How can users of a public urban space engage in
a multi-sensory, multimedia outdoor experience?
PORTAGE is transforming John Street, in the heart of Toronto's
entertainment shopping district, into a Broad Locative Environment
(BLE) - a space that will allow visitors to engage with outdoor
multimedia installations and other mobile users.
Users will be able to navigate from Grange Park down John Street
through a GPS and Wi-Fi-enabled virtual theatre. Along the
way they will interact with installed musical sculptures, create
and share interactive audio components, trigger swarms of electronic
cicadas residing in city trees and view themselves on surveillance
camera which they themselves control.
Through this installation Portage will investigate how cultural
content delivery is made possible by emerging multi-capability
mobile devices. These devices include cell phones, handhelds and
PDAs with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and GSM access. Portage will also
examine the processes by which these technologies can be used in
conjunction with each other and with environmental sensors and
displays to move the mobile experience beyond the phone and to
create an interactive and immersive environment.
MOBILE EXPERIENCE LAB (Ontario College of Art & Design)
Mobile technology has enabled users to work, socialize and create
anywhere and anytime in a variety of ways. Advancements in mobile
multimedia devices and their adoption by a growing number of consumers
now allow the delivery of rich user experiences. Various network
technologies and protocols such as GSM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth provide
a range of connective possibilities that enhance social networks
among mobile users. This infrastructure provides a vast potential
research field and market for innovation in user experience through
software and hardware development.
Partnerships between academic institutions and commercial stakeholders
provide an excellent opportunity to innovate in this highly competitive
and expansive field. In 2005 OCAD established the Mobile Experience
Lab to pursue research projects that bring together art practice,
design and research methodology with software and hardware engineering
The Lab has initiated a range of research projects that innovate
in the areas of user interface, locative experiences, collaborative
games and augmented reality narratives.
The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) is Canada’s largest
university for art and design, specializing in creativity and innovation.
Established in 1876, the university has more depth and breadth
in visual arts and design programs than any school of its kind
in Canada. OCAD students enjoy a one-of-a-kind learning environment
that combines an experiential, studio-based education with liberal
studies, which is recognized with a BFA or BDes.
OCAD graduates are well known for their creative skills. Their
work continues to enrich our country’s culture and adds value to
the economy and everyday lives of Canadians. OCAD’s research profile
includes an institute for art and design education, the Beal Centre
for Strategic Creativity at OCAD, an institute in design, creativity
and innovation and large-scale projects in mobile content and technology.