By Reuben Dacher-Shapiro, PTC Graduate Intern
The creative intersection between technology and art was on display at the Fourth Annual installment of the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s DATA (Design Art Technology Awards). The evening was highlighted by the seven ‘Pop Up’ awards presented to various companies and individuals whose work captures the creative and innovative spirit that is a powerful inertia behind the burgeoning Pittsburgh regional economy.
In addition to the awards, DATA featured high-tech interactive displays, food, drink and even a little dancing. Attendees were also afforded the opportunity to connect, network and share ideas with the array of companies and individuals who operate in the space where design and creativity merge to drive innovation and economic prosperity. The artistic imagination that pervaded the evening is an inherent part of a strong culture of innovation which is the foundation for our regional economy.
What was apparent from the DATA awards was that the technologies on display are much more than tools for economic development and prosperity. The intersection of art and technology is demonstrating the infinite possibility for social advancement that is possible when you infuse technology with art, creativity and innovation. This theme was highlighted by the pedigree of the night’s keynote speaker, Donora, Pa., native J Moses. Moses, a veteran of digital and traditional media, is well known for his former Presidency of BMG Interactive where he green-lighted the popular video game Grand Theft Auto. The DATA awards crowd had the pleasure to listen to Moses’s first public presentation of his new social media platform, WeChi and Goodchi products of Bagooba, Inc.
The company’s mission is to tap into a worldwide power plant of emotional energy to empower humanity. Moses and his team at Bagooba believe that every positive action on the Web is some form of energy called Chi. With this new social media platform, they believe that this energy can be channeled to help contribute to the common good. An approach Moses has called “Social Alchemy.” Social Alchemy is accomplished by creating applications that allow people, social movements and brands to collaborate in a meaningful manner through products that are innovative, entertaining, profitable, global and socially responsible.
In addition to Moses’s speech, a few products were on display to exemplify how the infusion of art and
technology is representative of the positive influence that Pittsburgh’s regional technological culture is having on society. Popchilla the autism therapy robot to the party created by Interbots attended the party. While still in the prototype stage, this interactive robot is poised to have a significant impact on autism therapy. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) roughly 400,000 children between 3 and 15 suffer from autism. Interbots specializes in high-end animatronic technology and is currently developing an iPad app called Popchilla’s World to go along with the Popchilla doll. The goal of the app is to help children with autism practice daily routines and social interactions and eventually monitor progress of the user, personalize the activities, and even create their own activities.
BodyMedia demoed its revolutionary BodyMedia FIT system, which gives users highly accurate information on activity, caloric intake and sleep patterns. BodyMedia FIT is an on-body monitoring system that consists of an armband, online Activity Manager, and an optional, free downloadable app for mobile device users. The armbands automatically track the calories you burn in your daily activities, monitor the quality of your sleep and combines with the Activity Manager, which manages your caloric intake. This powerful combination gives people the tools to empower themselves by losing and keeping off weight to lead healthy, active and enjoyable lives. According to the (CDC) 35.7% of adults 20 and older and 17% of youth were obese in 2010. BodyMedia is driven by the strong belief that its work creates tools that give people the power to change their lives for the better.
BodyMedia, J Moses and Interbot are but a few of the companies that are creatively developing technology to improve society. The number of awards given out belittles the significance that everyone involved in the DATA awards has to the present and future development of the region. The creative innovation that is occurring with art and technology is helping Pittsburgh build a national reputation as a creative high tech city that is not only spawning innovation and economic growth but also breeding powerful ideas that have the potential to change the world.
Reuben is currently the graduate intern for the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC). His B.A. is in Philosophy, Politics, and Law and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at SUNY-Binghamton. Over the next 50 days, Reuben intends to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity by immersing himself in Pittsburgh’s tech community and the networking events the PTC offers. He will be publishing his insights from these experiences on TechBurgher throughout the summer.