What is your lab called and where is it?
Our lab is called Ubilab, a short name for Laboratory for Research on Mobility and Media Convergence (or Laboratório de Pesquisa em Mobilidade e Convergência Midiática in Portuguese). It’s located at PUCRS, a catholic university in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, and started its activities in 2011.
What sorts of projects and activities form the core of your work? Is there a specific temporal or technological focus for your lab?
In terms of areas, we are focused on mobile communications and Internet of Things from a media convergence perspective. These areas are connected to the Social Communication’s School, so we research them through a ‘lens’ of the media studies. Usually, our projects involve companies asking us to try to understand how a new technology can help them, in an applied fashion. Thus, we usually try to delve into the company’s context and generate reports on opportunities and good practices they can follow. In some researches we also help to produce actual products to reach specific goals, such as how to communicate with lower classes through mobile, how to use IoT devices to improve in-store experiences, or how to make a multimedia assistant for a radio station. In cases like this, we help their partners offering our know-how about the relations between information consumers and technology.
Who uses the lab? Is it a space for students, for researchers, for seminars?
It is a space mainly for researchers to do their tasks for the lab. The goal is to be like a co-working space, where you can use the lab’s tools and structure to develop our researches. We also use it for meetings with members and with partner companies. Actually, our staff is composed by four professors, one PhD student, one MsC candidate and three undergraduate students.
What sorts of knowledge does the lab produce (writing, demonstrations, patents etc.) and how is it circulated (e.g. conference papers, pamphlets, books, videos, social media)?
For our partners, we produce reports, guides and keynotes on select subjects. Generally, we gather all the insights and findings we had and published papers or present them at conferences. We have a website and a Facebook page where we highlight our researches and partnerships.
Tell us about your infrastructure. Do you have a designated space and how does that work?
Yes, we have two rooms inside the university’s tech park. The main one is a twin room, where we have some computers, an Apple TV and other gadgets. This is a space for discussion and traditional work, where we even have a small museum of old technologies. The other is more like a workshop, with two 3D printers, IoT devices, Virtual Reality headsets and a drone. Both are always available for our researchers.