Four Corners

Four Corners allows a photographer to add context to their photographs and is a collaboration between Open Lab, the World Press Photo Foundation, based in Amsterdam, and the International Centre for Photography, New York.

Four Corners shows the reader before and after frames, the backstory, technical and copyright information and links to even more. All of this is accessed by rolling over or swiping through the four corners of the picture.

Readers and subjects can add their own perspectives and even attach audio and video content to the photograph using Four Corners Plus. This technology also gives the reader control over how they filter this new material, and can also see how the photograph has been altered from the photographer’s original – something which has enormous implications for improving trust and reliability within the media.

This ability to verify authenticity and provenance of photographs has never been possible but by using distributed ledger technologies (such as those that BitCoin is built on) researchers at Open Lab have, for the first time in the history of photography, found a way.


Accessible and validation methods for collecting and assessing dietary information is critical to the many public health interventions. Traditionally, a nutritionist interview participants to capture what has been consumed in the previous 24 hours, and this is repeated several times to estimate average consumption. To conduct such interviews at scale requires large numbers of trained nutritionists, who use their expertise to probe for additional information which is often missed or forgotten. To analyse dietary information, each food and amount is then manually coded and entered into a database to produce the nutritional output, a process which is timely, expensive and can be prone to error.

Intake24 is a free multilingual online dietary capture and analysis tool which provides the same quality of data at a significantly lower cost. Based on the multiple-pass 24 hour recall method, the system enables participants to input all food and drink consumed, estimate portion size using visual guides, and review their input at each stage. The system has been designed to ask a series of prompt questions if food or drink items are considered missing, such as “did you have any butter on your toast?”

Intake24 automatically links to the food composition data and the weight of the food from the chosen portion size to calculate the nutritional output. The data from dietary surveys using Intake24 is available online and can be downloaded straight into a spreadsheet for easy analysis.

This research aims to enhance the six week Match Fit programme currently delivered by Newcastle United Foundation (NUF) to primary aged pupils in the North East. This programme is successful in raising the activity and awareness food intake in its participants.

The project uses inexpensive fitness trackers (Xiaomi Mi Bands) to evidence behaviour change through reporting on step counts during the Match Fit programme.

Students will engage with activities that encourage food intake recall to further support the Match Fit programme and evidence changes in nutrition. – Band and design drawings

C-Card Condom Finder

Young people in the North East will be able to find places to access free condoms and sexual health information, thanks to an app generated using App Movement, Open Lab’s app-development platform.

The C-Card Condom Finder app allows users to find and review places they can use their C-Cards. C-Cards are available for free to anyone under the age of 25 across the North East, and give young people access to free condoms and sexual health information, with these services provided by a large number of participating outlets.

Mark Hedley, the C-Card Coordinator for Newcastle upon Tyne, explained:

“The C-Card Scheme is often the first experience young people have of accessing a service to discuss relationships and sexual health with a trained professional. Many young people coming along to C-Card outlets are not having sex yet but appreciate the opportunity to talk things through with an understanding member of staff and have access to free condoms as and when they need them.

“For young people the C-Card Condom Finder app will allow them to find out where their local C-Card outlets are and give them an opportunity to give instant feedback on how they felt they were supported whilst using their C-Card; outlets will then be able to use this information to influence service provision to meet the needs of all young people.”

The app was generated through App Movement, a platform developed at Open Lab, Newcastle University, which allows people to collaboratively commission and design their own apps. Anyone can begin by creating a campaign and gathering 150 supporters who can then collaboratively design and customize features of the app, including its name, the colour scheme and the criteria for rating locations. The app is then automatically generated by the platform and released on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Using the App Movement platform meant that young people were involved in the actual design process of their app. This fits within Open Lab’s interest in digital civics – using technology to empower citizens.

Andy Garbett is a researcher at Open Lab and developed the App Movement platform. He explained:

“The partnership between the C-Card scheme and Open Lab is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on the sexual health initiative in the North East and enable young people to be more actively involved in the delivery of their C-Card service.

“Our digital civics research at Open Lab focuses on enabling citizens to take a leading role in the provision of community services. The App Movement platform allows a bottom-up approach to commissioning mobile applications and supporting communities in sharing their experiences with others. The C-Card Condom Finder app is a great example of how service users can shape the design and delivery of the services they utilise.”

Although most areas in the UK have schemes to provide free contraception and sexual health advice to young people, these schemes are currently fragmented, and coverage varies from region to region. The C-Card Condom Finder app has the potential to provide a single network of free condom providers.

How to Make A Music Video ‘Zine

Drawing upon previous fieldwork in Cape Town, we produced a lo-fi, easily-reproducable, field-guide/manual in the form of a ‘zine entitled ‘how to make a music video’. The ‘zine is available both as a hard-copy, distributed via Hype Magazine (a Cape Town-based underground hip-hop magazine) and is also available as a free pdf online.





The guide features illustrations by Guy Schofield, which are based on the ‘cinehacks’ we field-tested in Cape Town in February 2014.





Each hack is contextualised and illustrated further with stills from the music videos we co-produced in Cape Town.








Red Tales: A Participatory Interactive Documentary

Red Tales is a participatory interactive documentary about red squirrel conservation in the UK. It is composed entirely of user-generated content from diverse and geographically separated conservation communities across the UK. It features a variety of video, image, sound and text-based content, representing contributions from over 40 individuals. A unique, dynamically-generated introduction sequence (composed from the user-generated content) sets the scene for the documentary and introduces a suite of interactive navigational tools that help audiences explore and create their own interpretations of the content.

Rather than being a ‘standalone’ film, Red Tales integrates with existing ecologies, both online (via social media) and offline (via different co-located communities). Users can ‘curate’ and share collections of existing content, as well as add new content to the “living” documentary. Our aim was to reflect the heterogeneity of the content as well as the ‘unresolved’ nature of the topic. Thus, rather than presenting a linear narrative, audiences are invited to explore and contribute to the documentary through a technical framework and an interaction paradigm that builds equally upon current research in documentary/media studies and social computing, and pioneering interactive documentaries (e.g. Bear71 / 18 Days in Egypt).

Red Tales was produced through participatory workshops and developed in response to an ethnographic study of the red squirrel conservation community that revealed its inherent diversity, shared concerns and hundreds of individuals’ stories. The collaborative, multidisciplinary and participatory approach used in the development of the film demonstrates the potential of a new configuration for academic and third sector engagement, developed by the AHRC Creative Exchange Knowledge Exchange Hub. Furthermore, our ambitious, experimental filmmaking process yielded valuable insights into the practicalities of media production within the ‘digital economy’, particularly in relation to forging new experiences, supporting grassroots communities and production methods for co-creative, non-linear documentary narratives.

Affinity – Create4Dementia Hack

Affinity Mobile App


The Create4Dementia hack event hosted 50+ hackers with skills in software, design and healthcare to develop innovative technologies for those living with dementia in 24 hours. The team from Open Lab – Team Sonar – consisted of Andy Garbett, Ed Jenkins, Dan Richardson, Tom Nappey and Reuben Kirkham were awarded with the ‘Most Provocative Concept’ by the judges for their prototype location tracking and ambient display.

The day began with orientation presentations from leading experts in the field of health research around dementia, local care providers and technologists. During these presentations it became apparent we as care providers and developers of technology are quick to use technology on, rather than with, those living with dementia without considering the impacts this may have. Therefore the Affinity concept aims to turn the tables and enforce that carers use an app that records their location and makes that available to the person living with dementia through an ambient display.

The Affinity prototype consists of an ambient display that can be used as a clock face as well as a display that shows the person living with dementia an abstracted overview of where family members are and how close they might be to their current location. They can then send a notification to the carer’s smartphone who will then be prompted to contact their loved one. The second part of the system is the quantification of care in which care providers are being tracked and statistics are used to critically encourage competition between care providers and empower the person living with dementia.

The concept of tracking the those who track others raised questions around the negative implications of what might happen in the future and opened the debate into how we should proceed in the area of tracking those living with dementia.

Create4Dementia Open Lab Team

App Movement – Community Commissioning of Mobile Technologies

Start your app movement today.

App Movement is a platform that was developed at Open Lab which enables any individual, community or organisation to propose, design and automatically generate a multi-platform mobile application.

The platform raises research questions around the implications of community commissioning for mobile technologies as well as the use of technology to centralise, vocalise and design for issues within communities to support civic action.

App Movement is a platform that allows anyone with an app idea to start a campaign and gather support from the community. Much like crowdfunding platforms, such as Kick Starter, the campaign must hit a target number of supporters in order to confirm there is a real demand behind the idea. This target also ensures that the app will have a sufficient number of users who are ready to contribute content and promote the app. Once the app has reached it’s target it will enter the design phase whereby supporters can contribute towards the app name, colour scheme and rating options as well as vote on submissions made by other members. This democratic process allows every community member to have an equal say on the final design of the app. Once this phase is complete the idea moves to the final phase where the mobile app is automatically generated using the design features voted for by the community.

Watch the video to see how it works or click here to find out more.


Bootlegger is a revolutionary new tool for shooting live event videos using mobile phones. Musicians and fans can connect using Bootlegger to produce high-quality multi-camera concert fi­lms. Bootlegger acts as director and producer, coordinating camera operators, suggesting shots and collecting footage. During the gig, the Bootlegger app allocates shots according to where you are in the venue. Fans at the front might be asked to grab closeups while those at the back are given wide shots. For consistency, example compositions are shown as overlays on the screen.
To keep things interesting, Bootlegger suggests different shots and compositions guaranteeing great coverage. Operators are automatically set to ‘go live’ by the app and warned if another phone can’t get a shot, meaning no gaps. After the show Bootlegger uploads videos to the cloud automatically and securely, enabling musicians to keep control of their live content. Any number of phones can be used for a single event. Shows can be private, with an invited team or made public so any audience member with a smartphone can participate.

  • Bootlegger is part of a project exploring the democratization of music production: musicians are using digital tools to take control of their recording and distribution.
  • Bootlegger enables music fans and musicians to collaborate seamlessly, providing a forum where everyone’s creative input can be judged on its own terms.
  • Bootlegger teaches film-making conventions to non-expert users: we are exploring whether the resulting videos are more persuasive, more engaging and more powerful as a promotional tool.


Cinehack is about hacking film. It’s about the stuff you won’t learn at film school…

Cinehack’s aim is to support lo/no-budget filmmakers and provide a place to gain and share insights which might be interesting to newbie movie-makers and cinematic old-hats alike; all the while building a community of ‘cinehackers’ who can share knowledge and ideas. We also provide links to the many other areas of relevant activity elsewhere on the web, through more general sites such as Instructables, LifeHacker and other ‘maker’ communities. Cinehack covers many of the complex, expensive and difficult technical aspects of film-making, from quadcopter aerial shots to building a motion control rig for <£100. Some of these techniques we’ve developed ourselves, some we’ve borrowed from clever people who weren’t afraid to improvise and refused to be constrained by budget, contacts or imagination!