THOUSANDS of school pupils became the first to try out a festival programme with a difference.

More than 2000 Glasgow youngsters were invited to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for the third Celtic Connections 2014 Education Concert.

And they were given the chance to interact with an illuminated globe giving information on 25 of the festival's top acts.

The innovative feature was created by researchers from Glasgow University's School of Computing Science with Edinburgh-based display developer Pufferfish Ltd.

A computer-controlled display projects a high-resolution image of a world map through a fish-eye lens on to the 36-inch spherical display's touch-sensitive surface.

Users can 'spin' the image, which is marked with the locations of artists' home cities, and tap on artists' names to find out more about their work and festival gigs.

And a set of small cameras placed around the display will provide the research team with feedback on their reactions.

Research associate Dr Julie Williamson, who led the project, said: "This is the result of four months of work to develop the content to show on Pufferfish's spherical display and determine how we could best measure visitors' responses.

"We are really interested in finding out more about how technology influences pedestrian traffic in public spaces, a process we call performative interaction.

"We want to know how long people spend at the display, whether they use it alone or in groups, and even whether visitors choose to deliberately avoid the display altogether.

"We wanted to get involved with Celtic Connections because it attracts so many visitors from around the world and we were delighted when they agreed to help.

"We are planning to continue our research with another public display at the university campus next month."

Dr Williamson worked on the project with product designer Daniel Sundén, as well as Pufferfish Ltd's software manager Dr Jay Bradley and sales and marketing manager Ben Allan.

Celtic Connections 2014, which turns 21 this year, runs until Sunday.

During this year's event, more than 6000 children have enjoyed three free schools concerts in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

For many of the children in attendance it was their first experience of live music.