Tag Archives: Sponsored Projects

Transportation students journey to the year 2030 to see the future of cars. No time travel machine needed.

Kids who are five years old today might be happy to know that Art Center Transportation Design students are already thinking about the future of cars and what they’ll be driving in 2030.

And the designers are drawing inspiration from an unexpected source: the wonderful world of plastics.

It’s all part of a three-month long design project and competition called Design for Alpha, sponsored by plastic manufacturer SABIC. The project challenged students to come up with forward-thinking ideas for vehicles that anticipate the future driving needs of anyone born after 2010—dubbed Generation Alpha —and then find ways of using the plastics of today and tomorrow to meet those needs.

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Take two and check your tricorder in the morning: XPRIZE students design the future of medical diagnosis


The Rytm student project tackles the “silent killer” of hypertension.

If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, even casually, chances are you’ve seen Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock or Dr. McCoy use a tricorder, a hand-held device capable of detecting everything from an object’s chemical composition to an individual’s vital signs (“He’s dead, Jim.”).

Thanks to the tricorder, the concept of a hand-held non-invasive device that can diagnose whether somebody is pregnant, experiencing abnormal neural activity, or countless other medical scenarios, has persisted as a dream gadget for decades.

But the powerful processing capabilities and the myriad of sensors found in today’s smartphones make a tricorder seem less the stuff of science fiction and more a very tangible, and inevitable, outcome of our current technology.

Or, at least that’s what the XPRIZE Foundation thinks.

Last year the foundation launched the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition to challenge teams from across the globe to design a device (or suite of devices) that can both accurately diagnose a set of 15 diseases independent of a healthcare professional or facility and also provide an appealing and engaging consumer user experience.

Thousands of individuals are participating in this challenge, including 14 students in an XPRIZE sponsored project at Art Center–an activity not part of the Tricorder XPRIZE but that paralleled the main competition–co-taught this past Summer term by Brian Boyl and Jeff Higashi.

In the class, students were encouraged to design a device concept that conforms to the guidelines of the XPRIZE competition. But they were also allowed to take their creations in a different direction altogether, with the understanding that their projects could serve as design inspiration for the final teams–which XPRIZE plans to name later this month–who will be in the running to create the actual medical device. Another possible outcome is that students from this class could join a like-minded team in the competition.

Continue past the break to see some of the projects the students created.

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Piaggio asks students to envision mobility in 2022

A Vespa LXV-150, one of the many vehicles Piaggio brought on campus for students to study. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Did you happen to notice a swarm of motorcycles earlier this term at Hillside Campus?

The reason for the two-wheeled gathering was Piaggio–the fourth largest producer of scooters, motorcylces and compact commercial vehicles in the world–is sponsoring a Transportation Design project this term titled Envisioning Personal Mobility in 2022. As part of the course they brought a variety of their current vehicles for students to study up close.

In the course, the Italian vehicle maker–whose brands include Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi–has challenged Art Center students to envision how young people, between the ages of 18 and 25, will move around 10 years from now.

Questions Piaggio has posed to the students include: In 2022 will people have the same buying power they have now? Will they be able to afford personal mobility? Will they have jobs that change more frequently?

Piaggio, which plans on opening a design center in Pasadena, hopes that the students creations both inspire its employees and provides them with insight into opportunities of important areas of growth where the company should be engaged a decade from now.

And with Car Classic ’12 right around the corner, we’re reminded of an interview we did with Art Center alumnus Miguel Galluzi TRANS ’86, Vice President of Design at the Piaggio Group, for Car Classic ’09: By Air, Land & Sea.

The full profile is included after the break.

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More on Art Center’s Reality Augmented course (video)

Art Center instructor Ryan D'Orazi demonstrates his Enlitenar AR app during the class' final presentation.

Last month we told you about an augmented reality (AR) course that took place this past summer at Art Center called Reality Augmented. The course was co-taught by Graphic Design instructor Guillaume Wolf and science fiction author Bruce Sterling; hosted by the Graphic Design Department; and sponsored by Amsterdam-based Layar, whose AR platform claims more than one million active users.

Layar documented the class and recently posted a short three-minute video that does an excellent job of capturing the energy and ambition of this experimental course. ”Our class here  at Art Center is a ‘doing’ class,” says Sterling in the video. “People were working with LAYAR to really do apps. I wanted them to be able to leave the class saying that they can augment reality.”

Sterling goes on to say, “Augmented reality is in the artistic phase where a lot of the most effective players are designers. The best AR efforts are coming out of smaller groups of three, four or 12 people.”

Watch the entire video after the break.

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Students Spend Their Summer Augmenting Reality

Still from the promotional video for Juju, a student-created augmented reality application.

This past summer term, Art Center welcomed back its first visionary-in-residence, science fiction author Bruce Sterling (Schismatrix, Islands in the Net, The Caryatids) to co-teach an augmented reality (AR) transdisciplinary design studio with Graphic Design instructor Guillaume Wolf called Augmenting Reality.

Not certain what AR is exactly? You’re not alone. For the studio, Sterling and Wolf defined AR as a software program that must: 1) mix the virtual with the real, 2) be interactive in real time and 3) register in three dimensions.

AR is an industry still on the cusp, and applications are only now starting to sneak out of the labs and into consumers’ hands. “It may even be a bit before the cusp,” Sterling says of the AR industry. “It’s an old technology, but it’s a baby industry.”

In the course—hosted by the College’s Graphic Design Department and sponsored by Amsterdam-based Layar, a company whose AR platform claims more than one million active users—teams of students designed both concepts and prototype AR apps that ranged from virtual pets to an augmented “spiritual reality” experience.

Layar's Maarten Lens-FitzGerald gets some FaceTime with Graphic Design student Shi Jie Lim and Graphic Design Department chair Nik Hafermaas. Photo: Alex Arestei, Layar.

“I was impressed by the student’s concepts, execution and their presentation,” says Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, general manager and co-founder of Layar, who watched the teams’ final presentations virtually (during the final he was “passed” around the classroom on an instructor’s smartphone). “Even with innovative media, it’s still important to be able to tell the story using mainstream media. Not all AR people know this; but the students did.”

Words, no doubt, that are music to instructor Wolf’s ears, who wanted to make sure the students were designing based on something people can actually connect with.

“Why are people interested in anything? It’s not just about design, it’s about the psychology behind it,” says Wolf of what he tries to impart to his students. “Why is a product sexy? Why do we want it? How does a designer create that desire?”

(Read more, and view videos of the work, after the jump.)

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Project Kicks Off with LAYAR DAY L.A.

Layar is sponsoring a project at Art Center this upcoming Summer Term, which kicks off with a symposium open to all.

LAYAR DAY L.A. will be Friday, May 20, and will include a workshop and symposium at Hillside Campus. LAYAR DAY L.A. will be a full day of hacking space and time with augmented reality. Join us as we seek inspiration from visionary thinkers and street-level artists—and help Layar make some cool AR in the process.

Meet the Layar team at 10:45 am at the Geffen Contemporary for an informal visit to the Art in the Streets exhibition of street art. MOCA opens at 11 a.m., and admission is $10 at the door.

At 1:30 p.m., the program moves to Art Center, where artist Sander Veenhof and Layar’s Gene Becker will lead a hands-on workshop teaching how to make augmented reality experiences on the Layar platform. Street art, public AR art exhibitions and historical layers will be used as examples of hacking space and time.

Following the workshop at 3 p.m., there will be a symposium featuring some of the world’s most visionary and creative minds in augmented reality. The incredible lineup of speakers includes noted author and former Art Center visionary-in-residence Bruce Sterling, Layar co-founder Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, Scott Fisher of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Dutch artist Sander Veenhof.

The symposium and workshop are free but space is limited, so reserve your spot at both today!

West Coast Bright Design Challenge Brings Scholarships to Art Center

In December, five Art Center students were awarded generous scholarships through the inaugural West Coast Bright Design Challenge.

Sponsored by the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF), the West Coast competition was co-sponsored by the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California (MFASC).

The West Coast Bright Design Challenge was incorporated into last term’s Material Explorations class, led by Art Center instructors Catherine McLean and Krystina Castella. A transdisciplinary team made up of Product Design, Environmental Design, Fine Art and Graduate Industrial Design students spent the term learning about surface finishing technologies and applications, and worked with local electroplating companies to enhance their understanding of the process. Students were challenged to create innovative works utilizing these technologies.

At the end of the class, students presented finished 3-D prototypes and presentations to a panel of faculty and MFASC judges. The students with the top three concepts as judged by the panel were each awarded $5,000 scholarships, and two additional students received honorable mentions and $2,500 scholarships.

Scholarship Winners:

  • Viirj Kan, Environmental Design: $5,000 Prize
  • Carlos Vides, Environmental Design: $5,000 Prize
  • Ed Schofield, Graphic Design: $5,000 Prize
  • Byron Wilson, Product Design: $2,500 Prize
  • Ji Hyun Lee, Product Design: $2,500 Prize

Art Center and the MFASC were thrilled with the collaboration and plan to continue the West Coast Bright Design Challenge in 2011. Congratulations to the student winners!

(Pictured, from left to right: Edward Schofield, $5,000 scholarship award recipient; Virginia Kan, $5,000 scholarship award recipient; Bryan Leiker, K&L Anodizing; Carlos Vides, $5,000 scholarship award recipient; Dan Cunningham, MFASC executive director; Alan Olick, MFASC president and president, General Plating Co.; Byron Wilson, $2,500 scholarship award recipient; Ji Hyun Lee, $2,500 scholarship award recipient; Gregg Halligan, former MFASC president.)

Your BlackBerry Can Do What?!

The BlackBerry Empathy concept phone has received a great deal of online buzz this week. Not only is the design striking, but the idea behind the device is quite interesting—it’s designed with an interface that can interpret and respond to the user’s emotions.

The concept was created by two Art Center Product Design students, Kiki Tang and Daniel Yoon (they’ve since graduated), for a RIM BlackBerry sponsored project at the College.

The user wears a ring that collects emotional data and graphically displays the user’s emotional state to their personal connections.

According to Yoon: “Each contact has an avatar that is encompassed by two colored rings.

The inner colored ring shows the contact’s previous emotional state, and the outer ring represents the contact’s current emotional state. It is important to show the shift in emotions in order to see how an event has affected that contact.”

The phone also features an “Emotional Health Chart,” monitoring the user’s emotions over time, and finds patterns in behavior and emotions (for instance, a person’s mood may repeatedly plummet after phone calls from a certain individual).

So what do you think? Revolutionary … or just plain creepy?

(Thanks to Yanko Design for breaking the story. More images on their site.)

Everyone Deserves a Roof—And You Can Help

It was while bicycling from Westwood to the beach in Santa Monica that film producer Peter Samuelson began noticing something disturbing—the number of homeless he passed regularly. He started counting. Sixty-two homeless. Just eight miles.

He began interviewing the homeless to find out more about them, how they lived, and what they needed. He conceptualized a mobile, single-person device that would facilitate recycling (a principal source of income for many homeless) by day, and at night convert into a tent-like enclosure for sleeping, with privacy and storage space. It would be called EDAR, short for Everyone Deserves A Roof.

Samuelson approached Art Center to sponsor a studio to design the EDAR. Students Eric Lindeman and Jason Zasa designed the product, and have been working pro bono on the project since. EDARs are given free of charge to homeless individuals who are best able to benefit from their recycling and shelter capabilities. But EDARs don’t come cheap. Each one costs around $500 to produce.

For the next four days, Tonic.com is sponsoring a campaign to raise funds for 10 EDARs. That’s a roof over 10 homeless Angelenos.

Watch the L.A. Times video below to see the EDAR out in the field.

From Tonic.com’s article: The final EDAR design boasts a 7-foot-long mattress among an interior high enough for residents to sit up. The EDAR units live at shelters, soup kitchens, day centers, churches, mosques or vacant scraps of land throughout the Los Angeles area and are distributed free of charge, as resources allow. “We give the units to shelters and they give them to specific clients,” explains Samuelson. “The benefit is that they have an ongoing social services. You can push it wherever you want and you can sleep in it wherever you want, and you have to come back once a week, have a shower, have lunch, meet with your supervisor, etc. there’s ongoing counseling.”

Donate to the Tonic.com campaign.

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Reflecting Back at 80: Sponsored Projects

Guest post by Art Center Archivist Robert Dirig

It’s Week 14, which means that students across campus are finishing up final projects, participating in final critiques, and preparing for Graduation as the term’s sponsored projects are coming to a close.

Sponsored projects, giving “real world” design problems to students, have been a hallmark of the College curriculum for years. But did you know that Art Center’s history with sponsored projects goes back to 1960? It was in that year that students took part in a space capsule project sponsored by General Electric. George Beck, manager of industrial design at G.E.’s Light Military Electronics Department, approached Art Center with the idea for students to design a space capsule and interior computer, providing for the most efficient relation between the computer and the pilot.

Take a look at great photos from the project below.

Visit the College Archives, and check out the Archives Facebook page, to learn more about Art Center’s history.