Technophiles migrated downtown to the Sixth annual Next Fest at the Jacob Javits center Friday, September 29th exhibiting groundbreaking technology promising to shape our society in the 21st century. The event is patterned on the great world’s fairs of years past; with over 130 interactive exhibitions of technology from forward thinking companies around the world. Exhibitions included; civilian space tourism and exploration, transportation you thought only existed in science fiction books, health care for the common man, communication devices unheard of, unparalleled architecture, “Big Brother” like security devices and green living. The event also has guest speakers, panels of experts and live demonstrations of some of the coolest geek-related stuff around. The festival was sponsored by a myriad of companies including General Electric, Atari, General Motors, Intel and NASA.
Upon entering the exhibition pavilion one is struck with a childlike awe when seeing the worlds fastest land car powered on C cell batteries and an electronic synthesizer which sounds tones according to where you place your hand over motion sensing lasers.
Green is good:
Stepping beyond that into the main hall, it is evident that G.E. is the main sponsor and the company is pushing green technologies like no other. 1.5 megawatt wind turbines, a hybrid locomotive that stores excess braking heat for fuel, purification techniques that turn dirty rivers into h2o cleaner then bottled water, paper thin displays that function as wallpaper and a Television screen are among the first few exhibits.
Further beyond G.E’s main exhibit is “Robot Row” showcasing Fembot dancers that help you dance and walk like a real lady. Good the for the ultra rich who really cant buy a carbon based life form for a date. There were also Dj-ing robots that really are nothing short of gigantic bionic arms that can spin 4/4 beats forward and backwards so exact, you won’t be able to tell which way the song is supposed to play. These German beat masters made some mind blowing remixes of pop songs at the festival, too bad funk master flex wasn’t there to humiliate them. Another innovation present which will truly advance humanity was the Robo Bartender. Unlike human bartenders that might forget you or even worse, spill your drink, they’re fast and efficient in service and couldn’t care less if you leave a tip. Too bad all they were serving was non-alcoholic drinks, or I might have been dancing with the Fembots!
Departing from Robot row and into the entertainment section you come upon electronic games that would keep you occupied for the better part of a century. A “video game” in which you actually fight the characters in a mortal combat style game was the main highlight. The motion sensing cameras catch your every move and show it on a movie screen behind you. It is a fun way to beat up Bruce lee and other miscellaneous ninjas but the spokesperson for the device wouldn’t comment on how much it would cost install to it in my living room. Another amazing contraption was a sort of American gladiator meets cyber space metal ball, where players don virtual reality goggles, motion sensing gloves and run around in a true 3-d shooting game.
The real reason why I was so excited for next fest was to see when, how and at what the cost would be to get off this planet, and head home. Spaceship 2 answered all my questions and more. It is the predessescor of Space Ship One; the world famous space plane commercially funded space plane that took a civilian into suborbital space. Spaceship 2 is slightly larger and more accomidating. So what about the cost? For the low low prive of a Mir $200 grand, you too can blast off into the horizons’, and feel the unearthly sensation of weightlessness… for all of four minutes.
The flights will carry passengers up to space to let them experience forces 4 times earths normal pull when they fly into space from a specially equipped jet airliner. Passengers will then be able to float around and enjoy some breathtaking views before plummeting back down to earth at 7 times the earth’s normal pull. Flights are scheduled to begin in 2008 after approval is cleared and the spaceport in New Mexico is completed.
The aforementioned are just some of the 130 exhibits present at the event. There is something that even the staunchest technophobe would enjoy at the festival. You must keep in mind that Next fest is not a gadget fest, the average consumer be experience these technologies in the Foreseeable future, the festival is an exhibition of concepts, the components of which will make their way into your life starting soon. Even so there are no promises, if you start dating a robot because you think it’s hip, you’re still a freak.