Biography

Hi, I’m Peter Strømberg, proprieter here at Videometry.

I got my start in IT at the tender age of 17, when I was an Electronics Apprentice with GEC. I spent 6 months in the drawing office, who happened to be beta testers for AutoCAD. I was in awe of the programmers. I’d had a Spectrum, and a Commodore 64, but my programming consisted of copying programs in from magazines.

I jacked in my apprenticeship at 19. I’d been playing guitar since I was 12, and was off to join the circus, well not quite a circus, but a band called The Kings New Clothes. That was a very enjoyable year, but I was tired of living on pasta and ketchup and decided to get a job. Preferably one where I could travel the world. In the Birmingham Evening Mail I saw an ad: Croupiers wanted for Cruise Ships in the Caribbean. In another smaller ad on the same page: Trainee Croupiers Required, Rainbow Casino, Birmingham. It was a eureka moment.
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I hadn’t realised how long it actually takes to become a good croupier. After 3 years working in Birmingham and Manchester I finally made it. I started work on the ships out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida starting with the so called “Booze Cruises”. Basically the ship sails out beyond US jurisdiction, lays anchor and the casino opens until dawn. Great times, but I wasn’t seeing much more than the 4 walls of my tiny cabin and the crew bar. Finally I managed to get a transfer to the Disney ships, and at last got to travel around the Caribbean.

I met a girl out there, and to cut a long story short, found myself in Denmark in 1992. After a year or so as a cleaner and later a cook in an Italian Restaurant, I started a course at Byhøjskole (the Town High School, roughly translated) in Multi-media, or Media Vital as they called it. It was the first time I’d been in charge of a PC since I was 18 and I loved it! There I learned PhotoShop, Premiere, Macromedia Director, and my first software love, 3D Studio 4. It was a DOS program back then. The ability to model and animate made one feel like God. There was one major disappointment though. I’d decided to build a fishing game (I’m an avid carp fisherman), and had lovingly recreated my tackle box, rod, reel, etc. in 3D. Then I asked my teacher, “how to I program the game?”, to which the answer came, “You will need a programmer, we don’t teach programming here”. Crushed!

That course ended, so what next? Toy Story was about to be released. Hmm, you could make films with 3D, I’d better go to film school! In ’95 I started a year long course at The European Film College in Ebeltoft. An incredible year that opened my eyes to so many things. Whilst there I managed to get hold of my first ever PC (Olivetti P90, 16Mb RAM), and a version of 3D Studio. If I could have been locked in a room for the rest of my life right then, I’d of gone for it, and probably made a film or 2 by now. I was addicted. One of the final lectures at the college was by Bran Ferren of Disney Imagineers. He described, as it turns out quite accurately, the future of the internet and it’s importance in our world.

I finished in spring ’96 and me and my partner were expecting our first child, Astrid. It was time to man-up and get a “proper” job. At the time, everyone wanted to learn IT, but the market for actual jobs hadn’t taken off yet. So I made the obvious choice to teach 🙂

I started teaching at the very same school where I’d been taught. It was there I was introduced to my second great software love, Macromedia Flash. I’d been brought in to teach some Javascript and some simple CGI perl scripting. This was still the dawn of the internet, and everything was quite simple then. A page visit counter was a major piece of engineering. I asked my students to show me the most impressive websites they knew, with the intention of burrowing into the page source and finding out how they were created. One student showed me Gabo Corp. Don’t look for it, sadly it doesn’t exist any more, and no-one ever made a video of the original site. The second version, which imho never quite lived up to the first was captured here…  Here was full page motion graphics in a browser! OMG! Made page counters and animated GIF seem a bit tame. Needless to say I was hooked. The entire class downloaded the trial version of Flash2, I read the manual over night and started teaching it the next morning.

As Flash developed, so did I. Going from simple event based scripting, to eventually a mature Object Oriented Programming language AS3. I had some additional schooling in OOP from Mjølner and was lucky enough to attend the lectures at Århus University by Kristen Nygaard, the father of OOP and co-creator of Simula. For many years I lived off teaching and Flash projects, eventually moving into 3D programming with the release of PaperVision and later Away3D. I put in a lot of hours, always trying to push the boundaries as you’ll see in my blog archives. Also check out the Away3D forums, user name TheMightyAtom.

Flash was good to me and my family. Paid for my house, my car, and a vast collection of guitars. But there was a change in the air… After Steve Jobs dropped the bomb that iOS would never support Flash, there entered a degree of uncertainty in it’s future, in my future. Luckily mobile was still very much in it’s infancy, and there was plenty of work for a few years more. Even now I get requests for Flash and there are still full time jobs advertised, though restricted mainly to the online casino industry. The Adobe AIR platform enables you to create mobile apps in AS3, and is still a viable platform for rapidly developing prototypes and finished apps.

I’ve always had an interest in 3D and virtual reality. I made some experiments in VRML and joined the 3D Web Consortium for a couple of years, during the development of X3D, which was intended to be the standard for 3D on the web, but never got any real traction. However, I did attend their Symposium in Perugia, Italy in 2007 and met two very influential guys, Kari Pulli (then head of Nokia Development) and Reni Arnaud, one of the 3 creators of Keyhole, what we now know as Google Earth. It was a wonderful week, very inspirational.

I started developing a surround screen, based on rear projection, and was granted a patent for the reflector design, but something bigger was on it’s way. Google Cardboard. At the 2014 Google I/O conference Google democratised VR for ever. Previously I had worked with VR for Personics in Århus. They used the multi-million dollar facilities at CAVI. Now anyone with a smartphone could experience VR, in an even more immersive way for 10 bucks! After a lot of soul searching I dropped “Infitex”, my idea of an affordable immersive screen, to start work on OTTO, my version of Cardboard.

I really enjoy teaching, but I do get jealous of my students when they get juicy assignments and I’m restricted as to how much help and ideas I can input. I am definitely an ideas man. I can think of nothing better than finding imaginative solutions for real world challenges. This summer I set myself the challenge of creating a children’s book about the universe, with AR and VR elements naturally. In the process I’ve learned C# and Unity3D together with the Vuforia library. Unity kind of assumes you want to make a game. I prefer creating real world solutions than games. I am however addicted to one online game, Scrabble!

Virtual and Augmented Reality seem to have taken hold, and I’m sure I will be working a lot more with this technology in the future.