The Wall 2.0
Last year I was approached by a group of high school students interested in starting up an after school tech club. How could I refuse? Just over 25 years ago my own interest in technology was sparked at the very same school, ACS Hillingdon, London. Back in my day, it was a tech savvy music teacher, Mr Hein, who became my Apple mentor. He showed me the marvel that was (is) the Macintosh and sent me home with back issues of MacUser magazine. He went above and beyond to share his passion for technology and it opened up a new world for me which ultimately led to a career. Rick Hein would later become the High School Technology Integrationist and retired just last year from ACS. It’s been a privilege to have come back and worked alongside Rick so many years later and I count it an honour to be picking up the mantle, taking on the role of integrationist this year.
So last year the students gave themselves the ambitious name “Advanced Technology Club” and we set out on our first project. The “iPad Classic” is a hollowed out beige Mac Classic from 1990 with the screen replaced by a stripped down 1st generation iPad. It really is a piece of functional modern art and now sits in our Technology Museum to inspire younger students. It’s ironic that I likely used that very same Mac Classic in Mr Hein’s music room back in 1990. Soon after, we began planning our next project “The 100 iPad Wall”. The video speaks for itself and to my knowledge this is still the world’s record.
This academic year the club saw an influx of new members and if someone had challenged us to do another iPad wall I think we all would have passed as it’s as much a logistics exercise as a technical one. But in September we were approached by Apple to do just that for their 2015 Leadership Summit in London. Suddenly the challenge took on new purpose and, well, it’s hard to say no to Apple. The Wall 2.0 is a matrix of 48 iPads mounted on a custom made panoramic stand. What this wall lacks in size it makes up for in presentation and sophistication. The Wall 2.0 is driven by a Mac Pro using two AirPort Extreme AC base stations and is capable of responding to real time input from the Mac. Custom coded by the students using HTML, CSS and PHP, the iPads achieve their magic using nothing more than Safari and built-in accessibility functions of iOS.
The Wall 2.0 represents an impressive achievement by the club and is an outstanding example of group effort and fresh thinking. I’m incredibly proud of how this team has come together in such a short period time (under constant deadlines and corporate intellectual property constraints I may add) to deliver an inspiring solution. The club had the privilege of demoing their creation for the entire week of the Apple Leadership Summit to countless, stunned onlookers from around the world and was even invited to take the stage during the final keynote as the ‘one last thing’. Now how cool is that?