Uniform’s HQ is like Willy Wonka’s factory for creative tech

Martin Bryant, October 21, 2016 3 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

I recently called into the offices of Uniform, a creative consultancy in Liverpool known for really imaginative projects. While I’ve been impressed by their work for years, I’ve rarely had a chance to write about it, so it was good to get a chance to go hands-on.

Uniform’s HQ showcases some of the company’s most original work a bit like WIlly Wonka’s factory sans Oompa Loompas. I gleefully took a tour while snapping away with my camera. Here are some of my favourites from the projects on display.

Solo: A.I. with emotion

Solo is an emotional jukebox. It recognises your mood based on your facial expression and then finds a suitable song for the emotion you’re feeling.

Microsoft and Spotify APIs are at work here, and it’s bundled into a box that looks more like an end-of-the-pier attraction than a tech demo. The idea was to take a deep dive into humans’ relationship with A.I. Solo made its debut last month at the London Design Festival.

I gave it a go…

Grip

Not many offices have a climbing wall, but Uniform is an exception. It helps to demonstrate Grip – a concept they took to this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Grip by Uniform

Using RFID wristbands and virtual reality, Grip is designed to help climbers improve their technique.

This video explains it best:

IoT with simplicity

Uniform's Weather Systems

Why do Internet of Things devices need to be complicated? Sometimes simple is best. This project takes Dark Skies’ weather data and turns it into easily understood signals.

Similarly, this was one of three devices designed for lightweight communication over long distances. Imagine a loved one was working away from home and rather than have a long chat, you just wanted to know they were okay once in a while.

The particular unit below knocks as a way of simply saying ‘hello.’ I suppose it could also be used as an update to the song ‘Knock Three Times,’ too.

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Uniform has also created this cricket news device, called Howzat. Shaped like a wicket, it reacts to match news in different, animated ways.

Postcard Player

The Postcard Player blurs the line between digital music and the physical world in a fun way. The project is one of Uniform’s earliest creative technology experiments and dates back to 2012, when I wrote about it at The Next Web.

Machine-readable ink encodes postcards with audio data that can be played back by a special device. The technique was even used to create an interactive poster advertising live music.

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Uniform creates projects like this both as artistic ‘conversation starters’ and to inspire existing clients and attract new ones. Who knows, maybe one day the company will take the next step and release one their ideas as a commercial product – something fellow Liverpool agency Draw & Code is doing with Swapbots.

Even if they don’t take that step, I’ll still look forward being impressed and excited by Uniform’s inventive work in the future.

Liverpool, North West, Digital Entertainment, Early Stage