June 2009 TEDxDublin

On June 12th at 7.30pm I organised TEDxDublin which was hosted by the Science Gallery but it truly was a team effort!

Links: [ Facebook Fan Page ] [ TEDxDublin Website ] [ #tedxdub on twitter ] [ #tedx on twitter ] [ TEDxDublin on Flickr ]

TEDxDublin is a local, self-organized event that brought people together to share "ideas worth spreading". At TEDxDublin we had a program of 2 TEDTalks videos and 3 live speakers. See the TEDxDublin website (which the Science Gallery kindly host) for full details and videos on this event. This event really did spark off some deep discussions and connection. I was particularly glad that our ODCSSS 2009 research interns were able to attend along with some of their mentors and supervisors. It really is a great testament to Dublin that such an event can come together on such short notice yet have speakers from around the world and be delivered through such a high quality event.

Thanks go to our three speakers for giving up their time and presenting inspiring talks and also our local volunteers. The Science Gallery and all the staff who helped are to be very much complimented for their professionalism with helping to plan and execute on TEDxDublin. Beforehand a number of people said they weren't sure if we could have something in Dublin that emulated the buzz, energy and inspiration of the original TED talks but afterwards many people said the event had met and exceeded just those expectations. Rowan Manahan from Fortify Services has written a very nice blog piece on TEDxDublin.

Two interesting aspects of how this whole event came together was firstly the speed (18 days) and also the use of social media (lots of twitter and Facebook). Due to the whole connection to TED I was interviewed by a local reporter Marie Boran on the use of social media to drive the organisation of this event. You can see her piece on this in the Silicon Republic.

The event itself....

Our first presentation came from Scott Rickard on "source signal separation" or the cocktail-party effect. Scott gave a great and engaging talk and certainly inspired many people, if the discussions afterwards are anything to judge by! Scott is keenly interested in science, mathematics, and engineering education, at all levels. He is co-founder of Science With Me! and co-created RoboRugby. He is the director of the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory UCD. Along with explaining what is some complex research in accessible terms Scott was able to give a live demo with multi-lingual source seperation on the spot! Pretty impressive.

Educated at MIT and Princeton, Scott was a research assistant at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts (from 1991 to 1993) and worked on a prototype analog neural network computer, designed neural networks for mine detection from sonar images, and designed large sets of frequency hopped waveforms with nearly ideal ambiguity properties for sonar applications. From 1993 to 2003 he was a member of technical staff at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, New Jersey. He spent 1995 and 1996 in Munich Germany with Siemens working in the Neural Networks Group. While with Siemens, he developed and applied machine learning technology to industrial problems such as vehicle navigation, automated image analysis, biomedical signal classification, and industrial plant state prediction. Scott moved to UCD in September 2003 and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the UCD Complex & Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL).

Our first TED talk on video at TEDxDublin came from Pattie Maes on the Sixth Sense. [ TED Link ]

Mark Billinghurst was our second live presenter on "Accessible AR: Bringing Augmented Reality to the Masses". Mark is the director of the Human Interface Technology Lab New Zealand. He is the inventor of the "Magic Book" - an animated children's book that comes to life when viewed through the lightweight head-mounted display (HMD).He was awarded a Discover Magazine Award in 2001, for Entertainment for creating the Magic Book technology. In 2004 he was nominated for a prestigious World Technology Network (WTN) World Technology Award in the education category and in 2005 he was appointed to the New Zealand Government's Growth and Innovation Advisory Board.

Our second TED talk on video at TEDxDublin came from Robert Full on Learning from the gecko's tail. [ TED Link ]

Our final live talk at TEDxDublin came from Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Microsoft Live Labs. Blaise is well know for his original TED talk in 2007 on [ Photosynth ]. Blaise Aguera y Arcas has authored patents on both video compression and 3D visualization techniques, and in 2001, he made an influential computational discovery that cast doubt on Gutenberg's role as the father of movable type.

He also created Seadragon (acquired by Microsoft in 2006), the visualization technology that gives Photosynth its amazingly smooth digital rendering and zoom capabilities. Photosynth itself is a vastly powerful piece of software capable of taking a wide variety of images, analyzing them for similarities, and grafting them together into an interactive three-dimensional space. This seamless patchwork of images can be viewed via multiple angles and magnifications, allowing us to look around corners or "fly" in for a (much) closer look. Simply put, it could utterly transform the way we experience digital images.

Thanks to Catalin David of Jacobs University Bremen, Germany for his images of the event. Catalin is an ODCSSS research intern.

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