ETech: Applied Minds
Danny Hillis from Applied Minds had some amazing things to show. He used to work for Imagineering (as Aaron described it, a company where "a bunch of smart people solve problems very creatively") and Applied Minds seems to be very similar in its approach.
Hillis showed off videos of some really cool things that they're doing, including 4- and 6-legged robots, and a robot that looked and moved like a snake.
The most impressive thing, though, was a table-sized touchscreen that displayed a 2D map. Moving your hand around the touchscreen would zoom and rotate the display, so you could zoom in from an image of the earth down to the southwest corner of central park in a matter of seconds. He demoed this at a recent map-makers convention that was attended by 15,000 people, and said of the demo at the convention:
Literally i had people come up to me in tears after this conference... and you guys think you're geeks.The demo was one of those "you've got to be kidding me!" moments. It seemed that the apps he demoed only existed in movies and some shadowy government agency's most subterranean war room.
Then, Danny one-upped himself when he showed a video of a 3D topographically-accurate map. It literally jumped off the (digital) page and draw gasps and applause. Fricking insane.