Trends with Benefits: Celebrating TechfestNW and nano bots, mourning Prince

On this episode, we have a special guest! TechfestNW founder Mark Zusman is here to discuss Portland’s premier technology event, which DT will partake in next week. We also cover the unfortunate passing of Prince and his history in streaming music, the merging of AR and VR, “smart skin” for robots, Comcast ditching cable boxes, and nano probes reaching the edge of our solar system.

Everyone acknowledges that Prince was an artistic genius, but did you know he was also instrumental in standing up to record labels in the ‘80s, and more recently, streaming services? Caleb lets us know about the real meaning behind “the symbol” and other Prince trivia, as we mourn the man and his creative spirit.

TechfestNW starts next week, celebrating the startup community in Portland and beyond. Digital Trends’ CEO Ian Bell and CTO Dan Gaul will be speaking there, along with a group from Paul Allen’s company Vulcan, and even a guy who creates Fitbits for elephants. We’re especially looking forward to PitchfestNW, which is essentially Shark Tank in front of a live audience, where entrepreneurs pitch venture capitalists in front of everyone. Tickets are still available for the event, as of now.

A company called Curiscope recently funded a Kickstarter campaign for a product called the “Virtuali-Tee”. When you look at it through a special app, you can “see” the wearer’s organs superimposed right where they would be, in what is essentially a living, breathing anatomy lesson. Curiscope claims the line between augmented reality apps like this and virtual reality apps are blurring, but Caleb strenuously disagrees.

A Chinese team has developed a form of synthetic skin that could allow robots a human-like sensitivity to touch. By using the ground-breaking turboelectric effect, the skin is so sensitive that, according to the team, it can register the pressure of a bumble bee landing on it. Should our potential robot overlords have the ability to feel? More importantly, could we use this in prosthetic limbs?

Comcast is bringing its Xfinity App to Samsung TVs and Roku devices, which could mean eliminating the set-top box altogether. So are you free from that annoying rental fee forever? We’re pretty sure Comcast hasn’t decided to just give up revenue, so what’s the catch?

Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg and a Russian billionaire want to send thousands of nano bots through space, powered by lasers. If the plan is successful, the probes could reach Alpha Centauri (over four light years away), within 20 years! The tech behind it is incredibly simple, yet amazing at the same time.

Today’s episode features Mark Zusman, Caleb Denison, Nick Mokey and Greg Nibler.

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