Plenoptics 2013: Call for Participation

EU COST Training School on Plenoptic Capture, Processing and Reconstruction

Sundsvall, Sweden , 16-20 June 2013

Plenoptics is a hot topic and there are a number of research disciplines addressing it, ranging from electrical engineering, computer vision and computer graphics to human visual perception, physics and optics. This training school targets the interdisciplinarity of plenoptic research, creating new ties between students and professionals working in the broad area. Continue reading

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Research to Entrepreneurship: Workshop Report

Research to Entrepreneurship: Report of One-Day Workshop for Technology Researchers

On Friday 7th September 2012, 19 researchers from the UK, Ireland, Greece, Lithuania and elsewhere – all of them working in fields of media computing and communications – met with top-flight entrepreneurs for a first-of-a-kind event in Tech City, London’s thriving hub of technology innovation.

Lazaros Gymnopoulos (EMC2 and Informatics and Telematics Institute, Thessaloniki, Greece)

Workshop Aim

Organised by George Whale and Lazaros Gymnopoulos of EMC2 and Paul Massey of mentorwell.com, and hosted by UK Trade and Investment at Hackney House (UKTI’s ‘pop-up’ showcase venue on Shoreditch High Street), the goal of the “Research to Entrepreneurship” workshop was to inspire technology researchers (both doctoral and post-doc) to develop commercially viable products or services alongside their research.

Paul Massey of mentorwell.com explains how mentoring works

Providing the inspiration, the ‘Tech City Mentors’ – a dozen entrepreneurs, investors and professionals with extensive collective experience of technology business, and exceptionally well placed to help workshop participants navigate paths to entrepreneurship via commercialisation of research.

Participants brought with them a range of commercialisation proposals in various stages of formation – some quite detailed, some still sketchy. They included proposals for:

• data summarization services for wearable-camera-based market research;

• anti-counterfeiting technology for online shopping;

• shape analysis products for medical diagnosis;

• holistic solutions for photo trading;

• indoor digital antenna systems;

• gesture mapping engines for mobile devices;

• novel technologies for image classification and search.

Lean Startup Methodology

Conceptually the workshop was built around Lean Startup Methodology, a methodology that encourages product development and business success by working smarter but not harder. The methodology sees every startup* as an experiment that attempts to answer a question. The question is not "Can this product be built?" Instead, the questions are "Should this product be built?" and "Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?" This is achieved with a rapid product development, testing, measurement and iteration cycle aimed at reaching a minimum viable product (MVP) which people will use and buy. It is important for the entrepreneur to identify flaws in a product and change them, or accept a business failure quickly (for example, due to lack of demand) and then pivot towards a new product.

A core element of Lean Startup Methodology is the ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a MVP to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a startup identifies quantitative and qualitative metrics to determine the viability of the product, for example the number of users. A cause and effect loop is established, allowing products to be refined towards customer needs. Failure should not be feared but – as in Silicon Valley – an ethos of Failing Often, but Failing Early should be respected as part of the entrepreneur’s learning cycle.

(*Mark Babbitt, YouTern Founder and CEO defined a startup as “an entrepreneurial-driven organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model".)

Parallels Between Research and Entrepreneurship

Starting off the workshop with a presentation entitled “Researcher as Entrepreneur”, Dr Kevin Byron of Queen Mary, University of London explored parallels between research and enterprise, and compellingly demonstrated them by mapping the ‘Enquiry Wheel’ onto ‘The Enterprise Cycle’.

“Researcher as Entrepreneur”: Dr Kevin Byron (Queen Mary, University of London) shows parallels between research and entrepreneurship

Kevin enumerated the skills needed by entrepreneurs, and showed that many of the researchers’ existing core skills are directly transferable to the business domain. He spoke of demographics, lifestyle and new scientific knowledge as drivers of innovation, and finally pointed to important sources of expert knowledge for would-be technology entrepreneurs, including university business units. (Download Kevin Byron: (151).)

“I founded a technology company – so can you!” Dr Victor Henning, mendeley.com

An interesting presentation...

Next, in a talk entitled “I founded a technology company – so can you!” Victor Henning of mendeley.com spoke about his personal journey from PhD research to successfully running a company. (Victor’s product Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network for researchers that supports organisation of sources, online collaboration, and discovery of new research.) He showed the many obstacles facing technology startups and spoke of the huge sense of achievement that is gained in overcoming them.

Workshop Sessions

In the first workshop session – "Tomorrow’s Products From Today’s Research" – Tech City Mentors guided participants through the first stages of generating a business model from their initial concepts using the The Business Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas, described as a ‘visual brainstorming tool’, includes nine interrelated business building blocks. In face-to-face sessions with mentors, researchers worked individually or in small groups to evolve startup ideas and populate the Canvas by identifying Customer Segments, Revenue Streams, Key Activities and other building blocks, and then reshaping the initial startup proposition in light of these discoveries.

As became apparent to participants during this iterative process, no element of the Canvas works in isolation and the initial business idea is not implemented in a vacuum.

Mentor Peter Rosen (left) helps researchers develop a viable business model using The Business Model Canvas

Mentor Jacqui Taylor (centre) guides another group of researchers

The Canvas helped participants to understand whether their business proposition derived from their own research activities or was driven by customer demand. The process helped them to uncover the Value Proposition to be provided to customers, i.e. the problem solved or the need satisfied.

In the second workshop session – "Presentation Masterclass" – Annette Kramer showed participants how to make a ‘killer’ pitch to potential backers and investors by communicating the business concept quickly, clearly and assuredly. Three brave participants were put through their paces, rapidly improving their pitching techniques under Annette’s skilled guidance.

Workshop session 2: Presentation Masterclass led by Annette Kramer (right)

Elements of the pitch

Steven Bourke of Dublin City University makes his pitch

Next up: Sheffield University’s Dr Deepayan Bhowmik

In the third and final workshop session – "Speed Mentoring" – each participant faced Tech City mentors one after another in a fun, frenetic mentoring session designed to promote rapid pitching, critical questioning and goal-defining feedback.

Speed mentoring encourages concise presentation, critical questioning and goal-defining feedback

Conclusion

Rounding off the day, Ricardo Parro inspired participants with his personal account of entrepreneurial success – the establishment of printi.com.br, a startup that set out to ‘disrupt‘ the online printing industry in Brazil. Ricardo elaborated his ‘Top Ten Findings’ on the path from research to entrepreneurship, which included:

#1 Fail. Learn. Improve. Fail again.

#3 Stay Positive.

#5 Always look for problems to solve.

#6 Find your business partners.

#10 It is not only about a startup. It is about what you become when you are in a startup!

(Download Ricardo Parro: (109).)

Final presentation of the day: “From Research to Entrepreneurship” by Ricardo Parro, CTO of printi.com.br

There followed a group feedback session in which researcher-participants shared their main lessons of the day.

Finally, Paul Massey invited participants to follow up the day’s work via continued contact with mentors using the online collaboration tools at mentorwell.com.

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EMC2 may organise further workshops of this kind. If you are interested in attending one of them, please contact us.

Presentations

Research to Entrepreneurship Programme (136)
Kevin Byron: (151)
Victor Henning: I founded a technology company – so can you! [To follow]
Ricardo Parro: (109)

Videos

[To follow]

Further Information

Hackney House: www.hackneyhouse.org
Mentorwell: mentorwell.com
UK Trade and Investment: www.ukti.gov.uk
The Lean Startup: theleanstartup.com

Contacts

George Whale at EMC2: george.whale@emc-square.org
Paul Massey at mentorwell: paul.massey@mentorwell.com

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Pora Ora: Numeracy and Literacy in 3D Worlds

Pora Ora is a free online 3D universe comprised of two themed worlds -- Samura Valley and Urba Roma. Each contains games, quests and puzzles designed to make children’s learning of mathematics, language and literacy, ICT and geography stimulating and fun.

In technical terms, Pora Ora is a highly-moderated educational MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game). Aimed at children in the 5-12 age range, it is the collaborative product of a team of artists and designers, game developers, animators, parents and professional educators.

Spellfire

On first entering Pora Ora, the child is invited to fashion his/ her own 3D avatar and is given a virtual pet, or ‘Pora Pal’, to look after. To keep it happy and healthy, the pet’s owner must complete various educational ‘quests’ and puzzles.

Though learning activities focus mainly on numeracy and literacy, children are also encouraged to exercise their creativity, for example by decorating their ‘Pora Pads’ (homes) or designing new Pora Pals. They can also grow virtual garden produce for sale at the virtual market, which is one way of obtaining ‘roobles’, the in-game currency. In this universe children learn the life lesson of having to earn their roobles before spending them!

Numberbugs

Pora Ora's educational content is mapped to the UK educational curriculum and is individually adjusted to challenge each child. Importantly, parents can monitor academic progress via detailed reports outlining the child's strengths and weaknesses.

The game also offers a full set of social features. Children can make friends, send mail and gifts, visit and rate each other's homes and compete in multi-player games. All social features are subject to real-time moderation and a high level of parental control over who their child can interact with.

'Pora Pals' currently under development

Neil Gallagher, founder of Caped Koala Studios, the London based producer of Pora Ora, believes that well-designed, game-like 3D applications will become a major component of future children’s learning. He says of his latest creation:

Pora Ora uses the tools of the modern age to instill a love of learning in children, allowing them to progress at their own pace and practice until mastery without pressure or fear of failure. Motivational rewards ensure that the child keeps engaging with the educational content – these rewards take a variety of forms from in-game currency to opportunities to unlock new worlds or collect new pets (‘Pora Pals’).

Whether they're improving their multiplication skills on Leap Frog, mapping their geography skills on Globe Trotters, or testing their spelling in Spellfire, children are able to learn in an exciting, motivational and stimulating way.

Pora Ora has already built up an international community of thousands of young learners, and has received some glowing endorsements from parents and teachers. Now Neil Gallagher and his talented team are looking to take it to the next level of development.

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From Research to Entrepreneurship: A New Framework

By Dr Kevin Byron, Queen Mary, University of London

The entrepreneurial expert Peter Drucker once said “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity”. This could equally describe a researcher, with the only difference being in the nature of the opportunity and the mechanisms of exploitation. In the case of the entrepreneur this would lead to the creation of a new business and for the researcher, new discoveries leading to progress through publications etc.

It could be argued therefore that some of the skills of the entrepreneur overlap with those of the researcher. The challenges then for developing a more entrepreneurial mindset with researchers lie first in understanding these overlaps and then practice of the developmental and technical skills that could lead to the redirection of the mechanisms of exploitation of research.

I believe that technology PhDs incorporating entrepreneurship training should first explore how entrepreneurship and research relate to each other. The relationship can be illustrated through the application of ‘The Enquiry Wheel’ (Harwood, W. S., et al., 2004) - a tool that describes the various stages of progression in scientific research - and how this maps on to ‘The Enterprise Cycle’ (Byron, K. C., 2010) - a tool developed at Queen Mary, University of London that shows the stages of development of a new enterprise.

The Enquiry Wheel and The Enterprise Cycle: the similarities between research and enterprise development (click on images to enlarge).

Special attention should be given to the notion that research ideas that have commercial potential are not necessarily in the main line of sight of the research being undertaken. This may mean for example that a perhaps smaller problem, solved as part of a larger research endeavour, could have greater potential for commercial exploitation.

This requires the researcher to see a broader horizon not only in terms of their research field, but how it interfaces - no matter how distantly or obliquely - with commercial markets. Here a more flexible, creative approach to research and its application is needed. This needs to be informed by an awareness of markets, trends in markets and a sensitivity to gaps in markets which will be included in the training. An essential skill in this phase of the training will focus on creativity in research, and how that becomes innovation in the marketplace. Underpinning this are the processes of knowledge exchange and an awareness of the appropriate ‘levels of technology readiness’ concepts.

The second phase of the skills training should focus more on the conventional aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset. Whilst these bear some resemblance to some of the transferable, researcher skills, the context and emphases are quite different. These include influence and negotiation, marketing, pitching and presenting, and general business awareness skills. In common with the creative skills described earlier, the training will have an emphasis on learning in action and with relevance to each individual’s unique research and entrepreneurial challenges. Finally some of the more essential information-heavy training such as IPR will be presented in novel ways to enable the attendees to put in practice some of the knowledge acquired.

References

Byron. K. C. “The Enterprise Cycle”, International Entrepreneurship Educators’ Conference, (IEEC’10), Cardiff, 2010.

Harwood, W.S., Reiff, R., & Phillipson, T. Voices from the frontline: Scientists’ conceptions of scientific inquiry. J. Chem Edu, 2004.

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Dr Kevin Byron is Enterprise Education Coordinator at The Learning Institute, Queen Mary, University of London.

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The Second 3DLife Summer School: Online Lectures

Image and Video Tagging in the Internet Era, Xian-Sheng Hua, 2 videos

The lectures of the 2nd Summer School on Social Media Retrieval (S3MR) -- which was also the 2nd 3DLife co-organized summer school -- are now available online through the videolectures.net website. You can also access them through the links above and below:

Human Sensing, Implicit Tagging, and Implicit Interaction, Anton Nijholt, 2 videos ShareIt: Mining SocialMedia Activities for Detecting Events, Raphael Troncy, 3 videos
Beyond Relevance, Roelof Van Zwol, 3 videos P2P Video Networking with Social Media Applications, A. Murat Tekalp, 2 videos
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The Second 3DLife Summer School

The 3DLife 2nd Summer School on Social Media Retrieval (S3MR) ended successfully today. The Summer School was co-organized with the PetaMedia project and took place between June 26 and July 1, 2011, in Antalya, Turkey. 3DLife sponsored S3MR and organized a group discussion under the title "Future 3D Media Experience". More details and the summer school program can be found at http://www.s3mr.eu/.

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The First 3DLife Summer School!

3DLife actively supported and co-organized the "Immersive and Engaging Interaction with VH on Internet (Engage)" Summer School which took place on the 13-15 September 2010 at Hotel Alex, Zermatt, Switzerland.

Engage aimed to bring together researchers working on different aspects of believable interaction with virtual humans for Future Media Internet, from analysis of media for human-computer interaction to the construction and animation of virtual humans and believable interaction with them in immersive virtual environments. The goal was to share recent advances and explore future research directions and opportunities in the field.

The Suggested topics for papers included:

  • Sensing humans for human-computer interaction
  • Construction and animation of 3D virtual characters and avatars
  • Social and emotional interaction with intelligent entities
  • Design and evaluation of autonomous embodied conversational characters
  • Intuitive multi-modal interaction
  • Social awareness and presence
  • Applications of intelligent human-computer interaction in virtual worlds, serious games, augmented/ mixed reality and robotics
  • Computer-based perception
  • Networking models for virtual environments

Selected and invited papers that were presented in the summer school will be published as a Springer LNCS State-of-the-Art Survey book.

Engage Summer School: List of Participants
13-15 September 2010, Zermatt, Switzerland
No. Name Affiliation
1 Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann University of Geneva, Switzerland
2 Daniel Thalmann Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
3 Janusz Holst Warsaw University of Technology, Poland
4 George Papagiannakis University of Crete, Greece
5 Mustafa Kasap University of Geneva, Switzerland
6 Maher Ben Moussa University of Geneva, Switzerland
7 Stéphane Gobron Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
8 Junghyun Ahn Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
9 Byungju Lee Korea University, Korea
10 Benjamin Prestele Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Germany
11 Georgios Kordelas Informatics & Telematics Institute, Greece
12 Marc Growing Dublin City University, Ireland
13 Vlado Kitanovski Queen Mary, University of London, UK
14 Ulysses Bernardet Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

Legend

3DLife consortium members

Other participants

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