Charlie Gerard bio photo

Charlie Gerard

Software Developer & Creative technologist, I am passionate about the mix of science, art and technology

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V motion project

A few days ago, I gave a talk at a ThoughtWorks event about experimenting with Creative Technologies and why I believe it is very important.

I love experimenting with tech on my own time but I usually face comments like “But what is the business value?”.

As much as I totally understand where people are coming from, I do believe that experimenting with a project that may not bring value, is in itself valuable.

The amount I have learnt on personal projects, building things that don’t solve problems, has a lot of value to me, but not only to me.

As a field that is innovating and changing very fast, I believe that keeping up to date with new technologies is very important if you wanna stay competitive and if you want to grow as a developer.

Also, the more I experiment with devices or technologies, the more I start thinking about ideas that would actually solve problems.

For examples, when I bought a brain sensor, I wanted to pair it with the Sphero robotic ball to be able to make it roll with the movement of my eyes. However, when I got the headset, I realised there was no JavaScript framework available with it (I’ve been mainly programming robots with Node.js so far…), so I started wondering how long it would actually get me to get something to work! :/


And then I realised there was a library allowing you to create Node.js addons for C++ libraries and this is exactly what I needed! So I got to create the first JS framework for the EPOC brain sensor and this by itself was a great thing to learn!

Emotiv EPOC

But then, when I finally got the Sphero to move by looking left, a new idea came to my mind. I started thinking about building a brain keyboard; a screen-based keyboard on which you could select letters by moving your eyes and that could help so many disabled people!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough time to work on this new idea yet, but my point is that I would have never thought of this idea if I didn’t start by trying to move a robotic ball.

In my presentation, I added a few examples of where technology is used in fields or projects that many people may not find valuable but also examples where these same technologies are then used to solve real problems in innovative ways.

If you’re interested in seeing them, here’s the link to the slides:

Experimenting with Creative Technologies