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Media Sandbox

Innovative new games showcased in Bristol.


This year, the projects include three games using next-level gaming technology:

1 - Blossom Bristol by Mobile Pie

Farmville meets FourSquare using Facebook Places in Bristol.

Blossom Bristol is a phone based game that will encourage people of all ages to plant virtual crops in any part of Bristol and watch as they flourish or fail depending on environmental factors such as the city's air quality, water quality, weather and temperature. One of the first games to utilise Facebook Places API, the game uses GPS-enabled mobile phones and open data sets to model a persistent, changing ecosystem, so that the virtual crops will fail in poor weather where pollution is high, but thrive where water is good and the sun shines. Players are engaged through the popular play mechanics seen in FourSquare and Farmville and encouraged to explore their environment, consider its character and shape its future.

Mobile Pie is an indie developer of imaginative entertainment for mobile platforms identified as “Ones to Watch” for 2009 by Bristol Media and by Chinwag who told their community that Mobile Pie’s “award winning content has mouths watering all over and people coming back for more.” Based in the heart of Bristol, Mobile Pie has won Channel 4’s New Mobile Game Developer of the Year and in 2008 received the Media Innovation Awards’ Trophy. Mobile Pie has led cutting edge research in games and mobile technologies for large companies including Hewlett-Packard and the BBC. Today Mobile Pie is shifting its focus towards original IP and continuing to develop high quality titles for mobile platforms.

Richard Wilson from Mobile Pie says, "Blossom Bristol aims to engage people with real world local issues through one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment, that of social games."

Find out more at: |

2 - Operation Sonic Boom by Mutant Labs

Using sound recognition to level the playing field for gamers with disabilities.

The Operation Sonic Boom game project explores the use of abstract sounds as a way of controlling and playing casual games alone or in a crowd. The power of the voice is often overlooked in its ability to create a unique and engaging interactive experience, and Mutant Labs are working towards a world where you can control anything with the volume, pitch and tone of your voice. The game analyses incoming sounds from a microphone and develops a library of sound gestures and control methods that allows other developers to create voice controlled games easily. The focus on abstract sound and noises rather than speech recognition means that games and applications created using the framework can cross language and cultural barriers, and could be used for navigating interfaces, speech therapy, music tuition, vocal coaching and leveling the playing field for gamers with physical disabilities.

Mutant Labs is a young company led by Andrew Sargeant, Richard Searle, and Alexander Ryley, with managing, creative and technical experience amongst them, as well as a penchant for surfing.

Alex Ryley says, “Operation Sonic Boom is a framework that gives developers tools to accelerate the creation of voice controlled games. Focusing primarily on pitch, volume and an array of vocal gestures rather than full speech, we hope to drag the masses screaming (but not kicking) into a noisier future.”

Find out more at: |

3 - Biofeedback in Gaming by Remode

What’s the next big thing in gaming after gesture recognition? Biofeedback.

The success of products like Nintendo Wii have challenged what games are and what they might be, in a way not seen since the Playstation revolution of the 1990s. So whilst gesture recognition is the latest trend, key industry figures such as Gabe Newell believe biofeedback will be the next big thing. Martin Darby and Ella Romanos at Remode are working on ways to integrate gamers’ heart rate into their experience, giving them superpowers and other bonuses as their heart rate increases through exercise or excitement. They are investigating how heart rate monitors could be used and are creating a proof-of-concept playable demo to explore the potential of mapping heart rate changes into a game, in a similar way that gestures and movements can within the virtual environment of Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect and Playstation Move. The effect has great potential for ‘character transformation’ in games such as The Incredible Hulk or Sonic the Hedgehog.

Remode is an independent software developer founded in 2007 by Ella Romanos and Martin Darby, who met while studying for BSc (Hons) in Digital Art and Technology at Plymouth University and whose first game Mole Control (PC), has been released digitally, gaining the runner-up prize at Europrix Awards and being presented to former Chancellor Alistair Darling. 

Martin Darby from Remode says, “we are testing a scenario whereby you can use your heartbeat to control a videogame, and energy from your own body to access in-game superpowers.”

Ella Romanos from Remode says, “we believe biometrics monitoring could be used to evolve active game experiences. We are really excited about the potential of gesture recognition and active gaming. We want to add value to this area and hope to prove that biometric data is a great, fun way to do this. This isn’t about fighting a technological arms race, it’s about design and execution:  combining proven technology in a creative, new, and unexplored way. ”

Find out more at: | 

Clare Reddington, Director of iShed, says "Media Sandbox, an iShed and Watershed initiative, sets out to support extraordinary people, giving them the time and space to research and develop early-stage ideas. This year's slate of innovations and experiments is particularly exciting as projects span senses, technologies, platforms and audiences. As ever our advisory group have played a crucial role in shaping, networking and pushing the companies closer to market and I am looking forward to the showcase and seeing the projects’ final transformations.”

For any more information on Media Sandbox, interviews and hi res images please contact:

Rebecca Ladbury | | 0208 969 3934 | 07941 224 975

Pavla Kopecna | | 0208 969 3934 | 07702 805 887 

About the Media Sandbox showcase

The Media Sandbox showcase will take place on Friday 18 th February at Watershed in Bristol. The showcase will provide an opportunity for members of the press and relevant industries to experience first hand some of the Media Sandbox prototypes before they reach the market. A live stream and videos from the showcase are available on request.

For full details please visit:

About Media Sandbox and partners

The Media Sandbox scheme has been created by iShed and receives support from several partners within the South West, the UK and the EU.

About Media Sandbox

Media Sandbox is a development programme established in Bristol in 2008 enabling companies to research emerging possibilities in interactive, digital media, create new ideas and deliver innovation to the market. In 2010 Media Sandbox has awarded seven £10,000 commissions to support research and development of innovative experiences content, applications of experiences under two strands: open data and pervasive media. Now in it’s third year, Media Sandbox has so far supported 19 companies to make time, take risks and develop inspirational ideas.

About iShed

iShed is a Watershed venture to enable and support innovation and collaboration between computing, communications and the creative industries. iShed facilitates partnerships between industry, artists and creative companies identifying funding opportunities and supporting new ideas. Through events, networking, consultancy and projects, iShed gives people and ideas the time and space to develop, be explored, debated and delivered. iShed publishes and showcases its work in order to share learning, knowledge and networks with the wider national and international creative community.

About B-open

B-Open is one of the digital city projects being developed by Connecting Bristol in support of the 20-20 City Strategy. Its about openly sharing council/city data and working with local digital businesses and communities to create new applications and services that bring added value to citizens and help achieve greater connection with the city environment. Whether it’s engaging with peak oil, climate change or the wider green agenda.

About South West Screen

South West Screen is the development agency for the creative media industries in the South West of England. South West Screen is leading the Creative Industries iNet.

About Creative Industries iNet

Networking for Innovation (iNets) is a product within the government-funded Solutions for Business portfolio of business support. An iNet is a proven way of helping businesses to introduce new techniques and products, and find new markets, by giving them access to specialist information and research, and through sharing knowledge and expertise. There are five iNets for key business sectors in South West England: Aerospace and Advanced Engineering, BioMedical, Creative Industries, Environmental and Microelectronics. iNets South West are supported by £13.5 million of funding from the South West RDA and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as delivery partner investments.

About South West RDA

Works for, and promotes, a modern, stronger and more resilient economy across South West England. Its work involves creating better jobs, successful businesses, more prosperous cities, towns and villages within an economy that uses less carbon.

About Solutions for Business

SfB is a suite of targeted, publicly funded products and services offering solutions to real business needs and tackling market failure. It includes: starting up, understanding finance, developing people, environment and efficiency, exploiting ideas, international sales and marketing and growing your business. By targeting public money at real business needs, it helps businesses create sustainable success.

About The European Regional Development Fund

ERDF helps stimulate economic development and regeneration in the least prosperous regions of the European Union (EU). Funding is targeted to meet three objectives set down by the European Commission (EC): Convergence, Regional Competitiveness and European Territorial Co-operation.   

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