A Portal has opened in Monroe Park

So, Richmond has a portal — an audiovisual-equipped enclosure that allows people around the world to connect and talk as though they are in the same room. It’s big and gold and sitting in the middle of Monroe Park.

How does it work? How long will it be here? VCU News spoke with Karen Manning, Richmond portal ambassador, to learn more about the city’s mystery box.

Portals come in all shapes and sizes. Richmond’s is a shipping container.

Portals are one of a suite of projects from Shared Studios, a Brooklyn, New York-based art, design and technology company. There are dozens of portals around the world. Most, like the one in Richmond, are shipping containers. Others can be inflatable cubes or a set of screens placed in a room. Andy Stefanovich, who first brought TEDxRVA to Richmond, is funding the project. 

The portals all function the same, Manning said. They are enclosed spaces outfitted with technology to allow the user to speak with, and see, someone in another portal.

“But what makes it different from Skype is you are connected with people you normally wouldn’t connect with — you don’t get on Skype and say, ‘I’m randomly going to talk to someone in another country,’” Manning said. “So the portal connects you with people you would never otherwise connect with.”

Manning (in purple jacket) and a group of Shared Studios staff and volunteers, stand outside the portal in Monroe Park. (Photo by Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

When you enter the portal, you come face to face with someone in another part of the world.

This is where the magic happens, Manning said. The interior of the portal appears basic — a small, semi-climate controlled room covered in gray carpet with a wall-sized black video screen. But that environment gives the user a full-body, face-to-face connection. You walk in and start talking to the person on the screen, Manning said. It’s that simple.

“Some people, when they are a little hesitant, we’ll give them a prompt,” Manning said. “What inspired you today? Or, maybe we’re connected to Berlin. Do you have a question about Berlin? We help them find a comfort level and we go from there.”

Usually most people want to engage, she said.

“One of the VCU Police officers stopped by and we were connected to Mexico City. He went in and I introduced him,” Manning said. “And the curators in Mexico City went out on the street — they are in a very big plaza in Mexico City — and got a police officer and he came in and they translated and [the officers] talked about policing, what it’s like to police on the VCU campus and what it’s like to be a police officer in Mexico. They loved it.” 

The portal will remain in Monroe Park until April 30. (Photo by Allen Jones, University Marketing)

Starting this week, Richmond’s portal will be open 10-15 hours a week for walk-ins or timed reservations.

People can learn more about the portal schedule at www.sharedstudios.com/richmond. They also can request to connect with other portals and pitch event and program ideas by emailing richmond@sharedstudios.com, Manning said. 

“I had a group of school kids from another country, they wanted to speak with a group of kids here about Shakespeare,” she said. 

Other planned events could include yoga and meditation classes, Manning said. She also sees the portal as a space to facilitate topical discussions. Manning is working to set up a connection between the Richmond portal and portals in Berlin and Afghanistan to discuss monuments and memorials. Another conversation, with participants in Kigali, Rwanda, would focus on the idea of peace and reconciliation. 

“We also want to bring in school groups to do show-and-tell with people in different countries,” Manning said. “And then there’s just the magic of open hours, the meals, the conversations — I can bring my dinner into the portal and have dinner with someone in Mexico. We get a table for six and I bring my dinner, they bring their dinner. And it looks like one long table and you sit there and have a meal and talk about whatever you want to talk about.”

The portal will leave Monroe Park at the end of April. But it will remain in Richmond longer.

The portal will be in the park until April 30, and then moved to three other local sites throughout the year, Manning said. 

“We are asking the community for their ideas,” she said. “We want to make sure the whole community has access to it. We might want to move it south of the river, or up in northern Church Hill. We’re trying to challenge ourselves on where we can place it so a different group of people can access it.”

A Great Divide: Bronx Students Engage in Cultural Exchange with Kentucky Students

In a trailer behind University Heights High School, is a giant inflatable room. Inside, students talk through a video link with other students 670 miles away.

The teenagers on the screen attend Floyd Central High School in rural coal mining Eastern Kentucky, a region that politically and demographically is the exact opposite of the South Bronx.

Although they are opposite ends of a great divide, the students say they've come to deeply care for one another.

"We had a great connection at school but then once we met them it was like oh my god wait you’re my family," says Julia Holness, a student at University Heights High School.

They met in Kentucky for a week in October. Now they're counting the days until the Floyd Central students visit the Bronx.

It's all part of a course the students are taking built around cultural exchange, developed by an international non-profit, Narrative 4.

“We work with students and educators around the world to bridge those divides and show one another that we are human, at the core level," says Kelsey Roberts of Narrative 4.

The inflatable projector room is from tech startup Shared Studios in Brooklyn. Narrative 4 is funded by George Soros, the progressive philanthropist. The foundation of conservative billionaire Charles Koch funded this specific exchange project.

"Our students are able to be exposed to different people, different ways of life," Principal Hazel Joseph-Roseboro of University Heights High School says.

The Bronx students say they were shocked to learn just how much they have in common with their Kentucky counterparts, even as they addressed and talked through their differences.

"We kind of acknowledge the elephant in the room and we just had conversations about politics and things that are affecting us as a country from two different places," says Omar Khan, a student at University Heights High School.

The blow-up chat room, they add, helps to facilitate the connection.

"You just feel so isolated from everything around you. And even just getting the full body with the projector, you actually feel like you are sitting next to that person, you are engaging in the conversation," Holness says.

The students have decided to work together on a project about the stigma attached to mental illness. This is a problem they say their communities share. 

The class is a pilot project, and the hope is to expand this exchange program, with bouncy-castle like chat rooms building 21-Century bridges bridges between students all over the country.

Read the original here.

The Cornell Daily Sun: Mayor Myrick Discusses 2016 Election, Donald Trump Through Portal to Mexico City

The Cornell Daily Sun: Mayor Myrick Discusses 2016 Election, Donald Trump Through Portal to Mexico City

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 was transported to Mexico City, Mexico on Thursday by visiting the Portal at Cornell, speaking about U.S. international relations during the Trump presidency with political consultant Luis Daniel Perez Vazquez.

“In the age of Trump — which is an age of people putting up walls and deciding that national identity is more important than your identity as a human being — anything that can bring you face to face with somebody who is very different from you and makes you feel like you have more in common than what separates you is a good thing,” Myrick said, in an interview with The Sun.

Weekend Note: The Adelaide Portal

Source: https://www.weekendnotes.com/the-adelaide-portal/ 

What better fun can you have in a shipping container?


Welcome to The Adelaide Portal - a Gold Shipping Container
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New York tech company, Shared Studios, has set up its first Australian portal at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital. The Adelaide Portal is sponsored by Renewal SA, the government's Department for Parties to 'activate' the site while it starts to demolish the non heritage listed buildings on the site. It follows on from an earlier activation event, The Hive at the RAH.

Portals are a world wide phenomenon created by Shared Studios. They are a series of installations that allow people to interact with others in real time through connected portals around the world. The distinctive gold painted shipping containers used as portals are filled with immersive technology. Shared Studios promise that when you enter a portal, you will come face-to-face with someone in a distant portal "live and full-body, as if in the same room".

The free Adelaide Portal was first seen at Hybrid World Adelaide at Tonsley in October last year. It must have made an impression then, now finding a new home at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital in Adelaide's east end. 

You'll Find the Adelaide Portal at the Former Royal Adelaide Hospital in the East End
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When you enter the gold painted portal, you have the opportunity to meet with people in other portals around the world free of charge. From New York to Palestine, from universities to refugee camps, the shipping container portal lets users immerse themselves in real-time conversations to entertain, challenge and delight. Fortunately it's not at all like the random conversations that Microsoft Netmeeting brought a few years back, when you were just as likely to get an x-rated encounter.

While the portal at the former Royal Adelaide Hospital is housed in a gold shipping container, there are around 20 other portals operating in the world at any given time. Some of the others are also in shipping containers, but there is also a portal businflatable portals, and portal screens.

The Adelaide Portal can fit four adults comfortably at a time, or more if the people are children. You can communicate however you like while you're online - talk, dance, sing or draw, it's up to you. If a translator is needed, one will be provided. It is possible to connect to more than one location at once, but normally one destination works best.

It's recommended that you book in advance to use the free Adelaide Portal. Bookings are made in 20 minute slots, and the Shared Studios booking website will show you which part of the world the portal connects through at the time of your booking. It's possible to choose times from Thursday to Saturday until March, with the full schedule available when booking.


Public Consultation on the RAH Future in 2013

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For more information about the Adelaide Portal, head over to the Adelaide Riverbank Facebook page. There's much more about the portal and its origin on the Shared Studios website, or you can just book your time here.

During February and March the Adelaide portal will be hosting the Fringe on World Tour event and be open on some Saturdays at differing times. Check the Facebook event website - plenty of entertainment, food, and drink will be on hand, stay tuned for more details.

After you have finished making new friends around the world in the portal, why not take a look at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, and take a last look at how it once was. Its future is still unknown at this time, despite several public consultations and a worldwide competition. Most people believe that the site should remain in the hands of the community, an extension of the existing cultural boulevard, rather than being wasted on housing. 

InAVate: Interview: How are ‘Portals’ making the world a smaller place?

InAVate: Interview: How are ‘Portals’ making the world a smaller place?

A Portal is essentially a gold space – more often than not a shipping container but they come in numerous forms: inflatable rooms, repurposed huts, a single screen, even a bus. Walk inside and generally you’ll find an NEC short-throw projector, Biamp Devio microphones and Community loudspeakers. Behind the scenes Zoom videoconferencing is at work. All manufacturers are working as sponsors of the project.

Technically Baltimore: How a shipping container is connecting strangers around the world

Technically Baltimore: How a shipping container is connecting strangers around the world

A hackathon set to be held next week is bringing together students and medical workers in Baltimore and Gaza City.

It won’t involve travel. Instead, the key to link lies within a gold shipping container.

Known as Portals, the retired cargo transport vessels allow groups of people from different sides of the world to sit down for a conversation.



The proposition next to the radiant, gold-painted shipping container is simple and inviting. "Portals" the sign reads. "Step inside and engage people around the world, live, as if in the same room."

From a sun-drenched quad on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, Portal visitors are transported—with the help of a floor-to-ceiling video screen and immersive audiovisual technology—to a location outside Erbil, Iraq, where four men sit inside another Portal.

USIP: How 'Peace Tech' is Changing Global Conflict

USIP: How 'Peace Tech' is Changing Global Conflict

As technological innovation develops at a blistering pace, it has fundamentally altered how conflicts develop and play out, and how peacebuilders prevent and mitigate violence. Throughout history, technology has driven warfare and international security. To take one example, the development of nuclear weapons led to the doctrine of mutually assured destruction as the prevailing norm of the Cold War era. For centuries, however, most of this technology was only available to states. Today, individuals are empowered by technology to have a voice in international affairs and instantly connect with people on issues of convergence, according to USIP and technology experts speaking at PeaceTech Lab’s annual summit on May 8.

Greenwich Time: Greenwich Academy teachers stop by South by Southwest

Greenwich Time: Greenwich Academy teachers stop by South by Southwest


Imagine: Dancing next to a life-size figure, your iPhone blaring a favorite tune. But the person facing you isn’t there. She’s thousands of miles away in Iraq, tucked in a room much like yours. And yet together, you share a moment.

Or imagine this: Turning a $3 webcam into a microscope that can film the universe blown up large. In a lab, you tinker with little pieces of technology until the focus is just right and your camera records the minutiae you want it to see. The world is your oyster, in all its detail and design.

At Greenwich Academy, two teachers have pioneered initiatives that make both of these hypotheticals a reality. And last week, they dodged a nor’easter for a few days in Austin, Texas, where they shared their knowledge at South by Southwest.

Business Insider: Portal Project Coming to Hood College

Business Insider: Portal Project Coming to Hood College

Operated by Shared Studios, portals are gold spaces equipped with immersive audiovisual technology. Upon entering the portal, users come face-to-face with someone in a distant portal, live and full-body, as if in the same room. This opportunity will allow users from Hood College to discuss politics, education, criminal justice, the environment and share art, poetry and other forms of creative expression with people from around the world.

Andover Townsman: A 'portal' to other parts of the world

Andover Townsman: A 'portal' to other parts of the world

Education often brings students to new places, but it looks like that may be more true than ever for Andover students in the coming months. 

The Andover Coalition for Education, or ACE, has funded a portal through Shared Studios, an organization that creates spaces with technology and connects people internationally. The inflatable portal is equipped with video and audio technology that allows people inside the inflatable, yellow portal to communicate with people in other portals around the world. There are currently 47 portals around the globe.

"The real innovation is in the global network of Portal sites around the world," explained the school department's Director of Strategy and Innovation Stephen Chinosi. "Having access to people who are interested in connecting with others to build 'real' relationships and potential partnerships. The Portal is using the best technology to actually connect people through focused and open dialogues. The experience is nothing like a Skype call, which only focuses on the head/shoulders. The Portal feels like you're in a room with someone who happens to be on the other side of the world."

New Times SLO: Cuesta's Portals project connects people across the globe

New Times SLO: Cuesta's Portals project connects people across the globe

I was a little nervous as I stepped into the inflatable gold pop-up structure, wondering what I should say or ask first. But before I knew it the screen flickered, and there sat Aparna Bakhle and José Godoy-Reyes right in front of me.

Although I was in San Luis Obispo at Cuesta College's Harold J. Miossi Gallery and they were in Los Angeles, it felt like we were in the same room, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling screen and clear sound in the makeshift structure, which is part of the Portals: Connecting The World: A Social Practice Exhibition going on at the campus through March 29. Emma Saperstein, gallery coordinator, aptly described the experience as "FaceTime on speed."

Naples News: Imagine Solutions Conference promises 'wow' moments

Naples News: Imagine Solutions Conference promises 'wow' moments

here will be plenty of "wow" at this year's Imagine Solutions Conference.There's even a presentation called "WOW," which will feature an interactive presentation by a "mathamagician."

Another wow moment in the waiting: A golden portal — in a shipping container — that attendees can walk through and come face-to-face with people inside sister portals around the globe.

The annual conference, sponsored by the Searching For Solutions Institute, a public foundation, is Monday, Feb. 26. It will once again be held under the big tent at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in North Naples.

News-Press Editorial: Imagine cures for cancer; living 100 years

News-Press Editorial: Imagine cures for cancer; living 100 years

Imagine global saviors on the brink of curing cancer, on the cusp of integrating technology in ways that seemed, well, unimaginable just few years ago.

Big names with resumes packed full of life-changing accomplishments will gather at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples on Feb. 26 to talk about the future of healthcare, technology, education and affordable housing as part of the 8th Imagine Solutions Conference. For eight hours, guests will learn about cancer breakthroughs and solutions, the longevity of life and if a 100-year life expectancy is approaching, how science and technology continue to integrate and create endless possibilities and how education shapes all that is possible.

Mklatam: W Panamá y Shared_Studios conectan culturas con El Portal

Mklatam: W Panamá y Shared_Studios conectan culturas con El Portal

El W Panama Portal lanzó por primera vez su tecnología audiovisual inmersiva en Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá, en alianza con W Panamá y Shared_Studios.  El Portal está ubicado en el Street Mall, en avenida Israel y abrirá de forma gratuita, dando la bienvenida a todos los locales y visitantes de enero a marzo de 2018.  El Portal, creado por el colectivo de arte, tecnología, y diseño llamado Shared_Studios, es un contenedor dorado de carga único en su clase que cuenta con innovaciones patentadas en hardware, software y diseño.  El portal ofrece una nueva forma de conectarse con personas en más de 18 ciudades, desafiando los límites físicos y culturales.

The Art Newspaper: A golden opportunity in Times Square ends today

The Art Newspaper: A golden opportunity in Times Square ends today

Today (21 November) is the last chance to stop by the TimesSquare_Portal project, a golden shipping container that connects visitors in New York’s busiest public space with people around the world, using advanced video chat software. During its seven-week-long run, the portable communications hub has linked up to cities in the US as well as Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Myanmar. Portals was created to foster one-on-one conversations across distances and different cultures, says the project’s founder and creative director Amar Bakshi.