IDEA Is On the Go!

And we mean that literally.

Thanks to U-Haul and with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Downtown Business Improvement District and the City of New Rochelle, IDEA is now able to bring programming and the technologies/technologists it supports directly to the public thanks to our latest initiative, IDEA Go.

What’s IDEA Go? Imagine a food truck-type vehicle, that serves up curated digital experiences (instead of artisan poke bowls or ice cream) to the New Rochelle public. That’s the concept of IDEA Go: a portable tech lab on wheels — a re-purposed U-Haul van — that can easily park at local events allowing the IDEA team to engage with a general audience curious about IDEA’s work.

Meetin’ n’ greetin’ our fellow New Rochellians at community-based events!

IDEA Go has appeared at well-attended New Rochelle events that draw thousands from the region. Just this August and September, IDEA Go attracted crowds at the Touch a Truck festival (an event allowing families to explore the fleet of vehicles — firetrucks, police cars, diggers, etc. — that make the City of New Rochelle run) and the New Rochelle Street Fair. Members of our Bloomberg Philanthropies Champion Cities team facilitated sessions where area residents could try on virtual reality headsets and draw/sculpt creations of their liking in 3D format using a program called Tiltbrush. A handful of our visitors had used virtual reality before. Many hadn’t, but within minutes they were skillfully maneuvering the controls to sculpt their creative vision in real time. As more companies, educational, and cultural institutions use these technologies to convey information to the public, hopefully New Rochelle residents will feel confident to be early adopters and enjoy the unique experiences that immersive tools like VR can offer with the early coaching of our tech teams.

A Mobile Gallery

Community-based interactions using the IDEA Go vehicle will continue to evolve. For example, Bayeté Ross Smith, one of our IDEALab residents, and now a Creative Director with IDEA New Rochelle, envisions a program to use IDEA Go as a mobile gallery. The IDEA Go truck would house temporary small installations by creative technologists & artists working with tech, 360, VR, projections and even a few traditional 2D-printed works. These installations via the IDEA Go Truck would travel to different parts of New Rochelle, charting a path through historically-significant neighborhoods with hour-long stops in each, before culminating the journey downtown. Once downtown, the IDEA Go Truck experience would be enhanced with additional content and entertainment (live music, an independent film screening followed by a director/producer Q&A’s in the library, etc.)

Additional Engagement

A couple of other ways IDEA has engaged with the community as of late: On August 21, one of our New Rochelle Bloomberg Champion Cities team members, Laura Mun, joined the New Rochelle Public Library and Architecture for Kids (ArchForKids)at a youth-focused session visioning a new Library Green (Ruby Dee Park) to demonstrate IDEA’s augmented reality application that was developed for the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge. ArchForKids provides young people with “…dynamic, hands-on, minds-on learning experiences grounded in architecture, design, engineering and urban planning.” During this year’s ArchForKids program, kids were tasked to redesign Library Green, a park located in front of the library. Many children were introduced to augmented reality for the first time during this demo. IDEA’s app also inspired the children to think outside the box, such as including solar panels in their design.

With U-Haul we’re also exploring ways we can use IDEA Go next year to bring events and exhibitions to veteran groups.

And of course, as we’ve already highlighted, IDEA was also thrilled to participate in the Steam and Families Science festival at Albert Leonard Middle School.

IDEA at the Steam & Families Science Festival

This is just the beginning. As IDEA matures and expands, so will our community outreach efforts.

The best way to keep abreast of our upcoming public appearances for now? Follow us @ twitter.com/ideanewrochelle.