Lancaster University

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Hollywood reception for star students

08/25/2006 13:36:30

left to right:Newton Lee, Will Bamford, Jurgen Scheible, Quincy Jones and Dr Alan Kay.
left to right:Newton Lee, Will Bamford, Jurgen Scheible, Quincy Jones and Dr Alan Kay.

A Lancaster University postgraduate who helped invent a pioneering mobile phone game has travelled to Hollywood to receive an award at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

PhD students Will Bamford and Omer Rashid were awarded the Computers in Entertainment Scholarship Prize 2006 from one of the world’s foremost computer societies, ACM, based in the US.

Both students have also been offered internships at the cutting edge of digital media technology at the Mixed Reality Lab in Singapore.

Only Will was able to travel to the US to collect the $15,000 team prize which was presented by Michael Jackson’s former record producer Quincy Jones, computer pioneer Dr Alan Kay and former Disney producer and Editor in Chief of ACM Computers in Entertainment Newton Lee.

Will said: “It was brilliant and great for my confidence because it makes me feel that the projects we work on are important outside academia. It also highlights the importance of publicising your research and making sure people hear about it.”

His whirlwind visit to Hollywood was tiring but well worth the journey.

“It was everything I imagined Hollywood to be. Nobody could believe that I’d walked there instead of coming by car! The room was full with all these glamorous people, probably there to see Quincy Jones who spoke about how important it is to find students with bright ideas.

“I got a lot of business cards and met the Head of Moving Pictures at Pixar, the company which made the film Toy Story, so that was fantastic. There’s a lot of scope to come up with ideas for a number of projects with the potential for investment. There are a lot of opportunities in Hollywood and Newton Lee talked about working with Disney Imagineering so it was a real eye-opener.”

Both Will and Omer Rashid are now planning their internships at the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore, which aims to push the boundaries of research into interactive new media technologies.

Their invention is the first game in the world to combine mobile phones with Radio Frequency Identification Tags. Called Pac-Lan, the mixed reality game enables players to keep track of each other’s position as they pursue each other.

Also sharing in the prize was Jurgen Scheible from the University of Art and Design in Finland. Other contributors to the paper which won the scholarship prize are Dr Paul Coulton and Dr Reuben Edwards from Lancaster University’s Department of Communications Systems at InfoLab21.