Getting encased in crystal at the Connect Expo courtesy of Intel

The Connect Expo and related “Next Big Thing Summit” ran to great acclaim in Melbourne earlier this week.  Business leaders from around the region came to network and to understand how ICT and emerging digital technologies are shaping the future of work and life in general.

At the Expo I saw numerous examples of businesses who are adopting cutting edge technologies such as virtual reality, robotics and the Internet of Things to carve out strongly differentiated market positions.

I attended courtesy of Intel who along with IBM were diamond sponsors of the event.  Intel had a prominent presence with a large stand showcasing both their own products and those of OEM partners such as HP and Lenovo who were displaying equipment with 6th Generation Intel Core vPro processors inside.

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Part way through the day I was asked if I would like to have my head etched in crystal using 3D scanning and laser technology.  Well how could a Gadget Guy refuse a request like that?

The process started when Glen from Intel scanned me with a Lenovo X1 tablet.  The tablet has an Intel Realsense 3D camera which can measure depth and distance built into its rear.

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Using the Sense App Glen was able to render a 3D image of my head and shoulders on the tablet.

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Next, the image was tidied up and sent to a Spark II Crystal Laser Engraving Machine for printing.

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It was the first time I had seen one of these beasts in action and the sight of green lasers sparking and progressively etching my face into a clear block of crystal was astonishing.

These machines have practical uses, such as creating trophies and tourist keepsakes but they are also great for experiential events – apparently football fans queued for several hours at the 2016 Superbowl to get their own 3D etched cube memento.

Here’s a short Instagram video showing the process in Melbourne and the end result.

Elsewhere at the Expo I spoke with a number of businesses including Australia’s Virtual Reality Ventures who design VR experiences for brands and also the Melbourne arm of One Fat Sheep, the successful Christchurch augmented reality business.

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At the Next Big Thing Summit, Kate Burleigh, Intel’s Managing Director A/NZ delivered a great keynote on business in the age of digital disruption.

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Kate’s presentation painted an inspiring picture of businesses dealing with a “vortex of change” that forces them to be agile and get products to market in “weeks rather than years” and all of this in a security environment where “trust is won in drips but lost in buckets”.

To round things out, special guest Tom Garrison,  General Manager of the Business Client Platforms Division,  took the stage to show how Intel’s 6th Gen processors enable better collaboration through beautiful technology devices such as the HP Elitebook Folio business and the Lenovo X1 Yoga.

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David Bowie is exhibition, Melbourne, July 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 8.54.58 pmMusic fans visiting Melbourne between now and  November 1st have a new ‘must-visit’ destination.  The highly regarded exhibition “David Bowie is” opened at the Australian Centre of the Moving Image today following a sell out run in cities such as London, Chicago, Paris and Berlin.

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the first session on the first day and were really glad we made the effort.

The Melbourne exhibition is a two hour total immersion in the life of the man who started out as Davie Jones, but over the years took on many other personas.  The show charts Davie’s progress from his early days as South London advertising executive with a penchant for mime, through to the musical and artistic legend we know today.

Winding through a dark hall you get to experience many aspects of his art with an audioguide and view a rich collection of memorabilia and artefacts.  You see the music notation books he used to teach himself songwriting as a young man, and the original copies of some of his most iconic lyrics; Fame, Fashion and Ashes to Ashes to name just a few.

Some of my personal favourite items from the vaults were a vinyl test pressing of the first Velvet Underground album given to Bowie’s manager Ken Pitt by Andy Warhol in 1966, a synthesiser Brian Eno passed down to Bowie after they had produced the Berlin trilogy Low, Heroes and Lodger and also Bowie’s painting of his companion while living in Berlin, James Osterberg (also known to music fans as Iggy Pop).  It is hard to fathom just how many musical legendary leylines are intertwined in these objects. It’s like witnessing the late 20th century’s musical big bang.

As you would expect from an exhibition that started life at the Victoria & Albert museum there are costumes at every turn.  There’s the gender bending “Rabbit” suit worn by Ziggy Stardust (and later worn as a homage at the Brits by Kate Moss) a special video cabinet showcases the multi coloured suit he wore here performing Starman on TV in 1972; but beyond the outfits you also get to hear what the inspiration behind them was.  It goes along the lines of adopting kabuki and mime metaphors to project a physical manifestation of art, or something a critic with a better grasp of the language could more eloquently explain.

As you navigate the show and audio “GuidePort” plays content triggered by beacons.  You get to hear and view many gems of pieces of audio/video material linked to the phases of his development, whether it’s the mime support act for Marc Bolan’s “Tyrannosaurus Rex” or the strange Saturday Night Live appearance where he and his Plastic suit were carried to the microphone by assistants.

For the final portion, you hand back the headset and get to stand in a hall and experience the “live” element of the show, a multi media happening with footage from one of his last shows as Ziggy Stardust at Hammersmith in 1973.

The overriding feeling I got from the exhibition was how Bowie more than any other artist, kicked against convention and forged new paths away from the traditional, away from the mundane.  We are on this planet for only a short time, very few of us will live our lives to the extent that David Bowie has managed to live his.

We are all richer for having had him with us.

“David Bowie, he did it first and he did it best” Jon Toogood, Shihad,  Planet of Sound show on Hauraki.

Tickets and information available here: http://www.acmi.net.au/exhibitions/bowie/

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