Physiological computing at the Prague Dance Hackathon

Recently I visited Prague to take part in the jury of a dance hackathon. I had never taken part in a hackathon before, and it was very interesting to see so much enthusiasm and energy within these 3 days. I represented physiological computing expertise because the Prague Dance Hackathon also focused on the use of brain-computer technologies. Dance hackathonThe hackathon was organised by the EU project Europeana Space. Prof. Sarah Whatley from Coventry University led this event and it took place at CIANT - International Centre for Art and New Technologies. The hackathon focused on the re-use of cultural heritage materials in live performance. Participants also combined this audio-visual material with cross-media storytelling techniques, motion tracking and physiological computing. Over 30 people with different backgrounds in programming, marketing, graphic design, and user experience assessment worked together with artists and professional dancers. Five teams were formed and they presented installations "In touch", "In the moment", "Subtle dance", "Nous" and "Access". "In touch" used electrodermal activity sensors that connected several people from the audience to the dancers. "In the moment" connected a dancer with a virtual reality world where her movements and her alpha brain waves were influencing the objects based on paintings from the Europeana database. "Subtle dance" used the projection of the dancer's body as a flashlight highlighting parts of a picture. "Nous" used an Emotive Epoc EEG sensing device to determine which cultural heritage materials were preferred and attempted a real-time personalization of such info stream for a particular user. Finally, "Access" used GoPro cameras mounted on the dancer and Oculus Rift to create a first-person dance performance experience. Three projects were selected based on three criteria - the use of cultural heritage, the likelihood of success and potential for job creation. At first, some of these criteria sounded strange to me and seemed unrelated to the topics of dance or cultural heritage. However, I was surprised how fast these criteria were adopted by all experts in the jury and they really helped us to select the most promising projects that will participate at the pitching event in London. As a concluding remark, I would certainly recommend interested students to participate in the upcoming hackathons from Europeana Space. Story by Aleksander Väljamäe