Smartphones and Robots In Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 28 December 2014

The title of this year's Royal Institution Christmas Lectures sounds intriguing Sparks Will Fly - How to Hack your Home, A New Revolution.

In the UK the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures have become part of the holiday tradition. They were started in 1825 by Michael Faraday and are now broadcast on national television every year. These days they and intended to introduce science to young people and are great for kids of all ages.

This year the lectures, which have already been recorded in front of, and with the help of, a live audience, will be broadcast on BBC 4 from December 29th to 31st. They will then be available on in full on the Ri Channel, alongside past lecture series including classics such as Eric Laithwaite's 1974 - The Engineer Through the Looking Glass.

This year's lecture series is sponsored by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and is given by Danielle George, a professor in the Microwave and Communications Systems research group at the University of Manchester.

Her topic is:

... tinkering for the 21st century, using the full array of cutting edge devices that we can lay our hands on: 3D printers, new materials, online collaboration and controlling devices through coding.

Inspired by the great inventors and standing on the shoulders of thousands of people playing at their kitchen table or in their shed, Danielle will announce the new rules of invention and show you how to use modern tools and technologies and things from your home to have fun and make a difference to the world around you.

It sounds like it might be a good way to get people interested in what has recently been renamed as the "Internet of Things" but is more generally about taking small cheap computers and getting them to do amazing things. A large part of this effort is the programming so let's hope that the software gets a look in as well as the more visible hardware.

She has come up with some spectacular demonstrations such as this fully interactive Tetris clone projected onto the Shell Centre on London's South Bank:



For the final lecture she assembled a mixed robot/human orchestra playing the Dr Who theme:


Tune into BBC 4 at 8pm on December 29, 30 and 31 to see the three lectures or catch up with them later on the Royal Institution’s website.



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Last Updated ( Sunday, 28 December 2014 )