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Real World Hack weekend winners

IMG_5883Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios welcomed developers and designers from across the UK when it hosted a hack weekend as part of the Bath Digital Festival. The inspirational setting and broad spread of participants made for a unique event. The challenge was for participants to create an app using either or both of two APIs created by companies who have Peter Gabriel as an investor: The Filter (a recommendation engine for music, movies and TV shows) and Gabble (a visual language). And things were spiced up a little with cash prizes for the best teams.

Eleven teams took part across the weekend and we were delighted with what was achieved by such a broad range of participants. But as with all competitions, there has to be winners. The team of judges included Neil Andrassy from The Filter and Tree, Jamie Middleton, Katrina James and myself from Gabble. And, here are the four winners as well as a special mention to a fifth team:

Overall winner (prize: £500) – Frabble


The Frabble team mashed up The Filter API with the Gabble API and delivered a Facebook game that was a whisker from being ready to launch. The game takes a random film from The Filter API, feeds it through Gabble to offer the player a series of pictures that they need to decipher to guess the name of the movie. If the player wants, they can reveal some hints (also from The Filter API) like the name of the director, year of release and genre… The Frabble team have asked for their prize to be donated to Child’s Play.

Special Commendation for Creativity & Imagination (prize: £500) – Gabbetar


Jack Hopkins demonstrated the most ambition and imagination for Gabbetar, a tree of connected images that was created from mashing up several APIs including Gabble and The Filter. Jack fed tweets & Facebook status updates through Gabble to display a tree of connected images based on what was important to the user in the moment. Incredible imagination and all the more impressive as Jack was abandoned by his two other team mates half way through Saturday!

Special Commendation for Effort (prize: £500) – Idiom Hangman


The Hangman team achieved as much in just one day as most of the other teams did in the whole weekend. Their app took English idioms, displayed them as pictures (via Gabble) and once the user guessed them correctly, they were given the translation into Mandarin. The app had a fully working scoring mechanism and a hangman graphic that develops as the user makes incorrect guesses. The judges were not only impressed with the effort that went into this app but also delighted with the educational angle.

Special Commendation for Viability (prize: £500) – Gabblr

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Gabblr is a collaborative turn-based social game. Players provide one another hints (using Gabble) to work out the phrase or word. The Gabble team were especially taken by the simple yet potentially addictive nature of the game and felt that this project was probably the one that could be most turned into a viable game – all the more impressive because this team was made up of three 1st year CompSci undergraduates from The University of Bath!

Special mention to “Beyond Words”

In stark contrast to all the coding and mashing up of APIs, there was one team that decided to take a very different approach and hack the Gabble idea rather than the code. This team, made up of Robert Thomas (Interactive Music Composer at rjdj), Kelly Snook (Imogen Heap’s Studio Manager) and Katerina Janouskova (photographer) presented a personal communication and artistic expression concept using multi-media to make incredibly strong and deeply personal pieces of digital art. Though no code was cut, this team gave Gabblers the most food for thought and for that we are very grateful.

IMG_5889Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to all who took part. The feedback we received from the teams was that the setting and the vibe for the whole weekend was truly unique. Typical quote: “It was a great weekend – so good to have time to think about solving other people’s problems in such a wonderful environment”. More photos of the weekend can be viewed on Facebook.
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The SPARKies 2013 shortlist!

We’re pleased to reveal those shortlisted for The SPARKies 2013 awards – celebrating the very best of the region’s digital and tech sector.

The winners will be announced during a fantastic awards ceremony on Wednesday 20 March hosted by award-winning comedian Jarred Christmas at Komedia Bath. Tickets for the ceremony will be available to buy through the Komedia website from Tues 5 March.

The ceremony is made possible by the kind support of our headline sponsors the Innovation Centre, our gold sponsors Eden Ventures, The Agency and Deloitte, and also all of our silver sponsors.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting longer pieces through this blog on each category, so do check back to see the stories behind our 2013 shortlist.

Congratulations to all of our shortlisted entries, presented here in no particular order:

The One to Watch in 2013
Mike Barlow @ myHealthPal

Individual contribution to tech
Stuart Farrimond
Paul Kane
Phil Willis

Best tech entrepreneur
Mike Barlow
Glynn Hayward
Mark Mason

Best mentor/adviser
Mike Wilsher
Gavin Eddy
Rob Brown

Totally Killing It – competing globally from the south west
The Agency
Catchy Agency

The Good Award
Charlotte Caulkin for TEDxYouth
Neil Burgess for Cura
Marcelle Speller for Localgiving.com

Best Service Provider to the Tech Sector
The Innovation Centre

Future SPARK
Urban Tribe
James Isbister & Alex Marshall
Ollie Marshall

Best Digital Design Project
Future Insights
The Agency
Complete Control – World Book Day

Best App of 2012
Mubaloo & the Met Office
Opposable Games

Biggest Success Story of 2012
Rockpool Digital
Complete Control

Best Startup
Opposable Games

Competition this year was extremely high and our judges struggled to form a shortlist. Congratulations must also go to those who came really close to making the list, and were highly commended by judges, inlcuding; StoreNextDoor, Steel Media, Hammer, Mac Format, Creative Bloq and WeLoveBath.

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Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios welcomes hackers

Over 100 computer hackers are being welcomed to Real World Studios owned by musician and digital pioneer Peter Gabriel as part of the Bath Digital Festival.

Even though Peter is best known as a singer & songwriter thanks to a highly successful career spanning over 45 years, he has also been making waves as an innovator in the digital sector having founded and/or invested in the likes of OD2 (digital music distribution service), We7 (music streaming), The Filter (recommendation engine) and Witness.org (a service that uses the power of video and storytelling to denounce human rights abuses) to name but a few.

A hack is an event in which computer programmers and others in the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects to improve or add to them creatively.

The two-day hack event at Real World will take place on 16 and 17 March, and is focused on a new visual language called Gabble developed by Gabriel and his team. The team hope that the event will result in the realisation of new and exciting applications for Gabble.

Peter Gabriel said: “The original Gabble idea was to create a universal visual language – enabling people to add short video clips & images into their communications to replace words and pictures.

“So far, we have created a website and an iPad app that matches words and phrases to pictures and animations and we are now exploring the use of the dictionary for a range of gaming and educational applications. I am sure that Gabble will initially be used for making funny and irreverent apps, but there are many potential serious applications that will follow.”

David Maher Roberts, who is heading up the project for Peter said: “We are really interested to see the ideas that come out of the hack days. Gabble has the potential to power so many different apps and bring about a universal conversation. And for us, this hack weekend enables us to start exploring how far we can go with it.”

There are fantastic prizes up for grabs for hackers taking part in the weekend, which will recognise the technical ability and teamwork seen by judges. Each day of the weekend will see two £500 awards presented, one for the best hack technically, and the other for the best team, focused on ideas, teamworking, tech and overall delivery.

There is also the potential for hackers to impress the Gabble team enough with their app to be in with a chance of securing a £10,000 investment opportunity from Peter Gabriel to take the app to full production.

Places for the hack event are booking up quickly. Those interested need to have strong, proven coding or design skills in order to get the most out of the weekend, and can apply for a place at http://2013.bathdigitalfestival.com/events/real-world-hack/

More details about the Gabble API are available here.

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Bath Digital Festival website launched!

The website for Bath Digital Festival has gone live today. The Festival will place from 14 – 24 March, is jam packed with events celebrating our city’s digital sector.

Headline events include the return of the internationally acclaimed X Media Lab, a hack weekend at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio, the SPARKies digital awards, a family weekend of digital events in Queen’s Square and Britain’s very first Rails Girls event.

Other events over the course of the week include talks and discussions on a variety of subjects, a performance of Kraftwerk music by the Balenescu Quartet, a WordPress workshop, a return of Ignite Bath and BathCamp, code clubs for local school children, and a design hack event, among others.

To see the website and a full programme of Bath Digital Festival events visit www.bathdigitalfestival.com

Entries for The SPARKies are open for four more days at http://thesparkies.com.

You can join our Facebook group or our LinkedIn group, keep and eye on this blog or follow us on Twitter for further updates on Festival events.

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Bath Science Café: The challenges of web security

The next Bath Science Café, on Monday 12 November at the Raven, will look at the security challenges faced by us all, every day, online.

The talk will be delivered by Professor James Davenport from the University of Bath’s Department of Computer Science.

The world-Wide Web has gone from nothing to pervasive in just over twenty years. But how secure is it, given that we are using it from mobile phones over wireless links form cafés and other public spaces?

This simple question can actually be looked at in multiple ways:

1. How secure is the communication: can a third party eavesdrop on what is being shared?

2. Is the “end” really who my phone thinks it is, or am I the victim of a “man-in-the-middle” attack?

3. Is the “end” my phone is talking to the entity I intend my ‘phone to be talking to?

In this talk Professor Davenport will describe the technical solutions to problems 1 and 2, and discuss the socio-technical issues behind problem 3.

Professor Davenport has been Hebron & Medlock Professor of Information Technology at the University of Bath since 1986, and in an earlier incarnation the junior programmer on the team that broke the Federal Reserve Bank code in 1982.

Bath Science Cafe is a free event that takes place at The Raven pub in the centre of Bath at 7:30pm. For more information please visit http://bathsciencecafe.org.

The official Twitter hash tag is #BathSciCafe.

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Free lecture: how do we keep robots ethical?

The University of Bath is inviting Bath Digital blog readers to a free lecture on the future of robotics, on Tuesday 20 November.

The future of robotics is a question that receives a great deal of attention because of the fictional roots of robots and the place they hold in our cultural imagination. During the lecture Professor Alan Winfield from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory will put forward the case for a new ethical code for roboticists.

The talk, The Ethical Roboticist will unpick the fantastical from the plausible to set aside fears and fascinations that have little to do with the reality of robotics.

Prof Winfield said: “Like any transformative technology, intelligent robotics has the potential for huge benefit, but is not without risk. Seventy years ago Asimov created his fictional laws of robotics. I believe it is now time for a revision but it makes little sense to talk about how present-day or near-future robots can be ethical. I will, however, outline the case for a new ethical code for roboticists.”

Professor Winfield is based at the University of the West of England’s (UWE) Department of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and carries out his research in mobile robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is a collaborative partnership between UWE and the University of Bristol.

He is Director of the Science Communication Unit at UWE and an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow.

The lecture is part of the University’s Research in the World lecture series. It will be held at 6.15pm at the Claverton campus in Lecture Theatre 8 West 2.1. Free parking is available in the West Car Park after 5pm.

To book a place please email Paula McGrane or call 01225 386631.

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BathSPARK giving away an iPad mini!

Local tech networking group, BathSPARK, is on the cusp of reaching the 500 registered members milestone. To accelerate this, they have just announced that they will be handing out an iPad mini to one of its first 500 members in a random draw. The prize is sponsored by Coworking Bath and they will be picking out the winner at random once there are 500 registered members.

If you want to join BathSPARK and put yourself in with a chance to win the iPad mini, you need to resgister at www.bathspark.co.uk super quickly (as at the last count there were 493 members).

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Explay comes to Bath

Tell us who you are and what you do
I’m Korash Sanjideh, co-founder of ExPlay and organiser of the ExPlay Festival, numerous Game Jams and our bespoke training programme, Explay Bootcamp.

What is Explay?
ExPlay represents the independent games development and design industry across the South West of England. We hold an annual Festival and support growth through training, business support and networking events whilst showcasing the best games companies the region has on offer. We create opportunities for talent, build communities through meet-ups and regularly hold Game Jams, all helping to elevate the regional games industry.

This years’ Festival will take place on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd November 2012 and will build on last year’s successful event in Plymouth by bringing talks, panels and discussions from recognised industry figures under three tracks: Inspire, Create and Share.

The conference programme is designed to inspire creativity across all areas of game development, from design and writing, to code and art, helping creators share their experiences and stories around all areas of game development. There will also be sessions that are designed to have practical take-aways, talking about tools, content creation, design and more. We are also showcasing some of the freshest game development talent in our Expo area with demos, interactive toys and playful experiences that will take you off the screen and past a controller!

Why is it coming to Bath?
Bath is historically playful and we wanted to bring our special brand of fun to the city, highlighting the South West games industry and helping to raise the profile of the companies and talent we have in the region. We felt Bath was a natural fit to grow the Festival into something that is regarded as a new national event on the games industry calendar. With its strong digital industries, excellent Universities and gorgeous setting we are hoping to leave more than a distant memory: we aim to help build a sustainable games community that will continue growing for years to come!

Who should come along and why?
If anyone is curious about how to break into the games industry, is looking to connect with some of the UK’s finest indy game studios, needs to meet developers that can make ideas come to life, or is curious about how you make your own game idea a reality, then ExPlay is for you.

The event is designed to be lots of fun, with a lineup of excellent speakers that are all at the top of their game, along with a raft of social events to help build a community of likeminded people. If you work in the digital industries, want to know how to get into games or even if you just like playing them, then ExPlay is not to be missed.

Anything else you think would be of interest to readers?
TIGA are also holding their inaugural national game awards at ExPlay this year, which will truly celebrate and honour the best games, the best people and the biggest contributors to our amazing sector! To be hosting the Awards this year is very special for us, and certainly puts the Bath and the South West on the map as an developing area in the UK games landscape – http://www.explay.co.uk/tiga-awards

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Bath Digital goes to University

With two Universities in the city turning out excellent digital and creative students, we thought paying a visit to Freshers’ Fairs this week would be a great way of letting students know about Bath Digital and all the opportunities that exist in the city for them.

The aim of taking part in these events was to generally raise awareness among new students who aren’t familiar with Bath of the thriving digital scene here. We also gave out postcards (beautifully printed for us by Rik of Ripe Digital) detailing upcoming events, in the hope that some of the most interested students might come along.

A *big* thank you to all those who volunteered their time to work on the stands at both Bath Spa University and the University of Bath this week – without you it wouldn’t have happened. If anyone else would like to help out at events like this in the future please let us know.


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Bath SPARKCamp: eCommerce edition

This week’s BathSPARK event came with a twist – a brand new format mixing the best of BathSPARK and BathCamp events, all focused on the theme of eCommerce.

As one of Bath’s largest eCommerce companies, local sex toy retailer Lovehoney very generously sponsored the event, hosting us at their warehouse and supplying a fantastic buffet and drinks. From everyone who attended – thank you Lovehoney!

The evening kept BathSPARK’s networking, but added talks from Tom Robertshaw, CEO of eCommerce website developers Meanbee, and tours from Richard and Neil of the Lovehoney warehouse.

The feedback so far has been fantastic – so we’re keen to run another event with this format in the future. If you have any ideas for exciting venues or themes please let us know!

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