Sunday, 03. 10. 2013  –  Category: Service Design

In February of this year, in my capacity as part time tutor at Glasgow School of Art, I was lucky enough to visit the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students undertaking the MSc International Management and Design Innovation course run in conjunction with Glasgow University were, along with a number of international partners, presenting at a symposium showcasing work and projects developed using MIT software called Open Locast.

Locast was born out of a desire by the MIT Mobile Experience Lab to better understand how evolving media technologies could be used to improve connections between people and their social, cultural, and physical spaces. The Open Locast Project itself is a collection of software packages and applications developed with this broad goal in mind.

The platform is designed to enable the rapid prototyping and quick deployment of location-based media prototypes. It is an open-source project composed of two primary components, a Web application and an Android application which act in unison to provide a platform that can be tailored to fit various user experiences.

Memory Traces by MIT Mobile Experience Lab


GSA students were divided into two groups, one focusing on health and wellbeing in Forres and the other on the tourism industry in Eigg. Both teams were encouraged to adopt a user centric approach to the problem, first identifying users and their needs, then developing a service map which could be used as a basis from which to determine how Locast functionality might best be utilised.

Predictably, the media lab is an incredible environment and it’s easy to understand why it’s been the birthplace of so many cool products and ideas. The five floors of the building we visited were an Aladdin’s cave of creativity and innovation. Walking around it’s possible to see into glass walled rooms containing a unique variety of products and artefacts which seemed configured to allow some form of interoperability; grand pianos to British telephone boxes to movie cameras. The environment oozes positivity and invention and a far cry from some of the more familiar grey, austere think tanks associated with computer science related education.

MIT studio


GSA’s relationship with MIT continues to flourish and the students excelled themselves. Most importantly, although the Locast software gave life to the project, it was only considered as a delivery platform. The approach and tools used by the students provided the framework within which the software provided a service. Long may our adventure continue.

MIT sign

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