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NYU Tandon projects well-represented among winners at NYC Media Lab's annual summit

NY Media Lab Summit 2019

MakerBrace, a Tandon student-run project to design and fabricate 3D-printed devices for patients with cerebral palsy garnered the first-place prize of $4,000 at the NYC Media Lab Summit

The NYC Media Lab is dedicated to driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development among the city’s media companies and its universities, and in late September NYCML ’19, a celebration of the organization’s most exciting projects and initiatives, came to Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. 

Attendees moved between NYU Tandon and the neighboring New York City College of Technology to listen to panel discussions, take part in hands-on workshops, and view more than 100 innovative digital-media projects.

NYC Media Lab Executive Director Justin Hendrix and NYU Tandon Vice Dean for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Kurt Becker helped kick off the daylong event, addressing the more than 1,000 attendees and touching upon the Lab’s unique ability to foster connections among its partner organizations — and the benefits that can result from those connections.

“We’ve all been on the subway and been delayed because of signaling problems,” Hendrix said. “That’s because we’re still relying in some part on an antiquated signaling system. That’s where we are with the media landscape in certain respects. The system we’re relying on simply isn’t engineered for today.”

That won’t be the case for too long, if the initiatives on display at Demo Expo and Startup Pavilion were any indication. They ranged from an innovative video production process that uses real-time eye-tracking information to model the viewers’ attentional behavior to a mixed-reality method of freeing patients from debilitating tremors to a “smart apron” prototype that allows users to navigate online cooking videos by tapping conductive symbols on the garment.

 

NYC Media Lab awarded $25,000 in prizes to creative projects with enormous potential impact, and NYU Tandon teams were well-represented among the winners. They included:

  • MakerBrace, a student-run project to design and fabricate low-cost, highly adaptable, 3D-printed devices for patients with cerebral palsy that garnered the overall first-place prize of $4,000.

  • Digital Arrest, a collaboration between NYU Tandon’s Integrated Digital Media program and Columbia University that won the $1,000 top prize in the category of creative technology; in the compelling virtual reality experience, the viewer becomes Jarrell Daniels, a young black man whose social media use leads to a six-year prison sentence in a New York prison. 

  • Sounds of New York City (SONYC), a project connected to Tandon’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and NYU’s Music and Audio Research Laboratory (MARL).  An urban sound monitoring system powered by cutting-edge machine listening to help mitigate noise pollution, SONYC took the $500 second prize in the category of data science.

  • Measuring Channel Dynamics for Next Generation Wireless Networks, a demonstration of a purpose-built measurement system used to investigate millimeter-wave channel dynamics — a key enabler for next-generation wireless networks — which garnered the $500 second prize in the category of enabling technology.

Speaking on a panel devoted to discussing a time when technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality have reached maturity, R. Luke DuBois, who co-directs Tandon’s Integrated Digital Media program, warned that we must consider issues like bridging the digital divide and algorithmic fairness when planning for the future.  “We also have to think about why we are using these technologies,” he asserted. “Data visualization is great when it’s used for anodyne purposes like plotting income on a bar graph, but we need to keep in mind that people are not numbers.”