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San Francisco is a fantastic city. There is always something interesting and fresh to do or attend. When I caught word of the first Expand event hosted by Engadget, I had to go. Expand was a collaborative effort to bring some of technology’s biggest movers and shakers together for interesting panels as well as demonstrations of independent developer’s contraptions. I only had time to attend one day and since it was a two day event, the first was centered more on mobile and became my clear choice. Most things in San Francisco are really cool, this was just okay.
Expand was an inaugural event that had high hopes of becoming a type of “TED talk” for the tech hardware and software and I found myself enjoying the majority of the keynote speakers. Where I felt it missed the mark was with the lack of a polished/uniformed look and the promise of exclusive hardware premiers that simply became spotlight moments for developers who paid a higher placement premium. Everything was a little too surface level or a little too “WTF”. Even the most interesting of innovations still felt completely out of step with the keynote speakers and overall proposal of the show. In exploring all of the intricate indie booths that housed robotic legs, iPhone/iPad accessories, and deep-sea cameras, the only mobile sponsor/manufacturer with a physical display was Nokia.
I had yet to get my hands on the Lumia series of phones and was skeptical to the Windows 8 UI. To my surprise, it was really cool. My experience with Windows 8 overall was limited to my Xbox console so that bias was deep in pessimism. However, the mobile incarnation was smooth and felt right as it was responsive and precise in all touch patterns. The most impressive function of the device was the PureView Imaging technology that put my iPhone 4S camera to shame.
I mainly spent my time listening to execs give good talks during their slotted time on stage during panel and one-on-one talks. Here is what I learned:
- Kick Starter is not a store!
- NEST is simple, maybe too simple
- Sprint, HTC, and Samsung have enormous plans for smartphone design