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University of Ulster spin-out company EyeSpyFX, is one of the first Irish companies to develop an application for the iPad - Apple’s latest innovative product to hit the marketplace.  

The portfolio app, ‘Ireland; Myths and Legends’, will be submitted to Apple in Dublin today (Monday May 31). It should be available worldwide by mid June. 

This is an exciting new step for EyeSpyFX, both in terms of future iPad development opportunities and in creating an App which is both culturally significant and aesthetically unique.  

The App has been developed in close collaboration with Jim Fitzpatrick, one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists, internationally renowned for his colourful and iconic decorative Celtic artwork. 

EyeSpyFx is a cutting edge software development company based in Derry. It was established by University of Ulster academic Anthony Hutton in 2002 and initially was based in the business incubation centre at Ulster’s Magee campus.

Ideas emerging from his research into the remote control of robotic devices via the web led to the company's first product; a mobile phone app for controlling pan and tilt webcams. The company has created full time employment for four University of Ulster graduates.

From this core experience in webcam communications, EyeSpyFx has evolved into specialist App developers working with a wide range of global webcam and security cam manufacturers. More recently, the company has expanded its services into the design and development of bespoke applications on varied projects and on multiple platforms, including Blackberry, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Android and iPhone.

Hutton explains that the collaboration with Jim Fitzpatrick came about as a result of a chance conversation at an international trade show in Barcelona in February earlier this year. 

“Our products were attracting a lot of interest from international buyers. They seemed surprised, not only that the company was based in Ireland, but also that it had no uniquely Irish content so we decided we had to do something about this.

“We felt the iPad would be an ideal platform for putting Jim Fitzpatrick’s art in the hands of the user, to give a totally accessible, interactive and unique viewing experience.

“The app allows the user to explore and expand the finest details of Jim Fitzpatrick's remarkably intricate work using the ‘pinch and stretch’ function of the iPad – which simply isn’t possible when viewing art in traditional formats like books or posters.

"This app will allow the user to appreciate Fitzpatrick’s work in an entirely new and entertaining way. Each artwork contains elements and characters that can be highlighted and isolated from the rest of the painting and this helps the user to focus on specific areas of the artwork.”

The artwork included in the app has been carefully selected to give the user a comprehensive body of work that also shows the larger context behind each story. Each image is accompanied by descriptive text written by the artist, giving detailed information about Celtic mythology and legends. 

The text combines Fitzpatrick’s incredible knowledge about Celtic Art with notes about the creation of the work and its relevance to modern Irish society. Many of the key characters in the paintings are interconnected so the viewer can follow the progression of the legends and appreciate each scenario within the backdrops against which they are set.

‘Ireland: Myths and Legends’, is the first in a series of portfolio Apps that EyeSpyFx is developing in collaboration with Fitzpatrick. Its broad appeal to many different markets and potential users at home and abroad is expected to generate a lot of interest at home and abroad.