Designing the future of privacy, automation, and exchange

photo of CoLab

Designing the future of IOT + Blockchain at CCA's Hybrid Lab with IDEO coLAB

Industry innovators, venture designers from IDEO, and a dozen highly-selected fellows have convened at California College of the Arts’ Hybrid Lab in San Francisco to spend the summer designing the future.  The eight-week program is pursuing the development of new ventures for the emerging technologies of blockchain and internet-connected devices.

The 12 fellows, including current students and graduates from CCA’s award-winning Interaction Design program, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and USC, have been placed on teams and given access to CCA’s world-class facilities and experts in emerging technologies in order to prototype ventures that may become part of IDEO’s Start-Up In Residence program or be funded by corporate sponsors.

This summer fellowship program is the latest project of IDEO coLAB -- a collaborative network focused on accelerating the research and development of emerging technologies -- and will build on the success of the Bits + Blocks Lab held last summer at the Harvard Innovation Lab.  Many participants in the Bits + Blocks Lab called it “the best learning experience that they’ve had,” according to coLAB leaders Joe Gerber and Matt Weiss, both managing directors at IDEO.

Blockchain, a public distributed ledger developed to facilitate transactions of bitcoin (the first decentralized digital currency), could have significant and positive impacts on other kinds of transaction, such as transactions on the “internet of things” (or IOT), an environment in which physical objects with unique identifiers communicate with each other by sending and receiving data over the web.

The theme this summer, "Future of Privacy, Automation, and Exchange," addresses issues and opportunities associated with these technologies.  For example, many transactions on the IOT may be deeply personal, with significant privacy implications, but the blockchain could enable authentication and verification with less disclosure of personal information than is currently required in conventional transactions.  The distributed nature of blockchain could also democratize access and participation in markets.

The summer fellowship program began June 13 and will run through August 17 at CCA’s Hybrid Lab, one of the world’s best-equipped shared interdisciplinary spaces for making with technology.  The Hybrid Lab was originally conceived in 2012 to serve the needs of the CCA Interaction Design Program, which educates designers to humanize technology through innovative designed experiences with interactive devices, spaces, games, and networks.  However it quickly attracted engagement by all divisions in the school, because all art, design, and science disciplines are enhanced by learning to shape technology. Since then, the Hybrid Lab has grown to be flexible and open to all students, faculty, and others throughout the institution and beyond.

IDEO, the global design firm behind the IDEO coLAB, has a strong connection with CCA.  Kristian Simsarian, the founding chair of CCA’s Interaction Design program, served as a design and business leader at IDEO for more than a decade, and is currently an IDEO Fellow.

“We designed our Interaction Design programs to be industry-leading, to give students perspective on what’s on the horizon in addition to what’s in demand today,” Simsarian said.  “Partnering with IDEO is an exciting example of how we’re doing this beyond the curriculum.”

“Fidelity Labs is excited to be working with IDEO and CCA as part of the coLAB," said Sean Belka, director of Fidelity Labs, one of the partner companies involved with the program (others are Citi Ventures, Liberty Mutual, and NASDAQ). "This collaboration enables us to not only push our thinking on blockchain and IoT but also to innovate on how we innovate. We are tremendously impressed by the talent and energy the students are bringing to both challenges.”