Wednesday 24 November 2010

Cambridge Student Marches 24th Nov 2010

Cambridge Student Marches 24th Nov 2010 in Pembroke Street, approx 1245 GMT city centre

more here:

and exclusive HD  video here

video copyright Lyndsay Williams

Thursday 1 July 2010

TinySense - Micro GPS tracking real 3D objects on LCD screen

Girton Labs have developed a technology to track to within 5mm the position of multiple  physical objects on an  LCD  screen. The objects are placed on an LCD e.g. iPad (some testing on iPhone 4 ) with a graphic background. An example are  chess pieces which the user moves but computer needs to keep track of.  Other applications include games on pcs that use pieces e.g. Scrabble, models soldiers, ships. This sensing feature allows scores to be calculated automatically.There are music and audio applications with real control knobs on screen.
The technology is low cost, and works on many tested  lcd screens. The system uses object recognition.
Similar devices for adding object tracking to lcd screens are Microsoft Research's  Surface as here, but Microsoft's coffee table is  large and expensive,  (weight 150 pounds, cost $12,500) an iPad or standard non touch   laptop  is more suitable for consumer use in the home. iPad screen is robust for objects to be placed on with no fingerprints  ( tested this on iPhone 4).
TinySense is like GPS Satellite Navigation but for the home. It is portable and  handheld.

 iPhone 4 with test control.
Here is a video of a static sensor in test.

Advantages over prior work are:
1. works on LCD screen with graphics background
2. very low cost, approx $100 per system.
3. resolution to 5mm or better (theoretical)
4. Each object has unique identity.
5.  Very small objects can be used e.g. a MonoPoly games piece ,  with no batteries required for pieces. Battery power used for sensor receiver.
6. Multiple objects can be tracked.
7. The system can be scaled to very large displays and multiple sensors.
8. Sensing objects such as rotary controls and switches can be used.
9. Customer can fit the sensor to their own objects if they choose.

The system can also be used with printed electronics on paper (no LCD) and we are working with a Cambridge company on this system.  An example is a  MonoPoly board.

This research and invention by Lyndsay Williams was partially funded by the  East of England Development Agency. It is a research project and  not a production item yet. We are looking for developers and finance to complete.

This is the latest development of Sensesurface from Girton Labs.

TinySense and associated Intellectual Property belongs to Lyndsay Williams and Girton Labs Ltd.

 For more details contact Lyndsay Williams on +44 (0) 7970 101578, or
Current project name: TinySense

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Lorry explosion and fire in Girton Cambridge 22/6/2010

We were woken up at 5am with 3 very loud explosions. All I could see from house was black smoke behind the wood. There was a eerie silence, no traffic, no birdsong, no sirens, and no commotion. It was very scary not knowing what was behind the wood. I called  999  and then went to investigate.  The  incident was 200 yards from home. These images taken on an A14 cattle bridge Girton, Cambridge at approx 05:30 facing East. A14 closed in both directions Girton. Street image taken behind hedge from our garden.  There is some fire debris in our garden. There were no injuries, Cambridge Evening News has news on incident   here. 
Update Wed 23/6/10 here 

Incident 500 metres  East of J31

View Larger Map

Thursday 13 May 2010

SenseCam human memory enhancement on BBC2 TV Eyewitness

12th May 2010 SenseCam, human  memory enhancement camera  invented by Lyndsay Williams, for Microsoft Research  on BBC2 TV as here  The video starts 17 mins  into program. BBC iPlayer for  UK viewers only, and  expires on 19 May 2010, but here  is an shorter 8 minutes edited version here on Youtube

The program shows MRI brain scan of memory enhanced brain. Research by Professor Martin Conway of Leeds University.

I  originally invented SenseCam  for Alzheimer's as described in patent here

Image below shows  memory enhancement in brain using Sensecam., click to enlarge.

Martin Conway and patient.

Contact Lyndsay Williams at or +44 ( 0)  7970 101578 for more details on  SenseCam and later versions.

 More on Lyndsay Williams' research  at Girton Labs.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Philips moving into smell research

Girton Labs has been working with Dr Jenny Tillotson  Sensory Design and Technology for several months on computer control of smell emission   and we now will be working with Dr Jenny Tillotson  and Philips on new smell research as here, scroll down to Philips. This is an   Arts and Humanities Research Council   Knowledge Transfer Fellowship .
Summary of project : Smell The Colour Of The Rainbow: Sensory Systems For Wearable Product Technologies To Reduce Stress And Sleep Disorders here.


Bright sparks

Jenny Tillotson, Senior Research Fellow at CSM has been awarded an AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship (£249,000) to work with Philips Research in Cambridge supported by Dr Raymond Oliver, Senior Research Fellow in Active & Interactive Materials from the RCA. Over the course of a year, they will engage in an active KT programme to explore opportunities resulting from her academic work in areas of interest to Philips Research. The project will also involve Lyndsay Williams' of Girton Labs (inventor of iPhone sensors and Microsoft's ‘Sensecam’ for Alzheimer’s) and smell expert Professor Tim Jacob from the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University.

Friday 30 April 2010

The iPhone Achilles' heel

There has been enough comment from others re the loss of  Apple's   iPhone 4G on a bar stool and ending up in Gizmodo. People haven't asked, why was it found on a bar stool? Would person have placed it there and just walked off? Unlikely. It could well have slipped out of the pocket.  When I last visited Apple in Cupertino re sale of patent of my Invisible Phone  for iPhone sensors, the Apple person I met with was startled that my iPhone was in a pink  silicon gel case. I put it in this case as  iPhone as slippery as a bar of soap. ( I dropped it first day I had it on concrete, while trying to take a picture.) Apple attorney  said the designers would not like this as spoiled the smooth surface of iPhone which is designed to slip  in (and out) of  man's back pocket of trousers. I replied that ladies do not normally put phone in back pocket and I said if I did, I would not want it to slip out. Maybe this is what happened with recent loss of prototype.

There are far easier ways to find out what might be in future Apple products than checking out stools. A perusal of my 1997 BT SmartQuill  patent Apple bought recently covered here in The Guardian and patent  as here  shows a portfolio of sensing systems for phones. This is all in the public domain.

Interesting to note, that one of only two working SmartQuill phones as above was stolen from The Millennium
Dome in 2000.
I am now designing sensors for phones for the next 5 years, including 3D hand trackers,  not for Apple but a well known Far East phone company and others if interested . I am not allowed even to say if a Non Disclosure Agreement exists.  I also  have a system that will alert person if more than a few feet phone their phone. This is old technology based on radio systems that alert if a parent losses a child in a busy shopping centre.

I am still looking for the lanyard fitting on my iPhone....

SmartChill - No More Headaches

Girton Labs researches and prototypes new methods of healthcare  and pain management.  One serendipitous discovery from the last device  I invented  before leaving Microsoft in 2007 ( ThrillChip  as here, a feedback device for replicating fear in games controllers )

was  to find  new way of reducing the pain for some (not all)  types of headaches, temperature reduction and   sports injuries. Some pain  can be removed by a bag of frozen peas or instant ice  gel coolers (£1 per usage)  but not always to hand, e.g. when traveling and far from home.  The SmartChill ( working project name)  devices uses a Peltier heat exchanger to reduce the surface of the skin by approximately 15 degrees Centigrade.  You can see the Peltier in image below, it is the  square part. One side effect of a Peltier heat exchanger is when the power is switch off , the heat will flow back into the Peltier device, which might be close to the skin.   A novel design of heat sink and fan allows a safe method of chilling the skin and avoids this heating problem. Headaches take about 5 mins to be reduced when tested on a subject. The sensation of simulated  ice on the skin is so relaxing.  The device can be placed on various parts of the body, such as forehead, neck, or wrist.   The device works off 2 x AA alkaline or  rechargeable cells and is charged by USB or 12V car cigar socket. The device will allow about 1 hours operation before recharging.  That  covers several headaches and costs a lot less in recharging than buying and swallowing  pharmaceuticals.  It also avoids paying license fees to pharmaceutical companies.

Safety mechanisms in the built in computer  hardware and software  ensure the heat "sucked out" of skin is dispersed of safety.
Device is also very useful for sports injuries.
A built in recording devices logs the time and date of application of chiller, can download via USB to pc,  so useful for research with working out what or who causes your headaches.  This would work well with clinical applications of Sensecam.

Girton Labs needs a route to market for this, as customers want it. A retail cost of less than £50 is practical.

So what happened to the ThrillChip? It never got patented for intended use as a Xbox  games controller, and after I left one of the UK leading games company wanted to use the technology.  Microsoft choose not to patent it so could not license the IP.

Update:  you can buy this drinks cooler from eBay that has some of the functionality of above as here:

For more information, contact Lyndsay Williams or tel +44 (0) 7970 101578.

Thursday 11 March 2010

New Hand Tracker for mobile phones

One day in May 1997 I woke up  with an idea for a new type of mobile phone, that had no conventional  buttons, but  it would be controlled by invisible  sensors, i.e. accelerometers, screen touch sensors , face tracking devices.   I approached Peter Cochrane, Head of  BT Labs, Martlesham  to see if they were interested in it and could they fund me to  prototype it. They did and  we patented in 1997. Patent also covered hand writing recording, cameras, GPS tagging and cloud computing.  Microsoft liked this new type of phone and gave me position as a Reseacher at Microsoft Research Cambridge 1998-2007.  Microsoft were  offered this patent but didn't buy it.

Eventually, 11 years later  this phone  Patent sold to Apple in 2008 as covers  technology used in the iPhone, here is some of  the story

I left Microsoft in 2007 and founded  Girton Labs Ltd, Cambridge. Now in 2010  we are inventing and   building prototypes for  mobile phone technology for the next 5-10 years. There is so much competition now with phones,  a brand new type of novel hardware needs inventing to differential the rest  from the Apple iPhone.
  One thrilling new sensor design for mobile phones I can't talk about yet  as confidential for phone company. But here is one I can.  Here is a video of our new hand tracker. We have prototyped a proof of concept model:

If video doesn't fit on your screen, please  click on link below:

The video shows a hand being tracked with a  4x4 heat
array, of possible use to mobile phones and tablet pcs.
A Digital signal Processor decodes, left/right up/down  hand movement .
Applications for this new User Input  include web page  navigation, hand
gesture control and  power on/off for mobile phones and tablet computers.
Other applications include sterile medical controls and controlling simple
instruments in cars like GPS. It works with gloves unlike some hand trackers or touch screens.
The technology also includes these feature being done by a phone's built in camera
but the advantage over using ordinary built in  camera to track hands, is very low
processor overhead, (uses 4Mhz micrcocontroller for Digital Signal
Processing in prototype)  very low power and can work in low light
 Cost of sensor approx $5 in large quantities, Intellectual Property
owned entirely  by Girton Labs Ltd, Cambridge.
Please contact  Lyndsay Williams, for more information.

Sunday 7 February 2010

BusyBadge - Sensebadge for personal energy monitoring

I have  designed miniature computers  for personal energy and activity  monitoring for many decades. One below for Microsoft Research was  an accelerometer, radio beacon  and data logger, around 2001, SmartMoveX here. Research was with Microsoft Research John Krumm, Greg Smith, paper here.

This later got transformed into device with a camera, Sensecam as here. The University of Dublin have recently started some research with SenseCam on Carbon Footprints.

Last year I proposed  a device for personal energy monitoring for medical uses that was very small, unobtrusive and could be used and worn 24/7 with no battery change etc. It is like a "well being" badge that display's personal activity in the day.   The above sensing badge with paperclip  ( real size model )  is a prototype, it has 3 axis accelerometer, data logger, 32Mbytes FLASH memory, radio transmitter, and tiny thermal camera 4x4 pixels and activity lights. It is a development of a SenseBulb I designed for Assisted Living but much smaller.
SenseBadge lasts about a week before battery change and upload of data to PC as a graph. As well as recording personal movement and exercise, the thermal camera can record ambient temperature, but also capture simple 4x4 pixel  thermal image  in front of person, i.e. record the time person in front of a stove, TV, eating,  PC, human. These home appliances have a thermal signature that can be captured. Unlike normal digital thermometers, thermopiles captures very fast temperature changes, around 100 times/ second, see below 4x4 colour map.

As the data is time stamped it can be synchronised to camera  images and GPS. As the thermal signatures are fairly simple they can be interpreted and classified using a computer, e.g. Excel, rather than complex image processing. Themopiles also avoid the problem of conventional temperature sensors worn on the body, these reflect the temperature of the users body (not ambient temperature)  as wearable badge warms up , e.g. as on SenseCam.
Unlike passive data loggers, this one has optical feedback (LEDs changes colour)  to provide rolling history of  how much energy is consumed or wasted in the day. Every person you met that day will know at a glance if you have been a couch potato (or ill), sat behind a PC, eating,    or "chronically busy" person ;-). You can walk into a meeting and people can glance at you for status update. As badge detects and records proximity of people, you don't need to say sorry, been busy  "been in meetings all day" as display can show that at a glance. A download at end of day can classify percentage of time spent in each activity, e.g.  time spent with other people. A sequence of spinning LEDs on badge speed up based on "busyness" measurement of last few hours. This can be useful in medical care of patients in a hospital to check if they are being cared for, e.g. accident and emergency , "lying flat  on trolley for 2 hours and unattended".  Executives would like it as faster spinning of LEDs might indicate "importance".

Some people say, well that can all be done with a mobile phone, but they are not  fitted with simple thermal cameras (which can reveal more than optical cameras and accelerometers ), the badge is very low powered and can be worn at night. Badge also gives visual feedback of a rolling  summary of the day's  history of activity.

Image of UK  Prime Minister who might need a BusyBadge.

Girton Labs Tablet Computer 2009

Badge Specification:
3 channel accelerometer
4x4 thermal camera -50C to 350C, sample rate 100Hz
digital light meter
UV sunlight detector
magnetic proximity sensor (optional)
Carbon Monoxide (optional)
 up to 32Mbyte FLASH  memory
6V Lithium coin cells
serial port to pc
LED array for real time display of day's history of events, red, orange, green, blue, white, flash frequency  indicates activity.
radio transmitter (optional) 433Mhz
FLASH Microcontroller

The practical side, Girton Labs has implemented all the components of this, i.e. hardware, software, algorithms, pcb, CAD case. The applications range from personal energy monitoring, medical applications, Assisted Living.
Contact Lyndsay Williams or +44 (0) 7970 101578