Hottest new interactive platforms from ITP

Recently, nerd-do-well students, bloggers and window-shopping venture capitalists flocked to ITP’s Annual Spring Show. The Interactive Telecommunications Program, an alternative media school in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, is part entrepreneurial think tank, part guerilla hacker collective creating new platforms across tech disciplines.

Given the recent success of alumnae like Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley and the growing excitement around New York City start-up culture, it’s no surprise that there were a number of event-based geo-social solutions at this year’s geek chic show and tell: Oscar von Hauske and Vitaliy Dikker’s less-committal Meetup cousin,, invites users to post activities that they want to do today and allows friends or strangers to join suggested “hangs” (e.g. “let’s go get a beer”). Rather than being venue driven, the site/mobile app is activity driven, tapping into the world of “what are you up to tonight.” While that eliminates the age-old problem of having more than one friend respond to the same invite, Hangalong’s success relies on the notion that sites like Hot Potato or Meetup are not being used for the same immediate gratification. Wallet friendly insta-Groupon from Brian Jones and Cindy Wong, crowd-sources frugalistas to unlock freebies at local haunts. The SocialDrinkster network alerts members when there is a deal, at which point users can accept or reject the invite. If accepted, the invite unlocks a QR-friendly mobile coupon redeemable in-venue and starts a digital countdown clock that generates timely foot traffic for business owners. In other words, friends can stop warring over mayorships and enjoy cheap margaritas in peace.

The explosion of interest in geo-social only points to a larger trend in augmented reality demonstrated by other innovations in the off-Broadway workspace — merging actual and virtual environments in order to make interactions with technology more tactile.

Digital Terrarium: Michael Kneupefel and Noah Waxman’s Digital Terrarium displays images of ants on a wooden table that re-direct their path or cluster together when objects on the table are adjusted.

AugTopia: Nien Lam and Scott Wayne Indiana’s next-gen superhero toys contain cubes in their tummies that can be adjusted to simulate different QR codes, generating new on-screen super powers with each combo when held up to a webcam.

ITP has always been internationally recognized for producing idea-led inventions that make tech ergonomic and accessible. And it seems simplifying science to the level of child’s play uncovers the most creative implementations of new tech.