Demystifying Innovation through Design Part. 1

We’ve been having a lot of exciting conversations with members of the Parkdale Centre for Innovation’s network of professionals from different sectors. My most interesting discussions have been on new, innovative products/services across three industries: VR, AI/ Machine Learning, Blockchain and making innovative organizations and products more accessible to communities.

Design often comes up in our discussions, design as a missing piece in emerging technology-driven industries. The tech behind new companies and services is moving a little bit too quickly for design-centred processes to take root, sometimes resulting in troubling user experiences that impact a company’s bottom line and whether they make it as a market leader.

Innovation needs to be more approachable. A common misconception is that Innovation requires unapproachable geniuses and sophisticated products. Design can play a fundamental role in removing these misconceptions.

This article outlines who is making innovation accessible in VR, AI/ Machine Learning and Blockchain, within the context of design as part of our Demystifying Innovation series.

Babylon VR’s Enterprise login designed through the Parkdale Centre for Innovation Freelance Project

Sector 1: Design and VR

  • Technology: VR technology is coming a long way, organizations are now bridging the gap between the users reality and virtual reality. VR product development needs to be conscious of user design or products will fall short of delivering a smooth transition between the user’s reality and the virtual reality experience.
  • World stage: The Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA for short), a non-profit association with the goal of “promoting responsible development and adaptation of VR globally” is teaming up with other non-for profits to create ethical guidelines for VR technology. With their focus on improving sectors from healthcare to education their are high hopes for GVRA to positively impact the user interaction with VR platforms.
  • At home: Babylon VR a start-up in Waterloo expanding their technology and design of next generation VR platforms. Babylon VR is rapidly going from a VR platform for real estate solutions to becoming a platform for all industries with a user friendly interface for brands and influencers in the North American and Asian markets.

Sector 2: Design AI/ Machine Learning

AI is being integrated into existing platforms to add to an organization’s toolbox that’ll ultimately reduce organizational inefficiencies and level the playing field between small and large scale business.
  • Technology: We always read stories about AI applications that will make humans virtually obsolete in every task, these stories are really cool and interesting/scary to read about. However, more interesting is how organizations are creating solutions for businesses using AI right now and integrating a great user experience.
  • World Stage: Microsoft just launched an update to Office 365 that integrates AI and machine learning to enhance events. This includes new features like: searchable speech-to-text, facial recognition and more. Microsoft’s approach is user friendly and subtle, not overwhelming for first time users, setting a great bar for applications that plan on using AI to solve organizational inefficiencies.
  • At home: Platform, a local startup incubated at the Parkdale Centre for Innovation that provides a platform for entrepreneurs and startups to build apps backed by a rich layer of data analytics, machine learning, AI and social, like WiX for apps. Platform launched quietly in 2018 and has been in stealth while picking up customers in corporate clients as an enterprise solution and with startups looking for alternatives to platform development with an easy-to-configure AI platform builder out the gate.

Demystifying Innovation through Design

The Canadian federal and provincial governments are supporting initiatives that Demystify Innovation, giving the word more substance than ever. I’d like to thank the public offices that support our initiatives, you’re playing a big role in making Toronto a diverse place for these technologies to thrive and we hope you continue to do so.

Parkdale Centre’s Demystifying Innovation is a series to gather trends and ideas from industry and academia to demystify innovation and bring focus to the impact design can have on innovation.

If you’d like to get involved or submit your startup to our <Demystifying Innovation> series or talk about anything outlined in this blog, send an email to

About Parkdale Centre

Parkdale Centre is an incubator, accelerator and community innovation space that brings entrepreneurship, business, design & technology to the inner-Parkdale community with a focus on equitable and inclusive programs members.

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