Local Tech You Didn’t Know You Needed

Globotix and Party Time! Hexcellent! make stuff no one else is making

Some of the greatest technological leaps were met with shrugs. The smartphone was seen, at first, as an unnecessary luxury before replacing the very fabric of society with an interweb of Tweets, posts, Grams, Vines, and Snaps. Like that, two smaller bits of locally designed tech might get filed in your brain's wtf folder at first.

What VR Rush Hour: Austin looks like without VR goggles. But trust us, in VR, it's like you're there!

Did you know today is Austin Don’t Rush day? Well, for those of you out of the loop, the plan is to encourage commuters to avoid peak driving hours and assuage the usual gnarled rush hour. For some that means working from home, others might go in early or late, and others could just sleep through the whole shebang. There’s also a chance that, like the ritualistic cup of morning coffee, you might miss that four-wheeled slow-dance that is I-35 between the hours of 7am and 8pm.

Believe it or not, someone has foreseen this inexplicable longing. Local interactive design firm Globotix Industries has made VR Rush Hour: Austin. With little more than a smartphone, you can sit on I-35 and watch your car’s engine not live up to its potential … in virtual reality! Sorry iPhone folks, this one is just for Android's Google Play.

This even got the attention of Mayor Adler himself who said via Facebook, “Now you can sit in traffic on I-35 from the comfort of your own home.” Globotix founder Zeke Brill added, ”We made this VR app because we were really frustrated with Austin traffic and we wanted to do something to address the issue.” We're not sure how this helps exactly, but Brill also claimed VR Rush Hour could help with the recent Uber and Lyft departures. Let’s spare the comments section this go-around and just let that one go.

We're not sure how the ConnectedNES works, but it does. And it's cute as hell to boot.

On an almost completely different note, the latest from Party Time! Hexcellent! – the nom de hack of Rachel Weil – is an Internet connected Nintendo Entertainment System. Appropriately called the ConnectedNES, the device (in its current phase of development) can display Tweets in a tweaked version of Super Mario Bros. retitled Social Media Bros.

Is this necessary? No. Is it nifty as hell to see a Tweet pop up on the pixillated screen as you navigate the platonic ideal of level 1-1? Yes!

If, like us, you’re unfamiliar with terms like "node.js servers" and "Arduino C/C++" then you might need to call a pro to get this up and running on your Nintendo. However, the project is all open source with instructions and code available online. On the project page Weil describes the ConnectedNES as being in the “hey, that’s neat!” phase, which implies added functionality to come.

This is by no means Weil’s first unnecessary but rad-as-hell project. One recent example, the Deal With It Bot, helps the technically challenged make the ubiquitous sunglass meme gifs out of any digital picture with a face or faces on it.

To recap: You can now sit in I-35 traffic from anywhere in the world and read Tweets on your Nintendo. The future is now, people!

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Tech
Local Tech Roundup
Local Tech Roundup
Gadgets and apps to keep you and your electronics healthy

James Renovitch, June 12, 2015

More by James Renovitch
VR Arena Adds Cardio to Your Virtual Experience
VR Arena Adds Cardio to Your Virtual Experience
Virtuix’s new attraction at Pinballz has players running and gunning without moving

March 22, 2019

Austin Video Game Developer Certain Affinity Announces Original Title, <i>Last Expedition</i>
Austin Video Game Developer Certain Affinity Announces Original Title, Last Expedition
Independent game studio also plans expansion to offices in Toronto

Jan. 30, 2019


Tech, Party Time! Hexcellent, Globotix, Zeke Brill, Rachel Weil, virtual reality, NES, hack

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle