Canadian Architect


OCAD hosts groundbreaking international conference for mobile technology

March 5, 2007
by Canadian Architect

From March 22 to 25, 2007, artists, designers, researchers and engineers will converge at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) for an international conference to explore the diverse potential for mobile technologies. OCAD, as a member institution of the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN) and in concert with the Canadian Design Research Network (CDRN) hosts Mobile Nation: Creating Methodologies for Mobile Platforms.

Mobile content has become an integral part of our basic communication every day, at work and at play. Mobile platforms are becoming vehicles for educational content and way finding for exploration, tourism and marketing. We send and receive photos, download video clips and play games on our mobile phones — and so do millions of people around the world. Media producers increasingly try to leverage their content across multiple platforms, including film, TV and radio broadcast, the Internet, and mobile devices.

Researchers have created platforms such as cellular telephones, MP3 devices, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and these have become leading consumer products. They have invented communications technologies such as WiFi and Bluetooth, sensor systems such as Radio Frequency ID, Global Positioning Satellite; and various networks such as Personal Area Networks and these in turn enable the development and combination of new tools to create content. Examples include new forms of fashion that can respond to the social context, the environment or the wearer, and new architectural expressions such as interactive billboards. Other researchers are analyzing this growing mobile phenomenon, from a social and business perspective.

The Mobile Nation conference provides a unique opportunity for researchers, companies working in mobile content and technology development and users to share their interests and approaches to conducting research in this fast-changing field. Key themes include the challenge of creating content that is usable across platforms (television and mobile for example); how to create content that is appropriate to its physical location yet can find markets elsewhere; how to design with the end-user in mind, especially for technical platforms where we expect to communicate and share content; how mobile systems can be integrated into education; how new designs engage physical environments whether built or worn; and how designers working methods and social scientists analysis of behaviours, (such as usage patterns), can be more closely aligned for effective and efficient outcomes.

Mobile Nation celebrates the completion of a three-year research project, the Mobile Digital Commons Network, funded by Canadian Heritage through its New Media Research program. OCAD, as a member institution of the MDCN, is a leader in the development of mobile technologies and content. The MDCN connects researchers, the arts and industry focused on mobile, wireless, digital technologies in Canada. The network facilitates research and innovative industry development; fosters cultural production and public participation; and develops forward-thinking policy on wireless technologies.

Co-principal investigator and OCAD President Sara Diamond says, This project has seen the creation of numerous exciting prototypes for new forms of content and experiences that occur in urban and national parks, using mobile devices as a key component. Mobile Nation is an opportunity for participants to explore experiences that included annotated and illustrated walking tours, historical ghost stories and sound games. MDCN will also introduce the Mobile Experience Engine (MEE) a technology that will greatly assist in future design of mobile games for cellular phones. Participants can benefit from the knowledge that our research teams have gained.

This conference brings together the fields of science and technology with the humanities and social sciences, said OCAD Professor and conference leader Martha Ladly. Through a more integrated and comprehensive approach, we can engage design theory, communications studies, social geography, cultural studies and ethnography, along with science and technological inquiry, to rapidly expand this new area of scholarship and development.

The conference will throw an international light on mobile research and commercialization, afford opportunities for high level exchange between national and international players, and highlight the work of leaders in the field of mobile scholarship. For this reason, Mobile Nation is attracting a diverse group of individuals from different professions, such as architects, educators, broadcasters, designers, infrastructure companies who provide the networks to deliver content, health researchers, advertisers and technology companies. Mobile Nation will also explore the many challenges faced by researchers, designers, artists and engineers who design content, technology and software for these platforms. A workshop on sensors and interactive technology and the MEE will be a special program featured within the conference.

Conference information and registration is at or contact [email protected]

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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