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U of T to Open Mobile App Lab

Date posted: April 12, 2012

The University of Toronto has become the first school in Canada to open its very own mobile app lab.

Named the Mobile Applications Lab (Mobile APL for short), the new lab intends to provide the University of Toronto community with opportunities to explore potential smart phone and tablet applications (so, if you’ve ever found yourself saying, “that would be a good app,” you know where to go).

The lab is being led by two faculty members from The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering: Professors Parham Aarabi and Jonathan Rose.

“We want to welcome minds from across the University to partner with us. Intelligent Apps – which combine the sensors, processing, and user interaction capabilities of smartphones – are not just for engineers, but also for many other fields including the arts and medicine” Aarabi told U of T News.

The lab will be open to all faculty, staff and students at the university, which its founders hope will lead to creative, multidisciplinary app development. The lab will work in conjunction with a new, recently launched course on app development (though interested parties will not have to be enrolled in the class to use the lab).

Mobile APL will feature stations for:

  • Application exploration
  • Simulation
  • Testing (iOS and Android)
  • Instant user feedback

As discussed in our post on the Horizon Report on Emerging Technologies in Higher Education, 2012 is the year education goes mobile. The report identified six technologies expected to break into the education mainstream in the next five years, with mobile apps and tablet computing first among them. Clearly, colleges and universities need to have some sort of mobile strategy, and U of T’s new mobile lab may be an easy way to ahead of the mobile curve: by letting students be their own engines of development.

As we mentioned above, Mobile APL is first of its kind in Canada. MIT and Stanford University have similar facilities in the US. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more such labs created in the near future.

What do you think about U of T’s Mobile APL?