Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman Haque

Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman HaqueThe final keynote for the Designs on eLearning conference today is from Usman Haque, founder of Pachube (, a real-time data infrastructure for the Internet of Things. Usman is credited as the creative architect behind initiatives of “responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives”.

Rounding off the conference themes of connectivity, engagement, and the ‘revolutionary’ shift in the relationship between learning and technology, Usman use real world examples and projects to explain these themes they the way everything is changing.

  • From architect to information (construct) architect: continual development and small changes in the ‘software space’ changes how inhabitants interact with each other (image above of the pigs shows their sleeping habits based on slight temperastute increase).
  • Using different techniques for designing spaces Usman showcases the difference ways to approach projects and how individuals approach, interact, and engage with the installation as well as each other, Scent of Spaces is a good example.
  • SkyEar: a “non-rigid carbon-fibre ‘cloud’, embedded with one thousand glowing helium balloons and several dozen mobile phones. The balloons contain miniature sensor circuits that respond to electromagnetic fields, particularly those of mobile phones.” Each time the phones were called the electromagnetic fields changed, therefore the colours and patterns in the balloons changed. Nice!
  • Primal Source: each voice from the audience affects the colour display, with each person trying to work out what their voice ‘looks like’

Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman Haque

Primal Source YouTube project video

  • Pachube / Cosm – remote monitoring linked to sensors in real-time, building a twitter-like environment for a house, to enable a creation of global repository of sensor actuators(?) for energy environments, objects, devices, etc. Exchanging ideas and data with developers to bring smart(er) products to the world. A social platform that “helps you connect to, and build, the ‘Internet of things’.”

What Usman is showing us here is how people collaborate, how people work together, and how people want to share ideas and data for the good of the project and for the development of their ideas through someone else’s perspective. This is not about owning the idea, for me it’s about seeing where your ideas can go with the ‘community’ involvement. I am, however, struggling to find the eLearning in Usman’s keynote, enjoyable and informative though it is – there’s lots about the “crowd and cloud” in his work, but not explicitly mentioned.

  • Natural Fuse: “The carbon footprint of the power used to run devices can be offset by the natural carbon-capturing processes that occur as plants absorb carbon dioxide and grow” and the selfless or selfish in sharing carbon-capture plants. Interesting project that shows that you need 6 plants to offset just one low wattage LED bulb, but you build a social relationship with your device and plants that helps to show accountability in actions, as well as connecting these plants to the global network of other users (yes, you can kill someone else’s plants!)

Natural Fuse YouTube project video

  • Creation and fostering citizenship by using different terminology, as well as from the project brief, highlights the need for correctly applying and grounding our work in the world we want (students) to work? While we may know this is as an intended outcome (planned or otherwise) do we need to explicitly inform the students of this intention, or let them figure this out for themselves, either during the work or afterwards?

Thank you to all the speakers, from all the sessions, the keynote presenters, and to the team behind the Designs on eLearning Conference. The slides and the recorded keynotes are all going to be available through the Conference website (link above) in the next few weeks.