Previewing NYC Media Lab’s Annual Summit Demo Session

Justin Hendrix
9 min readSep 1, 2015

An ‘appetizer sampler’ of projects at NYC universities from design to engineering

At NYC Media Lab’s upcoming Annual Summit, which takes place on Friday, September 25th at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and Kimmel Center, one of the elements of the day we are most excited about is the afternoon demo session. This ‘science fair’ event, which takes place from 2–5pm in the Kimmel Center, will feature a wide range of work. In all, expect 100+ demos of new media technologies and ideas from faculty and students in disciplines from design to engineering. It’s an amazing opportunity to see some of the best work from the best talent from universities across New York City, and to get a sense of shared curiosities across the campuses.

To tell the tale of every demo would be a mammoth task, but to give a sense of the kinds of projects participants will see I’ve compiled this ‘appetizer sampler’ of a dozen examples from various participating universities. We present a range of work, in no particular order, from students and from faculty. Visit the Summit home page for a full list of participating demos, and to register.

Faculty and students- there is still time to be included- more information on how to demo is here.

1. Submerge

Anneka Goss, MSc 2017, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

Anneka Goss: Submerge

One of the themes running through this year’s demos is the powerful storytelling potential of combining creative coding and data visualization. Anneka Goss, a grad student in the Integrated Digital Media program at NYU Poly, will present one such project. Submerge is an interactive projected installation that visualizes global warming as a code-generated virtual ocean and sky, allowing the viewer to engage with the data on climate change in an immersive way. “The goal of Submerge is to explore past and projected climate data in an interactive environment and to utilize emerging web and prototyping tools,” said Goss. The effect is- at once- enchanting and terrifying.

2. Depth Perception

Alec McClure, Assistant Professor of Game Design, CUNY Hostos

Alec McClure: Depth Perception

Exploring the potential for virtual and augmented reality is an effort taking place in programs ranging from computer science to design across NYC’s campuses. Some experiments seek to push the bounds of this new medium for immersive experience and storytelling. Depth Perception is a multi-modal experiential installation set up to create pathways between and confuse the borders of two spaces, one virtual and one physical. With this project, Assistant Professor of Game Design at CUNY Hostos and Parsons Design and Technology MFA lecturer Alex McClure seeks to “raise questions and close the gap between conceptions of what is ‘artificial’ and what is ‘real.’”

3. PlateClick

Longqi Yang, PhD 2019, Cornell Tech

If any of these projects deserves to make the ‘appetizer sampler’ in the literal sense, it is PlateClick. A key area of interest for many digital media companies is in personalization and recommendation technologies. Cornell Tech’s Longqi Yang has built PlateClick: Bootstrapping Food Preferences Through an Adaptive Visual Interface as part of the Small Data Lab at Cornell Tech. The project uses a minimum number of variables to understand what you might like to eat.

“PlateClick is able to efficiently bootstrap people’s food preferences in a small number of interactions,” says Yang.

4. AMuSe — Adaptive Multicast Services

Varun Gupta, PhD 2016, Columbia University

Not every project has a pretty picture- and that’s often true of the more technical projects. Some of the most exciting work we’ll see at the Summit comes from the City’s engineering schools. One example is AMuSE, a project from the Wireless and Mobile Networking Group at Columbia University.

AMuSe- which stands for ‘adaptive multicast system’- is “an interactive application to demonstrate the performance of multimedia content delivery via WiFi multicast to hundreds of users in crowded areas,” says Gupta, who will present the demonstration. The project explores system architectures and algorithms that can improve wireless multicast performance in public places- think train stations or football stadiums- by 10x. Collaborators include Columbia Engineering master’s candidates Raphael Norwitz and Savvas Petridis, PhD candidate Craig Gutterman, Professor Gil Zussman and Dr. Yigal Bejerano from Bell Labs.

5. On Broadway

Agustin Indaco, PhD 2019, CUNY Graduate Center

On Broadway is an interactive installation that represents life in the 21st century city using 40 million images and data points collected from 13 miles of Broadway. We wanted to show a new visual way of representing a city, were users could scroll up and down different blocks on Broadway and find out what the facade looks like, what type of Instagram images are taken there, the volume of taxi pick-ups and drop-offs, the number of Tweets posted and many other characteristics that are available nowadays,” says Indaco. “We wanted to move away from the conventional ways of showing data on graphs or on maps and create a new way of representing life in the 21st century city.”

“The project was a result of a unique collaboration between the world’s
leading information visualization designer, professional interaction
and web designers, computer scientists and also PhD students from The
Graduate Center, CUNY from four different programs (Economics, Art
History, Linguistics and Anthropology),” says Lev Manovich, a faculty member in CUNY’s Graduate Center. Daniel Goddemeyer, Moritz Stefaner, Dominikus Baur, Lev Manovich, Mehrdad Yazdani, Jay Chow, Brynn Shepherd and Leah Meisterlin and PhD students at The Graduate Center, City University of New York including Indaco, Michelle Morales, Emanuel Moss, Alise Tifentale.

6. Bullet Pointe Lab

Jane McDonough, MFADT 2016, Parsons

Jane McDonough: Bullet Point Lab

New York City is a crucible of art, design, fashion and technology, so it follows that some of the most interesting experiments emerging on the campuses are in wearable technologies. Jane McDonough’s Bullet Pointe Lab is a collection of wearable technologies and interactive devices for the twenty-first century ballet dancer. “I’ve been working as the Creative Director of Bullet Pointe Ballet Apparel Co. since its creation in 2013 when my mom, younger sister (currently a professional ballet dancer with Los Angeles Ballet), and I decided that the ballet world needed a brand that moved beyond the idea of the stereotypical ‘pretty-in-pink’ princess ballerina towards ballet’s reality — one that would showcase the athleticism and determination of the women who dedicate their lives to doing what they love,” says McDonough.

“BP Lab is a sort of ‘spin-off’ of Bullet Pointe, sharing the driving ideology of the brand while taking a conceptual, technology-driven approach towards representing these ideas. It is a proposal for the ballet world — to welcome innovation, to rethink tradition, and to use design and technology as a tool to allow ballet dancers to view not only ballet but also themselves in a different light.”

7. Agolo

Sage Wohns, MBA 2012, Columbia

A few of the projects that will demo at the Summit are full fledged startup ventures, incubated on the City’s campuses. One such example is Agolo, a company that builds proprietary summarization technology for the media and finance sectors. Clients use the solution to generate topical insights that save costs and optimize investment decisions.

“Our goal over the next year is to find additional media partners as we roll our solution out to customers,” says Sage Wohns, CEO. Agolo’s team is led by a Columbia PhD natural language processing expert and a ex-Rakuten engineer who worked directly with its CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, an Agolo investor. Faculty advisors to the company include Columbia’s Tony Jebara and Owen Rambow, and the company has received support from Columbia University’s Eugene Lang Center for Entrepreneurship.

8. Fraglight

Raffi Khatchadourian, Assistant Professor, City College of Technology, CUNY

It’s not a party if you don’t invite the computer scientists. Pointcut fragility is a problem in aspect-oriented programming; changes to the base code can lead to join points incorrectly falling in or out of the scope of pointcuts. Deciding which pointcuts have broken due to changes made to the base code can be a daunting task, especially in complex systems.

“Fraglight helps developers change Aspect-Oriented programs by analyzing their code and correspondingly predicting which pointcuts, or queries over the program execution, break as a result of their changes, bringing these pointcuts to the developer’s attention,” says Khatchadourian, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Systems Technology at New York City College of Technology, part of CUNY, who developed the project with a team of collaborators.

9. QuantFlaunt

James Anaipakos, MA 2015, Pratt Institute

The proliferation of shared personal data across social media and the growing desire by some to quantify activities, interests and other aspects of life is an intersection ripe for experiment. James Anaipakos’s QuantFlaunt is a project to record and analyze user-submitted metrics, moods, and ideologies in order to explore the idea of curated social identity. The goal is “to bring attention to the free labor — both conscious and unconscious — of social media and user-tracking devices and to let users easily represent themselves through an aggregated identity number — the desired result of branding without hours or weeks of curation,” says Anaipakos.

10. Newsfie

Cheng-Kang (Andy) Hsieh, PhD 2016, Cornell Tech

As noted, content personalization and recommendation are a primary interest of many NYC Media Lab member companies. The problem of recommending ever more relevant news from social signals is a challenge data scientists continue to hack on, both in industry and in university labs. Cornell Tech PhD candidate Andy Hsieh presents Newsfie, an instant personalized news experience based on diverse digital breadcrumbs volunteered by the user, including tweets, email, and Slack communications.

11. Compliment

Lucy M Bonner, MFADT 2016, Parsons

Lucy Bonner: Compliment

Some of the most interesting combinations of content and technology we see on the campuses are experiments in virtual reality. From engineering to journalism programs, students are tinkering with the potential of these new tools to tell stories, create experiences, and express ideas.

Parsons MFADT candidate Lucy Bonner’s Compliment is an immersive experience of street harassment for the Oculus Rift. “With Compliment, I wanted to shed light on the intrusion and violation of street harassment by providing those who would not otherwise experience it with a sense of the reality of daily harassment,” says Bonner.

12. Puppy Lamp

Yining Shi, MPS 2016, NYU ITP

Yining Shi: Puppy Lamp

Of course, we have to finish with something fun. Across NYC’s campuses, there is a great deal of experimentation that can be put into the category ‘internet of things.’ Puppy Lamp is an example of a prototype bridging physical objects and digital apps from NYU ITP MPS candidate Yining Shi. It is a digital interaction designed to work with a physical object- indeed, a lamp in the shape of a puppy. People can use the app to send color and text message to their friends and light up their friends’ Puppy Lamp, allowing them to express themselves in a new way. “Puppy Lamp is a playful experience that invites friends to express their feelings with lights and colors,” says Shi.

Like what you see here? Come meet the talent behind 100+ demos at NYC Media Lab’s Annual Summit on September 25th. Visit the Summit home page for a full list of participating demos, and to register.

Faculty and students- there is still time to be included- more information on how to demo is here. We look forward to seeing you at the Summit.

Have questions about how you can get involved? Contact Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab, at or reach out to us on Twitter.



Justin Hendrix

CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press. Associated Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. I live in Brooklyn, New York.