The Boiler Room London Lab

Project Daedalus is interested in how audience experiences are changing through new technology driven opportunities like virtual & augmented reality, but also what audiences expect in our technological age.

The London Lab hosted in The Boiler Room, invited participants from different creative organisations to come and learn more about drones, 360 cameras and virtual reality. The day also included an in-depth workshop in each of the technological devices with experts from Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) and the University of Salford.

Many of the participants were already adept flyers of drones, some were creative practitioners already using new technologies in their productions and shows. Others were from cultural organisations looking to develop their understanding of the technology and add their own input into the online toolkit being developed as part of the project.

The day started off with an introduction by Robin from Marshmallow Laser Feast, who explained their involvement with Project Daedalus and talked about his interest in developing creative storytelling through technology. He spoke about the rapidly advancing technology with drones and how MLF have narrowed their research focus down into exploring 3 main areas: Lights, Camera and Action. He also showed some videos of past projects with examples of the technology in use.

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To gather audience research for Project Daedalus, participants took part in several group discussions focussed around; the concept of drones in modern society, the depiction of drones in science fiction and popular culture, where drone research has progressed and a memorable story in the media. This gave the participants a historical context of drones and their possible applications, as well as the project team an understanding what creative stakeholders know about drones already, and what they want from the technology.

The groups were given a demonstration of how to control the Hubsan X4 (with fitted SD card HD camera) and the Parrot Bebop drone (onboard live camera with iPad control). They then operated the drones under supervision whilst recording footage from their flight. It was interesting to see the various skill levels in individuals that were comfortable with controlling computer games and technology such as touch screen iPads. The majority of users found it difficult to control the altitude and direction with the Hubsan X4 quadcopters through the gaming style handsets, with many of them preferring the smoother and intuitive touch screen controls of the Parrot drone.