Arts / Design / Engineering / STEM

Check out these 3 tech-centric DesignPhiladelphia events

DesignPhiladelphia kicks off next week. We preview three events we're especially excited to see.

DesignPhiladelphia signage, 2008. (Photo by Flickr user Jesse Gerard, used under a Creative Commons license)
Disclosure: is a media sponsor of DesignPhiladelphia 2014.

This year’s DesignPhiladelphia Festival kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 8 and highlights some of the most promising and innovative design projects that Philadelphia’s creative economy has to offer.

Through Friday, Oct. 17, the 10th annual extravaganza will feature over 120 exhibits, workshops and events held across the city.

Browse them all

Here are previews of three nifty tech events you won’t want to miss.


Designing the Internet of Things

Tuesday, Oct. 14 (7-9 p.m.)
3330 Walnut St., Levine Hall Wu & Chen Auditorium, Room 101

A smart yoga mat. (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

A smart yoga mat. (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

A collaboration between Penn’s School of Design and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, this event delves into designing the Internet of Things, exploring how we can connect objects to the online content we consume on a daily basis.

“A lot of the tools out there under the term ‘Internet of Things’ give you all kinds of information, but you don’t know what to do with it,” said Sarah Rottenberg, the associate director of Penn’s Integrated Product Design Program. “We’re looking at how to design things where the experience is meaningful and desirable and the technology is really easy to interact with, use and deploy.”

What can you expect to see at this event? A smart yoga mat that understands your level of experience and works in tandem with the yoga video you’re following.

“If you’re good and can get into poses quickly in the right position, it will move the video forward,” said Rottenberg. Likewise, if you’re a novice with little experience, the smart mat will pick up on your embarrassing blunders and slow the content down for you.

Better yet, certain parts of the mat light up, so the mat itself acts as your own personal yoga instructor. That means you barely have to look up at your instructional video to follow directions. Now you can master yoga in privacy before you attempt the Downward Dog in front of an entire yoga class.


Reality Capture

Monday, Oct. 13 (10 a.m.-12 p.m.)
320 Chestnut St., Carpenter’s Hall

A detailed 3D scan. (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

A detailed 3D scan. (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

“Reality capture is a general term that covers the capture of the real world and pulling it into the digital world,” said Pennoni Associates Design Technology Manager Craig Barbieri. “For engineers, architects and designers, it gives us the ability to be extremely accurate — we’re talking 16 decimal places accuracy.”

You will not want to miss out on this event. Pennoni Associates will be utilizing the latest laser-scanning technology available — along with drones — to digitally recreate the historic interior of Carpenter’s Hall.

How does it work? “The drone zooms around the room a few times, does a few passes,” Barbieri explained. “One pass does a laser scan, one takes photographs so each [geometric] point has color.” The data is pulled into Revit, which renders a realistic 3D model that you can fully explore as if you’re standing in historic Carpenter’s Hall itself.

“You get to see that entire workflow. It’s so fluid. It’s seamless,” Barbieri said.


Philadelphia Game Lab’s Immersive Showcase

Thursday, Oct. 16 (5-7 p.m.)
City Hall, Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Room 116

Philadelphia Game Lab's "Third Eye." (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

Philadelphia Game Lab’s “Third Eye.” (Photo courtesy of DesignPhiladelphia)

Philadelphia Game Lab (PGL) will be showcasing two games it has been working on, along with some new technology.

Third Eye, the main project on exhibit, is a virtual reality meditation game that uses Oculus RiftKinect and a custom heart rate sensor hacked in-house by PGL. The goal of the game? To achieve a certain stage of meditation.

Karan Parikh, the PGL developer leading the Third Eye project, says the game is still in the early stages of development. He’ll be showing attendees the first level of the game, called the Astro Garden.

“It’s very calm and relaxing,” Parikh said. “It’s a beautiful and huge landscape we’ve created.”

Players are free to look around as they sit on a raft on a stream that takes them through the level. As the simulation intensifies, the player needs to sit still, maintain good posture and keep their heart rate steady — or the raft topples over.

PGL will also be showing off Void Ripper, a spaceship shooting game (developed single-handedly in two months by developer Steve Pettit) where you control spaceships and their arsenals with hand gestures.

“It’s very Iron Man-like in terms of the controls,” said Parikh.

Companies: DesignPhiladelphia / Philadelphia Game Lab / University of Pennsylvania

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