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.
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.
A Portal equipped with audiovisual technology that makes immersive, real-time, cross-continental conversations possible was installed on Decker Quad at JHU's Homewood campus on Monday.
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.
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.
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.
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."