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NextFest: Geek Out In AC Comfort

By vouchey in Miscellaneous on Jun 24, 2005 5:03PM


If the heat is too much for you this weekend, and you like technology, cool air, and crowds, then this weekend's Wired NextFest.2005 at Navy Pier is for you!

The second of an annual, traveling series of technology shows, NextFest is a synaptic overload of mood lighting, geeky exhibitors and their well-dressed twenty-something helper girls that looks and feels the way Wired Magazine reads. Today Chicagoist got an advance look at the exhibition that shows everything from Xerox's electronic paper, futuristic mist-wall monitors, flying cars, and the latest in video game technology. There is little here that will rock your world, but a lot that will hold your curiosity for a few minutes, and lots of very expensive toys that will probably equate into household items in five years or so.

Kick Ass Kung Fu Video Game Controled By Real MotionOur favorites included the "Kick Ass Kung Fu" video game (pictured at left) that used a combination of blue screen video technology and motion sensors to actually put people in the game. And then there were the very ordinary-looking cloned cats, the dancing robot and the talking androids with face recognition.

In fact, NextFest has many, many cool things. But probably the most remarkable aspect of the various exhibits was how ordinary and non-futuristic most of them looked. The cloned cats look healthy and ignore people - like regular cats. The hydrogen vehicle that emits water instead of smog looks like a boring mini-van. The much-hyped dolphin-boat is basically a fancy jet ski (it only goes three feet under water for short periods).

While there are certainly things with product design to look futuristic, the spectactular thing is that everything there is kind of hum-drum. Technology today has become so much a part of our lives - in a year it will be almost boring that you can keep 5,000 hours of music on a small box in your hip pocket - that we just don't think much of it.

For that reason, NextFest is worth a visit to marvel at what we find so ordinary, and what will become ordinary in just a couple of product cycles.

NextFest.2005 is open to the general public Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at Navy Pier, Exhibit Hall A. Tickets are $10 online, $15 at the door. Beware of crowds, and cool air to rescue you from the killer weather.