Discovering new technologies at Wired Magazine: Next Generation event

By Lara Loasby, Block 4

On Saturday 4 November, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Wired Magazine Next Generation event for the third time running.

This year did not disappoint, with lots of incredible talks and pieces of new technology to experience. The venue was the Tobacco Dock in east London – a really interesting building and yet I found it a strangely historical venue to hold a technology convention in.

We registered at 9am and went to the interactive zone to try out all the new examples of technology on display. There were three examples of virtual reality art on show, one was a five-minute movie and the other two were purely pieces of art called Rainbow and Aqua Phobia respectively.  Aqua Phobia was very quirky and in some senses creepy, seemingly set in abandoned pipeways tinted green with water gushing everywhere.

The VR movie was stunning. It was set in what appeared to be Antarctica, which was melting into the ocean due to global warming. You flew over this scene while watching two people talking about a new planet they were creating.  The chair I was sitting in to participate was moving in order to prevent me feeling any motion sickness and to deepen the experience.

The talks started at 10am, there were nineteen in total and each one lasted about 25 minutes.

The ones that stood out for me included a woman talking about her involvement in building the next Mars rover and a fantasy UI and technology designer for movies such as Prometheus, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Martian.

However, my favourite talk was by a technology and digital magician called Tom London, who combined tech and magic as an art form to explain the possibilities of virtual reality, drones and robots. He managed to make the Amazon Alexa perform mind-reading and he also amazed us by making a swarm of three drones perform sleight of hand.

Half way through the day, I completed a workshop entitled ‘Future Everything’, which was about how to build interactive sound art. I painted a circuit and connected it to a Raspberry Pi, and wherever you touched it on the circuit, a different sound was produced. Learning how to set this up was really interesting.

The day was incredibly informative and inspiring and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in technology.