Tag: march 24

HackLab – March 24th

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Our last Tuesday visit was to HackLab. The lab provides a space where registered members can develop their projects while paying a monthly fee to use the lab’s space. My questions were the following:

  • Are members required to credit HackLab if they manage to successfully commercialize a product developed in the lab?
  • What are your future plans to expand HackLab, if there are any?
  • What are the most successful projects developed by HackLab members?

Summary

We were greeted by Eric Boyd as we walked in, and he told us a bit about HackLab and showed us some cool devices, such as a device in the entrance that identifies who’s walking in and greets them accordingly, and also displays the person’s chosen name and personal message on a big screen on top of the room. The main room included computers and 3D printers. We were divided into smaller groups to have a tour around the place. The first room my group visited was a working room with several tools, including a machine that, according to Eric, was used to create plastic objects with smooth curves and edges by pressing two warm plates against each other. After that, we got to see a bit of the kitchen, used for cooking as expected, and later on we reunited with the other group in a bigger adjacent area with a table and chairs that also gave access to the “tree house” (an elevated area that could be accessed through stairs) and a dark room. The area also included a small studio-like space for taking photos of models and specific products. We were then offered a lot of delicious lunch and it was all around a good time.

 

Impressions

HackLab was probably one of my favorite spaces visited during class. There’s something really special about the familiar atmosphere that it gives off, and it has a surprising variety of rooms and things to do and use for what seems like such a small space. The monthly fee per member ($50) seems incredibly reasonable considering the amount of tools the members have access to. I think this kind of initiative is really valuable in the context of the Maker Economy for the way it empowers people to develop their own projects by having access to technology that otherwise might be unaffordable for them. The ambient seems great for people who either like to work alone or in groups, and everything seems very well organized.

Xpace – March 24th

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Our second stop on Tuesday was Xpace, an artist-run space supported by the OCAD Student Union that provides students and starting artists with a space to showcase their work in a professional manner. I had some questions prepared beforehand:

  • What particular feature in Xpace makes it a good place for emerging artists to expose their art?
  • How interactive pieces (such as games, etc.) are displayed, if at all?
  • Is there any active marketing activity to make this space known not only to OCAD students but to other interested parties?

 

Summary

As we arrived, we had the chance to chat with two staff members and learn more about Xpace. They told us how it provides a chance for students to display their work in an adequate environment and reach out to professional contacts, and also talked about several staff positions required to make the business work, such as writers and designers for their printed books. Throughout the presentation we learned that Digital Futures students such as us are welcome to display our projects even if they’re of a complete different nature from art exhibitions like the one being presented at the time, and there’d be adequate structure to accommodate these types of projects. The place itself was really small so there was no need for a tour, but we walked around to see the exhibitions and also received their book compilation from the last year. Our visit was very short but still meaningful.

 

Impressions

Although at first glance it looks like a place more focused on traditional art, Xpace can be certainly a valid option for any professional in the creative industry seeking to display their work and attract more attention to it. I’m still not exactly sure how a person could, for example, display a game project in there, but I imagine it would require a lot of organization and creative displays. What I liked about this place is how it provides students with an affordable opportunity to introduce their work to the industry, something that can be really tricky and complicated for new artists, designers and people in the creative industry in general. I only wish the place was a little bigger and attracted more attention, it feels like it might be too small to handle bigger expositions and cannot take a lot of people at once.

Upverter – March 24

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On March 24 we visited Upverter’s headquarters. Upverter is an online platform that allows anyone to design their own circuits with no need to download any kind of software. The presentation we watched answered my questions:

  • How many active users do you have?
  • How many people actively work on Upverter?
  • How competitive is the market for platforms such as Upverter?

Summary

Upverter is located on a small house near Soho Street. Once there, we watched a presentation that introduced us briefly to how the initiative came to be (the three original founders are graduates from Waterloo University) and a bit of their own work. The business has a surprisingly small amount of people actively working on it (around thirteen people), and most of the employers, if not all, are all in the same group of friends that share the same interest for schematic technology and circuits. There’s also an active marketing campaign going on, with active social media channels (Twitter and a blog) constantly updated, even during our visit (the marketing team is formed by one person only but it seems more than enough given his efficiency). Upverter differentiates itself from other similar initiatives for being really open to newcomers and people less familiarized with circuits and its components – there’s an actual tutorial to allow first-timers to build their own idea for the first time.

 

Impressions

Visiting Upverter’s workspace was really interesting because they have an incredibly cozy office and were eager to share their work with us. The fact their software is welcoming to newcomers and people generally inexperienced with circuits is something very positive and unique, and certainly gives Upverter an advantage over its competitors. Once again, the experience of learning the story of a small initiative that worked out well and currently operates successfully is very inspiring and highlighted once again the importance of having financial support in some form. Some people might think that hiring friends only in your business is a bad thing but in this specific case I think it’s something very positive and adequate, especially in the kind of workspace that Upverter has.

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