I love paper, and I love technology,
and what I do is I make paper interactive.
And that's what I say when
people ask me what I do,
but it really confuses most people,
so really, the best way
for me to convey it
is to take the technology and be creative
and create experiences.
So I tried to think
what I could use for here,
and a couple of weeks
ago I had a crazy idea
that I wanted to print two DJ decks
and to try and mix some music.
And I'm going to try
and show that at the end,
and the suspense will be
as much mine if it works.
And I'm not a DJ, and I'm not a musician,
so I'm a little bit scared of that.
So I think, I found the best
way to describe my journey
is just to mention a few little things
that have happened to me
throughout my life.
There's three particular
things that I've done,
and I'll just describe those first,
and then talk about some of my work.
So when I was a kid,
I was obsessed with wires,
and I used to thread them under my carpet
and thread them behind the walls
and have little switches
and little speakers,
and I wanted to make
my bedroom be interactive
but kind of all hidden away.
And I was also really
interested in wireless as well.
So I bought one of those
little kits that you could get
to make a radio transmitter,
and I got an old book
and I carved out the inside
and I hid it inside there,
and then I placed it next to my dad
and snuck back to my bedroom
and tuned in on the radio
so I could eavesdrop.
I was not at all interested
in what he was saying.
It's more that I just liked the idea
of an everyday object
having something inside
and doing something different.
Several year later,
I managed to successfully
fail all of my exams
and didn't really leave school
with much to show for at all,
and my parents, maybe as a reward,
bought me what turned out to be
a one-way ticket to Australia,
and I came back home
about four years later.
I ended up on a farm
in the middle of nowhere.
It was in far western New South Wales.
And this farm was 120,000 acres.
There were 22,000 sheep,
and it was about 40 degrees,
or 100 or so Fahrenheit.
And on this farm there
was the farmer, his wife,
and there was the four-year-old daughter.
And they kind of took me into the farm
and showed me what it
was like to live and work.
Obviously, one of the most important
things was the sheep,
and so my job was, well,
pretty much to do everything,
but it was about bringing
the sheep back to the homestead.
And we'd do that by building fences,
using motorbikes and horses,
and the sheep would make
their way all the way back
to the shearing shed
for the different seasons.
And what I learned was,
although at the time, like everyone else,
I thought sheep were pretty stupid
because they didn't do
what we wanted them to do,
what I realize now, probably
only just in the last few weeks
looking back, is the sheep
weren't stupid at all.
We'd put them in an environment
where they didn't want to be,
and they didn't want to do
what we wanted them to do.
So the challenge was to try and get them
to do what we wanted them to do
by listening to the weather,
the lay of the land,
and creating things
that would let the sheep flow
and go where we wanted them to go.
Another bunch of years later,
I ended up at Cambridge University
at the Cavendish Laboratory in the U.K.
doing a Ph.D. in physics.
My Ph.D. was to move electrons
around, one at a time.
And I realize — again, it's kind
of these realizations
looking back as to what I did —
I realize now that it
was pretty much the same
as moving sheep around.
It really is.
It's just you do it
by changing an environment.
And that's kind
of been a big lesson to me,
that you can't act on any object.
You change its environment,
and the object will flow.
So we made it very small,
so things were about 30
nanometers in size;
making it very cold, so
at liquid helium temperatures;
and changing environment
by changing the voltage,
and the electrons could
make flow around a loop
one at a time, on and off,
a little memory node.
And I wanted to go one step further,
and I wanted to move one electron on
and one electron off.
And I was told that I wouldn't
be able to do this,
which, you know, as we've heard
from other people,
that's the thing that makes you do it.
And I was determined, and I managed
to show that I could do that.
And a lot of that learning, I think,
came from being on that farm,
because when I was working on the farm,
we'd have to use what was around us,
we'd have to use the environment,
and there was no such thing
as something can't be done,
because you're in an environment where,
if you can't do what you need to do,
you can die, and, you know,
I had seen that sort of thing happen.
So now my obsession is printing,
and I'm really fascinated by the idea
of using conventional printing processes,
so the types of print
that are used to create
many of the things around us
to make paper and card interactive.
When I spoke to some printers
when I started doing this
and told them what I wanted to do,
which was to print
conductive inks onto paper,
they told me it couldn't be done,
again, that kind of favorite thing.
So I got about 10 credit cards and loans
and got myself very close
to bankruptcy, really,
and bought myself this
huge printing press,
which I had no idea how to use at all.
It was about five meters long,
and I covered myself
and the floor with ink
and made a massive mess,
but I learned to print.
And then I took it back to the printers
and showed them what I've done,
and they were like, "Of
course you can do that.
Why didn't you come here
in the first place?"
That's always the case.
So what we do is we take
conventional printing presses,
we make conductive inks,
and run those through a press,
just letting hundreds
of thousands of electrons flow
through pieces of paper
so we can make that paper interactive.
And it's pretty simple, really.
It's just a collection of things
that have been done before,
but bringing them together
in a different way.
So we have a piece of paper
with conductive ink on,
and then add onto that a small circuit
board with a couple of chips,
one to run some capacitive touch software,
so we know where we've touched it,
and the other to run, quite often,
some wireless software so
the piece of paper can connect.
So I'll just describe a couple
of things that we've created.
There's lots of different
things we've created.
This is one of them, because I love cake.
And this one, it's a large poster,
and you touch it and it has
a little speaker behind it,
and the poster talks
to you when you touch it
and asks you a series of questions,
and it works out your perfect cake.
But it doesn't tell you
the cake there and then.
It uploads a picture,
and the reason why it
chose that cake for you,
to our Facebook page and to Twitter.
So we're trying to create that connection
between the physical and the digital,
but have it not looking on a screen,
and just looking like a regular poster.
We've worked with a bunch
of universities on a project
looking at interactive newsprint.
So for example, we've created a newspaper,
a regular newspaper.
You can wear a pair of headphones
that are connected to it wirelessly,
and when you touch it,
you can hear the music
that's described on the top,
which is something you can't read.
You can hear a press conference
as well as reading
what the editor has determined
that press conference was about.
And you can press a Facebook "like" button
or you can vote on something as well.
Something else that we created,
and this was an idea that I had
a couple of years ago,
and so we've done a project on this.
It was for funding from the government
for user-centered design
for energy-efficient buildings,
difficult to say, and something
I had no idea what it was
when I went into the workshop,
but quickly learned.
And we wanted to try and encourage people
to use energy better.
And I really liked the idea that,
instead of looking at dials
and reading things to say --
looking at your energy usage,
I wanted to create a poster
that was wirelessly connected
and had color-changing inks on it,
and so if your energy usage
was trending better,
than the leaves would appear
and the rabbits would appear
and all would be good.
And if it wasn't, then there'd be graffiti
and the leaves would fall off the trees.
So it was trying to make
you look after something
in your immediate environment,
which you don't want to see
not looking so good,
rather than expecting people to do things
in the local environment
because of the effect
that it has a long way off.
And I think, kind of like going
back to the farm,
it's about how to let people
do what you want them to do
rather than making people do
what you want them to do.
So this is the bit I'm really scared of.
So a couple of things I've created are,
there's a poster over here
that you can play drums on.
And I am not a musician. It seemed
like a good idea at the time.
If anyone wants to try
and play drums, then they can.
I'll just describe how this works.
This poster is wirelessly
connected to my cell phone,
and when you touch it,
it connects to the app.
And it has really good response time.
It's using Bluetooth 4, so
it's pretty instantaneous.
And there's a couple of other things.
So this one is like a sound board,
so you can touch it, and I just
love these horrible noises.
(Sirens, explosions, breaking glass)
Okay, and this is a D.J. turntable.
So it's wirelessly linked to my iPad,
and this is a software
that's running on the iPad.
Oh, yes. I just love doing that.
I'm not a D.J., though, but I just
always wanted to do that.
So I have a crossfader,
and I have the two decks.
So I've made some new technology,
and I love things being creative,
and I love working with creative people.
So my 15-year-old niece, she's amazing,
and she's called Charlotte,
and I asked her to record something,
and I worked with a friend called Elliot
to put some beats together.
So this is my niece, Charlotte.
So that's pretty much what I do.
I just love bringing technology together,
having a lot of fun, being creative.
But it's not about the technology.
It's just about, I want to create
some great experiences.
So thank you very much.