ETech and Really Intimate Interfaces

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Back from ETech and consuming the inspiration and ideas that were created and demonstrated. The past several years I had considered that ETech must be filled with people beyond imagining, working on bending light for time travel or using mind control to remove spots from carpet. However, I was happy to find out they are just really smart people doing interesting things with technology. Sometimes this is with cutting edge, or emerging devices, or just new techniques for biological entities, and others even just repurposing old technologies in new ways.

A couple of the highlights:

Chris Anderson's Blimp Bots reminded me of the four years I spent developing high-altitude, autonomous airships, but instead Chris is trying to dramatically decrease the price and difficulty of building these internal vehicles for encouraging school kids to learn and experiment with robotics and hardware.

Kyle Machulis' talk on "Really, Really Intimate Interfaces" was inspiring for ways other than the obvious. Kyle is a game developer but seems to have become fascinated with sex toys and intimate devices. His point is that too often with user experience and interface design we settle for "good enough". But when it comes to designing interfaces that deal with some of our most precious, and private, body parts just good enough isn't enough.

We should consider all concepts with the same care and precision that is appropriate for intimate devices. Also, there are some really interesting open-source projects and excellent business opportunities.

Ethan Zuckerman pointed out how LOLCats are indicators and devices of the activist movement. And Bre Pettis made me think what I need to do to prepare for the inevitably approaching apocalypse (summary, download Wikipedia).

While I didn't get much sleep at ETech, fortunately I headed back up to SF to recover while less fortunate souls continued onto SXSW where they will deal with 4 more days of little sleep (but lots more inspiration to overload their minds).

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.