Exterior of Conference Venue (photo B. Riecke)


FCAT 2019 Undergraduate Conference

March 03, 2019

What happens when the best and brightest undergraduate students of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology gather in one place to show off their wares and project work? Pure innovation in the form of installations, papers, displays and performances! This year, FCAT students were invited to submit work based on the theme of Emergent, focusing on ideas that are new and unexpected. Proposals included indigenous media, research design and creative technology, data and media democracies, as well human creativity and critical making.

FCAT Conference Atrium at Surrey City Hall
Exterior of Conference Venue (photo B. Riecke)

Among the dozen or so teams presenting, a strong showing was made by SIAT students exploring different aspects of the conference theme in the form or research. In his research paper, Exploring Feedback Mechanisms for Spatial Navigation’, Alireza Mogharrab explored the world of telepresence robots and the difficulties encountered in maneuvering these bots in crowded environments. His solution? To design a haptic feedback system called ‘Feetback’ that allows users to receive haptic feedback on the respective sides of their feet. Alireza conducted this project with Dr. Carman Neustaedter and the Connections Lab.

“Feetback” design and implementation (Image: Alireza M.)

Exploring the realm of virtual reality, Natasha Wainwright investigated how we can better support and study profound emotional experiences, such as self-transcendence in a laboratory setting. Profound emotional experiences are rare and difficult to evoke in a sterile lab setting. Through the exploration of ceremonial rituals and techniques from theatre, Natasha and her team formed design elements to support a self-transcendent experience specifically child-like wonder, perceived agency, and a sense of connectedness to other’s and one’s surroundings. Natasha conducted this project with Dr. Bernhard Riecke and the iSpace Lab.

“The UnGaptheMap application aims to encourage public participation in improving biking infrastructure for the Greater Vancouver area.” (Hanna Lim)

In the field of ‘Emergent Design Approaches’ SIAT students Hanah Lim, Shiny Chu, Sabrina He, and Nadia Yonata worked with HUB Cycling, a non-profit that was HUB Cycling, a non-profit that aims to promote more cycling through biking education and events such as “Bike to Work Week”. For their final design solution, the team created a digital platform that assists cyclists in reporting unsafe biking conditions that they encounter on the road and assists HUB in collecting this data from various cyclists all around Metro Vancouver. This project was originally developed for Dr. William Odom’s IAT 333 Interaction Design Methods course.

Focusing on interaction design and the world of finance and insurance, SIAT students Rebecca Harrington, Emily Cheung, Carmen Li and Joyce Aquino teamed up with Manulife Forward to develop. The insurance industry is ripe for disruption. While insurance is shrouded in complexity, other industries have harnessed personal and responsive experiences to engage their customers. Manulife Forward is a mobile application for Manulife’s customers to manage their health insurance, leveraging digital capabilities to offer a personal and adaptive service. Through the SIAT team’s designed app, customers are offered a new way to interact with their insurer: the process of filing claims is made understandable through card-style architecture, the status of filed claims is easy to track, and customers are able to explore better insurance plans based on their stage of life. Where there is usually confusing language and hidden processes, Manulife Forward introduces simplicity and delight into the relationship between an insurer and its customers.

Above: Screenshots of ManuLife App (Emily Cheung)

Students from the project-based ‘Semester in Alternate Realities’ taught by SIAT professor Bernard Riecke and Patrick Pennefather showed off their project work in the Surrey City Hall atrium. Utilizing and applications such as Oculus Go/Rift, HTC Vive etc students created various immersive simulations focusing on the theme of ‘Creating for Good’.

In an exploratory context-drive game that sets you in the future, aptly named ‘Rising Waters’ students Ricky Lalli, Jonathan Lee, Robert Michels and Elene Wanner examined the dystopian future scenario of rising ocean levels caused by pollution. In their compelling simulation, participants are immersed in a floodplain of what was once Richmond, BC searching for the source of a distress call amid the environmental destruction. Once the mission is completed, the player is certainly humbled, pondering their own contribution to the destruction of the environment.

Screenshot from 'Rising Waters'

Another team composed of Leo Danenkov, Nicholas Ramsay, Vlad Ryzhkov, Amber Shao and Sheri Wong used VR to teleport participants to the world of Russian artist Wassily Kandinksy (1866-1944) and synesthesia in ‘The Pitch of Red’. Synesthesia is a neurological disorder where activation of one sensory area instantly activates another sensory area. In their simulation, participants could wander through a virtual representation of Kandinsky’s art studio and experience the stimulation of multiple sensory areas such as colour and musical notes at the same time.

Pitch of Red Demo
FCAT Dean Aoife McNamara trying out ‘Pitch of Red’ Kandinsky VR App

Embracing the theme of ‘Emergent’ or emergence, SIAT students showed off their wares ranging from automata to screen apps to VR applications. Whether it was mastering a CAD program and laser cutter for physical prototyping or mastering the numerous apps that are required to design a virtual simulation, SIAT students created pieces that required a high degree of technical expertise and design sensibility. Through these projects, it also became clear that SIAT students are mindful of the role and responsibility that designers have in shaping a better world.