Smashing Spotlight: Aquilino Griffin, Associate Technical Director, Mad Scientist
Wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Aquilino Griffin, Associate Technical Director and ‘Mad Scientist’, to talk shop, how he’s transforming the world one line of code at a time and how his grandfather showed him the greatest technology stems from simplicity and necessity.
Associate Technical Director, sounds important. What is your role at Smashing Ideas?
Each individual at Smashing Ideas brings a unique set of skills and specializations. In the technical group we are focused on building efficiencies and standards. I am a creative developer, which means I tend to experiment more and build quickly. I concentrate on disruptive/sustaining technologies and innovative strategy to keep our company ahead of the competition in the face of an ever-changing technological landscape. However, I couldn’t do this job alone; I am fortunate to be supported by a brilliant set of minds and creative thinkers.
If you could redesign/rebuild one thing (technologically or otherwise) what would it be any why?
This is a great question. I read a quote in the Harvard Business Review a few months ago that stated, “There is no such thing as a bad technology, only one that is not being used properly.” Pivoting technologies is the key to maintaining relevance in the market and making sure the novel become useful. In that vein, if I could choose one technology to redesign, I think it would have to be ebooks. I feel strongly, that the paradigm shift that must happen in order for the digitalization of books to become as acceptable as the mp3, and profitable enough for companies to fully adopt, lies within advanced technologies of speech/text recognition and neural networks. It is not enough to just port a book to a digital device. One needs to create an infrastructure for reading that appeals to the newer generations’ way of learning and browsing.
You design some pretty cool stuff, some of which aims at changing human behavior and habits – what piece of technology do you personally hope will come out in the next 10 years?
I feel the adoption of mobile was a huge changing point in human behavior that correlates with a strong shift in social evolution. It redefined the way we communicate on a fundamental level, almost overnight. Due to this disruptive technology, things such as spreading environmental awareness, exposing questionable politics and the expanse of shared knowledge have all been greatly accelerated. It set the stage for what’s to come, which I hope will be the reduction of the physical presence of technology. I believe combining existing technologies, big data and cloud computing, with smarter, more energy efficient devices can help us through an uncertain future.
You’ve been described as the mad scientist of Smashing Ideas. What inspires you and where do your crazy brilliant ideas come from?
My secret comes from outside of work. As an engineer student I would attend class in the math and science departments, but would sneak into art classes across campus on my off time. I think my fascination with art, design and architecture over the course of my career has strongly influenced my ability to extend the aesthetics of the practical. To anyone looking to be a more creative developer, I would say learn from the masters and make friends with your design team. In addition to being a great way to generate unique solutions in programming, it is a way to impart knowledge and expose your team to new mediums for creation. This alone is a self-perpetuating system that keeps both sides of the spectrum motivated to innovate.
You’re stuck on a remote island, but can have one piece of technology with you. What would it be and why?
This is no brainer for me. I was born and raised with my grandfather telling me, “To survive in the wilderness, all you need is a ball of twine and a pocket knife.” Surprisingly, I’ve found through personal experience he was right. So, I guess if I had to choose just one technology, I would say a ball of twine attached to a blade.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on at Smashing Ideas?
Years ago I got the opportunity to become involved in a facial recognition project for Barbie Digital Makeover. It’s not very often you get opportunities that will transform the way kids interact with a beloved brand. It stands out as our ability to execute a client’s vision and integrate innovative technologies. The amount of talk it sparked was very rewarding, but its highest moment for me was when I saw it featured on the Late Show by a make-up clad David Letterman. We are now establishing a platform from this technology and gaining new clients that admire our ability to innovate and the strategy that comes along with that.
What song best describes you?
Starman by David Bowie.