Tara O’Neil
designer    l    strategist    l    futurist

Education: BAA, MDes, SMARTlab PhD Candidate

Tara O’Neil is a designer, a strategist and a futurist, with more than twenty-five years of professional experience advising major industry on the impact of human behavior and the consumer experience. Developing innovative business models and environments Tara endeavoured to disrupt existing mental models and develop new ways of thinking, seeing and understanding. In addition to her professional practice, she took her Master’s in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. By combining futures studies and innovation, Tara found a new set of tools available for exploration.

As a SMARTlab-IDRC PhD candidate, Tara is continuing her work in the domain of Disruptive Technologies applying this thinking to the area of rural reinvention by creating meaningful solutions for people at the elusive intersection between creativity and business.

 

Current Research

Science and art are both required to solve complex problems. This isn’t the right-brain and the left-brain meeting in the middle it’s the right-brain and the left-brain combining to create something new. We need to be all “all brained”.

Futures studies is a method of inquiry that utilizes both sides of the brain. Wicked problems are complex problems exacerbated by exponential growth.

Tara is researching how experiential futures can be used to help solve these problems by creating a place where creativity can be unleashed. By looking out 20, 30 50 or even 100 years we can see hidden opportunities and threats. We can imagine the possibilities of driving forces present today and we can prepare. To understand the future, we need to go there. Virtual reality provides an opportunity to travel to unexplored worlds delivering opportunities for people to immersive themselves, make choices and experience life. It is here that emerging knowledge surfaces.

Tara is researching how this knowledge can be released, captured and used to create radical innovation. This type of thinking pushes well beyond typical brainstorming where groups capture low hanging fruit but are unable to stretch their thinking and imaginations beyond what’s immediately visible. The need for “all brained” thinking is upon us. Tara hopes to contribute theory and methodologies to help more people tap into their ability to harness the “all brain” thinking we all possess.

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Smartlab researchers Colin Keogh and Ross Lawless, in partnership with Science Gallery International, visit AirAsia in Kuala Lumpur to deliver innovation training along with 3D Printing/VR/AR demonstrations to the staff in AirAsia’s innovation lab in their new RedQ headquarters.

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Settling Virtual Reality

The experimenting space is now in full effect. The latest visualisation technology has been implemented in a form of an HTC Vive running on a scalable thunderbolt 3 eGPU sporting the latest GTX 1080 Ti. The first experimentations were conducted using the ubiquitous Unity engine. April and May were dedicated to learn and explore the transversal possibilities of the technologies. The plural is used because of the potential for sensing, network connectivity and sound interoperability. Processing as a visual art oriented language was the first port of call with the output been ported, as a texture, live to Unity via Spout. Next, sensing was added through Muse for EEG and Raspberry Pi 3 with environmental sensors (see example below of sensors generated procedural art in Unity under fly-through mode). The data was sent from the sensors to the LAN using OSC as a Python script encapsulated under UDP from the TCP/IP protocol. Of course, the Internet will have worked equally well and represented a great potential for an information system and big data for AR (Augmented Reality) or more extensively MR (Mixed Reality).

Sounding Abstraction

The research is predominantly based on the sensorial aspect of sound art and it’s parallel to VR development process experiments with applied EEG biofeedback interaction and immersive intermedia environments. The Muse headband can be worn alongside the Vive’s HMD and a smartphone can be used as a host for OSC broadcast, making all very portable with the future availability of wireless VR option (TPCast). Sound in VR can be dealt with in two different situations; as binaural with headphones in sound sensitive milieu or multi-channels into private (or not) room-scale setting. The later being currently selected with the studio permitting up to eight channels in a secluded network enabled space. The first attempts are promising with the physical impact of sound creating a deeper three-dimensional depth than headset reproduction as sound is intrinsically auditive and physical. Naturally, some careful implementation has to be considered concerning multi-systems communication and latency, especially in the context of using the Internet instead of the local area network.

Routing Dissemination

VR binaries under Unity could provide the following builds enabling a wide range of compiled assets: PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, tvOS, PS4, WebGL and Samsung TV amongst others less well known. Raspberry Pi 3 were fitted with Sense HAT, Enviro pHAT and the made to order Harmony-E1 all running OSC under Python. The audio is provided by Ableton Live + Max for Live devices and Reaktor for explorative sound generation. Active near-field monitors were chosen for the neutrality, power and directionality of the equipment.

 

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