Innovative projects lead to award

Photo courtesy of Tangible Interaction

Alex Beim, founder of Tangible Interaction, was this year’s recipient of the Business Entrepreneur Award at the Inspirational Latin Award ceremony.

The Inspirational Latin Award acknowledges remarkable individuals who have made striking contributions to British Columbia’s Latin American community over a significant period of time.

Moving for love

Beim had no intention of leaving his home country of Uruguay, but when an old girlfriend reached out to him in 1998 the then-27 year old graphic designer left his home country and came to Canada.

“My background is in graphic design, which is amazing because it is a profession you can work in even if you do not know much English. The work speaks for you,” says Beim.

After learning a bit of English here in Canada, Beim landed himself a job with the international advertising and communications firm, DDB, in their online division, Tribal World Wide. He worked for DDB for ten years and rose to the position of associate creative director. In 2008, Beim started his own company called Tangible Interactive. After eighteen years together, Beim and his girlfriend separated, but they share friendship and two children.

The Zygote Ball

In 2006, while still working for DDB, Beim had the idea of a beach ball at concerts that lights up when you touch it. This was twelve years ago and the idea of something like that being possible seemed far-fetched.

“Nowadays we are used to seeing this stuff; everything is touch screen and it is expected to be interactive, but twelve years ago that was very new. It was a game changer for the show industry because there was nothing like that before,” says Beim about his light up beach ball. Some of the first clients to take on the Zygote Ball were the internationally famous performers known collectively as Blue Man Group.

Beim’s reason for this invention was what would become the motivation for all his work.

Zygote Balls in action. | Photo courtesy of Tangible Interaction

“I wanted to create a piece that changed the way we participated in shows and concerts. I wanted people to feel included and a part of the show, instead of just watching,” he says.

His biggest challenge in the creation of the Zygote Ball was that he had the creative idea, but no technical notion of how to begin creating something like this.

“I had no knowledge of electronics or industrial design; all I had was the idea that I wanted a ball to light up when I touched it. I knew it was possible, but I had no idea where to go,” he explains.

He knocked on doors and asked for advice until a prototype was ready to be shown. The Zygote Ball took 8 months from idea to the first prototype, a Tupperware box with LEDs and a battery inside a ball. He took this prototype to Banff to potential backers and they immediately saw the potential.

“I had never used it with people. There were about twenty of us on a squash court. There was a lawyer and when he played with the ball, he just lit up,” he says.

Beim saw then that he had something special.

After Tangible Interaction was established, and the Zygote Ball became a success, many other innovative projects followed. It has become a bit easier, but the values are the same as with the game changing Zygote Ball.

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