Jun 26, 2015


With 260 participants, 18 speakers and 7 startups coming from fields as diverse as entrepreneurship, social and interactive design, academia, technological innovation and business, Lift China 2015 was once again a successful event. Held in Shanghai on June 17, it offered the audience an array of activities to choose from inspiring talks, hands-on workshops and masterclasses and an interactive design exhibition. On top of the conference, a one-day data visualization workshop was held as a collaboration between Tongji University in Shanghai and SUPSI in Switzerland.

From Shanghai, the Lift team went to Shenzhen for the annual Maker Faire, accompanied with a delegation of Swiss Makers and artists from SUPSI who joined the adventure to discover the innovative powers of China. During the 3 days, the initiative Data Canvas was presented to a savvy audience of local makers, featuring the best design projects from its international competition.

One-day conference in Shanghai

After an introduction by Abir Oreibi, President of Lift, and the Consul General of Switzerland Alexandre Hoffet, the conference started off with a keynote session on drones, featuring talks from two industry specialists: Angela Schoellig from the University of Toronto (picture on the left), who has been developing autonomous drone systems for many years, and Shuo Yang from DJI, one of the most successful companies in commercial drones. The session was closed by May Lee, from ShanghaiTech University, who opened up the discussion by looking at how universities can transform innovative research into commercial successes.

The audience then split into groups for the rest of the morning activities, composed of a session focusing on social design presented by Dr. Bo Gao from Tongji University and her guest speakers from DESIS China – a network linking great design schools all over the world, an introduction to biomimicry and nature's ingenuity animated by Pius Leuba from Tongji University, a workshop on data visualization through video game engines led by Verina Cristie from the ETH Future Cities Lab in Singapore, and an ideation workshop using scenario planning tools to design a Data Canvas hackathon proposed by the Lift team.

After a networking lunch during which participants got to meet more informally, the conference resumed with the early afternoon session, featuring two activities; on the main stage, Feng Gao from Open Data China and his distinguished speakers discussed the initiative Data Canvas: Sense Your City and the impact that open data and citizen sensing has on the civil society. In the meantime, Leigh-Anne Russell, co-founder of the social enterprise Nestworks, launched her 3-hour Gamestorming and Rapid Prototyping workshop, during participants were presented with the challenge of designing a new product targeted at people with blindness.

In the late afternoon, Pascal Marmier, director of swissnex China, Olivier Glauser, investor and co-founder of Shankai Sports, and 7 innovative startups based in China took over the main stage to talk about entrepreneurship today in the East. In parallel, Serena Cangiano and Fabio Franchino, two artists and professors from SUPSI, the Swiss design university, presented the results of the one-day workshop held at Tongji university the day before, and build upon them in a creative visualization masterclass.

To conclude the day, Abir Oreibi shared some insights about the future of Lift and invited everyone to enjoy a glass of wine and talk with the brilliant Swiss and Chinese entrepreneurs during the Swiss-Chinese Innovation Night cocktail.

Afternoon sessions banner

One-day workshop at Tongji University

As part of our effort to connect innovators worldwide, we were delighted to contribute in helping create a partnership between the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of southern Switzerland (SUSPSI) and Shanghai based Design & Innovation College of Tongji University.  Serena Cangiano and Fabio Franchino, both designers and professors at  SUSPSI and Dr. Bo Gao, researcher and associate professor at Tongji University co-organized a one-day workshop at Tongji University. They shared the data visualization techniques developed by the two Swiss designers with Chinese students. The results of the workshop were presented the following day at Lift China, building on what the students had created to explore data from various points of view.

Banner Tongji Workshop

Data Canvas: Sense Your City exhibition

To continue the discussion around open data, data literacy and citizen sensing, an exhibition showing 13 of the best pieces from the online data visualization challenge Data Canvas was presented during Lift China 2015, both in Shanghai and in Shenzhen. CityCells, the augmented reality iPad app developed by the three Swiss designers Baptiste Milési, Cassandre Poirier-Simon and Raphaël Munoz , along with the Grand Prize winner project Sonic Particles 2.0 by Kasper Fangel Skov from Copenhagen, were the center pieces of the exhibition, attracting the curiosity of all with their mesmerizing soundscapes and intricate visuals. Eleven other pieces in interactive, video and printed format were shown, allowing visitors various ways to engage with the exhibition.

Three projects created through the Master of Advanced Studies in Interaction Design at SUPSI were also presented, such as the Open Data Installation by Mona Diab, composed of both physical and virtual elements discussing the openness or closeness of data and its impact on society.

Banner Exhibit Data Canvas

Lift China at Maker Faire Shenzhen

After the activities held in Shanghai, the Lift China team, accompanied by Swiss makers, the designers from SUPSI and Kasper Fangel Skov, Grand Prize winner of Data Canvas: Sense Your City, moved to the south of the country to participate to the Maker Faire Shenzhen, the biggest gathering of makers in China. Joining SEEED studio, organizer of the Faire through its hackerspace Chaihuo and partner of the Data Canvas initiative, and more than 30’000 people in the heart of the world’s hardware production center, we presented the Data Canvas exhibition during three days to a constant flow of interested and interesting visitors.

In the meantime, the Swiss makers and designers got to meet with fellow pioneers, getting inspiration for their future projects and connections in the Chinese ecosystem. Key meetings were conducted with local experts to build upon the ideation workshop organized previously in Shanghai and prepare the next phase of the Data Canvas initiative.

Banner Maker Faire

Session in the spotlight: Urban Explorative Visualization using Game Engine

Animated by Verina Cristie, researcher in Computational Fluid Dynamics Visualization at the ETH Future Cities Lab in Singapore, this morning workshop showcased some of the most cutting-edge tools to visualize data and gave participants a framework of what tool to use with what dataset. On top of this comprehensive introduction, Verina demonstrated some of the tools her lab is using to transform the huge amount of data coming from the civil engineering department of the Future Cities Lab and extracting sense out of them.

Participants then brainstormed on how to best visualize traffic temperature through video game engines and use this information for practical uses, mentioning some ideas such as using gamification and traffic data to improve food delivery or the use of drones to collect temperature data. Based on the initial concept from the participants, Verina has created the visualization below using her game engine. The outcomes of the workshop can be summarized as such:

  • Urban exploration with game engine enables user to have a better understanding of the whole landscape at their own pace
  • Having multiple views, and often with simple representations (lines, plane), works best
  • Visualization and simulation could work hand in hand for better Design Process

Visualization Verina