Monday, March 28, 2011

Serious Games in Bilbao

A great few days for the first time in Bilbao. A great line up of speakers organised by the youthful, energetic and very efficient team at the Creativity Centrum of Bilbao. Thanks to Nora, Jone and their boss Pedro for the hospitality and support in making the event so successful. Also a great turn out of over 200 people on each of the two days of three that I was able to attend. The British Consul Derek Doyle and his Trade and Investment Adviser Maria Fitzpatrick were also fantastic hosts at our speakers’ dinner in a traditional local men’s cooking club – known as a kotchka.

I have chosen two presentations to write about now. More to follow.

To learn is to change a brain system
The very impressive Dr Walter Greenleaf of InWorld Solutions presented the current power and reach of virtual environments and healthy games. Based on over 25 years of R&D, virtual environments and healthy games are used in prevention, coaching, training, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation. In surgical training, for example, pre-operative planning and image-guided surgery are becoming the norm. This is already transferring to be part of the standard of care with a greater acceptance of computers and technology as part of the clinical process.

Walter explained how “virtual environments have progressed to the point of acceptable virtual realism, believable real-world physics and adequate sensory immersion”.

The reach of Walter’s work is extensive whether helping war veterans recover from post traumatic stress syndrome. One work in progress showed the carefully designed; astonishingly convincing avatar Counsellor supported by sophisticated artificial intelligence and instantaneous voice recognition software that provides counselling to troubled military personnel who would not otherwise go to a real-world counsellor.

The key to progress in changing behaviour and responses is the ability to change the patterns of the brain. This is becoming better understood. Enabling neuro-plasticity allows the experiences enabled through virtual environments and healthy games to safely and repeatedly engage the brain’s reward system. By repeating experiences and the brain’s responses to these, it is possible to change behaviour and responses of the brain’s limbic system. A solider returned from Afghanistan will no longer experience terrible fear and anxiety when driving under a bridge in their home town in the involuntary reaction that a grenade could be lobbed at their car from above. By repeatedly exposing the brain to the experience where no grenade appears the anxieties can be released.

Walter also supports the rehabilitation of extremely violent children and helps patients to escape addictive behaviours.

Games zapping cancer cells
Health psychologist Pamela Kato spoke about the development of games-oriented training programmes to support the reduction of fatal errors in the American Healthcare system. As for the UK the statistics of death and increased illness due to errors by doctors and surgeons is very grave.

Pamela cited the main problems as insufficient communication, poor teamwork skills, low levels of professionalism (ie between surgeons and doctors) and of course the ever present stressful environment.

Virtual environments and games can help doctors and surgeons confront some of these issues and training programmes can help to support changes in understanding, self-awareness and acceptable and non-acceptable behaviours.

Pamela demonstrated two games that she had developed for children with cancer to help them in a gaming environment to in one game kill cancer cells and in the other to kill poo (yes, poo), to get through to fissures in the intestinal wall which could be closed by ‘shooting’ them .

Initial research is showing that this activity supports quite dramatically increased chances of survival. Games also support young people with taking medication - particularly where medication regimes are complicated and critical. It is very difficult to get teenagers to adopt to consistent behaviours. Games can engage young patients to take better care of themselves

It may even be the case that it is possible to make healthcare safer for patients through the utilisation of innovative approaches such as games. But more research is needed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Run a Successful Design Business

Author, trainer and consultant Shan Preddy launched her second book How to Run a Successful Design Business at the end of last month.

Shan has brought together contributions from more than 80 leading design-sector experts: business advisers, designers, clients and design associations to create a comprehensive guide to the business of design consultancy.

I was invited to author the contribution on the international context for design and design policy.

More detailed information on the book and an order form can be downloaded here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative Bilbao

creativity meeting point 2011 from Creativityzentrum on Vimeo.

I am happy to be leaving tomorrow for Bilbao. I have been invited by the Creativity Zentrum of Bilbao to participate in the 3rd International Forum of Creativity Meeting Point on 22nd, 23rd and 24th March.

The programme is varied with 21 speakers contributing, an Entrepreneurs' Evening, an awards ceremony, an expo on Serious Games and a sustainable design workshop.

It is my first visit to the city and apart from participating in the International Forum, I am looking forward to seeing the Guggenheim, listening to Phillippe Starck on Thursday morning and experiencing a city that has reinvented itself over the past fifty years to establish itself as a centre for economic revival and creativity and with an international reputation.

I am interested to see to what extent the role of creating a flagship building to lead regeneration has worked for Bilbao. Nowadays the focus is more on engaging local communities to help shape and develop (co-design?) their future cities.

Other speakers sharing the stage on design are Paoloa Zini (Italy), Pete Kercher (Italy) and Adital Ela (Israel)

Phillippe Starck is speaking at the AlhóndigaBilbao the new Cultural Centre in the old, historic building, the Alhóndiga, that he re-designed. It was opened in May 2010. And here is a report (in French):

Découvrez Philippe Starck revisite La Alhondiga de Bilbao sur Culturebox !.

Friday, March 18, 2011

And here is the real McCoy...

Computer Generated Visualisations at the RIBA

This is AVR London Visualisation's computer generated view of Renzo Piano's 72 storey Shard in London. Commissioned in 2007 the visualisations have been used to prove the building's commercial viability and to sell commercial space prior to its completion in 2012. 14 views were produced given the scale of the overall project.

How do I know this? Because of an interesting temporary exhibition currently on show in the main dining room at the RIBA. Curated by Eyelevel Creative Design Visualisation in partnership with Northern Architecture and the RIBA, other projects include renderings of the Newcastle City Library by Ryder Architecture; Foster and Partners Special Modelling Group's images of The Sage, Gateshead and Grimshaw's visualisations of both the building and bespoke components for it of St Botolp in the City of London.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BEDA has a new President and Vice President

At its General Assembly in Eindhoven on the 12th March 2011, Deborah Dawton, (CEO of the Design Business Association, UK), succeeded Jan Stavik, (Director of the Norwegian Design Council), as the President of BEDA for the term 2011-2013.

Deborah is supported by her new Vice President Isabel Roig, (Director of the Barcelona Design Centre, Spain), who will in turn become President in 2013.

Representing 43 members across 23 Member States plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, BEDA will continue to influence the design policy agenda at the European level. It will further build on the successes of the past through which design is now a part of the European policy landscape for innovation as expressed within the flagship Innovation Union of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Congratulations to Deborah and Isabel and of course to outgoing President Jan Stavik.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Intersections 2011

A fantastic two days in St Austell at the Eden Project listening to an amazing array of eclectic and inspiring speakers. Check out the website at intersections2011. Well done to Andrea Siodmock and her team who worked so hard to make it such a success. Congratulations are also due to Andrea for her appointment as Associate Director of the Academy for Innovation and Research (AIR) and Head of the Centre for Sustainable Design at the University College Falmouth starting on 11th April. I think this will offer a sense of continuity to the legacy of DottCornwall.

It is not entirely surprising that two intense days of rich content should still be swimming furiously around my mind in an exciting chaos of thoughts, ideas, impulses, insights and all with a deep admiration for what the speakers are doing in their lives for others. Social innovation is where it is at. In the words of ShelterBox Founder Tom Henderson OBE - Keep it simple. Do it now.

So what floats to the surface for me this morning? Well, actually, it is the presentations of the first and the last speakers and I will take these in reverse order.

I found Josephine Green's tightly argued exposition of the journey we are on from the paradigm of 'pyramids to pancakes' particularly compelling. I had heard aspects of many parts of her presentation from other speakers before, but I felt she brought many strands together in a way to tell a new story - to create a frame of reference that elucidates a shift in cultural attitudes and behaviours at a meta level.

This made me reflect on Qatar's HH Moser Bint Nasser's call at her Chatham House speech in London some years ago for the desperate need for a 'new narrative' for the Middle East. A new narrative that makes possible positive belief and action in the generative talents and enormously rich histories of these countries. A new narrative that acts as a counteraction to the belief systems and perceptions fomented by the international media.

Stories help us to frame our experiences as well as set the scene for the futures we want to create. Josephine's messages were helpful if not always comfortable and her call that More is More and the need for love felt both challenging but also seemed to make sense. It seems to fit. Rethinking BIG, seeking new social solutions and getting to social innovation beyond product is where the best chances lie to uncovering our new narratives that can reflfect what are 'a becoming of'.

And of course, as we all know, new mindsets demand change from within. Change is always both inspiring and painful as it requires us to say farewell to beliefs or constructs that have been loved, trusted and useful, but which now, no longer seem to fit the bill.

This reflected nicely back to the very first speaker Nick Jankel who helped us to see that problem behaviours are driven by outdated assumptions. Hierarchies are being dissolved in a networked, globalising participatory society made possible by new technologies. His plea is for us to treat systems not root causes. Where we can achieve this, he argues, then organisms (societies, organisations) can intelligently self organise.

His coaching question, 'How can I best serve what is seeking to emerge?', is a great question for insight and action. Nick's belief is that instead of evoking the law of unexpected consequences we can activate the law of unexpected win win win.

Thanks again to Andrea and her team a great two days. And apologies to all the great speaker's whose content who I have not reflected here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Intersections 2011

Intersections 2011 is kicking off today in the Eden Project in Cornwall. Fantastic line up of speakers. Met last night with the DOTT Cornwall team including Andrea Siodmock and Robert O'Dowd. Robert told me about his next amazing project, Pontio, in Bangor Wales. Coming from Bangor in Northern Ireland, it was a nice coincidence of names.
Off to get the bus to the Eden Project. First time here.