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Guest Blog – Art & Me – Michelle Lam, Founder of Visiomi (formerly named Visiomobile)

TechcityBlog is lucky to present a guest blog from Michelle Lam, Founder of Visiomi (formerly named Visiomobile).

Art has occupied every moment of my life since a very young age. Over the years, I have not only dedicated myself in performing arts, but also have participated in various performances and competitions. In kindergarten, I learned contemporary dance. The pleasurable feeling when I did the choreography that reflects the theme of the dance, awaken my interest in music. Singing then had dominated my life ever since elementary school. However, my passion for dancing had not stopped there, in which dancing not only broadened my horizons, but also led me to venture outside of rhythmic movements. My student life from junior high through undergraduate years was the most amazing part of all. Apart from being a member of school choirs, I was mesmerized by Ballet and Chinese Classical dances whilst practicing martial arts, such as, Karate, Taekwondo, Kick Boxing, Tai Chi and Wing Chun. Fortunately, after finishing my bachelor degree, I have been able to continue my passions, which I put my heart into martial arts as well as Belly and Flamenco dances. 

Art is my life. My experiences from engaging in live performances and competitions made me realize that art connects people together, which everyone should be able to enjoy the freedom of sharing ideas and perceptions without boundaries. Among all, film is the only form of medium can be flawlessly used to express as small as a simple idea to a complex cultural or political issue. By the power of film, people can easily understand or resonate with a message that is being demonstrated. Needless to say, abundant stories can be portrayed through films. In this regard, I have found my first startup, Visiomi (formerly named “Visiomobile”), a WebTV on-demand independent film streaming. 

It was decades ago since a new breakthrough in broadcasting technology due to the asymmetry between art and science in the past. Not until the Internet technology, especially cloud-based technology, was invented that they are now to remain coherent with each other. For my video streaming startup, the cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the preeminent formula to help accommodate global viewers, which provides virtual services with the unlimited capacity in managing huge volumes of data. Particularly, I have found the integration of CloudFront – Dynamic Content Delivery, S3 and EC2 solutions is a tremendous valuable asset to my business. In recent years, the simplicity and capability of AWS have helped the digital media giant, Netflix, to minimize the cumbersome of internal activities, such as coding, infrastructure set-up, implementation or customization, and IT personnel management.

By using CloudFront, no matter if my platform is running in Amazon EC2 or outside of AWS, no custom coding or proprietary configurations needed, which makes it easier to deploy and manage.

Meanwhile, I have been using the cloud storage tool, Amazon S3, which enables me to virtually store massive volumes of digital video contents to avoid heavy investment in server infrastructure, and other hardware and software. I can login to and administer everything virtually on Amazon Management Console anytime, anywhere. To achieve high data transfer speeds and low latency, all I need to do is to create a ‘distribution’, a path, which allows me to utilize Amazon worldwide edge locations to distribute content to global viewers from the nearest edge locations.

CloudFront is certainly a comprehensive service. It also provides device and country detection functions designed specifically to detect a viewer’s device (tablet, mobile phone, laptop or desktop) and geographic location in order to generate specific content for the user according to the type of the device and the country. User experience is essential to my platform. Consequently, these functions enhance the customer facing elements on my website.

Comparing to in-house productions, Amazon cloud-based services are more cost effective, efficient and can minimize services instability. To that fact, Netflix and several other media giants, for instances, Comcast, Lionsgate and Channel 4, have also migrated most of their internal activities to AWS. Remember when I was working in Silicon Valley, companies that I worked for had problems building and implementing their own customized systems. They had wasted so much time, effort, money and other limited resources only found themselves not even half-way through to build a complex system, which resulting in abandoning their developments.

I am keen on maintaining most of the activities virtually if possible. Amazon EC2 provides virtual computers and allows me to virtually run, configure my own computer applications that I have control over accessing and managing the scalable deployment of applications with minimal friction. Moreover, it is easier for me to implement backup, archive, and disaster recovery strategies. 

Since 2015 has begun, we are already living in the future. This compelling cloud-based technology is a prominent medium offering a facile, agile way of content streaming, in which it enables worldwide audiences to view independent films on my platform anytime, anywhere. As an art enthusiast, I celebrate the power of Internet as it completely has broken down all the barriers so that we finally have the opportunity to share, understand and learn art across the globe.

For paragraph 3:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

CloudFront – Dynamic Content Delivery




For paragraph 6:
media giants


Update on 29th of January 2015

It has been a while since the last entry so here we go:

Wednesday Dec 31st – Went to Nizza’s (@hungrykiwilady) and Mark’s (@MARKJAMESGILL) for new years eve Champagne and catching up with many interesting friends and then took an (@Uber) home after watching fireworks.

Thursday Jan 1st – Spent the day at the London Zoo (@zsllondonzoo) looking at the Gorillas, Monkeys, Penguins, Zebras, Giraffes, aquarium, reptile area then we to (@CamdenMarket) and tried for the first time Hi Sushi at Camden on the lock; it was super oishee 🙂

Tuesday Jan 6th – at @BarclaysOnline @Barclays head office for a @jcinews @JCICanaryWharf meeting then went to @WKollective meeting on the South Bank at @MondrianLDN which has a lovely space upstairs. Met with @LaurieWang_ and gave her an award to give to her partner @SimonAlexanderO for his work with JCI.

Friday Jan 9th – Went to the @CIPD @cipdlondon head office for a workshop on quality in Wimbledon.

Saturday Jan 10th – Went to @HiltonWorldwide @doubletree for a CIPD workshop on project management which was put on by @Connectweets it was really educating and engaging and the food and drinks from the venue, located close to Angel tube station were superb!

Sunday Jan 11th – Spent some time at @StarbucksUK @Starbucks whilst working on a couple of different projects and assignments.

Monday Jan 12th – Met up at @jamietolentino ‘s place for a lovely home-cooked meal and then went to the @londonchamber for a @JCI_London meeting

Tuesday Jan 13th – Went for a lovely three course meal @circus_london and watched the performers, it was gorgeous and tasty! Highly recommend!

Thursday Jan 15th – The first TedxCanaryWarf (@TEDx) meeting took place at Barclay’s; very exciting time with interesting people.

Saturday and Sunday Jan 17th and 18th – I had been looking forward to this weekend as I had registered with @GA ‘s Programming Bootcamp and it was event better then I had expected! The first day was to set the scene and have a broad understanding of coding as well as understand front end while doing some CSS, JavaScript and Html. The second day was spent with some revision/backend and actually creating a website, we did ruby amongst other things. I highly recomment this course! The instructor @AntonioLulic was awesome!

Tuesday Jan 2nd and Thursday Jan 22, dialed into JCI meetings.

Friday Jan 23rd – Spoke with @Maggie__Berry with regards to joining WCIT, have started this process.

Saturday Jan 24th – Went to the @Citi head office in Canary Wharf for a training session; amazing views and much learned! After went out to @frankienbennys

Sunday Jan 25th – Met for lunch with @sharma_kriti @Carluccioscaffe and had tasty mushroom pasta and a great catchup, so much going on in her life! Then met with Jamie, at the @Tate Britain we were able to see the Turners and the private members lounge.

Mon Jan 26th – Met with Yasmine of Mykidsy @mykidsy @Mahmoudieh_Arch at private members club (Little House Mayfair); Then met with Julia @Julia_PR_ at Carluccios in Canary Wharf for dinner.

Tues Jan 27th – Discussion with Jasmine @ingeniusideas on Google @GoogleUK @google Hangouts; google hangout with Suri @SuriSerendipity she is now in the states and it was great to catch up; google hangout with Robyn of Dattch (@dattchapp) who is also now in the states, who has spoke at @women2; ended the day with a lovely google hangout with Sahar.

Wednesday Jan 28th – Conversation at Monmouth (@monmouthcoffee) with DebateMate (@Debate_Mate) and Jess; Adizah and I at met at Level 39 (@Level39CW), Then met with Ester at the private members at club level 39, and finally met with Julia G at the Union Club (@TheUnionClub)

So that’s it!

Human Centred Design for a Sustainable City is very lucky to have a seventh guest blog from Iain Cameron who worked for 25 years in the Department of Trade and Industry and Cabinet Office. He also worked for over ten years on business improvement in the UK automotive supply chain. Recently he has been developing a start-up, Industrial Strategy Communications and has worked on projects with Oxford University, the UK Commission for Skills and SMMT Industry Forum.

The concept of a mess was devised by Russell Ackoff, a US based pioneer of Operations Research, who died age 90 in 2009. He was a major influence on the emergence of Soft Systems Methodology in the UK. Ackoff developed the idea of the system of systems or ‘mess’.

His ‘mess’ concept was invoked on 4 December last year at the Crystal on Royal Victoria Dock where Re.Work mounted a conference on the future of cities. Here several speakers stressed that single system approaches to city development  have met with very  limited success. The way forward for the design of effective innovation initiatives in modern cities is to approach the issues as a system of systems or mess.

What kind of development process is best suited to working within a system of systems? The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has been focusing interest on Human Centred Design (HCD), an approach which was first established in the technology domain.

Jocelyn Wyatt, Executive Director of IDEO, has been advising CGI on the issues. IDEO was started to address poverty related challenges through design to encourage the use of human centred innovation in the social sector.
Like many current design and development approaches, HCD proceeds iteratively. It is a participative method and so it must also generate sufficient user engagement. This be can be a major challenge in city projects. The city is a locality with users or participants in close proximity who enjoy disparate levels of wealth. Neither disadvantaged people nor people with high net worth are easy to engage at a suitable scale to in  an iterative interactive design process work. To achieve this goal, at the heart of the engagement process, there has to be some kind of shared value – shared between different categories of users and the other major stakeholders.

An international design management standard, ISO 9421-210:2010 provides requirements and recommendations for HCD throughout the life cycle of computer-based interactive systems.

The six key principles of the ISO standard for HCD are:

1. Design should be based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks and environments

2. Users should be involved throughout the design and development

3. The design is driven and refined by user-centred evaluation

4. The process must be iterative

5. The design addresses the whole user experience

6. The design team includes multidisciplinary teams and perspectives.

There is nothing about these principles which is specific to the digital domain, of course. They can be applied equally well to any design project, not least to a hybrid digital/physical system within the modern urban context of a system of systems or mess.

Indeed, Robert Fabricant, writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review recently, has put forward a broader vision of HCD linked to social impact.

A key concept which pulls together much of what has gone before is sustainability. In coming decades, global population growth and rocketing energy use  will be concentrated in cities. There will also be major social issues to deal with in future cities, especially the fast growing ones in emerging  economies.

Clearly it is an overriding priority that city system of systems become more sustainable. The core of sustainability the connection to values in use for a wide variety of people in their everyday lives.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has just concluded a study which shows that applying the principles of intelligent energy efficiency in a US urban context could yield remarkable results. They judge that applying some key principles in the urban transport sphere in a handful of ICT systems could reduce energy usage in transport by 13%.

This may sound unexceptional. While urban transport is a serious area of waste, the largest category in UK cities is the  energy used for space heating. Research at the UCL Interaction Centre confirms that, nonetheless, the majority of UK users are not able to use their central heating controls to regulate their domestic energy consumption.

Meanwhile resources are currently going into creating even more complex domestic energy management systems involving the internet of things, smart energy networks and more sophisticated energy meters. 2015 will see a mounting battle between two major approaches – one from the US and one from the UK. Will usability be a key factor on which wins out?

Currently, the additive manufacturing revolution is gathering pace and make spaces and fablabs are appearing inside and outside higher education establishments in London and elsewhere . There are at least four operating currently in London and more may be on the way.  This is the harbinger of an anticipated explosion of prototyping by nascent entrepreneurs at many different levels in society exploiting the drastic reduction in development cost that additive manufacturing brings. How will these nascent designer/entrepreneurs absorb the principles of user centred design so that they  increase the chances of their prototype turning into a sustainable product, especially a product or service which delivers value in use with the urban context of a system of systems?

Within academia, the practice of designing products, processes or systems to take proper account of the interactions between the artefact(s) and the people that use them goes by a number of different names, including human factors, ergonomics, comfort design, functional design and user friendly systems.

The Stephen Pheasant Memorial Trust uses the royalties generated from the writings of Stephen Pheasant, an ergonomist with a great gift for effective communication beyond narrow specialist groups, who died in 1996. Their goal is  to seed the future of the discipline and so the Trust is funding a short video taster to launch a project to generate AV resources which will both raise public awareness of the importance of using human factors in pursuing global sustainability goals and also also provide a practical resource to foster more effective design and prototyping across the UK in fablab and makespace communities and elsewhere.

Boxing Day Catchup

So about a year ago I started techcityblog (first entry was on 12/25/2013 23:27) and today is 12/26/2014. I thought about trying to list some of the things that have happened this year and some of the things that I will be involved with in the New Year, but there have been way too many things, so instead I will do an old-school blog entry, like when I started this blog and write about what I have been doing over the last little while.

-Monday Nov 4th – I had helped out last year with the Maple Leaf Trust Ball and this year I was asked to attend planning meetings and support the Maple Leaf Trust Team. The meetings took place at the CIBC (@cibc @CIBCcareers @CIBConCampus) London Head office close to St Pauls (@StPaulsLondon) tube stop.

-Tuesday Nov 5th – I was able to get a ticket to go to the Ernst and Young (@EYnews @EY_CareersUK @BethBrooke_EY @KTwaronite_EY @EY_StudentsUK @EY_PressUK @EY_On_Work) head office for a talk on the Dharma of Personality close to London Bride (@TeamLondonBdg) tube station, at 1 More London Place.

-Wednesday Nov 6th – Went to @alicehousewh

-Thursday Nov 7th- Met with one of my mentors, @jamietolentino at Harrods (@Harrods @HarrodsCareers) at their lovely tea house, which is a hidden gem and I highly recommend it, so opulent and excellent service. I have a lovely pot of green tea and a great catch-up with Jamie.

-Friday Nov 8th – Went to the the Institute of Directors (@InstOfDirectors) with @hungrykiwilady for Silicon Drinkabout (@SiliconDrinkabt) which is put on by the group @3_Beards a good catchup was had.

-Saturday Nov 9th – CIPR class; my last in-class class with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (@CIPR_UK @LondonPR @wadds @CIPR_CFG @CIPR_Jobs) which took place at the lovely Ect Venue (@etcvenues @etcsmile) at Liverpool Street Station @NetworkRailLST

-Monday Nov 10th – So the venue of Pimlico Acadamy (@PimlicoAcademy) is a location where Badmonton lessons have taken place in the past and where, more recently (and on this day) Ceroc dance lessons have taken place (@CerocLondon @Ceroc) good fun and good exercise

-Tuesday Nov 11th – I am also undertaking lessons with the Chartered Management Institute (@cmi_managers), via online learning. On this day I worked on the assignement at home.

-Wednesday Nov 12th – During lunch I was luck to speak with another one of my mentors, Jyoti who I was able to find via the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (@CIPD @CIPD_CLB @cipdlondon @PeopleMgt). I was also able to make it for the end of the @CityUnruly lesson which took place at the top floor meeting room of Unruly (@unrulyco), the wonderful company which was cofounded (and current COO) by Sarah Wood (@sarahfwood). The lesson was by By Dr Tom van Laer (@tvanlaer) and the titled “The Six Steps of an Awesome Digital Marketing Strategy.” 1pm speak with Jyoti (CIPD mentor)

-Thursday Nov 13th – Through involvement with Junior Chamber International (@jcinews @JCI_London @jciprograms @JCI_UK and saw @LingJin01), I received an invitation to the Commercial Education Trust which took place at the Clothworkers’ Company Hall, one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies and the keynote lecture was by Harvey McGrath, Chairman of Big Society Capital (@BigSocietyCap). A Lovely venue and great people.

-Friday Nov 14th – Went to Jamies (@jamietolentino) and had a delicious home-made meal and catchup.

-Saturday Nov 15th – A relaxation day which included tasty Pizza (from @dominos @Dominos_UK) and good friends.

-Sunday Nov 16th – Another relaxing day

-Monday Nov 17th – Working and studying.

-Tuesday Nov 18th – Working and studying.

-Wednesday Nov 19th – Working and studying and obtaining a new cleaner through Maid2Clean(@maid2clean @Maid2CleanUK), which I can honestly not recommend enough. We had briefly through about changing comapnies but we keep coming back to this one as it covers insurance and is so efficient and cost effective!

-Thursday Nov 20th – Working and studying.

-Friday Nov 21st – Went to the @MedievalBanquet for dinner. A very interesting business concept where large wooden tables are present in Vaults under St Katharines Docks (@StKats). The area is gorgeous and also has the Rainmaking Loft (@RainmakingLoft) and Tall Ships as well as a glass Starbucks (@Starbucks @StarbucksUK) located in the local area.

-Saturday Nov 22nd – The pub with Nicola for her birthday at the Greewich Tavern (@Greenwich_Tav). Lovely mulled wine, minced pies and catching up.

-Sunday Nov 23rd – Went to the Reflexology Space for an hour and a half of very relaxing reflexology, thanks Wowcher (@wowcher @WowcherDealsLDN).

-Monday Nov 24th – Working and studying.
-Tuesday Nov 25th – Working and studying.

-Wednesday Nov 26th – Working and studying. And my sister’s birthday (@katienanton).

-Thursday Nov 27th – Relaxing.
-Friday Nov 28th – Personal admin catch-up.
-Saturday Nov 29th – Personal admin catch-up.
-Sunday Nov 30th – Working and studying.
-Monday Dec 1st – Birthday party attendance.

-Tuesday Dec 2nd- Met with Jaime for dins at Cafe Rouge (@CafeRougeTweet).

-Wednesday Dec 3rd – Went to the Startup Institute (@StartupInst @StartupInstLON).

-Thursday Dec 4th – Spent some time at Campus London (@campuslondonUX) powered by Google (@google @GoogleUK) first at a General Assembly (@GA_London @GA) UX event and then went downstairs to the Tech the Halls event to represent Women 2.0 (@women2) and met with people from Google, Ada’s List (@AdasList ), GeekGirl Meetup (@GeekGirlMeetup), Girls in Tech (@GirlsinTech @Girlsintech_UK), Geekettes (@LondonGeekettes), Stemettes (@Stemettes), TLA Women in Tech (@TLAWomeninTech) and W Kollective (@WKollective).

-Friday Dec 5th – Went to watch and play Badmonton.

-Saturday Dec 6th – Festive season catch-up day. Went to the Post Office (@PostOffice), Phone Shop (@ThreeUK), Garden Centre, Xmas gift shopping.

-Sunday Dec 7th – Went to Unconventional Convention, put on by one of the ladies at Tech the Halls, which took place at The Book Club (@TheBookClubEC2), and included Deri Lewellyn-Davies (@TheStrategyMan), Sandra Donskyte (@SandraDonskyte), Vanessa Pelz-Sharpe (@sarcastathon), Iulia Calota (@IuliaCalota), Pauline McCarthy (@Icelandscot).

-Monday Dec 8th – Was invited to the Christmas Twilio (@twilio) Party, at the Chartered Accountants’ Hall (@ICAEW), I have been there before for a Women in Finance event and as this event was Steam Punk Themed the atmosphere and decorations were quite different. It was awesome.

-Tuesday Dec 9th – Went to the Natural History Museum (@NHM_London) for ice skating. For dinner went to the lovely tapas restarant Casa South Kensington and got crepes for desert, it was beautiful.

-Wednesday Dec 10th – Went to Women 2.0 at the lovely venue Pivitol Labs (@pivotallabs), Our speaker was the inspirational (@PerrineFarqueUK).

-Thursday Dec 11th – Working and studying.
-Friday Dec 12th – Out for dins at the Peruvian Restaurant Titos, close to London Bridge. Very delicious.

-Sat Dec 13th – Catching up and relaxing.

-Sun Dec 14th – Went for brunch at Giraffe (@giraffetweet) and then massage at Shujun Healthcare. I have to say that the location close to Oxford Station is convenient, but the actual experience was not and it is not a place that I would recomend, although the price was quite inexpensive (thanks Wowcher).

-Mon Dec 15th – Working and studying.
-Tues Dec 16th – Working and studying.

-Wed Dec 17th – Went to the CMI managing problems event “Problem Solving – Square Mile Networking Group” which took place at BPP Business School London City (@BPPBusiness @saburnett2010), where I have considered taking some classes. I had never been inside the venue before but after this I can say that it is actually quite nice!

-Thurs Dec 18th – Went to the Tech City News (@TechCityNews) Christmas Party at The Trampery (@tramperyoldst @thetrampery). Lovely cocktails and good to see people and catch up.

-Fri 19th – Playing and watching Badminton.

-Sat Dec 20th – Went to Bognor Regis for a friends (Heathers) Wedding.

-Sun Dec 21st – Leander Club (@Leander_Club) with my British side of the fam and then another fam xmas get together.

Guest Blog – Yasmine Mahmoudieh (Founder and CEO at MyKidsy)

How to educate the little ones!
Everywhere we read about the curriculum being very out of date and inappropriate for kids learning.
We know today that the stem subjects are not chosen often by girls. now that it is very late there are many organisations including the government trying to solve the situation.
I think that we do need to start at the earliest age. We need to get kids as young as 3 to 4 years involved in creativity through music, dance but also technology. the education on the arts and science should not start at one part in life and then stop. it is an ongoing process.
We need to not always only work on symptoms but analyse where the problems start.
We also need to teach in an engaging way if especially girls are supposed to be attracted to stem subject.
A more practical teaching method is needed that engages children and not let them be lectured on.
I also believe that the teaching of mindfulness and compassion is needed to have well rounded citizens of the future. The Dalai Lama, who is also a scientist said that if every young children from the age of 5 would mediate one hour per week on compassion there would not be any more violence on the planet after one generation.
wW need to take care of our children by acting now and not waiting for things to happen or governments to change the curriculum. Get them engaged now and find out for themselves what their passion in life is.
Let’s not waste the most important time of the most important lives we have in our lives , our children. Get them engaged now.

Digital Wind Instruments – Slow Motion Innovation by Iain Cameron is very lucky to have a sixth guest blog from Iain Cameron who worked for 25 years in the Department of Trade and Industry and Cabinet Office. He also worked for over ten years on business improvement in the UK automotive supply chain. Recently he has been developing a start-up, Industrial Strategy Communications and has worked on projects with Oxford University, the UK Commission for Skills and SMMT Industry Forum.

Technical innovations often take a while after their invention to come into use  practically. This certainly applies to electronic wind instruments or EWIs. In this case the inventor was Nyle Steiner who in the 1960s started experimenting with linking a brass instrument to a synthesiser – strictly speaking he invented the electronic valve instrument or EVI first. In 1975 he started to market the Steiner Horn. His adaptation, the electronic wind instrument,  was launched a few years later. As is so often the case with pioneers, he didn’t make money and his firm was dissolved in 1979 although he continued making his instruments privately.  Steiner moved to California where he made a living using his inventions on film soundtracks.

The term EWI is now the property of the Japanese firm Akai who market modern EWIs – you can even buy one from Amazon. The cheaper version is the USB which as the name suggests works via a USB link to synthesizer software on a laptop. There is a more expensive design – the 4000S – which can operate in stand alone mode thanks to a synthesizer being incorporated into the instrument itself.

This configuration is used in the Casio Digital Horn which is what I use, having bought my Casio DH500 when I was on business in Tokyo about fifteen years ago. I also have a Yamaha WX7 which is a wind controller – a wind instrument which links to an external synthesizer via MIDI. Both these models are now discontinued.

I prefer my Casio because it is simple and effective. It claims to imitate six wind instruments but I think it is most effective on four – clarinet, oboe, tenor sax and soprano sax. There are two octave buttons for the left hand thumb and each octave setting allows over two octaves to be played in a fingering system which is similar to that of conventional wind instruments like saxes and flutes. There is also a MIDI socket so it is possible to link the instrument to an external synthesizer. I happen to use a M-Audio Venom which offers a very wide range of sounds for the at a very reasonable price.

For over ten years I have been making pieces using the Dhorn with Gilbert Isbin, a Belgian composer whose music is published by the Lute Society. Gilbert mostly uses a MIDI pickup on his jazz style electric guitar when we are building tracks together. We have a stock over nearly 1000 pieces that we have jointly created.

We are following in Steiner’s footsteps having set up IsbinCameron Film Music. We have recently entered a relationship with Phundee, an arts and entertainment oriented crowdfunding platform based in the Google Campus which has just launched. ICFM offer successful film projects on Phundee free sync rights for one piece from our Soundcloud show case. Hopefully this will lead to film makers using other pieces from our library on a paid-for basis.

A recent development with electronic instruments is the launch of the Morrison Digital Trumpet in Australia which has been developed by trumpet virtuoso James Morrison. This device offers has a trumpet mouthpiece and three valves and can produce 10 octaves of notes. It uses MIDI to drive an external synthesizer.

Patchman Music in the US offers the best service globally for maintenance, repair and has an impressive range of used electronic wind instruments for sale. Sadly it will only deal with customers in the US although their website is an excellent source of information and advice.

I have only ever met two other people in the UK with a Casio DH500 Digital Horn. All three of us happened to be at a recital at Hughes Hall in Cambridge. The recital was given by Michael Copley who used to be one half of the Cambridge Buskers. At one stage the Cambridge Buskers had great success in Japan and as a result Casio gave Michael his DH500.

Will EWIs ever gain a broader market in the UK?  I have been playing open mics in London for a few months using my Casio either playing solo or backing singer-songwriters. This has shown me that people are interested in the instrument and I usually have a chat with at least person in the audience at every gig about the EWI concept after that have heard what it can do.

When I am introducing myself at an open mic I sometimes say that the Akai EWIs can be bought at Amazon. Their USB model costs around £300 which is quite reasonable considering the sophistication of technology and the musical power of the device. Akai are still developing new models and I see on the Patchman website that a new model  has just been launched which incorporates wireless communication and many other new features.

It is also clear that EWIs have been taken up much more widely in the US. The saxophone star Michael Brecker who played with the likes of Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan was adept on his EWI and some of his performances can be seen on Youtube. But so far the uptake of this musical innovation has been a lot slower than, say, the spread of the electric guitar after Charlie Christian and Les Paul demonstrated what that instrument could do. All in all this makes an interesting case study for today’s would be innovators.


Guest Blog – 3D Printing by Iain Cameron is very lucky to have a fifth guest blog from Iain Cameron who worked for 25 years in the Department of Trade and Industry and Cabinet Office. He also worked for over ten years on business improvement in the UK automotive supply chain. Recently he has been developing a start-up, Industrial Strategy Communications and has worked on projects with Oxford University, the UK Commission for Skills and SMMT Industry Forum.

3D Printing – some queries answered
I published an article on 3D printing at the start of July with SMMT Industry Forum, the leading business improvement organisation for the UK automotive supply chain. Reaction from readers was very positive and several interesting issues were raised. So now Danielle has asked me to do a further piece on the subject for Tech City Blog, there are some extra crowdsourced issues to write about.
The overall conclusion from my first piece is that 3D printing is being applied in several different areas in many countries – global aerospace and automotive firms are introducing the technique into carefully selected product lines while a retail product and services market is also developing in both Europe and the USA.
One issue raised is how 3D printing knowledge and skills are going to be disseminated. Part of the answer is the Fab Lab movement. A fabrication laboratory is a fully kitted workshop giving users the power to turn ideas and concepts into reality and build prototypes – part of a drive to boost grass roots entrepreneurship. The Wikipedia article explains how MIT in Boston helped kickstart the Fab lab idea which has spread to over 30 countries.
In London, DevLab runs the largest open device lab currently out of IdeaLondon in Shoreditch. Online there is and which explains that they are planning to open a facility in September 2014. The Institute of Making at UCL has a MakeSpace which is a workshop with a range of tools for members to use. It is primarily aimed at students but there is a public programme as well. Outside London there and around 15 advanced manufacturing research centres are to be found in universities across the country.
The engineering education charity, the Smallpiece Trust is running a course on 3D printing technology on 14-17 July at the University of Warwick. In Sunderland an FE college is developing a 3D printing training facility to support the local Nissan auto plant. Some UK companies such as Forth Engineering are using their 3D printing facilities to attract apprentices. SEMTA has developed a Higher Apprenticeship in Advanced Manufacturing Engineering with eleven pathways including Aerospace, Automotive, Space Engineering and Wind Generation.
The government subsidised Manufacturing Advisory Service for SMEs has a specialist adviser who gives practical demonstrations of the technique and can be reached at Deloitte University Press is offering a free online course on additive manufacturing for business leaders so that they can assess the strategic implications of the technique. The course is 27 segments each 5-7 minutes long.
A second interesting issue posed by a reader concerns the environmental impact of 3D printing. This is a complex issue and the answer depends on the circumstances in which the technique is deployed. For example, the electricity consumed by the process is an important factor and this could be generated in a coal-fired powerstation or an offshore wind farm or some other technology. Another key issue is what the 3D printing technique is replacing. This can often be a machine process where the shape is cut out of a solid block of material . In some of these examples 3D printing is more efficient but there are others where it isn’t. Then there is the question of how the 3D printer itself works. In one series of tests inkjet printers emerged as wasteful.
The environmental footprint of a 3D print job can be improved by following some simple rules in executing the work – for example printing hollow rather than solid parts. Then there is the question of what material is used in forming with metals being particularly energy intensive. There is also a toxicity issue in respect of the fumes of certain plastics but there are standard data sources to explore this issue and find a safe medium.
Another issue raised is rapid prototyping. When I first came across rapid prototyping – in an academic advanced manufacturing context – 3D printing was a major feature of this approach. Since then rapid prototyping has become much more widely used as a development technique, part of ‘design thinking’. A large number of different methods of prototyping have emerged and can be easily accessed in the literature. Rapid iteration has become a major feature of rapid prototyping and it may well be the case that the best of way of doing a rapid test needn’t involve this technique but possibly something simpler, cheaper and faster. On the other hand there is evidence from the European retails sector that one of the fastest growing segments of business is still prototyping services. So the connection between 3D printing and rapid prototyping remains strong although it is important to be aware of all the other methods that are used these days.
Finally it is important to recognise that the capability of 3D printers is likely to progress in the next few years. Work is under way on 5 and 6 axis machines that will be able to execute much more complicated shapes. The first of these machines may reach the market in the next year.