Well once you got past the 200 million kids piling out of the school busses, the glitzy robotic flashy stuff jumping all around your head, the typical projected holographic eye candy beaming off of everyone’s Nike’s, there was some pretty cool things hidden among the glitz. Ironically, if you wanted to find the most facinating innovations, just look for the simple small presentations. Usually someone sitting there with a laptop. The area that I gravitated to most was the future of communication. There was a strong showing from the folks from Northwestern. They have a pretty strong innovation lab there and were represented well.
This is not anything against all the wonderful art pieces that were there, and the great interactive games. Here is a quick overview.
From the WTP(what’s the point) to the WOW.
E-TAF’s Automatic door.
Comprised of numerous horizontal strips with infrared sensor strips, it senses the shape of your body and opens accordingly to your shape. No handles, or hinges. The WTP is that it saves energy and maximizes keeping the bugs out when opening up the door. Hmmmm. Better watch the donut consumption.
Gotta have one of these when you walk into events like this. (voice over: In monotone, Macintosh 1984 tone) “You will conform to the future and buy lots of NextFest tchotchkes”
Human virtual reality hamster ball.
Well, not exactly. But a pretty cool way to experience and walk through a virtual world. Players hook up the virtual reality headgear and get inside this rotating hamster ball. You literally walk through the virtual world while in the sphere. The sphere rotates on an axis as you walk. Now who needs lab rats.
Robotic bar tender?
Yes. He serves numerous drinks, he slices, he dices, he creates julianne frises…they could have made him be more Max Head Room-ish. The customer orders up his or her drinks from a touch screen monitor (below) and walla.
Hey mom, dad, now what’s a screwdriver again?
Text-to-speech searchable web blogs
Ah yes, now you’re talking. The folks at Northwestern built this installation that kinda reminds me of the Turning Point. Basically it searches the most popular topics in the blogosphere…like this one…hahaha, and feeds it through these avatars. The avatars read them as if they were beatniks on stage reciting poems. As they read, the visual display also shows the span of words and how they connect to each other. I asked them if they archive all that they captured which they replied with a stone face, “why?”
A keyword is worth a thousand pictures
This was by far my favorite of the whole show. David Ayman Shamma from Northwestern, who did some preliminary studies on the 10×10 concept before it was born, walked me through this wonderful exhibit of a reflection of pop culture. As you walk up you see a bunch of monitors all displaying in real time specific imagery. The center video screen was live TV. What the software does is basically pings text from the TV’s closed-caption stream and searches the web for related images. The most commonly linked-to-pics are shown all around on the eight monitors that surround the TV. So, for instance CNN was on and they were reporting on how George Bush was reacting to all of the finger pointing on the war. Immediately images ranging from portraits of George Bush and Clinton to subject matter on the Declaration of Independence to images of 911 to soldier’s blogs all captured from the web. It takes the fundamental principles of contextual linking on the web. A great experience to give your users. Take a look at the future of web TV.
This is part 1 of this report. I’ll have more to follow.