Pan Am exhibition spotlights high-tech athletic wear

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 4:00am

Professor Marie O’Mahony has curated an exhibition that examines the incredible evolution of sportswear and the technology that has enabled these advances. Smarter. Faster. Tougher. is on display at the Design Exchange’s satellite location in the Distillery District through to October 12.

Divided into four sections — ethnography, nature, fashion and performance — the exhibition features clothing for sports ranging from swimming to skiing and everything in between. Prototypes and futuristic designs such as a 3D printed bikini, shark-resistant wetsuits, cardigans that incorporate bulletproof material and shirts with heart-rate monitoring systems are on display.

A team of students from OCAD U’s Digital Futures program created an app that allows visitors to access additional information, images and videos on their smartphones as they tour the exhibition.

O’Mahony is professor of Digital Futures at OCAD U and has written a number of books on textiles and technology.

Smarter. Faster. Tougher. is presented and commissioned by Panamania and supported by CIBC.

Read more about the exhibition in The Toronto Star,, and


OCAD University students triumph at Digifest 2015

Photo of Areen S. Khan
Photo of James Rollo
Friday, May 8, 2015 - 7:45pm

Two OCAD University students took home awards at the Best of the Best Student Showcase held at Digifest 2015.

Areen S. Khan won the Mobile App Development Award for her project “Hatter: Empowering Buskers through a Social App.” Currently completing her master’s degree as part of OCAD U’s Digital Futures program, in which she is focusing on the impact of a cashless society on busking, Areen’s Hatter app would enable patrons to support buskers without the bother of fishing for change.

James Rollo emerged victorious in the Visual and Interactive Art category. A fourth-year student in the Integrated Media program – as well as a new media, installation and performance artist – James’s project “I Can’t See What You’re Doing” is an interactive installation that challenges notions of presence in the physical and virtual realms.

Both Areen and James were also among the 20 winners of the 2015 OCAD University Medal, the university’s highest award. They also both exhibited their projects to great acclaim at the recent 100th-anniversary Graduate Exhibition. 

Kate Hartman - Inside the Social Body Lab

Photo of a woman smiling
Photo of a pattern on fabric
Photo of a woman wearing two shoulder apparatus
Photo of a woman wearing a red hood
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Kate Hartman, recipient of the 2013-2014 OCAD University Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity and Associate Professor from the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, will be presenting a talk titled "Inside the Social Body Lab."

What is it like to pursue design and technological prototyping activities within the research environment at OCAD University? In this presentation, Kate will discuss the first five years of the Social Body Lab — OCAD U’s lab dedicated to body-centric technologies in the social context. Topics will include an overview of the lab’s activities, an introduction to the team and how they work, and a deep-dive case study of the development of Monarch — a muscle-activated kinetic wearable. Finally, Kate will address where the lab sits in the current wearables landscape and introduce areas for future development.

Kate Hartman is an artist, technologist, and educator whose work spans the fields of physical computing, wearable electronics, and conceptual art. She is the author of the recently published book "Make: Wearable Electronics". Her work has been exhibited internationally and featured by the New York Times, BBC, CBC, NPR, in books such as "Fashionable Technology" and "Art Science Now". She was a speaker at TED 2011 and her work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Kate is the Associate Professor of Wearable and Mobile Technology in the Digital Futures program. There she founded and directs the Social Body Lab, a research and development team dedicated to exploring body-centric technologies in the social context. She is also the Un-Director of ITP Camp, a summer program for grownups at ITP/NYU in New York City. Kate enjoys bicycles, rock climbing, and someday hopes to work in Antarctica.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul, Room 264
416-977-6000 ext. 474


digital futures poster with a night sky
Monday, April 20, 2015 - 2:00pm to 9:00pm

The Digital Futures Third-Year Undergrad Students are pleased to showcase their project work in collaboration with the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA),  from their recent trip to Hydra, Greece.


10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Project Review)

1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Open to the Public)

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Main Lobby


Event poster
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 4:00am to Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 4:00am

The Ontario College of Art & Design University presents the 2015 Digital Futures Graduate Exhibition.

The exhibition showcases the innovative, creative, human-centric thesis works from 12 graduating students.

The works on display frame an understanding that the digital future lies not solely within emerging technologies, but rather is catalyzed by the relationships we build, the communities we support and the people and processes that can be transformed through innovative technology and human experience combined.


Friday, April 17, 2015, 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 18, noon to 5 p.m.
Monday, April 20 to Wednesday, April 22, noon to 7 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, Open Gallery, 49 McCaul Street, Toronto  

Level Up Showcase puts Ontario's top student game designers in the spotlight

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 4:00am

Fifth annual event is an interactive gaming playground

Over 2,000 gamers, developers and industry recruiters are expected at the fifth annual Level Up Showcase. Held at the Design Exchange, it features 80 projects from 16 different institutions across Ontario, including students from OCAD University’s Digital Futures program. The event spotlights the most talented students in design, animation and computer science programs from colleges and universities across Ontario. The games incorporate the latest technology and gaming platforms, from motion sensors to virtual reality devices and beyond.

Last year, OCAD U teams won the Artistic Achievement and People’s Choice awards.

The showcase has become the biggest event in Toronto for gamers, recruiters and media to get the inside scoop on emerging talent in game development. The evening is cohosted and organized by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), University of Toronto, OCAD University and Algonquin College in partnership with AMD, George Brown College, Sheridan College and Ubisoft Toronto.

Level Up was founded in 2011 by Emma Westecott, assistant professor, Game Design, at OCAD U, together with Steve Engels, senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

Level Up Showcase

Thursday, April 2, 2015  

5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Media preview: 4 p.m.)

Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., Toronto

This year’s event is sponsored by Autodesk, Microsoft, Unity, Big Blue Bubble, Uken Games, Seneca College, Niagara College and Humber College.

Level Up Showcase

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Level Up Showcase provides a one-stop shop for industry, institutions, and students to network, recruit, and learn about new techniques and technologies in the video game industry. Canada boasts the third largest video game industry in the world, with Ontario boasting the second highest number of video companies in the country (Essential Facts, 2013, The Entertainment Software Association of Canada).

For more information:

Twitter: @levelupTO

RSVP via Level Up Showcase on Facebook

Digital Futures Initiative lauded for TVO training program

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 4:30pm

The Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) honoured OCAD U for outstanding training programs and products at the 2014 CSTD Conference and Trade Show in Toronto on November 14.

The award was given to the Digital Futures Initiative for its partnership with TVO to offer a training and certification package to TVO’s digital media content creators. This training builds on TVO’s success and impact as a digital media organization through its apps, podcasts, and video streams on YouTube and TVO’s websites.

“The 2014 winners each presented a unique and revolutionary approach to adult learning. By combining the technological innovations of the future with the latest in workplace learning and solutions, these organizations have set a new and exciting standard,” said Rob Pearson, Ph.D., President of CSTD.

Established in 1946, The Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) is Canada’s professional association focused on learning in the workplace.

The Digital Futures Initiative is a collection of research laboratories, graduate and undergraduate programs that sit at the cutting edge of creative digital technology and industries.





Memory Capsule at Union Station

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 5:00am to Friday, March 21, 2014 - 4:00am

Work by Digital Futures Graduate Che Yan (Shino) temporarily installed at Union Station

Che Yan (Shino), an MFA graduate of OCAD University’s Digital Futures program, created this inclusive, interactive installation. It allows visitors and commuters to capture their shadow silhouette on a screen projection, then text a message about their memories of Union Station. The image remains on the screen, and fades as other shadows are created.

Venue & Address: 
Great Hall, Union Station 65 Front Street West Toronto, Ontario


Jessica Knox, You Lucky Dog, interactive installation, image by DFI
Che Yan (Shino), Assimilation, Dissimilation, interactive installation, image by Christina Gapic.
Elizabeth Eva Coleman, [Bare Witness], multimedia ebook, image by Christina Gapic.
Cathy Fang, Loopboration, collaborative graphics game, image by Cathy Fang
Anne Stevens, textDIAL, text messaging prototype, image by Christina Gapic.

Upcycled rotary dial phones that send text messages, a cabinet of mementos that trigger digital videos and an interactive installation designed for Union Station that brings people of different cultures together by asking, “what has changed in you, living in Toronto?” These were just a few of the imaginative works in Xtension, the inaugural Digital Futures Graduate Exhibition on view at OCAD U’s Open Gallery this past week. 

The final projects from the Digital Futures Initiative’s inaugural class included a wide range of interactive experiences — everything from digital games to sound installations to multimedia ebooks. One project, You Lucky Dog, by Jessica Knox even measured dogs’ brainwaves using EEG headsets so viewers could type in questions and see a video of a typical dog’s thought response.

The theme of how analogues of our past extend into new ways of imagining our future also had a definite global scope. “It’s amazing to see how diverse the projects are,” said Fayssal Itani, who grew up in Beiruit, and whose projectBlogtivist turns players into activists contributing to helping topple a dictatorship through online activities. “We’re all from different backgrounds, places and areas of expertise, all coming together.”

Interactivity added to the excitement of the show, particularly during the packed opening reception. “Hosting an exhibition that’s so hands on is interesting because people aren’t used to interacting with works in a gallery space,” said Knox. “Hopefully as this becomes more common, people will play more.”

Knox was one of the four student co-organizers of the show, along with Heather Phenix, Ryan Rizzo and Lloyd Gray, under the guidance of Martha Ladly, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Three of the graduate students who exhibited received DFI Awards of Merit for their work: Anne Stevens, Marc de Pape and Elizabeth Eva Coleman. Stevens presented two pieces, stereoPHONEic, a portable music player that positions stereo speakers behind each ear, and textDIAL, the text-messaging rotary dial phones. Marc de Pape’s The Chime: Scoring the City, poetically translates external impulses from the everyday city and translates them into sounds. Elizabeth Eva Coleman’s [Bare] Witness is a multi-sensoral ebook incorporating animation, video, sound and text-based storytelling to convey complex, personal narratives of trauma and recovery.

"The true magic of advanced technology has been brought to life by this year's digital futures graduates," said Tom Barker, Chair of the Digital Futures Initiative. "There is something here for everybody: whether you want your dog to give you advice, you want to learn how to meditate, hear music created by cities or play the latest computer games. Experience tomorrow. Today."

The Digital Futures Initiative is a unique, practice-based, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate program for future innovators, leaders and creators of digital media and new technologies. It builds on OCAD U’s historic strength in digital research, design innovation, foresight and artistic practice.

The focus of the program is to develop “X-shaped innovators” for the creative digital industries. Each point of the X is an expertise: in art, design, science and enterprise.



Rickee Charbonneau at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
AmpGear prototype. Photo by Christina Gapic.

Rickee Charbonneau’s medal award-winning AmpGear is a crowdsourced prosthesis design project that goes beyond the limits of the human hand and can be made at home on a 3D printer. Here’s how Charbonneau describes it:

AmpGear is an online crowdsourcing portal that collects designs and ideas from amputees and their communities (i.e., AmpGadgets) to be then marketed and sold to the community.

The concept for this project aims to completely shift the paradigm of limb replacement from the current, strictly bound, and nearly obsessive aim to replicate hand function, towards an open discourse of prostheses as accessory tools.

This project involves the use of 3D printing technology to allow for the prosthetic hand and its attachments to be quickly and cheaply printed at home with a desktop 3D printer, such as the Makerbot, or through a local 3D printing service.

The components of my project are the following:
1. The prosthetic hand supporting multiple task-specific attachments
2. An online community that actively participates in innovating the product by designing new attachments
3. Makers, designers and inventors that are interested in creating solutions to various problems
4. Amputees, individuals with limb deficiencies and their peers

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

My inspiration for this project stems from the fact that limb loss has a wide variety of social and functional implications that have not been appropriately addressed. On the one hand, a wide variety of engineering projects have sprung up over the years with the goal of replicating limb function. On the other hand, emerging critical initiatives aim at challenging body aesthetics. Although some of these initiatives have been moderately successful, prostheses development continues to be a costly and unsustainable endeavour and its practical, commercial applications remain elusive.

Working with the inclusive design research centre has opened my eyes to a lot of large issues in design and this project is my response to some that I have been exposed to.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The most rewarding experience in terms of learning new tools for me in this process was learning to use and maintain desktop 3D printers. As a maker, having this skill opens up a world of possibilities for my work.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?

I am proud of how innovative this project is and of how much potential it has. I worked very hard to produce a very strong concept that could translate well into a marketable product.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

Although my cohort is a small one, the work we have produced as a small group was all very strong. Learning that I was the medal winner for my program (and the first ever medal awarded to the Digital Futures program) was really exciting! I told my close friends and family right away.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

My fondest memory will always be the experience I shared with my two other Digital Futures “pioneers.” I won’t have to miss them much though, because we still spend most of our time tinkering on projects together.

What are you planning to do next?

I am hoping to take my thesis project to the next level in the coming months, and I will be attending OCAD again in the fall as I begin my Graduate studies in Inclusive Design.

Find out more about Rickee Charbonneau