Los Angeles Innovator Visits

Just back from a Los Angeles journey to call on various innovators in my role as Collaborative Strategy Leader for Digi International. First, I paid a visit to statistics professor and data expert Mark Hansen at UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked Sensing. Mark is currently investigating what he calls “participatory sensing, projects that engage the general public in non-professional practices of data collection and analysis.” He also is involved with the New York Times, most notably the “Moveable Type” art installation featured in the lobby of the Times headquarters. We talked about citizen science, understanding the context for data, reckoning, estimation, and making the most of data even when it’s biased and inconsistent. I’m looking forward to getting more of his input on the iDigi device cloud as we move forward with enhancing its data management capabilities.

Next up was a visit to Culver City’s premier hacker hangout, Crash Space where Carlyn Maw and Tod Kurt of ThingM showed me around. We looked at their vast array of nifty parts and solid span of tools-both the 3D printer and old-school band saw variety. Then we tossed around ideas for putting together a hacker space challenge that aims to spur amazing new projects based on the iDigi platform. ThingM, by the way, produces various components to make prototyping with lights easy. My favorite example is the WineM smart rack that links physical bottles to a networked database for wine collectors—a fine start for an M2M network.

The Machine Project art space has been on my list ever since Botanicalls was exhibited there in 2007. It’s a storefront in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that hosts events from scientific talks to group naps; shows collaborative projects from baby-controlled electronic music to collections of carnivorous plants; and hosts workshops on topics from electronics to pickling. Mark Allen showed us around the space, then we talked about holding workshops on connecting devices to the Internet and generalizing some of the sensor networking projects we’re planning with Exploratorium and Storefront for Art & Architecture.

Lots going on with sensors, technology, art and innovation in L.A. Looking forward to my next visit. Who else should I see? Let me know in the comments…