Category Archives: HistoryLens

Team Spotlight – Stewart Fullerton

Next up for our Team Spotlight is another of our software engineers –  Stewart Fullerton.

Who are you?

I am Stewart Fullerton

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What is your role at Linknode and how long have you been working here?

I’ve been working as a Mobile Development Engineer at Linknode for nearly 4 years. I specialise in building Android and Windows Phone apps as well as developing commercial websites. I work in a team of 5 developers on Linknode’s products like VentusAR, Album Flow, HistoryLens, MyStory and 3DTry.it. I am also responsible in building and maintaining the company’s websites, a few examples are ventusar.com, historylens.co.uk and urbanplanar.com.

What are the technologies that you use?

At Linknode we make the most of cutting edge technology in software development, the piece of software that we use frequently is Xamarin, which allows you to create IOS and Android apps using C#, part of Microsofts .NET Framework. Other technologies that we use are SignalR, WCF, MonoGame, Google Cardboard, MVC, Azure , Jquery and many others.

What is your proudest moment in Linknode?

I think my proudest moment came in 2013 where our main product VentusAR was at its prototype stage and we focused more on consumer apps. I was responsible for the development of Album Flow, an app that allows you to browse your music using a flow of album art. The Windows 8 version was submitted to a contest it was placed in the top 10 apps and we won prizes as a result.

How has Linknode helped you in your career development?

Before I joined Linknode I came from a web background, already fluent in web development, database design etc so I was looking for a job within that industry. I was however very intrigued by developing mobile apps as I felt that smartphones and tablets were the way of the future. 4 years later I have new commercial experience in developing apps and I also get the opportunity to use my old skills in web development.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am a keen music photographer which I have been doing for almost a decade now, I work for many music publications covering concerts from all over Scotland. If I’m not doing that I’m either chilling in the flat or out with friends.

Any random facts you could share with us?

Cows drink milk……… oh wait….

What’s the last joke you recall?

Two fish are in a tank, and one says to the other “How on earth do you drive this thing?

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I Would Go 5000 Miles

Conference Roundup
With the end of the Autumn conference and exhibition season approaching Linknode staff have travelled a cumulative total of 5000 miles across the UK recently.

From Liverpool to Cardiff and Birmingham to York, here are some of the highlights:

RenewableUK (Birmingham)
The RenewableUK exhibition and show at the NEC is one of the largest energy shows in the country. Linknode were present to display the new features of VentusAR v1.2 and to preview some of the new enhancements requested by our customers and partners. Watch this space for details on the new v1.3 release coming later in November.
It was great to catch up with existing contacts and meet new faces in the industry. Innovation is still developing and we are proud to be part of the green energy economy supply chain. We also got to see the National motorcycle Museum for the evening social. Congratulations to our winner of the Jura whisky.

Museums Association (Liverpool)
With just time for a change of presentation media we were back down the M74 and M6 to Liverpool for the annual Museums Association exhibition and conference at the BT Convention Centre on The Albert Docks.
MA 2013 was all about HistoryLens for Linknode. Being able to demonstrate GPS-based position triggered outreach and discovery apps for engagement and exploration across mobile platforms sparked immediate recognition and interest amongst all our visitors. Content integration with apps is high on the agenda for custodians and HistoryLens showed that highlighting to a digital demographic doesn’t have to be just another museum app; location and content can be perfectly married for accessibility.
Phil Redmond hosted the evening at The Museum of Liverpool with a passionate call to support the cultural economy locally and nationally.

AGI Showcase North (York)
With all our geospatial augmented reality solutions having foundations in spatial data management the Association of Geographic Information (AGI) events remain consistent in our calendars. The North (northern England!) event at the Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA) was well attended.
With the recent privatisation of the Post Office, the best presentation of the day was given by a passionate Dr Robert (Bob) Barr from Manchester Geomatics on the history, value and demise of the national address gazetteer as a publically owned (and potentially open) definitive dataset for the UK.
Linknode presented on the requirements for, and uses of OpenData and other sources for GIality, showing some novel visualisations and creating discussion and debate.

Next stop, Cardiff in a fortnight…

Ian’s First Linknode Blog…

New Beginnings

When I stepped down from SSE earlier in the summer one thing I was interested in was getting involved in some small companies and my involvement in Linknode represents the first move in this direction. It is also, for those people who know me, an apparently strange first move. After all I am the person who never had a PC in their office, believes that using calculators in exams is really cheating and spent most of his career trying to reduce IT spend. So why do I now appear to have got religion and got involved in an app developer?

My journey started three years ago when I bought my first iPad. Suddenly here was a piece of technology I both ‘got’ and could work. It made my life easier and changed how I went about doing business. I even bought my wife one for Christmas I was so taken with it. As a result I started looking more deeply at the digital revolution we are experiencing. I have read about digital disruption and big data and have bought numerous apps that give me, at my fingertips, information I find useful. The journey continued a year ago when I launched and judged the EnviroApp competition for Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group. Actually it was even my idea. The competition was to develop an app to improve SME engagement with sustainable development and there were six finalists. Linknode didn’t win but I was really impressed with their idea.

I stayed in contact with Crispin, George and the team as they developed VentusAR. The software involves the powerful combination of location, visualisation and mobility to allow you to see what a proposed wind farm (or indeed any other type of development) would actually look like from where you are standing and holding up your tablet computer. It beats the positively ancient static photo montage  on all counts. It’s cheaper for the developer, better for the local community who can see what they really want and more reliable for planners. What’s not to like?

As these discussions continued, the idea of me taking a stake and becoming Linknode’s first non-exec emerged. I heard about some of their other ideas such as HistoryLens and got even more interested and so when I eventually left SSE it was easy to accept their offer.

So that’s how a technophobe came to be invested in a technology company. I believe that digital is truly disruptive of many aspects of our modern life and wind farm development and planning are no exception. I hope to help Linknode develop its existing products as well as new ones allowing the creation of meaningful and sustainable jobs. Small, entrepreneurial companies are the lifeblood of our economy and if I can play a small part in helping some be successful that will be a source of pride and enjoyment.

Ian Marchant Joins Linknode as NXD

Announcement of Non-Executive Director

Linknode are delighted to welcome Ian Marchant, one of the UK energy sector’s leading figures, to the company. Ian, who joins us as a Non-Executive director, was Chief Executive of SSE, one of the UK’s leading utility companies and Scotland’s largest industrial organisation for over ten years. He stepped down from that position in the summer of 2013.

GB_IM_CH_smallLinknode Directors: George Banfill, Ian Marchant, Crispin Hoult

At Linknode our business is at the convergence of mobile technology and environmental impact so we have a natural overlap with some of Ian’s interests. It was timely that the change in his availability, and his enthusiasm for all things digital, coincided with our visionary GIality technology development (VentusAR and HistoryLens) and that allowed the relationship to come together. As a rapidly growing and developing technical company we are constantly challenged with balancing the day-day and looking to the future. Ian is personable, highly qualified, respected and hugely experienced. His ability to offer time and a non-technical input into an IT company whilst fully understanding and communicating our interests provides a great balance and will bring great opportunities.

Ian has added his role with Linknode to a growing list of prominent positions which include Chair of Scotland’s 2020 Climate Group, President of the Energy Institute, Senior Independent Director of the John Wood Group and Vice-Chairman of Maggie’s Charity.

Full press release here: Linknode – Appointment of Ian Marchant as NXD.pdf

TopoFly and Structure from Motion

Research in Visualisation
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Kieran Baxter on the use of aerial photography for digital production, survey, contextual interpretation and visual storytelling at the Centre for Stewardship in Falkland. This topic has a lot of potential touch points with Linknode’s HistoryLens project for reconstructive augmented reality and geospatial visualisation for landscape narratives.

White and Brown Caterthun Hillforts

Kieran is a PhD student at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. His work to date has been in the use of high- and low-altitude aerial photography for data capture and image interpretation (human) and analysis (computational). Specifically he uses kites and cameras for low-level oblique images allows for cost-effective and high-resolution data capture. Using fixed camera settings and timer-based continuous shooting allows for a lightweight, transportable kit to be used on almost any site (albeit weather permitting!). Pictures can be post-processed for landscape context and also for 3D terrain modelling.

Linknode’s GIality applications use digital terrain models (DTMs) from the Ordnance Survey (we have cloud-based databases containing national coverage of Terrain 50) and can incorporate other datasets and resolutions as required. Site specific DTMs are usually expensive to commission via techniques such as total station or GPS topographic survey, photogrammetry or LiDAR. For cultural and heritage sites Kieran described and demonstrated how multiple kite-captures images could be combined in Structure from Motion to create a point cloud and 3D model. In collaboration with Susie Green at UCL this approach has been used to create DTMs that can be visualised by other 3D systems.

Maiden Castle 3D Model

There is future potential in further reconstructive 3D modelling and visualisation from the real-world data for interpretation and narratives. We hope to stay in touch with Kieran to explore how geospatial AR could provide new mobile access and in-field visualisation for the models.

More information on this project and Kieran’s work can be seen at TopoFly (supported by the AHRC and Historic Scotland). Susie Green’s ArchaeologySFM has technical information and further examples of her work.

Announcing HistoryLens

HistoryLens: Call for Partners

Today at the Museums and Heritage Show at Olympia in London Linknode announced a call for partners to be part of the HistoryLens development programme.

HistoryLens is GIality for local museums and heritage trusts – taking collections digitally back into the field with geospatial augmented reality.  Using our 3D visualisation capabilities and positioning expertise the HistoryLens app will provide a location-based context for interpretation and sharing.  The vision is to create a personal content-rich “Without Walls” experience in the landscape and streetscape rather than enclose exhibits and stories. This will be a first for 3D scanned objects, with augmented reality given an in-field context for interpretation.

HistoryLens As part of Linknode’s expansion to make use of our core technology in new sectors, HistoryLens is part funded by Scottish Enterprise.  We are currently looking for up-to four partners who are enthusiastic to embrace new digital experiences, have location-based stories to tell, are part of local groups, have experience in outreach development and ideally with some 3D scanned object archives (though we can help with this).

If you would like to get involved with the call to action, we will be reviewing expressions of interest by email until the end of May.  Please initially contact info@linknode.co.uk with brief details of your organisation, location and history and we will be in touch to build on ideas and ideally bring groups together in June.