Ideas in Action at TEDxBeaconStreet

Ed Lee
Nov 20, 2014

The 2014 TEDxBeaconStreet conference took place on November 15 and 16 in Brookline, MA. Like other TED conferences, the talks centered on the themes of Technology, Education, and Design (TED).

Tthe event included 67 speakers, over 2,500 attendees, 3 venues, 3 viewing villages, and 20 event partners. The talks were recorded and will be available shortly at the TEDxBeaconStreet website. The organizers are hoping to achieve a target of 25 million views over the next year. So, check out some of the talks when you have a few moments.

I was able to attend Sunday’s sessions and they were well worth the time and effort. The three imaging related talks that I was most impressed with were given by photographer Rick Smolan, David Rose, CEO of Ditto Labs, and Barmak Heshmat, a Post-Doctorial Associate at MIT Media Lab.

Inside Tracks

Rick Smolan is best known for the “A Day in the Life” series of coffee table photo books. Part of Smolan’s talk included a pitch for his book Inside Tracks, which incorporates Aurasma’s augmented reality technology. It is a perfect example of Rich Media, which InfoTrends defines as a blend of hardcopy and electronic content and access. (More information on Rich Media is available to InfoTrends Photo Printing Trends clients.)

Inside Tracks is a self-published book that Smolan funded through a Kickstarter campaign. It documents the 1977 journey of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700 mile trek from Alice Springs, Australia to the Indian Ocean on foot with four camels and a her dog. Smolan covered the journey for National Geographic. Tracks, a movie about the adventure, was released earlier this fall.

The Inside Tracks book includes many photos from that journey. A number of these photos, when scanned with a smartphone or tablet running the Aurasma app, will launch corresponding video clips from the movie, delivering a multi-media viewing experience to the reader.  InfoTrends has been advocating that Rich Media adds value to hard copy output and offers future revenue opportunities. It was great to see this example in action.


Enchanted Objects

David Rose, CEO of Ditto Labs, discussed the Internet of Things and how everyday common devices will be connected and enhance people’s lives by taking advantage of information and technology. Rose showed off what he described as a periodic table of Enchanted Objects, organized by six human desire categories: omniscience, the desire to know all; telepathy, the desire for human connection; safekeeping, to protect and be protected; immortality, to be healthy and vital; teleportation, to move effortlessly; and expression, to create, make, and play.

Some examples that Rose cited were the Ambient Joule that monitors energy usage, the NEST smart thermostat, an Ambient umbrella whose handle glows different colors for upcoming weather, a Facebook coffee table that incorporates a built-in screen, and the Narrative Clip wearable lifelogging camera. I am happy to say that I own a weather forecaster, which falls under Omniscience on the periodic table and I do appreciate having a five-day weather forecast available each morning without having to launch anything!


The Future of Imaging

Barmak Heshmat, a Post-Doctorial Associate from the MIT Media Lab, discussed his thoughts about the future of imaging. Heshmat believes imaging has come a long way already, but there is still a very bright future ahead. He reviewed five areas that he believes will be part of the future of imaging. They are multi-hop imaging, which could enable seeing around corners, based on the scatter of reflective light; active cameras that track and respond to users’ movements; imaging for usage by computers; smart cameras for machine vision; and pixel network/swarm imaging creating images by collecting scatters of light.

InfoTrends Opinion

TEDx conferences are great place to meet people from diverse walks of life. The talks cover an expansive range of topics. They can be thought provoking, informative, and inspiring. I urge you to seek them out if they are in your area. At a minimum, take the time to visit the TEDxBeaconStreet website to view the complete video of these talks and help them achieve their target of 25 million views over the next year.


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