TEI’13 write-up

by Gijs

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This is long overdue, but I figured I’d just put this up online before I leave for the next conference ;) In February I was at TEI’13 (Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction) in Barcelona, to present, together with AduĂ©n, our work-in-progress paper about the early stages of development of the TaSST. Prior to the conference I took a few days to explore the city a bit. I managed to not get pickpocketed, and although I ended up at a park in some ghetto neighborhood instead of the famous Gaudi park, I had a great time exploring the city! But about the conference…

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It was my first time at TEI, but I had heard from people that it was supposed to be a very nice conference. Well the venue was great to start with: the Design Hub Barcelona building is located a stone’s throw from the famous Torre Agbar (which turns out, has a very impressive LED-animated facade), in Barcelona’s 22@ technology district, which is home to numerous university buildings and startup companies.

The conference area of the Design Hub building was divided into three sections, one for the talks, one for drinks and posters, and finally one for art installations. I think this is illustrative of the conference itself in that it combines experimental research, with design oriented studies, as well as art pieces. I found the combination to be very refreshing and inspiring! One of the organizers said he asked people about what they thought of the conference. One person answered “I like it, it is the most scientific conference I go to”. While another replied “I like it, it is the least scientific conference I go to”. I think this sums up the interesting mix of people quite well. Of course, it is also great to see that some big names such as Hiroshi Ishii, Brygg Ullmer and Bill Verplank attend TEI.

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Apart from all the informal mingling, eating and drinking, the most fun part of the conference was definitely the demo session, which was situated in the Barcelona Fablab. Not only was it really nice to play around with all kinds of prototypes (it’s a conference about tangibility after all), but it was also a great way to engage with all kinds of people about their work. It really helps when the stuff your talking about is actually laying on the table in front of you! We also had a stand at the three hour (!) demo session, and got some great feedback from people (including Hiroshi Ishii).

To sum up, I can wholeheartedly recommend submitting to TEI!