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Mitacs Accelerate intern helps launch publishing app

At a glance
The challenge

Develop an interactive and multi-dimensional online book

The solution

Combine images, video, artwork and geo-tagging into single platform

The outcome

New app turns books into multi-sensory experience

What's next?

Promote app online

Indie Ink Publishing CEO Suzanne Paschall had just finished pitching in the finals of the University of Saskatchewan’s Tech Venture Challenge when she was approached by a colleague: “You should talk to Chris Bowman from Mitacs!” they said. But, it took a connection through Computer Science professor Ralph Deters before a meeting with Mitacs Business Development Director Chris Bowman took place.

Together with Ralph and Chris’ guidance, Suzanne put together an application for a Mitacs Accelerate grant which would afford Indie Ink access to a top-level graduate student for her tech idea. Suzanne wanted to develop a platform for a truly interactive and multi-dimensional experience for adult non-fiction book in her catalog: The New Rock Star Philosophy: A Guerilla Blueprint for Digitally Conscious Artists.

With additional funding assistance from the Government of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), Suzanne took on Flavio Ishii from the University of Saskatchewan for a four-month internship to develop the platform. The app includes images and video, geo-tagged locations of related art from a local Saskatoon artist, note-taking and feedback functions for the book’s readers to collaborate and communicate with the authors and each other. The app takes the book into a multisensory experience for the user.

“Research and development is expensive for a start-up to get into, but creative innovation is what’s meant to distinguish Indie Ink as a micro-publisher here in Canada. Partnering with Flavio through this project helped us to explore new territory as a start-up publisher and determine our next steps with this technology,” said Suzanne.

Indie Ink hopes to use the app, which is available on the App Store, as a “living laboratory” to learn about creating, marketing and selling interactive book content.  For example, a future update will include a feature that geo-tags the original art around Saskatoon so users can take a New Rockstar street art tour. The launch of the product at the 2014 Mobile-Social (MoSo) Conference has received unprecedented attention for the company, which hopes to attract greater financial investment as a result.

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program, Western Economic Diversification and the Government of Saskatchewan for their support of Mitacs Accelerate in the province.