Home » Culture » Web Summit 2014- Phone Beer, 3D Printed Robots and 20,000 People.
Web Summit 2014- Phone Beer, 3D Printed Robots and 20,000 People.
by Startacus Admin
Very early rise and out into the bitter air of a late autumn morning - the long bus trip to Dublin for Web Summit 2014 should pass by bright and clear.
Despite near major cardiac event caused by Startacus journalist Niall’s daredevil approach to time-keeping, we finally set off on the long road at around 7am. Aside from stunning visions of sparkling emerald landscapes, a mercifully uneventful journey.
But then the fun began
After hastily bundling ourselves into a taxi, en route to the RDS we had the pleasure of being chauffeured by Ireland’s friendliest taxi driver, whom I suspect was actually an undercover Web Summit employee. He delighted us with his many opinions on the future of technology, so that by the time we reached the destination, our readiness for the experience to come, was much improved.
First to the main stage, a truly breathtaking sight “This is a truly breathtaking sight” I mumbled to Journalist Niall, as we settled in to hear the musings of Lily Cole. Wise words absorbed and hungry for more, we squeezed our way over to another smaller (but equally impressive stage) with candy striped, gravity defying blocks stacked precariously as a 40ft high, very dangerous looking back drop.
Here we saw Yoni Assia (of eToro) and Dave Goldberg (of SurveyMonkey) risk their lives to spread the benefit of their experience to all within earshot. Both were exceptional, and the audience very appreciative, and much as I yearned to stay a while longer, the call of rooms stacked high with exhibitors, beckoned us forth.
Roomfuls of everything
There are no words that could accurately describe the variety of startups, betas and established businesses that we found spread across Web Summits many vaulted rooms, nor the special efforts made to ensure that all attendees, media and exhibitors were as refreshed and comfortable as possible.
Suffice to say, the attention to detail was utterly flawless, and we made our way through the maze of exhibitors, chatting merrily to them about their work. Relaxed and casual seemed to be the order of the day (quite contrary to what I had been expecting) and I was delighted to make several new acquaintances.
Mcor Technologies bared all with a live demonstration of their low cost, colour 3D printing using everyday office paper, much to the delight of the crowd who marvelled at the uncanny results (as can be seen in the pictures beside).
Wide eyed in amazement Niall pointed into the distance “Is that a robot?” “Well actually” chimed in the man from Wevolver “ It’s a 3D printed Robot from our open source platform, you can download it yourself, today... for free”. Many minutes spent gleefully interacting with said robot, we both resolved to make one ourselves, as soon as our finances would allow it!
When the buzz of activity surrounding Belfast based BrewBot “Brew beer with your smartphone” thinned a little, I took the opportunity to have a chat with one of the co-founders and sample some of their specially brewed ‘Porter’...it was delicious, but even more delicious was the knowledge that I had now consumed a product made by a smartphone and a robot. I could almost feel my standing on the Geekomoter crank up a notch.
The lovely folks at Ernst and Young were freshly popping popcorn from a Twenties style cart, they popped some into my hand and even let me try their ‘Entrepreneur of the Year award’ on for size… I am pleased to say it fitted perfectly!
A little light begging and cheery wave of my press pass convinced the chaps at Audi / Oculus to let me take an after-hours augmented reality spin - my first such experience and one which I shall be repeating at the earliest opportunity.
Across the way was a specially constructed barber shop, enticing furry-faced passers by to step inside and show their support for Movember - an offer I would surely have taken up had I not shaven away a week’s worth of growth that very same morning… “Must look smart’ I had said to myself…a mistake I will never repeat!
These and countless other treats were piled upon every attendee making for a truly inspiring, enjoyable and eye-opening experience. I learned many new things and revelled in the ingenuity and innovation that was on display all around me.
There was just one problem…
People love to complain, and owing to the lack of even the smallest other transgression on the part of Web Summit HQ, attendees have directed their pent up frustration squarely in the direction of the very poor, and at times non existent WiFi. Don’t get me wrong, the situation was pretty dire, and the irony of a WEB Summit with poor connectivity needs no further elaboration here.
Everywhere you turned, you could see disheartened Web Summit attendees vainly pointing their mobile devices skyward, in an attempt to capture a non existent signal, or in some cases encourage divine intervention. Social media platforms reeled with this problem, such that an onlooker would have been forgiven for thinking that 20,000 people had gathered at the RDS for the sole purpose of using their WiFi.
Ironically, like me, most of these forlorn pilgrims were just trying to share with the world what an amazing time they were having at the Summit, and in being unable to do so, used what little upload speed they could muster to air their grievances for all the world to see.
Yes - excellent WiFi should be a fundamental of such an event, but a quick glance around uncovered more than enough good things to compensate.
Both Journalist Niall and myself were greatly honoured to be invited and look forward to sharing some of what we learned and the startups that we met with you all over the coming weeks!
Thanks to everyone at Web Summit HQ for a cracking experience!