Case Study 4: Thomas Monkman (Holition | Future Un-Ltd)


Why did you want to be a Tech City Star?

Well I didn't want to go to Uni, as I wanted to get straight in to programming and this apprenticeship was perfect for that. I did a lot of programming in my spare time and did a lot of science subjects at college.

How have you found work so far? What have you been doing?

It's been great and I've learnt many things to do with programming, I have learnt about C++ (which is a programming language), learnt OpenGL (which allows 3D drawing similar to DirectX) and I have started to learn about image analysis. I've started learning about Canny Edge Detection in image analysis which basically uses a computer to find the edges of 3D objects from a webcam more effectively.

What does Holition do exactly?

Well they do bespoke Augmented Reality Apps so the kind of stuff can vary a lot. There's a Lipstick Company in Zurich Airport, for instance, where they have a screen with a camera pointing at you and projecting your image so it looks just like a mirror. You can then tap all the lipsticks that you want to 'try-on' and you see what they would look like on your lips.

But you don't actually try them on?

No it's a projection. I don't go lipstick shopping but I imagine you wouldn't be able to try them all on so it's a good idea. Essentially you're taking a 3D image of the real world, and putting some sort of 3D graphic on top. Some of this is quite old now, though.

What's the latest technology you're working on, then?

Facial recognition programmes that are much better than those that are readily available at the moment. But it really depends on what the company's asked for. We just made an application for a touch table for Louis Vuitton that they put in their Selfridges store.

Sounds a bit like Minority Report!

Yes except with shopping! So that was completely done from scratch. Today I'm just about to start on an app that makes it looks like you are standing next to a famous footballer; it then takes a picture and prints it out for you.

So have you had to overcome many obstacles while working for Holition?

I would say just programming problems, as that is mainly what I have been doing. Problems can range from understanding the theory of one problem, to simply missing a semicolon in a line of code. It's been pretty easy to get help, though, so whenever I get stuck then I can always ask someone in the office.

How has the Apprenticeship changed your life? In what way has it improved your prospects and your general outlook?

I have learnt an insane amount of programming, far ahead of any expectations I had before the apprenticeship, even if I had gone to Uni. Programming wise, I am effectively doing what you would learn at the end of the second year of Uni, and that is in the first 8 weeks of the apprenticeship. So as far as I am concerned it was an amazing choice.

How about the early starts?

Yeah they're not so much fun. I have to be up at six to be here and I have other things to do outside work so it's a long day. It's worth it even though I'm very tired.

What do you want to do when you finish your Apprenticeship?

Whatever is necessary to continue programming which I really enjoy and to further my knowledge. It's quite a big field.

Age: 18

Company: Holition

Role: Programmer

Start Date: September 2013