Wednesday 28 September 2016

The yawns are for fun at city's festival of curiosity

Published 24/07/2016 | 02:30

Festival of Curiosities
Festival of Curiosities

New ways of interacting with art, science and technology were being promoted with giant colouring walls for adults and virtual reality experiences yesterday.

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It was all part of the Festival of Curiosity taking place across 14 different venues in the capital this weekend.

With events divided into "Playful Days" and "Curious Nights", the festival is tailored to cater for younger and older audiences.

The theme of this year's festival is the connection between body and mind.

Audiences get a chance to monitor the effects of festival activities on their physical and emotional states through brainwave tracking and biosensor technology.

A carnival-style showcase was held in Merrion Square yesterday while hundreds filed through an urban garden on Wood Quay and there were giant bubbles and story telling in Dublin city centre.

Visitors got a chance to speak to people who have been behind the construction of everything from rocket launchers to movie props.

They also got an opportunity to glimpse into the future and get hands-on in the creation process of clever hacks and intriguing innovations with wood turners and ceramicists.

Younger members got to celebrate the arrival of Finding Dory in cinemas this week with a trail of riddles, puzzles, memory games and science as part of a treasure hunt that will continue today.

The phenomenon of adult colouring books has been tapped into with a pop-up urban escape in Temple Bar.

A colouring room was created so participants could relax and colour in a giant mural.

"We want to create a culture of curiosity in Dublin and beyond," says the festival's co-founder Vince McCarthy.

However, the organisers also tapped into a more relaxing realm by creating an artificial intelligence that can identify yawns.

The Yawn Chorus is able to recognise them during, or even before the yawn strikes.

Visitors are encouraged to relax and listen to a computer play melodies constructed purely out of the yawns of guests.

As the festival progresses, the computer will learn more and more about identifying yawns.

It will become smarter in predicting and also evoking them.

While the artificial intelligence captures more yawns, it is actually capturing more 'instruments' for its orchestra, say organisers.

Sunday Independent

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