Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Canada’s first open device lab. Opened by Ottawa-based digital creative agency bv02, the Ottawa Open Device Lab allows you to test how a web page will appear on a variety of different mobile phones, tablets and other devices.

One of the largest hurdles in developing web sites targeted at mobile devices the ability to test them properly. Need to be able to see exactly how a site will function on an iPhone 4, Kindle Fire, Blackberry Bold 990, or an old Ericsson Xperia X10a? For many web development agencies, the solution has been to build a collections of mobile devices, old and new. This can be an long and expensive task. This is where the Open Device lab comes in. It makes a variety of devices available to the community so that they can test their sites without having to buy each and every device. They currently have 30 devices available, so far. Many of the devices come from bv02’s own collection, but some have also been donated by local individuals and organizations.

How does the lab work? First of all, the best part, it’s FREE! You contact the lab and schedule a time to use it. Now for the cool part, when you get to the lab, all you have to do is enter a website address on their PC, and the page is automatically pushed out to the plethora of devices available. That’s it. You don’t have to enter the address on each and every device. It’s all done for you. This was my biggest surprise during yesterday’s demo by Brandon Brule, who appeared just as excited showing this off for the 100th time as he did the first!

A huge thank you to Andrew and the entire team and bv02 for the launch party yesterday, and for opening this lab. I predict it will be incredibly popular. There is no question, we’ll be making use of it!

Here’s a quick shot of some of the devices in the lab:

Ottawa Open Device Lab

Here’s some of the reactions from the opening party: