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If you are an entrepreneur working on something HCI related, you are also missing out if you don’t come to Blur. I’ll be there as will my three partners at Foundry Group. We will be fully engaged for two days in one of our favorite themes that has spawned investments like Oblong, Fitbit, Organic Motion, Sifteo and Orbotix.
In case you wonder how a conference like Blur can impact the trajectory of a young company, just take a look at the backstory of how we (Foundry Group) ended up meeting and investing in Gist. TA McCann, Gist’s CEO, came to Defrag (another conference like Blur that Eric Norlin runs and we participate in), hunted me down, and took me for a few runs. TA got me hooked on the product and a few months later we lead the Series A financing with Vulcan. This particular story has a very happy ending as RIM acquired Gist yesterday for an amount that put big smiles on everyone’s faces.
The agenda at Blur is awesome. Eric Norlin is an absolute master at putting on highly relevant conferences around a theme (his other two are Defrag and Glue.) Once again my friends at the Kauffman Foundation have provided some great scholarships for Blur and – like all of Eric’s conferences – there will be lots of time for people to spent together talking about and playing with the great stuff they are working on.
Oh – and for anyone tired of winter, it’s in Orlando. Sign up and come hang out with me, my partners, and a bunch of amazing HCI stuff for two days next week.
Several of the companies we’ve invested in are launching products at CES this year. The first one up is Sifteo. Today, Sifteo launched and you can preorder Siftables as part of their early access program.
You may be familiar with them from a well known TED Talk that co-founder David Merrill did in 2009.
Or maybe the recent TEDxMonterey Talk that David did earlier this year with a more in-depth demo.
We invested in Sifteo in May 2010 along with our friends from True Ventures. Sifteo is another HCI investment with its roots in the MIT Media Lab, joining Oblong and EmSense in this part of our portfolio. If you are at CES, check them out in North – 3317A.
As 2011 kicks off, I think we are in for a ton of innovative software and Internet stuff this year. Yeah, some of it will be “just like everything else but different.” However, of the areas we invest heavily in – human computer interaction – has an incredible amount of activity going on. I’ll be at CES in Las Vegas this week so I expect to have a dose of nerd-eye-candy (e.g. the latest TV sets) along with a bunch of cool / amazing / clever / intriguing new HCI things.
I expect CES will be a classic case of “a mile wide and an inch deep.” If you want to go really deep with HCI, consider joining me at the Blur Conference in Orlando on 2/22 and 2/23 especially if any of the following topics appeal to you.
- markerless motion capture
- phone controlled robotic gaming devices
- augmented reality apps
- alternative input mechanisms
- neuro-physiological measurements
- all kinds of Kinect hacks
- 3D/digital sculptures
- social robotics
- multi-touch interfaces
- speech recognition
- human instrumentation
- natural user interfaces
I’ve accepted the reality that the computers are going to take over during my lifetime. I just want to help be involved in writing some of the code to hedge my bets. Register now to come join me in my quest.
CES is just around the corner and I’m psyched to be going again this year. Toss in a BigDoor board meeting early in the week in Las Vegas and I’ll be getting my annual allotment of sin city in the first week of the new year.
Lots of my friends and a number of our portfolio companies will be at CES this year. Lest you think it’s just a VC boondoggle, one of my favorite moments of all time happened at CES in 2009 when my dad bought the very first Pogoplug. We went on to fund Cloud Engines (the company that makes the Pogoplug) which just closed a new $15 million financing that includes Softbank and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners. Oh – and they have had a totally kick ass year.
Last week, I noticed an article about Orbotix in Wired’s Gadget Lab titled Phone-Controlled Robot Ball, Like Marble Madness in Meatspace. Orbotix is going to be at the CES ShowStoppers event the night before CES begins (and at CES). As you can see from the article, Wired just challenged Engaget to a Sphero-off. As Paul Berberian, the CEO of Orbotix said to me in email, “it doesn’t get much more fun that this.”
If you are going to be at CES and are showing off something cool that you want me to see, toss your company name and booth number in the comments and I’ll make sure to come by on Wednesday or Thursday.
Periodically I promote the conferences we helped create with Eric Norlin – Defrag, Glue, and most recently Blur. If you’ve been to any of these conferences, you know why I get so excited about them – it’s a chance for me and my partners to spend two days immersed in a theme we are investing in while surrounded with some of the smartest people working in that area.
Blur is all about human computer interaction (HCI). We’ve done a bunch of HCI investments, including Orbotix, Fitbit, Sifteo, Oblong, and Organic Motion and we’ve spent a bunch of time exploring HCI as we believe the way we will use and interact with computers will be radically different in 20 years than it is today. As a hedge, we believe that if the robots are really going to take over, we at least want a hand in creating some of their software to improve the odds that they’ll be nice to us.
When Eric and I started talking about Blur, he said he wanted it to be a deeply hands on experience. The HCI stuff we invest and play around with is some of the funnest and most interesting tech. The conference should line be equally fun while giving a bunch of smart thought leaders around HCI a chance to collaborate on what each of them is working on.
For example, Kinect Hacks? Yup – a bunch will be there (the hackers and the hacks.) The history and evolution of multi-touch - did you know it was invented in 1982 the USPTO rulings not-withstanding? Want to play with personal robots? Do you know what neuroergonomics means or why it matters?
As with Defrag, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has stepped up with a major sponsorship for up to 15 people who are either founders of pre-Series A startups or students doing research around HCI.
Blur is happening in Orlando, Florida on February 22nd and 23rd. Early-bird registration runs through January 14th at which point registration is only available at the full price. Come play!