ST. GEORGE — Artificial intelligence and artificial reality are part of the new frontier. This technology has the ability to enhance everything from art to health care. The 6th Annual Creative Age Conference, happening on Saturday, March 2, aims to help the public learn how to take advantage of the new tools available to them.

Technology in art and science

Art and science are merging, both utilizing the rapidly evolving technology. Paula Bell, Co-chair of the Creative Age Conference, acknowledges these new innovations may be a little scary to some, but she believes knowledge is power.

“We have gathered some of the best thinkers in their areas of expertise to present at this event,” Bell said. “Attendees will leave with inspiration as to how to apply these concepts to their lives for the betterment of themselves and those they care for.”

The Arts Council of Washington County and ARTS Inc. are sponsoring the event as a way to reflect on the important role art plays in health and well-being. Some of the classes include “Creativity in Education,” “Mobile Phone Photography” and “The Art of Qigong Meditations.”

Jay Nygaard and Paula Bell are from the Creative Age Conference, Eccles Fine Arts Center, St. George, Utah, February 2024 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

Two of the sessions will explore how technology is improving the ways in which health care providers are treating patients with dementia. Bell said studies show there are numerous ways the arts can help people suffering from this condition.

“Bradlyn Wissert, a dementia specialist from the University of Nevada, Reno, will present two different breakout sessions related to dementia and dementia care,” Bell said.

Health care providers, social workers and therapists will be able to receive up to six Continuing Education Units for attending the conference. The Utah Alzheimer’s Association reports that 9.9% of people aged 45 and older have subjective cognitive decline. For this reason, Bell expects the interest to be high for these two lectures.

Enhancing art through technology

One of the emerging technologies that is already at work in many galleries is augmented reality. Basically, augmented reality is used to enhance an existing form with 3D components. Elizabeth Gunter is an artist, curator and brand transformational consultant who is excited about how augmented reality can add value to art.

Elizabeth Gunter, Art Provides Gallery and Studio Owner, stands next to an art piece, St. George, Utah, February 2024 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

“You can go through an art museum and if there’s an augmented reality added to an art exhibit, you can wave your phone in front of the picture and the picture could come to life,” Gunter said. “Another example would be that a video could pop up that tells you more about the artist.”

As a presenter at the Creative Age Conference, Gunter hopes to offer a practical understanding of augmented reality and art.

“The more people are familiar with it, the more they’ll understand there is no replacing of real art,” Gunter said. “I think it will give more value and appreciation to the original artworks that are out there.”

Protecting intellectual property

People who come up with great products and services deserve to be paid for their creative ideas. That’s where patents come in.

Dr. Wayne Provost is an old hand when it comes to patents, having worked on a number of notable products, including insulin pumps, portable dialysis machines and resealable tops for cereal boxes. As the founder and director of the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center at Utah Tech, Provost is now helping students, faculty and the community at large protect their intellectual property through patents.

Dr. Wayne Provost from the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center discusses patents, St. George, Utah, February 2024 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

“Most people have no clue what a patent can do, how much it costs or how to go about getting one,” Provost said.

In the seven years he’s headed up the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center, Provost has helped more than 243 innovators apply for patents, with 140 of them being granted patents.

Additionally, the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center has processed 155 trademarks and 29 copyrights. As part of his lecture at the upcoming Creative Age Conference, Provost hopes to emphasize the important role art plays in the patent process, noting this is the first step in producing a prototype for a product.

“You have to draw the thing out in order to take it to the patent office,” Provost said. “You have to be able to detail it like a mechanical drawing.”

Provost hopes his presentation at the Creative Arts Conference will help the public understand there is free help for the patenting process available through the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center. He advises anyone wanting to take advantage of this service to first research whether or not their product already carries a patent.

Event details

What: 6th Annual Creative Age Conference
When: Saturday, March 2, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Eccles Fine Arts Center, Utah Tech University
Tickets: $45 per person, which includes breakfast and lunch

Preregistration information can be found on the Arts Council of Washington County’s website. Day-of tickets are available at the Eccles Fine Art Center.

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