Who wouldn’t want to play with the latest tech gadgets? Following the first lesson on trends, the second lesson of the new Wearable Technology and eHealth course gave students the opportunity to test and to experiment with a wide range of wearable devices and prototyping tools. Instructor Karen Whistler first presented examples of eHealth solutions with an analysis of utility, entertainment and information within current connected products. Hands-on testing and playing with a series of connected devices consumed the remainder and majority of the class. The mandate was to evaluate the strengths and the limitations of current connected and wearable devices, with an emphasis on having fun. In addition to a collection of iOS and Android devices, the students had access to Sphero, Nike+ FuelBands (1st Gen & SE), Jawbone UP, Phillips Hue Bridge & 3 bulbs, and WeMo Motion and Switch. The students were challenged to propose ‘hacks’ and additions to the devices to push them further in functionality. Hands down, the highlight to this lesson was the use of the prototyping tool: MaKey MaKey. The entire class even got involved to create a human circuit to power the virtual piano. It was fun to see the use of a graphite pencil to draw the keys on a sheet of paper to actually trigger the playing of the piano. At the end of this lesson, the students were given the project briefs for the term. We’re looking forward to seeing the solutions they come up with.
Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks
After months of anticipation, TED Vancouver has finally arrived. One aspect of the conference that is available to the general public is a massive 745 feet aerial sculpture by American artist, Janet Echelman. She collaborated with Aaron Koblin, Creative Director at Google’s Creative Lab, to create an interactive component where physical gestures will allow visitors to “choreograph the lighting in real time via their mobile devices.”
The sculpture, weighing in at 1587.57 kg (3500 pounds), is made from Spectra Fibre, which is a material “pound-for-pound 15 times stronger than steel.” Suspended between the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and the Vancouver Convention Centre, it will be difficult to miss. This is the grandest sculpture that Janet has ever installed as its scale is more than twice the size of her largest previous work. It is especially impressive at night when the sculpture is illuminated by a series of projectors.
This piece of public art will be available in Vancouver until March 22nd. Following TED Vancouver, it will travel to other cities. Check out a few images I captured last Friday night.
As creatives, we have the power to introduce and to influence change. We can choose to use our skills to support worthy causes. Instructor Dougal Muir and I both support the annual Canstruction Vancouver event which benefits the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Dougal provides creative direction and design talent to promote the event through print pieces such as a promotional desk calendar, and I supply the event photography and the source images for the calendar. The photos are also published in both the print and online editions of The Vancouver Sun.
Canstruction Vancouver is a design-build competition, and there are similar events that are held in over 160 cities worldwide. Teams are formed from architecture firms, engineering companies, design agencies, and schools. After planning the sculpture to fit the provided theme, funds are raised to purchase the canned food, and the sculptures are built in less than two days. Following the event, the food is donated to food banks to assist those in need. After eleven years of this event in Vancouver, 1,248,455 cans, with a retail value of over three million dollars, have been collected and donated.
MET Fine Printers founded this event in Vancouver, and it was great to find out that the 2013 Canstruction Vancouver calendar, which we all collaborated on, won Gold at the Canadian Printing Awards.
Mark your calendars. The exhibition of this year’s sculptures will be open to the public from May 12–16th at the Pendulum Gallery, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, and the Rotunda at Pacific Centre.
Hot on the heels of his DD Talks presentation about Digital Trends, Nik Badminton was a guest speaker for the first lesson of the new Wearable Technology and eHealth course. He discussed trends in the mobile arena and recent industry developments such as different ways smartphones have been hacked to achieve greater functionality. The students were also given a review about the concept of the Internet of Things, which expanded the discussion possibilities and planted seeds for their in-class exercise. Nik and instructor Karen Whistler led a workshop session for the students to brainstorm ways an iPhone and an app could be used to solve human challenges for a specified area such as business productivity, home management, health and fitness, gaming, school, driving, travel, communication, storing data, and sharing data. They had to consider ways to evolve existing features and technologies of a smartphone. The students presented a wide range of ideas covering solutions from escaping a bad date to weather forecasting for commute planning. It was a great start to an exciting new course.
Our next post about this course will cover eHealth solutions and the testing of wearable products currently on the market.
Here is our brand new collection of connected and wearable devices, which we will be experimenting and playing with as part of the newest VFS Digital Design course – “Wearable Technology and eHealth” – which will be taught by Karen Whistler. We have JawBone and the UP band, the latest Fuelband, Hue and Sphero!
However, this course is about more than play—we will be using the devices for hands-on experience with emerging technology. Students will be using them to unpack and validate thinking behind the underlying tech and how systems like these will integrate into all aspects of our lifestyle in the near future. In this course, the final deliverable will be to prototype an eHealth solution. This will be shown through a Case Study video that communicates the Big Idea, initial prototype and pitches where the project would head next if given adequate funding.