Makerspaces, games, art & more: Disrupt Asia 2018 Innovation Festival

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There was a lot more than panel discussions and workshops at Disrupt Asia 2018. The official conference was held inside the doors of Trace Expert City. But as we made our way to these doors, we found a lot more than tech startups this year. From makerspaces to racing games to stunning art exhibits. This was what we found at the Disrupt Asia 2018 Innovation Exhibition.

The Ideamart Pavillion

It was impossible to miss this pavilion. The moment we walked into Trace Expert City, the Pavillion belonging to Ideamart was the first thing we saw. Inside, we saw a set of colorful characters. Shafraz Rahim – Senior Business Lead at Dialog Axiata told us enthusiastically that they represented the different APIs of Ideamart.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The Ideamart team with their new characters at Disrupt Asia 2018

As walked around the stall we found a bunch of games. Some of these were AR and another was a racing game with a tablet being used as a controller. Additionally, we also saw a few projects by Dialog. One of these was a miniature weather station. Another one of these projects was Adhub.lk, which allows you to buy advertisements on Dialog TV.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
An attendee of Disrupt Asia 2018 hooked on one of the games at the Dialog Ideamart Pavilion

Furthermore, we also saw a few startups and companies showcase their products here as well. One of these was Prodigi Interactive. We first heard of them when they build a game called Fluffy. Since then they’ve expanded to build 3D applications including in VR and AR. In fact, their latest game is called Huntster.

The makerspace by Kids Ignite

Past the Ideamart pavilion, as we made our way to the registration desk, our eyes caught something interesting. Located inside the Trace Expert City cafeteria, half of it had been allocated for something special. This was a maker space that was hosted by Kids Ignite.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The Kids Ignite makerspace at Disrupt Asia 2018

Inside this makerspace was a variety of activities aimed at kids. These ranged from building simple cars to basic programming and a lot more. And it was well stocked with everything including a 3D printer.

The creative pavilion by Gamer.LK

Amidst the many startups at Disrupt Asia, we saw a pavilion by Gamer.LK. Here saw some Sri Lankan game developers showcase their games. Fondly we found KodeX showcasing the beta of their Koombiyo game, which will be launching soon. We also saw RAM Studios showcase their game Extraction Valley.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
Well into the night, Extraction Valley was one of the most popular games at Disrupt Asia 2018

Besides RAM Studios and KodeX, we saw a few other studios as well. One of these was Motion Miracles. They showcased a mobile game called Zombie Rage. The purpose of this game was like all endless runners to simply avoid obstacles and obtain a high score. According to the team, they had built it following the example of games like Flappy Bird.

Another stall we saw inside the creative pavilion at Disrupt Asia 2018, belonged to R Factory. Here they showcased a demo for a mobile game they build called Ceylon Driver. We learned that they’re a company that focuses on researching VR and AR. However, they’re also building an app called RentMi, which is a classifieds to rent products and services.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The mini arcade at Disrupt Asia 2018

Alongside these stalls, we also saw an open miniature arcade. Here anyone attending Disrupt Asia 2018 was able to let off some steam with a few games such as  Mortal Kombat and Project Cars.

The art exhibits of Disrupt Asia 2018

This was something that was entirely new at Disrupt Asia 2018. These exhibits combined art with technology to create experiences. Needless to say, they were quite interesting. The first of these we saw was an exhibit dubbed, “Radiance”.

This was a massive collection of cubes that were lit up in different patterns around a screen. From a touchscreen in the corner, it was possible for anyone to control these patterns. As we sat on the cushions and in front of the placed in front of the Mobitel Innovation Centre, we couldn’t help but be in awe of the colorful display.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The radiance in action

Afterward, we took a stroll and found another art exhibit dubbed, “The Forest.” This was inspired by the magical fairy tales we heard as children. Walking through this exhibit, we couldn’t help but think we had found something from Lord of the Rings. The music with the green lights and trees of Trace Expert City did succeed in making us feel like we were in a mythical forest.

Once we got through the forest we saw another bright art exhibit. This was Luna, which was designed to as a lighthouse of sorts to those that ventured into a forest. As the lights inside this exhibit brightly displayed the words, “Disrupt Asia” it indeed served its purposes and guided us to the next exhibit.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
From this one touchscreen participants were able to control the lights

This next art exhibit we saw was the “The Miles of Light.” It was a path that was illuminated with a series of triangular lights. The purpose of this exhibit was to give its visitors a journey. One where they overcame challenges, which was represented by each bright triangle. Yet, for us who are slightly less posh cultured, it was just the perfect place to get a profile picture.

Sadly, these were the only art exhibits we could experience amidst the hustle and bustle of Disrupt Asia 2018. There were many others like the Vertigo Video, another that utilized 3D projection mapping, and more.

The Inclusion Pavillion

Finally, there was the inclusion pavilion showcased a number of different technologies. These technologies were used to assist users who are either differently abled or faced with a language barrier. While we couldn’t check out everything here, these were two of the many projects we found here.

Blind Navi

Aimed at assisting those who are visually impaired, Blind Navi is a wearable device. Taking the form of an armband, Blind Navi’s goal is to help blind people navigate the world. How you ask? Well, by using haptic feedback coupled with an Android app, Blind Navi can help users reach their destination.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The Blind Navi arm band next to its predecessor, which was a pair of glasses

The team shared that it is possible for the visually impaired to use the app using the narrator feature in Android. Once set, the armband will provide haptic feedback in order to direct the user to his/her destination. In terms of pricing, the armband costs less than 2000 rupees to produce.

Language Research Lab at UCSC

This is a research lab that primarily deals with processing Sinhalese and Tamil. At their stall, they treated us to a demo of a Sinhalese text to speech application. We learned that they’re currently working on a building a similar system for Tamil. Additionally, we also saw an OCR application for Sinhalese and Tamil.

Makerspace | Games | Art | Disrupt Asia 2018
The Language Research Lab team from the University of Colombo School of Computing

Their vision is to have a system answers questions in native languages and a translator between Sinhalese and Tamil. It’s a vision they’ve been pursuing since 2004. Back then there was no basic infrastructure. Even Unicode didn’t support Sinhalese. Additionally, they also built a gesture detector. This is a work in progress to build a system to translate sign language.

Bhasha Buddy & Screen Reader

A project by LIRNEasia, Bhasha Buddy is an app that is used to teach the alphabet and its corresponding sign language. It is aimed at those with hearing impairments. Another project by LIRNEasia was Screen Reader. This was an app that reads out what is on the user’s screen so that those with visual impairments can use computers without any difficulty.

And there you have it

Makerspaces, games, art & more: Disrupt Asia 2018 Innovation Festival 2These are just some of the things we found outside the main halls of Disrupt Asia 2018. When we returned inside we found a wealth of ideas from the panel discussions, workshops, and keynotes at the main conference. For a full breakdown of what we saw at Disrupt Asia 2018, you can head over here. 

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