Bruno Zamborlin, PhD is an Italian AI researcher and entrepreneur based in London, UK.
Visiting researcher at Goldsmiths University, Bruno pioneered the concept of transforming physical objects into touch-sensitive, interactive surfaces using vibration sensors and Artificial Intelligence.
He is the founder of Mogees Limited, the London-Los Angeles based start-up whose products enable users to transform everyday objects into musical instruments and games using a vibration sensor and a mobile phone (more than 100,000 units sold worldwide).
He recently founded HyperSurfaces, a technology platform which converts objects of any material, shape and form into data-enabled, interactive surfaces just using a vibration sensor and a coin-sized chipset.
As an artist, he produces art installations around the world and performs with UK-based electronic music duo Plaid (Warp records).
He did 4 TEDx around the world and his work has been reviewed by BBC, TechCrunch, Wired, The Verge, Vice and many others.
Selected awards: MIT Technology review Award – 30 best entrepreneurs under 35; Qwartz Electronic Music award; IRISA Prix Jeune Chercheur; NEMODE – New Economic Models in the Digital Economy; Laval Virtual first prize; NTT Data Innovation award 2020.
Bruno, can you start off by telling us about yourself and why you chose the technology profession?
I always liked math since I was four. While all my friends hated it, I find numbers something capable of expressing concepts in their most pure form, free from the biases and ambiguities that words entail.
When I bought my first computer I was already at high school. The idea to be able to use math and computers together made me see the world in a radical new way, a bit like a blank canvas, where sensors are the eyes to capture what’s in the world and algorithms are the brush that paints something new from it.
Can you tell us what drives you to be successful as a technologist, researcher, and executive?
I think a good researcher needs to have a real passion, an inability to distinguish work, art and hobbies and blend them all together. A good technologist needs to think ahead of everyone else, and make their decisions based on one, two and three order of consequences. A good executive is for me the hardest of them all, because it requires an incredible level of emotional intelligence.
Tell us about your role and your vision of your companies.
I have two companies, Mogees and HyperSurfaces.
Mogees is a smart sensor and app that turns any object around you into a musical instrument. It lets everyone, from performance artists to kids, to program the world making physical objects to sound as they wish. A tree can sound like a harp and a building can sound like a violin, etc.
HyperSurfaces is technology which transforms any physical object of any material, shape and size into data-enabled Hyper objects, capable of understanding any event which happens on their surface, removing the need for buttons and touchscreens.
Both these technologies provide creators, designers and even kids with tools that can unleash their imagination without having to write a single line of code. AI becomes an enabler to shape the world around us, rather than a black box with predefined rules we must accept in our lives.
What’s the one or two accomplishments that you’re proud of?
An entire square in Milan, an airplane in Moscow, a historical building in Jerusalem, just to name a few… all these spaces have been transformed into gigantic “data-enabled” spaces capable of generating sounds and lights based on how people live them, reimagining completely their social functions and ability to bring people together. Seeing our technologies changing the way people live and create makes me incredibly proud of what we achieved.
What advice do you have for other up-and-coming young entrepreneurs in Technology?
Technology is about people. Think of what technology enables people to do, then test your assumptions as soon in the process as you can.
Are you active on social media professionally? If so, what platforms work best for engaging your followers
I’m not really. I use IG and LinkedIn a bit.
What is the major difference between being a Technologist and Technology Leader/entrepreneur? Any comparison?
A technologist can fly high and open people’s eyes.
A technology entrepreneur is forced to compromise. But then has the chance to create a real impact on society.
Who was your biggest influencer?
My biggest influencers come from the art world. One above all is Brian Eno, a pioneer of generative music (music created by algorithms) and ambient music (music created to enrich an environment as opposed to be actively listened to).
I find that my work somehow reflects and build on these ideas. There is a quote from him I particularly like: “My topic is the shift from ‘architect’ to ‘gardener’, where ‘architect’ stands for ‘someone who carries a full picture of the work before it is made’, to ‘gardener’ standing for ‘someone who plants seeds and waits to see exactly what will come up’”.
The AI technologies we make can grow only in the hands of the people that use and live them.
What is the most challenging part of your work as a CEO?
Respect the pace that clients have.
Sometimes we find ourselves to be ten years ahead most of big businesses out there. Pushing to disrupt the way such companies work would be my most natural instinct, but not always the right one.
What do you have your sights set on next?
To push the boundaries of what we are doing to the extreme.
We can already inject intelligence into physical objects analyzing the way they vibrate. What happens if we extend this concept to airborne sounds, to the “everything”?
What is a day in your life like?
Our team is now fully remote. We all work full time but in different cities: London, LA, Paris, Milan. We are connected all the time through Slack and Zoom. My day is spent between research and development meetings, discussions with clients and keeping myself up to date with the state of the art in our field.
Do you have any hobbies?
Making music :).
What makes you smile?
What are you never without?
A good sound system.
What scares you?
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
List any other work, published articles, interviews or accomplishments:
Selected TEDx talks
- San Francisco: How vibration can turn any object into data-enabled interface
- Brussels: Transforming everyday objects into musical Instruments
- Mogees on Jimmy Kimmel show
- Mogees on BBC
- Mogees on TechCrunch
- Mogees on Mazda car campaign
- Mogees used to transform an airplane into a musical instrument in Moscow