Past Meetup

NYC-CHI Presents the UX of Connected Spaces

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NYC UX Acrobatics is proud to sponsor The UX of Connected Spaces with NYC CHI - NYC's oldest and largest UX, IA & Usability Group!



The Internet of Things (IoT) and Natural User Interfaces (NUI) are rapidly transforming how we live and interact. With the confluence of near-universal mobile and device connectivity; rapidly standardizing data protocols and platforms and the advent of "big data" analytics; and the rise of alternate means of consumer interactions with digital devices through voice, motion, and gaze as well as touch and mouse/keyboard interactions-- both NUI and IoT have finally arrived. The IoT product sector is now growing rapidly, with hundreds of millions invested in IoT companies, platforms and products in the last two years. The confluence of IoT and NUI is also a wide-ranging new frontier for UX, spanning healthcare and personal monitoring; event and spatial interaction design; home and security management; remotely connected cars, devices and appliances; and much more. IoT and NUI present exciting challenges for UX professionals to consider new means of interactions beyond a simple computer or device screen and keyboard, with new types of input and management of data as well as the marriage of hardware products and digital software design.

NYC-CHI ( will be hosting a series of events to explore this new frontier of UX over the next several months. Connected Spaces is the first event in this series, and focuses specifically on creating interactive, "smart" spaces and environments. The event is divided into two parts: talk and play! First, we'll get an overview of this growing niche through a brief overview and actual case studies from Brett Renfer at the Rockwell Group Lab and Elliott Blanchard from Invisible Light Network. These case studies will focus specifically on the UX design of interactive spaces from actual projects. The second part of the event will be a hands-on workshop with NYC's own open-source spatial programming platform,

Spacebrew (

! The workshop will enable people to get a first- hand view of how to program and use Spacebrew for yourself. Everything you may need is provided, though you may want to bring your laptop. Come have fun, learn something new and play!

This event is sure to interest UX designers who have been mainly considering UX in the context of desktop screen layouts to consider this emerging world of interactive environmental connectivity. The world around us is now becoming our screen! If you're curious about seeing and learning the "next wave of UX", this event is for you!



AGENDA - Arrival and registration (5:45-6:00)

PART 1: TALKS (6:00-7:30)- Introduction and brief overview of IoT and Connected Spaces with Beverly May- Case study presentation and Q+A with Brett Renfer

• Case study presentation and Q+A with Elliott Blanchard

• Brief networking break

PART 2: WORKSHOP (7:30-9:00)

• Workshop with the open-source Spacebrew platform, with guided instruction from Julio Terra. Capacity is strictly limited to 30 registrants for this part of the event.

• Q&A, Closing and final networking



ROCKWELL GROUP LAB: As an interactive design firm embedded within a larger architecture firm, the LAB seeks to blur the line between the physical and virtual in all of our projects. Our process relies heavily on iterative prototypes. Through making and experimenting we gain a deeper understanding of the user experience and uncover new opportunities and insights.

In our presentation we will explore two projects that showcase different aspects of our work process. Plug-in-Play is a performative celebration of city life and activity, where both physical and virtual activity is filtered and translated into an abstracted cityscape that is projected on the facade of the San Jose City Hall building. The West Lobby of the Cosmopolitan is a site-specific, permanent new media platform that creates a larger-than-life inhabitable environment.

INVISIBLE LIGHT NETWORK: For South By Southwest 2013, Invisible Light Network built Ring - a connected space that represented a new way to measure grassroots buzz. Ring tracked Twitter and Tumblr activity for all 1800+ bands performing at SXSW Music, mapping the network of retweets and Tumblr reblogs that move initial posts through the social media world in a beautiful, biologically inspired metaphor - and allowing visitors to interact with the data through a touchscreen interface. And because Ring was built from the ground up as a hardware-accelerated Chrome app, anyone in the world was able to experience Ring using a Chrome browser.

Invisible Light Network also thought beyond the screen with their Nu project. Nu transformed music into a unique piece of wearable art - using sophisticated audio analysis, generative 3D code, and 3D printing, Nu transformed the fundamental musical elements of a song into a unique physical structure.


SPACEBREW ( is an open, dynamically re-routable software toolkit for choreographing interactive spaces. Or, in other words, a simple way to connect interactive things (such as computers, mobile devices, and internet of things objects) to one another. Every element you hook up to the system can subscribe and publish data. Using a web-based visual switchboard you can dynamically connect, and disconnect, these elements to each other.

WORKSHOP: The workshop will focus on teaching participants how to use Spacebrew, and helping them to understand how Spacebrew can be used to prototype concepts for interactive spaces. During the first 45 minutes we will teach participants how to create a simple Spacebrew sketch that can be connected to applications running on different devices and objects in the space. Then, during the last 15 minutes we will explore ideas for interactive spaces projects that can be prototyped using Spacebrew. There will also be plenty of time for Q&A afterward.

Prior experience with software development will be helpful but is not required. You may want to bring your laptop, though you will be working in groups during the workshop.



Brett Renfer is a creative director at the LAB at Rockwell Group (, where he leads interaction design efforts across a wide range of projects. Since joining the LAB in 2008, Brett has worked on a diverse range of projects that includes Plug-In-Play in San Jose, California, Build Up! in Washington, DC, and the Cosmopolitan Hotel West Lobby in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brett also manages and develops TSPS and other open-source LAB projects. site:

twitter: @robotconsciencelinkedin:

Elliot Kealoha Blanchard is an award-winning director, designer, and animator. He leads Invisible Light Network (, an integrated creative studio involved in unique motion design, interactive work and short films. Invisible Light Network's clients include Google, UNICEF, Vitamin Water, and GE.

site: (

twitter: @invisLightNet

Julio TerraJulio is a producer and interaction designer at the LAB at Rockwell Group ( He has over 10 years of experience partnering with clients such as Google, Intel, Cornell, HP, IBM and Microsoft on projects that range from immersive interactive spaces to global marketing campaigns. On his free time, Julio contributes to open source projects such as Spacebrew and Arduino.Site: (

Twitter: @julioterraLinkedIn:

Host: Beverly May

Beverly is the acting NYC-CHI President, the organizer of the User Experience Awards ( and the Founder & President of OTV, ( a boutique product strategy and User Experience consulting firm.

Twitter: @OxfordTech