Day One: Creative Growth

We kicked off the day with opening remarks given by George Brown College’s Luigi Ferrara, the Dean of the Centre for Arts, Design and Information Technology. Luigi started by discussing the exciting new lengths that technological strides are heading towards these days, acknowledging the fact that it might seem scary. He concluded that Digifest serves as a place to explore this potential fear of the future, to talk about development, to learn and move towards a future where we work with technology for bettering our daily lives.

Following the opening remarks, we had our first speaker, Ron Di Carlantonio of iNAGO, who presented a lecture on the future of human-like vehicles. He discussed new technologies that are becoming more and more available in the automotive market, and argued that in ten years we could expect a drastic change in the way we interact with our vehicles. He made the example that automotive technology is moving towards KITT, the fictional car featured in the popular franchise, Knight Rider, starring David Hasselhoff.

Next, we had a panel on the Future of Smart Transportation and Mobility, moderated by Sam Saad of Innovation Factory, featuring panelists such as Colin Dhillon of APMA, Saeid Habibi of McMaster University, and Sue Zielinski, an independent consultant. The panel discussed the future of autonomous vehicles, elaborating on the triumphs and pitfalls of the current technology regarding our daily modes of transportation. Many of the panelists agreed that while the technology is there for autonomous vehicles, it’s too expensive now for the average person and smart mobility isn’t about the technology, it’s about the bettering of the user experience.

After a short break, we returned with our next speaker, Samuel Snider-Held of MediaMonks to discuss the future of machine learning tools and the evolution it can have on the creative industry. Samuel demonstrated Neural Illustration and Animation tools made by the MediaMonks Labs R&D team, and discussed how his team is developing the machine learning creative tools of the future.


Emma Atkinson showcasing her VR installation “(if) Only You Could Understand” at Corus Quay.

A snapshot of Digital Dramaturgy Lab ² ‘s interactive performance exhibit at the Daniels building.










Then there was the lunch break, giving the opportunity to grab some food or check out Digifest 2019’s Interactive Zone, where the best and brightest in their fields from all over the world to showcase their current projects. This year, we doubled the exhibition space in order to accommodate larger, more immersive installations. These installations are available during all three days of Digifest, with most of them located at Corus Quay or at George Brown College’s new Waterfront Campus in the Daniels – City of the Arts Building.

We returned from lunch with a keynote lecture from Manuel Lima of Google UX, discussing his journey of UX and Datavis: A Tale of Convergent Paths. Manuel informed us on his creative growth as he spent fifteen years navigating the realms of Data Visualization and User Experience Design, two seemingly disconnected yet highly overlapping fields. He talked on the development of his three published books and how having a passion project can only benefit your personal life but your career as well.

After, we had Scott King of Critical Mass discuss the business lessons that can be learned from the Dark Web. Today, the Dark Web is typically associated with drugs, murder, human trafficking and pornography. While all of that is true, Scott went on to point out that the principles on which the Dark Web is built can be applied outside as well and be beneficial to businesses.

Then we had another panel on Tech for Social Good, featuring moderator Jenna Pilgrim of Streambed Media and panelists Alishba Imran of The Knowledge Society, Ceit Butler of George Brown College, Bassem El Remesh of Chainsafe Systems, and Maria Toorpakai Wazir of the Maria Toorpakai Foundation. The panel discussed the benefits of blockchain, one of the leading fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies that is poised to make a significant impact on the way business is conducted in the years ahead. Many of the panelists use blockchain for social good, informing us of projects that use blockchain technology which empower women in developing countries, help refugees recover belongings and identities after war, protect ourselves from pharmaceutical fraud and more.

Following a short break, we had another panel on Creative Branding and Cannabis, featuring moderator Matt Humphreys of Diff, and panelists such as Kirsten Gauthier of 48North, Greg Gorzkowski of Ample Organics, Brandi Leifso of Evio, and Charles Bern of Patio Interactive. The panel discussed the use of design thinking to reinvent and de-stigmatize the budding cannabis market. They informed us on how innovative design firms are at the forefront of re-branding the budding cannabis industry, typically by re-defining the market and bringing revolutionary products and services to consumers. The panelists consisted of the founders of next-gen cannabis products from lifestyle to cosmetics who are at the forefront of the industry.


We concluded Day One with the IT’S A START Pitch Competition, where ten startups pitched their ideas in front of a live audience and judges. All ten finalists had the opportunity to discuss their business idea, convince the judges of its value, and impress the crowd for five minutes for the chance to win cash, space along with an opportunity to attend Beijing’s Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC). The competition concluded with the distribution of awards, with Mero Technology winning the Honourable Mention, Retreat winning the People’s Choice Award, Shuttershare winning 3rd Place, LinkMentalHealth winning 2nd Place, and finally Stan A.I. winning 1st Place.

– Araceli Ferrara, Guest Blogger
Find her on IG here.

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