Showing all posts tagged #portfolio:

DNA Disco shows you which endangered animal you dance like and how you can protect it

Posted on May 30th, 2015

Shake your booty, save the penguin.

DNA Disco is a free mobile app to raise awareness of wildlife conservation by telling you which endangered animal you dance like, for example "you dance like a panda". It converts your dance moves into a DNA sequence, which is then searched against a database of real genes from endangered species to find the best match. You'll see the animal's conservation status and be able to support organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect the animal and its habitat.

TRY IT NOW: go to on your phone, press “Let’s Dance" and start dancing.

The challenge

The world’s endangered species are getting more endangered every day: we’ve lost 50% of the world's wildlife over the last 40 years.

Wildlife conservation isn't just something for fluffy bunny lovers. We're all affected by this. Saving wildlife means saving habitats and ecosystems. Ecosystems provide humans with clean air, pure water, food, medicines and raw materials such as wood. In 1997, these ecosystem services were valued at US$33 trillion per year, although the true value of the natural world is infinite because we can't live without it.

How can we create a real sense of urgency about this, without just scaring people away? And how can we do this most among the generation with the most to lose, young people worldwide?

The opportunity

DNA Disco is an idea for creating viral awareness among young people by tapping into things they already love: music, dance and social sharing. In just a few seconds, anyone can relate their own dance moves to the world’s endangered species. With just a bit of funding, we could start a movement.

Next steps

I have a beta version that works — you can try it at I want to improve this beta version by focussing on making it easier to understand, use and share.

What’s the app like?

Open the app. Do your dance. And in a few seconds, your moves are translated into a DNA sequence and matched to one of 14 endangered species.

Suddenly, you find you’re dancing like a panda. Or a snow leopard. Or a polar bear.

It simple, it’s physical, and it’s fun. It’s designed for sharing.

How it works

DNA Disco is a simple HTML5 game that matches movements made with a mobile phone to sequences of DNA belonging to endangered species. Once they’ve been matched with an animal the player is encouraged to adopt that animal through the WWF or sign up for WWF membership. Players are also able to share their result on social media.

The app uses open data from the European Nucleotide Archive. Genes are selected based on their relevance to the organism, for example the high density of myoglobin in dolphin muscle allows dolphins to stay underwater for long periods.

Plate Gain

Posted on September 18th, 2014

Every year, more than 600,000 tonnes of food is wasted in UK hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants. Plate Gain is a simple technological innovation that will help the hospitality sector automate waste monitoring, as recommended by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Automating the capturing of food waste data is more labour efficient, energy efficient, accurate, affordable and scalable than existing food waste solutions. We believe that Plate Gain is a real game changer.


According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 600,000 tonnes of food is wasted in the UK hospitality industry every year. Some of this is made up of things like peelings, cores and bones, but the majority is (or once was) perfectly good food. WRAP research indicates that by not throwing away good food (and diverting food waste such as peelings, bones etc. to anaerobic digestion) pubs restaurants and hotels in the UK could save more than £720 million a year.

Around a third of this waste is food left on plates by consumers, which amounts to 200,000 tonnes with a value of £235 million.

To reduce this "plate waste",
WRAP recommend benchmarking current waste by weighing and categorising all plate waste over the course of a week. Food premises can then experiment with measures such as reducing portion sizes, and at a later date repeat the benchmarking process to see if waste has been reduced.

The problem with WRAP's recommendation is that it is a labour-intensive process that is slow, costly in staff time and error-prone, particularly at busy times.

The solution is to automate the weighing and categorisation process. By taking digital photograph of the plate as food is scraped into bins, Plate Gain uses secure cloud-based image processing technology to identify the food. By weighing the bin using electronic scales, Plate Gain ascertains its weight and approximate value.


Plate Gain’s potential impact on the hospitality sector is both financial and repetitional. Plate Gain saves restaurants money by reducing the purchase and preparation costs of food that would
otherwise be wasted. It is much cheaper than alternative manual processes. It is more accurate and can be run continuously. Reductions in plate waste are good for the brand in terms of corporate social responsibility. Unlike Plate Gain’s competitors, the system requires no change in staff behaviour so training costs are minimised. Airlines and cruise ships may realise additional costs savings through reduced fuel consumption as food weight is reduced.

The revenue model is a monthly subscription with free hardware. Additionally, Plate Gain has the option to sell consulting services and anonymised data. Plate Gain’s entry strategy is to target commercial food businesses and public sector food premises. Revenues from commercial food businesses, such as restaurants and pubs, will be used to subsidise public sector organisations such as schools and prisons.

The social impact is reduced food waste, leading to reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transport and landfill sources. These and other factors will become increasingly important as the global population approaches a peak of 9.5 billion people around 2050.

Food Waste Hero

Posted on January 23rd, 2014

Food Waste Hero is an early-stage prototype project for schools to raise awareness of food waste through behavioural economics, storytelling, design and technology. It features a Raspberry Pi connected device to weigh kitchen food waste bins and shows how households are doing compared to the UK average.

UK households waste 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes we purchase.

The core of the project is a device to "nudge" families to waste less. Many local authorities in the UK require domestic waste to be separated, so many households have a separate bin for food waste in their kitchen. By weighing this bin automatically, and giving real-time feedback on the device itself and on a web application about how the family is doing compared to the UK average, students learn about where food comes from and where waste ends up.

Food Waste Hero also includes a cartoon to portray the journey of a single banana from a plantation in Ecuador to a home in the UK. Connecting facts and figures to people and places encourages systems thinking, while stories engage our empathy and imagination.

In addition to showcasing interaction design, the Internet of Things (IoT) and behavioural economics, the prototype gives students the opportunity to build, test and modify a product that serves a real social and environmental need.

The following presentation was given to NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) in June 2013 in Cambridge UK - the presentation is also available with speaker notes:

Channelling the Magic: Applying Improvised Theatre to UX Design - Cambridge November 2012

Posted on November 29th, 2012

I’m running a workshop with Clare Kerrison today at UX Cambridge 2012 on Channelling the Magic: Applying Improvised Theatre and Comedy to UX Design:
Improvised theatre skills help us access our creativity, to work collaboratively and with more empathy. Watching and playing good improvised theatre can feel like magic. In this session you will learn the basic techniques improvisers use to co-create something from nothing, a vocabulary to describe your experiences, and how to apply these techniques in your design work. You will experience the wonderful, visceral “yes and" feeling of collaborative co-creation, where ideas emerge rapidly and spontaneously to deliver results whose value often far exceeds the sum of individual contributions. Using the same basic techniques, you will even learn how to develop your own ideas to their full potential in your solo work. You’ll also have a lot of fun!

Thursday 29 November 2012 17:00 - 18:30 at Kaetsu Educational & Cultural Centre.

Speed Sketching - UX Cambridge November 2011

Posted on November 9th, 2011

I’m running a workshop with Francis Rowland at UX Cambridge 2011 on Speed Sketching:
We've all been there - we stare at something for a long time, but still a solution doesn't come.

This can happen to anyone who's working on a user interface or a way of visualising information, especially if we work on it for a long time. We can do our best to design for a good user experience, but something that isn't clear or doesn't make sense in the user interface can break that experience quickly.

Features become familiar, and we stop seeing them in the way that a new user might. Sometimes, we need a fresh pair of eyes, just to give us that boost.

We would like to propose a speed sketching session as a way to directly help people who are stuck on some issue like this. It is not a session where the participants are necessarily taught anything new, at least, not by us, and it isn't about sketching skills as such. Instead, it is about communication and interpreting ideas - something critical to good user experience design.

Following a structure that is (broadly!) like speed dating, participants are placed together in threes, with one participant presenting their problem for a given amount of time (usually 10 minutes). After that time, a whistle blows, and we rotate people around the roo:m one group stays at the table (always); another group rotates clockwise; the remaining group rotates anti-clockwise. Another participant gets to present and discuss their problem, and so on.

We have found that this allows better management of numbers and more opportunity for synergy between participants.

We manage the session, and keep everything moving along. Coloured stickers help participants (and us!) remember who should rotate which way.

We can help teams who need it, and make suggestions as necessary.

Given enough time, we would like to finish off with a couple of the participants talking briefly about any progress they have made.
Friday 11 November 2011 09:00 - 10:30 at Clare College.

Antony Quinn

Technology consultant, actor & improviser.