mscapeFest locates to Belfast

View of Belfast

HP Labs just held its third annual mscapeFest conference for mscape, pervasive, locative and interactive media enthusiasts. It featured workshops led by industry professionals and expert keynote speakers from a range of backgrounds. There was also a call for public papers and six speakers shared their work at the event.

This year, mscapeFest took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the first time the event has been held outside Bristol. Belfast was chosen as the venue because of the strong mscape community in Northern Ireland, particularly in education. The event was opened by Nigel Dodds, government Finance Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive. He welcomed delegates from around the world, including the UK, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the US, Netherlands and Canada.

The programme focused on education, gaming and heritage, reflected in the range of topics and talks. One workshop was tailored specifically for schools, educators and others who may benefit from using mscape as part of the curriculum, or for other educational purposes. There was also an audio workshop at the Sonic Arts Sonic Lab, a newly established centre of excellence dedicated to the research of music technology. HP is sponsoring a PhD student at Sonic Arts.

HP Labs announced advanced new features in its downloadable mscapes authoring technology, which is used to create mscapes and share new fields of collaborations and experiences, such as the successful Last Will theatre prototype.

Among the groups taking part in the festival was BBC NI Mobile Learning, which launched an mscapes project for mscapesFest08. Letter to America is an evocative experience of emigration revealed around the original Belfast docks. The story of emigration is retold through narration of primary sources. Emigrants' letters, journals from voyages, newspaper reports, Parliamentary debates and contemporary accounts of Belfast are recounted to recreate a century of emigration from Belfast.

Other examples of mscapes on display at mscapeFest included educational games for children developed with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The first mscape in Belfast was created by groups of cross-community children from primary and secondary schools in the city. It captured the cultural history of the Titanic through personal family stories and imaginative sound effects.

The mscapeFest08 conference was supported by DFPNI and 2CK and sponsors in kind were Sonic Arts Research Centre (part of Queen’s University Belfast) and the European Education Research and Innovation Centre (EERIC).

See also the news release from the Northern Ireland Executive.


HP Labs, Pervasive Media and mscapes

iPaq with mobile Bristol map

The goals of HP Labs’ Pervasive Media project are to understand and deploy the art and the science of delivering ‘the right thing in the moment’; and to create technology that enables the delivery of such experiences through context-based services.

Today’s lifestyles and business demands value delivery on the move and in many situations. An explosion in mobile services is being fuelled by the availability of powerful, media-rich mobile devices and pervasive networking. The challenge is to be able to provide higher value experiences that are tuned to the user’s situation.

The project’s areas of research include novel interaction devices, context management and experience authoring. It has its roots in pervasive computing research and builds on the earlier Mobile Bristol and mscape projects.

HP Labs has a distinguished record in leading research in location- and context-aware delivery of services and information to people on the move. One example of this research is mscapes, which has been developed through a series of collaborative applications with creative partners.

In 2006, for instance, researchers from HP Labs worked with a team from the Historic Royal Palaces to create Escape from the Tower, a location-based mobile game at the Tower of London, in which players smuggled virtual escapees past the real Yeoman Warders, or ‘Beefeaters’.

HP Labs’ research on context-based applications led to the release of the mscape platform in 2007 – a combination of authoring tools and mobile player software centred on the mscapers web site (www.mscapers.com). This enables anyone to create, share and experience media-rich mobile experiences tuned to the user’s physical situation.


The first mscape in Belfast was built locally by a group of cross-community children from primary and secondary schools and captured the cultural history of the Titanic through personal family stories and imaginative sound effects. Other examples of mscapes on display included educational games for children developed with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.