’s team uses a map on a large screen installation which highlights goals and obstacles to which they must direct the seeker. The team must work together, harmonizing their virtual and physical actions to overcome the challenges of the environment. Harmonize is the brainchild of Licorice Film Ltd and freelance digital designer Jon Williams, using HP’s Mscape technology.

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