Creative partnership shines brightly for wearable sensor technology firm

Business to Arts makes call for nominations for 2013 awards


As a technology-focused company, Shimmer Research admits it was “an unlikely choice” to be nominated for an Allianz Business to Arts award.

But after a creative partnership with the LAB Gallery and artist Michelle Browne was rewarded with the title of best small sponsorship at the 2012 awards, its chief executive Kieran Daly decided to continue exploring creative uses of Shimmer’s wearable wireless sensors.

At the Science Gallery’s Risk Lab, an exhibition about risk, chance and probability, due to open on May 2nd, Browne will invite business people to play poker with her.

It’s not just any old game of bluff, skill and luck. In a repeat of the collaboration that won Shimmer its award, the invitees will be connected to monitors via wireless wristband sensors designed and manufactured by Shimmer. The sensors can pick up if the wearers are highly stressed and create an art installation from these physiological changes via animated graphics.

“I became interested in the idea that in society there is a tendency to vilify people who had lost money in the boom, and this technology was a way of opening that up,” says Browne. Her intention is to explore stress “and how people relate to that in their everyday lives” from a neutral perspective, rather than vilifying or glorifying those who gamble.

Daly says the Allianz Business to Arts award gave the company “validation” for the time it had put into the partnership, which has also served as a source of new product ideas.

For Stuart McLoughlin, chief executive of Business to Awards, Shimmer’s work with Browne is an example of the diversity of the creative partnerships between businesses and artists that his organisation strives to foster.

Business to Arts has now made a call for nominations for the 2013 awards, which include categories such as best large sponsorship (€25,000 or more), best small sponsorship, best long-term partnership, best creative staff engagement and best use of creativity in the community.

The closing date is May 2nd and the shortlist will be announced in July. This is the 12th year of Allianz’s involvement in the awards, which received 60 applications in total last year. The aim, as ever, is to celebrate the creativity and mutual benefits of collaborations between two worlds.

“The awards are a really important advocacy tool for us in trying to encourage more relationships between the arts and business communities,” says McLoughlin.

Growth in applications in recent years has come from the smaller community-based partnerships, he says, rather than the large-scale corporate sponsorships or “chief executive pet projects”.

Taking a punt on an artist, it seems, can pay off in spades.