Futur en Seine

We just got back from another great weekend in Paris, which is currently my favorite big city. As usual, a work mission brought me there. I was in town to demo the project I work on, VARI3. It’s a challenging project, with a handful of French partners spanning industry and academia, in which we use an iPad Mini to interact with a virtual car model for purposes of design review at Renault.
Eric demoing VARI3 in Paris at Futur en Seine

I was surprised by two things. First, this was a very large event. It took us a few hours to see a mere fraction of the demos. Second, all of the demos we saw were of things I believe are neat and useful. A few notable examples:

  • KEECKER is a robot that travels the home projecting things on the walls or ceilings. The most basic purpose seems to be watching movies on whatever surface is convenient and bringing a movie with you from room to room, but really it’s based on Android so the possibilities are kind of endless. It’s easy to imagine remote home monitoring tasks, for example. At only about EUR 1500, it seems like a good price, given that a decent projector alone can cost EUR 1000.
  • Vinoga is a game in which the objective is to grow your own wine. I guess you get to choose the grape varieties and maybe the techniques, while purchasing various types of equipment. Their business model is interesting in that the game is free, but it is set up so that the resulting wine is always one of 50-something types, which they can then sell you from real producers (labeled with your own chosen name, of course). To be honest, this seems a bit silly to me so I doubt I’ll be buying wine this way especially given our refined tastes. But I might give the game a try to see if I learn something.
  • Art Graphique & Patrimoine is a company I’ve seen a few times before at such events and I’ve often chatted with one lady in particular. They make augmented reality applications for cultural heritage. This time, they were promoting a prototype application to augment an exhibit at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine museum in Paris. They were giving out free tickets to visit the museum and try the app on a loaner iPad. It was pretty cool, though a bit heavy. Once the iPad recognized a particular piece through the camera, it displayed a virtual church all around. This is not the first time I’ve seen such things, but it’s catching on and I believe it represents the future of museums. See the photo below.

Eric using augmented reality at Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine

There were also plenty of VR applications, though I didn’t try too many. There tends to be a line at those demos and it was quite crowded.

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