Brighton Digital Festival: Fiona's CDIT Open Studios Blog

16th September, 2016

Fi experiencing VR   use as blog thumbnail  Somebody from Wired Sussex took this image and Ive croped it

Following this year’s Brighton Digital Festival launch party, I attended a few of the 38 events hosted by 30 Creative, Digital & IT Companies based in and around Brighton. The events included workshops, drop-ins, demonstrations, talks, parties and even a games tournament.

My first stop was to Cogapp’s Experience Factory, which showcased their work for international galleries, libraries and collections such as MoMa, Qatar Digital Library and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Cogapp’s digital catalogues engage users and encourage them to interact and learn more about the collections. For example, Cogapp created a digital catalogue for The National Gallery, which allowed artworks to been seen in the context that the artist’s intended. This is particularly important for some artwork, such as the painting ‘The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein the Younger. As you can see from the images below, Hans Holbein the Younger painted a distorted skull at the bottom of the painting. The artist had painted the skull in such a way to showcase his artist talent and to appeal to the audience of the day who were fascinated with death. Art historians have concluded that the painting was designed to be hung in a stairwell, so that persons walking up the stairs and passing the painting on their left would be able to view the skull. But where it is hung at The National Gallery it is near impossible to get the gain the same perspective (unless you cross the security rope – and funnily enough they’re not happy about visitors doing this!) So Cogapp designed the gallery’s online space to allow users to tilt the painting to be able see the skull in all it’s glory.


(Pics of Holbein’s painting – credit Timeout and Suzy Walker-Toye )

Cogapp also create digital experiences that encourage users to visit the collections in person. For example, Cogapp have created digital versions of intricate artwork, which can be projected and viewed through a digital magnifying glass. Allowing visitors magnify the projected artwork to see the finer details. Enabling users to interact with historic artifacts and gain a better understanding of them without damaging the original.

After Cogapp, I made my way to The Unit’s studio, via The Loving Hut where I had an incredibly tasty vegan Chik'n Burger & chips.

The Unit hosted an evening of interesting talks and a Q&A session on messaging bots and AI. Most of us will have already come into contact with a chatbot before, either through Siri or Cortana and whether we like it or not chatbots are due to become more and more prevalent. Chatbots save customer’s time as they can instantly connect with brands rather than emailing or messaging them via social media and having to wait for a reply. The demand for instant interaction is growing, as it appeals to both customers and brands. Chatbots allow brands to instantly connect with their customers, answer their queries and therefore improve customer satisfaction levels.


(Bot demo pic – taken by @n__eil and posted on Twitter / pizza pic – taken from / office pic – taken by me)

The Unit showed a live demo of the chatbot they are developing, which can help users book a holiday. Try it out for yourself at

They detailed how the brain of the bot (the API) can be programmed to give the bot different personalities. This is will enable brands to interact with their customers in a way that reflects a brand’s tone of voice, which could help strengthen customer brand allegiance.

In addition, The Unit graciously ordered in a load of Pizzaface pizzas. I highly recommend the vegan ‘Thom Yorke’ pizza – creamy tomato and vegan cheese based topped with smoky vegan sausage!

The following day I visited Puree Design. Puree Design have been designing infographics for years. Their clients include the IOC, One Family and The Brighton Fuse Freelancers project. The two-hour workshop was hosted by their founder, Martine, who detailed the do’s and don’ts and some insider tips on how to plan an effective infographic. We learnt the importance of understanding the demographic you're targeting, what charts and tables display certain types of data best as well as the importance of context. Creating an infographic can be daunting, so it was really helpful to learn what to do when you’re confronted with a load of data and asked to present it as a clear and informative infographic.

Overall, I really enjoyed visiting just a snippet of this year’s CDIT open studios. I’m already looking forward to next year’s CDIT open studios! And remember, the Brighton Digital Festival continues throughout the whole of September so check out the list of upcoming events to find out if there’s any you’re interested in attending.


Words by Fiona 

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