Faculty in the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media and Design program have come together to collaborate on the Digital Experience (DX) Lab.
The DX Lab is led by Joel Salisbury, director of research and user experience design, Michael Vertefeuille, director of operations and emerging technology and Brian Daley, director of infrastructure and app development.
The lab’s work covers a wide range of projects involving digital experiences and interaction, Vertefeuille explained.
“Quite simply, we love to build really cool stuff. Our projects have run the gamut. We work with electronics, connecting it to interesting digital experiences, large-scale databases that serve the non-profit sector, and sometimes we just build things to see if they’ll work,” Vertefeuille said.
These projects include Wellscan, a website and app made in collaboration with UConn’s Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity which helps food banks and food pantries manage their inventory. Additionally, the DX Lab has worked on different interactive museum installations, such as the Tree Sway Monitor featured at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT.
Another project to come out of the DX Lab was the Smart Mirror, which is a mirror that doubles as a screen to display things such as time, date, and weather. This mirror was one of the projects built out of the DX Lab’s Special Topics course.
“Sometimes, we run the DX Lab as a Variable Topics/Special Topics course. This is usually where our most “out-there” experimental work seems to occur. In this environment, we pick problems we want to solve or technologies we want to explore and go nuts trying to make something cool,” Salisbury said.
Collaboration with students isn’t just limited to the Lab’s classes, though. The DX Lab has several students run independent projects through the lab. They also employ students in their work.
“Students are the driving force behind all of the work we do. Their creative energy is what makes the DX Lab fun,” Daley said.
The group explained that while the lab officially formed a little over a year ago, the three of them have been working on the same topics since getting to UConn.
“We ‘officially’ formed in December 2018, but the three lead faculty members (Salisbury, Vertefeuille, Daley) have shared research interests since assuming our respective roles,” said the group.
In addition to the work the DX Lab is already doing, they’re quickly expanding.
“As of Spring 2020 the three of us oversee the newly-formed DX Group within UConn’s Center for Open Research Resources and Equipment (COR2E), through which we hope to collaborate with other researches on campus who may be in need of web development, app development, UX design or similar work,” the trio explained.
As for students looking to get involved in digital media and digital experience design, the group encouraged students to lean into the uncertainty of the field.
“Be bold! Embrace the fact that the field moves quickly and allow yourself to get excited about ‘not knowing,’ rather than daunted by ‘not knowing,’” Salisbury said.
Grace McFadden is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.