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University of Toronto And Samsung Electronics Canada Partner On Digital Media Initiatives

Last week the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) and Samsung Electronics Canada announced a new partnership where the two will be working on several digital initiatives. The initiatives are intended to help the next generation for working in the prepare ever-evolving digital media environment. Two projects have been decided upon including, a Design Jam and the SPARK (Sharing Possibilities for Apps in Research and Knowledge) Apps Challenge. These innovative projects are enabling students to better understand the future of digital design, the user experience and the effect of new media on society. The initiatives encourage students to apply critical thinking and collaboration skills to designing and developing new media initiatives and to rethink the way users relate to technology. As a world leader in the development of technologies that facilitate knowledge sharing, Samsung has provided SMART TVs, smartphones and tablets for these projects.

“We are excited to work with Samsung Canada on these projects that will benefit our students, our graduates and, ultimately, our society,” says Professor Anthony Wensley, Director of UTM’s Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology. “Through our partnership, we are focusing on the skills our digital design students will need when they enter the workforce and the innovative applications that will best meet the needs of our wired and networked community.”

The Knowledge Media Design Jam, facilitated by U of T’s Knowledge Media Design Institute, focused on the question: “What does a family games night in a networked home environment look like?” Four teams of undergraduate and graduate students worked together to brainstorm, sketch, build wireframes and develop prototypes of digital games an entire family could enjoy. Projects ranged from a networked version of the board game Risk and family scavenger hunt to karaoke contest and multimedia game involving household chores.

One team developed a family activity that incorporated multimedia activities – such as photographing the family pet – into a networked municipal, national and global conquest game. The group envisioned a “smartTable” around which families could gather to play and share memories, images and videos of their day. Another team used a multi-player karaoke game to demonstrate how various platforms and devices could be used, instead of traditional game console systems, to play collaborative and educational games, while yet another developed a family scavenger hunt where devices became portals into Augmented Reality, hiding clues in the house.
Samsung and UTM are currently collaborating on another initiative – the SPARK Apps Challenge. High school students from southern Ontario have been invited to submit conceptual designs for apps focused on collaboration in education, business innovation or social responsibility. Early in 2012, the challenge will be extended to post-secondary students at U of T, Sheridan College and OCAD and Ryerson Universities who will be invited to submit functional prototypes. Winners will receive prizes and opportunities to further develop theirs apps for the Samsung and Android market.