StoryLab Found a New way to Innovate TEDx

September 14, 2017

5:51 pm

TEDx is a series of presentations given around the world that focus on innovative ideas worth spreading. Ideas from TEDx events have included everything from “How to Spot a Liar” to the “Secrets of Happiness”.

But what about outside of the stage?

As Beth Haley, Executive Director of TEDxABQ states, “we always say we want to do something innovative with our audience, but we haven’t had a great idea take shape. Until this year.”

The idea of innovation was right in StoryLab’s wheelhouse. Run by CEO John-Mark Collins, StoryLab is a startup that focuses on augmenting the real world. A combination of experience design firm, software development, and web design.

Haley adds, “We entered our partnership with a very basic idea. We wanted to encourage connection among attendees and also highlight how people fit into a larger community. What was so incredible is that John-Mark and his team took the bare bones and built it into something that was relevant to our event.”

The Interaction at TEDxABQ

The interaction at TEDxABQ was a combination of tablets, stored data, a SQL database, and html.

A key question was developed for each presentation. For example, Ronen Polsky spoke about The Future of Wearable Technology. The key question related to his presentation was “Imagine a painless wearable piece of technology that tracks your health 24/7. Would you wear this device?”

The audience was able to answer this and other questions from any of the nine tablets in the audience engagement room. Each time the question was answered, a new thread animated across a screen at the front of the engagement room, connecting the location of the tablet with an answer from the audience.

Not only did this give the audience a look at how they fit within their community, StoryLab also sent the data to TEDx organizers so the numbers could be shared with the audience throughout the event.

The Hickups with Building Something New

Collins and his team spent two months putting together the project, as well as finding donated tablets.

Collins’ says, “We started out wanting to sponsor TEDxABQ, but instead created this system as a sponsor. We had tablets donated. If I do this again, we won’t be using Android tablets. They didn’t work as well with the system as the other tablets.”

Other hurdles they faced was creating a network within a network.

“We contacted the convention center and they worked with us to put in special line drops.”

Tourists and locals will soon see more StoryLab projects popping up at the Balloon Fiesta and the Albuquerque Biopark. Also, later this month, John-Mark Collins will be presenting at NMTC’s ExperienceIT about “Let’s Get Phygital!: Blurring the lines between realities.”

And for TEDx followers, TEDxABQ’s next event is TEDxABQ Women’s “Bridges” on November 2.


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AKA Author of pain, but only on the roller derby track. Off the track, I take the pain out of writing. Writer, trainer, and entrepreneur; I get small biz.

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