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Creating Engaging Spaces for Engaging Ideas at the's Beta Trade Show

Last week, we saw how the Stanford's new building was designed for innovation. This week, how the school converted into a trade show to give students an opportunity to showcase—and sell—their ideas.

Creating Engaging Spaces for Engaging Ideas at the's Beta Trade Show

We are two computer science graduate students developing an interactive news reading application for the iPad. To set up our Beta Trade Show booth, our first thought—as geeks—was, "Let's get like 10 iPads and lots of tables. People can stand and play with our application."


Spending more time at the and getting feedback on our space design, we quickly realized that it's not only about tapping an icon and playing with the application. It needs to be a more complete experience, taking into account where and how the app will be used.


Out goes the tech-focused approach of maximizing the number of iPads. In comes a human-centered approach of creating a warm living room. Using the nice furniture (on wheels) from the, we created a nice cozy environment in the 8-foot by 8-foot space allotted to us.


Red couches, fancy lamps, IKEA rugs, coffee table and picture frames—everything was set up in 90 minutes. What was particularly satisfying was to observe attendees sit on the couch, put the iPad on their lap and experience the application. It was a scene straight out of Apple's iPad ad campaign.

— Akshay Kothari, who specalizes in mobile interaction design, developing voice interfaces for farmers in India by day and rich interactive iPad applications by night, and Ankit Gupta, an artificial intelligence expert whose projects range from software-generated music to data visualization, have started a new venture, Alphonso Labs.

Read more about Stanford's new building