Open Device Labs, these new multi-screen test benches

by bold-lichterman

These original connected test benches straight from Brighton are still little known but one of them has just been created in Lille. Still little present in France, they however represent a significant potential interest for young entrepreneurs.

The test of the full-scale concept? The holy grail for any young inventor of computer equipment. With the proliferation of mobile devices, sites and applications must be adaptable and adapted to a wide variety of media and associated experiences. But when you launch your business, it is rare to have the necessary budget to be able to equip yourself with tablets, smartphones, and connected objects of all kinds. So how can you check the rendering of a project without equipment? Here is the enigma solved with the appearance of Open Devices Labs.

The Open what?

An Open Device Lab is a multi-screen test bench that brings together a maximum of digital terminals arranged on a single cabinet. It allows professionals to come and test their software creations in a real situation. Developers, integrators, designers, web graphic designers and of course also their clients can now test “in real time” the rendering of websites, the execution of the codes, the navigation on the applications, the colorimetry of the models … and this at each stage of the production. Some devices are also open to the public. The terminals are often offered by their manufacturers themselves or given by already experienced users.

The concept was born across the Channel, in Brighton. Jeremy Keith and Rémy Sharp created the very first Open Device Lab in the summer of 2012. Today at European level, it is the German Andre Jay Meissner who manages the official certifications as a member of the association LabUp!. By extension, we call Open Device Lab the place that houses this device. There are currently 111 worldwide, in 26 countries and a total of 2,896 terminals are freely accessible.

Since spring 2012, Open Device Labs have multiplied across Europe. source:

Around a hundred terminals made available in Lille

In France, the first Open Device Lab opened in Clichy, in the Paris region. Baptized on Shiva Device Lab, it is a piece of furniture designed in October 2012 by the communication agency Shiva to facilitate the testing of applications, it includes 9 mobile terminals. At the end of April in Lille, another responsive design agency – Bmobile – also took up the concept and organized its first Open Device Lab evening Thursday April 24 2014. Baptized The Walking Lab, the northern entity brings together around a hundred devices, including some rather original objects such as a tweet printer, weather stations, connected glasses, etc.

“For a year, we have been thinking about creating a place where designers, freelancers, students, young entrepreneurs, could come and test all kinds of connected objects, tablets, smartphones” says Christine Richard, the director. from the agency that created The Walking Lab. The device is therefore accessible to professionals as well as to the general public. “Our ambition is to set up a real mechanism and to allow as many developers as possible to handle a wide variety of objects” she continues.

“Discover new concepts to have new ideas”

Among the 25 participants in the evening of April 24, Fabien Dronkert, a young northern entrepreneur whose objective is to launch a new specialized social network called “Life-Up”. For him, this Open Device Lab promises to be of great use: “Having to buy the various devices to test your app represents a high cost for a young entrepreneur” he testifies, before ensuring: “in August , once the beta version of our app is operational, we will come and test it at the Walking Lab (…) But this type of Open Device Lab is interesting beyond that, because it allows us to discover new concepts that can give ideas to develop other complementary services. In addition, coming to an Open Device Lab is also an opportunity to create a professional network. Christine Richard from the Walking Lab, for example, opened her address book to me, ”said this young 28-year-old computer graphics designer.

A great product placement …

If the service is accessible free of charge to small project leaders, who finances these structures? In fact, Open Device Labs can have a double financial interest: for the agencies that created them and for the device manufacturers. The former have a new service to include in the formulas invoiced to their key account customers; the others benefit from a beautiful showcase to publicize their novelties. These laboratories of a new kind could well be emulated in other regions of France.


Demonstration of the functioning of an “Open Device Lab” ban in Helsinki (Finland):