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Wired NextFest 2007

by Phuong-Cac Nguyen
on 17 September 2007
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From ideas that ran from the creepy (like regenerated body parts including bladders) to conceptually fascinating (like a harp with strings made from lasers and a Lifestraw that kills sinister infectious organisms in water upon contact), over 160 exhibitors at the 4th annual Wired NextFest in Los Angeles this past weekend enthusiastically revealed their visions of the future to receptive nerds of all ages.

But as anyone could guess from such a geeked-out expo, the star crowd-packers were the robots (we'll make any excuse we can to include them on Cool Hunting). The noggin of the smooth-moves Albert Hubo robot from KAIST, which holds the distinction of being the first walking robot with a face capable of showing expression, bore the eerie, exact resemblance of Albert Einstein courtesy of Hanson Robotics. The Android Twin Robot, in the same electronic vein, was a remarkably true physical clone of the maker's founder Zou Ren Ti and caused not only double but triple takes. (See some in action in our video from last year here.)

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In design, the Desktop Factory 3D printer garnered the most adulation. With this machine that looks like it came straight from a lab, consumers who have $5,000 to drop on the hardware as well as lots of patience (five hours for a small creation) can design and print actual 3-D objects made from a powder blend of aluminum, nylon and glass. Other attention-grabbing products were the D30 suit, built with a flexible material that hardens upon impact making it a fave with some soccer players and snowboarders. CuteCircuit, known for their Hug Shirt that tenses so its wearers can feel the sensation of a real hug, showed off other irreverent but practical innovations like the M-Dress, which turns an outfit into a working cell phone.

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The NextFest wouldn't be all things future without a motley selection of green-friendly entries, like the Pull Cord Generator by Potenco that's currently being used in developing countries to power LEDs for lighting but will be offered stateside for applications such as charging MP3 players and cell phones. Interactive Institute, known for its power-aware line, is debuting a clock that talks with your electricity meter to show energy consumption at any time of day.

Until the next NextFest...

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