New lab opens on campus

The Annenberg Innovation Lab, an effort to expand digital media resources and opportunities among all students, opened its doors to the USC public Tuesday with a well-attended open house event.

Gadgets · Robert Harkness, a senior majoring in fine arts, makes a presentation about prototype interactive advertisements to Julie Bàez, a sales and marketing agent, and Isaac Cochilla, an alumnus of the class of 2010. - George Chearswat | Daily Trojan

Students presented projects they had completed with the help of the Innovation Lab’s interactive and creative lab space, where they can discuss different research projects and ideas that range from new business models and different institutional designs to societal incentives and the economical and political impact of social networking.

Located on the first floor of the Annenberg building, the Innovation Lab provides new experiences and knowledge that can be translated into any major, said Jonathan Taplin, director of the Innovation Lab.

The lab contains a state of the art conference room, equipped with 3D video-conferencing, and other multimedia features that help further the research of the students and faculty.

A goal of the lab is to combine students from different schools, including the Marshall School of Business and the Rossier School of Education, and situate them together, allowing them to come up with innovative and novel ideas that change the application of digital multimedia in journalism and other mediums.

This idea for an interdisciplinary learning program in the Annenberg Innovation Lab first spawned when an executive from IBM spoke at USC, said Henry Jenkins, provost’s professor of communication, journalism and cinematic arts.

“There were many ideas of where media was going [in the future],” Taplin said. “But there was no way of creating a prototype of research models because there was no specific facility for students to build these ideas at the time.”

The IBM executive convinced Ernest James Wilson III, dean of the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, to set up a lab and appointed Taplin as the director.

Since then, other companies, including Verizon, Cisco, Intel and Warner Brothers, have sponsored the prototypes and research of students in the Innovation Lab.

Students from any school at USC can join the Annenberg Innovation Lab and can choose to either launch a new project or join an existing team.

Jessica Wang, a graduate student in strategic public relations, is confident that projects at the Innovation Lab will produce exciting results.

“The lab is a very friendly and casual environment,” Wang said. “An idea will definitely pop up from this environment.”

After attending the open house, Paige Brettingen, a graduate student in journalism, wants to take part in projects at the Innovation Lab.

“Some of the projects presented tonight [were] fascinating,” Brettingen said. “I am looking forward to joining the lab.”