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    Chicago | WIRED Next Fest – Erik Natzke, Hoverit Lounger, PARC Spiral Water Filter, Xerox, SUNRGI, Brain Ball, Toyota PM and iREAL

    This weekend WIRED put together a very cool technology show at Millennium Park here in Chicago. Presented as a gallery of the future, Next Fest had some very cool gadgets… some that may eventually be applicable to reefs. It’s running till October 12th, so if you’re in the area check it out. I was out that way […]

    This weekend WIRED put together a very cool technology show at Millennium Park here in Chicago. Presented as a gallery of the future, Next Fest had some very cool gadgets… some that may eventually be applicable to reefs. It’s running till October 12th, so if you’re in the area check it out. I was out that way and decided to brave the crowds on opening day, but I’d advise going on a weekday to avoid the people traffic.  

    Just outside the main tent, WIRED has some of Erik Natzke’s beautiful artwork on display. Using Flash, which is usually used to develop websites, he has created some high detail pieces you have to see in person to fully appreciate. You can see more of his work and HD video on his Jot site. Natzke’s work is Urban, Tech, and Pop all rolled in one. It was one of my favorite exhibits at the event.

     

    Here is the Hoverit Lounger. An uncomfortable looking piece made from 1″ acrylic and levitates via magnets. The Chair is stabilized by the two arms that keep the chair and you from drifting and crashing to the ground. It can support a weight of up to 300 pounds, or more if you go custom. Thumbs up for originality, but I’d like to see it look a little less futuristic. The design feature I do like most about this chair is the shock absorber like feel that the magnets give. It was soft like a cloud.

     

    Xerox is revamping their image with some new innovative products. Shown above is a Spiral Water Filter designed by PARC, a Xerox company. It is an energy efficient alternative to other membrane filtration techniques like Reverse Osmosis. It filters out particles via centrifugal force and the end result is 90% pure water. I couldn’t get any real specifics other than larger models are in the works that will filter 100 liters per minute.  

    Xerox also had solid ink, think crayons. These blocks like the one shown to the right are melted in the printer. Cheaper transportation costs and 90% less waste meaning better for the environment. The also had ink that would make documents un-photo-copyable. Yes that is a word. The special ink when photocopied turns into a jumbled mush. I wonder how long until this is implemented in Text Books.

     

    SUNRGI is a new solar corp who has created Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics in order to maximize the sun’s energy. Like starting a fire with a magnifying glass, these photovoltaics use lenses to concentrate solar energy and turn 40% of it into electricity. They even had a compact XCPV module that tracks the sun’s movement for continual generation of electricity. They said their latest module has the ability to drop the price of solar to $.05 per kilowatt-hour which is $.03 cheaper than the national average for coal-generated power.

    Brain Ball is a new game where players are awarded for their meditation. A device goes on your head to measure you brain activity. The player with the least brain wave activity wins. For on lookers watching, a small ball on the table moves to indicate how the players are doing.

    Toyota was there showing off their latest eco friendly concepts. My favorite was the Toyota PM which they showed at the 2003 Tokoyo Auto Show. Standing for Personal Mobility, this is a one person transportation device that I would not mind owning. Completely electric it charges in 2 hours. The spokeswoman also said it has a cutting edge vehicle to vehicle communication system allowing drivers to speak with one another. 

     

    They also showed off the i-REAL personal mobility vehicle and allowed attendees of NEXT Fest to test it out. It has a Cruise and Walk mode. When in Walk the vehicle moves upright to take up less space, and can literally turn on a dime. When in cruise the rear wheel extends back for increased stability. Youtube has not been friendly with the video I have made, so here is one from DigInfoNews.

     

     

    Overall the event was worth the trip. It was free and getting to test drive and use some of these new products was actually pretty fun. Like most Chicagoans, I usually avoid Millennium Park and the Bean like the plague on weekends due to all the tourists… and Saturday it was busy as ever. There is something about the bean that forces you to take out your camera and snap a photo. I felt guilty afterwards for falling into the trap.

    After Next Fest we headed just North of Millennium to check out the new Aqua building before heading back home. It will be 82 stories tall, making it one the tallest building in the USA made by a female architect– Jeanne Gang. The name Aqua comes from the fluid and unique balconies that mimic the ripples in water. I love my loft, but this is a building I wouldn’t mind living in.

    One Comment

    1. March 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

      There are over 400 companies that sell drinking water systems for the treatment of various contaminants. Water filters vary widely in quality, price, and performance. Although hundreds of companies make water filtration devices that can reduce chlorine from water, only a few companies offer drinking water treatment units that are certified to reduce a wide array of contaminants of health concern.

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