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Visualising the future

Demonstrating the technology at Science Alive! 2008

Demonstrating the technology at Science Alive! 2008 University of Bristol

PDA and racing car picture, to demonstrate application of the VISUALISE technology.

3 February 2009

Public events provide opportunities for the latest research ideas to be tried and tested.

Andrew Nix and David Bull, Professors from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, are interested in developing wireless and video technologies that allow users to control the type of content they receive on their mobile phones and PDAs. Applications of this research include enhancing the spectator experience at large scale sporting events, such as motor sports and the Olympics. The technology could also allow spectators at a football match to watch close ups of the goals or to review live match statistics.

Andrew and David teamed up with 3C Research’s Geraint Jones to develop this technology and together they decided to present and test out their gadgets at a number of public events. The main spectator trial was held at the World Rally Championship in South Wales. An interactive presentation for businesses and the public was also offered at the Watershed Centre in Bristol, and a stand was provided at Science Alive! — the University’s biennial celebration of science.

“VISUALISE has the ultimate aim of giving people access to personalised and interactive content at live events via mobile phones,” explains Geraint.

Andrew continues: “Our public engagement activities went very well: For the Watershed event, the car dealership Dick Lovett donated a couple of Minis, and we used GPS phones in each car, sending back the location, which was then superimposed onto Google Earth in real time. The challenge for Science Alive! was to explore the functionality with young people. People had great fun navigating a remote control truck, with a camera on top, using a PDA that was streaming pictures from the camera. Generally we found that the public was very interested in our prototype devices.”

Once people had seen what was possible, all sorts of comments came back, relating to potential applications in various sporting and cultural events. These activities can also help inspire people to study engineering.

David reflects: “People, kids especially, often lose the idea that it's engineers who are making these things. We change the world and that's a very attractive idea for young people who are looking for an interesting career. When we go out and ask people their opinions on something, hopefully we’re inspiring new engineers to help put together the next version.”

Further information

Professors Andrew Nix and David Bull can be contacted by email at and

VISUALISE, supported by the Technology Strategy Board, aims to provide an enhanced experience for spectators at events through local area access to a rich range of media via hand-held devices. This includes non-viewable events or locations, archive material and real-times statistics.
3C Research – Digital Media and Communications Innovation Centre –
3C Research supports collaborative research projects involving universities and commercial organisations, both large and small, in the fields of digital media and communications. 3CR creates an environment where a wide variety of players from industry come together to share their perspectives and skills in order to understand emerging markets and to create and realise new solutions.