Last week’s Macworld show in San Francisco was yet another stark reminder of Apple’s reach and influence in the technology world. It’s hard to imagine any other tech company that has a three day annual conference devoted to its products while the company has no role or say in the event at all. Apple pulled out of Macworld in 2009.
Yet the exhibiting companies and speakers during the tech talks at this year’s event conveyed an enthusiasm for Apple’s technology that’s hard to fake. Everything from Siri to iPhoneography to camping out with numerous Apple products got showcased and analyzed by the 25,000 plus attendees.
While it’s not going to revolutionize the tech world as we know it, one of the more amusing companies in attendance was Rostami Magic. Using nothing more than an app on an iPhone, a magician correctly predicted three coin flips in advance and a card randomly chosen from a deck. Users can also “control their phone with their mind” through a feature called iTelekinect.
The company is run by Greg Rostami who was a busy man at the show. In addition to magic tricks, Rostami was at another end of the hall demonstrating Topaz, an image processing engine that lets you enhance photos in mere seconds.
A few booths away, Boinx Software was showcasing a simple program using an iPad that let users build their own stop action animation film in about as much time as it takes to read this column. This was yet another example where Apple’s technology has moved what used to take days to a high-quality finished product in a matter of minutes.
In another advance on the animation front, San Jose-based Reallusion demonstrated new enhancements to their CrazyTalk program that now provides auto-lip-synching with a human voice. Vocal emotion can also be tied to the expressions on a character’s face, making this form of facial animation infinitely easier than before.
On the hardware side, Corning (yes, they produce other things besides glass) made an appearance at the show to highlight new optical cables. Using optical fiber technology, Corning’s cables can transfer a full length HD movie to a Mac in 30 seconds or backup a year of MP3 files in just over 10 minutes. Not bad.
The confluence of Apple’s technology with the arts was a strong theme at this year’s conference, capped off by a general session interview with the front man for the Black Eyed Peas – will.i.am. The Los Angeles-based rapper and producer has been tied to technology since he burst (literally) onto the scene when a live hologram of his image was beamed onto the CNN set during election night in 2008.
Last week, i.am promoted a new camera he’s created called the foto.sosho that combines a real digital camera with an iPhone. Think of flipping open the back of your camera and placing an iPhone inside and that’s what you’ve got.
“Technology is just people looking at people,” said i.am, and to prove the point he’s taken elements of old and new to create a whole new product that captures people in real time. And that’s a magic trick that Apple users will mostly likely continue to duplicate for a long time to come.