Annenberg starts lab for social technology innovation

The Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism will host a new innovation lab geared toward developing social technology that changes how people interact with media, it announced today.

Jonathan Taplin, an Annenberg professor who will serve as the director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab, said the lab will serve as a collaboration between those at the school and companies outside USC who want to be involved in the development of technology. The inspiration for the lab originally came from IBM executive Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Taplin said, who served as Annenberg’s first innovator in residence last year.

“It’s a place where the best students and professors across lots of different departments in USC can interface with the big corporations that are making media,” Taplin said. “What we’re trying to do is reinvent how media is delivered in the next 10 years.”

Companies such as IBM Corp., Verizon Wireless, Mattel Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. will work to both fund the lab and create new projects with students and faculty members.

One of the main focuses of the lab will be interdepartmental collaboration at USC, Taplin said.

“We’re trying to make it very interdepartmental, people from the cinema school and people from the Rossier School of Education,” he said. “We have some very specific projects we’re working on.”

These projects include the creation of an eBook reader — so students will not have to carry textbooks to class — and geolocation devices. Students will also be involved with the lab in a series of design challenges, where they can win prizes for the best design innovations.

“We have very specific projects that are based in new tool sets for journalists,” he said. “It’s a place where many professors can interface with companies that are leading the change.”