By: Galicia Stack Lozano
This October, Wired magazine celebrated their 25th anniversary in San Francisco, California. To celebrate, they had a four-day festival, during which, they hosted many different innovative events that included Virtual Reality (VR) and conversations with famous people in the tech world. I arrived early on the third day of the event, which meant that I had time to explore the Robot Petting Zoo before starting my first event on the schedule. When I walked into the lobby, I was given stickers to put on my wrist. The stickers, which they scanned, were waterproof and contained information regarding the sessions we were to attend. In the lobby, there was a robot zooming around called Knightscope. Knightscope is a security robot who patrolled the lobby with four cameras that projected images and videos up to the third floor, where the Robot Petting Zoo was located.
In the Robot Petting Zoo, I met a robot named Mabu. I learned that Mabu is a home health companion robot for people with chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis and congestive heart failure. In Japanese, Mabu means best friend or companion. Mabu is supposed to help sick people by reminding them to take their pills and by monitoring how they feel, and she also reminds people to call 911 if they don’t feel well. Mabu can talk to you, or you can tap her buttons to answer her questions. Another cool robot I saw was Somnox, which was designed to help people sleep. It breathes and plays music. It is also a heavy robot because it is supposed to imitate holding a baby or a pet. Somnox reports that ninety percent of people who go to sleep with the robot take eight to twenty minutes to fall asleep.
I also attended a lecture on mythbusting with Adam Savage. MythBusters is a TV show in which Adam Savage is a co-host. On MythBusters, they look at myths and try to test them to see if they are right or wrong. Adam Savage talked about mythbusting and said that he started a new show called MythBusters, Jr. that is going to air later this winter on the Science Channel.
I checked out the VR room and experienced one called Serenity Lake. It was a guided meditation on VR, and while I did the meditation, they used a brain scanner to check my brain waves, a bracelet to check my heart rate, and a clip that went on my finger to my track my oxygen levels. All the tracking they were doing created a pattern. At the end of the experience, they showed me the pattern and made a personalized water bottle with the pattern printed on it. It only took twenty minutes for them to make the water bottle.
I got a chance to see John Collins, who folded a world-record-breaking airplane. He gave the audience pieces of paper and demonstrated how to fold them. Afterwards, he talked about his experience folding the airplane.
Jaron Lanier, an author, computer scientist, visual artist, composer of classical music, and the inventor of the term Virtual Reality, discussed how he is worried about how technology is affecting us. He said that Silicon Valley and tech are taking away our spirituality. His recent book discussed ten reasons why people should delete their social media accounts. Mr. Lanier says that he is happy that Facebook is taking measures to fix the interaction it has with its users, but he says that it is still not enough. He also talked about how jobs are going away because of technology and robots.
After this creative and inspiring event, I am looking forward to what the future holds.