Highlights from the 2020 Fall Technology Innovation Forum

December 14, 2020

Last month a group of inspiring and diverse group of teams celebrated their groundbreaking innovations at the Fall Technology Innovation Forum. The theme of the innovation forum was “Innovation in the Time of Coronavirus.” Given this year’s tumultuous events, the forum was designed to convene people from across campus who are designing new ways of doing things so they could connect virtually and share their experiences developing teaching and environmental applications to combat the impact of Coronavirus. 

Cartoon of a lab


The first day featured recipients of the Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation grants.

Photo of campus building with augmented reality images floating in front of it

(Ethnic Studies Podcast/AR)

The grants, distributed earlier this year, provided financial incentives to bring together transformative ideas from across Berkeley’s decentralized campus, fostering connections and developing institutional awareness of peoples' innovation efforts and community support for our innovators. The inspiration behind these grants came from the Berkeley Changemaker™ program which codifies an essential part of what UC Berkeley has always stood for, helping students develop a sharper sense of who they want to be and how to make that happen.

Lucid Learning

(Lucid Learning)

We saw results from groups who were strengthening instructional resilience in the face of Coronavirus (BeArs@Home choose your own adventure chemistry labs, PEARL Project, remote control of physics lab experiments via the web and Taking Remote Learning Outside field study).

In addition, we saw demos of fantastic technologies from the new Extended Reality Community of Practice (Scaffolding Stores/Building Communities, InsightXR, Lucid Learning, VRTutor). All of these teams made amazing contributions to the Berkeley campus, and we are excited to see what they will do next! 

smartphones showing InsightXR


On the second day of the forum, the focus was on the Berkeley Connected Campus. Several groups presented their work integrating smart device technologies & facilities around campus to improve infrastructure and make processes more efficient. We viewed presentations about facilities sensors around campus, air sensors for air quality management, smart campus sewer covers, and intelligent curb management. While connected campus initiatives can immensely improve the campus experience and resilience, there are concerns around safety and privacy, especially with the increasing data collection. CITRIS Policy Director Brandie Nonnecke, Campus Privacy Officer Scott Seaborn, UC Berkeley Chief Sustainability Officer Kara Stoll discussed the promise and pitfalls of a connected campus with Berkeley CTO Bill Allison, bringing context and perspective from unique backgrounds and programs.



Read more about the Technology Innovation Forum here, and visit the CTO website for more information about each of the different groups who presented at the forum, as well as see a sneak peak of projects still in progress. 

Stay In Touch With Discord! During the Fall Innovation Forum, students piloted a program for engagement between audience members and presenters on Discord. Discord is an online platform, similar to Slack, that provides individualized online spaces for different organizations. We utilized this Discord server to chat during and after the forum to ask any questions, provide feedback, and connect with individuals across campus. It was a big success during the forum, and we hope to see people continue to stay engaged even after the forum has finished. We envision a forum for discussion on innovation practices, a place to ask and receive help, and a general environment for chitchat about project happenings and progress. Please see here for more information on how to join the discord. 

Campus Resources to Support Innovation

  • Extended Reality (XR) Community of Practice - this community is exploring the intersection of extended reality technologies including augmented reality and virtual reality with a spectrum of campus activities - teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and outreach and public service. In addition to supporting existing projects being conducted on campus, the community will develop and promote best practices around accessibility, curation, interoperability, and security and privacy.

  • User Experience Community of Practice - Innovation projects can increase their chances of success by incorporating usability into their process. With support from IST and People & Culture, this dynamic group provides design and usability assessments based on project team needs. Campus innovation is a great fit for these assessments. If interested, please contact group lead Rachel Hollowgrass <rhollow@berkeley.edu>.

  • Campus Web Access team - the campus Web Access team is a great resource to help you ensure your innovations are inclusive and accessible to all. Visit the Web Access site for a comprehensive DIY checklist and other resources to help your project adopt best practices for accessibility..

  • UC Berkeley Cloud Computing Community of Practice - this community and the associated UC Berkeley Cloud Computing Meetup with over 780 members is a great platform for you to share your innovations.  Elnaz Bailey and Luisa Caldas presented InsightXR there earlier.  Contact Bill Allison with any questions or if you are interested in speaking or want to nominate someone to present at the Meetup.

This article was written by UC Berkeley Student Deepshika Dhanasekar with UC Berkeley CTO Bill Allison