Nostalgic Innovation

As I read Geoff Carter’s roundup of the growing Las Vegas tech community, I was struck by the quiet nostalgia lurking behind so many of the Businesses of Tomorrow. Rumgr lets us buy (among other things) cool vintage stuff from the dude down the street, Romotive’s Romo the Robot is the realization of the childhood dreams of several generations— Danger, Will Robinson!—and Rolltech revives the clubby old competition of our fathers’ ugly-shirted bowling leagues. Ayloo re-creates the delightfully tattered old coffeehouse bulletin board (ukulele and calligraphy lessons from the same teacher!), and Bluefields reaches for a time before suburban anomie to give us a chance to invite our neighbors out to play. Media forms change, patterns of urban living turn cities upside down, but our aspirations remain the same: to connect, to exchange, to generate wonder. The digital world can be a lonely place; maybe that’s why the brightest among us are using its tools to revive the good fellowship we’ve lost.

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Talking Flowers, Massaging Mice and Other Scenes from CES 2013

Talking Flowers, Massaging Mice and Other Scenes from CES 2013

Much of the media chatter about this week’s Consumer Electronics Show has centered around the search for 'the next big thing.' Who cares? It’ll only be big for 15 minutes or so. As a jaded tech columnist, I’m more interested in the smaller booths and more offbeat products. Here are a few under-the-radar gadgets and trends that caught my eye this year: Give Your Plant a Voice