Nine cool things at Otronicon v.9
This year’s edition features an emphasis on medical technology, along with the usual displays of geek gadgets, from aging Gamecubes to cutting-edge Oculus Rift headsets, and nekkid nerdiness on Friday and Saturday night from Skill Focus Burlesque.
Here are nine new highlights I found at last night’s Otronicon v.9 opening event:
Frisbee Throwing Robot
This badass-looking bot was designed and built by high-school students to throw frisbees in the FIRST Ultimate Ascent robotics competition.
Electronic Arts facial animation
Local videogame juggernaut EA demonstrated their latest facial animation software, creating real-time UFC fighters with frighteningly realistic emotions. I even got my face scanned by a Matrix-like camera array, and was turned into a creepy CGI zombie head.
This newly developed medical imaging device uses a titanium rod that is inserted into a patient’s head during surgery (or into a glowing plastic shell, in this demo). Computers track the instrument’s position and display a real-time rendering of the interior anatomy.
MakerBot 3-D Printers
Iron Galaxy Studios demonstrated their deceptively simple two-button fighting game Dive Kick (available now on most platforms except iOS) with rich 2-D animation, colorful characters, and an addictive sense of rhythm.
Star Tours model
Disney didn’t divulge any secrets about new Star Wars films or attractions in their top-floor display. But they did have this nifty working model of the the Starspeeder simulator from the Star Tours ride, which moved on hydraulic legs in synchronization with the digital avatar on an adjacent computer screen.
Home 3D displays all but disappeared from the most recent CES trade show, but Sony still had a few to show off. They were using The Hobbit to demonstrate both a 55-inch passive screen that uses polarized glasses like your local cineplex and a wireless headset that streams virtual 70-inch screens directly to each of your eyes.
Tucked away on a balcony above the main floor, the Nerdy Lounge features a bank of WiiU consoles, a bar, and trendy colorful LED lighting for a gamer-friendly nightclub flair.
Ekso Biotics exoskeleton
Sarah Anderson lost the use of her legs years ago, but that hasn’t stopped her from standing up for medical advancements. Thanks to a bionic exoskeleton from Ekso Biotics, Sarah is able to stand, walk, and demonstrate the technology at a special presentation at 1 p.m. on Saturday.