Microsoft Canada and OCAD Announce a Surface Team-Up (or: OCAD Gets a Big-Ass Table)

Sara Diamond and Mark Relph onstage at the Mesh Conference 2009

This morning at the Mesh 2009 Conference, Microsoft’s Mark Relph (my boss’ boss) and OCAD President Sara Diamond announced a Microsoft/OCAD partnership. Microsoft will provide OCAD with a Surface tabletop computer along with software and support (which includes training and courses by Infusion Development, who know a lot about developing software for the Surface).


We’re providing OCAD with a Surface development unit along with Visual Studio and other developer tools related to building software for it. The Surface will be put in OCAD’s Digital Media Research + Innovation Institute, whose first phase is currently under construction. It’ll be used as a tool within the school’s -disciplinary Digital Futures Initiative (DFI) program, whose goals include establishing a research and innovation laboratory for interactive design, art and digital media.

Sara Diamond, Mark Relph and the Mesh 2009 audience

Mark Relph writes:

Microsoft Surface will help OCAD students, faculty and researchers to apply interactive technology to their work in digital media, art and design.  In conjunction with our partner Infusion Development, we will be directly engaged with teaching students how to harness the power of these new technologies.  This is only the start – in the years ahead we’ll be bringing in our technology and design experts to OCAD to help further strengthen this relationship. Our focus will not just be on the Surface technologies – as we move into a world where the interaction with software will depend on new user experiences like touch, speech and other capabilities it is critical that we prepare the next generation of software designers and experience experts.


As programmers, engineers and techies, we at Microsoft can come up with all sorts of interesting uses and applications for Surface, but we can’t come up with all of them. We feel that the students at OCAD, who have a strong bent towards design, will come up with some interesting ideas and applications that would never occur to us whose bent is towards geekery. Having worked at a job where OCAD graduates were the majority, I can say from experience that there’s a certain “something” that you get from design-oriented minds that you don’t get from engineering-oriented minds. You can see that “something” in Apple’s products, and it’s something I’d like to see more of from The Empire.