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Local Tech Creations That Scare Us

Hell on wheels, surveilling boozehounds, and more

By James Renovitch, Fri., Jan. 27, 2012

Chaotic Moon's Board of Awesomeness tearing up the streets of Austin
Chaotic Moon's Board of Awesomeness tearing up the streets of Austin
Photo courtesy of www.chaoticmoon.com

From the Wear a Helmet Dept.: Chaotic Moon (www.chaoticmoon.com) has created something that it calls the Board of Awesomeness, but we're going to continue referring to it as the Plank of Death. It consists of an all-terrain jumbo skateboard gussied up with an 800-watt electric motor, a Windows tablet computer, and a Kinect motion sensor. Put them all together, and you have feverish prayers delivered as fast as 32 mph that the makers of this contraption mean it when they say "We are smarter than you." Judging from the video on Chaotic Moon's website, the board's speed is controlled with hand gestures while the rider keeps a wide stance to remain upright. There's also talk of voice controls on future models, but for now, "Get out of the way!" will have to suffice in the hopes that bystanders can manage speech recognition better than a skateboard. Don't expect these things to be whizzing around the streets of Austin anytime soon, but if this goes unchecked, adventurous folks might just be opting to tour Austin on a Board of Awesomeness instead of a Segway.

From the Surveillance Nation Dept.: There's a new app for heavy drinkers with no issues of personal privacy: SceneTap (www.scenetap.com). If you notice those creepy black domes bulging from the ceiling of your favorite ale house, smile: Your face is being "anonymously" detected so that the bar's current stats can be streamed to a website and mobile app. Stats include how full the venue is, the male-to-female ratio, and the average age of the patrons. How they acquire this information anonymously is beyond us, but if you needed another reason to avoid the many Sixth Street bars that are participating, this is it. SceneTap began servicing the Austin area on Jan. 20 and hopes to expand beyond the initial 20 bars soon. Chicago has already been assimilated into the Borg with more than 50 wired venues. If there's a good side to this, it's that we can finally double-check to make sure that our favorite watering hole is mostly empty so we can do our drinking the way it was intended: alone.

From the Children Are Our Future Dept.: KLRU is taking part in the National STEM Video Game Challenge, which tasks middle and high school students with making educational programs with the help of local developers. You can thank President Obama for this one, since getting America's youth interested in technology and science was his idea. If you would like to participate as a competitor or a mentor, go to www.stemchallenge.org. The deadline to enter is March 12. Why is this contest scary and not a sign of America's future prosperity? If anyone is going to program the cyborgs of the future to rebel against their human masters, it's going to be one of these kids. Expect to hear about our Keep Kids Stupid campaign in future issues.

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