At a tech conference, vendors hyped everything from 3D printers to technology that may one day allow us to communicate with cats.
Unsurprisingly, much of the buzz at Digifest 2012, a conference on new technologies, had to do with the massive slide that swirls down from the second floor of the Corus Quay building. “I wonder how to go down that?” attendees often wondered aloud. This notion of child-like wonder resonated throughout day one of the three-day shindig.
Founded in 2002, Digifest serves to spotlight new inventions or concepts. It’s kind of like E3 (that humongous video-game convention in LA), but much more organized and much smaller. Disappointingly, the exhibit floor wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been. It seemed to be made up mostly of various companies showing off their versions of 3D animation software, which gave it a vibe not dissimilar to that of a university fair.
There were a few highlights, though—like 3D printers. It will be a long time before those stop looking cool, though it will probably take equally long for them to become practical for the average consumer.
The workshops and speakers are Digifest’s biggest draw. The presentations covered a wide variety of topics, from Chris Solarski’s talk on classical art in video games, to a discussion of mobile applications by Farhan Thawar, of Xtremelabs. But what the day-one crowd seemed to like best was InteraXon’s presentation on brainwave-enabled technology. During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the company demoed a headset that allowed users to control the lighting display of the CN Tower with their minds, from Vancouver.
Ariel Garten, InteraXon’s CEO, listed some possible applications for the company’s technology. It could help diagnose kids with ADD, she said. Or it could be used to create an alarm clock that senses when a user is sufficiently rested (this already exists). She suggested that the stuff could even be used to help us understand the thoughts of cats. The first audience question was predictable: how might the government use this against us?
Garten answered that science and technology will always have detractors. It’s up to us, she said, to decide how to use it.
Photos by Kyle Bachan/Torontoist.