Category: Site Visits

Push Strength

Questions:

1 – What is the target audience for your product?

2 – How are you adapting your social media presence to it?

3 – Do you think it would be able to release your main product without the crowd funding system?

Visit:

When visiting Push, I had the opportunity to meet Mike Lovas and Chang Baek. Lovas explained that Push is a Toronto-based, design-centric sports technology company. Their main product is a wearable device for sport training. They work with professional athletes and their coaches to track and analyze their training in the gym to ultimately improve their performance on the field. They are also expanding their reach into healthcare, building relationships with academia to study the effects of visual feedback during movement-based rehabilitation on a variety of conditions.

Reflexion:

Although Push is a small and young company, it is impressive to see them working for so many big teams, for example, teams part of the NHL, NBA, NFL, etc. Also, they do not limit themselves working only in Toronto, they have clients even outside of Canada. One interesting thing about their device is that it is connected via bluetooth to a smartphone, which is something very present in people’s lives, so the client should not have problems using their app. Another interesting point is that the trainer can communicate and make a new program for the athlete even when they are not in the same place. This concept of not seeing distance as a problem, seems to work very well for the company. I feel like they are slowly reaching out for the world without having to leave Toronto.

Upverter

Questions

1 – Your company seems to be conceived in a very spontaneous way, what were the greatest bureaucratic issues you faced?

2 – Did you ever face any issues related to the space or location of your company?

3 – Do you have interest in expanding the focus of the company to other softwares or services?

 

Visit

At first, when our group arrived at Upverter Headquarters, it looked like a regular residential house. But, only after going downstair to the meeting room, we noticed that it was, indeed, their home. The fact that the team do not live there (at least not currently) doesn’t change the “home sweet home” feeling or the warm greetings we received. We gathered just like guests or old friends who came to drink and chat about how the company was doing.

We were guided mainly by Michael Woolworth and Adam Gravitis. They greeted us and talked a little bit about their past, how they went to University together and, after being in the “real world”, how they didn’t like their jobs. Their main focus was to make a better software, that came from a personal necessity in their old jobs. So, not liking to work for someone else, they decided to quit their current job and brainstorm ideas to what they could do next. The result was Upverter – an online, cheaper, better and accessible software. The company started around 4, 5 years ago and now they build CAD Software, circuit design software for browser, using their past experiences with software and hardware development.

Reflection

With a long time friendship as core of the business, they are a young company working on a promising product, different from any competitor in the market. Although I couldn’t see myself working with the kind of service they provide, Upverter is definitely a model to be followed. In my opinion, their informality combined with responsibility is one of the aspects I would like to see more in the industry.

Xpace

Questions

1 – Who can use the place to show their artwork?

2 – Are there any limitations for types of work to be exposed?

3 – What are the opportunities for OCAD students?

Visit

When our group arrived at Xpace Cultural Centre, located on 303 Lansdowne Avenue, we were received by Emily Gove (Director) & Adrienne Crossman (Programming Coordinator).

They explained to us that Xpace is supported by the OCAD Student Union and it helps new artists to expose their work. Emily told us that all OCAD students are member of the Xpace and Adrienne elaborated saying that it is as a bridge between being a student and being a professional artist. Their main program is the exhibition program, with four spaces available for single artists or collaborations. One of the spaces is unique due the fact that it is next to the main window at the entrance. This way, the artwork can be seen from a specific angle, also be exposed 24/7. At the end, they told us that videos of the expositions are available on their website along with an explanation of the works.

Reflection

The Xpace seems like a very interesting and supportive place for emerging artists. It is a great community to start exposing artworks, considering that an opportunity like this is not easy to find in the creative world. They are not limited only in regular and traditional art, but are opened to any kind of creative projects. It is a fantastic opportunity for OCAD students, but I believe is it not well advertised and many students are not aware of it.

 

HackLab.TO

Questions

1)Are there any tools that you personally or your members are eager to get for the space?

2)How do you go about deciding what kinds of public workshop or events to hold?

3)Do you find members collaborating in ways you didn’t initially imagine when starting HackLab?


 

Visit

Arriving at HackLab’s new location we were introduced to Eric Boyd. Eric spoke to us about HackLabs start as a smaller co-working space with mostly programmers and hackers to a now larger space with fabrication equipment, traditional tools and a diverse range of members. The main area had 3D printers, computers, and a bunch of custom made gadgets that augment the space. He then showed us another room with some more traditional tools and a laser cutter. We then moved on to see the shared kitchen and the lounge area. Finally we visited the back room that is used for teaching workshops and classes, sewing, traditional photography development, bio-hacking and more.

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Eric Boyd of HackLab.TO

Reflection

This was my second time visiting HackLab. The first time I visited HackLab was in their much smaller Kensington location. This time the growth of their business was very evident not only space wise but member wise. I recognized familiar faces but also recognized a collection of new members with more diverse interests. It was nice to see how this kind of maker space is sustaining itself and evidently flourishing. I was interested in the way the space continues to meet the needs of so many different kinds of makers, and what it took to maintain a space like that. Eric was very candid in answering questions about how much it cost to run the business and his vision of the future of the space. After visiting so many different collaborative and co-working spaces both in Toronto and New York has really inspired me to think more about the power of these kinds of spaces.

Links

http://hacklab.to/

https://nowtoronto.com/news/preview-the-toronto-mini-maker-fair/

http://www.betakit.com/the-biggest-canadian-startup-stories-of-2014/

 

Parsons

Questions

1)What ideal in particular from the punk rock ethos do you think is underrepresented in games at the the moment?

2)Are there any contemporary examples of games that you think embody this balance between socially conscious and entertaining game design?

3)How do you imagine the “mainstream” of games culture changing as independent distribution continues to rise?


Visit

During our visit to Parson’s New School of Design we visited the Design & Technology Program and PET Lab. There we met with Associate Professor of Games & Learning John Sharp and Associate Professor of Media Design Colleen Macklin. First we were introduced to the work PET Lab does at Parsons in conjunction with Games For Change. We then played a quick round of The Metagame designed by John and Colleen. After a round John Sharp gave a talk on Punk Rock and the Indie Development scene. The talk highlighted the similarities between the punk rock ethos and how its ideals can help innovate games, the same way indie games are. After John’s talk we quickly jumped into a rapid game building session. Each team was given a challenge associated with the punk rock ethos to incorporate in our games. After we were done we demoed our games we continued the conversation concerning indie game design and innovation.

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Making punk inspired games at Parsons New School with Colleen Macklin and John Sharp

Reflection

I was extremely excited to get the opportunity to visit Parsons. Parsons was the first school in the United States to offer education in design. It was exciting to visit the school knowing its history and the many talented people who had studied there. I was also pleased to see that Parsons was embracing games in a unique way. The way John and Colleen spoke about the importance of indie games that are coming out of disenfranchised individuals or those with a unique point of view was inspiring. I think it was an important point to make and understand; that there is a way to make games that can be entertaining and socially conscious. It was a point that really inspired me to think about what my voice means in games.

Links

http://amt.parsons.edu/blog/spacewar-punk-rock-the-indie-dev-scene-and-john-sharp/

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2093152267/the-metagame-discuss

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3038418/asides/how-to-design-a-game-with-a-social-message-thats-also-fun

Museum of Modern Art

Visit

During our evening in NYC a small group of our classmates made it out to the Museum of Modern Art. Upon arriving we excitedly downloaded the MoMA App to first and foremost locate Kate Hartman’s Botanicalls within the permanent collection (seriously, how cool is that?). We made our way up to the third floor and toured the architecture and design gallery collection. The floor was filled with a diverse collection of industrial design, tech, and art objects. Any piece with a label that explains the process of a piece always is always most exciting to me. The first piece I found that spoke to me was a table called the “Cinderella Table”. The table was made from a digital image of two different tables morphed together. The piece was laser cut into thin vertical slices that were then adhered manually to create the three dimensional table (so cool).

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Cinderella Table, Demakersvan, 2004. Museum of Modern Art.

Shortly after we found Kate’s piece in a wall mounted display, hilariously right next to the Little Bits prototype. It was surreal to see Botanicalls on display. I wanted to stand next to it and brag that my professor has a piece in the MoMA. Sadly I did not.

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Botanicalls looking snazzy in the Architecture and Design Gallery at the Museum of Modern Art

After that we power-toured the remaining gallery spaces. I really enjoyed the Applied Design exhibit displaying pieces of video game history. It was really inspiring to see these games I have grown up with and love so dearly being recognized the way that they are. Before we knew it the final announcements were being made and it was time to leave.

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Pac-Man at The Museum of Modern Art

Reflection

Having the Museum of Modern Art be the last visit I made just before leaving New York City was probably the best way I could have possibly left the city. Although a few hours is not nearly enough time (realistically I would have needed days the way I like to tour a museum) it left me time to slow down, think, reflect and really be appreciative of everything we got to do and see. Seeing Botanicalls and Little Bits displayed was so exciting and reassuring to know how our society values and perceives the innovations being made in creative and technological spaces. The Applied Design exhibit was a really emotional experience that reminded me of why I love games so much. Touring that exhibit and seeing people playing, smiling and interacting with each piece really reaffirmed my decision to pursue games as a future. And before I descend into a puddle of overwhelmed, excited, and nostalgic tears I will say one more thing; I think the Museum of Modern Art is an incredibly important visit. Not only to appreciate the old masters of art and design but to see the new innovators that are paving the way for people like us to do what we love. This is all so cheesy but I promise it is sincere.

Links

http://www.demakersvan.com/

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/objects/146358/

http://www.wired.com/2013/05/moma-video-games/

MAGNET – NYU Game Center

Questions

1)What are the qualities you look for in potential candidates for the NYU Games Center graduate studies programs?

2)Do you find that the co-working spaces available to students part of MAGNET has inspired more collaborative projects to be produced?

3)What do you imagine are the underlying benefits of virtual reality games?


 

Visit

Upon arriving at the NYU Game Center we met with the Director of the NYU Game Center Frank Lantz. Frank introduced himself and then gave us a tour of the spaces that students have access to as a part of the MAGNET programs. We first saw the large entrance used as a co-working space for students in a multitude of different programs. Next, we saw the Open Game Library where students had access to a library of over 2,000 digital and traditional games. Frank then showed us some of the other facilities like the lab with open access to laser cutters, traditional tools, and multiple desktop 3D printers.

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NYU Games Center & Open Library

After Frank Lantz finished showing us around we met with Ken Perlin, acclaimed professor of Computer Science. Ken showed us the virtual reality studio where students had access to multiple Samsung Gear VR headsets and full motion capture technology. There Ken and some Game Center students demoed a Unity Game built using the Samsung Gear VR headsets simulating a recreation of the studio itself. Ken and his students were looking to explore what can be achieved within VR that could not be done traditionally in games. Our students got to demo the tech, and ask Ken about his experience with the current and next generation of VR experiences.

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Kate Hartman, Ken Perlin & Daniel Jones testing Samsung Gear VR at the NYU Game Center

Reflection

The NYU Game Center truly seems like a dream school to learn about game design and game culture. The facilities were incredible, encouraging students to interact with one another and collaborate, and giving them access to a large variety of tools and resources to improve their understanding and creation of games. I really loved their philosophy of understanding games as a creative practice and cultural form. I think this visit got me thinking most about the power of collaborative work spaces, and in what ways Digital Futures could adopt some of these approaches as the program evolves and establishes itself over the years. This visit was truly inspiring.

Links

http://gamecenter.nyu.edu/

http://gamecenter.nyu.edu/faculty/frank-lantz/

http://technical.ly/brooklyn/2015/03/13/why-gaming-matters-to-brooklyn-tech-triangle-u/

The Office For Creative Research

Questions

1)Being an multidisciplinary research group, how does your company go about finding the projects that it does?

2)How do you balance the practical economics of running a business with working with clientele that share your interests?

3)You have a background in both the sciences and art, how do you think being multidisciplinary has helped you in the workplace over a single expertise?


Visit

After navigating Manhattan’s Chinatown district we arrived at a small, precarious door that led up to The Office For Creative Research. There we were introduced to fellow Canadian Jer Thorp. After shuffling into the cozy office space Jer first demoed Specimen Box for us. Specimen Box is a data visualization project developed for the Digital Crimes Unit at Microsoft to analyze and investigate Botnet activity. Jer showed the diverse functionality of the project, and the ways in which in encompassed both science and art to produce an interface that was both intuitive to use and understand and incredibly complex in the data that can be extracted from it. After showing us Specimen Box, Jer continued to discuss what other kinds of projects the team is involved in.

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Interface for “Specimen Box”

Reflection

I was completely blown away by the work being produced by The Office For Creative Research. One of the aspects of this visit that stuck with me was the integrity of the business. Throughout the visit Jer explained the companies desire to use their knowledge in technology and science to develop things in creative and interesting ways. In that way, their clientele varied greatly. This was very far from a traditional design firm that works to make ends meet but rather a space that prides itself upon creating work that is thoughtful, impactful and curious. It was nice to see a business that’s last priority is making exorbitant amounts of money but instead exploring creative research methods. I think it was extremely important to visit this office to really understand that there are really diverse business models within the creative and technological economies.

Links

http://o-c-r.org/

http://o-c-r.org/2014/11/15/specimen_box/

http://www.coolhunting.com/tech/the-office-for-creative-research

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