Fest celebrates what's next in technology
June 20, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
It's official. This
is Motorola Technology Innovation Week in Chicago. Mayor Daley's
signed the proclamation encouraging Chicagoans to participate
in this week's events.
good reason to take note. A powerhouse lineup of technology innovators
is gathering in Chicago this week.
It starts this morning
at the Thompson Center Plaza when Motorola Chief Technology Officer
Padmasree Warrior and Chicago Chief Information Officer Chris
O'Brien step to the podium. They'll be talking about home-grown
technology and spreading the word about WIRED NextFest, a world's
fair of technology, which runs Friday through Sunday at Navy Pier.
"It's about celebrating
innovation, and putting Chicago on the map as a city that spawns
technology," says Warrior.
Motorola will showcase
its next generation seamless-mobility technology that automatically
links devices in a user's home. Warrior is quick to point out
Motorola's top-selling RAZR cell phone was designed here in Chicago.
According to O'Brien,
Motorola is planning a series of stealth appearances throughout
Chicago this week to show off its home-grown technology and to
promote innovation. You might see Motorola staffers at schools,
libraries or even in Millennium Park. O'Brien's clearly pumped
"It's our opportunity
to host some of the best thinkers in technology," says O'Brien.
"It's also our chance to show we're nurturing some of the
best innovators right here in Chicago."
Both the Today Show
and the Science Channel will broadcast segments from NextFest
The festivities move
into high gear Friday as NextFest opens at Navy Pier, and is expected
to attract over 30,000 visitors. If you're curious about the future
or just want to have some fun, show up.
Adult admission is
$15. Kids under 12 are free. On Friday, education day, admission
is free to students with school IDs. NextFest hours are 9 a.m.
to 3 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"Never have so
many of the world's inventions been put together in one place,"
says WIRED magazine Publisher Drew Schutte, who's organizing the
event. "It's for anybody who gets excited about the future."
Schutte says the magazine's
editorial staff scoured the globe for the best technologies. Their
aim was to create a true world's fair of innovation.
Navy Pier will host
more than 125 technology exhibits ranging from interactive pillows
that take pillow talk to a new dimension to Telbotics robots that
attend school when you're too sick or disabled.
in exploration, entertainment, transportation, science and medicine,
communication, design, and defense will all be on display.
"For years we
wrote about how technology is changing the future. We finally
figured out a way to bring it to life for everybody," says
In addition to the
exhibition, there will be NextFest events throughout the week.
On Wednesday, GM will
demonstrate a new hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle called the
HydroGen3 at Northwestern University in Evanston.
Also Wednesday, the
band Wilco's Jeff Tweedy curates a NextFest concert, "What's
Next in Music" at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield. On
Thursday, a dolphin-like, two-seat experimental watercraft called
Angel will cruise the Chicago River near Michigan Avenue.
Beth Comstock, chief
marketing officer of GE, is making a major commitment to Chicago
and NextFest. She and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt have a GE pavilion
at Navy Pier, and are committed to increasing GE's top line growth
through product innovation.
GE will have displays
on renewable energy and future health care devices. Comstock expects
new security technologies for airports and homes to be a big draw
at her pavilion.
Schutte credits the
mayor's office and World Business Chicago for bringing NextFest
"The mayor is
very supportive," says Schutte. Kudos, too, to World Business
Chicago's Dan Lyne for months of behind-the-scenes work to make
NextFest a reality.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.