PocketPC’ing Henri Rousseau at Tate Modern

So, last night Maryam and I went to the Tate Modern museum here in London. Wonderful modern art museum. Had a great time. Got inspired. And all that. But, while there, I rented a “multimedia tour” of the Henri Rousseau exhibit.

This was a cool Toshiba PocketPC that had an audio tour with occassional video and photos. Nicely done! I wish I could meet the developer of it.

Yes, the rest of the museum ran on Windows too! :-) I’m a geek. Shoot me.

RSS drives Reuters lobby’s screen

We just got back from the wonderful Global Voices conference which was held in Reuters’ Headquarters. We met bloggers from around the world (we met Hossein Derakhshan, aka Hoder, the famous Iranian blogger, among many other talented bloggers from around the world like Dina Mehta of India who was blogging the event). What a great way to end our tour through Europe. I predict that this conference will soon be a lot bigger than the 100 attendees that were here today.

Anyway, while there I got to talking with Ivan Newman, head of internal service for Reuters. Quickly I learned that he has worked at Reuters for 18 years and knows tons of people and things about Reuters. He has a wealth of knowledge about Reuters. Anyway, Reuters just moved into this headquarters back in May, so I asked him “what is the coolest thing about this building.”

Without hesitation he said the lobby screen. I wish I had my camera (our batteries were dead) but it’s a huge screen right behind the reception area when you walk in. Something like 30 or 40 feet wide.

We talked a bit more (I learned there’s enough cable in the building to stretch from London to Los Angeles, for instance) and then Maryam and I went off to attend sessions at the conference.

Later Ivan came up to me and had Matt Hassock with him. He’s technical operations manager for Reuters. Matt is the one who had the screen built, so knew more about it. He said he’d turned it on just to show me, so we went downstairs.

This is one hell of a screen. It cost 600,000 pounds (about $1 million). It’s made up of millions of five-color LEDs. But that’s not the cool part.

It’s a Flash app running on a Windows XP box. Matt tells me the box has not been restarted since it was turned on in May. But, that’s not the cool part, either. The app, every few minutes, checks with one of Reuters’ news servers around the world. It’s like a big RSS Aggregator. While we were standing there it checked with the server in Russia, pulled down several photos and news headlines and displayed those. It had a cool animation that showed which city it was displaying, then you saw current news headlines flying across the screen.

Ivan said they wanted a corporate showpiece that would subtly remind visitors of Reuter’s business and brand. I’d say it does that, and more.

Oh, and they have two of these screens. A second screen displays news and market prices from around the world to the public square outside of Reuters’ headquarters.

Now we’re off to visit the London geek dinner.