A research and prototyping lab is pioneering a new approach to product development.
Australian researchers, design thinkers, innovators, technologists and artists have an opportunity to collaborate in a new product development lab in Melbourne, thanks to an innovative partnership between creative ad agency The Royals and Deakin University.
Called Y2, the lab is offering a new model of industry/academia collaboration that aims to hothouse innovation through short-term residencies and other opportunities.
The Head of Deakin’s School of Communication and Creative Arts and Professor of Internet Studies, Matthew Allen, explained that the lab was inspired by the commercial and critical success of the MIT Media Lab in the US, where a cross-disciplinary, prototype-driven approach has produced large numbers of technologies that have become products and services.
“A ‘prototype or die philosophy’ is guiding Y2’s approach,” he said.
“The Royals have been working with Deakin to build our brand for the past two years and our partnership has evolved to become something more.
“This project is a sign of how the business of research and education is changing to meet the needs of Australia’s future in creative design and invention.
“Y2 will provide a mash-up space away from the daily working worlds of creatives and academics, giving researchers the space for creative innovation.”
He added that collaborating with a partner like the Royals, with its track record in successful creativity, communications and technology, allowed Deakin to be “more agile, more disruptive, and prototype the inventive solutions we need for everyday problems”.
Y2 will offer a series of programs for researchers and clients to explore their thinking with rapid prototyping, initially in the fields of creative and communication technology.
Areas to be explored will include artificial intelligence, conversational experiences, mixed reality, and the future of journalism, narrative and storytelling.
The remit for the first residency is to develop a prototype that seeks to identify and address ongoing, Internet-related social issues such as trust, data ownership and identity within a family or share-house-like context.
This residency will draw on skills related to design research, user experience research, sociology, ethnography and critical engineering. Applications for this six-week, part-time residency are about to close (May 26).
Y2 Director Dave King (The Royals’ former strategy director) said that, over many years of experience, The Royals have seen “the power of a prototype to apply pure research and enliven hypotheses about the near future”.
“Creating this dedicated space and program where expert teams can collaboratively design, build and test their ideas is something we believe is crucial to developing and exporting world-leading creative technology from Melbourne,” he said.
Y2’s first quarterly review publication, “Talking to the Machine“, is available from the Y2 website.