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2007 03 16
OCAD’s Mobile Media Lab Embraces John Street
Image from the John Street Media Corridor Project CD-ROM, 1995/6

The Ontario College of Art and Design announced earlier today that their Mobile Media Lab has received a $360 thousand dollar research grant from the federal government. OCAD plays host to next week's Mobile Nation conference, from March 22 to 25.
OCAD President Sara Diamond was instrumental in bringing this area of exploration to OCAD, and sees its evolution as essential to the near future of the Ontario and Canadian economies. She says, "Mobile media and communication is the future of entertainment, education, tourism and even health care provision. We're developing products that consumers all over the world - from the UK, to India, to Argentina - will want to use. We're collaborating with the best children's media producers in Canada on this project as well as top tier fiction and arts entertainment media. Imagine your computer game-playing child as an active physical participant in playing and learning outdoors with the help of a mobile device, instead of sitting at home."

Portage will create a virtual theatre, a vibrant entertainment park, on a downtown Toronto street, installing a number of experiences in the John Street corridor that are triggered or controlled by cell phone users. These experiences are "locative" - that is, they provide cultural or information content relevant to a specific geographic environment. They're also interactive. Players can change content, upload information and experience the environment they're in by interacting with content that changes as they move through the street. And cultural producers can use the underlying technology, a new design engine called MEE, to port their content - be it an "indie" film short or a virtual museum tour - to the cell phone.

Just a follow up to the John Street Corridor project noted above: I designed the first John Street Media Corridor project in 1992. Based on using new information technologies to externalize media then only available through analog sources within media companies on the street, that project won a City of Toronto urban design award in 1993 and influenced the development strategy of Toronto's "Entertainment District." OCAD is now building on that project in a wireless information environment.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 03/16 at 02:16 PM

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