Page last updated at 23:42 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 00:42 UK

Blowing out candles from far away

Man blowing out a candle. Pic: Distance Lab
Small fans were used to blow out a candle at a workshop

Researchers have looked at using basic technology to allow someone to blow out birthday candles while miles away from the flame as a means of communication.

Distance Lab's High Five workshops - the latest was held in Portugal - also came up with a dancing puppet as an alert to a video conference starting.

The company is backed by public body Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The technology used include sensors to pick up an action and trigger devices set up some distance away.

The institute - based in the Horizon Scotland building in Forres' Enterprise Park - has also been developing a fighting game called Remote Impact and a toy, SeamuSays, on which parents can record voice messages to their children.

Loud noise

Launched one-and-a-half years ago, it has been attempting to develop technologies designed to overcome the barrier of distance.

The first High Five workshop last year involved participants in Scotland and Romania.

The second was held in Madeira, Portugal, last month.

Ideas put forward included passing a hand over an infrared sensor in one location and a cardboard hand moves to give someone a "low five" in another.

Another was for a child studying at home using video conferencing linked to a classroom.

Their teacher, or fellow pupils, making a loud noise activates a puppet on the child's desk to call their attention to the start of the conference.

Meanwhile, similar technologies and materials were suggested to allow someone to trigger small fans to blow out a candle at another location.

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