Gadgetoff 2009: Boom!



Gadgetoff 2009 unleashed an intense series of kabooms,  zaps, chomps, and kerplurks rattling 400 attendees on the beautiful 83 acre Staten Island grounds September 25th while slinging Lenovo laptops with a trebuchet,  cooking hot dogs with Telsa Coil Towers, riding jet fueled 5g merry-go-rounds, writing code drunk for autonomous cars legally, and thrashing a series of incredible lectures and demos throughout the day! Welcome to the Gadgetoff 2009 Experience: Boom!

Robots rumbled in every corner ranging from dancing tai chi robots to tiny micro toy hex bugs that jittered their way into everyone’s pockets. The gigantic mechanical Mondo Spider chomped it’s way through the lunch gardens while on lookers enjoyed delicious alcohol infused sorbetDean Kamen of DEKA brought his breathtaking and ingeniously engineered “luke” arm (video) and toy inventor Brian Walker tinkered with large crossbows and rockets made to launch humans 20 miles across the air! Invisible inks, toys, gadgets, art, fire, illusions, magic, and disruptive ideas scorched the island while participants roamed in excitement and curiosity!

Just as I experienced last time, Gadgetoff invited the coolest hand’s on creatives to celebrate the Smart and Useless for an unforgetful day in disruptive goodness!

My adventure brief after the jump! (lots of pictures and videos)

Gadgetoff 2009, Friday  September 25th, 8am start!


I took a red-eye bus from Boston to NYC which arrives way earlier than expected. 3 hours of sleep on the bus. Oh boy, this is going to be a long day.


Welcome to NYC! I love it here!


Welcome aboard the ferry to Staten Island. Let the craziness begin! Gadgets a go!!


Gadgetoff 2009 starts off with spectacular weather on a ferry ride over to Staten Island.  Friends gather, smiles echo, ideas ripple, and newbies are warned of the chaos to come. Buddies Fred Graver, Designer Stefan Sagmeister, crazy man himself Dan DubnoDavid S. Rose, and friends from all over the world catch up!


Our friends Fashion Nerd Diana Eng (RISD ’05) gets introduced to Graphic Design Disruptor Stefan Sagmeister!


I catch up with conference photographer Gene Driskell who has a great set of Flickr image of Gadgetoff 2009 here.  Gene is literally at every conference I go to. TED, Poptech, GEL, Gadgetoff, EG, and a few others!


Welcome to Staten Island!


Whoohoo! Gadgetoff Helpers in every corner directing us goofy techs walk about! Awesome suits, destined for fun and danger!


Here’s the Music Hall where all the main presentations are located. There is another large outdoor exhibition space for the larger fun stuff and another indoor space for hands on demos!


Lasers scattered above everyone’s heads on first entrance lighting up the space with geeky excitement for trouble! As far as I know, several attendees whipped out their own lasers to blast about the room as well!


Dan Dubno, Mike Dubno, and Greg Harper kick off the conference as usual! What a great trio!

Greg starts off with the classic bag of gadgets. One in particular is a nifty little Sony Party Shot Dock stand which automatically pans around looking for photos to take. With smile detection and such other software, just set your camera down during a party and come back with a few hundred awesome photos! Set it and forget it!


Here’s the Sony Party Shot Camera. I need to get one of these, set up a few around the house, and see what it takes! I wonder if they also track movement and just follow you without taking pics!


Sebastian Thrun talks about building autonomous smart vehicles and remarks how “it’s illegal to Drink while Driving, but it’s okay to Drink while writing code for a car that’s suppose to drive around by itself!”  ha!

William Gurstelle of book Absinthe and Flamethrowers shows attendees what not to do, though most of the slides were about the benefits in risk taking.


Steve Dennis presents some advanced X-ray bomb surveillance technology  from AS&E.  They have this little box about the size of a fridge that is driven on the street which detects anything inside cars, trucks, spaces! Woa!!! Scary.


Here are some X-ray shots. Pretty incredible considering the scanner is moving at the same time! I want one!!! They should install this into airports… forget x-ray lines, just walk down a x-ray-hallway.


Funny man and successful entrepreneur (ICQ)  Yossi Vardi introduces his next project, called Six Degrees Under… internet for the  dead! A continuously growing population and high demand. Very entertaining as usual!



Master in visual Illusions Al Seckel fools us with some visual trickery inside, outside, up, and down!!


Adventure man Brian Walker talks  about his success, collapse, and recent restart in a new project to make a human crossbow-like device (RUSH) with rockets attached hoping to launch him some 20 miles!! Oh my, sounds like dangerous fun! I’m in!


Gary Lauder talks about ShotSpotter which tracks  gun shot locations in a city.  3 beacons triangulate  sound waves to give an approximate reference point within 25 some meters of a shot location.   Incredible!


Sculptor, Artist, Engineer Bruce Shapiro brought some of his motion controlled toys to show everyone. Check out his  great work!


IFI  (Innovation First International) throws down a small bucket of little HexBug vibrating robots premiering at Gadgetoff 2009! These bugs stole the show finding their way in every attendees pockets! Pretty simple design which launches a bugs movement forward from the rubbery legs. Add vibration, and you have constant forward movement…they even bounce off their own backs.

Watch the hex bugs I had in action below:


Connor Dickie, kameraflage inventor, unleashes the  invisible wavelengths in inks. Pull out a camera, and boom, you see hidden inks such as this shirt with a cloud on it…when you look through a camera lens, you see lightening bolts under the cloud which are invisible to the human eye. He showed me a pretty wild future version not yet public on his laptop. Carry your cameras around and lookout for some cool things!


A demo in a device Marvin Minsky was suppose to present, but was not able to attend. The device took a snapshot of a piece of paper with text then the camera vocally replied back the angle of the paper to the camera lens, then started to read the text out loud. Gosh, where do I get one of those!


Some awesome Adlebaran robots from France breaking out some sweet Tai Chi moves while talking! VERY VERY COOOOL! Watch the video below!


Dan get’s pounded with a few paint balls from Mike while recording the fun with a high speed camera!  The one in the face was great! Splawack!


Dean Kamen of DEKA demonstrates the unbelievable “Luke” arm project from DARPA that he’s been working on for the past few years.

“Affectionately dubbed “Luke” (after Luke Skywalker), the robotic arm is a DARPA funded project intended to restore functionality for individuals with upper extremity amputations” -DEKA

You MUST watch the video above of the LUKE arm!!!!!


Micro helicopters smaller than a penny. In fact, you can probably fit 3-4 of them on a penny! Add a wireless cam looking downwards and you have spy flies! Imagine having a handful of these, tossing them up in the air, and instantly having surveillance of space without anyone knowing!


Gadgetoff goes outdoors! Through to the gardens, to the open greens we go!


Gadgetoff isn’t only about gadgets but classics such as this car! OooOooOo! Amazing! Too bad they didn’t leave the keys inside for me to give it a test ride!



ahhh, the here’s the Jetbike from last year! A bit pulled apart, but wait wait….


Caution: This may Kill you! Awesome! Let’s go!


Whoohoooo! They took the Jetbike and strapped  a pair of  them (pulse jets) on a pole to make a jet merry-go-round!  Jeff Han of Perceptive Pixels and myself took the opportunity to hop on, though they couldn’t fire it up at the moment.

Several people at other conferences mix myself and Jeff  up for some reason… perhaps we’re Asian, so hopefully this ride didn’t help solve the confusion any less!


Jeff stands proud with the pulse jet horse with the goofy eyes!


Whoohooooo! Rock on! (imagining the merry-go-round horses flaming while launching us up in the air)

Here’s a video of it in action:


After lunch, came the  carnival ride known as the Regurgitator! Supposedly it’ flings a human around up to 5 g’s… that’s when the face goes pale!


This gals helmet flew off half way through the ride! Yikes! Hold on! Once these pulse engines are lit up, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them!


The Mondo Spider lurks around Gadgetoff!


CRuuuunnnkch, CRuuunck, chunnaaaa chuunnnn, Crunch, Chomp Chomppp!


Dean Kamen of DEKA and Dave Matthews of G4 TV share a bubbly dry ice delight.


How about some Wine Cellar Sorbet. Perhaps some Mimosa, Sake, Riesling, Champagne, Rose, Sangria,  or Pinot Noir.  It has .5% alcohol, though founder Bret Birnbaum spoke about a version he used to make at 3.5%. This was absolutely incredible, refreshing, zesty, a keeper! Bret mentioned Wholefoods caries his sorbets currently! Go get it!


Yum Yum Yummmm, Rose sorbet!

The Uno Bike makes a visit. I think it’s fans out for faster speeds. Goes uni up to 15 mph, and 25mph when spread.


Some water resistant sand from the Inventables crew. (it’s  silicon sand)


Artist and gravity man himself Tom Shannon rocks out his pendulum painting demo!


I’m not sure how this happened, but Lenovo decided to drop test their notebook with this trebuchet conveniently sitting around the yard. Notice the Lenovo laptop strapped to the watermelon with the guy in the blue shirt! Okay, 3,2,1….

Wheeeezzzzzzzzzzzzzz….      Kerplurk!!!!! crack!


Look pumpkin stuffed Lenovo!


The screen didn’t fair too well… does it turn on?!! Let’s do it again!


An rare close demo of Dean Kamens Luke hands with user Chuck!  Unreal! Unbelievable,  pure awesome!!!



Testing out the Eye Writer. Draw with your eyes!


The addictive IFI Hex Bugs in action. They brought thousands and gave them out to attendees! They will be in retail stores starting this October.

Here it is again! Incredibly addictive!


tracks for the hexbugs!


robotic creepiness! The terminator brought to life perhaps?


yar…is this a projector or the terminators skull?

PrivateEye Security screen protection. When the camera recognizes your looking away, it’ll blur the image… the version on the left, scrabbled the text, but kept the text you were reading still as you read. Pretty amazing!


OoooOo, Vurtual Reality Sphere!


I’ve gotta try this out!


Woa! I’m walking inside a sphere, but virtually running around a battle field! I got a bit dizzy inside! I tried running, but I think this one was made for walking! I stumbled a few times!


View from inside the Sphere!


James Patten shows off his tangible AudioPad project from several years ago. He’s made several adjustments to it since I first played with it in 2004 at the MIT MediaLab.


Bre Pettis introduces us to his very own DIY home made 3D printer. Assembled just like an FDM printer which is basically a hot glue gun printing thin layers of an object at a time. This one doesn’t print supportive structures so it is a bit limited on printable shapes.


Bruce Shapiro brought over some of his classic egg shell printers. Plop a pen in, create a design, and watch the magic unfold!


Obama egg print! Sweeet!

Check out Bruce Shapiros  work on this video:

Michael Dubno made his own  Sand Table piece . Awesome job Mike. I’m going to make one now..maybe with that wetless silicon sand stuff..perhaps an under water version =)


Sweet Heather Knight shows off her Sensate Bear project exploring touch and social behavior. Yah!

A stroll through the Chinese Garden before Dinner!

Zap! Cooking hot dogs with two Large Tesla Coil Towers! Crossed off my list! Crunchy on the inside, chilled on the out, but just so damn cool!!



The Gadgetoff 2009 Giftbag with tons of goodies and books! Thank you Gadgetoff!


Quick fun picture of Heather Knight and Jeff Han hanging out in the rain while we wait for a taxi after dinner. Heathers saying “look its raining, yah!” and Jeffs thinking, “multi-touch rain, hmmm, the pixels come to you, what can I do!”.

Good times all! The BEST Gadgetoff ever! Looking forward to Gadgetoff 2010 when more chaos is revealed!

David S. Rose

3 Responses to “Gadgetoff 2009: Boom!”

  1. Melissa Says:

    THIS IS AMAAAZIINNNG!!! WOWWW.. pretty incredible stuff!!! wish I was there 😉

  2. tom shannon Says:

    tango! great report with your light touch!

  3. Jordan E. Hernandez Says:

    night vision cctv

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