Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Cloning Immersive Environments

Jeff Gray (Spies & Assassins), Mike Dory (kbs+ | Spies & Assassins)
4:35pm–5:15pm Thursday, 06/25/2015
Location: C 210 (Bldg C)

Prerequisite Knowledge

General knowledge in the physical installation process is encouraged, although not required. Some experience in technologies behind interactive exhibits and activations is also useful, but not critical.


Interaction in a physical space must often be hand-crafted to generate engagement, built to meet architectural requirements, and structured to support a myriad of use cases and withstand crashes and restarts.

This can lead to a complicated ecosystem of multiple networked objects, causing the integrator to scramble to get everything working together on one system. Version control and environmental settings can easily suffer under these conditions, risking the flexibility to maintain or swap systems when a failure takes place.

Across various disciplines such as web design and experiential technology, our teams have been empowered by shared technologies to find solutions to traditional installation problems. Recent advancements in web-deployment tools have expanded opportunities for provisioning websites. Through tools like Vagrant and Docker, we have been able to streamline the installation process in physical space. Specifically, through Vagrant and our own brand of content management systems, we’ve been able to quickly whip up environments and systems that contain all the interaction, application, and configuration logic we need to get something physically up and running.

In this presentation, we’ll explore the ever-changing landscape for deploying physical installations, how these tools tie in with our creative-coding and UI frameworks, and provide an open forum for discussing how we can further optimize and refine the building of novel, interactive, and inventive experiences without having to spend as much of the budget on risk aversion, maintenance, and costly redundancy strategies.

Photo of Jeff Gray

Jeff Gray

Spies & Assassins

Jeff is a director of technology at kbs+ | Spies & Assassins, an award-winning creative technology boutique, playing with platforms, applications, experiences, and advertising across mobile, social, emerging platforms, the web, and at retail and physical locations. At Spies & Assassins, Jeff manages a team of UI developers, bringing best-in-class modern approaches to native mobile applications, websites, and physical interaction experiences, with clients including BMW, Home Goods, Puma, and Simmons just to name a few. He is actively engaged in bringing the best out of the fron-tend talent at Spies, as well as overseeing and architecting technical solutions for a growing roster of clients.

Prior to joining Spies & Assassins, Jeff founded Visby Labs, where he worked to build websites and interactive experiences for AT&T, Fisher Price, HBO, and Red Bull. He has also collaborated with artists and small companies to bring to life a variety of interactive experiences. His work can be seen in the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Children’s Museum of Houston, MoMath Museum, Johnstown Area Heritage Society, and Liberty Science Center. Additionally, his interactive theater work has been seen at PS122, Bitforms Gallery, and 3 Legged Dog in New York, as well as a variety of venues throughout Europe. He has held residencies at Steirischer Herbst in Graz, Austria, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Experimental Media and Performing Art Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York.

Jeff is a graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), New York University. He is currently an associate professor at SVA’s IxD program, has taught at New York University, Hunter College, and Parsons School of Design, and is a regular guest lecturer at Columbia University and Pratt Institute. He has been an active collaborator with the open-source community, including the openFrameworks and Arduino projects.

Photo of Mike Dory

Mike Dory

kbs+ | Spies & Assassins

Mike is the Managing Director of kbs+ | Spies & Assassins, where he leads the creative technology team and drives technical thought leadership throughout the agency. At Spies, Mike is often found playing with platforms, applications, experiences and advertising, building web, desktop, and mobile experiences for such industry leaders as BMW, PUMA, HomeGoods, Simmons, and Harman.

At kbs+, Mike has helped to build and launch the digital lifestyle application The Goods for HomeGoods, a reimagined web presence for Simmons bedding, the A|X #DressedFor social application for Armani Exchange, and the BMW i Window to the Near Future real-time video installation.

Prior to joining Spies & Assassins, Mike co-founded the social technology boutique Socialbomb, serving as its CTO four years, and building applications and platforms for clients like Red Bull, HBO, and the BBC. After winning a variety of industry accolades, including a Clio, a Webby, and both a Facebook Studio award and a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer nod, Socialbomb was acquired by Refinery29 in 2013.

Mike holds a Masters of Interactive Telecommunications from NYU ITP, where he is also an adjunct professor, and is the co-author of the book Introduction to Tornado, published by O’Reilly Media. He has presented at events like O’Reilly ETech, OSCon, and Solid, the Conflux Festival, CreateTech, and his work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, National Public Radio, Gothamist, Gizmodo, and MAKE Magazine.